Self-care Sunday: 10 free, easy ways to de-stress

Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. As a matter of fact, it shouldn’t be! Self-care should be part of your life and feel as natural as brushing your teeth or taking shower.

First of all, may I take just a moment to start this post off with a positive, healing and loving intention for you to benefit in some way.

Below you will find some easy and inexpensive ways you can start de-stressing today.

Being in nature lowers blood pressure and releases good hormones. Environments are either healing or hindering us. Think about a stressful behind-the-scenes restaurant business or hectic office. Now imagine a calm walk through a park or even just taking your shoes off and sitting on your deck with a glass of iced tea. What a difference scenery can make. Make it a practice to get outside every single day even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Have your morning coffee or lunch break outside. Even being in your car in the parking lot with the windows down is better than being indoors all day. We are animals but tend to forget that. As animals, we are part of nature. Nature is calling us all the time though most of us choose to ignore that silent call.

This is so simple yet easily forgotten when you’re having a hectic day. There’s a yoga quote that goes something like, “the day you don’t have time for yoga is the day you need yoga the most.” Same goes for checking in with yourself. Whenever you’re feeling frazzled, angry, overwhelmed, stressed, depressed or basically like your life is going up in flames then STOP, DROP and ROLL. What I mean by that is: take a break from what you’re doing, be aware of any negative feelings then drop them (let them go) and learn to roll with whatever life is presenting you in that moment. Seriously, this is life changing. If you do none of the other 12 things please give this one a try.

If you’ve never meditated I know it can seem like “another thing I don’t have time to do” or non-beneficial or maybe even too difficult. I thought all of those things too…until I tried it. My advice is to just try meditating for one minute at a time. If you are a worrier, like I am, that may be difficult at first. It may SEEM difficult to stop your mind from spinning, especially when something stressful is happening or at night when all you have is time to think, but believe me, it gets easier and easier and is worth not giving up on. I’ve gone from not being able to meditate for more than one minute to going for hours (that fly by) sitting absolutely still in mediation. Meditation has taken me to a journey within that has been very healing. I have even had those super deep meditations that you’ve probably heard about where you aren’t even aware of your body and some where I have been floating out of my body.

With meditation, what happens is that your practice not only gives your mind downtime during the mediation but the peaceful feeling you get while meditating flows into your life. You just have to experience it to really understand it. It may take time to get from feeling like it’s not helping to feeling like it’s really helping so be patient. I had to learn to not expect anything (or unlearn expecting something is probably more accurate) and just allow my thoughts to come and go without attaching myself to them. It’s called a practice for a reason. You’ll get better and better with time. There’s no rush either. There should be no end goal like the deep meditation I spoke of. That was just an example of what anyone can do. Just think of it as time to “be.”

Do not underestimate the power of human touch, even your own! Give yourself a massage on the temples, back of your neck, upper arms, face, scalp, lower back or anywhere you hold tension. Don’t forget your hands, feet and ears. They have all kinds of pressure points that will relieve physical symptoms. I use simple olive oil in a roller ball that I repurposed when an essential oil ran out. I particularly wanted to keep it because it has a metal ball. Those are MUCH smoother than the plastic ones. Having oil really makes the massage a gazillion times better.

As a matter of fact, I just took a break and did my husband’s and my temples just now. I have one on each bedside table, one in my purse and one in my nursing/work bag. If you choose to use essential oils for extra healing benefits you can try some of the combos below under “resources.” It’s super easy to find essential oil “recipes” online with a quick google search. I use whatever smells good to me. When I’m at work, I make sure whatever I use is safe for babies even though I’m not putting it directly on them. Please know that some essential oils are not safe for animals and babies and do some research if you have either (especially if using in a diffuser).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying no when needed. You are one person. You have limits. You need to know your limits and decline kind offers to pick up more hours or take on any more work than is necessary. You know when you’re being dumped on. If you say yes to everything you’ll end up being the “go-to” person for everything for everybody which is unfair to you. You can also say no to parties, out-of-town guests staying over, doing favors for anyone, etc. You get the idea. A pro tip here is to say no with confidence and grace. Try saying something like, “I wish I had the time but there is no way I’ll be able to take on that task right now” or “Thank you for thinking of me. I would love to but already have plans.” Other ideas are, “If I had the time I would, but my priority right now/today is (fill in the blank)” or “Due to other obligations I’m just unable to work extra at this time. I hope you find someone.” Keep it short and simple. If you’re ever pushed against the wall from someone at work to give a reason, you can always say you have already made personal plans. That is all they need to know.

