Tag Archives: Habits & routine

What to Do When S.A.D. or Depressed

What's love got to do with it? Read on...

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Routine and habits

As I shared in a previous post,  routine and habits are essential to hang on to in times of SAD or depression.  Yes,  it might take longer to do the chores,  and yes,  it will definitely be harder to fulfil them.  BUT,  when they are part of your system,  you can decide not to pay attention to how you feel about them,  but just do them.  That is the beauty of habit.  Mindlessly doing what you always do.

Why is order so important?

Keeping order in your mind starts with keeping order around you.  It is so easy to let go of housekeeping duties,  especially laundry and dishes (made easier with a dishwasher, I know,  but it’s luxury I don’t have),  and within a few days your house is a mess.  Cleaning up the mess seems impossible and soon you feel like drowning.  The mess overwhelms you,  causing more anxiety than you can handle,  which in turn increases the feelings of helplessness,  hopelessness,  guilt etc.

Been there. Done that. Forever.

HOWEVER

I discovered that habits in and of itself do not really cut it.  You need a good reason for doing them.  Otherwise you drop them at the tip of your hat.  Or at least when the going gets tough.  That used to happen to me all.the.time.

What made the difference for me,  though,  is the motivation WHY I do what I do.  The secret?

SELF-LOVE – doing what is in the best interest of ME

Finally I know how it feels to do things because they are in my best interest.  The fact that when I pass my kitchen,  I stand still to simply enjoy the look of my window sill.  It looks so nice,  after it has been a mess for so so so long.  Because I have an extra kitchen cabinet,  now it makes sense to keep the clean look.  Every time I am in the kitchen,  I do the dishes,  so I will not be overwhelmed again with the amount of dishes overflowing from the sink.  It makes me feel proud of myself that I am keeping it up and I thoroughly enjoy the clean look of my kitchen (and no, this does not mean my floor or my stove are clean – I am still working on that 🙂 )

The fact that I feel happy in my bedroom because there is order – everything has it’s place.  I never realised that simply dumping all my clean laundry on a heap was in actual fact disturbing to my soul.  I am even able to keep up with the laundry,  the hanging up and even putting away.  Right now,  my wash bin is empty!  This is unbelievable as I never seemed to get ahead of it.

So.

Here are some things you can do,  because they are in your best interest.

Getting up – even if it turns out later than usual.

Getting dressed – even though I love my jammies,  I noticed that being dressed changed my attitude about the day.

Have breakfast – sounds so logic, eh?  But I tend to ‘forget’ it.  Then hunger strikes and I eat snacks and junk food.

Have a cuppa – tea,  coffee,  whatever.  Keep the fluids going!

Take a walk in the morning
Yikes… Confession time:  I don’t like to go out for the sake of going out,  especially in the mornings.  But if I have to go out for whatever reason,  when I come home,  I notice the difference.  It feels so good!  Yet,  the experience is not strong enough to get me going by myself.  So especially when I am in a funk/depressed/SAD I try to make appointments in the morning to get myself out of bed and out the door!

The scientific reason to do this is to get yourself in day light in order to re-set your sleep-wake cycle.  Getting day light kicks the melatonin in your body in its place.  Melatonin is the body’s sleep drug.  Resetting it helps your body to feel sleepy when it ought to in the evening.

Speak to a human being
Make contact with someone.  Doesn’t need to be long,  nor about something serious.  Main focus is being in touch as opposed to isolating yourself.  This is especially important for singles (like me).  When you have a spouse and/or kids,  they will keep you on your toes.  Which is good.  And raises other challenges,  I know…  Still.

Do something creative
I maintain the view that each one of us is creative.  Either with writing,  knitting,  gardening,  drawing,  designing,  photography,  card-making, whatever it is you do that get your creative juices flowing.  Do it!  It will definitely make you feel better as you have accomplished something.

Do something you know you enjoy
For me,  going to the library and having a coffee there is a treat.  It’s just one of the simple things I love,  even on my own.  Whatever it is you love to do,  do it!  ANd don;t think that you are accomplishing nothing,  you are working hard on your self-love ;-)!

Do you have any ‘home remedies’ that help you deal with S.A.D. / depression?

Please share with us in the comment section below!

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Feeling Blue, Depressed or S.A.D.? Or Plain Confused?

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The blues
Yes,  everyone at some point or other ‘has the blues’.  (It beats me why it is called blue,  rather than grey.  Besides,  I quite like the Blues,  as in music.)  It is not uncommon to feel ‘blue’ when Winter is upon you.  The days are getting shorter,  you leave the house in the dark and return when darkness has set in.  During the day you hardly see the sun or you are not able to take advantage of daylight.

Time change
On top of that, the time change can seriously affect people who have a sensitive body clock. The inner sleep-wake cycle can become pretty disturbed. Honestly,  I don’t understand why we haven’t cancelled this whole stupid Daylight Savings Time already!  It influences my hormone balance,  sleep-wake cycle and what-not.  Why can’t they leave the time alone?!  It would save me,  and countless others,  a lot of hassle.  Let’s start a protest group…

Ok,  joking aside,  it does upset the system.  It takes time to get used to the coming of Winter,  especially in countries where daylight is cut short the most.  So,  feeling blue for a while is nothing to be worried about.

