Have you ever been surprised to find that a simple activity drastically lifted your mood?
Sometimes it's the prodding of a good friend that gets you out of your pajamas.
Other times it's simply waking up early (when you usually sleep in) to catch the sun's first light.
Over the years, I've struggled with bouts of anxiety and depression. It's tough, but there really are beautiful, simple ways available that can help us escape the clutches of feeling like crap. Over the past 10 years, these 9 strategies have allowed me to beat bouts of depression and steal back my life.
We all have bad days, but one thing is true; no cloud is so dark that the sun can’t shine through.
Here are 9 Crazy Simple Ways to Beat Depression
1. Sleep and Don’t Feel Guilty About It.
Sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Insomniacs are 10 times more likely to have depression than their well-rested counterparts. I know this is true of me. When I’m tired, I’m more emotional. When rested, I’m more even-tempered, less prone to act irrationally. (My wife appreciates it when I get a good night’s sleep.)
2. Reconnect with Friends.
Be around people who can make you laugh when you don't even feel like smiling. The worst thing you can do during depression is isolate yourself from the rest of the world. Although you think, “I have nothing to give. I have no energy to connect with anyone right now!” that’s not true. Being around other people actually energizes and revitalizes our souls. It gives us the energy to make it through the day. The less people you see, the longer your depression will last. So think back to best times of your life and reconnect with those people.
3. Avoid Alcohol for a Season.
First off, I love beer. It's one of my favorite things. But I’m sure you know this: alcohol is a depressant, a downer. If you’re struggling with depression, stop drinking for a time and see if it makes a difference in your moods and emotions. It did for me.
4. Journal At Least 3 Times Per Week.
Try to practice this discipline for a month. The healthiest people are reflective, not reactive. They take time to process the day’s highs and lows and to understand their own emotional responses to stressors throughout the day. Mine consisted of three questions. What was your high today? What was your low today? What are you excited about for tomorrow?
5. Watch Only Funny Movies.
Laughter is literally healing for the soul. When you laugh it actually changes the chemistry in your brain, releasing happy hormones. Laughter is a drug free antidepressant. Go watch Brides Maids, or Anchor Man, or even back to the classics like Dumb and Dumber.
6. Change Your Radio/Pandora/Spotify Diet.
Are you depressed because you’re alone? Or going through a breakup? Probably best to get rid of “love songs” from your musical diet. Is there a type of music that lifts your mood? Listen to only that type of music or nothing at all. Silence is golden (for a time). It gives you time to think and reflect. You can work on #4 as you make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the silence. Or you could listen to Weird Al Yankovic…
7. Find A Creative Outlet.
What floats your boat? Figure it out and go do it. This can be writing, painting, gardening, or fixing motorcycles. The only requirement is that it’s creative, making or doing something with your hands. It’s physical and experiential. Your whole body is involved, not just your mind. The key here is to access different parts of your brain besides cognition, or thought, because when we’re depressed, we get stuck in certain thought patterns. Mine was rock climbing 🙂
8. Volunteer Somewhere to Help Someone Less Fortunate.
Get out of the narrow focus called “me-myself-and-I.” Best way to stop thinking about yourself? Think about someone else. Happy people are people who serve others. They are reminded that their glass is “half full” (not “half empty”) when they serve someone who’s got it worse than they do. Go find something like a convalescent home, a food kitchen, or a homeless shelter and get your hands dirty. One of my favorite quotes comes to mind, “someone is praying for the things you take for granted.”
9. Take Time to Play.
Children know how to play. If you don’t remember, go hang out with a friend who has kids or observe kids in a park (without being creepy). They’re natural explorers and adventurers. As adults, we need more of that in our lives. So figure out a way to build play into your day. Play can include a walk through nature, a bike ride, a board game, or sports. The point is, it has to be fun. Be spontaneous. Be anti-boring. Be stupid. Think like a child and go have some fun!
What crazy simple activity has lifted you out of depression? Tell me about it in the comments below.