Fifteen Ways to Improve Your Mood and Help Lift Depression

Oh ya’ll. Yesterday, although it started off with me in a – let’s just say – “not so upbeat of a mood, although trying”, I ended up the day knowing that things would be better. I got up this morning and after having a day off and another good night’s sleep, I feel fairly normal this morning. I woke up thinking, planning, wanting to do things, and with a happier disposition (one can hope). When you are a melancholy introvert of a person most of the time anyway and you start to head toward depressive tendencies – it’s just not so good. I have even been able to make a list of coping strategies to either maintain myself during this period or perhaps bring myself out of it. So I thought I’d share that with others. Now I’m not a professional, but I can share what has helped me. And these are not in order of importance but as I thought of them while making a list.

Improving My Mood and Lifting My Depression

  1. Analyze. For example, I first began trying to figure out what was wrong, and the triggers, so I could figure it out. Please realize this was not a huge drawn out process but just in case there are things that could be changed to make me better, I needed a plan, and fast. In my case, I concluded it was a perfect storm of this continued period of bad weather and rain, coming out of a really stressful time at work, coming out of the holidays, winter doldrums, caring for an aging parent, setting up a new household for Mom, two major moves in the past year, weight gain, trying to figure out a hair style that works with my greying hair, not having enough time to do what I want, not feeling good health wise, questioning a lot of things in my life, disappointment from squashing a lot of dreams that I’ve had that I know won’t come to fruition. And finally, the replacement goal for those dreams not coming together either. Then there was video creation, my hobby that is supposed to make me happy – I couldn’t seem to get around the learning curve to even start the next video because I couldn’t get the clip I had for the intro to convert to the right dimensions for the next video. I think this alone may have sent me over the edge – to not be able to do something you want to do so badly.
  2. Prayer. I don’t know how people that don’t believe in God can handle anything without Him. If you don’t believe, I ask that you please pick up a Bible and begin reading, because God’s word is active and alive. He will speak to you and guide you through this and will protect you and give you hope. He will hear your cry. He will not make fun of your cry.
  3. Sleep. Sleep has been very important, although I think too much sleep could be a hamper in this situation. You need to try to get 8 hours if you can at least, even upwards to 10 if you are stressed and exhausted.
  4. Increase Vitamin D and Take a B Complex. I doubled my D. And I have been careful to take supplements that are a good source with natural casing so it can be digested and released. It’s just needed.
  5. Eating healthier. I ate healthier choices to get in as many good nutrients, vitamins, minerals that I could.
  6. Less Alcohol, more water, hot tea, coffee. This is a critical time and while there may be a tendency to drink more to numb the bad feelings you are having – go with less alcohol and more of other drinks you like. Alcohol will deplete any progress you made. Have a bubble water, herbal tea, or just plain water. That said, I must admit, that some days George gave me a small sniffer of heated cognac before bed to rest and lull me into sleep, but it’s not a time to drink more which is a tendency that would be easy to do.
  7. Focus on happy things. Sometimes it was the simplest of things that could make me smile that I tried to feel blessed in the moment. For example, a bird chirping outside my window, seeing the deer look up at me as I drove by, delighting in dogs and pictures of dogs (I want one so bad), sitting and reading or playing a game, watching a favorite show, going out to eat, changing my computer theme to a beach desktop instead of winter, doing things I like to do.
  8. Self pamper. This is an extension of number seven, but schedule and plan fun things – like your next nail or pedi appointment. I allowed myself to splurge on cosmetics and while it’s not recommended to blow your budget or anything, if you can do some things for your self improvement like a new shirt, new hair do, or a few beauty supplies – it can help as a temporary boost at least.
  9. Develop an Improvement plan. This may be hard, especially if you are not in the mood to think or plan, but if you can write down some things that are bothering you that you would like to change, you can try to challenge yourself to do so. I was able to come up with my Nudge Challenge and it gave me some hope because I know I’ll be doing some things differently.
  10. Periods of letting the mind rest. I noticed that on some days I actually just decided NOT to think on things if I needed to do that. While some days I did push myself, I realized that I needed to just let my mind rest from all that it had been overloaded with, frustrated with, and trying to figure out. Just let your mind do so if you need to. Let thoughts come and release them as fast as they came.
  11. Don’t make major life decisions during this time. You can really mess a lot up by making rash decisions during this time period. It’s easy to do. I hate to say never because in some cases major life decisions may be the answer to the problem, however, I think you need to run it by a couple of people with sound judgement that you trust, before making a go of any life altering plans. So wait before quitting your job or buying an RV and heading west into the dessert sunset. (Those of you that know me, know that would tempt me easily, but no I wouldn’t do that without George unless he gave me permission – on both of those things mentioned, lol).
  12. Take an entire day off. If you can’t find the day at least an afternoon, but my best strides toward beating the depression downward spiral was having a day off from all responsibilities and just doing whatever I wanted to do for the moment. No plans.
  13. Do that ONE thing. And on the flip side – if you are going to do anything – do that one thing that if you get it done or accomplished you will feel so much better. I made myself face my Final Cut Pro woes and figured out what was wrong and can move on with life and that made my week much more rosy! May sound silly to you, but this lifted my world!
  14. Find the sun! Oh my gosh it helps so much!
  15. Take a Walk! It releases happy hormones! And for some reason when you walk, you work out things in your head.

