Disclaimer- Please remember that all of the comments which I make are based upon my own opinions and experiences. I do not wish to cause offence through any of my comments nor do I wish to negatively influence anyone in anyway.
I would love to say that I am about to write a super interesting blog about how to get your five fruits and veggies a day but sadly not! I’m really not into fruit and veg and as much as I tell myself all the time how important it is I’m afraid I’m more at home with a large tub of Ben and Jerry’s. A pizza is always welcomed too haha! Before I go too far off track and leave to stuff my face, I want to share with you the five things I do (or at least try to do) each day in an attempt to lift my mood.
Life is busy and fast moving and when you’re stuck in a bubble or down in the dumps everything seems too difficult to handle. I find that (in my own experience) suggestions made often fell on deaf ears as I would immediately look to reasons why I didn’t want to or ‘couldn’t’ do anything so these are quick and simple things which helped me. You might read and think ‘what a load of nonsense’ or you might decide to try something out. Either way I’m not claiming this to be a quick fix miracle cure, just a few suggestions. So here goes…
- Congratulate yourself
This sounds silly. I accept that. By now I am at peace with sounding a little odd but every morning when I wake I try to congratulate myself. When you are at your lowest it is difficult to imagine, let alone actually see a light at the end of the tunnel. There are times where your thoughts can run away with you and you may believe that the only way things will improve is if you are not here or you may think that life for others would be better without you. It is not true. Despite this thoughts can still linger making surviving day to day difficult. I would like to think that these thoughts are rare but unfortunately from speaking to others, I don’t think that this is the case. Depression is an ongoing struggle. I like to think of it as a war and even though there are times where I lose the battle, I know that I am winning the war. I believe that, when I feel that low, everyday that I wake up and it is a new day, I have won yet another battle meaning that I am getting closer to winning the war.
2. Set a challenge
This provides another opportunity to congratulate yourself. I set myself a daily challenge. This could be something as simple as ‘eat breakfast’, ‘wash my hair’, ‘put a load of washing in’. Or it could be something difficult such as ‘put the bins out’, ‘go to the shop’, ‘go out with friends’. On a morning I set myself a challenge. I used to do this the night before but realised that if I didn’t follow through I would be hard on myself. I find that if I set a challenge on a morning, I can take into account my current mood and set something which I know is achievable. If I am feeling really low I am lucky to make it off of the sofa so I set myself one small challenge whereas other days I set a challenge then give myself another once it is complete. It took me a while to master the art of not kicking myself when I found something unmanageable but trust me it is not worth it. If you do it then great, if not then there’s always another day. If you do manage to complete your task make sure that you congratulate yourself. Give yourself a treat.
I haven’t done this but I am sure that keeping a diary of these challenges may also be beneficial to some people as it provides a visual record and something for you to work to beat each time.
3. Be active
Oh I hate this one! Haha! No I don’t quite hate it but it does give me a shiver even saying it. ‘Be active’ it reminds me of sitting in doctors’ offices, talking to counsellors, discussions with friends and family.
“Why don’t you join the gym?” “Exercise releases endorphins which make you happy.” “The fresh air will do you good.” “Go to a class doing an activity which you like and get to know some new people.”
Errrrrmmm, how about no.
- The thought of new people sets off my anxiety.
- At times, the thought of leaving the house sets off my anxiety.
- If I want fresh air I’ll open a window thanks.
- I can get endorphins or whatever other happy chemicals I need from chocolate.
- Did I not mention I’m lazy and don’t like exercise?
Unfortunately these annoyingly helpful people are correct, exercise does help but where exactly they expect you to get the energy or motivation from I don’t know. So my boyfriend is a gym freak. Big time gym freak like we are talking hours a day in the gym doing cardio and weights and whatever else people do at gyms. Then there’s me. I’ve never stepped foot in a gym and quite honestly I don’t intend to. I do however recognise that exercise does help and that I need all the help I can get so I invested in an exercise bike. It’s positioned right in front of my tv so I can sit on it whilst binge watching Netflix and because its in the living room it has not yet turned into a clothes horse. Yet! This worked well and I went on it every morning before work. That lasted about three whole days, which is potentially two days longer than any other previous effort I have made to work out. I do still go on it every now and then to stop it sitting there and taunting me as I’m sprawled out so it is not a total bust. When I have been on it I do get a buzz. I feel proud and like I’m finally being proactive but unfortunately not enough to add this to my daily routine. At one stage, I began going for walks. This seemed like a great idea until my anxiety began playing up and leaving the house was a ‘no’. The same thing went for swimming which is unfortunate because I love swimming. I would be op of my list for ‘me’ time activities (see below) however I have left it so long that I now can’t seem to go. I realise that I am currently taking a very long time to get to a simple point so here is a the short version. Exercise is good for you, doing it does make you feel momentarily happier and of course, if like me you love your food, it helps you to stay in shape and boost your confidence. Personally I do not find it enjoyable but I do find it necessary so I bought myself a fake fitbit. Does pretty much the same as a fitbit but at the fraction of the cost. Luckily for me I am more competitive than lazy so everyday I am walking more and burning more calories than the day before. This competitiveness also made me get back on that bike. If I can do it anyone can so everyday it is important to be active. If nothing else it provides you with another sense of acomplishment. Just find something which works for you.
