Lifesaving rules
  1. Give the day a headstart. Get out of bed right away, and have a good coffee.
  2. Don't go to bed during the day. Just don't, however difficult it seems or tired you are.
  3. Take a few mn under the shower to plan 1 thing today that has a chance to make you feel better.
Not-to-do list
Top self-help strategies, from short-term (hours) to long-term action

PLAY an intense, sustained ballgame with a friend and break at least 20 mn. Runner? Go for a fartlek, hill repetitions or intervals and flirt with 80% max heart rate for 45 mn. Combat sports and "fooling around" are great too. Ask your MD if there is a health risk (besides depression that is).

ASICS (Anima Sana In Corpore Sano). Three to five times a week, pick one of the following moderate-impact activities and sustain for 45 mn or longer: jogging, biking, brisk walk, etc. Outdoors if possible. The idea is to break a sweat and sustain the effort for long enough.

LIGHT. Everyday make sure you go out and have at least 30 mn daylight exposure. Best time of the day is in the morning and/or around noon. During winter, consider getting a 10000 lux bright light lamp to get your daily dose.

LOSE YOURSELF. Go to the movies or a concert, watch a feel-good show, get a massage, anything to take the mind off self-defeating rumination and reactivate your pleasure center. Avoid world news, and minimize mindless zapping and surfing.

MINDFULNESS. Formal practice (everyday, 15 to 45 mn): in a quiet place, eyes closed, focus your attention on a single thing, e.g. your breath, focusing entirely on bodily sensations. When your mind wanders off, notice what it does ("worrying, worrying"), and gently bring it back to the practice. Informal practice in everyday life: everytime you catch yourself ruminating or worrying, make a mental note of it then quietly redirect your attention to what you were doing (on automatic pilot). Repeat as needed, a hundred times if necessary.

ACT BEFORE YOU THINK: don't listen to the "yes but" or "what ifs", just do it, keep your mind and body busy! Clean up a room, cook a meal, do gardening or fix something around the house, engage in a hobby, etc. Give the couch and the bed a wide berth: until you are better, procrastination could be your worst enemy because it is an open door to rumination. Mindful activities, by keeping you busy and focused, minimize that risk.

THERAPY. Connect to family and friends even when (esp. when) you don't feel like it. Do (mindfulness-based) cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy (alternately talk to a good friend or write a blog)...

SLEEP. Now this can be tricky, you can't force sleep. But you can help with a good ritual: no coffee or food 3 hours before bedtime, dim the lights and no more TV or PC one hour before, go to bed at a fixed time and set the alarm (or better: a dawn simulator) at a fixed time each morning. Keep the bedroom cool and tidy. If you wake up in the middle of the night, don't toss and turn, get up instead, read for 20 mn or so, then get back to bed. Importantly, if sleep doesn't come, try not to worry about it: more stress won't help.

PROZAC and co. Take your medication or supplements (St John's Wort, EPA, Magnesium, B complex, etc.) as prescribed and for as long as needed to get better - be patient and be kind to yourself, improvements may be subtle or take weeks to be felt.

Powered by Silver Key Webdesign