I’m generally a pretty happy guy these days, but in the past couple of weeks I’ve had some periods of feeling down. I know what to do in these in times, it’s why I put all this work in on the good days. It’s just hard in those moments to muster up the motivation to do what you’re supposed to do. Then when I don’t do anything about it, I wonder why I keep feeling this way. Sound about right?
Unfortunately there is no magic pill we can take to just snap outta the funk. Well aside from some Vitamin D, maybe. But it’s just not that simple. For me, it’s doubling down on the basics that have got me here. Get back to exercising and staying active, get back to journaling, make sure I’m eating right and taking my meds right. Literally the basics.
The other day, the subject came up in my appointment with my therapist. We discussed ways that I can change up those basic tasks that I have trailed away from to make them more interesting. I tend to get bored easily with repetitive tasks and need some sort of challenge to keep me on track.
For example, with exercise, I’ve stopped working out all together since the weather has gotten colder outside. I have a membership to the city gym, which is literally a block away from where I live, but it’s still hard to motivate myself to walk over there and workout. One way that I instantly thought of to make this more appealing to me was to play basketball. As part of the city gym membership, you get access to the basketball court and I love to play basketball. Sounds simple, right? It is if you actually do it. But sometimes getting that motivation to get myself up and go over there is tough. That’s when I have to start small. Focus on the two minute walk down the block to the gym, shoot around for just five minutes, then go from there. If I’m feeling it, I can stay longer. If not, walk the two minutes back home and set a 10 minute goal for the next day. It seems so elementary but when I get caught up in life and trying to take on bigger goals, this is the way I have to treat these smaller basic tasks.
Journaling is another one of those things for me. My mind is always so hyperactive that one of the greatest releases for me has always been to write down my thoughts. With as much as I’m on the computer and using technology, I have to journal the old fashioned way with paper and pen. Lately though, I’ve been slacking on journaling and I need to find a way to make it more engaging. My therapist suggested using writing prompts to get me started back in the routine. It’s something simple that can keep me engaged and challenge me a bit. Again, it’s a little adjustment and about setting an attainable goal of answering one journal prompt then going from there.
Prior to writing this post, I also asked this question on Facebook and the responses supported my approach. My social media network is always quick to remind me of service to others as a coping skill. And it’s a common response for a reason. Helping others is always a great way to get out of your own bubble and feel good about yourself. Do something nice or unexpected someone. Or just be nicer than usual. You’ll be amazed how a little change in attitude can go a long way in changing your feelings and behaviors.
Other responses on Facebook included exercise, reaching out to friend, working on a hobby, self-care, meditation & mindfulness, and gratitude. One other thing that I decided to do was talk to my doctor about it and we adjusted my medications slightly to help deal with the increase in depression. Like everything, it’s a matter of finding what works for you and working it. It really is that simple and that difficult at the same time.