Practical things you can do in the moment to feel better
Taking the first steps in your wellbeing journey can be challenging. Big feelings are a big deal, but being willing to try is what’s important.
If things don’t work out or feel easy at first, try not to be discouraged. The path to good mental health is different for everyone, and it’s normal for different approaches to work for different people. There’s many ways to manage depression, so it’s important to find the approach that works best for you.
When you’re feeling low, it can be easy to sink into the feeling – but finding ways to manage your negative feelings in the moment can make a meaningful difference to the way you feel and the way you deal with negative emotions. Below are a number of evidence-based things you can do to feel better in the moment.
- Show yourself kindness and compassion
It can be difficult to show yourself compassion when you’re feeling depressed, but it’s an important first step to managing your depression.
Criticising, or getting down on yourself for how you’re feeling can just make you feel worse. This is because it can add shame or guilt to the emotions you are already feeling. It’s ok to not be ok.
- It’s okay to take on less, or ask less of yourself when you’re not feeling great. If you’re feeling depressed, try reducing the expectations you’ve set for yourself, or reach for your self care toolbox
- We’re often far more critical of ourselves than we would be of a friend in the same situation. What would you tell someone else if they were in your situation?
- Find ways to ground yourself
- Take your mind off things
- Get outside
If you can name it, you can tame it
Putting words to how we’re feeling has been shown to help us create distance from those feelings - if you can see the emotion, you don’t have to be the emotion. Some studies have shown simply labelling how we’re feeling can reduce distress by as much as 50%.
- Talk to someone you trust
Opening up about your feelings can be challenging, but many people find it really helpful. Speaking to someone you trust can help you feel connected and supported. Remember you don’t have to go through things on your own.
Depression can make us think things like ‘I’m a burden’, or ‘people are better off without me’, so talking to someone you trust is important as it reminds us what is usually true - that people care about us, and want to help.
It’s important to choose the right person to open up to. You may want to ask a trusted family member or friend if they have the time to listen.
It can also be helpful to talk with your regular doctor or a mental health professional. Remember that you can always reach out to Lifeline too.
- Create a self-care box
- Plan activities