The pressure and monotony that we feel from life can sometimes feel overwhelming and demotivating, it’s as if we’re always looking for that silver lining that marks the day when things just goes perfectly. Sadly, I don’t think that that day will come. But instead we have to build our resilience and persist through this journey we call life.
Based on the World Health Organization, the first quarter of Covid pandemic led to a massive 25% increase in the global prevalence of anxiety and depression, and that’s just the start. With the wars going on, rising unemployment rates, increasing prices for the daily expenses, things might feel like it’s going downhill from here.
The signs of depression includes looking at the world with a hopeless lens, losing interest in social interactions, leisure activities and other things that gave us pleasure before, increased fatigue, sleep problems, irritability and changes in appetite and weight. If you are experiencing most of these symptoms then there are mental health helplines and support for you.
As an Occupational Therapist, we see clients that have mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. The general symptoms for depression written above ring true even if the manifestation might vary from one person to another.
Here are some strategies that might help you get back on your feet especially if you are feeling down for quite some time.
1. Build a routine from the bottom up
One of the things that get affected if we have mental health issues is our daily routine. We might stay off work and social events, gatherings, sometimes we may even skip the basic self-care activities that we do such as bathing, dressing or eating healthy meals. There may be days when getting out of bed drains you of your remaining willpower.
What we can do about it is to build a routine that involves the basic activities- make it easy and simple. You have to create a routine that propels you to success. The activities that we do has a significant effect on our mood but make sure to not overdo it to the point you have tons of activities in your routine. You have to create a routine with a few simple tasks. Some days you might just have to take a bath and change clothes and then call it a successful day already, don’t put any pressure on yourself in this trying time. Go on your own pace.
2. Create a balance of activities
One of the things that I like to do is to plan my calendar in half-hour blocks, color code it depending on the category of the task such as work, home/ personal life, personal growth, workout, leisure, and spirituality. In this way, I’m able to track how I’m spending my time and if there are imbalances in the activities that I’m doing.
There are days when I’d feel too exhausted or my mood’s down the drain, then I’d look up on the calendar that says that most of the activities I did are related to work and other sedentary activities; then what I’d do is for the next week I will try to create a balance of tasks that involves me working out, reading meaningful reads from reputable resources, spending time with my family and friends, and optimizing my work so I can do my job efficiently and effectively.
3. Tailor your routine to your life
When you start to create a routine, make sure that it’s perfect for your current level of performance. You have to consider which part of the day are you most energetic/ exhausted, and figure out which of the activities are difficult to integrate into your routine and then make it simpler. Remember, the activities that we do has a complex interconnection between our mental health and wellbeing.
4. Participate in light and pleasant activities
For each and everyone, there are activities that we find meaningful and fun. The goal is for you to find what makes you tick and happy and do it, even for a bit. Some of the helpful and light activities that you can do is to engage in nature walks, do physical tasks such as pilates, yoga, lifting weights, listening to music or playing an instrument yourself, doing arts and crafts or even baking pastries for your loved ones. The fulfillment we feel when we give something of value to others such as our time and love is immeasurable.
5. Plan activities in advance
This is a solid strategy to promote action especially on days we feel indecisive or unmotivated. Create a list of all the tasks or activities meaningful for you, or tasks that you’ve been planning to do for a while then include it in your calendar even if for only a few minutes. People usually think they need lots of motivation to get things done, but in reality what happens is you only get that ton of motivation after you have already started with the task.
In the end, life is always full of surprises and it may catch us off guard. We may be knocked down from time to time but in the end, it’s your decision to stand back up. No one else can change you, you have to help yourself- I can say this because it’s what I’ve been saying to myself all along too. We may not be able to find that silver lining across the horizon, but sometimes we just have to look deep within to find that the light we’ve been searching for is already in us.
Until you read from me again.