Health & Wellness > Depression

Depression Coping Strategies

There are many legitimate reasons one can feel depressed at times. Espeically in retirement, after the initial joy of leaving the workforce fades, one can struggle with how we identify our sense of self. This is true especially here in the U.S. where our culture tends to associate one's identity with their profession rather than who they are as a person.

It is important to consider that we are not what we do! Rather, our values, beliefs, relationships and goals are a better way of defining onself, rather than basing our self-worth exclusively on our achievements, financial/social status or occupation. You are still you. Some things have changed, such as income, social connections and how you spend your time, but these are things you can change with some effort. Other things that we can't change can be more of a challenge to us emotionally.

Major life events such as the death, divorce, moving, or declining health and finances can all lead to depression. When these events occur, it is crucial to learn coping strategies to help you process your emotions and the impact of what has happened and give yourself time to adjust to the situation.

We can apply transition management princples to understand the phases of these major life changes. This includea acceptance of what transpired, time to grieve, understand what has changed, consider what is new or different and explore your options. To help you get through these phases, its important to take advantage of resources that are available to help you cope, and when you are ready, create a plan to move forward.

It is important to know that many people go through these life challenges and you don't need to go it alone. There are numerous organizations that can provide the support you need. It is very important to not isolate yourself and ask for help. Talk to a loved one, a trusted friend, your doctor, therapist, or seek professional guidance appropriate to your situation. There are many resources available and taking advantage of them is an excellent way to cope, explore our options and take appropiate action to regain a sense of control of your life.

What You Can Do

Talk to your doctor or a therapist: If feelings of depression persist and interfere with your daily life, it's important to talk to your doctor about addressing your depression. Seeking help for depression is a brave and proactive step towards healing and recovery. You can also contact a national helpline if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide or needs other depression related assistance.

Get Help - National Helplines

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, don't hesitate to contact the following resources for support.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support 24/7 to people who are experiencing emotional distress or suicidal thoughts. Vist their web site at: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call: -800-273-TALK.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - provides free and confidential treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental health disorders and substance abuse. They offer local resources and services that can assist seniors or retirees who are struggling with depression. Vist the SAMHSA National Helpline Web site or call 1-800-662-HELP.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - provides support and information for individuals and families affected by mental illness, including depression. NAMI Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI.

Monitor your thought patterns: Our thoughts greatly influence how we feel and our emotions. So it is a very good idea to challenge negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive ones that are healthy. This takes practice, especially if you have developed the habit of focusing on negative aspects all of your life. Instead, try to break this pattern by thinking about the good things in your life and spend your time thinking about how you can enhance your life or change things for the better. When you do this, give yourself some sort of little reward now and then to help retrain your brain to prefer positive thoughts. Keep a journal of negative thoughts and identify patterns or triggers. Challenge those negative thoughts by questioning their accuracy and replacing them with positive, self-affirming thoughts. Practice developing a gratitude mindset and focus on the positive aspects of your life.

Plan Your Week: It's understandable to feel down when you don't feel productive or engaged in activities you enjoy. When you experience a lack of fulfillment or purpose, it can be difficult to stay motivated and positive. It's important to recognize that these feelings are normal, and a good way to get back on track is to explore new interests, find purpose, and set some goals to work towards to regain a sense of fulfillment. Once you identify things that will make you feel productive, set a schedule for yourself. Consider making a daily "to do" list with weekly chores, exercise, meditation times, and include some fun activities in your daily routine. If you aren't able to do everything on your list, don't feel bad, the idea is to keep your mind focused on things that are important and worthwhile to you.

Engage in enjoyable activities: Consider what things you enjoy doing or that bring you a sense of accomplishment. This could be reading a book, gardening, planning or attending a group outing, host a wine tasting with friends, or taking up a new hobby .

Listen to Music: Play your favorite music, especially positive, upbeat music. Listening to your favorite music can do wonders to lift your spirits and help you change your mood to a more pleasant frame of mind. Consider taking up music appreciation as a hobby to boost your spirits on a regular basis.

Declutter / Tidy Up Its easy to feel overwhelemed if you have accumulated a lifetime of things and when you are ready to downsize it can be daunting to pitch things. But just tidying up your space, getting organized or decluttering can be a great way to cheer you up because you are doing something for yourself and will have a nice clean space to enjoy, and more room for some new things! To help you get started, vist our decluttering tips page.

