Sometimes it’s difficult to get yourself out of a depressive mood, and your mind is cloudy so you can’t think of things that you could do that may be able to lessen the pain. Here’s my list for you of some things that make me feel better!
This is one of my favorites. There’s a reason why Art Therapy exists! It really helps to get creative and express yourself. I’ve found that painting is the most therapeutic form of fine art for me. A lot of times your feelings can express themselves in your work. Art that has deep meaning is the best type of art. You can tell a lot about a person and their life experiences by looking at their artwork.
Reflection is an important part of the recovery process. It takes self-reflection to recognize your triggers, warning signs, progress, and regressions. The more you reflect, the more you improve. For me, reflecting is journaling. I’ve found that what helps the most is when I journal at night, right before I sleep. Not at any other time of the day. When I do this i’m writing down all of my thoughts that are in my head and letting them out — it’s almost like venting, and you have a written copy of it. You can journal about your whole day and then go to sleep. In the morning, I usually feel a bit more refreshed than if I were not to journal before bed, because those thoughts were still circulating in my head constantly. My head is more clear in the morning. Sometimes it’s even nice to read back and see how much you’ve grown.
3. Reading Books / Blogs / Podcasts
I love reading self help books. Something about reading them just leaves you inspired.
I recently read the book The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, by Andrew Solomon. I heard it was an amazing book, so i’m giving it a try! If you read it, let me know what you think.
If you guys are interested, I could post a list of my favorite self-help books that I’ve read so far! Comment or send me an email!
This is similar to reading books and blogs, but I find that podcasts are so awesome. You can download them to listen to them on a plane, bus ride, daily commute, or even at home in bed. There are a lot of self-help and mental health podcasts out there!
4. Making a schedule
Making a schedule helps me to stay on track, especially on the days where my anxiety and depression are worse. If I don’t have anything planned, my mind goes over the place, and then I end up not doing anything because it becomes hard to do anything at that point (there’s the depression taking over!). With my anxiety, I’m usually thinking of a HUGE list of all the things I have to do in my head, but it helps me to make it more realistic by choosing a few reasonable goals each day to put in my schedule. I recently tried something new but challenging.. checking your planner in the morning BEFORE you pick up your phone to check it! So far I like it. When I wake up, I just lay in bed for a few minutes. Just laying there. Not reaching immediately for my phone to catch up with the world. It’s a bad habit that I have. Then I get up, and look at my planner to see what I have going on for the day and what some of my goals are. It’s a positive way to start the morning. It’s really satisfying to check off or cross out something in your planner or list that you’ve accomplished (it releases endorphins!!!).
It’s also helpful to plan out a small part of your day for yourself to relax. Usually when we make a schedule we pencil in activities, work, school errands, etc. but we never plan out time for ourselves. Having a little time for yourself everyday is really important and is healthy. If it’s actually in my schedule there’s a higher chance that i’ll actually do it. During this time I like to do meditation, read, do something creative, color, take a bath, spend some time with friends, journal — the possibilities are endless.
I’m sure many people already can relate to this! Music is such a powerful thing. It can make us feel so many emotions. A lot of artists write about their life experiences and there are so many that have written their lyrics based on their mental illness and struggles. Listening to relatable music helps us to not feel alone.
I listen to relaxing music to help me fall asleep which really helps. Listening to music while I do work also helps me and lifts my mood a bit. One thing to note, however, is not to listen to sad music while you are feeling depressed! Most of us have a natural tendency to do this, but do your best to avoid doing it! It always makes us feel worse. When I’m feeling down, I try to get myself to put on happy or upbeat music to help change the mood. Playing music in the morning also helps to start my day off right. I like to play it while i’m getting ready in the morning or making breakfast. I would suggest making a playlist for various moods / occasions!
Pamper yourself! Get a facial! If you can’t afford one, get a cheap face mask, or you can make your own with healthy ingredients at home! I love doing this and then sitting down with a blanket and a cup of tea. At night I usually drink chamomile because it helps with relaxation. I also like to put a diffuser on and I put Lavender in it which is also relaxing. Take a hot bath, paint your nails, do a hair mask, exfoliate your skin, put your pajamas and / or sheets in the dryer for a few minutes and then put them on — it will feel amazing! Sometimes a little dessert can help too… or a massage for tense muscles!
7. Talking about it
This is essential. Talking about how you feel is really important. I know that sometimes we don’t feel like talking about it, but in the end we really will feel better. That’s what our support system is for, whether that means having a session with your therapist or simply calling up a friend!
Also, feel free to shoot me an email if you’d like to talk. Having a set of new ears can really help sometime and you’d be surprised how many people can relate to you! I’d love to chat with you.
8. Kindness/Giving back
This has been one of the most effective coping strategies for me so far. Ever since I started giving back I started feeling better. Not only does it keep you busy and distracts you, but it helps you to channel your energy into something good. It makes me feel a little bit better knowing that I helped someone. For me, volunteering has really been my focus with giving back. Find something are passionate about and then search for volunteer opportunities!
Something as simple as texting someone telling to have a great day or sending a nice, uplifting message can really make you feel good. Sometimes I even text people something nice like that whom I haven’t talked to in a while. It catches them by surprise!
9. Being an Advocate
Being an advocate – advocating for myself and for others, is something that has really saved me amidst all my struggles. Not only is it opening new doors for you, but it is making an impact on so many other people. Mental health is a topic that isn’t spoken about very openly and being transparent about mental health and your struggles and recovery move us in the direction of making mental health an everyday conversation. If not currently, I’m sure at some point in your life you have kept quiet about how you’ve felt or about your mental health. Stigma is such a huge problem and keeps so many from seeking treatment due to the guilt, shame, discrimination and embarrassment. If you act as an advocate you can help to reduce that stigma, making more people seek the help that they need and deserve, but you also will benefit yourself. Being open and transparent about my mental health has lifted a large weight off of my shoulders because I no longer have to hide and feel ashamed. I can be my true self and have realized that those who react negatively once I am transparent about it should not be in my life. Being open about it may also be an inspiration to someone else, and then they might do it. It’s a chain reaction.
Also, for me, being an advocate has led me to attend many events involving to mental illness. This is SO beneficial because when you attend, you are in a room full of people just like you. When you talk to them, it’s almost as if you have known them for years and you don’t feel like you need to explain yourself. You’re able to be your authentic self around them. It’s also an awesome way to meet new people and grow your support system. Some of the greatest people I’ve met in my life were people that I’ve met at events like these.
Dogs are a blessing. They genuinely are happy to see you and love being around you. Petting dogs is really therapeutic and they just love you!! They sense the sadness when you are having a bad day and they are always comforting. It’s also nice just to have a dog around because then you don’t feel as lonely. I talk to my dog sometimes even though it sounds funny. It can be nice because you verbalize your emotions and they can’t say anything to you in return! Most of the time, we just want someone to listen.
It also forces you to be responsible and active, since you’ll need to feed your dog, take it out, and take it for walks. It’s a fun and easy way to get some exercise and spend some time in nature!
I hope some of these offered some insight! Take care of yourself, you deserve it!