The tools we looked at in part one focused more on supporting your physical health. Let's now look at tools for supporting your emotional health.
Acknowledging your stress and trauma
Stress can be a big contributor to depression, and stress can be caused by many things.
Often a combination of different forms of stress can lead to depression. It can be helpful to consider which stressors you have been exposed to and are exposed to ongoing. From here, you can make a plan to start reducing and managing your stressors. For example, you may start going to bed earlier, book in to see a nutritionist and therapist, and start eating more veges as first steps.
If you have experienced intense stress or multiple stressful events and you are feeling depressed and overwhelmed, the health of your nervous and endocrine systems has likely been affected, as both are involved in the stress response. As a nutritionist, I can help you learn nutrition and lifestyle tools to help you recover from the biochemical effects of stress. I can also help you understand how stress affects your body and support you in learning strategies to manage stress.
For many of us, traumatic experiences (deeply distressing or disturbing experiences) both past and recent impact our mental and emotional health. If this rings true for you, I highly recommend talking to a qualified therapist or psychotherapist who has experience supporting people affected by trauma and depression. This is vital if your traumas are private and difficult to discuss with friends or family.
Do not isolate yourself. Often depressed people feel no one understands or cares, and they withdraw from the world. Withdrawing will not help you recover and being isolated is another form of stress. Again, finding a good therapist is advisable.
You do not have to share all the details of what has traumatised or depressed you with those you are close to, but you do need empathic people you can talk to, for emotional and practical support and social interactions that lift your spirits. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member, and if you don’t get the support you need, reach out to a support group or helpline. Reach out until you find people you can rely on for support, in addition to your therapist.
Giving yourself compassion
You don’t have to force positivity, 'move on' before you are ready, or accept the insistence of others that you do so. Some hurts, hurt deeply. Allow yourself to feel your painful emotions so these emotions don't get buried. Painful feelings are a normal part of being human.
Allowing ourselves to really feel our painful emotions is like cleansing our wounds, and we have to cleanse our wounds before they can begin to heal, or ache less. A good therapist can help you through this process.
Recognise that depression is a normal response in many situations, particularly when you lose a loved one, whether to death or the end of a relationship, or experience trauma or excessive stress. When you’re in pain, it can feel like it’s never going to end. This can be especially tough. Don’t give up on yourself – there is only one you, and you have something unique to share with the world. This storm will pass.
One wonderful way to care for your emotional health is to regularly ‘book’ self-care and pleasurable activities into your week. These could be:
A final note
Know that millions of people experience depression and recover. Some people who have experienced depression say getting in touch with what you really want in life – with your passion – and taking action on those things you've always wanted to do but kept putting off, can greatly support recovery from depression.
Additionally, creating distance between yourself and any abusive or uncaring people, and surrounding yourself with loving, caring people, can also greatly support recovery from depression and your mental health in general.
Which two tools from this article might you get started on this week, to support yourself through depression?
Are you suffering with depression and looking for holistic help from a health professional who understands? Contact me for a chat.