Last week, we looked at depression. We discussed what some of the symptoms can be, and the importance of talking to others if you feel you might be depressed.  This week, we’ll look at things we can do to help us reduce the risk of becoming depressed. We'll also look at what we can do to help us overcome being depressed. 

1. Interact with others as much as possible, even if you don’t feel like it. It is normal to feel like isolating yourself, but this only makes things worse. It may seem easier to be alone, but after surrounding yourself with others, you will be glad you did.

2. Choose positive people to spend time with. Spend time face-to-face with your host family, and friends who make you feel good. Friends who are active, positive, and understanding are great to be around. Avoid hanging out with friends who are a negative influence by getting you in trouble or making you feel judged and insecure.

3. Look for ways to be helpful to others. Studies have repeatedly shown that one of the best ways to feel less depressed is to do something good for others. Whether it’s being helpful to your friends and host family, or volunteering with an organization, it’s a great feeling.

4. Take better care of yourself. 

  • Get moving! Exercise releases a natural chemical to help your body feel happier.
  • Eat healthier! Junk food, sugar, and a lot of snack foods can make you feel slow and tired. This can make depression worse. Make sure you are feeding your mind with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Reduce the time spent on social media!  Online interaction is no replacement for in-person contact.  Also, there is much on social media that tears us down or makes us feel “less-than” rather than building us up and encouraging us.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs! You may be tempted to drink or use drugs to escape from your feelings and get a mood boost. However, as well as causing depression in the first place, substance use will only make depression worse in the long run. Alcohol and drug use can also increase suicidal feelings.  
  • Get a proper amount of sleep!  A growing teenage body and mind needs at least 8 hours of sleep. Too much or too little sleep can disrupt your mood.
  • Manage stress! Practice deep breathing, journaling, and positive thinking to keep stress under control.

5. Connect with God.  God says in the Bible in the book of Deuteronomy: "I will never leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged." Your host family can pray with you to have peace and lessen your feelings of worry and loneliness.

6. Seek help from an expert. If symptoms of depression are starting to interfere with your life, and are not going away, it may be time to talk to a professional. Sometimes talking to a therapist, counselor or physician can give you skills to cope with stress, or improve your health. If this is something you think would benefit you, talk with your AHLI Coordinator. There is no shame in seeking help for a physical or mental concern.

Even though it may feel like the black cloud of depression might never go away, there are many ways to help you regain your balance and feel more positive, energetic, and hopeful again. We at AHLI want you to be successful in all you do. We are here to help you achieve your goals now and into the future!

What is one goal you hope to achieve in the near future? I’d love to hear from you on WeChat!