You know those days when you’re feeling depressed and lonely?
Those days when you are full of despair and feeling hopeless? Those days where it feels like you just want to crawl into bed and never get out?
Are you having one of those days today?
Let me help you manage the depression and loneliness. It IS POSSIBLE. It just takes some awareness and action.
#1 – Assess the situation.
There are two kinds of depression, situational and chemical. They have similar symptoms but different causes. Knowing what kind of depression you have is the first step to dealing with it.
Situational depression is caused by something that happens in your life. When something big happens that makes you sad, like the death of a parent or a divorce or the loss of a job, you can become situationally depressed. This kind of depression usually has a beginning, caused by a specific event, and an end, and is often treated differently from chemical depression.
Chemical depression is the result your brain chemistry being off in such a way that leads to depression. You are most often born with chemical depression but it can also by caused by a traumatic life event.
Chemical depression can happen to you even if your life is going great.
So, ask yourself some questions about what your life looks like these days to help you figure out what kind of depression you might have. If you think you have situational depression, read on.
If you think you have chemical depression here is an article for you to read to learn more about next steps.
#2 – Do things that make you feel good.
If you’re feeling depressed all of the time, our inclination is to collapse into our life. We stay in bed, we don’t shower or eat well and cut off contact with those we love.
Let me tell you: if you are feeling depressed and lonely, collapsing is absolutely the worst thing that you can do. Instead it is important to do things that make you feel good.
For me, I keep a list of things to do when I am feeling depressed. First off: take a long, hard walk (the endorphins are great for my depression). Also, do yoga. Watch The Walking Dead. Take a bath. Go to the movies. Have sex. Eat Pad Thai. When I am depressed I do one, or all, of those things and my depression is often lifted.
So, what makes you happy? Write out a list, when you aren’t depressed, of what makes you happy so that when you are depressed you are ready.
#3 – Manage your thoughts.
Unfortunately, when you’re feeling depressed and lonely, our worst enemy is that brain of ours.
While we are lying on the couch feeling sorry for ourselves, our brain is actively buying into it all. You are a loser, it says. You have no friends. You aren’t good at anything. You will never find love. You suck at your job. And on and on.
And, chances are, that none of those things are true. That you are not a loser, you have plenty of friends, you are talented, love is out there and your boss thinks you are doing great. But your brain, when you are depressed, just doesn’t go there.
It is really important, when you’re feeling depressed, to keep your brain busy. Yoga is a really good way to do this – you are so busy trying to figure out the damn pose that you don’t have a chance to think about anything. It also has the side benefit of toning your body and making you feel strong, which can be helpful.
Other options for keeping your mind quiet are: reading, going to a movie, hanging out with friends, working. Meditation is also an option but I just get more depressed when I try, and fail, to meditate. If you can do it, go for it!
What do you like to do that will help you quiet that mind of yours, the mind that is feeding into those feelings that are bringing you down? Figure it out and do it!
#4 – Go for a walk.
If it’s at all possible, take some time to go for a walk. There isn’t a woman I know who doesn’t say that her stress levels are always greatly reduced after a walk.
The thing about walking is that it kills two bird with one stone. Or rather three!
Walking encourages deep breathing which calms you down quickly. Also, for some reason, the motion of walking encourages clearer thinking. The rhythm of the stride and the increased oxygen intake can make something that was extremely overwhelming just 20 minutes earlier much easier to manage.
Furthermore, the dopamine that your body creates with the motion of exercise works to help alleviate your depression instantly.
So, get outside and get your heart rate up. It’s a great way to manage feeling depressed and lonely.
#5 – Share your feelings.
Sharing your depression and loneliness with another person is a key part of dealing with it.
They say that what is kept inside the head is 4x more intense than what is spoken. Also, if you share your depression you might learn something that will help you manage it. We all have things that work for us and sharing them with others can be very helpful.
If you have someone you can talk with about your depression and loneliness then absolutely do it. Be it a therapist, a life coach, a friend or a partner, let those overwhelming thoughts out of your head and into the world.
From there your thoughts have a reduced power and are easier to deal with.
#6 – Write it out.
Do you journal? Or write letters to yourself? Or scribble notes on post-its? If you do, great! If you don’t, it could be time to start.
Writing about things that are overwhelming you can be useful, both for your depression and your loneliness, especially if you don’t have someone with whom to share your sadness. Much like speaking, writing allows you to get your sadness out of your head and onto paper.
And when you can see your feelings on a piece of paper in front of you, instead of having it rolling around in your brain, it’s much easier to manage.
#7 – Find a friend.
I know. When you are feeling depressed and lonely one of the hardest things to do, ironically, is to get out of the house and spend time with people. Spending time with those who love you can lift your depression and loneliness big time, if only for a bit.
If the prospect of hanging with a group of friends is daunting, choose one friend. Perhaps the one who knows you best and can accept where you are right now emotionally. A friend who will put no pressure on you to ‘get over it’ or ‘suck it up.’ A friend who will laugh with you and be silly but who won’t try to fix you.
So, pick up that phone right now and reach out to that person. Make a date and do it! I promise you that that time spent will help you when you are feeling depressed and lonely.
#8 – Talk to your doctor.
If everything else fails and still you find yourself feeling depressed and lonely all of the time, then it’s time to call your primary care doctor.
Feeling consistently depressed and lonely might indicate some serious health problems and getting a complete check-up from your doctor could be really important.
Your doctor can take a look at all aspects of your life and help you come up with a plan for managing your depression and loneliness so that they don’t get worse. Which they will do if they are left untreated and allowed to persist.
Remember, your doctor won’t judge. There are lots of people who feel just like you do every day and that’s what doctors are there for – to help us all.
If you’re feeling depressed and lonely all of the time it’s important that you do something about it and do something about it now!
Do a quick assessment of your life and try to figure out what kind of depression you might have. Take care of yourself, make yourself happy, keep your brain busy, spend time with one friend and, if necessary, see your doctor.
Depression can go away on its own if properly managed but will get worse if left untreated. So, try the things that I recommended above but always pay attention to how you are doing. If you are getting worse and not better, get help!
You can do it!
If you’ve made it this far you must really be struggling with feeling depressed and lonely.
Let me help get you there, NOW, before the pain overwhelms you.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.