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Depression is a challenging mental health diagnosis, to say the least. It is a complex mental health disorder and disease of the brain, occurring when certain brain chemicals become imbalanced. Depression has social, psychological, and biological origins, and can be triggered by many factors, including stressful life events, genetics, illness, and more. Due to the complex nature of what causes depression, it can take an equally complex, multi-faceted approach to manage this disorder. Keep reading to learn how to combat depression in New York.

One of the challenges in managing depression is that hopelessness, lack of motivation, and lack of energy are symptoms of the disorder that make it difficult to do the things that will help control your symptoms. Also, there is often a delay in improvement due to the apathy experienced by depressives that makes it feel as if what you are doing is not paying off; making you want to quit before these coping skills can take effect. Please read the following tips to combat depression in New York with this in mind. Start small and keep going, despite your brain telling you that what you are doing is not paying off. That is the depression talking. The following tips are scientifically proven to help to manage depression:

1. Stay Active.

When you have depression, energy levels can drop drastically. However, last thing you want to do when you are depressed is to remain inactive. It’s scientifically proven that physical activity fights depression. Exercising increases the neuro-plasticity of your brain releases neurochemicals called endorphins, which help to elevate mood. Start small; get your heart rate up 10 minutes a day, then work your way up to 20 minutes. Do your best to get out of the house; take a walk, find somewhere scenic, park, beach, nature trails, or just around the block. Any bit counts!

Do your best to maintain a routine. Sleeping too much or too little, skipping meals or exercise, and neglecting your personal needs all feed into and exacerbate depression, so combatting this with a daily routine that addresses these needs can be extremely beneficial. Start by giving yourself 3 MUSTS to do during the day, such as taking a walk, engaging in one act of self-care, and calling a friend. Do this consistently for a week, then add one item to your routine each week, and before you know it you will have built a routine with healthy habits to keep your depression at bay.

2. Stay Connected.

When depressed, you may experience negative thoughts telling you to isolate and not burden others with your problems. Try not to listen to these thoughts! They are a symptom of the hopelessness of depression not based in reality. Giving voice to your struggles to another person can lighten your burden and start to turn the tides of depression. Instead of being a burden, your friend or loved one will most likely be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them.

Try to move beyond small talk. In order to develop a connection that will ease your loneliness and depression, it helps to take a risk and truly open up. Sticking to small talk and limiting yourself to a surface connection with others might actually make you feel even lonelier. Open up about what you’re going through, the feelings you’re experiencing. 

If this seems too much, even the simple act of putting yourself in a social atmosphere can alleviate depressive symptoms. Try going to a place where there are people who may have similar interests as you, or even to a public spot like a museum, park, or mall, where you could enjoy being amongst people and feel a sense of connection.

3. Worry Less.

This is easier said than done. Worries are completely normal, but can become problematic when persistent and pervasive. Excessive worrying can hurt your well-being and lead to a state of chronic anxiety or stress, which if left untreated can lead to depression. 

Stopping worrying involves confronting our beliefs, values, and emotions. Explore the origins of your worry, take constructive action when you are able, and accept what is outside of your control. Investigating your worries can be a helpful way to put these thoughts into their proper perspective. Observe your thoughts as an outsider-what would a friend or relative tell me in this situation? Am I being irrational? Is there evidence to combat my worry? 

Bottom line: Don’t believe everything you think!

4. Be Mindful.

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing your attention in the present moment without judgment. This can be beneficial in managing in depression by learning to detach and distance yourself from depressive thoughts. Mindfulness can help you realize that depression-fueled thoughts are just thoughts and not facts. Becoming emotionally attached to these thoughts is them often triggers negative thought spirals, not the thoughts themselves. One exercise that can assist with this is called “thought detachment,” where you imagine your thoughts are drifting clouds or leaves floating by while you practice not engaging them or becoming attached to them.

