10 Subtle Changes That Literally Saved My Life From Depression

Talking about my depression is just as hard as surviving my depression in some ways, but if telling my truth can help make someone’s life easier, I’m happy to do so.  I honestly don’t know if anything can drag you out of a depression except for time and help in the form of either therapy or medication, but I do know that doing these things truly helped me.

  1. I changed my phone background to something that motivates me. If you’re like me, you probably don’t think to change your phone background more than once a year. However, when I found myself in the unbreakable cycle of depression, changing something that I look at every single day was immensely helpful. Then, whenever I would check my phone, it gave me that push I needed to try that day. This is definitely the easiest change I made but truly the one I recommend the most.
  2. I found love and comfort in my dog. Honestly, I never got the point of emotional support animals until I found myself in the situation where literally nothing could put a smile on my face except for my dog. There is something about dogs that make me feel confident they love without expectations. Whether he snuggled with me in bed or tried to coax me outside with a toy, my dog never gave up on me. Even on my worst days, I knew my dog loved me with his whole heart that was enough.
  3. I cleaned out my fridge and filled it with healthy stuff. Everyone knows that when you eat like crap, you feel like crap. What I was skeptical about was that if you eat well, you’ll feel well. Once I stopped getting takeout or fast food and decided to switch up my meals to salads and cooked veggies (I even went vegan for a week—yikes!) I felt incredible. I suddenly had more energy which made it easier to get up and take on the day. Not to mention, the act of preparing meals became therapeutic for me. Spending time in the kitchen and making something I could be proud of and get energy from was invaluable.
  4. I took time to expand my creative energy and create things. Just as cooking something every day was extremely helpful, I also found a sort of bliss in getting creative again. When I was younger, I’d spend hours in my room painting abstract shapes on canvases, and forcing myself to get back into that was so rewarding. I even went a step further and spent the time making decorations for my room. Surrounding myself with my own creativity and personal aesthetic transformed my room into a place of comfort instead of a dark dungeon it had become.
  5. I started making my bed as soon as I woke up. I know I may be starting to sound like a total mom now, but hear me out. Making my bed as soon as I got up did many things for me that made it harder for me to backslide into darker times. By making my bed, I was already setting myself up for a positive day with one accomplishment done. Even if I did nothing else, I had done something. Plus, a well-made bed took away some of the temptation of cocooning into the blankets all day.
  6. I unsubscribed from Netflix. It became so easy for me to get sucked into numbly binge-watching Netflix for days at a time. Though it made the time pass faster, it was incredibly unhealthy. Binging messed up my sleeping pattern and affected my mood. Once I made the decision to unsubscribe, it forced me to do other things. This doesn’t mean I went outside, but I did find myself doing more productive things like reading or cleaning which pushed me forward.
  7. I found my comfort scent. Growing up, my mom always had candles burning around the house. I didn’t know how much those scents affected me and my feelings of a home until I moved away and experienced this halting depression. I remember one day lighting a candle in my room as a substitute for actually cleaning it, and I was shocked as to how the smell made me feel. Moments before I’d been anxious and upset at myself for whatever it was that day, but then I was transformed into this state of intense calm. It was like a breath of fresh air. Since that moment, I truly believe finding your own comfort scent will help you on even the worst days.
  8. I started talking to people on the phone instead of texting. We all need human interaction. There’s something about communicating with someone over the phone that is different from sending a text. Sure, technology makes it easy to “stay connected” but it also can make us numb—or at least that’s what happened to me. Talking on the phone for a few minutes every day makes me feel more connected and not so alone. It can be a parent, a sibling, a friend, a whatever—we all need someone to talk to.
  9. I kept track of my moods and the circumstances surrounding them. I’m a very visual person, so keeping track of my moods over the days on a small calendar, helped me break out of feeling like my depression was a constant. I could have three amazing days in a row, but as soon as I had a bad day, I would spiral and choose to dwell on that one day. Nothing slows down your progress like negative thoughts about yourself. Once I started keeping track, I was able to focus on those three amazing days. You can keep track of your moods through journaling or a color-coded scale on a calendar. Just seeing your depression in another way can help you fight back. This became an extremely useful tool for me and my therapist and it directly impacted our strategies for my recovery.
  10. I started appreciating the power of sunshine. If you’ve ever gone through a depression, you understand how a dark room and heavy blankets seem to make everything okay. I spent days in my unhealthy hibernation, just allowing myself to sit in the dark comatose state. But on the very worst days, those days when you can’t open your mouth to eat or drink or speak or your muscles feel like ice if you drag yourself outside and stand with your face to the sun for a minute or two. You’ll start to melt. Thank god for Vitamin D! I believe the sun brought me back to life.
Greta is a freelance writer who runs on coffee and cheap wine.