So, you’re here. This is a big step. Maybe it’s your first step. Maybe you’re a little scared right now. And maybe you’re a lot depressed, or anxious. Maybe you’re panicking a little on the inside. Here’s how to start recovering from depression or anxiety.
How to Start Recovering from Depression or Anxiety | Depression Recovery
But first… It’s Ok to Ask for Help
When you’re depressed, overwhelmed, or struggling in some way, asking for help can be terrifying. But it can also be the very thing that gets you on the path toward a better life.
There can sometimes be a stigma that it’s not ok to ask for help ever, that you need to do everything yourself, or that it’s better to suffer alone than tell someone else.
But the truth is, you’re actually able to be your best self and do the most good in the world when you yourself are well, rather than burned out, stressed out, or depressed. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
And moreover, none of us are born truly knowing how to navigate life. So if you stumble and fall, it’s ok to ask someone for help who is a little farther along in their journey and may have some tips for how to get through what you’re going through.
It took me a long time to understand the idea that “no man is an island,” because I thought it was somehow more admirable if I did everything myself and never asked for help from anybody. But asking for help – whether that’s hiring a therapist or someone else to support you or just asking a friend for advice – can shorten your learning curve dramatically and help you get better a lot faster than if you tried to figure it out completely alone.
There is no shame in asking others for help as you navigate through life. 😃
Over the many years that humans have been living, there is enough collective knowledge in the world to sort through just about any problem or predicament you can think of: all you have to do is ask.
Wherever you are right now is exactly where you need to be. Trust that you will always get out of your experiences exactly what you need to.
So you’re here on this journey, and you’re taking the first step toward recovery. Although the road before you may be long, you’re not alone. If you need someone to talk to, you can work with an online therapist from the comfort of your home or talk to a free active listener on 7 Cups. People really do care.
And now, I’m going to share some tips to get you started. Specifically, habits that will keep you out of the clutches of depression and on the solid road to recovery. If you follow these tips every day, in whatever way you can manage, you will see a noticeable difference in your life.
This is a lot of information to take in, so if you want you can start by just picking and choosing a couple things to start with, and maybe integrate the rest over the next few months or year. Start with whatever is easiest for you so you can start building up small victories for yourself. Recovery is a process and a journey, so feel free to take it at whatever pace you’re comfortable with. With that said, here are my baseline suggestions for a healthier you:
1. Exercise several times a week.
Or do some other form of movement that gets you sweating and therefore releases endorphins, which = happy hormones! I mostly get in my exercise by cleaning my apartment (with a heavy vacuum cleaner, etc) and walking places instead of driving, but it still works. It does wonders for your mood. Try it!
2. Meditate when you feel anxious, or daily to maintain calmness.
Just sit in stillness for 10 minutes and don’t think about anything, or let your mind wander without remaining fixed on any particular thought. That’s it. You don’t even have to do a yoga pose 🙂
3. If applicable, see your therapist regularly and take your meds as prescribed.
If you think you have depression or anxiety and you don’t already have doctors or a support system in place, I would definitely encourage you to seek help (Note: if you don’t want to take medication, realize that you do have a choice in this matter. It’s up to you and your doctor to decide. But there is also no shame in choosing to take medication). And if you try to reach out to someone and they don’t respond positively or in a helpful way, please please keep trying until you find someone who does. People don’t know how to handle mental illness, but it’s important you have professional help if you think you need help. If you can’t afford a therapist, see our list of websites for free online therapy.
4. Drink lots of water.
Try for 8 glasses a day. If that’s too much, just add an extra glass or two each day. It also helps you to not overeat, which we sometimes do when we’re depressed (if you binge on junk food, it will make you more depressed because of all the sugar and fat. And we don’t want that 🙁 ).
5. Eat more fruits and vegetables, and less junk food and alcohol.
Fruits and veggies give you energy! Sometimes if I need a quick boost I’ll eat a cup of steamed broccoli. And consuming junk, as you probably already know, makes you feel like junk. (Hopefully if you’re under 21 you’re not drinking at all 😉 Alcohol is a major depressant to your body). And please, eat regularly. If you skip meals or starve yourself, this can actually cause depression, anxiety, or mood swings.
6. Limit caffeine to 1-2 cups per day, tops.
I used to drink a lot of energy drinks in college but those can really mess with your body so try to keep it as simple as possible. Green tea (or herbal tea) is AWESOME for your body and health. And whatever improves your body’s health also helps your mental health. Keep that in mind.<
Ok, phew, that was a lot.
Action step: Pick one of the changes above and do it TODAY. If it’s night when you’re reading this, schedule it in for tomorrow. Set a reminder on your phone (if you don’t schedule it, you’ll be like “Mehhh maybe later” and then not actually get around to it.). So do it now rather than later. Even if it’s just making a cup of green tea or drinking a glass of water. Baby steps count.
You can do this.
