Hands up anyone who’s been dealing with depression. Or the dark days of winter. Or the last three years in general!
It’s no joke living up north where each winter the daylight disappears just before you leave work. Then it doesn’t reappear until you’re on your way back to work.
It’s also an awful thing to live in a world divided by politics. So often this world yields to the loudest voices rather than the wisest ones.
Why does it always seem like negativity roars while positivity whispers? Yet the energy of both radiates outward and affects everyone.
Here are 10 strategies I use when the Sunday blues, the winter darkness, or depression in general get a grip on me:
- Go for a run or brisk walk outside. Fresh air, deep breaths, and the pleasant sounds of nature can work their wonders on a tortured soul. Not to mention those happy little endorphins kicking throughout your body. They can take you from lousy to refreshed in a half hour.
- Read. Get your mind off yourself and into another world. Reading is a great way to forget about your troubles and be drawn into a different story. Zooming out of your troubles and looking at the larger world helps shift perspective. Lying down on the couch to read for 20 minutes is relaxing and just what the doctor ordered to get your happy juices flowing.
- Paint or draw. I loved doing watercolor painting after school last year. It was a stressful year. The mindfulness of painting brought me to peace and stillness. This counteracted the stress of the day. There’s something in the process of letting a painting dry and adding more later which also mimics the layers of life. We’re all a work in progress. Watching the artwork get steadily better and better sparks joy and creates excitement about the possibilities in life.
- Practice yoga. It resets the nervous system. It helps you feel calmer and more centered. For me, it has provided immediate relief when I’m not feeling my best, but it also helps long term. There is so much research out there showing its benefits. Doing yoga at home each day before work within a time frame I can manage works well for me. And I notice an immediate difference in how I feel on the days I do it.
- Watch a good movie…. and cry. I love watching a a tear-jerker that I can empathize with and get my angst out. I also watching shows from my youth- Anne of Green Gables, Dances with Wolves, Last of the Mohicans. They have nostalgic music and beautiful scenery. Their familiarity is comforting as well.
- Meditate. If the word meditate seems too outlandish to you, think of it as sitting still in peace. What a calming thought. The idea is to allow your body to have a relaxed, upright seated posture, and also to close your eyes and give your mind a break. At first, a few minutes will feel like a long time, but as you practice it regularly, you can sit longer and feel quite comfortable. After you sit with a quiet mind, your perspective of the world is calmer and more steady. Try to simply be and not think too much. Allow your thoughts to enter, then move past them. Notice how you feel after meditating.
- Find comfort in the sensory. Use your favorite lotion on your hands, put on your fuzzy socks, have a warm cup of tea. Sensory comforts represent love of self. When you are down, showing self-love sends the message that you are worthy, you are valued, and that this moment will pass. Try wrapping your arms around yourself and giving yourself a hug. Try massaging your own feet with a little lotion. That is a tip I learned from watching Yoga with Adriene.
- Put on some mood-changing music. I love peace radio on Pandora when my kids are grumpy. The Beatles are always a sing-along favorite. My Spanish dance-music is perfect for a family dance party while we’re making dinner. Eighties music can be so much fun too. Music sets the ambience, turns frowns into grins, and can help kick you out of a bad mood. Oldies are also a great choice. There’s something for everyone.
- Clean something small. Wipe down the bathroom. Get the dishes done. Fold and put laundry away. Pick a shelf to clean in 10 minutes. Small accomplishments are a visible sign that you are doing the right thing. This influences how you feel. I had several students emphasize this point last year when we were talking about activities which help with depression. They ALL agreed on cleaning as a helpful strategy to feeling better.
- Spend time with a furry friend. My little puppy was the best when I had the blues. He would curl up on my lap, play with a ball, or snuggle with me. One favorite feeling with him was at bedtime, when he would curl up and lay against the small of my back. It was as if he was saying “we’ve got each other’s back” or “I’m here for you, mom.”
Friend, if you’re feeling the blues, I’ve got your back. We’re in this life together. We’re here to lean on one another. So practice some self-love, get outside, or turn some music on and clean. You’ve got what it takes to help yourself feel a little better. And if you need some support, ask. You are worth it.
What are your favorite strategies to swing your mood? Let me know in that very empty box called the comment box below: