Preventing depression, especially during stressful times is critical for mental health. Fortunately, there are daily habits for depression. They really come in handy, especially during stressful times. You will learn more about these daily habits for depression in this article.
Daily Habits For Depression
When I was younger in my teenage years and in my early 20s, I experienced some bouts of depression that were really painful and lasted a couple of months.
Now, I’ve developed a mental health routine, some habits and practices that keep me healthy now. I can honestly say I haven’t had a depressive episode for probably thirteen years maybe longer.
But I do have to constantly work to maintain my mental health. And just like physical health you know you have to maintain your body by exercising and eating the right food and if you’re sick or injured you go to the hospital or you go to the doctor when you’re when you’re ill.
With mental health you also have to take this daily action to be healthy. I think a lot of people don’t think about that. They just think about taking care of their mental health when they are depressed or when they are experiencing an anxiety disorder.
And I see mental health much more about this process of creating health instead of just treating illness. And when things are stressful I have to take extra care to manage my mental health.
So for example when I was in grad school, which was really stressful or when I’m pregnant or postpartum which are really exhausting and stressful times. These are times when I have to take extra time to care for my mental health.
And so right now, we as a global community, we’re fighting a pandemic. A lot of people are scared a lot of people are stressed out, and many of us if not most of us are in lockdown we’re doing social distancing we’re alone in our homes and this can be a scary and stressful time
Take Extra Care For Our Mental Health
So we all have to take a little bit of extra care for our mental health. But these routines and habits that I’m going to teach you they’re gonna apply to even when the Coronavirus is taken care of and things are back to a new normal, which is hopefully a better normal.
I actually believe that we can be a better worldwide community after Coronavirus than we are before it. So what I’m gonna talk about today is more about maintaining mental health than it is about getting out of the deepest pit of depression.
So when you’re in a deep depressive episode it can be really hard to see any light. I mean it feels like you’re at the bottom of a pit.
When I’m there I couldn’t imagine what it feels like to be out of it. And at that place often all you can do is take these tiny little steps and then hopefully also you can get some help to get you out of there.
So don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed by all of these ideas that I’m gonna share with you, but if you are in that place you’re feeling you know an overwhelming feeling of despair or depression, don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed by the tips and tricks that I’m gonna offer you. Just choose one little thing to start with and then after that you know after you’ve gotten that one figured out, you can take the next little baby step.
Okay so let’s talk about morning routine. So, the first thing I do every day is I get on my knees and I pray. I express gratitude for my day and I express I express gratitude for my life and the opportunity I have to do good in the world.
And that connection with God for me it helps me feel loved and purposeful throughout my day. If you’re not religious, you could do some meditation or a breathing exercise at this point.
But whatever it is start your day with an intention and for this reason I try not to look at my phone first thing in the morning because I want to start my day intentionally the way I choose it to be.
So if I open social media I’m letting others choose what I take in and that could be positive and it could be negative. It could be stressful, it could be uplifting, or it could be critical. So, I choose instead to start my day with some quiet time so that I can control how my day begins which can set the tone for my day.
So I do a little reading and then I write up my goals and my intentions for the day, and right now with everything that’s frightening and all the news that’s pretty anxiety provoking, I don’t read the news in the morning.
I choose to listen to the news around lunchtime so I do it once a day, and I do that so that I don’t get constantly stressed out. I also choose lunchtime because then I have time to process it throughout the rest of the day like I have time for my brain to work through the new information or the new difficulties that are going on.
And I can do that during my waking hours instead of reading the news right before bed which might mess up my sleep or doing it in the morning which might kind of set the tone for my whole day.
So I make sure that my morning routine is about intentionally setting the tone for the day how I want it to be and I set the tone that I have a good day by doing this.
Okay so now that we’ve talked a little bit about how I manage my morning routine and talking about doing things during my waking hours, let me talk for just a minute about sleep.
So I have 3 kids, 5 and under. I usually wake up before them to get some quiet time and to set my intention for the day, but my natural wake-up time is around 5 a.m. I don’t usually set an alarm. But because I can’t really sleep in, physically I’m like incapable of sleeping in, I often have to go to bed between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. to get enough sleep.
And I’m not like fighting my natural biorhythms. I’m not like setting an alarm and forcing myself to wake up. I just listen to my body and this is the schedule that works best for me personally.
