Healthy Habits to Support Your Depression Treatment
Depression is a serious mental health condition that requires professional care. Each person with depression is unique, and treatment plans should be tailored to each person’s needs. Professional care for depression can involve psychiatric services, therapy, or a combination of both. These methods are effective for many people, though it might take time to feel relief.
If you have a care plan for depression now, you may wonder what you can do to improve your mental health, so you can start feeling better faster. First and foremost, we recommend that you take it slowly. Don’t take on more than you feel able to handle while working through your treatment plan.
If and when you feel ready to enhance your treatment plan, you can try creating healthy habits that support your well-being.
Follow Your Care Plan
If you only have enough energy and focus to start one habit on this list, make it this one. By following the advice of your care team, you can start to recover.
Your depression care plan may include:
- Taking medication as directed
- Going to therapy as often as recommended
- Asking questions about your care plan whenever you need to
- Completing the “homework” your therapist gives you
- Avoiding substances that interact with your medication, such as alcohol
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If you haven’t yet started psychiatric services or therapy, be sure to find a care team first and foremost. Remember that depression can be life-threatening when left untreated, but compassionate mental health care providers can help.
Get Regular Exercise
Research continues to show that exercise is one of the most effective habits you can create to fight depression. Regular exercise primarily helps by releasing endorphins that improve mood.
Getting plenty of movement may also help by:
- Giving you a healthy coping tool
- Increasing your confidence
- Getting you into a community of people who enjoy the same exercise
Keep in mind that exercise does not have to be intense in order to help with depression. Even walking outside for 30 minutes per day can help. It doesn’t even have to be a structured activity. Physical play with your kids, for example, can release feel-good endorphins as much as completing a workout video.
The important thing is to find a workout that you enjoy. As always, be sure to consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Be Mindful of Your Sleep Routine
Depression can cause people to sleep either too much or too little. Furthermore, insomnia can cause or worsen depression. By getting plenty of restful sleep, you can curb some of the symptoms of depression.
Steps to get healthy sleep:
- Go to bed and wake up around the same time daily
- Have a relaxing bedtime routine, preferably without screens
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening
- Do not work or do other difficult tasks in the bedroom
- Nap for a maximum of 30 minutes per day
- Get up if you don’t fall asleep in 20 minutes, then try again later
- Keep your bedroom cool and comfortable
If you have good sleeping habits but still struggle to sleep, be sure to talk to your care team. Natural supplements, prescription medications, and therapy tools may be able to help.
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Socialize on a Regular Basis
Depression often draws people inward and causes people to isolate themselves from friends and family. This self-isolation can worsen depression and keep you from the support you need and deserve. Even if it’s been a while since you talked to some friends, reach out. You may try a message like this:
Hi! I hope it’s ok that I haven’t been social lately. I have been working on my mental health. How are you? What’s going on in your life?
Try to set up regular times for you to see or talk with people. For example, you may have a weekly phone call with a family member or a monthly night out with friends. This not only bolsters your support system, but it can also keep you active and accountable.
Tip: You can combine this tip with exercise by joining a fitness class or group!
Other Habits for Beating Depression
There are many different habits that could help you recover from depression. However, what works for one person may not be right for you. It’s important to stick with what makes you feel good.
Below are some other habits to consider adopting while you work through your depression care plan:
- Volunteer and help others
- Attend religious or spiritual services
- Make healthy eating choices
- Start a hobby
- Start a gratitude journal
If you need other ideas for coping with depression, be sure to talk to a therapist.