10 Ways to Face the Blues
“The mind I love must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody’s fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind”. ~Katherine Mansfield
Life is a story made up of lines, paragraphs, and chapters. A great deal of this story is mundane and rooted in struggle. Your legacy is what you choose to make of it all. While some people describe their life as charmed or blessed, the reality for most of you is that life is difficult. There is never enough money to do what you want to do, your job is stressful and exhausting, and relationships cause disappointment and hurt. Your body fails you in ways that you don’t expect and your mind spins in loops that you have to reel in like a flapping, unruly fish. In life, there is worry and depression. You will face the blues. You will need to pursue acceptance and peace within emotional storms.
You may believe that people around you don’t suffer. But you never really know someone’s inner world. The truth is that almost every person you meet knows what it is to suffer, or will know soon enough. You can’t escape suffering and feeling blue. But you can be ready to face it without fear.
10 Helpful Tips for Facing Depression
- Accept that depression is a part of life. It is part of consciousness. It is part of being human. It’s normal to experience disappointment and hopelessness, especially if you’ve been hurt. This acceptance of “what is” is called radical acceptance.
- Be clear about what makes you feel good and pursue it relentlessly, in spite of how you feel.
- Search for a connection and consolation (with your higher power or support person) when you feel isolated or are tired of a lack of understanding from others you interact with.
- Create a life that soothes you rather than a life that frays you at the edges. Do what you can to reduce stress. Take baby steps toward wellness. Stick to your routine no matter what.
- Feeling stuck and without purpose is part of the human condition. Just sit with it when it happens. Retrace the steps that bring you happiness when you feel able. Write about how you feel. It’s an amazing way to detox.
- Know that pockets of happiness and gratitude can, in fact, coexist with depression. Notice how you can invite one to co-exist with the other.
- The energetic change that comes with depression means you will be lethargic. Rest in your cocoon. Retreat. Hunker down. Focus on soothing, restorative ways to pass the time. Prepare for the next cycle when you’ll have renewed energy. It’s just around the corner.
- Learn mindful ways to lean your thoughts toward a better mood through breath and focused attention. Pair these skills with behaviors that help you feel better (music, baths, nature). Make your surroundings as lovely as you can. This is called behavioral activation.
- Reframe your perspective on you. Stop analyzing. DO your best. Refuse to engage in self-effacing talk.
- If your depression is affecting your ability to function, consider talking to your doctor or a counselor. If you prefer self-help, read everything you can get your hands on about CBT. CBT is an effective way to change depressive thinking.
The dimensions of mental health and happiness include contentment, being present, enjoying simple pleasures, accepting bad days, and gratitude. Just be. Walk through depression rather than trying to fight it or suppress it. Mental health does not mean you never feel down. Mental health is the ability to accept the ebb and flow, the light and dark of your moods. Invite in sadness, grief, joy, and apathy. Whatever comes, understand this is part of your humanity. Your mood will change. Everything is temporary. Be a good host to the ‘guests in your house’, even when they show up gnarly. The Rumi poem I included below is a beautiful reminder to accept what’s happening in the now. Try to find beauty and strength within the struggle.
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. ~Rumi
“I think of my mind like the ocean. Vast but mostly unexplored with nightmarish creatures lurking in the depths. Sometimes calm, sometimes storming, and sometimes both. Waves, peaceful at the edges and dangerous in the storms. Currents and eddies like my character traits. Scary and loving, nobody knows quite what it contains.” ~ Anonymous
There is beauty in life. There is beauty in you and your mind. Prepare for a bumpy ride. Hang on tight and look for your lighthouse.
© Vibrant Health Company LLC All Rights Reserved. Original content unless noted.
Traci Baxendale Ball, LMSW, CAADC is the founder of Vibrant Health Company LLC
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