Living life to the fullest is my challenge everyday. As I mentioned in a previous post, I refuse to use the term “suffering with depression” or “battling depression” or just plain using the word “depression”. Just the term in itself plants a dark seed within my soul and I feel it start to fester and fight to spread its roots. But flipping it around and challenging myself to live an amazing, satisfying and meaningful life is the way I choose to view it. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, doctor or anyone affiliated with medicine so I do not propose anything research-based or proven effectiveness but I do say these are ideas that have worked for me. I am always tweaking, detouring and searching for new things that help me to live a fulfilling life. This will not be the last post on this subject, I promise, as it is an everyday reality for me. But for now… these are some things that contribute to my love for life:
1. Meet with friends. I make myself do it. It’s not that I don’t want to meet with friends, I just find I get caught up in the everyday stuff like laundry and cleaning the toilet. Then, before I know it, the day is gone and I have nothing memory-worthy to show for it. I always feel better when I spend time with friends. They offer me support, love and some good laughs. Great for the mood!
2. Attitude of Gratitude. Every morning or night, I think of 5 things I’m grateful for and I thank God, or the universe, for bringing those things, people or experiences into my life. Sometimes, if it’s been a particularly rough day, I will remember that water flows freely from my tap or that I travel to work in my own car. Regardless, every day, I can find at least 5 things to be thankful for.
3. Yoga. Love, love, love yoga. It’s exercise, relaxation and spirituality all rolled into one; great for the soul. I have tried to get into the gym routine because I know how important exercise is to my mental health and well-being. The truth is, I HATE IT! I feel like I’m torturing myself. Yoga makes me feel like I’m rewarding myself. As my instructor says, it’s a gentle coaxing of the body as opposed to assertive pushing. And the best part, at the end, there is at least 10 minutes of lying still and quiet. You don’t have to feel guilty for stealing a few minutes to yourself because it is a requirement of the practice. It’s wonderful and the benefits are plenty.
4. Blog. This has been hugely therapeutic for me. I’m a big journaller – it helps me get my thoughts out – good or bad. Blogging allows me to get the good thoughts out in an organized manner. It keeps me focused and it gives me the added benefit of maybe helping others.
5. Read. I have acquired a collection of different books over the years that I keep by my bed for when I’m settling down for the night. I will pick up different ones depending on my mood. Some nights, I will read from my fiction novels (right now I’m working on Outlander by Diana Gabaldon), other nights I might read from “The Happiness Project” by Gretchin Rubin and still others I might tackle some spiritual reads. Reading lets me escape or become inspired. A fabulous book that I’ve had by my bed for years is “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It has an affirmation for everyday of the year to help keep your mental wellness in check.
6. Cry. Sounds counter-productive right? Sometimes, I just want a good cry … alone. I don’t want sympathy, or an audience or drama. I just want to lock the bathroom door, have a warm bubble bath and just cry in the tub. I find it cathartic and I usually feel better after. Sometimes, I’m not even sad, I might be touched or just feeling overwhelmed and I just want to feel those emotions wholeheartedly without being judged.
7. Listen To Classical music. Some of you may be thinking “ugh – that makes it worse”. I found switching the radio from my usual “hit” music to something slower, clearer and subtler, helps to calm my mind (maybe not something like the William Tell Overture). It makes me feel smarter too. That’s probably psychological but if it aids in self esteem boosting, I say, do it.