[Recommended Reading: How to Start Feeling Better (Tips for Depression)]
This article is an excerpt from our 30 Day Negativity Detox, an online class about letting go of the negativity in your life and replacing it with positivity and good habits.
Are you looking for a way to keep track of your daily progress in recovering from depression? Use our Recovery Diary to keep track of your recovery progress for depression and anxiety.
This Will Help You Keep Track of Your Recovery Progress for Depression and Anxiety
- How to Start Recovering from Depression or Anxiety
- Daily Recovery Progress Tracker
- Free Printable Mood Tracker
Here are some pretty pages and inspirational prints / quotes in the beginning of the diary in the color version. (You get the same thing with the black and white version but it’s not quite as pretty).
Resilient’s Recovery Diary is a daily journal to keep track of your progress in recovering from depression or anxiety (or whatever journey you may be on). It includes some of our favorite articles from Resilient and the Negativity Detox and 365 daily entries with journal prompts and a checklist to keep you on track with healthy habits.
Here are some pretty pages about meditation (surrounded by nature!).
Here’s what the daily progress trackers look like. There are two days per page, and 365 days of entries. 🙂 Has morning and evening questions / journal prompts and a handy little checklist to keep you on track with healthy habits.
When I got home from college after dropping out because of depression, I didn’t want to get out of bed. But my family wanted me to, so I just transferred myself to the couch in the living room. Sometimes I would turn on the tv and watch marathons of Chopped, but mostly I just sat there and thought.
One day when I was lying on the couch not wanting to do anything, I figured if I was going to be out of school for a long time, I might as well do something productive with my life. I looked at my options. I could do some kind of online college class, go to in-person events just to get out of the house, or pick up a hobby. But none of these things made me happy, and my depression seemed determined to keep me drowning under the waves.
There was something that was my thing, and that was entrepreneurship. No matter what kind of day I’m having, the mere mention of startups still perks up my ears. I had been starting businesses in some form or another ever since I was a kid, and despite everything, this passion has never wavered.
So I started thinking of ideas, seeing which ones could become viable businesses. I spent my days glued to a wide purple notebook, pen in hand, sometimes moving from the couch to the table on our back porch in the mornings. If I was up early enough, I’d watch the sun come up. It was there, in the still mornings, that I learned about life and started to piece back together mine.
And as time went on, the depression started to lift. I was making more progress in my recovery, and the good days were more frequent than the bad. I started a couple different businesses, eventually settling on a web design business, and did a lot of experimenting and changing my ideas, and after a while, things started to work.
That business I started? Was the catalyst for my recovery. It was my reason to keep going. I knew that if I ever wanted make it as an entrepreneur, I had to get better. I didn’t become happy overnight after that, but it certainly helped.
After that, things did get easier. I found I had more energy to do things like go running and meditate and spend time in nature. These things, in turn, helped my mood even more. I started eating better, expressing gratitude, working on my negative beliefs and self-criticism, doing forgiveness work, and trying out every trick in the book to see what would help my depression.
After a while, I figured it out. It took a long time, more than a year, but eventually I figured out what I had to do to be happy and to stay out of the clutches of depression. And it actually works. It still amazes me to see that taking a few quick actions every day can keep me genuinely happy for the long term.
But this journey was incredibly difficult, and frustrating, and I didn’t have a lot of guidance about what to do. It was very lonely, and I wish someone who had already been there could have taken me by the hand and said, “Here’s what you need to do to get better.”
That’s part of why I started Resilient. I’m not a therapist, but I want to help you be happy again because I’ve been where you are. I have the personal experience of recovering from depression to be able to teach you everything I know, which I’ve learned over the years from reading dozens of personal development books, attending hours of therapy, and going to various psychology and self help classes.
One of the classes we offer on Resilient is called the 30 Day Negativity Detox, and it’s what I do on a regular (sometimes daily) basis to stay happy. You may have seen me mention this in some of our previous blog posts – a lot of them were actually from this class (I gave you some of our best material for free :)). It’s the things I did during my recovery that actually worked, and it’s a 30 day email series that goes step by step through what you need to do, one day at a time. You don’t have to be depressed for the rest of your life (because that would really suck, wouldn’t it?). Even if you work on this a little bit, things will get exponentially easier.
So this is your invitation to check out the 30 Day Negativity Detox. If you have a lot of negativity in your life, you worry all the time, you feel depressed, or you just feel like life generally sucks and you don’t really know why, getting rid of all the negativity in your life would definitely help you out. One of the first things we do in this class (spoiler alert!) is to find your reason why you want to recover. If you can find a compelling reason why you want to get better, everything will be so much easier, and it won’t feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle anymore.
If you want to recover and don’t know where to start, this is a good place to start. Because before you start to get happy and try to be optimistic and positive about everything, you have to detox from all the negativity that’s currently in your life.
One day at a time, you can do this.