From psychologists to life coaches, there are many professionals doing their best to help people living with depression and anxiety. But how effective is their job if the individual doesn't do its part? Here’s a quick list of things I do to use the little energy I have during my bad days and make the most out of it.
Depression: a disorder known for causing severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working (Source: NIH.gov).
For some people, depression is a serious clinical issue. For others, it is a way of manipulation used by those who are “weak,” For some even, it’s still a taboo. Regardless, for many people, depression is a reality. It walks with them into work, into the gym, it sits with them at dinner, and goes to bed with them too.
I know the feeling; going to bed thinking, “please, I need to rest, tomorrow I have an important meeting.” Or walking into a party, full of anxiety, thinking, “I just want to enjoy this and be happy.” Or waking up at home and thinking, “I need to get out of bed and do things,” but my body has no interest in turning on the engines. And these are only examples of the many things I’m sure millions of people think every day and don’t say. Now, while all those thoughts and feelings are very strong, so is my willingness to feel better.
This might look obvious and repetitive, but if it helps at least one person then, success! Here is a list of things I do when I’m having a not-so-good day and how it helps me:
We’ve all heard that creative activities help your mind and soul feel refreshed. My favorite creative activity is grabbing a coloring book and some pencils or crayons and coloring until my negative thoughts have disappeared and my heart feels lighter. While you’re coloring, you’re concentrating on not getting out of the lines, deciding what colors to use and so on, so the rest of your thoughts are pushed away. Eventually, you find yourself enjoying the piece of art you have in front—that’s what’s important now. The good thing? I usually end up feeling like I should spread that creativeness. Sometimes I come up with a new centerpiece for my table or a new photo collage for my wall, you name it! Are you crafty? What if you end up with some cool Etsy shop of your own?
2. Solving Puzzles
This is also helpful because of what it requires from you. To put a puzzle together, you need a strategy. You may split the pieces by color or shape (or both) and start with the corners or from the simplest area of the design, for example. These strategic and organizational skills will be very helpful for you to later take action on any event in your life that needs solving. Hint—hit the dollar store. You’ll find plenty of cool puzzles for an awesome price!
Yes, this one is obvious but very helpful! I’m not saying you should run a marathon, but even 30 minutes of good cardio will help you relax. Cleared your thoughts? Then now you’re in a better position to solve what is bothering you. Got in shape while fighting depression? Win-Win!
Why would I get up and dance if I’m feeling sad? Well, I have proven that a few minutes into dancing I have a smile in my face, so it’s worth a shot! Join the closest Zumba class, find a Salsa video on YouTube and follow it, or turn on the music and freestyle! Make sure to put everything on the activity, your body, your mind and your heart. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new passion and we’ll see you killing it in a contest!
Reading has an effect similar to that of coloring, as you’re putting all your senses in what you’re doing. As watching a movie or a play, reading can take you to a new world. It is preferable to select books that are interesting, educative, and/or positive, but fantasy ones also take your mind on a trip. You will come back seeing life from a different perspective! My best friend recently recommended the book You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero. From my bookshelf, I suggest Richard Branson’s Finding my Virginity, Losing my Virginity and Screw it, Let’s Do It. Also, Men’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. Look also for I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Paulo Coelho’s The Spy. Both are very interesting and based on real stories.
6. Learning Something New
Sit on your computer and search for “positive news.” Download a free app and try learning a new language. Do some research on the latest technology developments or a random country's history. Jump into Pinterest for a new DIY project—there are plenty of options! Get your mind some new information. What if it gives you a good topic of conversation next time you feel awkward in the middle of a group of people? You may find new and improved ways of doing routine stuff. At the very minimum, you’ll find a new hobby—the possibilities are endless!
It is very rare not to feel better after a nice meal, isn’t it? It’s even better if you cooked it and put all your love and effort on it. That feeling of “uuhmm, this is delicious, and I made it!” is priceless. Take it to the extreme, go get groceries, go home, turn the music up, grab a new recipe, and make the kitchen your canvas! Yes, you’ll probably have to do a bit of cleaning after but hey, cleaning is also good therapy after all! What if you turn into the next Gordon Ramsay or Giada de Laurentiis?
8. Kid's Therapy
Last but not least! Spend time with some tiny humans that still see the world as a fun and beautiful place, full of rainbows and superheroes. Unless they are in bed feeling ill, kids are always full of energy, good vibes, creativity and love—and they share all of that indiscriminately with whoever accepts to role play with them (and a set of randomly chosen toys!). Go visit your nieces and nephews or your friends' kids. Even better, go volunteer at your local school or non-profit! There are always options and I’m sure those kids will feel blessed by your company. Who knows, you may end up leading the next big social effort in favor of kids around the world!
These all are simple ideas, but to feel better through them you need to put your heart and mind in 100 percent. Life is not easy. Depression is not easy. But you can face it, find beauty in the small things, rise, and become a better version of the awesome person you already are! There’s plenty of help available, but the real healing happens inside of each of us. Discover new things, discover yourself!