I am no stranger to depression. I am also no stranger to anxiety, migraines, autoimmune disorders, and an overall feeling of “blah”. There are days where all of these feelings, aches, and pains rear their ugly head and it becomes nearly impossible to truly face the day. In the past, I would retreat into myself. Finding solace in mind-numbing activities, like watching TV or scrolling through Facebook. But, there is a big problem with that. Comparison kicks in. TV show characters portray unrealistically what life looks like. Friends on Facebook are out in the world, living their life while I sit at home merely existing. Comparison, the thief of joy, can push me down further into the sadness.
How to Help Yourself
The brain’s initial response to sadness is to become introverted, and introspective. Two things that can easily make my brain go from bad to worse. It only made sense to negate it the best way I knew how. Conversation.
Forcing myself to talk is the best thing I can do on a day where I’m suffering. It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about my feelings, venting about who they killed off on my favorite TV show or a book I’m looking forward to reading. The fact that I’m allowing myself to be audible starts to break down the boundaries that I instinctively put up. Hearing my own voice becomes a powerful tool for moving forward, and getting on with my day.
Social relationships are so important in encouraging conversation, and not allowing the negativity of the brain to take over. Studies have shown that limiting face to face social contact can raise your risk of suffering from depression. As someone who already suffers from depression, I can agree that allowing myself to be alone in a depressive state can only make matters worse. Engaging with the people you care about, and who care about you, in a social setting can greatly improve your mood.
“…that people with greater depressive symptoms appear to find greater satisfaction and meaning in their lives when they meet their need to belong, suggesting an important role for positive social relationships in [supporting] these important cognitive perspectives on life.” (Steger, 2009)
I n my personal experience, I’ve found that when I take it upon myself to go out into the world and spend time with loved ones, I shorten my depressive state. Rather than lasting my usual time frame of a week, I may only feel the overall sense of sadness and dread for three days. Being able to reclaim time is a huge benefit because it can allow me to be more mindful and productive. That alone can keep depression at bay!
Social Media is NOT Social Relationships
Social media has become a stand-in for real, personal relationships. Even though there is a place for social media when it comes to joining online forums with those with a common interest, or finding a support group; it shouldn’t be seen a “be-all, end-all”. Making time for one-on-one contact is pivotal in aiding mental health.
“Research has long-supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people’s mental health. But this is the first look at the role that the type of communication with loved ones and friends plays in safeguarding people from depression. We found that all forms of socialization aren’t equal. Phone calls and digital communication, with friends or family members, do not have the same power as face-to-face social interactions in helping to stave off depression.” (Teo, 2015)
Allowing yourself the opportunity for face to face contact, you open your mind up to different emotions and feelings. Subsequently, you allow your thoughts to wander away from your mood, and immerse yourself in the thoughts and stories of friends and family. Breaking the string of consciousness away from depression can only help revitalize your mood.
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of social relationships, and being open for communication in a depressive state, I implore you to take control of your mindset.
If you find difficulty in posing questions to loved ones when you’re in an emotional state, a conversation starter game may be just what you need. The Vertellis Classic Edition has really helped me be able to ask the right questions and open up in a casual way. The deeper the conversation, the better.
Steger, Michael F., and Todd B. Kashdan. “Depression and Everyday Social Activity, Belonging, and Well-Being.” Journal of counseling psychology 56.2 (2009): 289–300. PMC. Web. 11 May 2018
Teo, Alan “Face-to-face socializing more powerful than phone calls, emails in guarding against depression in older adults.” Oregon Health and Science University (2015). Web. 11 May 2018
Jessica Evans joined Team Vertellis back in October of 2017. When she’s not working, you can find her and her husband at Walt Disney World. She’s a lover of mid-century modern design, hockey, and historical fiction. Jessica and her husband, Andrew dated for a mere six months before getting married and looking forward to celebrating their ten year anniversary in January!
Read more by this author: Four Ways To Stop Scrolling and Start Talking