Today I am much better having done these things in the past week. And I wanted to share for both you and me. I will come back and read it again when I start having issues. I can catch myself sometimes when I wake up and don’t feel like thinking, planning, and doing. I can usually put nutrition and sleep in and pull out of it quickly but this past week it became concerning. I had to walk lightly and be very kind to myself, not push, let things come and go, and try to fill my mind with as much positiveness as I could. It’s been a tough ass week. Today I feel fairly normal having really focused on the above all week and finally getting that ONE thing done that was plaguing me.

My Agenda:

I hope you all have a good week. Here’s what’s on my agenda in the next week or so:

*Sign in to OLD AOL accounts so I don’t lose them. I do this once a quarter to keep old blogs.

*Do the Enneagram test again. I think it will benefit me to go through this.

*My challenge starts tomorrow. Might need to go to the store tonight but I might wait.

*New Bible study comes in this week from Amazon. I’ll share.

*Add Birthdays on my Task Reminders (so I’ll get cards and shopping done in advance)

*Use my Cracker Barrel card and take Mom to dinner

*Order a couple of pics from Shutterfly – this has been on my list forever

*Camera lessons is still on my list – wanna get them done (??)

*Need to iron and vacuum and do some house cleaning

*Clean my office, break down the bed in there and bring up the filing cabinets (this is a March project)

*Work on the flooring video

*Hot Springs trip

*Want to make lasagna

*Get some reading done (??)

Mom’s Agenda:

*TV bracket for hanging the TV on the wall has to be ordered

*New furniture

*Pictures finish hanging

*Help unpacking

*Pedicure

*Shades for Patio

*Table for Patio (eventually)

*Fancy Trim coming up in a couple of weeks

*Start my puzzle

George’s Agenda

Bless him. He has been so kind to do our agendas, but we have to remember that he too has one. He has done taxes and has been working on finances and of course cooks a lot, and is wanting to do some recording of music. He enjoys his reading and wants to work on the basement and get it back in order (it’s on my agenda too), and also spring is coming and he will begin clearing the yard for debris for mowing, and his yard sales start up.

Ok off of here because work will be wondering where I am if I don’t get there soon. But bottom line is I think I’m coming through this terrible couple of weeks to the other side. Thanks for your support. It’s always nice to see folks reaching out instead of drawing back when the times are not feeling so good. So again Thank You. It’s all going to be ok.

Successes and Failures, The Hostess Dance, and In the Ruts of Life

So, we spent our Saturday yesterday with Mom. The main purpose was to get some pictures hung up. Quite a few were hung but we didn’t get finished as we also wanted to get her out of the house some. We took her to eat lunch and to buy groceries. And we went to Lowe’s to buy more hanging materials, cleaning materials, and Mom wanted to see a sun shade for the deck and so forth.

I guess our day was a concoction of both successes and failures.

Success: Several pictures were hung

Failure: It seems like not near enough

Success: Lunch was absolutely wonderful

Failure: We had to wait and stand in a cold area with Mom (77 and prefers sitting and warmth) for 40 minutes in crowds (while Covid is on the downside it’s still around).

