Some of the worst things to do when you're depressed are, sadly, the things you're more likely to turn to when you feel down. It's true for everyone. You know you should not engage in self destructive behavior, but somehow that's exactly where you go. You pick fights with loved ones, eat too much, shop too much – and none of those things ever help you feel better. To best avoid the worst things to do when you're depressed, you have to familiarize yourself with them first, and then make a game plan consisting of better, more productive things to do instead.
1. Emotional Eating
I start the list with emotional eating because I'm guilty of it, and I can't be the only one, right? The thing is, you know that eating your feelings is bad for you; it's not going to make you happy. More often than not, in fact, it makes you feel worse. You're wracked with guilt for giving in when you know it's one of the worst things to do when you're depressed – and then your feelings of guilt lead to more binge eating. It's better to stop the cycle in its tracks, because you know you're not eating because you're hungry.
2. Retail Therapy
When you're depressed, sometimes you just need something to look forward to. Some people plan extravagant trips, other plans extravagant dinners, and still others go on extravagant shopping sprees. You might love the new shoes, the coat, and the bag, but they won't make you happy either – and when the bills come due, or you discover a giant hole in your checking account, you'll feel depressed all over again.
3. Taking It out on Others
I'm guilty of this as well, and thank heaven for Heather every day because she's the perfect foil to my blue, brooding moods. Even if you take out your feelings on someone laid back and understanding, however, it still hurts them. Lashing out at the ones you love is awful, but normal in a weird, troubling way. You always hurt the ones you love, after all. When you're depressed and lashing out, it's almost like you're daring them to just wash their hands of you. The next time you feel tempted, try to remember that your partner, BFF, mom, or sister has always been there for you, always supported you, and doesn't deserve to bear the brunt of your bad feelings.
4. Turning to Drugs or Alcohol
Self medicating is definitely one of the worst things you can do when you're depressed. Please, please, please don't turn to drugs or alcohol. You may think they're making you feel better, happier, more bubbly, but they're sending you into a downward spiral that's going to leave you worse off than you were before. This is a dangerous road, and it doesn't help.
5. Depressing Entertainment
Tempting as it is to watch depressing movies, listen to moody songs, and read heart wrenching books, try to resist the urge when you're depressed. It's an empathy tactic but it rarely works the way you plan. If you're having one of those days where you know you simply need to cry your eyes out for a while, that's an exception, but if you're in a genuine blue funk or experiencing a case of the mean reds, go for something funny, lighthearted, or thought provoking instead.
6. Calling up Exes
Why is it that when you're depressed, you sometimes seem bound and determined to depress yourself even more? Nostalgia is a natural occurrence in times of depression, but that's a dangerous road to travel down as well. Don't call up your exes because you're wondering what went wrong or if you can make it work again. You're reaching out to a seemingly happier time, but you're probably idealizing it and it isn't there any longer.
7. Distancing Yourself
It's natural to distance yourself from your friends and family members when you're depressed, but try to resist this too. Needing a bit of space is understandable, but too much is bad for you. Don't push away all the people who love you. You need their support.
8. Staying Isolated
Similarly, you can't just stay holed up in your house all day. Even if you're still interacting with people, it isn't healthy to stay home all day, every day. You need to get out and rejoin the world, experience what it has to offer. Being surrounded by the same scenes day in and day out will exacerbate your depression, and may create a hole you can't claw out of on your own.
9. Dwelling on past Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes. The key is to learn from them rather than dwell on them. All the same, the urge to dwell on every mistake you've ever made and every regret you have is compelling when you're depressed. Doing so, however, is a slap in the face to yourself, because you neglect to notice all the wonderful things you do, all your triumphs and victories.
Depression is hard, whether it's a chronic depression or a momentary state that takes you down for a few days. Whatever you experience, you have to look for healthy outlets that lift you up rather than bring you down further. When you're in a depressed mindset, I know that's easier said than done, but that's why it's so important to recognize the things you shouldn't do when you're in a better mood. How do you deal with life when you're depressed?