Let’s face it, depression sucks! We feel that huge, dark shadow constantly following us around, weighing us down. You can feel that energy just being sucked away, preventing you from doing anything. Depression seems to appear out of the blue, or it may come from defeat or personal loss. Whatever the reason, it brings on those feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, pessimism, or guilt. Overall, depression affects concentration, motivation, and anything we used to enjoy doing but has become a chore.
I love this poem by @writtenbywill called "Broken Wing"
I feel like a bird with a broken wing
Damaged by all the bad I’ve seen
I want to fly away with you now and feel new things
But I get frustrated I can’t yet, so I let off steam
Sometimes I feel trapped, up on a beam
High above a crowded scene
Reluctant to move, for I fear I’ll fall
I know I can’t fly all the way yet, so I stall
I make up excuses to change the focus
I can’t stand my condition, so I try not to let anyone notice
I hide it inside like there’s nothing wrong
But sometimes the list can get really long
Please understand when it happens
And just sit with me here
Sometimes I will need you to dry my tears
Stay by my side as I learn how to glide
Help me one step at a time, so we can finally fly
Depression itself, no matter how severe, can be treatable. It is a matter of finding ways to increase that low mood and build that motivation. Studies have shown that there is a close relationship between our activity and our mood. When we feel good, we take part in activities that make us feel good; we tackle new tasks that challenge us; we spend time with people we enjoy.
When it comes to overcoming depression, it is important to increase our activity level even if we don’t feel like it in the beginning. By starting to do things we enjoy, it gives us feelings of pleasure. Challenging ourselves gives us the opportunity to grow and develop and provides us with a sense of achievement. Additionally, having positive relationships with other people makes us feel connected and valued. I want to present some steps to finding those activities that can help you overcome your depression and eventually gain that motivation.
Finding your ways to overcome depression:
Step 1: Create an Activity Plan
You want to plan your activity list and choose ideas that work for you.
Here are some things to consider when creating your activity plan:
Monitor your previous activities: Which activities were best at improving your mood?
Assess your values: What mattered to you the most? What activities could you do that would move you towards your values?
Include the essentials: washing and brushing your teeth every day, doing house chores every week, cooking meals, shopping for food and include activities that are social.
Here are some activities to get you started:
Walk your dog / go for a walk / bike ride / go for a run / fly a kite / listen to the birds / try some gardening / walk in nature / shop for groceries / go for a drive / clean the yard
Pet an animal / go on a date / connect with an old friend / help a friend / do someone a favour
Clean the house / do laundry / contact a friend / write a letter to a friend / learn something new
Doodle (sketch) / laugh / cry / sing / shout / draw a picture / daydream / listen to music / turn on the radio / take a bath / wash your hair / take a nap / take a course / meditate / set a goal / create a budget / make a bucket list / read a new book / write a grateful letter / write a book
Repair something in the house / Build something / Cook a meal for yourself or someone else / Bake a cake or cookies / Have a BBQ / Paint a portrait / Make a photograph album / Reflect / Pray / Practice yoga / Buy flowers / Try a new food / Watch a new TV show
Step 2: Schedule your Activity
Scheduling your activities makes it much more likely that you will carry them out. Create an activity schedule for the week, and make sure you include: the name of the activity, where and when you will do it, and who you might do it with (if applicable). It would be helpful to think about whether there will be many obstacles and how you might overcome them.
NOTE: Don’t feel the need to schedule something every day. That can build up over time.
Have a go at doing your plan and remember that even if you don’t feel like it, motivation will follow.
Step 3: Treat your schedule like it’s an important meeting
Sometimes having the thought that this schedule is as important as seeing your family doctor or attending a work meeting will help motivate you to do the activity.
Tips for getting the most out of your activity:
Don’t start too hard: Your new level of activity has to be more than your ‘depression level’, but it also has to be realistically achievable.
Break activities down into smaller steps: Sometimes it can be hard getting to that activity, so it’s important to breakdown that goal. For example, perhaps doing your activities is a chore in itself. Breaking down those steps like creating your schedule or just writing down the activities may be all you can do at the moment. But at least you did it!
Reward yourself: Acknowledge when you have completed something. Some people find it helpful just to check off the activities that you have completed as an acknowledgment that they have been done.
Remind yourself why you’re doing this: You are probably going to have thoughts like “I’ll do it when I feel better” creep up to you. Remind yourself often that it’s important to get active even if you don’t feel like it. Remind yourself that motivation works in reverse in depression – that you will have to get active before the feeling of motivation comes.
Don’t expect to feel better straight away: It may take some time before you start to feel pleasure or a sense of achievement again. The important thing is to stick with it and the good feelings will return.
Recruit friends and family to support your efforts: If they know what you are doing, and why, they may be able to help you.
Yes, depression has a significant impact on life, but even building the motivation a little bit can help lead you towards the things you enjoyed doing in the past. However, if you find that even the slightest little activity has not helped, it may be time to talk to a medical professional.