Success: We got a few groceries

Failure: The grocery store we wanted to go to was a chain we’d been to in Hendersonville only this one was in Lebanon and it basically was totally different (night and day). It was totally ghetto (I guess we haven’t figured out the pockets of Lebanon yet). I wondered if we’d make it out alive plus a woman was coughing out her an entire lung all around us in those small aisles :-O.

Success: We got several things at Lowe’s and Mom looked at some patio shade options.

Failure: They didn’t have the vent filters Mom wanted and somehow we didn’t get home with the pack of nails we ordered. And there might have been a bit of drama in the check out line when Mom refused to use the self-check out while George held the clerk up to insist that she come check out where he was. I was in the middle of it all in which I finally yelled out across the store from several feet away with Mom “She’s gonna do what she wants to do George, she’s not coming – just go on!” (Insert your biggest eye roll here to which everyone in the store looks and you can see them saying oh you all are THAT kind of family. Yep we are. It’s like Carol Burnett and Momma all over again. We should have our own show. It’s much worse than Kate Plus 8! Let me tell ya. Sometimes I dread going out in public because of the drama if everything is just not perfect. Holy psycadolie on steroids. I just invented a new word I think.

Town Square Social, Lebanon – the Hip Place to Be on Saturday

As mentioned, our lunch at Town Square Social was just wonderful – once we got a table. Our twenty minute – turned into 40 – was a little uncomfortable for my 77 year old Mom, especially, but she hung on to a stair railing and endured it peacefully.

I was the one doing a dance shuffle b/w two front tables, the front door, the hostess stand, and hallway traffic as there was nowhere to be that was not in the way. I guess we can call it the hostess area dance. You go forward, backward, sideways, in, out, hop two steps over, three steps back and repeat “I’m sorry” “So sorry” back to back in regular intervals.

The walls of the restaurant have interesting character. And our meals were so good and we were so glad to be seated in a warm area. The day was very cold yesterday. It mainly was in the 30’s I think. It could have reached 40’s but if it did no one realized it. It was just as ugly and grey as all the rest of the days were lately but at least there was no rain or snow where we were.

Saturday Evening and Today

Back at Mom’s, searching for lost nails and a few remaining pictures hung, the clock quickly approached the five o’clock time frame and I think George was anxious to go home. Normally I would be too but at this point, I think I’ve lost all hope of doing anything I really want to do as I have these tremendous road blocks every where I turn and it’s just taken the life out of me and my hope or faith in doing anything I really want to do.

I’m not giving up completely, because my robot switch is turned to ON, and it’s at least going. I’m functioning. Going with the moment. I’m stuck in ruts and can’t get out. Everything I try to do turns to mush so for today I’ve decided to just settle in the muck and mud and waddle in it like a pig. Why make plans when you have to break your neck to do something you want to do? So I’m just not doing anything. The day off is here. Finally. I have no plans. I’m a feather in the wind. My will has no control anyway. So I’m just sipping coffee here and seeing what happens next in my life. LOL :-O

I tried to create a vision board on Pinterest this morning and I gave up. I put a dog on there. I put a new kitchen update on there. I tried to find video creation things to put on there. Camera and video and photography things. Blogging and VLOGGING things. Not much to add. The idea of a vision board quickly disintegrated. It was further depressing. Who am I kidding? I couldn’t manifest a chili dog at this point in my life. I mean think about it. The dog won’t come til later, the new revised kitchen won’t ever come – so I settled with an order for Amazon for under $100 and a Thrive Cosmetic order for under $50. LOL Even in doing that George had asked if I could wait and order Tuesday. What and Why? Simply so it would “show” as under March’s budget instead of February for his records. Not for financial reasons, but just so it shows under a different month. No. I’m doing something for ME today. Please no one else try to stop me from doing something I want to do. My entire life is on hold already or everything has some roadblock or closure or mountainous terrain to climb over. No. Let me have this one pleasure please.

