Here we are, we’re in springtime and I have to admit I am really ready to change my wardrobe. But springtime isn’t only the season of feel good weather, strappy tops, and fields of blooming flowers. I recently read the Daily Misery Index published by the Washington Post, which shows that spring is the peak time for being depressed and unhappy.
Experiencing these feelings are no joke. Trust me, because I have been there. You really don’t have the energy, or even the desire, to do anything! Trying to look pretty is a chore, going to work is miserable, and you can forget about a social life. If there is any time left outside of your daily duties, you’ll feel it up with rest and television, which is pretty much all you feel like doing anyway.
I’ve been to the point where I didn’t know how life could go on. Being lonely was the normal, and staying inside to eat myself into a coma was the only medicine that would make me feel temporarily better. This went on for years, but then I found tasks that helped me feel better for much longer. I was able to incorporate these tasks in my daily life, and they would give me the energy and the strength to take back control of my happiness. Here are the 5 coping techniques that worked for me and may do the same for you.
1. Do more for yourself and less for others
This may sound a little selfish, but don’t get confused because it’s what you need. You must be selfish to nurse your mind back to health. If you are unhappy and depressed, view it as being sick, as if you have the flu. If you had the flu, would you be running errands for other people, hosting parties, doing favors and being the “yes woman” for everyone? No, you wouldn’t, because you would be too busy trying to get better by taking your meds and getting some rest.
Depressed and unhappy is similar, except it’s a mental challenge instead of a physical one. Nurse your mind back to health by focusing on yourself and finding out what truly makes you happy. It all starts with taking some time for you.
2. Get fabulous
This one may be a little bit of a challenge, because at first you may not have energy to do much. But even if you’re going to be at home all day, or you’re not doing anything special this weekend, still take the time to do something special for yourself. Get your nails done, get a wax, or even book a massage. If you need to find some plus size fashion, go to a mall and buy something nice for yourself or order something online.
Are you operating on a tight budget? No problem! Here are a few self-care pamper sessions that require little to no money. Curl and style your hair, give yourself a mani/pedi, or light some candles and soak in a bubble bath at home. They even have waxing kits less than $15 at the drug and superstores. Whatever you do, be sure to have fun with it.
From my experience, it is true what they say: “When you look better, you feel better.”
3. Expose yourself to clean, bright spaces
This helps so much! I can’t stress how important it is to be in clean and brightly lit areas. Light (preferably natural light) helps boost your serotonin levels, which are your happy hormones. So if you are unhappy and always keep yourself in a dark, closed-in room, then you are just feeding your depression, not reversing it.
You can only feel what your environment allows you to feel. Here’s what I did in order to boost my spirits daily. I replaced my black curtains with sheer white ones to bring in the natural lighting. Made my bed every morning no matter what (a clean, uncluttered space always helps). I did my laundry on the weekends, and made sure that at the end of the day anything out of place would get put away before I went to bed.
If you can only do one thing for now, I would suggest getting the sheer curtains first. The natural light will eventually get you in the mood for everything else.
4. Do whatever makes you happy
Hopefully, you know what makes you happy. We’re not talking just about temporary happiness: look for the deep-seated feeling you get at the end of a great day. If you are not sure what exactly makes you happy, take some time to meditate quietly on what those things might be. Write these things down and keep the list for when you are having one of your bad days. On those days, refer to your list and do one of those things that make you happy.
If I’m having a bad day or recovering from one, I know going and looking at real-estate show homes will make me feel better. Driving through the “rich” side of town might seem strange to others, but it made me feel like I actually had a purpose. So whatever it is that makes you feel happy, be sure to make time for it in your day or week.
5. Figure out the underlying problem
You may be thinking “Duh, Ashley, who wouldn’t do that?” But you’d be surprised. Usually when people are going through any kind of pain their mind focuses more on what can make them feel better versus what caused them to feel bad in the first place. It’s like putting a bandage on an infection; you’re masking the symptoms when the infection really needs to heal from the inside.
To truly get out of depression or an unhappy state of mind you have to address the real issue. What is it that got you to this point? Did you just go through a divorce? Are you unhappy with your appearance? Did you just experience a miscarriage? We are all human, and it is ok to get down sometimes. Just don’t forget to get back up and take control of your happiness. This list is a great place to start asking yourself some targeted questions.
Hopefully these five tips will help you as much as they have helped me. Now let’s go lead joyful, happy lives.
What coping mechanisms do you use to deal with depression? Tell us in the comments below.