For many people, they might have different sleep needs or different schedules, but regardless of what your personal sleep needs, it’s like, you should find out what they are and take care of them.
And that’s because sleep is super important to managing depression. So there’s this really massive correlation between sleep problems and depression. Lack of sleep can actually cause depression and getting good sleep can let your brain heal from depression.
So I really value sleep. Plus I just like how I feel when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. And because of that, I have old friends who’ve nicknamed me 9:05 because I often go to bed at that time, and for sure like I miss out on some fun.
It’s hard for me to do like a lot of those late-night social activities. But because going to bed early is what keeps me healthy, it’s worth it for me. Now each person has different sleep needs.
Your needs are different but getting enough sleep can really make a big difference. One study found that 87% of people with depression who resolved their insomnia significantly decreased their depression symptoms.
Showering And Getting Dressed
Okay so another really important thing to do after you wake up, you’re refreshed because you got a good night’s sleep, you took your time to set your intentions for the day; I make sure that I get showered and dressed. And I found that this can be really hard when you’re depressed but being clean and dressed helps me feel more energetic and it gets rid of my excuses.
So I mean like if I have yesterday’s makeup all over my face and I’m wearing my pajamas it makes it hard for me to want to go out and see friends or be social or get things done.
So like for example if I’m at the store I’m gonna kind of avoid talking to anyone who I run into that I might know because I look like a bum. Or if I go drop off my daughter at preschool, I’m not gonna be chatty with the teacher. Those are the kinds of interactions that also help make our day better and more enjoyable. So for me getting dressed kind of sets the tone that I’m here for the day. I’m ready to go and helps me have a better day.
Keep A Healthy Diet
The next part of my routine that helps fight off depression and keep me mentally healthy is nutrition. So I take my multivitamins. I eat well. If I remember, I take my omega-3 supplements and nutrition is just an important part of my routine. I try to eat a lot of plants. I try not to eat too much sugar or processed foods.
But I’m not gonna go into that too much right now because it can be kind of overwhelming to think about changing your diet or eating right. So, just store that away. If you have the ability, eat well.
Okay, the other essential part of my mental health maintenance is exercise. There is so much research that exercise is great for mental health. It helps clear brain fog, it helps reduce stress chemicals in your brain, and I feel like when I exercise it just works through this backlog of pent-up emotions. I can feel my body relax.
Exercise helps me deal with anger and frustration and honestly, I just like it. I know a lot of people who don’t like exercising but I actually enjoy it and I think one of the reasons people maybe don’t like exercise is because they’re doing boring and mindless exercises at the gym, walking on a treadmill or pushing themselves in a way that’s really painful or uncomfortable.
So, I try to exercise in a way that I enjoy I try and do things that are enjoyable for me and I try and do them at a time that I enjoy.
So a lot of people like to exercise in the morning but for me back when I worked full time, I always used to go to the climbing gym or go for a run after work. That’s because that’s when I needed it the most. It’s also kind of hard for me to get motivated in the mornings to work out. But by the afternoon because I was maybe stressed out that day, I’m looking forward to it.
Now that I’m a full-time mom I have to be a lot more creative in how I get my exercise in. So I often just do yard work, I garden. I dig in the dirt. I’ll literally go run around my yard with my wheelbarrow, load rocks in it, and move them really fast because they need to be moved.
Or if I’m not in the garden then I’ll do some yoga on TV or I’ll go for a walk with my kids or pull them behind my bike.
And now that a lot of us are stuck in our homes with the Coronavirus pandemic I’m doing a lot more inside workouts. So I like this seven-minute workout on my phone or the Fitness Marshal on YouTube if you haven’t seen him, he’s hilarious. So those are some good ways to get exercise if you’re stuck indoors or don’t have a lot of time.
Spend Time In Nature
Nature time is another essential aspect of my mental health and it’s really important to me to get some outside time. So I need nature like I just have to have some. I need to see the sky and soak in the sun and I’m fortunate to live in a super beautiful place.
Benefits of Nature
I have beautiful mountains behind me and I take advantage of this beautiful place by getting outside. There’s actually research out there showing that sunshine changes your physiology. So, we have different physiology, like a different heart rate and different blood pressure on sunny days than we do on cloudy days.
And so being out of nature is I think an essential part of our physical and mental health.
Okay so being out in nature it’s good for your stress levels, it decreases your heart rate, it helps with stress chemicals and stuff but regardless of the research, I can just feel the difference.