Also, instead of actively suppressing or resisting depressive thoughts, which may worsen symptoms, try to accept them. Acceptance does not mean resigning or giving up, it means acknowledging the feelings or thoughts are present, and letting go of things outside of your control. Research suggests that practicing acceptance can help improve symptoms of depression, quality of life, and ability to function.

5. Find Positives.

Depression can make things seem even worse than they really are. When you’re depressed, everything is filtered through a lens of negativity. By recognizes this, you can start to change your perspective to a more positive viewpoint.

Find simple sources of joy. A symptom of depression is anhedonia, which means you do not find pleasure in activities you normally found pleasurable. However, push yourself to do things that will boost your mood throughout day. Listening to uplifting music, watching funny television shows or videos, spending time with your pet, or being out in nature are some simple examples of joy-boosting activities.

Find one thing to be grateful for. When you’re depressed, especially at this awful time, it can seem that everything in life is bleak and hopeless. But even in the darkest days, it’s usually possible to find one thing you can be grateful about. It sounds cheesy but acknowledging your gratitude can provide relief from negative thinking and break the negative cycle of depression.

6. Self-Care.

Self-care can be difficult when you are depressed, because of the lack of energy, motivation and feeling unworthy of deserving anything positive that often accompany depression. Start by aiming for small goals like getting up out of bed, getting in the shower, sitting in a different room, and getting some sunlight or fresh air.

Pay attention to your senses. Take the time to see, feel, hear, taste and touch. Things like getting out in the sun, listening to music, getting a hug or eating tasty foods all help to soothe you. Activities that appeal to the senses boost frontal lobe functioning, which is helpful in combatting depression

With all of these suggestions, remember there is no “quick fix.” It may take weeks of developing a routine with the items listed before you start to feel better. However, if practiced regularly, it is scientifically proven that you will feel better with your depressive symptoms. If you feel you need additional support in managing your depression in New York, contact our office, we’d love to help you on your road to recovery.

By Alexandria Baxter, LMSW

Sometimes we convince ourselves that taking time to recharge is a luxury we can’t afford. However that is not true. Whether we can proactively allot an hour a day for ourselves or we have an unplanned ten minute gap between two meetings, we have time to take for ourselves. In this article we will take a look at how to prioritize self care.

Regardless of which group you belong to, you can use your time to reconnect with old friends, take some time outside or anything that will leave you feeling more centered. An important thing to keep in mind when it comes to using our downtime wisely is to make sure that whatever we are doing during our break increases our sense of wellbeing. With all the social media platforms, we may automatically go to our newsfeed and mindlessly scroll during unplanned free time. However, we may notice that after we’ve gotten lost in social media posts we don’t feel any more rejuvenated than when we started. This tells us that we didn’t use our time as wisely as we would have liked. 

A lot of times we believe we are important if we are busy, especially important if we are unbelievably busy. We forget to remind ourselves that busyness often leads to stress and dissatisfaction with our lives. This is why we value time off from work and vacation so highly because those are times when we are either not busy or significantly less busy. It is time we can take to slow down and reset.

It can be helpful to sit down and make a list of things we want to have more of in our lives so when we get a block of free time, no matter how long it is or if it is planned or unplanned, we have an idea of how to feel more recharged after that time rather than getting lost in a social media newsfeed. So my challenge for you is to sit down at some point in the next week and make a list of things that bring you joy and have it saved in your phone or keep a copy in your wallet so next time you get a surprise 10 minute break, you can use it wisely. 

If you are unsure of how to start, here are a few ideas to get your self-care going:

  1. Make a list of old friends or family you have fallen out of touch with. Next time you have a few minutes, send them a text or give them a call to set up a time to have dinner or meet for coffee to catch up.
  1. If you enjoy getting some sun, maybe take a walk around the block or sit outside for a few minutes.
  1. Make a Spotify playlist of songs that remind you of good times in your life. 
  1. Keep options of your favorite drink nearby & make yourself a cup of your favorite tea or coffee next time you have a few minutes. 
  1. Get yourself a gift card to a nearby bakery or shop that has snacks you enjoy. 
  1. Breathe. Sometimes simply doing nothing can be the most rewarding thing. Close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths while thinking of nothing but the feeling of inhaling & exhaling. Try to count one breath at a time from 1-5, anytime your mind wanders, start over again at 1 until you can reach 5 without wandering off, (Even if you have to restart 5 times, this will likely take you less than a minute). 

