Depression can leave you feeling defeated or exhausted--what you don’t need are more rules or demands placed on you. The following suggestions are ways you can help yourself feel cared for and supported. You cannot “fail” at them--they are something to try and see if you don’t feel a bit better.

Being with others. In depression many people feel quite lonely or cut off. Getting empathy and encouragement is often key to recovery from depression. It is okay to ask for support. Phone caring family or friends. Attend spiritual services, AA, or another group you’ve let go by the wayside--or try a new group. Text HELLO to 741-741 to reach a trained counselor at the 24-hour Crisis Text Hotline. You can reach Psychiatric Emergency Services in Washtenaw County at 734-936-5900 or 911 if you need immediate help.

Doing a task you’ve been putting off. Depression and anxiety are often obstacles to getting things done. This can snowball into a difficult cycle of avoidance and falling behind. Doing just one small task interrupts this cycle, generates energy and a sense of accomplishment. Break big jobs down into reasonable steps. Start with the easiest step. Get support if you need it.

Becoming absorbed in what you’re doing. Focusing just on what is happening in the present is an age-old method of reducing depressive or anxious thinking. Meditation or ‘listening’ prayer are two ways to rest the mind from negative thoughts. Allowing yourself to be absorbed in the task at hand, the concerns of the people you are with, or restful enjoyment of pets or nature are some ways to do this. There are many resources for resting the mind online.

Improving nutrition. We often turn to comfort foods when depressed or anxious. Some eat more, while others lose their appetite when depression sets in. Choosing comforting meals that are nutritious and balanced can help you feel cared for. Try a variety of foods, vegetables and fruits, and get plenty of protein and fiber before thinking about fast food or junk food. Time spent shopping for and preparing healthier meals can provide a pleasant break from worry and stress. Many processed foods are high in sugar and starch, which can cause blood sugar levels to swing--and the highs and lows might contribute to ups and downs in mood. Reserve sweets and highly processed ‘treats’ for the end of a full, balanced meal.

Move around a bit every day. Consider adding up to half an hour of gentle exercise each day, such as walking, dancing, or household chores. Exercise is very good for general health. It also improves blood flow to the brain, can help with insomnia, and gives a feeling of accomplishment. It’s fine to start small. Congratulate yourself for every step you take--such as reading to the end of this page!