One of my friends has been struggling with depression returning this week, and as well as listening, I’ve found myself giving him advice I’m sure I’ll need it myself in the future so I thought I’d write about it here.
Get back to a good sleep routine. Mine consists of no technology after 9pm, a bath or shower, a cup of hot cocoa and getting into bed to read. It’s also helpful to get up at the same time each day rather than laying around in bed and feeling groggy for the rest of the day. I’m fortunate that for me it’s 8am. If I really can’t sleep I listen to a dharma talk, and if I can’t bring myself to get out of bed in the morning, try to do something useful with the time like watching a documentary, listening to a TED talk, reading, writing or colouring.
Eat and drink
Don’t forget to drink lots of water and have food that’s easy to prepare on hand. For me that’s soup, eggs, pre-prepared salads, fruit and yogurt. If I really can’t be bothered to cook then I’ll make a smoothie with almond milk, almond butter, spinach, banana and blueberries.
Take a shower
It’s amazing what a difference taking a shower and washing my hair can make to how I feel, even if I don’t have the patience to dry my hair. If I’m going out, putting on a little bit of make-up also makes it feel slightly easier to face the day. Sometimes it’s easier to have a bath instead of a shower as it takes less energy just to lay there in the hot water! Or I often shower before bed so it’s one less thing to do in the morning.
Even if it’s just lounge wear -comfy clothes that I can wear if I need to go out. Or put on some clean PJs and change the sheets so I have a clean bed to get into as well.
Get some fresh air – even if it’s just in the garden or looking up at the stars in the night sky. Driving in traffic is the last thing I want to do when I’m feeling rubbish so try to walk the dog around the block or walk to the shops for some food.
When things are really hard, I write a to-do list for the day and it includes the basics like have a shower, clean my teeth and make some porridge. I also include things like open the post, read, watch a film so I don’t have to make decisions or feel overwhelmed by all things I could be doing.
Ask for help with cooking, cleaning or walking the dog. Also pull back when I need to. I don’t have to accept every social invitation – one or two things a week is enough sometimes.
Even if it’s a 30 minute swim – it kills two bird with one stone as I get to shower and wash my hair at the same time! Commit to doing something whether I feel like it or not.
Write a to-do list for around the house. Or a ‘done’ list of the things I have done so I don’t forget the small achievements. Break things down – I don’t have to clean the whole flat in one day – start with doing the washing up or dusting one room.
Keep up my daily gratitude practice. But don’t forget to express other emotions to – physical exercise, art and writing also really help when I have some anger bubbling away below the surface.