Is there something you can delegate to others? By delegate I don’t mean boss them around (even though I did use a “like a boss” mug in my image. Lol) I just mean share the tasks more equally. It’s a great idea to let go of control over things and allow people to help you. Are there some household tasks other members of the household can do to make the work load more equal? I have to admit that many years ago I would fuss over the way my husband did the laundry. He didn’t use the same amount of fabric softener. He didn’t fold the way I folded. But I quickly realized it was such a relief to not have to do the laundry all the time. Having clean, folded clothes in my dresser is such a joy. I am so appreciative that it’s something we can both do now.

At work, are there tasks that another member of the team can take on? You do kind of have to take a little control here to be able to delegate. Just do it with compassion and honesty. If you’re plate is too full and need help, it is fine to share the load (or share the love as I like to say!)

Again, so simple yet so profound. When you approach everything with loving kindness you can totally de-stress and de-escalate ANY situation. Allowing situations and people to “just be” is a beautiful practice. Love yourself too. You know how when you think of your past problems in retrospect you can always find a lesson learned? Well, even though it can be difficult to see the lesson as you’re going through it, just know there will be one. Think of every situation presented to you as being for your highest good no matter how difficult it may seem. Because it will be. Nothing is really as random as it seems. You’re learning every day from the problems you’re presented with. Try to think of solutions to problems and handle them with maturity and grace. We need those problems (or challenges) to learn just like we do on a test in school. Life would be easy if we had all the answers but it would also be boring and pointless. Just TRUST that the universe or God or whatever you believe in, has your back. Even if that something you believe in is simply yourself. Have you’re own back! You are a powerful being and enough! Just do everything with loving kindness, especially when stressed, and watch how the situation somehow seems to magically transform into one that’s more tolerable. When you can be calm and loving during challenging situations, you know you are maturing mentally and spiritually.

This can be real or imagined. I have a few happy places. One is in my car. I used to be a case manager for home health hospice. For years I spent a lot of time in my car going from patient to patient. Somehow I learned to use that time to unwind and do some deep thinking. I also pulled over to eat in my car, make phone calls, do my charting and just rest. I don’t want to say it was like my office because it wasn’t just for work. I felt like it was a little room almost. I found safety there and still do. I had all the comforts I needed plus snacks! Perfect for unwinding and meditating actually.

My bed is another happy place. I have a lot of self-care necessities near me like essential oils, a little wooden shoulder massager, a scalp massager, back scratcher, journal and pens, coloring pages and colored pencils, etc. I have good sheets (percale are the best if you like the crisp kind like hotels use) and pillows. There’s a window right next to my bed. If it’s nice out and I have the window open it almost feels like I’m on a porch listening to birds and feeling the breeze. Very relaxing and not just for sleeping. It’s a great place for me to prop up on my many pillows into a comfy reclining position to read or meditate as well.

One of my imaginary places is a place outdoors with grass-covered rolling hills. Sometimes I imagine flowers growing on them too. There’s a woods with a creek and a cabin as well. I imagine every detail. In the imagined summer I lay on the hill and watch the clouds go by as I feel the sun on my face. Sometimes I explore the woods and find all kinds of treasures. Once I imagined finding a chalice filled with a sparkling liquid light that contained everything I needed to be whole, healed and well. When you do mental imagery, try to make it is detailed as possible. In my imagined winter I feel the texture and warmth of a blanket wrapped around me, smell the burning wood in the fireplace, hear the fire crackling as the wind howls outside in the snow, taste the hot chocolate I’m holding in a warm mug and see everything around me in great detail. It makes the experience much more calming.

