Just like a car needs a tank of fuel to keep it running efficiently, people need good things in their life to keep their spirit running optimally. They need their “love tank” filled! When I was recently feeling a little blue, my daughter said, “Mom, are you keeping your love tank filled?” It was a reminder to do some decorating, entertaining, and writing— the things that bring me contentment and joy. I asked people on the Internet to email as to how they keep their love tank filled. The following tips are expressed in their own unique ways:
HOW I FILL MY LOVE TANK
Take a nourishing bath with candles, rose petals, and bath salts. Prepare a healthy yummy treat and enjoy with a fun drink.
Take a walk in my favorite place.
Go for a walk to look at nature.
Buy myself a small treat or gift.
Take some time and read Psalm 23, line by line, and listen to the words. It’s a Psalm of God’s grace and mercy. When I’m going through something tough, I live in the book of Psalms.
Get some exercise. Go for a walk. Get on the treadmill. Do some yoga.
Take a deep breath and remind yourself that everything is going to be okay and that this too shall pass.
Engage in an affirmation and allow it to float gently in your mind and heart. Don’t think about either accepting or rejecting it.
I don’t let things bottle up inside of me. I speak the truth. I express my feelings and thoughts. When I am aggravated by an incident that takes me by surprise, I might say something out loud such as, “I am really angry because that other driver cut me off.”
I am learning how to develop good communication skills so that I can deliver a skillful message explaining how someone’s behavior is affecting me and how I feel about it. I use constructive comments. I use “I” messages.
I surrender to the Universe, to the flow of life. Breathe, relax and let be.
I ask myself, “What would I really love to do for myself today?” See what comes to mind. Is it possible to incorporate your wish somewhere in your day? Make time for whatever it is. I take an evening walk.
I call a friend whom I haven’t spoken to for awhile.
I have a piece of cake.
I buy myself a little gift such as a CD of songs that I like.
I try to think of something that I really feel passionate about. I think about something I enjoy. It is important to cultivate these things in our daily lives—as a form of demonstrating love to our real self.
I use positive affirmations to focus on hopefulness, optimism and peace, rather than doubt, fear and anxiety. Affirmations are usually one-sentence statements such as the following: I am whole, complete, and perfect, just the way I am right now. I move forward with eager anticipation. I easily see the good in every situation.
I deserve happiness, and I claim it right now. Affirmations allow you to “switch channels” whenever your thoughts drift toward negative thinking.
I focus on empowering thoughts.
Humor therapy is a good way to “jump start” your sense of joy and happiness. Find reasons to laugh regularly.
Go to a funny movie, borrow one or rent one.
Read the comics daily.
When I am depressed, I try the following: write or talk about what I am going through, whether it is on my blog, in a notebook, to a friend, to my counselor, to my pet parakeets, to God, or to myself. It just helps me emotionally to get it all out.
Sometimes when I feel like hurting myself or going down a negative road which causes me to spiral out of control, I will give myself pep talks in my mind to prevent that from happening. I tell myself that I have the strength, and can get through this.
Have a virtual cup of tea with someone. Sip. Sip.
Looking at the sunset at Tahoe is awesome. Another sight that blew my mind was back in my days as a makeup artist. I was in Lancaster working on a film and the sunset was so fiery, it seemed to encompass the whole sky and, although I was dead tired from a long shoot, I had to stand there in the desert until the last wisps of color dissipated completely. There is something about looking up at the sky and realizing how small we are in this giant universe and, God knows what else out there. I’m going to dash out there now because I need a dose of humility.
I’ve talked to a hospice chaplain about this and he told me this was my tool to change my thoughts. I have seen the same advice in inspirational tapes and books such as “Ask and It Shall Be Given.” It helped to bring me to that stage above depression. At my lowest points, I would get angry and that anger was directed at God.I screamed, “Why aren’t you helping me?” It would make me get up out of bed and do something to bring me a notch above the depression. “I’ll show you, God!” Twice when this happened, I didn’t know if my daughter and I would have a place to live. I walked into a company and was hired on the spot!
I try to get myself outdoors, by doing some hiking, taking a walk, or spending time watching animals. It makes me realize that there is an expansive world out there, and helps me gain perspective on what I am going through. Also, getting in touch with nature calms me down.
When I’m depressed or anxious, I write down both small and large blessings in a gratitude journal. This never fails to lift my spirits. Reading scripture and meditating on the promises of God is helpful. I especially like spending time in the books of Philippians (New Testament) and Isaiah (Old Testament).
I think of my favorite quote that helped me get through a tough time. “Tough times don’t last; tough people do.”
Although there are many songs, here is one that is in constant rotation on my Ipod right now: “Work That” by Mary J. Blige (from her “Growing Pains” CD). This song lets you know that you will always have people who find a way to criticize, but regardless of it all, you have to realize that you are equipped with everything you need to make it through. Also, “Ain’t No Stopping Sunshine” by an artist named Yoli. It was featured on the movie soundtrack “Deliver Us from Eva.” This is just a feel good song that I play when I want to get pumped up. It emphasizes that regardless of external circumstances, you are in control, and should never let anyone, or anything get you down.
I do what I can. Faith really doesn’t play much of a role as I look to the future more than anything else. So I suppose a healthy dose of optimism is what we need to fight it. I’ve seen sunsets that have literally taken my breath away. I remember a vacation in Lake Tahoe where the sunset was so spectacular, it brought tears to my eyes, and all I could say was, “God, you did an awesome job!”
