Not too long ago, or well years ago actually (but I updated it for the present time) I devised a list called ‘things that make me happy.’ We were in the midst of lockdown, I was living in Sydney on my own in a very small studio apartment and my mental state started to deteriorate very quickly.
Due to a series of, or perhaps one big unfortunate event things have gone from bad to worse for me and I have felt the need to create a new list; things that have helped me to survive. When you’re in the midst of a depressed state often the things that usually give you pleasure do not. So these are things, not necessarily that I have loved doing, but I can honestly attribute to why I am still standing here today.
Take what resonates, hopefully this helps someone.
- Mindfulness; I have an app called ‘Mindfulness: finding peace in a frantic world’ and I play it anytime my mind feels totally cluttered. Achieving even one second of thinking about nothing at all besides my breath and an awareness of my body is like hitting the re-start button on my brain. I genuinely feel refreshed afterwards. The challenge is to totally empty your mind of all other thoughts and limit how often your mind wanders which sounds impossible and it mostly is, but as I said, if you can manage to do this for even 1 second, trust me you’ll feel better.
- Prayer. This one isn’t for everyone but I have personally found a lot of peace in handing over all my worries in times of distress to a higher being. Even just sitting in a church and reminding myself that I’m not alone, that there is some greater purpose in all this even if I can’t see it. Choosing to have faith in that and really believing it.
- Exercise. This one’s tough. I went to Pilates for the first time after spending 3 months barely leaving the house. I cancelled and rescheduled many times but I finally made myself go and dam I feel so much better. I went to the beginners class, I told the instructor it was my first time in a long time and she was so kind and I felt no pressure to do all the exercises but I did at least attempt them. My advice is find something, anything that works for you that you actually enjoy and then you will feel more motivated to go. But be kind to yourself. If all you can manage is a 10 minute walk to the end of your street and back, honestly just do that.
- Writing it down. I lost the person I was closest to in the whole world and found myself having absolutely no one I could pour out my soul to anymore. I had to learn very quickly how to be there for myself emotionally or I would crumble. I found writing everything I wanted to say down helped me feel as though I had released it somewhere rather than getting all stuck up in my head. It has been a temporary solution until I learn how to open up more to other people but it has certainly helped in the interim.
- Sun. This one is not always available and probably less so if you’re in the northern hemisphere right now but I know that I feel 1000% better when I literally just go and stand outside and allow myself to feel that warmth hit my skin. Someone told me once that when you breathe in air outdoors, your body takes in the photons from the sun. Never bothered to look that one up but I certainly do feel better when I take some fresh air into my lungs.. leading to the next.
- Breathing. This one seems like a no brainer, but I recently went to have a remedial massage in the hope of curing my migraines and this beautiful man told me that as a trauma response my body is in a constant state of fight or flight. Therefore, I am shallow breathing as a result and not allowing myself to breathe out all the toxins in my body. Wow, who would have known. So I now attempt to catch myself anytime I remember and take some deep breaths and let all the air out. I push it all out until there is nothing left at all left. Magically enough, I am feeling far less tension in my neck and less frequent headaches from doing this. I haven’t had another migraine yet but I’ll keep you posted on that one.
- Friends. For a long time, in the midst of my depressed state I truly felt like I had no one and maybe sometimes that is the case. But I know that I realised once I stopped cancelling plans, and attempting to reach out myself, that I have more people in my life than I think and that these people actually like me. Even just the act of making an ‘appointment’ with someone, a time and a place I need to be has helped give me some kind of structure in my day. You’ll also surprise yourself with the people who will be there for you when you are honest about what you’re going through. If not, hang in there you will find your tribe eventually.
- Music. Last but not least. I recently invested in some noise cancelling headphones and I have found that lying in bed with these bad boys on, with just a good dam song blasting my eardrums off allows me to calm down into a more manageable state of mind. Even just finding and connecting to a song that perfectly sums up what you’re going through will help you feel less alone.
Hopefully this has been of some help. Remember to be kind to yourself always and don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me if you find yourself in a dark corner. I have been there and am so willing to help.