Anyone who has ever suffered from depression knows that the hardest part is to break the feeling low cycle. You feel low. You do things that comfort you at the time (like staying in bed crying all day, eating, smoking, drinking…). But these things are in fact bad for you and make you feel worse. And so you do feel worse. Which is why you do more these things that comfort you but are bad for you. Which makes you feel even worse. And so on.
Yes, you know what I am talking about.
Reversing the cycle
Truth be told, it doesn’t have to be that way. You have the power to reverse the cycle. If when you felt low, you were doing something that was good for you (like something that gave you a rush of feel good hormones such as running), you would feel better.
Easier said than done, I’ll grant you that. But this is where the power of your brains kicks in. If you forced yourself into doing something good for you every time you could see the signs that depression is on its way (i.e. don’t wait until you are at the peak of despair to take action!) you would over time re-train your behaviours and doing something good for yourself when you are about to go down would in time come naturally. And therefore you wouldn’t go down. The cycle would be broken and you would start feeling better much faster. It is easier not to fall into a hole than to climb out of it, right?
So here is how you start working on your new natural antidepressant superpower.
Take action today
This is what you are going to do:
1. Take a piece of paper
2. Write at the top: “Things that make me feel happy”
3. Write down all the things you make you feel good
4. Don’t stop until you have at least 10 things written down
5. Review your list and select one thing:
a. That is easy to do
b. That you can do at anytime
c. That you can do anywhere
d. That doesn’t cost a thing
Once you have identified that one thing, you need to keep it at the forefront of your mind so that the next time you start feeling low, you do that one easy thing that makes you feel better.
And keep the list with you.
The best things that you can do for yourself when you are feeling down
Feel good hormones
Why are these the best things that you can do for yourself? Because they will give you feel good hormones, helping fight the chemical imbalance in your brain where depression comes from.
There probably are more things that give you feel good hormones but these are the ones that I rely on. If you want to share with us other things that you think should be added to the list, please write them down in the comments below.
And the rest
Obviously you can and you should do anything else that makes you feel good above and beyond that list. If you already have something that you do when you start to feel low and that works for you and that is not in the list, of course you should continue to do that.
A few examples:
– Dancing around the house to your favourite song. As long as it is a happy song of course. ‘All By Myself’ does not qualify.
– Calling your best friend
– Watch comedy shows on TV (I always have a few ‘8 out of 10 cats’ recorded in case of emergency)
– The superwoman stance
Handling the crisis
– Pick up your list
– Check if there is something on the list that you can do right now to break the cycle
Feeling better for longer or preventing future crisis
Include in your daily routine at least one thing that makes you happy. And you must do it every day. It does very much work for me so why wouldn’t it work for you?
When you think about it, this one is pure common sense:
– Option A: you spend your day doing stuff you don’t enjoy and speaking to people you do not like
– Option B: you do things you enjoy every day
Which option do you think will make you happier?
What’s on my list
So here is how I apply this stuff to myself.
This is what I really want to do when I am feeling down:
– Get comfy on the sofa under a blanket and watch a romance – which usually makes me cry even more
– Drink red wine – which enhance the low feeling
– Eat cheese or chocolate, sometimes both, as in one after the other, never at the same time… – I usually end up feeling even worse for not having been able to resist the temptation. I then tell myself off as it is cancelling out all the hard work I have put in by exercising and eating my greens. Which leads to me thinking that I am a total failure and that I will never achieve anything in my life (oh yes! And we are back there!)
– Stay on my own, listen to sad songs and cry until I fall asleep
And so this is what I have put in place on a regular basis to prevent days like described above:
– Strong routine: up at 6am – lights off by 10pm
– Exercising nearly every day
– Eating Good Mood Food
– Regularly buying tickets to see my favourite comedians live
– Fasting one or twice a week (I am currently building this up – it is still a little random at the moment but I am improving)
– Practising mindful breathing nearly every day (I am currently building this up – again at the moment it is 5 minutes most days)
– Working on the blog – that is always making me feel better
– Write in my gratitude journal – it reminds me that things aren’t that bad after all
And if I do feel like a crisis is coming my way, this is what I do:
– Go for a walk and listen to a feel good playlist
– Watching comedy shows on TV / watch a comedy (but not a romantic comedy – see crisis day above)
– Call a friend – invite myself over for coffee
So what are you waiting for to feel better?
What do you do in a crisis? What makes you feel happy? Leave your answer in the comment box below!