13 Things to Try When You’re Depressed (HINT: It’s NOT Gratitude)

by Amy on October 29, 2014


Lately I’ve been sad for no reason.

Sometimes so sad I don’t even want to move.

My kids are healthy and happy.

My husband loves me.

Business is thriving.

It’s easy to feel like a fraud when you’re a life coach who gets depressed.

What with all the perky proclamations of gratitude, blissed out yoginis sitting in lotus sharing their wisdom, and photos of coaches with great skin having way more fun than me cycling through the newsfeed.

And all those gurus who know exactly how I can uplevel, unlock and awaken my life, my Kundalini, my business, my brain, my creativity, my IQ, my vocabulary, my feminine power…

Yes, it’s sooooo easy to start in on myself…

“Why can’t you just be grateful?”
“Why can’t you just be happy?”
“What’s wrong with you?”

Luckily a few years ago, I learned that self-imposed happiness and gratitude can be an insidious form of perfectionism that can keep this self-help loving coach feeling like a huge failure.

“Just think positive.
Just be grateful.
Just shift your energy…”

… all euphemisms for “buck up and get your shit together!”

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some gratitude, some positive thinking and some thought work.

But used under the wrong circumstances, positive thinking, thought work and gratitude can be sneaky ways to push up against what’s real –an underhanded form of self-rejection. [Tweet that!]

When we can tell the truth about where we are, instead of wishing it away or pretending to be more evolved, we give ourselves a chance to figure out how to help ourselves out of the shit storm.

Yep, I get depressed. Each time I tell the truth about it, I learn something about myself. About what I need. About where I’m lying to myself. About what I’m tolerating that I shouldn’t be.

And then things change. For the better. Every time.

Here are 13 things to try when you get depressed:

  1. Sleep. Get plenty of it. Things just go better when you do.
  2. Acupuncture. I found out my insurance carrier will help foot the bill. And research shows that regular acupuncture can work as well as antidepressants (without the side effects).
  3. Vitamins, Naturopaths and Hormones, Oh My! I take a multi, fish oil and something called 5-HTP. I’m also planning to meet with a naturopath and talk to a hormone specialist.
  4. Meditation. This is my absolute favorite go-to tool when I’m depressed. I sit there and watch my breathing until I feel what I can only describe as a “divine connection.” And then I know that I am sooooooo loved and everything is going to be soooooo okay.
  5. Yoga. It’s easy to want to skip the exercise when you don’t want to get out of bed, I get it… but this is something I make myself do even just for 15 minutes. It always makes me feel better. Try Yoga Studio for iPhone. You don’t even have to leave the house.
  6. Other Kinds of Exercise. Again, exercise helps! Even if you just do a few minutes a day. It might just be the thing that makes the difference. Check out an app called 7 Minute Workout. I have it on my iPhone too.
  7. Read Spiritual Books. I’m reading A Map of Heaven right now. Gives me a sense of perspective and comfort.
  8. Seek Help from Healers. In the past 2 months, I’ve met with a medium, a psychic, and a person who read my akashic records. For some reason, these readings comfort me. But it might be a therapist or a coach that does the trick for you.
  9. Massage. Because it feels good.
  10. Say No to Things That Feel Bad. Sometimes depression is situational. In other words, you’re making decisions that create circumstances that don’t feel good for you in your life. So take an inventory and make some changes (aka say no) if you need to.
  11. Be Around Uplifting People. As the saying goes, “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.” Enough said.
  12. Think Better Thoughts. There’s definitely a place for thought work in all this. After all, you can’t control much but you can control how you think. For example, the other day I lost my temper with my son. I felt awful. I kept telling myself I was a horrible mom. I could have easily turned it into a full-blown shame fest. Until I stopped and fished around for a better thought. Here’s what landed: “You’re a human being. You’re allowed to screw up.” It felt like kindness. And it stopped the shame fest from spiralling out of control.
  13. Take Care of Yourself But Watch Out for the Easy Fix. I know if I were drinking, wine would be such an easy way to feel better. But the wine always created more problems in the long run. These days I’m eating a lot of Nutella. It’s okay to self soothe but notice when you’re doing it to check out or escape, over and over again. That’s when you know you need to find some other way.

The bottom line is depression is real. It happens. I actually believe it to be a sacred time. And when I listen to it, instead of hiding from it (or trying to hide it from other people), I come out the other side a happier, more spiritually connected person.

They can’t take my badge away for that.

Your Turn!

What tip can you share with the tribe about coping with depression in a life affirming and empowering way?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Corinna October 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm

I have a walk and take photos of flowers, trees, animals, landscapes.
Massages, accupuntures, meditation and sleep are really big for me as is yoga.
Writing helps in my case.
If it is really bad and I can’t get out of bed, listening to music and watching the smoke of my favourite inscense rising (I have a box with that stuff under my bed, just in case).


