I was having a chat with someone today who told me that she had been feeling a bit depressed lately. Nothing clinical mind you; if you find yourself unable to get out of bed or with suicidal tendencies due to depression, contact a physician. I'm talking about those down days that we all get sometimes, seemingly for no reason.
But there is a reason. Many times, a feeling of being down or mildly depressed can be a message from the body that it is time to rest. The body contains wisdom and it will send us messages that it is time to be doing something different with our lives; mild depression is one of those messages.
If you are feeling mildly depressed, or a bit down, or just unmotivated to do much, consider what your body is trying to tell you:
- Have you been burning the candle at both ends? There is a reason most religions advocate a day of rest. Even the ancients recognized that we all need a period of rest in our lives. If you work seven days a week (self employed people are very good at this!), take a break. Force yourself if you have to. You'll find you are much more productive when you return.
- Get enough sleep. We are a chronically sleep deprived population. In spite of the fact that we need about 8 hours of sleep per day, most people allow themselves 6 or even less. This lowers your immune system and your productivity, as well as reaction times when driving or operating machinery.
- Investigate: have you experienced a loss lately? Even small losses can trigger a need to rest, which is what mild depression feels like. Or perhaps you've recently had a medical procedure? The more invasive, the more your body will need to rest, hence the feelings of mild depression. Anniversaries can also sometimes trigger a feeling of mild depression.
The key, no matter what the cause for feeling down, is to honor it. Take a nap, go spend a half day or an evening at a spa, get a massage or a pedicure, go to a museum and aimlessly wander, go for a walk. And talk about how you are feeling. A simple conversation with a caring person can work wonders!
If you honor the message of a mild depression, you will learn something about yourself and feel better in the process!
Don't just encounter balance when you swing past it! If you incorporate one or more of the following tips into your life, you will experience increased productivity, better health, improved sleep, more creativity and an enthusiasm for your personal life that will spill over into your work life.
- If you are self employed, be sure to take at least one day off per week. If you are an employee, be sure that one of your days off has no commitments. This is probably the single most important thing you can do to ensure balance in your life, and it is probably the most difficult. There is a reason that spiritual literature advocates a day of rest. It doesn't have to be Sunday, just take a day.
- Lighten up! Don't take things personally, including yourself. Too much preoccupation with self tends to make a very heavy burden.
- Help others. Volunteer, make cookies for the folks in the local fire house, help a neighbor. Find some way to be helpful, and don't place any expectations on it. Volunteer your time, talent or treasure in ways that benefit both you and others.
- Go to bed about the same time every night and get at least 8 hours of sleep on a regular basis. We are the most sleep deprived nation in the world, and it shows in stress related illnesses and lack of productivity. This ties in with #1. Enough sleep and enough rest ensures balance for you in your life.
- Meditate. Remember that meditation is not about emptying your mind, but about focusing it. Focus on something: your breath, counting, chanting, a candle, a waterfall, a stream, the sounds around you. Do it for ten minutes, every day.
- Go on an Artist's Date. Julia Cameron recommends this in her book "The Artist's Way." I highly recommend it. Your date isn't necessarily artistic, but simply something fun that you would like to do. I've gone on drives on windy roads, taken myself to visit quaint little towns, gone shopping, gone to a movie, gone to some event like a Farmer's Market or Craft Fair and just wandered.
- STOP! Just take a break for a few minutes. If you are in a public place and feeling overwhelmed, go to the bathroom, shut the door, lock it and sit for few minutes. Or take a walk, or get up and stretch. You would be surprised at how just a few minutes can make all the difference in the world.
You are worth feeling good. You are worth having fun. Incorporate these few tips into your life and watch the fun factor soar!