We’ve had more than 65 days with below zero temps this winter. Tonight? Another wind chill warning, 45-50 below zero wind chills with our actual temperature around 30 below is expected. Yay.
This winter has been a hard one. Not only on the heating bill, and the gas bill, and the extra food bill (we tend to eat more when we’re cooped up), but it’s been really hard on a person’s state of mind. If it’s cold where you live, you know what I’m talking about.
I’m speaking of the Big D. And, I don’t mean Dallas. Or divorce. Seriously, now.
The Big D (depression) has been following me around since I was a teenager. I’m pretty good at keeping it under cover – gotta keep that smile on my face, you know, I have responsibilities. There’s not time for sulking. Years would go by and I would ignore it, even though I knew I was still carrying it around. Blah, blah, blah. . .
Because this entry isn’t going to be my life story, I’m just going to say that I’ve come a long way in the Big D department. It’s taken years. I’ve also filled a monster truck with tools to combat the gloom when it tries to creep back into my days. Some days I need tools 24/7.
Here are 10 tools that are the MUST HAVES if you are battling with your own dark cloud lately:
1. You HAVE to recognize that YOU are not YOUR MIND.
Your mind is separate from who you are. When you are depressed, your mind is mean to you. It tells you lies.
My mind gets so bossy sometimes, I decided to give her a name so I could tell her to shut up. Bernice seemed liked the perfect fit.
I have down days when all Bernice does is yak away at how I’m not getting enough done, how bad my hair is, or that I should be working out more because my jeans are tight, or how pathetic the house is, or even worse, sometimes she goes on and on about how I’m a bad mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, teacher, writer, and person all together. Basically, I’m doomed. If I continue to listen to her, I get so bogged down that I don’t even want to get out of bed.
Now that I’ve named her, I can recognize her as separate from me. I know her voice. And, I can tell her to take a chill pill, a hike, or whatever else I’d like her to do.
Bernice is not me. And, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
2. Start your day with meditation.
I listen to Oprah and Deepok every morning. I’ve downloaded several of their 21 Day meditation series onto my iphone and I keep listening to them over and over. They last about 10-15 minutes, if that. As soon as I sit down to do my hair and make up, I turn it on and listen and breathe at the same time. They help me begin my day with positive energy right from the start.
3. Keep your car radio on a station that plays uplifting music.
Many a day, the song on my radio has lifted me up from the slums. My car radio is set to “The Message”, a Sirius Satellite station. I tell ya, God speaks right to me through music and his love penetrates into your being and dang, that just feels good.
This is a BIGGIE.
You NEED to be committed to be conscious about being grateful for as much as possible in your life! The more you are grateful, the more goodness comes to you. Start out with gratitude first thing when you wake up. If you wake up on time, then give yourself a thank goodness I woke up on time. If you didn’t, well, thank goodness you got a little extra sleep! Be grateful you have food for breakfast, your car starts, your milk isn’t sour, or even that the toilet paper roll is full. There is so much to be thankful for and this alone can transform your life.
5. Move. Your. Body.
Yes, you must do something besides sitting, or sleeping. Even if you can get a 30 minute walk in, entire gray skies will lift from your being. If you can do this with a good friend, that will give you a double boost of endorphins because the talking is good for the soul and releases some of that stuff building up in you that is bringing you down. Some of my best medicine happens during walking and talking with my friend.
6. Vitamins – get enough B’s
Make sure you are getting a good dose of B vitamins. B vitamins turn the food we eat into energy and it boosts our metabolism. If you are tired, sluggish, fatigued or can’t think clear, run out and get some B’s. I’m serious.
7. Create Art
Create something. Anything. Let the gloom come through your work. Release it.
I art journal, write, or paint when I am stuck in a funk. Literally, my muse shows up and works through me and sometimes I do not know where the stuff that ends up on the page even comes from. All artists feel emotions deeply. The great ones do something with it. They create.
8. Do something every day that you can be proud of.
This might be doing the dishes. Maybe you were nice to someone. Perhaps you made it to work on time (if you don’t usually). Today, I made supper for my husband and I AND I did the dishes!
Remind yourself of this good thing throughout the day. You really are amazing, you know. 🙂
9. Do something you love every day.
I love to write. I love to read. I try to do them every day. Even if it’s for 15 minutes.
Make a list of things you love to do or that you love if you aren’t sure what you even love. If you aren’t sure, then google “Things I love to do”. People have lists out there and I’m sure what others love, you love too. Make a Love List of 100 things. Live by it.
Oh my gosh, don’t you just love to laugh?? Laughing feels so good and instantly brings you joy.
Some ways to get my laughing fix is to be with kids. Luckily, I work at an elementary school, so being around kids is my job. If I’m down, 10 minutes of being with kindergarteners will change that in a heartbeat.
Or, watch some Bill Cosby youtube videos. He is so dang funny, I just cry watching him. If you have not watched him talk about serving chocolate cake for breakfast to his kids, you have not lived. Watch it here. Now.
I have about a hundred more tools. I’ll keep writing about them this month, perhaps until spring shows up. I’m going to be using them anyway, I should be sharing them.
Until then, know that you are loved.