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Bad depression days bring enormous dark masses of thick heavy clouds that can numb a person and strip them of all feelings.
While being sad and having an “off-day” is quite normal and typical, a bad depression day is far more intense than that.
Symptoms of depression can manifest in different ways, but the one thing that remains constant is the paralyzing and draining effects of depression. A bad depression day might feel literally impossible to get through.
In this article, we’ll share real, tangible things you can do on a bad depression day that will help you feel better, even if just a little bit. Of course, not every tip will work for every person, so take the things that resonate with you and skip the rest for now.
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you find coping mechanisms to help you through bad depression days. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.
1. Step away from social media.
Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you delete your social apps permanently!
While it’s easy to recognize that social media connects us and makes it easier to establish and form real human connections, it’s also relatively easy to fall prey to the compare game. The one where we compare our lives to those on the highlight reel of social media.
Social media is often a carefully curated version of a person’s best days, best memories, best outfits, etc. When a person is feeling the symptoms of their depression beginning to intensify, it would be best to put their phone down and take a break.
Social media can be a long, dark rabbit hole when a person is struggling to manage their depression symptoms. For example, you might be wondering if your photo received enough likes, and comparing your life to a social media account can significantly worsen your symptoms.
Sometimes, what we’re looking for from social media is validation and acceptance. We want the world to tell us that our OOTD (outfit of the day) is so chic or that our home decor is perfect. So that’s why we post it, right? We’re creatures that crave external validation, and on a bad depression day, it’s best to just get out of that headspace altogether.
If you find that social media is often triggering your symptoms of depression. It might be time to unfollow accounts that don’t make you feel good, limit how much time you spend on them, and follow accounts that show real, accurate versions of their lives and diversify your feed.
Remember that you don’t owe anyone anything and that taking a day off of social media is perfectly okay.
Once you get control over the depression symptoms, it would be a good idea to set some boundaries for social media to avoid and control possible future triggers.
For example, you can mute possible trigger words to avoid seeing them, set boundaries for how long you wish to spend on social platforms each day, and avoid doomscrolling. Furthermore, make it a practice to use social media as a positive thing and try spread kindness. This might sound lame right now, but in the long term, you’ll see how your feelings surrounding social media change.
2. Get out of bed.
Depression symptoms can leave you feeling a sense of nothingness. It can be tough to find the motivation to get out of bed. You might be craving bed if you’re depression is worsening. Everything is so much better in bed. But, staying in bed might hinder rather than help you. Even if all you want is to just lay down, get out of bed, and lie on the couch.
Laying in bed all day reinforces messages like “I am sick, weak, and unhealthy.” Those types of negative thoughts could even worsen depression symptoms. Instead, make yourself get out of your bed and physically move to another room.
You can take the blankets and pillow if that feels good, but changing the environment can be very impactful. Set up on the couch and see how different it feels compared to staying in bed all day.
3. Take a bath.
A shower can feel like an impossible feat. If your symptoms are intense, you might feel some aches and pains which makes standing for that amount of time difficult. On the other hand, taking a bath can be very relaxing, soothing, and calming for depression symptoms.
Taking a bath ensures you’re still clean, which can be tricky if you’re living with depression as some symptoms are so intense that they’re debilitating. It also can be very soothing, and if you have a bath before bed, it might even help your sleep. A warm bath can increase serotonin levels in the brain and can physically help you feel better as well.
Creating a routine – such as having a warm bath before bed every night – can be very beneficial in managing the symptoms of depression. A routine can help maintain positive mental health and stay in front of intense symptoms because it’s an automatic self-care task. Without thinking about it, once a routine is in place, the individual is caring for themselves and doing the things that are good for them, which combats depression.
4. Engage in some joyful/gentle movement.
Though moving might be the last thing you want to do on a bad depression day, it could be the best thing for you. I’m not suggesting committing to an intense workout but try to get up a few times during the day and just walk around the house.
The idea is to get the blood in the body flowing and moving. This can help with symptoms and improve your mood considerably. For example, try a few jumping jacks, go downstairs a few times, or just pace around your home.
Joyful movement doesn’t need to be something vigorous and intense but rather something that brings happiness and slowly lets your muscles warm up and move.
