Do you find yourself struggling to get things done? Has your to-do list become more of a “to-don’t” list? Has motivation pretty much gone out the window?
I hear you. I have lived with depression for almost 25 years, and there are days when it is all I can do to put on actual clothes. (As opposed to changing into different pajamas. Even that seems like a victory some times!)
It seems impossible at times, but you can get through the day. You can get things done. You can have a normal day. Well, more normal than it would be. No day is really a “normal” day when you have depression, but these tips can make it feel as productive as possible.
Choose 3 of these 5 activities to complete: Shower, comb hair, brush teeth, put on deodorant, wash face. These activities can be difficult when you are living with depression, but even just doing a few of them can get you started in the right frame of mind to get things done. Self-care is so important. I find that, first of all, if I am feeling “gross,” for lack of a better term, that pours over into other aspects of my day. It creates a precedent and I am less likely to do other things. Second of all, I also find that small steps like this are wonderfully simple ways to show love for yourself. It can be very hard to love ourselves when we are in a mood episode. Doing something small for yourself at the start of the day can be so helpful!
Eat a healthy breakfast. You don’t need to put on your professional chef’s uniform. Keep it simple. Even if it is just blending some fruit together into a smoothie, or mixing some yogurt and granola. Our mind and body are very much linked together. When you are in a depressive episode, it is so tempting for your diet to reflect your frame of mind. (ie, mind filled with negativity and nothing but junk food.) We tend to give our bodies what we think we deserve. So treat it well. The nutrients in a healthy breakfast will also make you feel better physically which is a vital step toward better emotional health.
Write a prioritized to-do list. Making a list of everything you “need” to accomplish can often lead you to feeling overwhelmed, which can have the opposite desired effect. It can lead to you accomplishing nothing at all. That is not what we want to achieve here. What you should do instead is write out the list using 1 of 2 methods. First, you can write it in order from most important to least important. Then give yourself a number. That is the number of items on the list you feel you can complete without exacerbating your moods. Start with a low number. As you complete items, it often gives you the motivation to keep going. The second method is grabbing a highlighter and working through the list in no particular order. As in the first method, commit to a certain amount of items and then take a rest period of 15-30 minutes. Overdoing it will just make you feel worse.
Get some physical activity. Many studies show that regular exercise can increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain– neurotransmitters that we rely on to feel happy and agreeable. You don’t need to workout for hours on end. Just pick a way to get your heart rate up for 15-30 minutes daily. There is an app I really like called Nike Training club. It is free to download and many of the workouts do not require any equipment. You can do them right in the comfort of your living room.
Connect with a friend. Socializing is something that is particularly draining for me. I am a massive introvert, so I thrive when I am alone. That being said, maintaining friendships, especially in hard times, is nourishing for your soul. Your friends can help distract you, even temporarily from your worries and sadness. I recommend texting or messaging a friend and just talking! Something as simple as that can be really helpful. It re-establishes your connection to humanity, and it helps you feel less isolated.
Do something you enjoy. I cannot stress this enough. When you are in a major mood episode it is so easy to get bogged down in your humdrum daily activities. I find this happening to me often. When it does, I know I am in need of some “me time.” Whether it is grabbing a good book off the shelf, or immersing yourself in some Netflix, take some time for something enjoyable. This is great for those periods of rest we talked about in #3.
“Unplug” as early as you can. This has really helped my anxiety at night. Social media can be a massive trigger for anxiety and depression. I have made it a habit that around 630pm or 7pm, I plug in my phone for the night, and do not check it until morning. (Unless I hear the phone ring.) I don’t even check texts. If you find that being on your phone, especially mindless Facebook scrolling, makes you feel worse, commit to cutting yourself off a certain length of time before you want to fall asleep. Don’t let the last thoughts of your night before sleep be about a triggering political post, or a status update that makes you feel envious. Unplug, and let your mind rest.
These are just a few things you can do to help make your day seem more manageable. Commit to trying these for 30 days, and you should find that your mood lifts, and the long, long days seem a little more tolerable.
About the Author
Jen (the writer behind the blog, Diffusing the Tension) lives in Northwest Indiana with her husband and two children (ages 4 and 2). She has bipolar disorder and frequently writes about her experiences with that. In her spare time, she is a bookworm, TV junkie, and fitness nut. You can follow her on:
Facebook- Diffusing the Tension
Her blog- www.diffusingthetension.com
Join us every sunday for REAl-LIFE stories from people who have struggled with depression. They share their experiences with mental health and how they were able to overcome it.