When I’m outside I feel healthier I feel happier and when I’m stuck indoors I am actually kind of cranky pants. So if you can’t get outside open your windows, sit on your porch, or if you can’t do any of that then you can spend some time looking at beautiful landscape photography, or a nature film. Because your brain has the ability to bring to mind the feeling of nature just by imagining it.
Okay now let’s talk about my evening routine. So my evening routine looks like getting my kids to bed by 8 o’clock and that’s like this massive stressful struggle, but then I take some quiet time for myself.
I usually take a hot bath or I read a book or an archeology journal. Yes, I am kind of a nerd but that’s what I like and that’s what helps me relax. So even though I have like very few hours to work on my passion project, which is these videos, I usually don’t work on them in the evenings because it would probably contribute to overall stress levels.
I need the downtime to stay healthy. So I intentionally plan my day to relax and take downtime. So I take a bath and read something relaxing. I often write in my journal. I use a little journaling app called Day One. And I use a template there that prompts me to write about my accomplishments of the day and my wins of the day, what I’m grateful for, and any good that I was able to do that day.
And the reason I do that is so that I can remember them. Because it’s my natural habit to dwell on my mistakes and my own shortcomings. So I write about my wins and then before I go to bed, I pray a prayer of gratitude and I talk with my Heavenly Father about my day.
Now again gratitude practice is an essential habit of mental health and it’s been shown to be an effective treatment for depression. You can pray about it or you can express gratitude as a family.
I actually have a reminder on my Alexa to express gratitude and so we do that at dinner time. Or you could just write about it. You can do a gratitude journal. Do whatever works for you. But I think gratitude before bed is really good for mental health.
So then after that, I go to bed. I try not to spend time looking at screens before bed but if I do I choose something really calming like a documentary or a Mudlarking channel on YouTube like Nicola White’s.
If you don’t know what mud larking is, it’s just like walking down the mud of the River Thames and finding historical bits and bobs. So anyways I find it relaxing and I encourage people not to go spend too much time on TV or watch anything too stressful before bed, because really that’s not very conducive to brain health.
But if you do choose to watch TV just choose a short and calming show. Other self-care for me includes scheduling time for my hobby. So I have tons of hobbies but because I’m so busy with kids and I’m a full-time mom, I really don’t have the time to do most of them. And if I wasn’t intentional I wouldn’t have time to do any of them. But I do make sure to carve out about two hours a week to do at least one of them. So right now that’s metal detecting.
So that’s something I do that is fun and it’s relaxing for me, I put it on the calendar so that I make sure it happens. Another thing I do is take the Sabbath off. I do not work, I don’t do housework, I don’t check my work email, and I let my brain completely focus on other things.
Now mostly that’s my family which is actually really exhausting because of these little kids. But at least that day is completely different from the other six days of the week.
So there’s like one last thing that I make sure to fit into my day and into my schedule that helps me stay mentally healthy, and that’s social interactions. So having social interactions is really essential for our mental health. Our brains are inherently social. We’re social creatures.
So right now with the coronavirus and everyone on lockdown, this is going to be an extra challenge. And some of the things I’m doing to stay healthy right now is taking the time to call up old friends, and making sure to FaceTime and video chat with people who I can’t see face to face.
And it really is better to have physical hugs and see people eye to eye, for our brains than it is just to talk to them on the phone or message them. So whatever you can do to make those interactions more personal is gonna be better for your brain.
So I have some groups that I’m hanging out with on Zoom’ and when we’re not on lockdown I meet up with friends. I schedule playdates with other moms and go out to lunch or whatever.
I always just make sure to have social interactions be part of my routine, so that I’m able to stay mentally healthy. And this is something that I think for a lot of people comes really naturally but for me, I actually have to work at it. I have to take extra effort to be social because it’s not really that easy for me.
Anyway, so there you have it. That’s my daily routine to maintain mental health. So I have a careful morning routine. I make sure to get enough sleep. I get dressed every day.
I exercise and I get some outside time. I carve out time to relax every evening. I practice gratitude. I acknowledge my successes and once a week I make sure to get out and do something just for me.
So I hope you can find some things from this list to help you figure out a way to maintain your mental health. Just remember, you’re braver than you know and you’re stronger than you think.
Click the link below to learn how you can process y our emotions.