How to lift yourself out of depression

We all get down - or perhaps more accurately, most people experience depression at some point in their lives.

Where the differences start to emerge is how far they spiral down and how long they stay down.

Recent events have resulted in me experiencing those feelings of just not wanting to get out from under the duvet, feeling no motivation, snapping at the kids....It's a dark place!  And perhaps, all the harder for the expectation being that I have the tools to prevent that.  But some balls in life do just knock you down.  The challenge is then to get back up and running again.

So here are the three things I do, to get me back on my feet again and out of depression:

1.  Accept the feeling.  Tell others
In true British style, we tend to put on a brave face and 'carry on'.  Maintaining this facade however requires a huge amount of energy, just at a time when you don't have much!  If you had broken your leg however, or got a chest infection, you would not try to pretend all was well.  Depression is no different from these other two things - all three things are just a part of your body that is not working as it should.

For me this is a tough one as there is a common expectation from people I work with that I am always upbeat. If I am cut, I bleed.  I am human!  And that exposes me to experience the same feelings we all have access to.  There is also the risk that by admitting I'm at a low ebb, people would assume that I am not good at what I do.  However, whilst this first step is the hardest, it is the game changer.

By acknowledging you are struggling, you step onto the path of recovery; it stops the downward spiral.  It is denial that keeps you not only rooted but spinning down further as you become more depleted. 

By telling others, you open the door to help.  What I have experienced with clients when I admit I am struggling too is a huge empathy, that I believe in many ways, has helped them more than my pretence at joviality would have done. By telling friends, I get to receive the hugs that I am typically the giver of. 

2.  Be kind to yourself
One of the metaphors I use a lot with clients is the glass half full, glass half empty one.  But this is not about optimism, it's about energy.  When your glass is full, you are fully hydrated (healthy and full of energy) and others can sip from your cup without depleting your resources.  When you are half empty though, you are tired, your body is not working as well, and if others take sips, you can quickly end up with an empty glass - and in crisis.

We all have things that 'fill us up'.  For me, my normal refillers are long walks with the dog and exercise.  The challenge though is that they require energy to start off with - a bit like if you want to earn interest on your investments, you need money first!  

So it is not about putting energy in when you are running low, it is about staunching the outflow.  I normally hate baths, but I have had more baths in the last few weeks then I had the whole of last year.  I have watched more TV than I can remember watching in a long time.  I instinctively knew my body (and mind) needed to rest.  So the house is not quite so spick and span, the dog is a little less fit, I have seen fewer clients but ultimately, the healing process has started because I have listened to my instinct and done what felt right and was kind to myself.

I often talk to people about being selfish and they normally recoil at the idea.  I believe this word has become misconstrued to deem that you put yourself first to the detriment of others.  That was not the original meaning of the word. By putting yourself first, you get to be the best that you can be.  In the state I was, I am not the best Mum, wife, daughter...By putting myself first and looking after me, I can move back to being the best that I can be, meaning that everyone else gets the best of me too!

3. Turn off the news. Put your phone down
I am not sure when 'the news' came to mean that only things like destruction, war, death, misery were worthy of reporting.  But ultimately that is where we are.  

Everything has a vibration.  I am sure you have met people who 'buzz' and by spending time with them you feel great too.  They have a very high vibration.  Similarly, there are those whom drain you because their glass is so empty they have become energy vampires.  But it is not just people who vibrate.  When did you last feel 'buzzy' after sitting through the first 10 minutes of BBC News at Ten!?

When your own vibration is low, it makes you more susceptible to other negative energy - remember from school science that like attracts like??  So the key is to protect yourself from any negativity you can.

And whilst social media may not be full of doom and gloom, focusing on other people's supposed wonderful lives, can heighten your preceived belief of how bad your own life is by emphasizing the gap.

If you had a broken leg, a number of things are likely to happen.  There may be first aid such as the RICE approach to prevent further damage.  You may have an op to pin it.  A cast may follow to support healing before physiotherapy to renew strength.  Ultimately, the place where the bone broke ends up stronger!

My belief is that we should approach depression in a similar manner.  You may need immediate help such as medication to prevent further decline.  Then there are the activities that stabilise - such as the three things I turned to above.  Then the healing starts.  Initially, it may be slow and then as strength grows, you can do those exercises that quickly return you back to full health - a full glass - often in a stronger place than where you started.  And fortunately, in my tool box, I know what will be required at each of those stages to get my glass fully charged once more.

I am grateful for my short journey into that dark place.  I am privileged to have the resources to know the way out and during my time in the shadows, I know I will have become stronger and that will mean a better me, with the intention of helping other people get out of their dark places quicker too.


If any of my story resonates with you, know that you are not alone.  Know that the activities I use are easily learned.  Also know, that I am at the end of a phone if you want to talk to me.

Published by Caroline Cavanagh Clinical Hypnotherapist and author of Anxiety Alchemy. on |


RE: How to lift yourself out of depression

Caroline This is sooo true.... Everyone has good&”bad” days... I agree too.. that the Winter minths don’t help if you’re feeling low,&coghs/colds etc are everywhere at the moment !!! A dog walk is “bracing”& cheerful as you meet other dog walkers in the village&can have a smile/wave/cheery hello... &keep moving on I have my “outside/public face” &I try &keep my sadder “face” to indoors... But of course thats no “fun” for huusband David... so I put on loud music or a comedy sketch on youtube or something&laugh OUT LOUD Roll on Spring .... its just around the corner :))) Sending my biggest HUGS&LOVE your way Xxxx
Commented by: Tracy on Sunday 10th February 2019 10:00:56 AM

RE: How to lift yourself out of depression

Thank you for sharing this- really touching and can completely relate. The 3 points are good to remember. Hope you go from strength to strength. And good luck for the course!
Commented by: Fi on Saturday 9th February 2019 10:47:40 AM

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