There are boundless posts offering tips and tricks on self-care, and for those of us who experience regular depression and/or anxiety, it’s a godsend. To be able to read and take note of all the things that could possibly quell nerves and unpleasant symptoms of our mental illnesses is incredibly uplifting, even if it’s only a hand of support.
However many of the self-care ideas involve taking action and it’s not always practical in the moments we encounter our feelings of anxiety or depression. We’re not always at home in the comfort of our beds; we don’t always have the time or access to a hot bath or other care tactics that require more time than we have available.
So what are some things we can do to passively contribute to lifting our moods? Read on…
1. Introduce more sunlight into your life
Open up the curtains, the windows, the sliding glass doors of your home or apartment. Even if it’s an overcast day, natural light and fresh air are known to boost your mood and release serotonin to lift your spirits. In fact, sunlight and the lack thereof during the winter months contribute to a certain illness appropriately acronymed as SAD, which stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sunlight is so important to our human psyche, that being too long without it can actually worsen depression symptoms.
If you’ve been in your bedroom for too long and aren’t motivated to go out or socialize with friends, a little pick me up could be as simple as cracking your blinds open and even going a step further and opening your window.
If your home, apartment, or bedroom happens to be naturally dark, like a basement or a place with few windows, try adding mirrors or other reflective objects to bounce light around. Not only will it brighten up your surroundings but also open up the room and make it seem more airy and spacious.
For those who suffer severe forms of depression, leaving the house and walking outside is difficult. But if you own your own property, adding a sunroom might be a good idea. You don’t have to leave home and can still get some sun whilst having tea in the afternoon or whilst painting on the bright patio. You might even decide to plant an indoor garden of flowers or organic fresh-grown herbs.
2. Train yourself to have a positive perspective
In an interview about her role as an educator, Penelope Adams Moon, a professor of historiography at Arizona State University stated:
“Students have the impression that history is about the facts. But really, historians are themselves embedded. Who they are and when they’re writing shapes the questions they ask and informs their interpretation of evidence. It matters if a historian was looking at the same matter is writing in the 1920s versus the 1960s.”
You’re probably thinking: What does this statement have to do with self care? Simple: It’s all about perspective.
The way you see your current situation may be different from how you might have seen it a year prior, or even a year into the future. While an event, a scenario, or your life in general at this moment in time might seem like fact, the truth is, at some other point in time you might regard it with an entirely different opinion.
The point I’m trying to make is this: withdraw from a situation, and offer yourself different perspectives. While this method is not necessarily “passive” as you’re working to train your mind, it will become more instinctive the more you put it into practice.
Learn to view your circumstances from an outside perspective and allow this experience to teach you better techniques for dealing with outside or internal factors that may be contributing to your anxiety, depression, or other mental illness.
Obviously, this is not a cure-all technique, and won’t solve all of your problems, but it can help you feel more in control over your circumstances.
Remember that hypothetical scene of painting on the patio of your sunroom? There was a reason I mentioned it: producing, viewing, and experiencing art is beneficial to mental health, according to the Huffington Post.
Filling your home and other surrounding environments with portraits, photographs, and other sentimental works of art, will bring joy when you see them which passively offers self-care. Even if you’re not creating the art yourself, simply having positive and colorful visuals around are enough to subconsciously boost your overall mood.
Personal happy visuals might be different for many people, however, and that’s exactly what makes them personal. For example, one of my best friends would be over the moon to have a bedroom painted black and sporting gothic-looking candelabras. For myself, however, I would be happy simply with a patchwork quilt and a cat curled up in my arms.
So decorate your surroundings with mementos that personally matter to you. When the going gets tough, these pieces may help you weather the emotional storm.
Vibes are a real thing. Whether you call it vibes or gut feelings or instincts, it’s absolutely a real thing even if you don’t consciously realize or address them. When it comes to self-care especially, good vibes are crucial. It’s why wellness gurus recommend adding flower petals to your bath water or burning incense in your bedroom.
Good energy, or good vibes, go hand-in-hand with visuals, because visuals promote feelings of joy and positive emotions.
Another great way to feel good vibes, is by surrounding yourself with positive people, and positive reminders of good things in your life. Pets also bring wonderful energy into the home and offer unconditional love.
Objects with extraordinarily positive energy (for the most part) include living plants like flowers, bamboo, and cacti.
5. Focus on your health and diet
Similar to learning a positive outlook, improving your overall health and diet may not seem “passive” at first, but since we are presented with many choices each day of which can help or hinder our feelings of depression or anxiety, it’s not as difficult as it first seems.
Not only should you be eating regularly (which I know can be a common struggle with anyone who’s familiar with depression), but you should also be eating organic fruits and vegetables. Make sure to have your house stocked with wholesome organic produce so when it comes time to eat, you have access to foods that have high nutritional value and improve your overall mental health.
BeyondCeliac.com gives a comprehensive breakdown of the foods that can help people suffering depression and anxiety. Some examples include:
- Selenium (found in Brazil nuts, tuna, chicken, egg, spinach), when consumed over a week, is associated with treating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
- Carbs are said to help fight fatigue and depression, while also fostering relaxation and calmness.
- Omega-3 Fats are suggested to improve symptoms of fatigue, and also help with battling difficulties in concentrating.
Mental illness can seem a dragon to conquer and while none of these suggestions are meant to replace medication, counselling, or anything else like that, they may offer some consolation when other techniques fall short.
Disclosure: The tips contained in this post are for informational purposes. It is written from the author’s personal experience and does not constitute medical advice. Individual circumstances vary. We encourage you to seek medical advice and treatment from your GP or physician.