Last week I talked a little about being a nicer person. It’s something that’s been on my mind for a little while now and something I’ve begun to work on for myself.
Being a kind person is a noble trait, but a conversation with someone over the weekend reminded me this can sometimes be harder than expected. A friend mentioned to me that they have been depressed lately. It brought the question up – how can you be positive and kind when life is basically kicking your butt as we all know it sometimes does?
I know a lot about depression and how it can affect people because I deal with it myself at times. It is the reason, in fact, that I began this blog in the first place. It can be all-consuming and debilitating. It can change who you are as well as the way you think.
I speak from first hand experience because I have been through times when I couldn’t find the desire, energy, or willpower within myself to complete regular, everyday tasks and to be honest, I didn’t want to. I would go to work and then go home. I spent 95% of my time outside work alone. I withdrew from friends and family and worked diligently to make myself as small as I possibly could.
This particular friend is in the midst of a situation where family member with a serious health issue is essentially refusing (choosing not) to do anything about it. Situations such as these when you are left with no control or power are difficult to say the least.
I have not been in this exact situation myself and I would never presume to tell someone else what decisions to make in their life, but I have been depressed. For me it’s something that I have to work my way out of. There’s a process there and sometimes that process can take hours and in the really bad times it can take much longer. There is no rule book to follow, no definite game plan. It takes what it takes and lasts how it lasts.
My biggest wish for someone going through a tough time is that they take care of themselves and do their best. Sometimes your best is going to work or getting out of bed that day. I get it.
It’s not easy to look outside ourselves when we’re drowning inside. Try to keep in mind that others are not the cause of your issues and don’t make them pay the price for the person or situation that is. In fact, being kind to others is its own form of therapy and can make you feel better at times!
Being a kind human being begins with being kind to yourself. Below I share a few ideas for ways you can try to take care of yourself starting today!
10 Ways to Take Care of Yourself
- Get outside. I’ve never gotten out in nature and not felt better inside. Whether it’s walking a trail, going to the local park to stare at the river, or taking my time to explore my (mom’s) neighborhood on foot, being outside never fails to take some weight off my shoulders. I start taking deeper breaths to bring in that fresh air, slow down the pace a little, and pay special attention to the most random things that make me happy. For example, in my mother’s neighborhood I have a favorite tree, favorite house, and favorite car all in different spots along my route. It’s silly but I love seeing those things each time I explore!
- Give yourself some quiet time or turn up the tunes. When I am depressed it’s very easy for me to become overwhelmed by the smallest things. When I get like that I do one of two things, I remove myself from the situation and find a quiet place to regroup, or I put my earbuds in and put on some music, an inspirational speech (via Youtube), or whatever I feel would make me feel better!
- Massage/Facial/Spa Day. Or a DIY home spa! A friend once scheduled a massage during an extremely stressful period in her life and later told me she cried like a baby during the massage! It might sound like a self-indulgent pamperfest, but it is claimed that massage therapy can help with anxiety, stress, headaches, and some illnesses such as fibromyalgia. If the cost of a massage is a little too steep, look into scheduling a pedicure or facial. If those aren’t an option you can always do your own at home. You can purchase facial masks at various price points almost anywhere, soak your feet in a bubble bath, and paint your toes your favorite color after!
- Do personal affirmations. There was a time I would have said affirmations were ‘hokey’ and laughed someone off for suggesting them but since that time I’ve learned they truly can be beneficial. Think of it like this: you are replacing those negative, mean thoughts in your head with kind, encouraging ones. Affirmations can be written, auditory, or verbal. Pick what speaks to you and give it a try! I personally use all three depending on my mood.
- Take a vacation. It doesn’t matter how long or short it is, if you are able to get out and see new scenery do it! It can be on a leisurely Sunday drive or you can visit another country, the point is to step away from all the stresses of everyday life and take a break.
- Get off social media. You’ve heard the quote about comparing your ‘behind the scenes’ to everyone else’s ‘highlight reel’, haven’t you? It’s only natural for people to post the ‘best of the best’ on social media, but it’s hard to keep in mind life isn’t always like that. Theirs or yours! I decided to remove myself from Facebook recently. This decision was more about the amount of time I wasted mindlessly scrolling through my news feed on a daily basis, but it has made a world of difference! Because I have friends who use Messenger to chat I decided to move the icon on my phone to a back screen by itself where I will never see it instead of deactivating my account. I honestly never think about it and don’t miss it at all.
- Change your diet and exercise habits. Research shows that low levels of iron, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty and amino acids, as well as calcium are often linked to mild cases of depression and anxiety. In addition, exercise causes the brain to release endorphins that naturally improve your mood and reduces anxiety and depression. These are the scientists talking, not me, and they know what they’re talking about!
- Accomplish something. First hand I know the smallest accomplishment will boost the way you feel about yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re working out for the first time or cleaning those dishes you have let go for a few days now, do something.
- Find something to make you laugh. Your best friend. Your pet. I try not to watch a lot of TV, but when I’m in a funk sometimes the best thing I can do is turn on Netflix and binge for a while. It offers me a little distraction from the negative thoughts that are running through my mind. Some funny shows I love and would suggest are: The Office, Schitt’s Creek, New Girl. Movies are also good distractions. The Hangover had me cry-laughing for two solid hours.
- Get it out. Most of the time you need to get these things dragging you down off your shoulders. Talking to a close friend or therapist might be exactly what you need. If you’re more private, you might drag out a pen and notebook and lay it all out on paper. Talk about it. Write about it. Blog about it. Whatever way you feel comfortable, get yourself out from under it.