Ways to help yourself…
The nature of depression is such that depressed individuals are not interested in being social, or active. But inactivity and isolation make the situation worse. We now have proof that healthy aging involves exercise, staying social and learning new things. The combination of three things can act as an antidepressant.
In addition to the help of a trained medical professional, there are many simple things you can do to help yourself. Learning is always good for the brain and it’s never too late to try something new, regardless of your age.
I’m too old to learn new things.
Regardless of age, doing something you enjoy and staying socially connected will elevate your mood.
Physical activity builds strength, improves fitness and elevates your mood. Keep it simple: walk around the block, try light work around the house, take the stairs, park a little farther away from the mall entrance. There are many safe exercises that can be done regardless of physical ability such as lifting light free weights (or soup cans) in repetitive lifts, or ‘chair-yoga’, mindful breathing exercises, or even slowly lifting your legs. Ask your physician about options that would best suit you. The more you move, the better you will feel.
Depression distorts thinking in a negative way, so it is important to surround yourself with support. Talking with other people can help to change your perspective – even for a little while. Invite people (loved ones, a neighbour, a friend) over for a visit or keep in touch by phone. It takes a bit of effort, but socializing with others can help keep negative thoughts away and provide relief. You will feel better.
It’s never too late to learn a new skill. Finding a new hobby, volunteering, or learning anything new can change your focus, act like an anti-depressant and help boost your mood.