By Patricia L. Fitzgerald 2014-02-25 14:35:44
Sometimes, the blues are just the blues. Most of us experience periodic and temporary down cycles where we might feel depressed, but don’t actually suffer the debilitating depths or long-lasting symptoms of a depressive disorder. These can be triggered by factors and events that are both obvious and surprising. You might feel a letdown after a period of intensity, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, a family wedding, a vacation or a big project or activity at work. Or the blues may come on as a consequence of feeling generally dissatisfied with the status of a relationship or your job. You don’t necessarily have seasonal depression if you are down in the dumps during a long, gray, rainy season. Helpless or frustrated observation of a national or international crisis can generate a pervasive pessimism. Even the changes sparked by positive events like retirement or the finally-empty nest can trigger mild depression. Even if temporary and not overwhelming, the blues are no fun. But they’re not always easy to shake off. You can wait them out, letting them run their course, eventually alleviated by a new distraction or organic change in circumstances and events. But if the feelings are too uncomfortable, you can be mindful about actively trying some simple steps to lift your spirits. Here are six sure-fire suggestions. Try one or more the next time you’re feeling a case of the moody blues. 1 DON’T ISOLATE. Avoid a tendency to spend too much time in your own company, wrapped up in negative thoughts. Make sure you are getting up and out to work, church and other regular activities. Push yourself to make a plan to be occupied with friends or family on the weekend and at least one or two evenings in the week. This can be as simple as scheduling a phone chat with an out-of-town friend or family member or as involved as getting out to the movies or a dinner on the town. 2 RECOGNIZE YOUR RELIABLE MOOD LIFTERS. Are there certain activities almost guaranteed to lift your spirits? Perhaps you always feel happy and renewed after a visit to the hair salon or when you get a manicure. Maybe it’s making time for a long, peaceful drive on the weekend. Purposeful time spent playing with pets might take you out of yourself in a positive way. Is there a television show that always makes you chuckle? Rent or stream several episodes to watch in a row. If you find happiness in shopping or having a special sweet treat, just make sure you are mindful of moderation, so that your indulgence doesn’t backfire into later recriminations about consequences to your budget or diet. 3 TAKE CARE OF THE BASICS. Take a shower. Change your clothes. Brush your teeth and hair. Do a load of laundry, make sure the dishes are washed and pick up the accumulated clutter. Go to bed at a reasonable hour— in your bedroom, not on the couch with the TV blaring and the lights on. Eat real meals, rather than grazing. Neglecting these small acts of self-care just make you feel worse. If you’ve found you’ve been letting some of these slide, being intentional about picking them back up can feel refreshing. 4 RESURRECT FAVORITE HOBBIES & ACTIVITIES. Have new routines and responsibilities pushed out some former favorite activities? Maybe you used to sing in the church choir before your life was taken over by shepherding your children to and from one play date, sports event or performance after another. Whatever happened to that weekly softball game you used to play throughout the summer? Is your camera covered in dust, your needlework buried in a pile, your garden overgrown with weeds and your tool bench covered in clutter? Consider breaking yourself from less-nurturing downtime habits as mindless TV and video/computer games and making a point to revive your interest in old hobbies and activities. 5 TRY SOMETHING NEW. Break out of your routines and push yourself to try something new. Intrigued by Zumba, yoga or ballroom dancing? Have you had an urge to volunteer some time at a local hospital, animal shelter, food pantry or other organization eager for any hours you can spare? Many area colleges offer easy-to-accommodate adult classes on everything from art appreciation to basic computer skills to writing a novel. How about asking the coworker who always makes you laugh to catch a movie and a meal together? Home improvement and craft chains often offer short weekend sessions on everything from painting with a faux finish to framing your photos. Drop in and learn a new skill. Splurge on your first facial, massage or weekend getaway. 6 EAT “RIGHT” AND EXERCISE. We can’t overestimate the power that a balanced diet and regular physical activity can have on our mood. Seriously, do you truly feel better after spending an hour on the couch demolishing a bag of chips and a container of dip? Now compare that to how you feel drinking a glass of water and crunching on an apple after returning from a 20-minute walk in the fresh air. Sure, it may be easier to grab the chips and sink into the couch than to lace up your sneakers, but if you can push yourself just a bit to put yourself on the right path, you will be glad of both the short- and long-term rewards! Patricia Fitzgerald is editor of School Nutrition. Photography by hidesy/istockphoto.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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