More than just sadness, depression is a persistent low mood that can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems if left untreated.
Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. For most, these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. If your down feelings have an impact on your day-to-day functioning, you may be depressed. Left untreated, depression can worsen, sometimes leading to thoughts of hurting oneself or even suicide. Depression is a common but serious illness. Still, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate symptoms and create a foundation for treatment:
Eat a Balanced Diet
Food nourishes our body and our brain. When we eat healthfully, we feel more energetic and balanced. We can think more clearly and better cope with daily stresses. For tips about creating balanced meals for yourself in the busy college environment, check out this thoughtful eating nutrition guide from the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center.
Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night to give your body time to replenish itself. Going to bed and waking up around the same time each day can help your body better regulate itself. When we are well rested, we have more physical and emotional energy to cope with the day ahead.
Seek Support and Connection with Others
Communication is key. When we don’t feel well, it’s not uncommon to isolate and assume others are either not interested or have too much on their own plates to listen to us. Many students feel that everyone else is doing great in their classes and having lots of fun, while they alone are struggling. But this is almost never accurate. Talk to friends, teachers, counselors, family—maybe even someone who feels the same way. Being heard and understood is important. You will feel less alone and less isolated.
Make an effort to be active for at least 30 minutes every day. This could mean just walking to class instead of taking the shuttle, or playing Frisbee with a friend. Any movement helps. Exercise releases endorphins, which make us feel better about ourselves, giving us a self-esteem boost.
Being part of a group, club, or team, whether on campus or off, can give you a sense of belonging. With numerous ways to get involved, there is something out there for everyone. Move toward things that interest you and bring you pleasure. You can meet people, have fun, and be active.
Check out our Resources for Well-Being to find more great tips to successfully manage your mood.