Amy October 30, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Some really good tips here. Thanks Corinna. I love writing too. xoxo


LeeAnn October 30, 2014 at 2:56 pm

I’ve been having some anxiety lately too. I’ve found that anything that gets me out of my head and more into my physical body helps. So exercise is great for that.
I usually keep it simple and go for a walk around my neighborhood. Right now it’s a triple whammy: I get outside and get some fresh air, I see the beauty of fall and I get the endorphins going. Win, Win, Win.
I usually walk until I’m not thinking (worrying) about anything else but my physical surroundings or just making it around for that last lap. When I come inside I’m able to think much more clearly.
Hope this helps someone!


Amy October 30, 2014 at 5:14 pm

I agree LeeAnn. This is why exercise helps me so much.


PamP October 30, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Walking always helps me. A naturopath gave me this advice during a very dark time. Walk every day. No matter what. I always feel better.

I write in long hand every morning (the morning pages exercise from Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way). Something about getting the voices out on paper helps stop the negative chatter.

Lately, I’ve been practicing something I heard from Martha Beck. It works on any uncomfortable emotion…depression, anxiety. I tell myself “I can tolerate this level of discomfort. Just for now. In this moment, I’m okay.”


Amy October 30, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Love that from Martha. And thanks for the reminder about Morning Pages. Love those. Haven’t been doing them lately but maybe I’ll start it up again. xoxo


Virginia October 30, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Perhaps not calling your feelings “depression” would help. You’re frustrated, scared, unsure, angry, ashamed, etc. As well all know, what you focus on gets bigger. So—don’t place the concentration on the most negative and more difficult thing to get over. Take away that label. You can find a way to fix the other emotions more easily – they can be identified. Along with walking, I read fiction – it doesn’t matter what. It takes your mind somewhere else other than “getting over it”. I agree that ignoring it is not good and that forcing “feeling good right now” can be harmful. Acknowledge the sadness, then address that it will pass (it always has in the past – right?), then act on something that gets the body and mind moving in another direction. Let it go.


Amy October 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Hey Virginia. I actually don’t mind that label. Because depression feels very different to me then just feeling sad or scared or anxious or ashamed etc. To me it’s a very distinct experience that I feel viscerally as different from those other emotions. In her work, The Language of Emotions, Karla McLaren says “depression is not a single emotion but a constellation of emotions, postures, decisions, and health issues that erect…the ‘brilliant stop sign of the soul.’ Deepression is an ingenious (albiet overwhelming) movement in the psyche that takes you out of commission for crucial reason.” I don’t see depression or any other painful emotion as anything to fix. Emotion as carries with it information. When I resist the reality of where I am emotionally I miss the message. Looking at it this way is helpful to me. Thanks for your comment! xoxo


Amy Jones October 30, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I love you so hard. I’m so grateful for to you for recommending The Language of Emotions to me, and ever since, I’ve been thinking that our emotions are our friends. And they are always communicating with us. And for me, feeling my feelings often means feeling all the stuff that I’ve been not wanting to feel. I’m reading/listening to The Presence Process right now, which is some next level shit about feeling all this business. Letting it be released, without judgement or making it mean something destructive. I’ll keep you posted on how all that goes. But for now, please allow me to remind you how much I love you, how much I admire you for being so damn brazen, and how much light you hold (even when you feel depressed) for some many women on a mission. It’s OK to be vulnerable. We love you more for it every time.xoxoxo


Amy October 30, 2014 at 6:48 pm

I love The Presence Process. Started it a few months back then put it down. Need to get into again. Thanks for the reminder!! Love you back my friend. Thank you so much for your support.


Susan October 30, 2014 at 8:52 pm

I’ve been fighting on and off with depression for the better part of a decade and I’ve found that snuggles with my puppies makes me feel way better:) Exercise (yoga and running are my favourite) are also really helpful. But, most helpful for me is talking to other people who have been depressed, because they usually understand how I’m feeling:)


Rebecca November 1, 2014 at 4:25 am

Truth, who does the depression belong to?


Rachael November 3, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Amy, thank you yet again. Your comment about feeling fraudulent being a life coach who is dealing with depression rings so true…i’ts at the crux of what is stopping me from getting my own coaching going. But, and this connection with someone who understands is a tip for dealing, hearing you say that makes me realize for you and therefor for me…it actually just makes you a better coach! Who, when seeking coaching to get through tougher times, wants a guide who has only ever seen cloud nine?! Yoga helps, as does forcing myself out of bed for the sense of accomplishment. I find great relief, or release, in cooking delicious, mostly healthy, things for myself and loved ones…the actions take my mind to a present-focus akin to yoga, and the added bonus is I know I’m nourishing my body too. Thank you so much for sharing!


Jen B November 10, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Amy I love this post. Thank you so much for shining your light and vulnerability, you are proof at how much it drives connection. I recently went through a tough spell and what helped was talking about it to a good friend and trying not to resist the feelings.
Thanks again,
Jen xoxo


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