5. Challenge the negative self-talk.
Negative self-talk is destructive and constantly works to bring the individual down. While this can feel very hard to control, it is possible to gain some power over it with practice.
For example, depression might be training you to believe there isn’t a bright future for you or that your feelings don’t matter. Simply dismissing it might feel impossible, but what if you challenge it? What if you ask for reasons?
Negative self-talk is the dialogue or inner voice that you have within yourself. It refers to conversations that others don’t hear. It is a way to impose limiting beliefs and diminish your abilities.
But, if you challenge it, it’s like poking holes in it. Eventually, upon challenging the negative self-talk enough, an individual might find this symptom of depression lessens. So, rather than listening to the negative self-talk, challenge it.
When depression says, “Your feelings don’t matter,” combat it with “that’s not true.” When depression says, “this will never get better,” tell it, “this is only a hard moment, and it will pass.”
Poke holes through what the depression is telling you so that it eventually fades away. Don’t listen to the limiting beliefs and destructive messages you’re likely to hear, especially on a bad day.
After you get into the habit of challenging the negative self-talk rather than listening to it, start to practice positive affirmations every day, maybe even multiple times per day. Positive affirmations can help you manifest control over the depression symptoms. While depression is flooding you with thoughts that “you can’t” or that “you’re weak,” positive affirmations will reframe it and help you notice your strengths and power.
Positive affirmations to try:
- I am capable of handling this difficult moment.
- I am deserving of love and compassion.
- I can do hard things.
6. Reach out and connect.
Call a friend or family member and make a connection with someone. This might be through phone, FaceTime, or other video or calling services.
It can feel very lonely when you’re amid your worse depression symptoms, and the inner dialogue you’re hearing might be feeding fuel to the fire and telling you no one cares.
Connecting with a loved one will help to put those thoughts into perspective. Even if you don’t want to talk about your current feelings, reaching out can still be effective at suppressing intense depression symptoms.
When you’re feeling better and starting to build a positive daily routine, consider adding creating and establishing social connections to your priority list. You can do this in a few ways such as by joining a club, group activity, volunteering, participating in group therapy, connecting with neighbors, and completing random acts of kindness. This can help keep you feeling connected and fight the isolated feelings depression often brings.
Connecting with others is gratifying and creates feelings of being worthy, increases self-esteem, and can significantly improve mental health. Adding and creating strong social connections into your routine can help alleviate and suppress even the worst symptoms of depression.
7. Embrace laughter.
Smiling is contagious. Laughter is contagious. Not only is it contagious, but it quite literally makes you feel better. Laughter can decrease feelings of sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness. In addition, laughter physically triggers sensors in the brain to relax and release the happy hormone – serotonin.
On a bad depression day, it might feel impossible to embrace laughter. But, trust me, just try it. Watch a funny movie, turn on the comedy channel, view hilarious cat videos, or whatever else makes you laugh. Even if it doesn’t necessarily produce laughter, it will lighten your mood and relax the mind.
Be aware of the energy surrounding you and whether or not it’s triggering you. For example, if you’re always around “Betty,” who is very negative and complains a lot, you might find yourself feeling more depressed around them.
This is not to say to change friendship groups, but rather to set boundaries to protect your mental health and personal peace. This might look like hanging out with “Betty” less frequently or maybe in more social settings.
Be aware of the energy in the content you’re consuming, including shows, books, movies, podcasts, etc. Everything is energy, and while we’re constantly taking in the energy, our brains have to figure out what to do with it. For many, this type of energy can be triggering and let depression set in. Set boundaries and stick to them.
8. Splash cold water.
Perhaps this might sound like a strange thing to do if you’re having a challenging day, but here’s the thing: only so many emotions/feelings can exist in your brain at once. So if you’re struggling with something, an excellent way to “snap out of it” is to stimulate another sense. This isn’t a cure for depression, however, but rather a tool to cope with challenging moments.
How cold water can affect mental health:
- Cold water improves and increases the production of mood-boosting hormones.
- Exposure to cold water activates the vagus nerve, which in turn slows breathing and calms the body.
