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Depression, it's a swear word in my life. It can hit at any point, and for no real reason. I can have days when I want to just sit in a corner with my head in my hands and cry all day long, and days when I really do not want to go anywhere or do anything. It can make a person feel low, worthless, alone, and feel really sad. However, as I found, all is not lost. You can help yourself by doing things in your daily life that can lift your spirits and make your day better, no matter how hard it is. Below is a list of my therapy favourites for days when I feel really low. These are for self-help purposes only, if you are suffering depression, you should still see a doctor and get help from a professional. However, there are supplementary holistic therapies you can do that can be really helpful.
Sing it away.
Singing really lifts my mood, whether I have my headphones on while washing the dishes, on the karaoke or in a studio. Singing gets those happy hormones working to their best, and if you dance while doing the dishes, or do some really silly moves, so what! Sing as loud as you can along to your favourite song, with or without music, and get those happy hormones moving through your body. Singing releases tension and gets those unwanted emotions out in the open. It is an expressive activity and can really help to release those sad feelings. After a good singing session, I always feel relaxed. It doesn't matter whether you're a good singer or not, just do it! Karaoke, sing alone, it doesn't matter how daft you feel, even laugh at yourself as you forget the lyrics. I guarantee, it really does help.
Walk it out!
Walking has been known to be good for mental health for many years. You can read my previous article, "Mindfulness in Nature" for other ideas on this. Walking through a park, by the sea, through woodland, anywhere where there is colourful scenery and happy noises, or even animals can be very good for depression. Nature has many fantastic therapeutic benefits, watching squirrels play, kicking up leaves on an autumn day, feeling sand between your toes on a beach, or even jumping in muddy puddles. Anything that brings out the child in you when walking, can put a smile on your face. Listening to the birds chirping or just enjoying the bustle of town can make you feel less alone with depression, whether walking with a friend or not.
Write all about it!
I have always said that there are benefits to writing when you suffer from a mental health problem. Journaling about your day can be useful in making sense of what happened that day, as can just writing about your thoughts. Creative writing such as stories or poetry can express many emotions from happiness, sadness, grief, anger, loneliness, or even just a random thought that crosses your mind that day. The good thing about writing is it puts you in control, and can help you to make sense of how you a feeling. Keeping a diary can also be useful, especially as a therapy tool, as it can help you to keep track of how you are feeling day by day, and you may even find that you can identify what is useful and what is not.
One massive benefit of writing, especially in a diary or a journal, is that you are getting your thoughts down on paper. This is a very useful therapy tool, even if what you write does not make any sense to you. It can help you to understand why you feel the way you do, and you may even find yourself brainstorming and writing down other things that you may find helpful in lifting the depression.
Read all about it!
When I get lost in a good book, I am taken into another world. Books create another realistic world other than our own reality. We can imagine being one of the characters in the story, or simply be involved from the outside. We can "get lost" in the story and become a part of it for many hours. Reading can release stress through temporarily creating a world that is different from our own. Choose stories that make you smile and laugh, rather than ones that leave you feeling sad. Reading these types of stories can create a relaxing atmosphere enabling us to unwind and relax. They can also block the distressing thoughts from our mind, which can lead to feelings of contentment and happiness. When you read, choose to read by lamplight in a quiet room where you can't be disturbed. This can create a very relaxing atmosphere, and reading a good book before bed can also help us drift into a very peaceful sleep.
Kick it away!
Now, to me, I am the most useless person on the planet when it comes to football! However, I swear by kicking a ball about no matter where I am or who I am with. I can be practising dribbling, kicking against a wall, or even creatively creating my own tricks. Kicking a ball is a brilliant way to release stress and build-up of anger. The feeling from kicking a ball, gives us a sense of contentment and it helps to release the stress and anger by releasing tension in the feet and body.
Playing a football match with friends with no rules attached is a relaxing way to play a game of football. Just knowing that you got the ball into the goal, and even that you cheated and didn't know it, can create a very humorous game between you and friends. This is my most favourite activity to do when I am depressed, because it always leaves me with a smile on my face.
The trick to using football for therapy is to bend the rules or forget them all together, this way you create a game full of flaws and the game becomes fun rather than stressful.
Yoga is full of moves that will challenge your body and stretch it to its limits. The feeling of strength and flexibility can greatly improve your mood, and it also engages your mind, creating a feeling of mindfulness. In yoga, many poses are about balance, and it creates a balanced feeling of contentment in the mind, spirit and soul. You also learn to focus, as you have to encourage your body to stay balanced throughout each mood. It is not something that you pick up overnight, but overtime, as you practice more, you will become more confident with each mood. You will find that the more confident you become, each move will release stress and tension from your body, leaving you feeling more relaxed and less stressed out or depressed.
This article has been created with depression in mind. These activities are all things that I find help me to battle the world of depression. With depression it is also important to get support from a professional, this might be from a GP or a counsellor. However the above ideas are good for also being able to help yourself. Creating activities and things that you can do to help yourself alongside the professional help that you may be receiving may not cure the depression over night, but they can help to release the pent-up feelings that come from it, leaving you to feel more relaxed and get on with your day.