Negative Habits and Depression
Having depression can sometimes lead to developing negative habits as we try to cope. Often things that aren't necessarily wise or healthy feel good at the moment. Sometimes it's easier to do what is comfortable rather than that which requires work and sacrifice. Also, depression drains us of our energy, thus making it difficult to take even that first step towards building healthier habits. Does this mean we're stuck? No, we're not; we just need to identify our negative habits and work toward changing them into more positive coping skills.
Negative Habits We May Develop to Cope with Depression
- Spending an excessive amount of time online. The Internet can be positive. Obviously, I support Internet use since I'm here. The key word here, though, is positive. The other key word is limited. If we scroll through social media to avoid interacting with others or stay on our phones so much that we neglect things we need to do, such as cook, clean, or shower, then we've developed a negative habit. I realize it feels easy and comfortable at the time, but in the long run, zoning out with social media will only worsen our depression.
- Eating only junk food. In my opinion, a splurge or two every now and then on junk food is fine. On the other hand, if you find yourself eating empty calories and unhealthy foods every meal of every day, then you're harming both your body and your mind with a negative habit. I know. I've done this. It's an easy slope to slip on when you have depression.
- Not getting physical activity. I know I feel better both physically and mentally when I take walks every day or almost every day. I find that I need to do it first thing in the morning before the day starts "happening" to me; however, this schedule sometimes gets messed up. Due to my depression, some mornings I wake up and struggle to get out of bed. I lie there too long, and time passes until I have to get up and wake my children. The day starts; I get too busy and make excuses as to why I can't fit my walk in. Once I miss a day, it's easier to miss more and more. A negative habit of inactivity has set in.
How to Move Back Towards Healthier Habits
- Limit your time online and avoid certain sites. Set a timer. Stay off websites and social media platforms that upset or anger you. Look for more positive sites and social media opportunities. If you're up for it, go out and spend time with friends -- without even looking at your phone. Find other things to do besides scrolling through your phone. You could read, write, paint, draw, garden, start a flower bed, or any other activity that appeals to you. Look, I know how easy it is to stay in the habit of being on your phone all day. I've been doing way too much of that lately myself. Depression makes things so much harder, but we don't have to continue in bad habits.
- Take small steps to eat healthier. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to revamp your entire diet or by attempting to completely clean out your pantry and refrigerator. Change one or two things at a time. Get used to those changes and then make a couple more. Keep at this process, over time, as long as it takes. This is about taking care of ourselves and building healthy habits to help us cope with depression. It's not a race.
- Work in physical activity in a way that suits you. Once you've found a way, then stick to it. I'm speaking to myself here, too. I need to get up so I can get out and walk. That's what I enjoy. I love being in nature, so an outdoor walk is a wonderful way for me to be motivated (usually) to break the negative habit of inactivity. Figure out what type of physical movement you enjoy. You could set a goal of getting in that movement three days a week at first, and then you can add in more days as you feel up to it. There will be missed days sometimes, and we need to give ourselves grace when this happens. We have depression. Some days we just can't do it, and that's okay.
Watch this video to learn about some of the triggers that can cause us to turn to negative habits to cope with depression.
Smith, J. (2019, June 12). Negative Habits and Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2019/6/negative-habits-and-depression