I like to laugh and have fun, but even I get down once in a while. I made a list of my eight ways to battle depression and thought I would share it with you.
1. Stay Busy – I find the more I stay busy, the less time I have to focus on problems. Time goes by quickly when you’re busy. When I’m not busy, my mind likes to think about my problems and worries and fears. Staying busy with the right activities eliminates those worries and fears. I stress I won’t have enough money for retirement, but I stay busy working on developing other sources of income. This year I have taken multiple classes on stock investing, developed an informational product I will start selling in August and continue to work on writing. All of these help battle my worries on money.
2. Exercise – I like to do something physical every day. Most of the time it is either a workout or a cardio interval training, but I also will take long walks or bike rides. If I can’t do any of those, I will work in the yard, around the house, or shovel snow in the winter. I find that when my body is in good shape, my mind is in better shape. I am able to better handle the issues that come up when I feel good, and exercise does that for me. Also activities like long walks and mowing the grass give me a chance to think over problems, and when combined with the activity helps me to come up with ideas to solve them.
3. Read a Good Book – Reading is an escape from every day life for me. I become part of the book and imagine myself within the story and I forget about my own life. Reading is something I commit to daily. I read during lunch and before bed for a total of about one hour or more each day. It is important to me to read good books. More and more I tend to stay away from depressing stories. I love comedies and “good over evil” stories with characters I root for.
4. Daily Affirmations – I have a couple lists of affirmations that I say every morning. They are positive up-lifting phrases that provide encouragement and fill my subconscious with thoughts that build me up. Most of the benefit is hidden internally. It is important that I say these daily affirmations with emotion and conviction. To just recite them rotely and check them off my list does no good at all. Be dramatic.
5. Watch a Comedy – I don’t watch a lot of television but when I do I like to watch a good comedy. Laughter is the best drug for my soul. I can’t help but feel good after a good laugh. I DVR David Lettermen and Conan O’Brien and try to watch a bit of both every day. I subscribe to Spotify and they have classic comedy albums available. I have been meaning to add these to my playlists so that I can listen to them in the car or when I exercise. When I was a kid I would listen to George Carlin, Steve Martin, Cheech and Chong and Bill Cosby. I’m sure there’s a ton of material out there that I have never heard before (send suggestions).
6. Listen to Great Music – When I hear some music that I love, it really pumps me up, I feel energized, motivated, happy, excited and confident. But not all music does that to me. If I listen to Pink Floyd or Evanescense I get depressed. When you hear a song or a musical piece that inspires you, jot it down and put these into a collection. Back in the eighties we made mix tapes, now you can put them into collections on your iPhone or an online radio like Spotify. Crank up your collection when you feel down, want to exercise or get started on your project.
7. Get Outside – Humans need to get out into the sunshine and enjoy the outdoors. When I feel down, I work out in the yard, take a long walk or head to the park. One park by me has a nice lake that always makes me feel great just to look at it. Grab a friend or family member and throw the frisbee or drink a cup of coffee outside. If it is wintertime I still like to go out, the parks look beautiful with the snow on the trees. When I was a kid I used to spend hours outside in the winter having snowball fights, building forts/snowmen, playing hockey. I haven’t done some of those activities since, and I need to remember that this winter. My favorite time of the year is Fall when the weather in Chicago is perfect, but those first few Spring days when the weather warms after a brutal Winter are special too. Anytime the weather is awesome, I try to take at least a moment to go out and enjoy it. When you feel good physically, you feel good mentally.
8. Hang With Positive People – When I am my most depressed I am usually alone. It is so easy to feel sorry for myself when I’m just focusing on Mister Me.
Hang with family, friends or even complete strangers. I make sure though, that they are positive people who will make me laugh, encourage me and take my mind off my troubles. I don’t need to magnify them by spending time with people who will make me feel worse.
I don’t know about you but sometimes I think I’m more extroverted around complete strangers than I am around my own family and friends. So going out for coffee, spending time downtown, joining a club or taking a class gets me out of the house and I am able to meet new people.
Illnesses of the mind are every bit as important as those of the body. Take them seriously. Try all of the techniques above, especially number eight. If nothing works, then seek out professional help. Don’t try to handle it all by yourself. The more you interact with other people, the more you realize that there are people out there in this world with problems way worse than your own.