- Immersing yourself in cold water can act like a “pause” for depression symptoms and allow a “reset” and rest.
The benefits of adequate hydration are enormous. Incorporate drinking water into your daily routine to improve mental clarity and both physical and mental health and function. In addition, consider adding a short cold plunge into your self-care regimen.
9. Get outside.
On a lousy depression day, you might feel unmotivated with a desire to stay inside. I urge you to challenge that and get outside. Even just sitting in a chair outside can lift your mood.
There are loads of benefits to spending time outside regularly, but should it not already be a part of your routine, don’t fret, it’s not too late. The benefits can be felt immediately.
The benefits are even more noticeable when it’s sunny outside. The sun boosts your vitamin d levels and improves sleep and mood, which are essential when managing depression. A bad depression day can feel heavy. It might feel as if your body weighs too much for you to carry. Try to find every tiny morsel of energy you have and step outside. Just a few moments can make a big difference.
Add outdoor time into your daily routine. By now, you might be tired of my little points suggesting tweaks to your daily routine, or maybe you don’t have one, and you’re wondering how to make one. Don’t worry! A daily routine can be a huge and vital tool to help with depression. It gives a person a set of guidelines for the day and alleviates the anxiety about the unexpected. In addition, it can be a great tool to help a person stay motivated and accountable.
Add the following to your daily routine:
- Some form of joyful movement
- Practicing gratitude
- Get outside
- Drink water
If you add those four things into your daily routine in some way, shape, or form, you’ll have an easier time managing depression symptoms and have fewer bad days. The key, though, is to stick to a daily routine. Commit to taking care of yourself each and every day.
10. Look at photos that make you smile.
A bad depression day can be mentally exhausting. Depression often feeds and fuels negative self-talk, and you might be left feeling alone and isolated even though you have loved ones who care. Sometimes it is hard to overcome those symptoms to reach out to loved ones, and that’s where looking at photos can be helpful.
Everyone has a massive camera roll. Open it up and look through various memories. On a better day, you might want to make a folder on your phone of photos that bring you joy, have printed photos on display, or have a digital photo frame rotating through a select set of images. This can be a terrific way to keep happy memories in the front of your mind.
11. Get creative.
Break out your markers and paint and explore some color. Perhaps this might seem like a lot of work, and if so, how about a coloring book and crayons?
Exploring creativity can be a great way to express your feelings. Creativity can help to improve your self-esteem and give you a positive boost. It’s also a great distraction from the dark thoughts you might be having.
12. Don’t forget to eat.
When depression is bad, it can become difficult to practice self-care. Often, we neglect to provide care for our bodies during our darkest days, and eating might feel like too huge of an obstacle. However, food obviously has nutrients and vitamins that our bodies are craving.
If you’re not up to preparing a healthy meal, prepare and gather small snacks, so they’re easy to access. For example, granola bars, nuts, cheese, yogurt, etc. Taking small bites of healthy snacks throughout the day will help nourish your body.
Also, on days when depression symptoms are at their worst, keep nonperishable snacks nearby so you can still rest and nourish your body.
13. Listen to music.
Listening to music activates the neocortex part of the brain, which leads to the person calming down. Music is an excellent tool for bad depression days and can encourage and shift a mood into a more positive light. Listening to music can also decrease anxiety and lessen muscle tension in the body. Try listening to your favorite feel-good tunes and see how you feel!
You might consider making a playlist for future moments where music can help you. A playlist would keep your music organized and ensure you have easy access in your darkest moments. Notice how your body responds to different music and includes the tracks that leave you feeling a little lighter than before.
Any sort of emotional expression is an excellent tool to deal with bad depression days. Screaming or yelling gives a voice to inner emotions and releases pent-up tension. You might experience a calming feeling afterwards if you are very wound up. The release of this excess energy triggers a hormone in the brain telling the body to “let go.”
This is not to say you should scream all day because that would likely hurt your throat, but rather, a tool to be used when you’re feeling particularly tense and worked up. It can be helpful to let go of agitation and essentially release the emotions.
15. Read through motivational content.
Whether it’s motivational quotes, stories, or Instagram accounts, the form doesn’t matter; so long as it motivates and inspires you.