You Deserve to be a Priority

No one wins the game where the busiest, most stressed person gets a medal. Life is not one great big emergency, chronically not taking care of yourself is. Self-care is not selfish. If you find yourself struggling with separation busyness from importance, remind yourself that you are important regardless and can prove it to yourself by prioritizing time for you to recharge & reset so you can conquer what lies ahead of you. If you feel you need additional support in reducing your stress and figuring out your life goals, give our office a call.

Mindfulness practices have gained more popularity in recent years. When we think of mindfulness a lot of us may think of yoga or deep meditations in a forest somewhere. These are both wonderful practices but may not resonate with everyone. Mindfulness is the practice of doing one thing, with your full attention, at a time. When we allow ourselves to focus solely on one thing and permit ourselves to be in the present moment, we give ourselves the opportunity to be fully engaged in the here and now moment rather than having one foot in the present and the other in whatever our mind is thinking about. This can sound challenging at first but with effort, we can give ourselves the tools to enhance our concentration, decrease our stress and fully attune to what is going on around us. 

Where to Start?

A great way to begin our foundational for mindfulness is to start by focusing on one thing, any one thing. In reality, this can be difficult since we are socially programmed to maximize every second by multitasking as much as possible. This means pursuing mindfulness can be challenging. It’s okay. There are no expectations and just like anything, it will take time, dedication and practice to hone your skills. To prevent from becoming frustrated or judging ourselves for struggling at first, we can encourage ourselves to show ourselves compassion and gratitude for trying something new to improve our well-being. If we begin a mindfulness practice, anything from driving our car to focusing on our breath, and we notice our mind is wandering elsewhere, we can gently recognize it and redirect ourselves back to the focus of our practice in the present moment. We can do this each time we have noticed our mind has wandered and by redirecting it each time, we are reminding ourselves that we have control over our thoughts and are capable of overcoming distractions. 

Each person is different so naturally, how we start may be different as well. One person may pick mindfully listening to a song while another may choose to mindfully drink a beverage while another may decide to mindfully focus on their breath. There is no wrong way to practice mindfulness as long as you are staying engaged in the present moment and bringing yourself back whenever you notice your mind has wandered. 

Benefits of Mindfulness

Staying present can have wonderful benefits, it can reduce our stress, enhance our concentration and improve our sleep. This is because when we allow our minds to buzz about from topic to topic, stressor to stressor we are actually putting ourselves through that stress twice. If something is truly going to be challenging, then it will be challenging whether we perseverate about it or not so when we focus on how difficult it will be we are ensuring we will struggle both times. By honing our mindfulness skills, we allow ourselves to be engaged and focused in the present and give ourselves room to enjoy what is in front of us. Mindfulness can be a wonderful tool for those struggling with anxiety, emotional dysregulation due to trauma reminders, relationship stressors and a myriad of other challenges. If you feel this is something you are struggling, please reach out so we can enhance your mindfulness practice together.

By Marissa Ahern, LMSW

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Remember: You are not your mental illness! Start your therapy journey today by requesting a free consultation to connect with the therapist who best fits you.
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Take the first step in healing.

Remember: You are not your mental illness! Start your therapy journey today by requesting a free consultation to connect with the therapist who best fits you.
Request a Consult
Subscribe for our Good Vibes Newsletter to join our community and stay up-to-date on our local events, workshops and groups!
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© 2023 Suffolk Family Therapy. Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LCSW, PC License and State: 087409 New York.
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