Yesterday, I covered some of the physical things I do to make it through my annual bout with seasonal depression. Today, I will cover some emotional and practical helps that help me find joy.
1. I tend to my personal spiritual habits. For me, personal prayer and daily scripture study are a must if I am going to feel the Lord's Spirit... and this is when I especially need it.
2. Prioritize! A few years back, I looked at all of our holiday traditions, and realized that some of them served the same purpose. I picked a few to keep, and axed the rest. Everyone survived. In fact, it made the ones we did participate in more meaningful.
3. Recharge! This may look different for you than it does for me, depending on your nature. Personally, I am an extrovert, and too much time alone drains the life out of me, so I make it a point to get together with my friends. Every now and then, I invite a handful of them over for a pot luck lunch and a couple of hours later, I am filled and energized. I love these people, and it is something that makes me happy. For some, a little time alone will do the same thing.
4. Create a peaceful environment. For me, this means I need a relatively clean house, and background noise needs to be at a minimum. Nice music is good, TV noise is bad for my personal peace. I have always believed in my kids pulling their weight at home and doing chores. However, a couple of years ago, when I was in the midst of my down-time, I was getting mad a lot because the house was a mess. The kids would get ready and leave in the morning, and I was stuck either doing their jobs, or living in a messy house all day, and it really bugged me. For now, I decided that I am happier if I simply take some time each morning to clean so I can have a peaceful home. (However, since I still want them to grow up to be responsible, I have them do alternate chores when they get home - the extra things we don't get to often.)
5. Have a "happy list." I first came across this idea when one of my children was struggling with depression and lost interest in everything. We came up with a list of things that made him happy, so that when he didn't feel like doing anything, he could just choose something on the list. Some things on my list include singing (the louder, the better - so if you were planning to stop by my house anytime soon, you've been warned! Just pretend you didn't notice and nobody gets embarrassed.), reading a book, catching up on friends' blogs, watching a good, rowdy football game, etc.
6. Delegate. Chances are, there are people that love you that would be happy to share your burdens if you would just ask. One of the ways that has happened here is with teacher gifts. I used to stay up late making Christmas gifts for the kids' teachers before break, and I don't anymore. My daughter has taken that task over. She makes chocolate truffles and packages them all up beautifully. She has fun doing it, and it is one less thing for me to worry about.
7. Connect with your sweetheart. Honestly, sometimes the thing I need most is a huge hug from my husband... and sometimes I need to get away for the entire evening. Either way, he has a way of helping me remember all that is good in my life when I get tunnel vision (men are so good at that, aren't they?), and we have so much fun together.
8. Remember your blessings. Write them down if you need to. It is easy sometimes to think that since you feel so bad, that everything is awful. Gratitude can help with perspective.
9. Find ways to SERVE. Think through the people you know. Who could use dinner, or some flowers, or a night of free babysitting, or a phone call, or help running errands? Be wise with your energy, but nothing uplifts quite like being a blessing to someone else.
*A special note: as I stated yesterday, if you are suffering from serious depression, please seek the help of a professional. The purpose of this post has been to share some things that have helped me in the hopes that it may help others. However, I realize that some instances of depression go far beyond the helps I have described here, and by no means am I attempting to set forth my words as a comprehensive list, or minimize the seriousness of what some face. I know well that sometimes things like this simply are not enough. My heart and prayers and love go out to ALL who suffer in this way - I have seen such suffering in some of the dearest people in my life. Know that you have a friend in me, and that there is ALWAYS hope and help.