Write Affirmations: Consider writing a list of your own affirmations that reinforce your positive traits and goals and repeat them daily. Start your affirmations with "I am...." Such as "I an learning something new everyday." Or "I am discovering new ways to spend my time that brings me joy."

Connect with others: Social support is important in maintaining good mental health. Spending time with family and friends, volunteering, joining a community group or church can all help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. Consider inivitng a friend or two over for tea, play a card game or host a popcorn movie-night with rotating movie genres to keep it interesting.

Practice mindfulness: This is the practice of being present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. It can help reduce stress and anxiety, which are common contributors to depression. Learn how to practice mindfulness and make it part of your daily routine by taking time to meditate or do deep breathing exercises. Focus on being present in the moment and on your senses, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Dwell in the "now."

Focus on your health: One great way to envigor yourself is to priortize making healthy lifestyle changes such as find enjoyable ways to get regular exercise. Look into the various types of recreational activities that might interest you. You can bring a little adventure to meal time by trying differnt healthy foods, Your brain requires nutrients to function well so be sure to eat a well balanced diet. Why not make your bedroom a luxurious place to enjoy a good night's sleep? You can make your bedoorm seem like a five-star hotel room by indugling yourself with comfortable pillows, high quality sheets and beautiful bedding. Get some inspiration from our Home Decor ideas article. Try different recipes that you haven't tried before, you can find interesting how to cook videos on Youtube. Get outside and go for a walk to enjoy nature it can be great to relex and destress.

Learn something new: Go to the library or buy a book from Aamzon on something that interests you, or chat with an artificial intelligence bot like OpenAI ChatGPT, you'll be amazed what you can learn from its vast knowledge base.

Treat yourself! Indulge and pamper yourself with a little gift now and then, things like fresh flowers, baked treats, gourmet food and gifts. Order something online from eBay or Amazon and when it comes in the mail you'll be delightfully surprised when it arrives, as you may have forgotten you ordered it! Or buy a card or gift for a friend it will make you both happy and you'll feel good about yourself.

Volunteer: A wonderful way to find renewed meaning and purpose in your life is by volunteering at a local charity, church or library, look for opportunities that align to your hobbies and interests.

In summary, depression is a common and serious condition that can have a significant impact on quality of life for retirees and seniors. However, with the right treatment and self-care strategies, it is possible to manage symptoms and improve overall well-being. Remember, there is no shame in seeking help and support from healthcare professionals and loved ones.

Useful Products

Light Therapy Lamps: Light therapy has been shown to be effective in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs during certain times of the year. Light therapy lamps can simulate natural sunlight and help regulate mood and sleep patterns.

Essential Oils: Some essential oils, such as lavender, bergamot, and chamomile, have been shown to have calming and mood-boosting effects. Aromatherapy diffusers and essential oil sets can be a great way to incorporate these oils into daily routines. Scents that remind us of pleasant memories are a good way to also boost one's mood. For example, the smell of hot chocolate might remind you of happy winter memories, or try baking some cinnamon rolls to enjoy with a cup of coffee. Using scented soaps, lotions and fragrances are an affordable way to add a little enjoyment to your life.

Exercise Equipment: Exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on mood and can be an effective way to cope with depression. Products such as stationary bikes, treadmills, and ellipticals can be great for those who may not be able to engage in high-impact activities. Or consider joining a local gym. Of course make sure you check with your doctor before attempting strenuous exercise activity.

Books and Journals: Self-help books and journals can be a valuable tool in managing depression. They can provide guidance, inspiration, and a way to reflect on thoughts and feelings.

Supplements: Certain supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, St. John's wort, and SAMe, have been shown to have mood-boosting effects. Supplements can be a good addition to a treatment plan, but it's important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.

Keep in mind that while these products may be helpful in coping with depression, they should not be relied on as a sole treatment. It is advisable to talk with your healthcare provider to develop an individualized treatment plan.

 

retired couple looking out toward sea
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva / Pexels

Enjoy time spent with friends and family and get out and enjoy some fresh air. Sometimes taking a walk can be very therapeudic.



eldery woman looking sad
Photo by Rodnae Productions / Pexels

Allow yourself time to adjust to major life events, avoid isolating and reach out to loved ones, close friends or a therapist who can listen, provide comfort and help you cope with your situation and explore ways to help you move forward.

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