Barton Goldsmith: Self-Care For Depression

By Barton Goldsmith
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist and author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time” shares his best advice on how to get through and out of an episode of depression.

Tribune News Service

Self-care for those who are depressed is very important, yet it may be the hardest thing for anyone dealing with depression to actually do. The basics of life can easily be forgotten. Even things like personal hygiene and properly feeding yourself may be difficult. Here are some tips to remind you of how to defeat your depression and get back into life.

-Talk with someone. This is a psychotherapist’s obvious answer, but that’s only because it works. When you talk about your feelings and someone you respect validates how you feel, it starts you on a path to healing. It also helps you see yourself in less limiting ways, so you can get back to being who you want to be.

-Intimacy and sex changes your mind-set. Physical closeness is all you may need to feel better. I’m not saying force yourself to be sexual, but just be with the person you love and hold each other. For me, that is the most healing thing in the world. And if you are alone, the hug of a good friend is also very good for your well-being.

-Get out of the house. Getting out can be hard if you feel like you don’t want to be around people. That’s okay for now, but at least make yourself get in the car and drive to a nice spot for a view or a place that brings you some peace. You don’t even have to get out of the car. The change of scenery and the fresh air will help you heal.

-Eat your favorite food even if it’s junk food. Don’t overdo it, but allow yourself to eat whatever foods you love.
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Maybe the foods you love are actually good for you but you don’t take the time to have them in the house. I know that eating a fresh peach makes me happy, so I make a point of eating one daily when I can.

-Watch a comedy. Norman Cousins, author of Anatomy of an Illness, cured himself of a serious illness by laughing at old movies. I know when you are wrapped in the cocoon of depression, you may not want to make yourself laugh. But the downward cycle must be broken, so you can get back to your life, and this is a very easy way to start.

-Smile. Look at yourself in the mirror and see the difference between when you express your sadness and when you smile. The act of smiling actually releases chemicals in your brain that make you want to smile more and make you feel better. Practice at home for a little, and then go to a public place and wear that smile. People will smile back, and that will make you happier.

You can’t do everything on this list at once, so try one or two ideas, and see how they feel. If the results are positive, then try another. The idea here is to make your life better, and no one can do that but you. Please give it a chance. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to feel better when you let (or even make) yourself do things to help yourself heal.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”)

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