Advice. It bothers me a lot that the well-intentioned sometimes tell us that we "need to move on," "become more positive," or "handle and cope with our lives better than we are doing." It is very easy to cast a critical eye on someone else because you think you would or they should be doing something else. Most times, a concern is expressed and that is that. We've been told that we're lacking in some way and now we need to change. Oh, if it were just that simple. How do we accomplish it? May I suggest that if we're going to advise people that they need to think or do differently, that at least we can offer some suggestions.
So, in that spirit, here are some of my observations. I have been noticing that I can seemingly cope better, physically and emotionally, when I am active and exercising, even a little. Getting up to face the day and not staying in bed or in my pajamas, also helps. Having a goal list of tasks to accomplish during the day provides structure and takes my mind off dwelling on the negative. Getting some fresh air, even in this brutal cold is life-affirming. Reaching out to someone else, even simply to send an email, also takes the focus off self. Choosing to read uplifting or positive books vs. dreary, depressing ones can make a huge difference. Taking the time to do anything, however small just for me because it makes me happy; e.g., baking some banana bread is well worth it. So is socializing or being with people, even if that means simply mingling in with the crowd at the grocery store.
These observations come from the past few years having been in and out of depression as the result of active grieving. I won't kid myself that there might be days in the future where I stay in my p.j.s or can only manage to eat BLT sandwiches. It's a given. I am prone to depression and life is challenging. Two loaded bullets waiting to be fired off. I'm not going to tell myself that I can never go into that cave again - that would be fooling myself. In fact, there are times when that is where we need to be. But my list of helpful hints is for when I need to start climbing out of that deep, dark cave of despair and rejoin the land of the living again.
This last bout of depression in December was a tough one. Looking back, I can see how my inactivity and despair kept feeding on itself. It was hard to break the cycle. I was distraught about losing the house, having to move the boys, not being able to afford a Christmas, and experiencing financial hardship. It was a lot on my plate. I had to grieve it all first. That part could not be skipped.
But at the same time, I can see how dwelling on the hardship perpetuates the anguish and keeps me down in the cave. At some point, I reach a place where I realize it is time to come back up. And using my arsenal of past experience as to what has assisted me caused me to come up with these actions. I am going to focus on them now because they have worked in the past.
1. Greet the day with the intent of facing and living it fully.
2. Just get up out of bed.
3. Take shower, put on makeup, dress in decent clothes.
4. Get some fresh air.
5. Try to exercise a little.
6. Reach out to someone in a small way.
7. Write up a to-do or goal list and focus on accomplishing the tasks.
8. Read something uplifting or watch a humorous movie or t.v. show.
9. Do something fun or meaningful.
11. Be kind to myself.
And when all else fails, JUST DO ANYTHING, SOMETHING, JUST GET MOVING! Throw in a load of laundry, wash the dishes, clean out a drawer. Focusing on something usually leads to another productive activity. There seems to be something to the Law of Attraction of positive energy increasing and building upon what precedes it.
I should add that I made a concerted effort in the past to focus on positives and list five daily items per post in that regard. That effort petered out this fall when we sold the house, moved and life became pretty frantic with Sam moving and me taking the Nursing Asst. class. Did reflecting on the positives help overall? I'm not sure, I just notice that since I haven't been listing them that I have been in a state of pretty consistent low-level energy, mood and hope. So I will attempt to reactivate my Grateful List now and we'll see what comes of it. It can't hurt.
Today I am grateful for :
1. Postal carriers.
2. The U.S. Post Office.
3. The red, rosy glow of winter sunsets.
4. Being able to pay bills online or over the phone.
5. Weather forecasts, which allow us to know when winter snow is on its way.