So on a day when you’re feeling better, you might consider making a Pinterest board with motivational quotes or investing in some books to reach for on those particularly tough depression days.
16. List three things you like about yourself.
Practicing self-admiration is a great tool to combat feelings of worthlessness and inadequacies. It’s pervasive for humans to have a never-ending list of the things we wish to change about ourselves and much less common to maintain a list of things we like.
So try to say three things you admire about yourself out loud or write them down in a notebook.
The benefits of loving yourself are undeniable, and on a bad depression day, what better time is there to remind yourself that you are amazing, wonderful, and worthy of love and respect. (A little thing I do is write the three things down and then read them back to myself. It helps in shallow moments because I’m feeling the sentiment through writing and hearing it while I read it.)
17. Create a gratitude list.
There isn’t a specific number of items you need to add to this list; the idea is just to practice gratitude. Over time, it will become more routine, but it might feel challenging in the beginning.
Remember that you can be grateful for anything. On a bad depressive day, you might be grateful for a cozy warm blanket or a soft fluffy pillow. On a better day, maybe you’re grateful for the ability to go for a walk or feel the sunshine on your skin.
Practicing gratitude is an excellent way to shift your mindset into more positive thinking. Not to mention that the benefits of practicing gratitude for mental and physical health are huge! It improves resiliency, self-esteem, relationships, and much more.
18. Bake a dessert.
Break out your baking instruments and treat yourself to a delightful dessert. You might choose a simple dessert like a cookie or a muffin if you’re having a more challenging day, and that’s’ perfectly okay!
Baking is both gratifying and satisfying. Not to mention, you’re left with a tasty treat! Baking as a hobby has even been proven to lower stress levels and is said to improve overall happiness.
19. Play with animals.
Maybe it’s a snuggle-up with your dog or petting the neighborhood cat, but playing with an animal can really brighten your day.
Playing with an animal has been shown to decrease the stress hormone in your brain called cortisol, which will make you feel lighter and calmer. In addition, bonding with an animal can decrease feelings of loneliness.
20. Pamper yourself.
Pampering yourself looks different for everyone, but permit yourself to spend time caring for and loving yourself. This might look like a long afternoon nap, a bubble bath, or bingeing on your favorite TV series.
But, on a bad depression day, there isn’t any better time to indulge in yourself. This can help to improve your inner dialogue and your relationship with yourself.
21. Set a timer to wallow.
It can be helpful and therapeutic to actually let yourself feel whatever it is that you’re feeling. This can look different for everyone.
For example, you might allow yourself to lay on the couch one day and feel sad, but the next day you have a rule that you must continue your daily routine. Or, maybe one day might be too long, and you make it half a day instead.
Again, it’s different for everyone, but the idea is to let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling and then try to move past it. Once the timer is up, then it’s time to return to your regular routine.
22. Give yourself a pep talk.
Tell yourself that you can do this. Remind yourself that this is just a hard moment and that it will pass. Furthermore, remind yourself that you’ve made it through every moment until this point because you’re strong. Just talk to yourself like you would to your best friend.
It can be debilitating to live with depression, and on a bad day, things can feel impossible. Tasks like brushing your hair or preparing yourself a meal can feel meaningless and get brushed to the side without you even realizing it.
These tips are tangible pieces of information that will help you get through even the darkest depression day. First, remember to show compassion and give yourself the grace and permission to feel your feelings. Then, take care of yourself.
Look for a way that feels good for you to function through even the worst day. It IS possible, your feelings DO matter, and the world DOES need you. Remind yourself of this over and over, until you find it believable
A few things to help with living a full life while living with depression at the same time are to create and maintain a daily routine, talk to someone, see your doctor, take your medication if prescribed, go to therapy, get creative, and get comfortable with your feelings. Over time, these things will help your overall mental health, and should hopefully mean fewer bad depression days to contend with.
Still not sure what to do during a bad depression day? Talking to someone can really help you to handle whatever life throws at you. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.
We really recommend you speak to a therapist rather than a friend or family member. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to challenge the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing and help you get back to a more neutral place where you can live your life more easily.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.
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