If you’re struggling with negative thoughts or suicidal feelings, resources are available to help. In the U.S, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988; in the UK call the Samaritans on 116 123; and in Australia call Lifeline on 13 11 14. In addition, you can find help here 13 suicide and crisis intervention helplines.

When depression and stress peak in your life, it can be impossible to control the symptoms. They can affect your ability to function at work or maintain healthy relationships. But depression doesn’t have to rule your life.

If you want to get ahead of your depression symptoms, try implementing these coping strategies to manage your day-to-day depression while still thriving.

And for more tips to help fight depression and stress, here are six practical strategies for coping with stress and breathing exercises to relieve your stress.

6 strategies for coping with depression

The World Health Organization reports that about 280 million people in the world have been diagnosed with depression. While depression is common, it is a serious health condition that should not be taken lightly. More than 700,000 people die of suicide each year, often as a result of depression.

If you’re feeling depressed or extra stressed, there are ways to improve your mental health and live a fulfilling life.

Acknowledge your symptoms

Nobody knows you better than you. Look for signs and symptoms that may be different from the norm. Here are some to watch out for:

  • You feel more withdrawn than usual.
  • You behave more erratically or impulsively than usual.
  • You are more irritable.
  • You feel sad, lonely or hopeless.
  • You experience sleep disturbances.

It is always a good idea to heed concerns of close friends and family. If the people who love you are concerned about your mental health, they may see symptoms of depression that you are not aware of.

If you are experiencing some or all of these symptoms, recognizing that stress or depression may be to blame will help put you on the road to feeling better.

Give yourself some grace

Giving yourself some grace can mean different things to different people, but the general idea behind it is self-compassion. Practice extending the same compassion to yourself that you show others. For example, if your friend is feeling down, what would you say? Now imagine saying the same thing to yourself in that situation.

It’s okay not to fit into the cultural norms that make you feel pressured, stressed, or anxious. For example, it’s okay if you can’t or just don’t want to attend every social event (see the next entry).

Keep your plans realistic

Social situations such as parties and other gatherings can sometimes contribute to negative feelings or even social anxiety. Depending on your situation, you may have invitations to parties with friends, work, church, and other social groups. Or maybe you don’t have any invites at all. Your self-esteem does not depend on the number of events you attend. Only accept the invitations you want to accept and avoid over-scheduling.

Sometimes the unrealistic expectations we place on others. Then when they don’t come up all the way, we feel disappointed. Remember not to create expectations for others.

Limit alcohol

Woman refuses wine from friend.

Peter Cade/Getty Images

Don’t be fooled into thinking that alcohol’s sometimes relaxing effects outweigh its negative effects. When consumed in excess, alcohol can quickly turn from relaxing to depressing. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and affects mood and behavior. Even after the alcohol is out of your system, hangovers are known to increase anxiety and stress levels.

Around the negative effects of alcohollimit yourself to one or two drinks.

And you should consult your doctor before consuming alcohol while taking prescription antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.

Get active

Sports do more for you than just keep fit. Exercising can also be very beneficial for your mental health. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins. These chemicals interact with your brain’s receptors and can decrease your perception of pain. Endorphins can also improve your mood and reduce stress. If you don’t feel like a strenuous workout, just 20 minutes of walking a day can make a big difference.

Lean on your family and friends

Spending time with people you like can be a great mood booster. Being in the company of those we love can increase our sense of acceptance, comfort, and security. If you’re feeling down, it’s okay to talk to your loved ones about it so they can give you the support you need. If they know what’s going on with you, they can be a better support system.

Don’t be afraid to get help

When you show signs of depression, help can come in a variety of forms. But the most important thing to remember is that you should never be ashamed to ask for help. Be it talking to a loved one, seeking help from a mental health professional or discussing medication or treatment options with a medical provider, it’s important to get the help you need.

For more tips on improving your mental health, check out our tips to increase productivity and how to clean up your life.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care professional if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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