The Amazon order – I have waited a month already to order it b/c I wanted to wait til I got closer to needing it and I’ve already gone too far past the point of needing it. The time is now. It’s ordered. I get to decide something in my life today. And ordering something on amazon is it! I work too and I don’t spend that much on myself. I quit getting hair cut, hair colored, and did my own toes a few times in winter, I cancelled Isagenix, I cancelled audible. I’m ordering my bras that I need more comfort with (I’m officially done with underwire and uncomfortable strapping bras), my makeup basics (eyeliner and a neutral eye color) that will last forever, and a rain coat (b/c mine leaks). I work too and I am ordering these needs that I have. If that is not good, then I’ll schedule the kitchen model makeover consult. LOL You remember how long the floors took, how we almost divorced over the bath shower makeover, and how I had to give up my dream of RVing. Yeah so my goals are all crushed but not like they show in the movies. All those people crushing their goals out there? Well I’m crushing mine too. Crushed, crushed, crushed- stomped. I told you this blog had new meaning right? LOL I can show anyone how to crush a goal, a project, a dream, kill some time, kill a project, kill a dream. lol Just be around here for a few minutes and watch it happen. We can help you like no other to crush those goals around here. Ya got have a little humor, come on.

So since I’m living everyone else’s life, I’ve chosen just not to do anything today toward my own goals. What is the point of scrambling along the hamster wheel reaching for things I can’t get to or going places I’ll never go. I’m trying not to plan anything short or long term, just exist. It’s much less painful. I’ve had coffee, oh – and I ordered a “joy” Bible Study book since I obviously need to learn the joy of living everyone else’s life.

Sorry for the sarcasm today. But gee, the heart overflows with what I’m feeling inside which is kind of a “why am I even here” and “what is my life suppose to look like” kinda mood/mode.

I may finish the laundry. I will take the BP Meds. I might clean some. I will take a shower. I will change our sheets. I will have prayer and devo time. I might try and figure out Final Cut Pro on the next video b/c that is what is bothering me the most that I can’t get over this next learning curve. I feel like if I can get around that curve, I’ll be around the curve on the JOY factor as well.

What You See is What You Get?

Oh, and the crocs I ordered Mom? You know the “bright yellow ones” she got when I ordered Stucco, and off-white so it would go with everything? Well….when I got there yesterday she had on Stucco colored crocs. They were not bright yellow. I feel bad for leaving Amazon the bad color substitution review. She just can’t see and they look like a bright canary yellow to her. ::sigh::

Where Do We Go From Here?

I’m very tired. I’m off today. Not doing much. Just very tired. It’s all good. I see the sun coming out. The temps will be higher later this week. I feel and need a dog in my future. That will lift my world. I think we’ll start looking once we do our April trip to Knoxville. I’m trying ya’ll. I’m just very discouraged right now. I know I’ll pull out. I know my outlook will change. It will get better. There is bird chirping outside the window now in an effort to cheer me. I know He’s been sent by God. It’s a sound I’ve missed and God said “spring is coming and the sunshine will soon come back in your days”.

In the mean time, Mom’s pictures have to be finished hung in her house and she has finally agreed to let me help her unpack. So looks like I’ll be spending even more time over there and less here. She wants to go with me on my next pedicure run. So I will fill my days with trying to get things done for her and try and get her settled as to what degree we can in the weeks and months ahead.

I will erase any grand plans on a time schedule on my own, will erase my own goals as a now thing, and put them off for yet even more time. I will stick to basics because that is all I can handle for now. Just breathe. Live in the moment. Sip coffee. Find joy in the small things. Go for a walk. Do my little challenge (being self-helpful to myself). Read. Blog. Work on a video as I have time or want to or CAN figure out with this new software. Yeah. Take time out to learn. I have to just learn to be simple. Not much plans. Scratch the desires, goals, dreams and pushing because it only agonizes me to not have time to work toward them. (I have to de-motivate myself. Really? Most people long to be motivated!) Just be. Just accept and embrace what is until I can figure out a way to forge forward. After all, that IS this year’s motto.

I’ll be more of a mentor and a positive person for you all later. I appreciate those of you who are sticking with me through the muck. You find out who your friends truly are. Thank you for your support through the struggles we have of life. I keep saying tomorrow will be better. And it will. Til then I’ll stick with basics and move gently and softly forward, as life allows.

Setting a Wellness Challenge for Yourself and a Personal Update

I’ve been talking about creating my own challenge and here it is, my challenge. I think it’s important to challenge ourselves to do better and to be the best we can be. The good thing about challenging yourself is that you can make it what you want and need it to be. Several of us have joined others challenges and that is a good thing too if you find one that fits your needs and goals.

How do you set a challenge for self?

