Basic Strategies

This is my list of basic strategies. Although this was originally geared toward those with depression, these are appropriate for many types of issues people deal with. This is designed to be a good starting point for therapy. Take a look below. How does your life compare?

1. Sleeping.  Please try to consistently get 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night.  If you are not getting enough sleep, then your mind is not really getting the rest it needs. If you are still mentally exhausted, little progress can be made.  But don’t sleep more than 8 hours very often.  Staying in bed is ok now and then for a lazy relaxing day. But if you do it a lot, it can actually lead to more depression. (The classic view of a depressed person is someone who doesn’t want to get out of bed, so he stays in bed all day.)

2. Eating healthy. Eat good food, not overly-sugary foods. Sugary snacks tend to end up in a sugar crash, which can make depression worse.

3. Get physical exercise, within your limits. Studies have shown that physical activity improves mood. (The technical term for this is “Behavioral Activation.”) This doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon or lift weights. It just means you should get at least 30 minutes of walking (or some activity similar) 3 to 4 times throughout the week, if your health or physical condition will allow it.

4. Get a variety of mental activities. Too much of any activity doesn’t give the mind the variation or exercise it needs. For example, a little TV watching is ok, but watching all day can make a “zombie” out of you. You need to do a variety of things like reading a book, watching a movie, learning something new, practicing a hobby, etc. Anything that diverts the mind for a period of time, then switch to do something else. But don’t think you must ALWAYS be doing something. A little down time is good too.

5. Get out in the sun. Sunshine helps the body produce vitamin D, and psychologically makes you more awake and aware. If you can’t get out in the Sun, then increase the lights around you at home.

6. Socialize with others. Talking to others, about anything, is helpful to your mood. Sitting home alone with your thoughts worsens your mood.

7. Avoid alcohol and drugs. These don’t really make you feel better (at least not for long).