Your happy place is yours alone and the imaginary ones are always with you. That’s all you have to do is tune out the world for a few moments to get there.

This is a great form of meditation if you don’t meditate the traditional way. It’s very calming. Know that in your happy place there is no stress or bad things happening. This is your time. It is just for you to relax for a few moments (or as long as you want) to just let everything go and completely unwind. You can let those tense muscles just melt and relax. No one needs anything from you during this time. It is a way to mentally and physically recharge and “get away” from a stressful situation.

We all hear that we need to unplug but how many of us really do? If you’re like me your phone has become an extension of your body. Think about the panic you feel when you think you’ve lost it. It’s insane how attached to our phones and all electronics we’ve become. No wonder our minds are can’t relax. Especially at night, it is important to turn off the phone. If you need to use the phone in the evening try using the sleep mode feature on iPhones or some blue light eliminating glasses for Android so your body’s circadian rhythm isn’t thrown off. If we look at the harsh light of screens, our brains think it is daylight and it’s harder to fall asleep. Plus, just being attached to electronics all the time fills our brains with a boatload of information it needs to process quickly. I’m not saying technology is bad. I love it. I love to learn so always having Google at my fingertips is wonderful. However, we all have to learn to have balance. It is affecting us negatively in so many ways we don’t even think about. I try to ignore my phone at different times throughout the day when I can and at least an hour before sleep.

Don’t spend many hours at a time on your phone or commuter without taking breaks. This post is taking me weeks to complete simply because I just keep coming back to it one section at a time. That way, when I do, I can fully put my energy into what I want to put out into the world and not feel like there’s a deadline to fill. My blog is relaxing to me. It’s not my full time job so why make it feel like work? For me, every post is like journaling. All the love is put into it. It is fun yet calming, a way for me to create and actually unwind.

Anything can be like that for you, even your work if you change your perspective. Take your time in everything to do. Rushing is stressful. Change your vocabulary from something being a challenge to it being an adventure. Even really difficult times can become adventures when you seek the learning opportunities in them. “What is this situation trying to teach me?” is a question I often ask myself. I’m not saying to not acknowledge your feelings and be “fake” happy all the time because emotions are important, but it is also important to not get trapped in any one emotion. I’m getting off track here!

Slow, deep breaths cure a lot of stress. Breathing this way is a signal to your body to relax and release tension. It’s a signal to your mind to pause. Just take a few slow deep breaths consciously throughout the day whether you think you need to or not (because you always need to). Even if you don’t feel you can do a “meditation” you can always have time anywhere you are on Earth to inhale loving, healing light and exhale tension and negativity. Try it right now.

Inhale love…..

Exhale tension and worry…..

Inhale universal healing energy…..

Exhale all dis-ease…..

Inhale peace….

Exhale all forms of disharmony…..

Ahhhhh, doesn’t that feel better?

Well, there you have it! I hope these tips have been helpful.

No matter what you’re going through, know that trials are a natural part of this life. Nothing lasts forever. There are lessons in all challenges. Remember that you have the strength and power to get through it. I hope you feel the warm embrace of this post. You are not alone.

May you be happy and well.

Resources and additional photos:

Read more about the health benefits of getting into nature here.

I’ve replaced the oil with olive oil in this roller ball.

Try some of these guided meditations:

Yoga Nidra

Can’t sleep

Deep, peaceful sleep

Letting go of thoughts

Google search for “essential oil recipes” for tons more!

Preventing caregiver burnout

Make no mistake, moms and dads are the most under-appreciated, hardest working caregivers out there!

Spouses are caregivers as well! A caregiver can even be a child.

When you provide assistance to someone who just can’t do it for themselves, whether it is temporary or on a permanent basis, you are giving care to that person.

Care-giving brings on a kind of mental (and sometimes physical) stress that is often overlooked until the symptoms are unbearable.