Determine what your needs, desires, and goals are and what steps it will take to move toward them. I started by making a list of what it was I needed to improve myself and then put it all under categories. For me it was those items listed in the picture above: more water intake, better nutrition, more movement, spiritual alignment, and reaching toward personal goals. Some call these “pillars” of improvement. They are the basics or foundation of your challenge. And of course you will need to break down and bullet point for yourself what each of those pillars will entail. And then for fun – give it a name. I chose to call mine “The Nudge”. I’m starting it March 1. I’ll explain below.

I wrote a goal statement for my challenge that says: “I want to be the best me I can be, with focus on wellness, well-being, stride improvement toward goals, and last but certainly not least, spiritual alignment.

Defining the challenge.

As mentioned above, you really need to define your challenge by asking yourself if you could change yourself, what would you change? Go across your whole self. Mind, body, goals, dreams, spirituality, happiness. Set your pillars for your challenge in what you want of those things. And do things every day toward them.

Here’s how I defined my Nudge Challenge:

Water – Drinking 75 oz per day (I’m including coffee and tea and any non-sugar drinks as a part of this, but not alcohol)

Nutrition – Less sugar*, Increase protein, decrease starch, increase greens, increase veggies, maintain fruits and grains per day.

Movement – 100 movement exercises per day, 10 min of walking or heart rate exercise** per day, 20 minute of exercise on weekend days.

Personal – Requirement to do something every day toward a personal goal or hobby or toward “my happy”. For this it is: Learning Final Cut Pro, learning my camera, learning to vlog better, video creation improvement, watching videos for inspiration and ideas. For me this is on top of the regular blogging and vlogging. I have decided that there are two levels to this Personal category. I will also include reading, resting, shopping, watching a show, or doing just about anything to up the Happy Level. ;-). So a win-win category.

Spiritual – I already do a Prayer Journal and Bible Reading every day. I don’t have a lot of time to add in extra Bible study, but I’ve decided for a period of time, that I will do a trade-off or a mix up and will do a Bible study during my prayer/journal time and I will do prayer time on the way to work. My goal is to realign my goals with God’s goals for me, and to accept his guidance on the issues I struggle with the most.

*Still working and researching the sugar part. I won’t be able to cut all of it out but need to determine a gram level per day that works for me. For now, it will be a conscious effort to reduce the intake until determined.

**I have trouble fitting exercise in my day – I’d rather be geeky and do other things. So for me to get 10 min in a day is a big deal. I will never get 20 in, if I can’t get 10 in first.

Choosing the name of the challenge.

I chose to call mine “The Nudge Challenge”. I am having a tough time right now and trying to figure out a few things with my time, schedule, and routine. This is not a new problem with me. I had to go through similar adjustments when I became married, became a mother and was working full time, and I have had recent big changes that really has taken most of my spare time. I’m adjusting slowly. But the reason for naming this challenge “The Nudge” is because I don’t have time for a full blown challenge where I’m tracking, detailing, and analyzing every move. It would send me over the edge right now to go to that degree. There is a time and place for that. It’s not now for me. I just need a nudge in the right direction. I need positive motion toward goals. So “The Nudge” it is.

Tracking the challenge.

Yes, measurable are important in most cases and in most challenges. If you can do this, by all means define your measurables. For me, my measure this time is very simple. Did you do it? Yes or No. I want to be better. I’ll never be perfect. I’m trying to create ongoing lifestyle habits in which I’m not going to be measuring every single day from now on. I’m not going to punish myself nor reward myself for this challenge. I just need to be a better self, move forward, and be physically, mentally, and spiritually better as I go along in the rest of my life. At the end of the day The Nudge Challenge simply will ask, Did you do better today? Yes or No.

Length of the challenge.

So, it takes, supposedly 14 days to develop a habit. And so my mind is thinking 21 days for my personal Nudge Challenge. Fourteen days of VERY strong alignment of a daily push toward the things, with an extra seven days of what I’ll call a “transition week”. Do I really know what that means? All I can say is that I want the habits to stick but I’m not going to be hyping over these things every day like I will the first two weeks. I guess that third week will be a transition week to being able to figure out how to maintain these things without having to put a lot of focus and effort to it – how will I maintain these habits for the long haul. So yeah, my challenge will be 21 days with the first 14 being focused and the last 7 being a transition focus on how to maintain these things ongoing.

