1. Share what you’re going through with people you love and trust.
Don’t feel embarrassed confiding in a friend or voicing your struggles. Talking about your problems or worries is not a self-centered or self-pitying endeavor; it’s an act of courage. It can be the best thing you do for yourself to lighten the burden and begin the process of regaining your happiness. The people you talk to don’t have to be able to fix you, they just need to be good listeners. Sometimes all we need is a listening ear.
2. Keep a “thought log.”
Whenever you experience negative thoughts or sudden burst of sadness, jot down the thoughts and what triggered them as clearly and succinctly as possible. The act of writing down your worries is calming and therapeutic. Review your log when you are up to it. Read it with an open mind. Consider if the negative feelings were truly warranted. Question if there’s another way to view the situation. Worries and doubts oftentimes dissolve under scrutiny. If that happens, that’s great. However, if the worries are based on genuine risks, take additional measures to manage them.
3. Redirect your focus to the positive.
Of course, this is easier said than done when you have depression. That said, studies show that when people pay more attention to the positive it leads to improved moods due to a corresponding increase in their serotonin levels. An imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression. One technique that can help to redirect attention to the positive is meditation. Meditation has been shown to increase dopamine levels, serotonin levels, and boost feelings of happiness. Use meditation to “turn on” a state of happiness that can replace sadness. You can also try Heart Math training, which has been shown to strengthen the part of the brain responsible for turning on the “happy state.”
4. Go outside more.
The importance of regulated sunshine and light exposure for lifting moods (as well as energy levels) is huge. Light increases your productivity and happiness. Studies show bright light exposure may also help increase serotonin levels in the brain and alleviate depression symptoms. Aim for at least 15 minutes of sunlight a day to lift your mood. If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine, think about installing some halogen bulbs in your work area or getting a wakeup light.