Over 350 million people around the world suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). A report from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) shows that an estimated 16.1 million adults within the U.S. alone suffered at least one major depressive episode in 2015. Even if you do not suffer from depression, we all have our bad days when we feel down in the dumps. What can you do to get a quick pick-me-up? Below is a guide of several “tools” that you should keep handy in an “emotional first aid kit” to mend the wounds caused by depressive episodes of any length.
A Cheat Sheet of Breathing Exercises
When your emotions begin to overwhelm you, proper breathing is essential. The concept of deep breathing exercises may seem outdated or even ineffective. However, studies have proven the exact opposite over the years. Even if you just tuck a Post-It reminder saying “BREATHE” into your wallet and pull it out whenever the need arises, it will help much more than you think.
Make Space for Your Feelings
Do not try to cram all of your emotions into the same tight space. When we become overwhelmed, we may try to rush through the emotional rollercoaster to get to the end of the “ride” as quickly as possible. However, that is definitely not the healthiest approach to take to handling this flood of emotions. Step away from whatever you are doing at the time the episode begins. Take a break from the activity and hit the “pause” button to provide yourself ample time to endure the rollercoaster from start to finish.
Keep Your Music with You
There have been a vast number of studies conducted over the years that prove music plays a key role in balancing emotions, elevating your mood and reducing stress. According to USA Today, music can relieve your stress levels by biochemically triggering stress reducers within your brain. What is your “cooldown” song? Think of the song (or songs) that allow you to mediate peacefully and drastically reduce your anxiety in a relatively short period of time. Add those songs to a playlist and keep that music handy either within an MP3 player, smartphone or even cassette tape or CD player.
Use a Diary to Record Positive Thoughts
When you feel like the world is crashing or crumbling around you, it can seem nearly impossible to think positive thoughts. Perhaps that is because the only thoughts flowing through your mind at the time are negative. A helpful tool to consider is a diary of positive thoughts. When you have those memorable moments that you want to cherish and celebrate for the rest of your life, write them down. Record them in the pages of your diary or journal. By doing so, you will have a positive resource to use whenever you need to refuel before the negativity creeps in and takes over.
Contact Info for the Ones Who Care
Another tool to add to your emotional first aid kit is to have an accessible list with the contact information of the people who care about you the most. It does not have to be a very long list, but it is highly recommended for you to have a list (translation: “more than one person.”) You may have that one best friend or relative that seems like they are the only person that you need in the world to cheer you up when you are on that rollercoaster. However, they may not be available (for one reason or another) when you need them the most. This is why having multiple go-to contacts is vital.
Your Therapist’s Phone Number
In addition to all the other “tools” that you have in your emotional first aid kit, you should also have a phone number for a therapist or counselor that you trust. For those looking for Allen therapists or even Allen counselors, please let us know. We can find you the help you need to make sure you have this “tool” ready to use whenever the need arises.
Like any first aid kit, it is important to remember that these “tools” are used to mend wounds – not cure them. However, it is the perfect kit to keep you calm, cool and collected as you cope and patiently wait for each round of the rollercoaster to pass.