How to Cope with Stress and Depression
Managing stress and depression on a day-to-day basis can be overwhelming. Depression is stressful enough without considering the everyday life stress everyone experiences. So, how do we cope? How do we deal with both our depression and stress that life brings us?
Effects of Stress on Depression Are Hard to Predict from Day to Day
First of all, let me start by admitting that stress and depression still affect me; I do not have it all together. I have yet to master the difficult task of completely managing both my depression and stress from day-to-day life. Some days all it takes for me to have a total meltdown is for one dirty dish to be left in the living room or one more unexpected bill to arrive in the mail. Sometimes it's something as seemingly small as an extra trip to the doctor or a change in my husband's work schedule that sends me into a stressed out frenzy. At other times, it gets more serious.
My youngest child has significant special needs. This is quite stressful, as well as also being physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. Between my depression and stress of caring for her, my exhaustion level is usually through the roof. So I know I need to do a better job of coping with my depression and the stress in my life. I need strategies in place to lessen the likelihood of my freaking out every time something unexpected happens. I hope these strategies will also help you.
How I Cope with Stress and Depression
1. Practice Mindfulness
I learned about mindfulness for depression in therapy. Mindfulness is about staying in the present moment and allowing yourself to acknowledge and accept your feelings. Often our stress gets out of hand because we've tried to ignore stressful situations or allowed ourselves to feel guilty about certain thoughts or feelings we have. We also have a tendency to worry about the past or be anxious about the future, and those anxieties increase both stress and depression.
Practicing mindfulness can help us overcome all of these tendencies. It has helped me slow down and truly experience life. It has also taught me not to feel guilty about my feelings. Sometimes I'll even say aloud, just to myself, "I feel stressed and frustrated right now because . . ." And then I'll follow that with a positive statement, which leads to the next point.
2. Speak Positive Thoughts
Speaking positive thoughts aloud helps me deal with stress and depression. As an example, I might add to the above statement, "You can get through this. You've done hard things before. You can do it again."
You may feel silly at first, but in time, it will become second nature. Eventually, you may not have to speak the words or even concentrate on thinking the words; the calm confidence in yourself will just be there.
Remember -- depression has spoken so many negative thoughts about you into your brain, and now you have to counteract those lies, negative thoughts and self-talk with positive truths. A great deal of our stress can come from lack of self-confidence and self-worth. We feel like we can't do things that are expected of us.
Start small, take baby steps, and speak positively to yourself along the way. You may be surprised by how much of that stress is chipped away each time you accomplish another task (Getting Through a Day Paralyzed by Anxiety and Depression).
3. Make a List
Yes, make a list; however, do not allow this list to become your master. Don't allow the list to add stress. It's meant to lessen stress while also helping you manage depression. When I have several things to do, which is always, I make a list so that I don't forget anything. I tackle the things that are time-sensitive first, and the rest can wait. If I only mark one thing off the list in a day, that's fine. I did something, and that's one less thing I'll have to do the next day. So, there's less stress already.
I also make lists of fun things I want to do or try. My goal is to accomplish at least one each week of the smaller and less expensive (or free) ideas. I have bigger ideas, too, but those are once in a lifetime kinds of things. After particularly stressful days, I choose one of the smaller ideas and do it. Focusing on an enjoyable activity helps me deal with both my stress and depression.
More on Coping with Stress and Depression
For more on stress and depression management, see my video below.
Smith, J. (2018, April 11). How to Cope with Stress and Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2018/04/dealing-with-stress-when-you-have-depression