anxiety

Socialness is essential for mental health

For the last couple of days, I’ve addressed the importance of “movement” in battling depression.

Tuesday I talked about the importance of movement.

Wednesday I posted ninety-seven steps you could take to make sure you did move.

Today I want to expand on those ninety-seven steps. While all those were good alternatives, they were pretty much solitary in execution.

But depression will never be defeated by keeping to yourself.

In fact, a person could do everything on that list and still suffer depression. Why? Because we need people and especially when we’re depressed.

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For example, yesterday. I’m not clinically depressed at all now and haven’t been for about fifteen years but I have been a little “down” lately because of my mother’s health. It’s been tough. And the sciatica pain doesn’t help. I could stay home each day and nurse my wounds; I could follow my own list and that would help. But in the long run, I need to be around other people.

So no matter how I feel, I make it a point to be with family and friends. During cold weather, I would just as soon curl up with a good book and some hot tea, get under my electric blanket, and read all day. (Of course, I would get bored pretty quick.)

So now I’ll give you some ideas for ways to step into the world that will also help you manage your depression.

I found some of these particularly effective.  However, I do have a warning.

When I was severely depressed, going out in public was really hard. I felt like everyone was looking at me and judging me. For what, I didn’t know.

I would feel very confused if I had to make a decision, especially shopping for groceries. What to fix for dinner? Way too many choices.

If I went to a department store, I couldn’t really enjoy myself because I thought I looked terrible in everything I tried on.

I share this with yo because depression is as much about timing as it is anything else. Seriously. It’s the timing of much of these activities that makes us or breaks us. Only you know if being around people will unnerve you or make you anxious. But at the same time, don’t give in to your first instinct. I used to do a lot of that and one of the steps I used to defeat depression was to do what was right for me, in the long run, no matter how I felt in the present.

I’m still very cognizant of the importance of timing in my life.

So, here goes.

  1. Take a walk outside.
  2. If you have a lake you can walk to, all the better.
  3. Nice weather? Ride a bike.
  4. Go to a coffee shop. Drink your special coffee drink and read a book or a magazine.
  5. Go to a bookstore and do the above.
  6. Go window-shopping at the mall. Don’t actually try on anything unless you’re very happy with your appearance that day.
  7. Go to a furniture store and browse.
  8. How about a flower shop? Maybe you could buy yourself a flower.
  9. Small specialty shops are great. They’re less stressful because there’s fewer people.
  10. Go to a store like Home Depot and gather up some paint chips in your favorite colors. You might get inspired to plan on painting a room.
  11. Fabric and craft stores are a great place to browse as well as it inspires lots of new ideas. Even if you’re not “crafty” you will enjoy the color.
  12. For me, Goodwill and thrift stores have always been good for me to browse.
  13. Take a drive. Bring something (do I really need to say no alcohol?) to drink and no matter how cold, find a place to sit outside for a few minutes and enjoy your hot drink.
  14. Visit a friend. (You don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to talk about.)
  15. If you live in a big city, you have lots of options, museums, art galleries, etc.
  16. Call someone to meet you for coffee (Can you tell, I like my coffee?)
  17. Ask someone over. (don’t make this more complicate than it needs to be. I used to do that, too.)
  18. Go to a movie.
  19. Go to the library.
  20. Bake something and take it to someone.

I found all the above difficult to do when I felt so bad but I did them anyway. Not every day, of course. And not for long.

Let’s face it, it’s really hard to keep up a cheerful disposition when you don’t feel like it. But the more people you come into contact with, and the more you smile, the better it is for you even if it doesn’t feel that way.

That’s the hard part about depression. So much of the recovery demands great effort at a time when you have no effort to give.

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But you can do this. I’m no saint and I’m not Wonder Woman so if I did it you can, too.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.