But when does it turn into being depressed or having S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)?

Signs of depression
This list contains most of what you experience when you feel depressed and not just blue.  The symptoms must last longer than two weeks to become officially a ‘depression’.

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/ or helplessness
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease, even with treatment
  • Source

No,  you don’t need to suffer from all af them!  But if you can tick of a fair amount,  it might be worthwhile to explore it further for your own health benefit.

SAD (got tired of punctuation)
SAD is in actual fact a sub-category of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).  It has to occur at the same time every year and a minimum of two years in a row.  It also affects those having Bipolar Disorder (BD).  According to the DSM,  the psychiatrists bible,  SAD does not stand on its own.

I might disagree.  But then,  I am not a psychiatrist!

The reason why I say this, is that many people suffer from the blues or depression in some form or other during the darker times of the year.  While it might not disturb your life enough to warrant a doctor’s visit (in your thinking) and a psychiatrist might not diagnose you,  it doesn’t mean you have to silently suffer through it.

SADdies, Unite!!!

So,  what can you do about it?
What I have discovered in the past several months is that having a strong routine and solid habits can keep you going when a depression hits.  Of course it depends on the depth of the depression,  sometimes it just kicks out your legs from under you.  But all the same,  refusing to discuss ‘if I should make by bed;  do the dishes; hang up my coat;  put away the laundry’  it with myself by just doing it,  helps to keep an ordered and uncluttered house.  This way the chaos and disorder is contained in my head.  If my surroundings get cluttered and disordered,  my anxiety rises exponentially.  I don’t need no more of thát,  honestly!!

Next post I give you a list of practical things you can work on during the good times,  so you can fall back on it in the bad times.

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Are You Affected or S.A.D.?

Hang on!

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Habits.  Routine.  Having a mode of operation.

Those things come in so handy when you are swinging around on the mood swing!

Since a couple of months I have been able to implement some basic habits.  They are pretty simple really.  Like making my bed everyday.  Having breakfast every morning.  Hanging up my coat,  my purse,  my scarf,  each in its own place when I come in.  Putting my shoes away.  Having my laundry organised.  Going to bed and getting up about the same time every day.

Talking about organisation – I finally ‘organised’ the shelves and desks in my back room,  tidied up my bedroom,  created order in my kitchen.  And you know what?  It makes such a difference to my daily life!

The kitchen happened first,  because a new kitchen cabinet was placed where one obviously had been before.  Now all my stuff disappeared from my window sill and counter top and it suddenly looked so neat and tidy!  I gave my window sill a new look and every time I passed my kitchen I stood still and simply enjoyed the view…

The rest is history,  as they say.  Soon the other parts of my house followed.  I started to feel at home for realzzzzz!  An awesome experience 🙂

After arranging everything I somehow managed to even put some order in my daily habits.  I am determined to keep my kitchen uncluttered.  To stay on top of my laundry and not ‘forget’ to put it away (i.e. dump it in my bedroom and ‘fishing’ in the huge heap for clean stuff).

I honestly don’t know why I was able to get on top of things this time.  I have tried before,  real hard,  to no avail.  But what matters most is,  it is happening!

Behind me is a period of doing really well.  It took me by surprise.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Nearly got used to what I started to think of as my new ‘normal’.  That is when SAD hit me.

SAD,  or Seasonal Affective Disorder,  is a type of depression that comes with Fall.  As the leaves are falling, so am I 😦
I actually thought I was going to miss out on it this year.  I am taking my vitamin D (since I am officially low on D),  was energetic,  my social life was on the up.  It couldn’t have been better.

Then one day I woke up in a funk.  For no reason whatsoever.  Really.  No rhyme or reason.  The next day it was a little worse.  The next day,  still worse.  Then it started to settle.

Sluggishness and tiredness followed.  I am fighting to go to bed at a reasonable time.  I am struggling to get up in time for my activities.  I need more time for e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. which is totally annoying and irritating.  My proper eating habits that have served me well (I lost weight,  a story for another post if I don’t gain it back) are flying out of the window.  I want to eat junk food and snacks.  I don’t feel sociable.  I sit behind the laptop doing mindless games,  wasting time I should spend on my study and some other projects.  This irritates me to no end!

Keep hanging on!!!

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BUT.  I am hanging on to my habits.  I am still making my bed,  doing my dishes,  doing my laundry,  keeping order in my house.  I try to cook every day and eat regularly.  Will have breakfast.  I am going to work,  I do my activities.  I will celebrate St. Nicholas with good friends on Sunday and they will be my guests.  So I am sociable and I am determined to enjoy it as much as possible.

I don’t know when this episode will pass.  The only thing I know for sure is that it WILL pass.  That’s the nature of my illness.  Till then,  I have to hang on with all my might.  Even if I am hanging by nails,  I will hang on!

What do you do to get yourself through such times?
Help me by answering in the comments.

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