Over all setting your own challenge can be exciting and purposeful and fulfilling. Even if you are not perfect, you are making strides to goals that you have for your life. I challenge you to set your own challenge, with your own pillars.

If you were to do one, what would your goals be?

Personal Updates: Riding the Waves

Photo by Ben Mack on Pexels.com

So I’m doing better today. I woke up this morning with my thoughts going alive, and God said, “let’s get this challenge going Sonya”. He didn’t really, but I speak often with God and he often sends me little ideas and thoughts and He sent his spiritual buddy “the spirit, the comforter, the nudger” to be with me and He is. So I began thinking of things again instead of just “trying to get through the day”. It’s just been a tough week. Work has been – well, let’s just say – “not so good” with so many things outside my own control having been a factor. Personal life has been dull. Rain and rain and rain and horrible grey days with no sun have greatly impacted the mood. Lack of eating nutritiously have obviously played a huge role in how I have felt. I haven’t wanted to do anything. Even the joys that I normally get from video creation and blogging have been downers. Final Cut Pro, as I start this next video, is not doing what I wanted – at every turn (everything I do) it won’t do what I want and requires another video. I thought I had learned a lot but can’t even get started on the next video without having to watch other videos to get me started. I’m discouraged about so many things at once so life has really taken me down a dumpy road across most portions of my life. This challenge should help and I feel better already. I still am having moments of heading toward depression though – like I don’t want to do anything or think about anything. I don’t want to make decisions, I don’t want to clean. I don’t want to organize, analyze. I just want to sit, stare, drink coffee and let the thoughts come and go. But today is better as I woke up with this challenge worked out in my head. It had been plaguing me for days. I haven’t been able to make lists or think much about anything until today. So that is a good sign. This post is a good sign.

I appreciate your comments recently and worries over my well being. I’ve been a little worried too. I have days where I have down days like everyone else but this one has been going strong for probably a couple of weeks. I’m sure if I go back to other years of blogs I will see similar happening in the last couple of weeks of February. I’ll have to see. Maybe not to this extent. I said before that I think it’s been the perfect storm of so many things catching up to me at once across many portions of my life. But I think we are on the mend. One can only hope.

I talked with God for a long while about my schedule and routine and time. We didn’t really come up with many answers. I can’t quit my job right now. I can’t really lose any more sleep. I don’t want to give up my hobbies as they are what brings me joy. The only answers I can come up with are doing my hobbies less often, not giving work anything over a certain amount of hours, coming up with a more set routine with Mom. I’ve even asked myself if I needed to have a different job where I could work from home or have less hours and less of an issue at year end. And I’m posting that here for all to read, simply because I decided it’s easier at my age to stick with something you love and enjoy with a commute (it’s not really all that bad but it does take up to 45 min extra from door to door) than to have to learn something new just to be able to work from home. I have always had the power to stick through with most jobs even when they frustrated the hell out of me. Overall though, this job is perfect for me. And God keeps saying “you are the one I’ve chosen to do this job – it’s you that can keep track of this and do these things in the order they should be done and in how you do them”. So I don’t want to let Him down.

The other thing we (God and I) looked at was to change my view or acceptance of what is. There will never be more than 24 hours a day. But to do that, I have to accept that I have very little free time to self care and I’m not sure I’m ok with that. I need to have some built in down time – not just blog time but time to decompress, work toward goals, get our own housework done and so forth, to see progress, to see a reason for living, to see that my life is worth something and has value to God, to others and myself.

I think the problems lie usually in that I’m a planner and there are so many things that are throwing me off unexpectedly. I never like elements of surprises on my time. I mean basically we have adopted another member of the family into our own with special needs if you want to think of it that way, and so I’m just trying to figure out how to balance my time on top of being in an apparent state of depression.

I’m a piece of work right now. There are so many things at so many levels I’m working through but God is there and I’m just having to work through it all with Him by my side. When a couple of things go awry, it makes you want to look at everything that is awry, too. It’s all good. I’m fine. It’ll be ok. Feeling much much more like myself today. Well not spot on, but getting there. Yes, We’ll get there. Just Lord, send some sunshine. Puhhhhleaase! Oh and while you are at it, send me to the beach and give me a dog.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Photo by Christian Domingues on Pexels.com

Have a good weekend ya’ll.