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We’re constantly being told what we should be doing to stop depression.
Eat more omega 3s, exercise more, see a therapist, get better sleep, try meditation, try yoga, do more self-care, find your life purpose, climb Mount Everest while wearing a bikini and cooking a seven-course meal…
Okay, that last one was clearly a joke, but you see what I mean don’t you, it’s all so overwhelming.
So overwhelming that it verges on the ridiculous.
But doing less, particularly doing less of certain things, I personally found to be a real contributor to curing my depression.
Because a few years ago I had very severe depression, like quit my job and some days I couldn’t get out of bed level severe.
Eventually, I figured out what I needed to be doing to get rid of my depression (for good I might add).
But in the meantime, I also figured out a few things that made it soooo much worse and stopped doing those.
The result: It gave me space in my depression to actually introduce a few of those things that are supposed to help!
And I still do them (or should that be don’t do them) to this day.
Why? Because these are all things that when I do them, depression or not, turns my mental health into an actual wreck.
So read on to discover the habits I’ve given up to keep my mental health stable and my head happy!
What should I not be doing to recover from depression?
1 – Watching the News
Let’s start this list off with a bang shall we. I don’t watch the news anymore.
I don’t read the newspapers, I don’t listen to it on the radio, I don’t browse news websites. I just don’t.
I realized that whenever I had finished engaging in a news-related activity I felt awful.
I was angry at the world for all the injustices, scared that things like that could happen and I felt powerless that all this suffering was going on and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
These were not thoughts that were conducive to good mental health. Nor were these thoughts conductive to helping the suffering around the world.
So I stopped watching the news and immediately, like within days, my mental health improved.
And because my mental health improved I was also actually able to do something to make a difference (I handpicked certain charities that I felt were doing good and contribute to them in some way, which is far more than I was doing when I was just sad and upset at the state of the world!)
I also think we have to remember that the news is, at its core, a product being sold. So the news isn’t unbiased and its purpose is to make money, therefore it’s not necessarily an accurate representation of what going on in the world at the moment.
It’s just an accurate representation of what that news outlet thinks will make it the most money…
2 – Being on social media all. the. time.
Honesty moment, I never gave up social media entirely, I more reduced the time I was spending on it.
I also reduced the ones I was on.
Like I got rid of Snapchat, I got rid of my personal Facebook account (I now just have the one attached to my blog) and mainly use Instagram.
I’m also extremely selective about who I follow.
If what someone is posting doesn’t improve my mood then I stop following them. It’s as simple as that.
This did mean I had to spend about an hour at one point going through everyone I followed and getting rid of accounts that didn’t make me happy, but it was so, so worth it.
Social media is amazing, like chocolate, but like with chocolate, if you have too much of it it makes you sick.
3 – Staying up late
I know this one sounds super dumb but hear me out.
I noticed (and still notice) that my mental health has wayyy more chance of not being great if I’m tired.
It’s like I can go from a 10% chance of poor mental health to an 80% chance of poor mental health when I haven’t had enough sleep.
So I gave up staying up late and embraced the early to bed life. Gamechanger.
4 – Leaving my house messy
After I decluttered my home for the first time and it was all neat, tidy and spacious I felt the lightest I had felt in years.
It was incredible.
Now I can’t be decluttering my home every day of course, ain’t no one got time for that, but when my home is tidy I get a similar feeling.
Gone are the days where the house routinely looks like a bomb has gone off. Sure, it doesn’t necessarily look like a show home, but everything is put away and the counters cleared.
5 – Expecting a lot of myself
I’ve always had very high expectations of myself.
Cripplingly high expectations.
But when I got depression, and then when my depression got really bad I had no choice but to throw those expectations out the window.
Some days mustering the courage to get out of bed was the best thing I could manage that day so it kind of put everything else in perspective.
And while I’m recovered now I still keep these expectations low.
I would much rather get to the end of the day feeling pleased I had accomplished everything on my to-do list (because I made my to-do list manageable) than get to the end of the day feeling like a failure because there are still seven more high priority items to get done…
Ending your days feeling like a failure does nothing for your mental health, trust me.
6 – Drinking alcohol
(Perhaps I should clarify this with drinking enough alcohol to get tipsy or more.)
Now I was never a massive drinker, but when I did drink I would notice my emotions getting out of control and my mental health generally disappearing down the toilet.
And this happened every time I drank.
I mean this shouldn’t have been a total shock, even the happiest people can become morose after drinking, so big massive shock that someone with mental health issues wasn’t feeling too hot after consuming one too many…
In the end, drinking only seem to make me sad, so I pretty much gave it up (I have the odd glass of pimms now and then).
It wasn’t a hard thing to do for me because the effects of alcohol on my mental health were so darn obvious and so darn negative.
7 – Complaining
Complaining is easy to fall back on.
You can nearly always find the negative in a situation and people love jumping on the bandwagon and complaining with you.
But all that negativity was negatively affecting my mental health in a big, big way.
So I stopped complaining and instead try to reframe the situation, no matter how dire, into something more positive.
Missed your train, ah well at least you now have some extra time to get a coffee and read your book.
Burned dinner and now it’s absolutely ruined, what a great excuse to get your favorite takeout!
Dropped your brand new iPhone and now you have to buy a new one, hey it’s a good lesson to always get a decent case for it AND always have insurance.
Sometimes it is super hard to see the positive in the situation to reframe it, but keep trying and you will start noticing you have a lot less to complain and reframe in the first place…
8 – Eating rubbish food
What you put in your body kind of matters, and with the brain gut connection becoming clearer and clearer, it’s obvious thatwhat you eat can have a direct result on your mental health.
And I don’t know about you but when I eat junk food I feel like junk.
So while I didn’t fully eradicate rubbish food from my diet (sometimes a drive-through is just necessary) I did cut down massively and make sure at least 80% of my diet consists of whole foods.
It makes a difference.
9 – Staying inside all the time
I am a massive introvert and a major homebody.
Therefore my idea of a great weekend is just pottering around at home.
But, what I realized is, even though in my head this seems like the nicest option it actually makes me feel pretty bad if I do it too often.
I’m not entirely sure why this is. Perhaps due to the lack of human contact or just the staleness of being in one place.
But as soon as I go out to do an errand or just a walk, not only do I appreciate being home so much more but my headspace is back where it should be, in the happy zone.
Now I’m not saying you need to plan a massive day out packed with loads of activities, but just getting outside to buy a loaf of bread or post a letter I found was enough to reset my mental health.
As you can see, these are all quite small things that I gave up, but they had such a massive, positive impact on my mental health I knew I had to share them with you.
I hope they help you as much as they helped me.