of Nikki Albert
When you are in a depression, nothing can hold appeal. Energy can be sucked right from you. And you are fighting against your mind as it tells you just the worst most negative things possible on a regular basis.
Here are some things I do when I am sucked under by the beast.
Take a mental illness day: There are days when depression saps everything from me, especially when I am at my deepest part of it. I feel like I cannot function or face the day. So I take a day of rest for self-care. Just a day to take care of my mental and emotional needs. When I did this at first, I would feel so guilty like the depression ate my day and I failed. But it isn’t failure. I needed a day for self-care. There is nothing wrong with this.
Small steps, but steps: That sapped motivation and fatigue make it incredibly hard to function. So take small steps. Get out of bed. Get dressed. Do your basic hygiene routines. Do a simple chore. Maybe write a small list of goals you want to achieve each day and aim for that. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t get them all done; it is just sometimes writing them out the day before helps gear yourself for some sort of plan of action the next day. With motivation, doing is the key to doing more.
Get up: Sleeping in was a real problem for me. Oversleeping during the day and insane insomnia at night. I felt better with more energy and mental clarity if I could get up after 9 hours of sleep. Even if I took a short nap later. Sometimes my sleep quality wasn’t the best, so a short nap helped. But oversleeping made me feel sluggish and more tired. I had to get up. Even when I didn’t want to. I had to get dressed as well. This made me feel like I accomplished something and was ready for the day.
Doing things you enjoy: Here is the thing, often we lose interest in things we enjoyed. Nothing seems to be appealing anymore. Even creativity lags I found. And this is even more depressing. All these things I used to enjoy just flat lined on me. But the key I learned was doing them. Just for short periods. Teaching myself to find pleasure in them again bit by bit. I would do them for 10 minutes guaranteed and if I got at least a little interested, I would do more. Every day I would choose an activity. And at this time, I was also trying new things.
It is okay to fall: It is okay to fail and flounder and have a day where nothing was done. Maybe you were making progress and then… nothing. Well it is okay. Snuggle up on the couch and Netflix. Just rest. Mentally take a break. Floundering is allowed. As long as we keep going.
Exercise: Some studies suggest it helps with mood. Some studies suggest that isn’t really valid. So who knows? But it is a distraction. It is a routine. It is something to do regularly that you can get into the habit of that makes you feel productive and like you are making a positive step. I enjoyed that feeling.
Gratitude journal: I was told to keep a gratitude journal because it is one of those things that forces you to think about positive things in your life you are grateful for or thankful for. Small or large. It was difficult at first because a negative thought was so much easier to come to mind. But over time I had an easier time of it and it was enjoyable to reflect on these little things in a day. There is an app called Happier that makes it easy to record these things on there that I enjoy. You can take pictures or just write what you are grateful for. And share the app or add friends and have them do it as well.
Thought journal: Another sort of journal I was told to do was a thought journal. This one is to write about unrealistic negative thoughts and replace them with more positive (Check out this post to know what I am talking about). If you see a psychologist, they will help you figure out how to do this. And if you read my post, you will get an understanding of what I speak of, you can google for more info, find worksheets and an abundance of information to help you on this road. Some things to watch out for are ‘should,’ ‘always,’ and ‘can’t thinking.’ Anyway, working through these thoughts is important because depression is a liar. It distorts thoughts. It makes us feel horrible about ourselves. It makes reality seem the worst way possible. It is a sneaky liar though so we have to peel apart those statements, look at them and say ‘but really, this makes more sense.’ If we do this enough, our brain will accept the new ideas.
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Nikki Albert is a Canadian blogger who blogs about fibromyalgia, chronic pain and migraines on her blog Brainless Blogger. She has lived with fibromyalgia for nearly two decades since being diagnosed at the age of 20. Nikki lives at home with her common-law spouse of 18 years and her three cats.