If you are anything like me, it is the quiet and inactive moments that can fuel your depression tenfold. Don’t get me wrong, I DO need my quiet alone time, but for the sake of my mental health, I need to monitor the amount of that time I allow myself.
I will be honest. I am not very nice to myself. In fact, I am pretty damn mean to myself. When I am alone and doing nothing, I become an even bigger bully to myself. I am not a psychologist, nor will I claim to have an ounce of understanding as to why this happens…but trust me it does. It is also worth noting that “when I am alone” is subjective, as I have the tendency to seclude myself mentally even in the company of others.
To keep my inner bully at bay, I need to stay active; physically and mentally. I need to be productive. I need to force myself to interact with others. Failing to do so can send my mental state into a very quick downward spiral, which can easily convert into an elongated bout of depression. And what is a major side effect of my depression? Inactivity. And what does that inactivity further fuel? My depression. It is an endless spiral which seems to have the ability to reproduce at alarming rates.
Staying active is a commitment. It takes discipline. It takes a heightened awareness of what lies around the corner if you slip up a bit. I can string together a few months of without any issues, and have one minor slip-up that can send me into an elongated funk.
Battling depression is not a one-time battle. It is a lifelong war. It will always be lurking in the background regardless of how successful I am at coping with it. Staying active is one of the key coping skills that I have found to work well for me, and I certainly hope it will work well for you as well.
Here are a few ways to keep your mind and body active:
- Create a workout regimen and commit to it. Even if you are capable of working out at home…join a gym. It forces you to get out of the house and increases your social activity. In addition to feeling better about yourself for taking steps toward improving your physical health, working out also improves your mental health. Again, I will not claim to understand the science, but I do know that working out releases serotonin and dopamine, which are chemicals that improve your mood and happiness.
- Volunteer your time toward a good cause. Helping others (or even animals for many) is incredibly therapeutic.
- Clean your house and do some yard work. Most people dread these activities, but they can be incredibly therapeutic for many reasons. First off, it gets you up and moving, which is a good thing. Secondly, it results in a decluttered environment for you. I know that when I am in a serious funk, I let things go around the house. As I let things go and they continue to get worse, I become even MORE hard on myself for letting them go to begin with, which can quickly become a downward spiral.
- In addition to working out, go for walks. Get yourself out into nature. Stop and smell the roses. It is a beautiful world out there! Invite your friends/significant others to go for walks with you.
- Cook! Even if you have it in your head that you cannot cook…trust me, you can get better! Take interest in the food that you are putting into your body. Work at perfecting a healthy menu for yourself and your loved ones.
- Find a hobby, or better yet, hobbies. There are endless hobbies out there for you to dabble in.
- Create a side-business. From online Etsy Shops to weekend landscaping, there are endless ways for you to stay active AND make some money on the side.
- READ a book…or if you are like me, listen to one on Audible. Consume books that have a positive impact on your mindset.
I could extend this list to 100 if I wanted to, but I am pretty sure you get the drift. Keeping your mind and body active is essential to maintaining an inner peace. If you find it difficult to work new activities into your daily schedule, take steps toward organizing your day. When you wake up in the morning, create a blueprint for your day and commit to sticking to it. If you need help coming up with a healthy action plan for your days, do not hesitate to reach out. My email is at the bottom of this post, and I am always here to help.
Here’s to a healthier us!