FebUp! Basic Idea.
Each day in February, I post a pic and some practices on Instagram designed to up your mood, relieve some heaviness, and increase your flourishing (about a one minute read). At the end of each week, I am putting seven of them together with some links to articles and research. This is Week Three’s offering. check back in a week for the next fab seven.
They will be doable (even when exhausted and stressed).
They will be informed by research and real life.
They will require a bit of work on your part.
Not too much, though. You can handle it.
Ready To Begin? Start by following the Instagram account: @gottasecond or read on…
Creating structure usually helps mitigate anxiety, the fraternal twin of depression. Making lists, organizing closets, setting up an itinerary, cleaning up: these will elicit a satisfied sigh from your soul. But before you begin to compile or compost, a deeper dive into your planning strategy might be helpful. How could you organize/clean up your life or environment so that it is in alignment with your core values, beliefs, and talents? A general life adage: don’t give away, throw away, burn, or abandon anything that gives you life or vitality. Practice: Create some plans or goals—BUT—break them into itty-bitty, manageable parts so small and manageable you could do one tomorrow (with ease).
People with depression often carry shame or self-directed anger or criticism around on a daily basis. Today, begin to deconstruct any totalizing, failure narratives you hold about yourself. Permit the painful thoughts and feelings to ebb and flow without minimizing or maximizing them. But (Important!), make them share your brain-space with encouraging, affirming, and hopeful thoughts. How? Relentless self-compassion. Practices: Be empathic to your own distress. Offer kindnesses to harshness. Remember your shared humanity (we are all imperfect AND glorious). Be lavish with warm acceptance and consolation. Do this…every…single…time…you are tempted to get stuck in defeat and despair. Make the skill of ruminating work for good.
Find something else to think about. Facebook rants are probably not going to give you that oh-so-welcome dopamine hit so just avoid them. Neither will obsessing over someone’s magical-life IG pics. Practice: Challenge your brain with just a smidge of freshness. Need ideas? Move your plants around. Figure out the name of that band you listened to last year. Clean up your floordrobe (you know, the pile of clothes on the bedroom floor right beside the empty closet). Watch a documentary. Check out the library’s “New/Best-Sellers”. Basically, get interested and invested in something new. Get started on a project. Get radical and shuffle your mental deck. Variety is the spice of life because your bored brain lights up for the new and novel (…ping…).
Out of your house or workplace, outside, every day, rain or shine, snow or wind. I know you’re exhausted (for real) but this practice will help you sleep, think, and feel better. Tell yourself that you only need to go out for five minutes. Then, very sneakily double-cross your brain and stay out a bit longer. It’s so obvious a trick that it shouldn’t work, but it does. Every time. Practice: Decide you will only walk to the end of the block (wink, wink). Then, head out to that new coffee shop a few blocks away or to that new path in the greenway. Or, take yourself and your lunch to the park, the lake, or the museum. The real deal: Walk or move outside 10 minutes a day to feel 10% better in one month. Guaranteed. Bonus offer: up your happy, healthy feelings if you are outside even longer and hang out with Mother Nature.
Chronic psychological pain can have a helpful side. Um, what!?! True, because it can wake us up and guide us out of a blind alley or a limiting life situation that we wouldn’t deal with otherwise. Depression can be a sign that things are out of whack, that you are stuck in a dark corner. Are you flourishing, living life according to how you are wired/created to be? Are you living for the benefit of someone or something else that doesn’t feel right or true for you? A quick re/assessment of your life might be helpful for figuring this out. If this sounds downright depressing, then it’s going to be very helpful. Practice: Google image “Wellness Wheel’ or find a personal inventory/app online that tracks your daily work-life-energy expenditures. Discern what is out of alignment with who you want to be or what you know about being healthy and happy. Then, create a couple of changes that will orient you back to vitality and authenticity.
Resist the urge to slump—on your couch or office chair or anywhere else—with only your raincloud thoughts to keep you company. Trust me on this: you won’t feel any better by emptying the Kleenex box while rockin’ your decades-old hoodie in front of the telly for hours and hours. Move your glacial-speed body around a bit, especially when you don’t feel like it. Practice: Change the way you move through your day by changing the activity and pace. Alternate between moving and sitting, working and resting, thinking and doing. Feast, then fast; study, then daydream; work hard, then lie down; be alone, then be with others. Your days will feel richer and more purposeful and productive and that feels like golden sunshine to your soul and spirit.
Soothe the savage beast that is your emotional life right now with music and moving your body in a merry way. Practices: Play/learn fiddle/guitar and sing. Drum out some of that nervy energy you’re packing around. Dance: it’s good to move your body. Bonus: if you are as coordinated as I am, you’ll have the added bonus of making other people laugh while you do it. (My moonwalking always cheers people up.) Sex: also good for you…hello happy body chemicals (but love the one you love or this will drain you of all the goodness it brings you, like oxytocin).
You are unique. Not everything that can be done should be done by every person. Not everything has a singular cause; not everything has a singular effect. Always confer with your doctor or a health professional before starting any new health initiative.
Peace to you and your household,
Shari van Spronsen, MC, RCC, CCC
©2018 Shari van Spronsen and Second Story Counselling