I think it’s because when we love someone we’re just “supposed” to automatically do whatever is needed without question and no matter what cost it is to our own well-being.

It’s just expected.

That’s why caregiver burnout happens.

We have got to learn to have balance in our lives. I realize that sometimes things truly seem like they are all up to one person to do but oftentimes, upon closer examination, there are other people who can help alleviate some of the burden of care giving.

And yes, it is a burden, which seems to be a taboo word. A burden is a weight, a heavy load, a lot to handle. If care giving on a regular basis isn’t a burden, I don’t know what is. I’m not saying we don’t love the person or would choose another life. I’m just saying the actual daily tasks of care giving is a burden. Step one for preventing burnout is recognizing that fact.

To clarify, I wouldn’t tell anyone they themselves are a burden because people who need help are not a burden. It’s the situation that is a burden. The mental or physical ailment is the burden. It’s a lot for that person to have to deal with as well as the ones who care for them. Just as we would want someone to care for us if we had a disability of some kind, we should care for others. But no one person should have to bear all the weight alone.

When you have healthy kids it’s a lot less of a burden because as they grow they learn to do things for themselves which takes the load off year by year. It’s a lot more natural. It’s fun to watch their progress day by day and year by year. Each stage of their lives are enjoyable in different ways.

Same with spouses too. As long as the loads are equal it’s totally manageable.

But in either case, even caregiving for a spouse or family can be really difficult if there’s only one person doing it and they also have to work. Single parents are some of the hardest working people I know.

As a matter of fact, if you know a single parent, I challenge you to do one thing for them within the next two weeks. It could be bringing them a meal, cleaning up their yard or even just bringing in the garbage cans on garbage day. Believe me, any help you can do will be appreciated because they have too much on their plate. Put it in your calendar to find a way to help them within the next two weeks!

Here are some ways to reduce or prevent caregiver burnout. Some you may have thought of while others may be new ideas.

1. As previously mentioned, recognize that caregiving is a heavy load to take on. Yes, it’s to be commended. In truth, you may be just doing what needs to be done no matter the cost to yourself. It is, however, a heavy load and you will need breaks from carrying that load or you will break.

2. Don’t pigeon hole yourself into just being a caregiver. You are a lot of different things. Caregiving is just part of who you are right now. You have needs too. You should have dreams and goals for yourself apart from caregiving. That’s normal and necessary to your happiness and well-being. You were not put on earth to only be someone’s caregiver. If you believe that to be true, it’s because you identify yourself as a caregiver and have taken that on yourself. You deserve a life apart from caregiving. As a matter of fact you deserve to be cared for too. No one can be happy every day ONLY caring for someone else. It will get overwhelming and feel like prison. I believe identifying solely as a caregiver is one of the worst mistakes one can make no matter how noble it may seem.

3. Realize and accept you need help. This can be a huge thing for some people to do. If you don’t already have a support system or “team,” start looking around for helpers. Surely there is more than one person who can help. Look to professional caregivers like nurses, CNA’s, psychologists and social workers, family members, friends, acquaintances and even strangers (not the weirdo kind. Lol I’m talking about volunteers here)! If you have a medically challenged person for whom you’re caring, you can start by asking the doctor for resources. They will hook you up with a social worker and you’ll go from there. You may be surprised to know that there are community volunteers who are looking for ways to help people in your exact situation!

4. Learn to delegate efficiently. As the main caregiver or manager of the team you may have responsibilities that no one else can handle. If you’re a parent, you’ll need to be the one to make medical decisions, probably be the one going to doctors appointments and most likely will be the night caregiver as well. You’ll need to make sure there’s enough food and supplies for your loved one and their basic, emotional and physical needs are met. That’s a lot.

So you’ll need to learn to delegate tasks and divide them up. I suggest monthly or bimonthly meetings as well as keeping the team in the loop via emails as to progress being made as well as set backs or areas that need improvement. You’d be surprised how, when presented like this, people will step up to do what they can. Oftentimes, people want to help but don’t know how. You must be willing to identify where you need help, ask for help and accept it no matter what that may seem to do to your ego. It’s just an ego. Get over it. Remember the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In other cultures (and even some other animal groups such as elephants!) it is not uncommon for sisters, aunts and grandmothers to play active roles in raising the children of the family. In modern society, that would include brothers, uncles and grandfathers as a well.

