I just finished reading, Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig and if you have dealt with mental illness throughout your life, of any kind, but particularly depression, this book is a must-read.
It breaks down how depression works and what lies it feeds us, discussing the mental chatter we experience when we are depressed and the mental chatter we experience when we are out of a depressive state.
But most importantly, the book highlights that you can and will be happy again.
As we all know, however, depression is something that takes work and it is an illness that you constantly need to be on top of even if you have been doing well in your life for a significant period of time.
Because I have had absolutely debilitating periods in my life when I was seriously depressed, I am very conscious of enjoying every single moment that I have to be genuinely happy.
And honestly, I do believe that if there is one thing depression teaches us, is that there are many happy moments in life that make it worth living but you have to be intentional about seeking them out and looking for ways to maintain this happiness.
So, if you want to keep depression at bay, there are things you can do in your life every day that will contribute to your happiness and I have come up with a couple of tips to do so.
Here are 10 ways to maintain lasting happiness in your life if you struggle with depression.
1. Accept and enjoy every single moment where you are happy.
Depression or not, as humans, we are extremely pessimistic beings and we are always looking for something to stress over and be sad about. It’s as if we don’t think we deserve happiness or when we do get it, we can’t even believe it.
Well, guess what?
Believe it and bask in it! Sit in the joy you are feeling and exhale, and say, “Ahh, it’s good to be alive!” Because you know you have had countless moments when you weren’t so lucky. You deserve to be happy. Acknowledge it and pray for more moments like this.
2. Live presently.
I think it is definitely the nature of our society to always be in a rush and fail to actually acknowledge each and every moment, but try to. If you are out for a coffee, sit there in the coffee shop be present with your coffee, not thinking about the past and the future and just be. You’ll notice when you start to live in the present you are less anxious, more aware and also more productive. Life doesn’t always have to be about being in a rush. It’s okay to slow down.
3. Embrace going to therapy.
I was resistant to therapy at first because I viewed it as something negative for some reason. I guess I looked at it as more complex than it really is and I just associated it solely with depression and mental health issues but therapy is something everyone can do.
And it honestly gives you some amazing tools that help you get a grip on your emotions and understand what it is you are feeling. I am taking DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) right now and the skills I am learning are incredible.
If you have the chance for therapy, try not to resist it and give it a chance. More people than you even know are in therapy right now.
4. You have to stop comparing yourself to others.
I didn’t even say ‘try’ in the headline here. I said ‘have to’ because I know this is one of the most prevalent behaviors when it comes to people who struggle with depression and it definitely has been an issue for me.
Because of our nature to never feel like we are enough, we do this and recently I have intentionally been working on fighting comparison for my own happiness. If you struggle with comparison, just know that although very natural, it also unhealthy and actually a waste of time. Love yourself and focus on you. You can’t be anyone else.
5. Limit your time on social media.
I’m a writer so I need social media! But I have only two accounts right now, Facebook and Twitter and I will leave it at that. I’ve noticed in the past my urge to compare was heightened like 10 times more if I was on social media constantly and if you want to stay out of a slump or not slip back into depression, you have to be very intentional with social media. Unfriend people, unfollow people who trigger you and limit your usage. You will see a difference.
6. Start investing in yourself.
When is the last time you congratulated yourself for just being you? For finally getting that job you have wanted for months. For still trudging through with school. For simply surviving all you have survived in your life thus far. You have to start giving yourself credit where it is due and invest in your happiness. You deserve that much.
7. Read self-help books, they work!
I am currently reading 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head… by ABC News’ Dan Harris and he breaks down the inner voice in our heads that feed us negativity, which in turn leads to our anxiety.
His journey to wellness began when he had a panic attack live on air that stemmed from drug use and careless living. Reading books, especially self-help books that discuss people’s many experiences through life and how they coped can make you happy because you are learning how to stay well and how to incorporate better habits in your life.
8. Exercise and eat right.
As someone who loves food, I am not going to tell you to resist every treat because you should indulge now and then but certain foods such as foods with high sugars and sugary sodas can contribute to your mood. In addition to taking my medication, I take vitamins and I am incorporating a healthier diet and exercise into my lifestyle so that I ensure I stay well.
What you put into your body makes a difference, so try and remember this so you can easily regulate your mood.
9. Remember that great things take time.
You aren’t in a race with anyone in your life as a twenty-something and you don’t have to be at a certain place in your life to be considered ‘successful’ so try not to cave into that pressure because all great things take time. You never got that job that you have overnight and you never became a great writer overnight either so where you want to be is going to take work and patience. Decrease your stress and depressive thoughts today by knowing that eventually, you will get there.
10. Never believe that you can’t be happy again, because you will.
I will end by saying that even in the darkest moments of your life, moments where believed you may not survive (or maybe you barely did) and moments where you are gasping up for air constantly, you WILL be happy again because you deserve it and it is attainable. It’s all in how you choose to experience life, and believe it or not, you do have some control over that.
Don’t ever let negativity or depression win, you can be happy.