5 Tips to Help Lift Depression, Anxiety and Sluggishness
A Personal Perspective: Behavioral activation was a game changer for me.
These tips have helped me improve my mental health; maybe they'll resonate with you.
1. Recognizing the Warning Signs
I've been feeling pretty darn good on the whole. But today and yesterday, I woke up feeling sluggish with a little pull or tug of ‘uugggghhh’. I’ve learned this may be a sign my mood and mental state are shifting. It also means I need some self-care. Paying attention to the first signs of fatigue, apathy, and overall ‘uuggghhh-ness’ (as I like to call it) is the first step towards regaining my well-being.
2. The Power of Exercise
Exercise has consistently proven to be an invaluable tool in managing my mental health. Yet, as is the nature of ‘uggghhh-ness’, it's hard to get past its inertia to start exercising.
However, what I find, and today was no exception, the simple act of getting out my running togs and putting them on sparked a little excitement and motivation. Just a glimmer. Then once I was out the door and in nature, it felt good to be moving and I felt a little better about myself. My low mood didn’t vanish, but it was shaken up a bit.
3. The Behavioral Activation Technique
What I’ve done today is an example of one of the strategies I employ when I’m feeling low: behavioral activation. This approach involves engaging in activities that can bring about a positive change in my mood. By actively participating in a task that’s important to me, I can counter the overwhelming inertia that depression often imposes. It doesn’t guarantee that I will feel better, but it helps to prevent me from spiraling down any further. Today, the two important items I ticked off were exercising and accomplishing a personal goal (which was going for a run). These accomplishments serve as powerful reminders that “I can do hard things” (as Glennon Doyle has popularized the phrase). I direct my life, not depression.
4. Small Accomplishments and Self-Efficacy
Engaging in physical activity offers more than just the immediate benefits to our bodies. There's an undeniable sense of accomplishment and self-efficacy that accompanies completing a task, no matter how small. You know that little dopamine hit you can get by ticking off one of your to-do’s?
Making my bed, taking a shower, just putting on my sneakers and tying them up, or the most courageous one of all sometimes, reaching out and calling a friend, all of which take enormous energy when you’re severely depressed, can contribute to a sense of progress. That progress moves me along my journey out of depression and anxiety and into wellness.
5. The Impact of Simple Achievements
Regardless of whether I’ve exercised for two minutes or 20, focusing on achieving even one small, simple task can make a remarkable difference. It's easy to overlook the significance of seemingly mundane achievements. Yet, for myself and others living with mental health challenges, these small victories hold a lot of value. When I’ve accomplished something, it boosts my self-esteem and self-confidence and reinforces the belief that I’m capable of overcoming obstacles. Remember, it's not about the size of the accomplishment; it's about the positive impact it has on well-being.
Nurturing self-efficacy can play an essential step in improving mental health, decreasing depressive symptoms, and reducing anxiety. Remember: Pay attention to warning signs, embrace the power of exercise, and celebrate even the smallest victories. We’re in this together and together we can find hope, resilience, and strength in our journey toward better mental well-being.