5. Trust your team. Once you are able to identify where you need help and have people to delegate or ask for assistance (your team), you need to be willing to allow them to do the task in their own way. Don’t micromanage. It will be the death of you if you expect everyone to do something the exact same way you would do it. As long as they aren’t doing something that could potentially harm your loved one, let them help you and your loved one in their own way. This includes paid caregivers. If you don’t, you will burn them out and push them away. Micromanaging anyone tells them you do not trust them to do the job correctly and that you aren’t appreciative for what they do. Just. Don’t. Do. It. There are many different ways to get a job done just as there are many different ways of loving and caring for someone. You, as a parent or relative, will do things differently and that’s ok. That’s YOUR role. If you want to fluff pillows and dote over someone by having their hair a certain way (if the person themselves don’t even care) or whatever little details they may be, that’s fine, but don’t nit pick others. If someone is willing to help you, let them!

6. Do all the practical things you need to do to take care of your own body and mental health including: getting enough sleep, laughing daily, having good hygiene and taking care of your appearance (I’m not talking about being fully made up here. I’m talking about making sure you have time to bathe and groom properly so you can feel your best), having down time to do something you really enjoy other than work or caregiving (even if you love caregiving and have made it your career or feel it’s your life’s calling) having time for other relationships, your spiritual health, exercise and physical health, etc.

7. Communicate effectively. Get organized. Prioritize your days. Get a white board so you can keep track of things like supplies or meds running low. Use a Google-share calendar with members of the team. Use email regularly to keep the team up to date. Never assume everyone knows a change in the care plan or schedule unless you have either seen a group email or sent one yourself. Even then, make sure the key members are aware of important changes.

The key is preventing miscommunications rather than “putting out fires” as I like to say. People who are always putting out fires are the ones whose lives are unorganized and chaotic.

Take the time to develop a clear system of where things belong. Identify different roles and responsibilities (never putting too much on one person even if it’s a paid caregiver). Update the white board and LOOK AT IT if team members are using it to give you messages. Don’t ignore other team members concerns. Be respectful, appreciative and conscientious of the fact that someone else has the best interest of your loved one in mind and cares enough to do so by listening to their input thoughtfully, even if you may not agree.

7. Lastly, but most importantly, find time to do something to relieve stress on a regular basis. Watching TV or playing games on your phone is not stress relieving.

For yourself: Try to focus on one task at a time. Planning your day and getting into a routine helps a lot. That in itself is stress relieving. Other ways to relieve stress are doing something creative such as blogging, journaling, making art, coloring, crafting (the ideas for being creative are endless), moving your body as in exercise, yoga or dance, meditation or prayer, spending time with a friend or counselor who can listen to your concerns without judgment (being able to vent), not engaging in drama (and avoiding dramatic people).

PRIORITIZE your life. I can’t stress that enough. As a nurse, I’ve learned that there are more than enough tasks in a day to keep myself busy and then some. I don’t put too much on my plate. If I am asked to do something time consuming I’ve learned to reply, “I’d love to if time allows but have some important tasks to do today.” I use a system I created early on which is to make a daily list of the most important tasks and stick to it. I actually do refer to it regularly throughout the day and even jokingly call it “my brain” because I can’t live without this major daily tracking system at this point. It’s easy to make and stick to. This doesn’t have to be fancy and can be done on a scrap piece of paper or, if you’re super into the electronic way, on a note-taking app. I do the most important things first and let the rest go for another day if time runs out. Some days, just keeping everyone safe and sound is enough. It’s more than enough and a big feat in itself sometimes! Life has a tendency to throw us curve balls. Be prepared for them.

Learning to go with the flow also is a huge stress reliever. You can’t beat yourself up for not being perfect.

