How to Stay Healthy when You Are Depressed

This article is written in collaboration with Naluri

Have you ever noticed how a depressed person often time is not in the mood to try something new, let alone moving and pumping while working up a great sweat? Although exercise has been said to be very effective in terms of alleviating depressive emotions, this can be futile without the motivation and willpower to initiate it.

A depressed person may also commonly indulged in emotional binge eating for endorphins rise that help them get through the day. These factors combined make the perfect recipe for an unhealthy lifestyle. This explains why depressive emotions are not just an emotional challenge but a physical one too.

Why is it hard to stay healthy when you are depressed?

1.Low dopamine amount

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in your body that helps you feel excited and happy. Low levels of this neurotransmitter can cause feelings of extreme fatigue, lethargy and a lack of enthusiasm. It is as if your whole body’s mechanism works against motivating you to get up and move.

2. Difficulty in starting a new routine

Starting a whole new routine can feel almost impossible and challenging when you’re feeling down and depressed. Smaller tasks like waking up from the bed and taking a walk outside are already challenging enough. Starting and keeping up with a new health plan can likewise pose a great difficulty.

3. Lack of social support

Self-isolation is common in depressed individuals as they do not want their loved ones to see them at their lowest point. Even if some do reach out, it will only benefit if they receive the right kind of social support to uplift them. Without positive energy and support from others, this can cause them to relapse and lose motivation to get better.

4. Negative self-talk

A depressed individual may sometimes hear a lot of negative internal dialogues that lead to negative self-criticism. A vicious cycle may occur in which the negative self-talk persuade them not to be healthy or that they do not deserve to be healthy, causing them to feel more depressed. In turn, these depressive emotions exacerbate the negative self-talk and the cycle continues.

How to stay healthy despite having depression?

The good news is motivation is a mental muscle that gets stronger the more you use it. There are effective ways to train your motivation to get stronger in keeping yourself healthy. This works pretty similar to negative emotions, the more you indulge in them, the stronger they become.

If you find it hard to escape this cycle, know that you have the ability to strengthen your mind and to head in the opposite direction of strengthening your positive emotions.

Love yourself

A lot of people feel that self-love can be narcissistic and too self-indulgent while some argue that how can one love others if one does not learn to love himself or herself. The latter aphorism does prove to be valid as self-compassion is vital when attempting to overcome depressive emotions and move towards being healthy

It was also said that in order for one to be happy, self- love and acceptance are vital for inner contentment and well-being.

So, eat, pray, love and the exercise will follow suit

Positive self-talk

It would be important to resist ‘punishing yourself’ through self-criticism and negative self-talk when you do not reach the health goals you wish to achieve

A lot of times our greatest enemy is ourselves. These unspoken thoughts in our minds can sometimes be very hard on us and unforgiving towards ourselves which can be unhealthy mentally and emotionally

It is important to practice positive self-talk such as, “ I did well today, I was able to walk for 15 minutes which is a step up from how I was yesterday”

Start small

Instead of focusing on starting a whole new routine, it may be sufficient to begin with small achievements such as even getting out of bed and taking a 5 minute walk. It would also be important to acknowledge these achievements regardless of how minute it may appear to be.

As hard as it may be to drag yourself out of bed, it will definitely be worth it to kickstart your mood. You will definitely feel better as you managed to push yourself a bit.

Listen to your body’s responses

As humans are creatures of habit, we will most likely keep doing things that help us get into the habit of feeling good about ourselves. After attempting to drag yourself out of bed and walk for about 5 minutes, pay attention to how your body feels and the emotions you experience.

If you overindulge, forgive yourself and move along

Small and effective attempts to keep healthy usually involve short-term realistic goals. It would also help to bear in mind that progress does not equate perfection.

If you miss a day of exercise or overindulge in a piece of double chocolate cheesecake, it does not mean that you have failed in your whole endeavour to be healthy. Forgive yourself and ride back to the horse through your health journey once again.

Seek help

If all of these do not help and you are still feeling in the dumps, seek help, get support from loved ones or pursue professional help. It does not make you any less of a person to seek for help, after all don’t we all need some motivation and a little ‘pick me up’ every now and then?

Take over your depressed emotions before they take over you. Know that every great journey begins with the first step. Prep yourself for the first step through the journey of self-compassion and overcoming negative emotions in order to move towards becoming a healthier you, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Naluri – Pioneering next generation digital therapeutics combining behavioural science, data science and digital design to build the mental resilience needed to achieve your goals and overcome life’s challenges that stand in your way.

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Pamilia Lourdunathan Clinical Psychology
Pamilia is a clinical psychologist and health coach at Naluri, with more than 2 years of practising experience as a clinical psychologist in the government ...
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Pamilia Lourdunathan Clinical Psychology
Pamilia is a clinical psychologist and health coach at Naluri, with more than 2 years of practising experience as a clinical psychologist in the government and private sectors under the pediatric and adult unit. She obtained her Master's degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from International Islamic University Malaysia and is currently completing her doctoral degree in Psychology at the same institution. She has also received certification on person-centred counselling skills.
Pamilia also has experience as an academician and enjoys conducting research. She is currently in the process of implementing an intervention program aiming to improve the emotional, behavioural and social well-being of adolescents living with HIV at shelter homes. She is passionate about helping the homeless and is experienced as a workshop assistant facilitator in collaboration with Pertubuhan Tindakan Wanita Islam (PERTIWI) and Human Relations Wellness Development (HRW).
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