4. Have some ‘me’ time
I make it a priority everyday to have some time to myself. This probably sounds insane seeing as I live alone but I often find myself realising that I have wasted hours and hours just sitting and staring into space. I try to make time to do something I enjoy even if I’m not great at it. I’ve spent time knitting, trying out crazy hairstyles and make up which I wouldn’t dare to go out with, painting, cooking, drawing, designing houses… the list goes on. I spend this time by myself and in my own world and in an incredibly childlike way I play make believe. I imagine my life different to how it is now, generally where I have enough money to buy or build my own house and go on holiday, and I think about my potential future self, hoping to be married and have children. These thoughts give me something to focus on and take me out of the busy reality. I then think about what I do have and what I have to be grateful for whilst considering the small steps which I can take towards changing my future. My ‘me’ time is somewhat physically unproductive however mentally I find it to be vital for my well being. I realise that not everyone lives alone and that finding time for yourself can be difficult, especially if you have young children or other dependents. If that is the case then maybe just try zoning out. The activity which I am doing is not particularly important it is just something which requires little to no thought so that my mind is free to wander. I go to my happy place and spend a little time there and remind myself that there is no reason why my happy place couldn’t become a reality in a few years time. These moments of make believe are ironically contributing hugely to keeping me sane!
5. Interact with someone
Personally, I find this one to be the hardest. Interaction is something which I really, really struggle with. I’m a teacher so I spend my days talking and listening. At school I am able to wear a mask of sorts. I go and I smile and I nod along to corridor conversations about people’s live outside of the building. I teach the kids and that is when I really come alive. I am happy and relaxed and enjoy being there. When the final bell goes that changes. I close the door, get done what I need to get done and I go straight home. I get home, finish off any work I may have and lay on the sofa. Sometimes I turn on the tv. Sometimes I make food or order a takeaway. Sometimes I go to bed. The majority of the time I get home, lay on the sofa, stare at the ceiling, fall asleep, wake up about 3:30-4:30am and take myself to bed where I finally change out of my work clothes and lay for a couple of hours before getting up to go to work. Weekends I spend on the sofa or in bed. This changes when my boyfriend is round. He generally stays with me for a few days a week and during this time I get home from work and eat tea with him, spend time baking (another thing which I’m not great at but I love), we work out together / I lay sweating and complaining after hitting ten sit ups, we play stupid games, watch films etc and we go to bed. Bed time is my favourite time. We cuddle up and I fall asleep pretty much straight away. I also sleep through the entire night which I am unable to do without him so when he has stayed my mood generally improves for a couple of days. However due to work we can sometimes go two or three weeks without seeing each other and that is tricky. I speak to him everyday but the same can not be said for the rest of my friends and family. If anyone knows the reasoning behind my inability to text people back without feeling sick or pick up the phone without having genuine palpitations, I would love to hear it. I recognise that this is irrational but I simply can’t control it. In a bid to get over this I force myself to interact with someone, other than my boyfriend, every day. I respond to text messages and listen to my voicemails sheepishly texting people pretending to have just seen their call. Responding creates a win-win situation as I am reminded that people care whilst also reassuring those close to me that I am ok. Text messages also provide greater cover than phone calls so you can kind of fake it till you make it. Unless your mum is like mine and can sniff out a fake smile from a mile away! In which case even better because you don’t have to actually say anything as such to let someone know you are struggling and help to bring you back up.
So there you have it! These are my Five A Day. Five things which I aim to do everyday to try and brighten my mood. I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and suggestions. I’d really like to know if any of you have any quick suggestions or quick tips for things which can be done daily to help. Thanks for reading and I’m looking forward to hearing from you!