Practicing gratitude on a regular basis is also a great way to reduce stress. It turns “can’ts” into cans and makes whatever you have more than enough. Gratitude helps you to focus on what’s important and let go of the rest. It helps you to find the blessings from struggles and is one of the keys to happiness, not just for caregivers, but everyone.

There’s  a lot more to it than this as each case has its own personal quirks. There are always things like family dynamics, cultural and religious beliefs and so much more to consider. However, I hope these things have been helpful as I’ve taken the time to think about ways to be successful in preventing caregiver burnout based on my experience as a home health nurse and what I’ve encountered to be the most effective ways to prevent it.

It always saddens me to see parents and loved ones unnecessarily stressing to the point of becoming physically and mentally ill when there really are practical solutions to prevent it. Part of my mission is to help families in situations like that. They really need it the most.

If you think this could be helpful to anyone you know, please share it. I don’t need credit. Copy and paste pieces to any social media or do whatever you want to do to get this message out: There is help for you. You don’t need to burn yourself out. It’s ok to ask for and receive help. It takes a village.

May you be happy and well.

Resources:

Definition of burnout according to WebMD:

Caregiver burnout  is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able — either physically or financially. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones.

Major symptoms of burnout:

Source: WebMD

I made a free blank to-do list here. You can copy, save and print as is or use it as an idea to make your own.

Ways stress (including caregiver burnout) can affect your body:

Ideas others have come up with to reduce stress:

Ways to stay creative:

Little ways to cope with stress:

How to boost your mood and get out of a funk.

I’m not happy all the time. But, I do try to find something to be happy about every day. Even through depression and anxiety l have managed to do so almost every day of my life. Yes, I truly have depression and understand it better than I ever would have wanted to, and yes, I’ve found something to be happy about on my deepest darkest days when it felt like the world was caving in on me.

How?

Well, I’m not an expert by any means but have figured out my own ways, the hard way. That’s why I’m putting these in steps for someone who may benefit from my trials and errors over the years. They are working for me, anyway. My disclaimer here is that if you are suffering from severe depression or have suicidal thoughts: this is not for you. You should, instead, seek the help of a doctor ASAP or call a suicide help line.

In the United States you can call: The National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255. They also serve Veterans.

This is for people who have manageable depressive episodes or occasionally find themselves in a rut or “funk” as I call it. It’s worse than just feeling “blah” and can last days or weeks but isn’t as bad as suicidal thoughts or inability to function.

1. Anytime you have a negative thought, find ONE thing to be grateful for. Just one thing can spark hope and begin to change your mood to a more positive one. You might have to do this 100 times in a day. Keep at it.

2. Listen to your body. If you need to move then move but if you need to rest then rest. Oversleeping to the point of not wanting to get out of bed for days on end isn’t healthy. But if your mind is racing or dwelling it might be good to just get some sleep. I have found that if I’m in a funk and force myself into the bathtub, I just take the same mood with me there and back out. Sleeping is restorative and natural. You may wake up with a new perspective. Many times, for me, answers come to me in my dreams. On the other hand, exercise releases endorphins and can be an excellent natural antidepressant. Listen to your body. Our bodies have a way of telling us what we need.

3. Eat healthy. I always feel worse when I eat carbs and snacks out of depression. Somehow it makes my mood even more depressed. You may crave it but I suggest avoiding it. Have something simple and at least semi-healthy.

4. Understand that nothing lasts forever. Whatever you’re going through may be really tough but it will get better once you reach the other side of it. I try to think of mental situations as hills I’m climbing. It gets hard, then harder and hardest yet, but then you get to the point that you’re past the hard part and the next situation is much better. When you’re feeling your worst you just have to keep going to get THROUGH it. Whatever it is, it will not last forever. If you’re lucky you’ll get to enjoy the view from the top (better situation), enjoy the hike down and maybe even stay in a valley for a while before the next unfavorable situation comes along. This is just life. But when you’re going through the hard part, I understand it feels like it may never end. It will end though.

