I don’t really get depressed. At least, not anymore. I’ve had a few times in my life I’ve struggle with real, get-you-down, can’t-get-out-of-bed, sad-for-weeks depression, but that honestly hasn’t happened in years. The older I’ve gotten, the more tools I’ve developed to manage my moods. I’ve also just become so incredibly grateful. It’s hard for me to get down when I wake up every day feeling fortunate.
Last week, though, I got into a funk. It started off with something stupid, an expensive mistake that I took kind of hard. But then of course my depression got bigger until it’s wasn’t really even about that anymore. It wasn’t really about anything.
Here are some of the things I like to do when I’m down to help right the ship.
Be proactive (and then let it go)
This can be hard when all you want to do is curl up and hide. Identifying ways you can solve your problem or even help yourself feel better about it can go a long way towards lifting your “I’m a victim” mood. Unfortunately for me, I’m kind of the opposite – I become OVER proactive and kind of obsessive. When something goes wrong or is bothering me, I get this huge itch to do everything I can to fix it. After I’ve been proactive and tried to improve my situation, sometimes I just need to accept there’s nothing I can do at that moment and let it go.
Go to your happy place
I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean literally! Get out of the house (unless your home is your happy place, haha) and go to a place that makes you feel safe, comfortable, and alive. For me, this place is this dog beach near my house. I bring Ru, I watch the dogs play in the water, I stand in the sun or watch the sunset, and suddenly 45 minutes later, I feel better. I guess all that happy, wiggly doggy energy rubs off on me!
Write about it
I’ve been an on-and-off journal-er for years, but sometimes just jotting my thoughts down can help me work through them. I can rant, be petty, and not worry about sounding crazy or overly sensitive. I suspect for many of you, blogging provides the same outlet. Plus, it comes with the bonus of an awesome support network of blogger friends who are always there to lend a kind word or say something positive!
Reach out to friends
This one can sometimes be tough for me because I’m such an introvert. When I have a bad day, my knee jerk reaction is to go eat ice cream by myself, not call a girl friend. That being said, I was blown away by the outpouring of support when I posted something on Facebook about being down. Friends commented, texted, messaged, and called. Of course, sometimes you need to be the one to reach out to someone in particular and say “hey, I’m having a bad day, do you mind if we talk for a bit?” As long as you don’t over-burden them (like needing to talk for two hours or every single week), I’m sure there will be someone available.
This one is my go-to when I’m having a bad day. I love to order some Chinese takeout, run a bubble bath, or splurge on a scarf or shirt I’ve been eyeing. Of course, depression eating and shopping can be really dangerous if it happens regularly (bubble baths are probably pretty safe, haha). But as long as you use it sparingly, a special treat can help turn a day around.
I kid you not, I actually recovered from my last depression by getting really, really into canning. It’s a weirdly therapeutic project, kind of like knitting or pottery, and it lulls you into a kind of trance. Instead of getting off work and moping around, I would pick out my new recipe, grab the ingredients, and spend the rest of the night boiling, chopping, mashing, stirring, and pouring. After a few weeks, my cupboards were full of jams, pickles, and syrupy fruits, and my heart was no longer quite so heavy.
Over three years ago, when I graduated from college and moved to Berkeley, I knew I was going to have a rough go of it. Reg moved home and we started doing the long distance thing, and none of my friends lived here. In preparation for what I knew was likely an imminent depression, I began going to the gym every day. And you know what, it worked like a charm. I would wake up feeling low and hallow, but by the time I worked out at noon, my entire rest of the day seemed brighter. Doctors often recommend exercise as a coping tool for people suffering from chronic depression, and I couldn’t agree more with that advice.
What do you like to do to turn a bad day around or manage your depression?