Depression is tough. Stress is also tough. Being depressed and stressed at the same time is even tougher. As a person who struggles with depression and has to manage stress on a daily basis, I have some good news for you:
Managing stress while being depressed is possible if you have a plan.
Depression has been a part of my life from as early as I can remember. Like a never-ending fog, I walk through it each day. As I have gotten older, I have discovered that it manifests itself in a variety of ways.
● Sometimes it feels like anger.
● Sometimes it feels like sadness.
● Sometimes it feels like emptiness.
● Sometimes it causes me physical pain.
● Sometimes it is a combination of the above.
● Sometimes it is all of the above.
Like most children, I wasn’t as aware of my thoughts and feelings as I am now, as an adult. At it’s worst my depression became extremely frustrating and overwhelming. The only way I knew how to cope with it was to act out.
Acting out included violent outbursts and harming myself.
● Acting out got me hospitalized 3 times in a psychiatric hospital.
● Acting out got me expelled from 3 schools.
● Acting out lead me to try and take my own life at age 10.
● Acting out mad friendships and dating difficult.
Nowadays, I still experience depression. Fortunately, I don’t act out like I did as a child. Through therapy, support groups, and being a mental health speaker, I have learned that there are other people who struggle with depression, too.
In addition to depression, I also get stressed out from time to time. Stress can be the result of challenges at work, at home, or in my personal life. Sometimes stress is the result of living your life. Let’s face it, life can sometimes just be overwhelming.
Through learning to manage my depression, I’ve also learned to better manage my stress. I’ve learned the hard way that being stressed while you are depressed is a crisis waiting to happen. If you don’t have a plan in place to manage both, it can end up costing you your job, your health, your relationships, and worst of all, your life.
Here are some tips that I have learned to help me cope. They are part of my plan to manage my depression and stress:
1. Get sun every day
According to Healthline, “Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. This is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.”
My goal is to shoot for a half an hour of sun. Ironically, an hour before I began writing this article. I was feeling extremely stressed and sad. I spent about a half an hour in the sun and am feeling much better.
2. Exercise every day
Like sun, it’s important that I keep my body moving, even if it’s just a quick ten-minute walk in the morning. In fact, you can walk and get sun at the same time. The combination of both, even for a short period of time will do wonders for your stress level and depression.
My trainer and nutritionist, Maik Weidenbach, has helped me manage both my stress level and depression with customized plans. Check out his article, Depression and Exercise: 10 Tips to Stay Motivated and Strong and his book 101 Fitness Myths.
3. Writing Things Down
When you are feeling overwhelmed, sad, angry, upset, anxious, etc…, a yellow legal pad can be your best friend. By taking a few minutes to write down everything that is on your mind you can quickly clear your head. As you clear your head, you will feel better.
Also, by seeing what is on your mind written down on paper, you will feel less overwhelmed. I am not sure exactly why this works, but it does. Ironically it’s an exercise that many therapists and professional organizers give their clients.
As I am finishing up writing this article, I feel a bit depressed and a bit stressed. Regardless, it’s not stopping me from being productive because I have a plan in place that I used to take care of myself today.
Managing your stress while being depressed is doable, but you have to be proactive. I encourage you to make a commitment to try one of the ideas listed above every day for the next week. I also encourage you to spend the next week creating a plan for yourself to manage your stress.
What will you include in your plan to manage stress while depressed?
Mike is a mental health advocate and creator of the website Transforming Stigma. To read more about Mike and his courageous work, click here.
Copyright, Daniel T. Lukasik, 2016