5. Have a self-care “kit.” It’s not really a physical kit (but could be if you want to make a box especially for this). I use these things regularly but moreso when I’m sad or in a funk.

Here’s what’s in mine:

  • a Pinterest board full of inspirations, motivational quotes, happy images and saying that are pertinent to me and my personal journey. This is one board I’ve marked private that I keep for times when I’m down. Please note: this is not the board where you pin all the things you want but don’t have. That’s not fun when you’re feeling down. Don’t even look at those.
  • Massage tool (or your hands) and oils for self-massage. I’d love to go get a full body massage whenever I want but that is too expensive for me. Next best thing is to massage my own neck and shoulders (Use coconut or olive oil. It makes all the difference). I actually even keep one of those cheapy plastic massage tools you can find at WalMart or Walgreens in my bathtub as well so I can work the knots out of my neck and the top part of my back when I’m soapy. Also be sure to stretch many times throughout the day.
  • Journal. There is a trick to journaling though! Do not journal the negative stuff! You may feel that you’re getting it off your chest so to speak but honestly, you’re still just dwelling. Come up with SOLUTIONS to the problems or make a gratitude list. I have collected a gazillion journal “prompts” and have them in their own journal to refer to. You want to take your mind OFF of the situations that have you down and turn your mood around.
  • A friend. I try not to “dump” on the same friend all the time. Let’s be real. That’s what it feels like. If you have ongoing depression it may seem like that’s all you’re doing is complaining over and over again. If you have a trusted friend, partner, family member, whom you know is supportive, that’s the one to go to. Always ask them first if they are in a good place mentally for you to vent and be respectful and UNoffended if they are not. You don’t want to drag anyone else down with you.
  • My dogs. No explanation necessary. Soooo therapeutic!
  • Nature. Having sunlight, for me, is critical for my mental health. I once worked in a cubicle. That lasted 3 months. It was torture! I even have a special light bulb that imitates the sun that I sit under on cloudy days. If we can (hubby and I), we like to go on hikes in the Colorado Rockies. It does take a little planning and is usually an all day thing. Sometimes I feel so badly I just can’t. This may be better categorized as a prevention. The sunshine though; it’s a must!
  • A note-taking app. I have made many notes that are uplifting and encouraging that I keep in a list app. I use “Evernote,” but any note-making app should do. I have a few favorite photos in there, some quotes, a little journaling. It’s nice to have when you can’t have an actual paper journal. I still prefer the pen and paper kind though.
  • Meditation. I do it every chance I can even if it’s only for a few minutes. When I first started meditating I could only sit still for one minute. I can now sit for hours at a time. Sometimes my hubby thinks I’m asleep but I’m fully awake. Since I’ve been meditating I’ve realized how much hubby moves. He never sits still unless I do a guided mediation for him. If you don’t already meditate, I highly suggest you start. It won’t seem beneficial at first. It may even feel like a struggle, but once you get into it you WILL notice a difference. It’s like this special, secret place you can go to anytime you’re stressed where you can tune out the noise of the world and your own mind. Plus, you can do it anywhere! You can do a walking meditation, sitting, lying or even standing in line at the grocery store (though it won’t be as deep of one but it’s still something). I have had some AMAZING insights (and visions!) when I’ve gone into deep meditation. The most important thing about meditation is not controlling your mind. It is to be the observer of your thoughts and emotions while allowing them come and go.
  • Not for everyone, I know, but alternative/holistic healing. They are now doing scientific studies on the benefits of energy healing. We’ve known for years that the placebo effect works for some people. (Not that energy work is a placebo! Just mentioning that the energy of our mind is very strong). We’ve also known that just thinking positively absolutely has a power to heal. I actually invoke that positive energy and use visualization to surround myself with it as an imaginary white light. I use grounding techniques as well as energy protection etc. Essential oils, acupressure on my feet and hands and light therapy all help me when I’m down.
  • I hope that you can use some of my tips. Let me know what you think! Is this type of post helpful to anyone? Do you have other tips you can add in the comments? If so, I would truly love to hear them!

    May you be happy and well,