Have you had one of those days- you know the ones where it just seems like your get up and go has gone? The days where maybe you start out with some goals and ambitions but as the day wears on you just feel more blah. If you are immersed in some pretty overwhelming demands and responsibilities, and /or you are watching the news constantly, you might be feeling downright depressed.
Whether you're having an Eeyore kind of day, or whether you suspect you might actually be experiencing depression, there is help and hope waiting for you.
Like many brain health issues, depression is not just one thing and does not usually have just one single cause, rather it can result from a host of things that combine to put a damper on our sizzle and cause us to feel petered out and not too excited about anything.
Does this describe you lately? Some signs to watch for in yourself or someone you love are the following:
Increase in spending time alone or refusing outings with friends
Increase in feeling sadness or crying
Changes in appetite in one direction or the other
No longer enjoying things that used to be pleasing or fun
Changes in focus, memory, or coping abilities
Difficulty in making decisions
Significant weight gain or loss
Self harm activities
Like many things the blahs can be something that quickly come and go, whereas depressive symptoms may linger much longer. Either way, if your mood, attitude and outlook are suffering, one of the best and cheapest things you can do is to get moving!
Oh yes, it may be the thing you feel like doing the least, but it is truly one of the most beneficial ways to lift your mood, bring good neurochemicals to your brain, and help you feel more like your old self.
Since most often when we are feeling blah, down or depressed, we’d rather curl up under a blanket, this advice won’t come easy for many. That’s where enlisting the help of an A/E buddy can really make a difference. This is the person that knows you, will love you through it, and will “kick you with a velvet boot” to help get you up and moving.
Think of moving as medicine. Medicine typically doesn’t taste good, and no one from kids to adults really wants to take it. But some medicines help us get better, and movement is one “mighty medicine” if you are willing to treat it as one of the most important things you can do for your physical as well as mental and emotional wellbeing.
And here’s the good news. We’re not talking running marathons here. Just get up and go. Go outside, take a walk, go to the gym and find something you enjoy there. Here’s some additional ideas for you. Only choose the ones you have done and like, or the activities you think you might like – that way your brain will register it as “reward” and not “pain” (or a thing to avoid in the future) because consistency is key here.
Take a walk twice a day for 20 minutes each or once a day for 30-45 minutes or more.
Join the Y and utilize their pool either swimming laps or taking a class like water aerobics.
Take up golf and gardening in the spring and summer, and skiing or snowshoeing in the winter
Consider racquet sports like tennis, racquetball or pickleball
If you need to start slower try gentle yoga or tai chi
Leave your house or office and walk around the block if that is what is available to you
Try a stationary bike or cycling
Take a dance class like Zumba, ballroom, barre or ballet.
Your brain can overrule your mind if you are serious about wanting to feel better, improve your mood and energy and begin to see things more clearly again. You will need to focus on your thinking and speaking truth to your brain. You might say, it’s true I don’t feel like moving today but I know it is good for me so I will choose to do _____. These bodies and brains are meant for moving. The more you move the better life goes. Find a buddy and cheer each other on as you move toward greater brain and mental health and wellbeing!