3 Steps for my 30's
Today is my 30th birthday! And if I'm being frank, I've been struggling lately. I wouldn't call it depression as clinical depression comes with a whole host of requirements, many of which I don't have. However, I've been going through a lot of changes and, for better or for worse, the adjustment is challenging. So I have spent my spare time scouring the internet, listening to podcasts, reading books, talking to friends, looking for ways to improve my mental state, and looking to feel better.
I watched a raw video last night of Sjana Elise Earp (Instagram sensation), being very upfront and honest about her past struggles with depression, and one of her points resonated with me more than anything else. Sometimes, depression can be the hardest when you look around you and realize you actually have nothing to be sad about. It's not a simple thing, and can be a vicious cycle. So what I have been trying to do is find tools to break the cycle. Even if they don't magically make me feel great, they keep me from downward spiraling. Depression and sadness have a way of making you feel incapable. It has physiological effects as well as mental effects, and sometimes just getting through those is what constitutes a successful day. But there are tools that can help. They can help you lead better, more productive days. They can help improve your mood. They can help break the downward spiral that depression can bring. The best ones that I have found for me are below. I hope that you find them helpful, too!
Three steps consisting of three simple bullet points.
First, start your day by writing down your three MIT's (Most Important Things/Tasks). I'm sure you've seen this somewhere on the internet before, but the thing is, it works. A full-on to do list can seem so overwhelming sometimes, especially if you're struggling with a cloud of sadness over your head. It's still important to keep (I have a running to-do list in my Todoist App, which I love), but if you are someone who gets in the habit of beating yourself up, the tasks you aren't able to get to at the end of the day can make you feel like a real failure. But when you simplify it all, and sit down for five minutes in the morning to physically write down and recognize your three most important tasks for the day, they are so much more likely to get done! And YOU will have something to be proud of. Your day, no matter your level of sadness, will still have been something powerful!
Second, gratitudegratitudegratitude. Oprah talks about this all the time (I listen to her Super Soul Conversations Podcast - love it!). Practicing gratitude. This means actively looking for the things you have to be grateful for in life. So at some point in the day, take two minutes and bullet point three things that you have to be grateful for. My husband's hugs are a big one for me. But sometimes I enjoy really looking for the ones you don't tend to think of! I remember learning years ago how important our toes are for balance - how missing even one of them can throw you off majorly! So I actually find myself thanking God for my ten toes a lot. It sounds silly, but often when I take a moment to write down these little things, I feel a real sense of peace wash over me. No, it doesn't get rid of my struggles or frustrations, but it does make me appreciate how much more difficult those struggles would be without all the wonderful blessings I do have to help me along the way (like hugs and toes! haha). This practice of active gratitude also has the profound effect of bringing even more positive things into your point of view. Whatever you are looking for, at the end of the day, is what you are likely to find. If you choose to seek out positivity, you will wind up seeing a lot more of it.
If you (or a friend) need some inspiration in this area, I highly recommend the book 14,000 Things to be Happy About. It's so simple and so amazing and kind of hilarious.
Last (but in my opinion, most important), take a few minutes before you go to sleep to write down three things you did well that day. This doesn't have to be a long journal entry. Even if your eyes are closing on you, it is possible to take just a minute to recognize what you did well that day. The psychological effect of this practice has been so profound for me, and if you are someone who is hard on yourself, I guarantee it will help you too.
Whether or not today is your birthday, here's to making it a celebration of life!