If the relentless rain and dismal days have been getting you down recently you’re not alone. Today is Blue Monday labelled the saddest day of the year by the media.
Of course if you suffer from depression any day of the year can be sad or depressing. We all get the blues and have down days but depression is a disease. There isn’t a magic cure, you wouldn’t tell someone with Alzheimer’s to snap out of it. However, I do believe there are ways to deal with it. I’ve suffered on and off with depression since my first child was born eleven years ago. I quickly recognise the signs now and know what I need to do to prevent myself from slipping into the pit. They don’t always work and sometimes some work better than others but I know that after a good night sleep, fresh air, exercise and good food my mood will normally lift.
Here are my 10 natural antidepressants:
1. Sleep I need at least 8 hours otherwise I can’t function properly. I lose it after too many late nights, become irritable and find it so much harder to deal with even a minor stressful situation.
2. Music is a mood changer. The right tune can reduce stress and relax you. It has the power to transport you to a memory; a time or place when you felt carefree and happy and dreams become tangible. I can listen to a track, close my eyes and I’m back there. Try country music to lift your spirits. Kacey Musgrave’s album Pageant Material is my favourite ‘feel good’ collection of songs
“It’s high time
To slow my roll
Let the grass just grow and lean way back
It’s a fine time
To let it it all go
I’ve been too low, so it’s high time”
3. Make plans. I love being spontaneous but with busy lives and family members to consider it’s not always possible. Making plans to go away for a weekend, out for dinner, have friends over for Sunday lunch means I have things to look forward to. By November I had lots of dates in the diary for January and February. Dreams are important too. My husband and I planned our dream family holiday one miserable Sunday morning when I was feeling low. Even if we don’t end up experiencing it for real we did in our dreams and now have something to strive for –
“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”
― Gloria Steinem
4. Call an old friend and just chat – a spot of reminiscing over a years gone by is another great way of taking you out of the moment you’re in and back to a memory shared. The carefree days of my twenties sometimes seem dead and buried but reliving follies of youth relieves the stresses of being a responsible grown up. Nostalgizising (made up word but works), helps me feel physically warmer and more hopeful about my future.
5. Digital detox – get off the screens! Every summer when we go holiday I turn off my phone and my iPad for a week + but it’s important to re engage with the actual now rather than the virtual one and be present in the moment more often than once a year. I feel like I spend my whole life online working and for myself so every evening at dinner I switch off and that’s it until the morning. I never take the phone or iPad to bed, then it’s time to unwind with a book otherwise my brain is still whirling and I wake up with a headache.
6. Fresh air & exercise– in the summer we’re always outdoors but in the winter with so many dank, dismal days the appeal is lost. It can be an effort but I promise you it’s worth it. Find somewhere green; a park, field, forest so that you can connect with nature it does make a difference. I am lucky enough to live on the edge of the South Down National Park and last week I went for my first run of the year. As it was so muddy so it was turned into a trudge but I was out in the fresh air getting some exercise and although it was only for half an hour I felt recharged and motivated to tackle the rest of the day.
7. Dance – running is my thing, I love the easy freedom of it; stick your trainers on, open the door and you’re off. Dancing is like that too stick on a tune and just bop. My clubbing days are over but house parties are the way to go in your forties. You choose the tunes and the guest list. We threw a party last year to celebrate the end of winter and it was a blast. Now I’m thinking why wait until the end of winter!
“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”― Rumi
8. A healthy diet – The first thing I changed when I realised I was suffering with depression was my diet. I ditched all processed food making everything from scratch using fresh ingredients, as little refined sugar as possible and lots of raw nuts and seeds for energy. I haven’t looked back and I firmly believe that diet is directly related to our mental well being. I can very easily get back on track with good nutritional food and I know about it if I’ve had a bit of binge. Same with alcohol I love a glass of wine at the end of the day to unwind and relax and a good old knees up with a few tequilas but booze blues I really try and stay away from these days! Check out this post for some lovely healthy recipes
9. Me time – Finding as little as 15-30 minutes a day of uninterrupted, relaxing “me” time can be challenging but oh so rewarding if achieved. A soak in the bath, a walk, a quiet read. By treating myself to some P&Q I can relax, refocus and recharge.
10. Learn something new. The new year is the perfect time to stretch your horizons, try out different experiences and make the most of your free time. Be gentle with yourself, realistic. It doesn’t have to be extreme or demanding. I love taking photographs but I’m pretty crap at it so my goal for 2016 is to take better photos and try filmmaking as a new way of telling stories. I’ve have signed up to an online course so watch this space!
I hope what helps me to beat the blues may help you. Here’s to no more Blue Mondays!