One of my favorite songs is “Calling All Angels” by Train. It seems that song is guided to my car stereo when I am having a rough time. It’s as if God is sending me a message through the song, “I won’t give up if you don’t give up.” I won’t give up. God is not done with me yet.
When I think I am completely alone in this world, I look into the big, round eyes of my cat. It’s hard to feel depressed when I am stroking her tummy from top to bottom as she purrs contentedly. She’s my biggest fan!
I listen to my “So Sad It’s Good” play list because it’s good to acknowledge your feelings instead of pretending like they aren’t there. I find it’s helpful for me to allow myself to be sad sometimes, to be able to feel my feelings, without guilt. I know that the sooner I acknowledge it, the sooner I can say, “This too shall pass.” Bad situations never last forever. I don’t wallow in the sadness too long. Later, I listen to my “Feel Good Mix” and jump on my bed and force a smile. The smile eventually becomes real!
I hug my mom for a couple of minutes and really soak it in. Hugs are healing because touch and connecting with people are healing.
I lay in my hammock and allow myself to think through why I’m feeling this way or I get lost in nature. The expanse of it all, the beauty and majesty of it all, help me to put things in perspective. My issues, although they seem great to me, in the great scheme of things, many of them don’t matter.
I think, “Everything works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it isn’t the end.”
I sit down and journal everything that is good in my life. I write down what I’m grateful for. This does the most to help me get out of my slump.
I ask myself, “Am I trying to please people? Am I trying to make everybody happy? What will make me happy in this situation?” And I do that thing regardless of everyone else’s opinion.
I take a brisk walk. It’s a no-fail way to clear my head and get back to being more positive. If it’s before noon and I’m getting serotonin and vitamin D from the sun, that is even better.
I pray. I can’t prove my God is real but my experience of comfort when I pray is, so I remind myself that I can’t control everything and that’s okay. If it’s not in my control, I surrender and stop worrying about it. If it’s in my control, I take action. I listen to this song: “You Never Let Go” by Matt Redman.
I cuddle with my dog. It comforts me to be around an animal who is forever loyal and loving.
I take a nap. Sometimes stress builds up because I lack sleep and my body has too many stress hormones and not enough good hormones.
I drink water and lay down, face up on my bed, close my eyes, and breathe deeply. The water is energizing and clears my head. The deep breathing helps me to slow down and refocus on the positive.
I take a dance class like hip-hop or salsa. When you’re feeling sexy, it’s hard to feel depressed!
I find the one person I feel like I can be completely transparent with, and I vent as openly and honestly as I can.
I hop in the shower, get dressed up in an outfit that I feel and look good in, and put on my makeup. I call up a friend and go out dancing or walk downtown.
I get a massage and focus on the way it feels instead of what I’m dealing with. I remind myself that things always run their course, with or without me.
I shift gears, stop focusing on the past (which is what depresses a lot of people) and the future (which is what makes people anxious) and live in the moment. I think this is the single most important thing to do: change your perspective. I ask myself, “What can I do right now that makes me happy?”
I get rid of expectations for good or bad and try to focus on the present experience as it unfolds. Most peoples’ disappointments come because of failed expectations. If you don’t expect something, you won’t get disappointed. I remind myself to take situations and people as they are.
If I’m depressed about something that I had control over but messed up on, I stop my negative thought process and ask myself, “Would I say those things to a friend?” I try to be kinder to myself and treat myself the way I would treat a good friend. I remind myself that I need love, forgiveness, grace, and kindness from myself as much as my friends do.
I get out of the house and smile at cute strangers.
I take a long, brisk walk outdoors, preferably where I can get away from vast expanses of concrete and buildings. Something about breathing the fresh air, getting my blood pumping, and seeing the natural world that is so much bigger than my personal problems helps to put everything into perspective. That’s my favorite short-term cure for depression.
I take a five minute “art break” to enjoy my favorite piece of art. It refreshes my eyes and my mental attitude.
Ask yourself, what are the things you’ve always wanted someone to say to you, but no one ever has. Then, say those things to yourself again and again. I ask the child inside of me what it needs to hear me say to it. Get comfortable saying “I Love You” to yourself and say it many times each day.
I stop and appreciate myself for every thought and act of kindness.
Make a recording (on your phone or on your computer, perhaps) or call your own voice mail/answering machine. Tell yourself the things you’ve always wanted your parent to say to you. Include everything you need to hear to feel loved and appreciated. Listen to the recording every day. Add to it when you think of anything else you want to hear.
I journal regularly, especially noting the self-hating ways I speak to myself. Then I make a decision to treat myself differently. Remind yourself that you were taught to treat yourself this way, and remind yourself of your commitment to treating yourself with unconditional love and acceptance, starting right now.
I walk my dog.
I buy myself a paint by number kit at the Dollar Store and spend the morning creating a little arts and crafts project. I am not an artist, by any means. Painting by numbers gives me a respite from my worry. Focusing on the details puts my mind in another place and my anxiety lessens.
I shoot photography to capture what my feelings or my depression looks like.
I think of at least one loving thing to do for myself each day.
I like to make cookies or a large tray of lasagna. I take it to one of the local firehouses. Their appreciative smiles and hugs lift my spirits right away.
I find I need to purposely make time in my busy life to sit with a cup of decaf Earl Grey in my library. I need to be quiet and listen to what my heart is trying to tell me. Though I may cry, I often feel much better, because I’ve been able to take the time to be with me, to think about me, to ask me what I need, to listen to me.
I read, voraciously, usually something lighthearted or funny. Pulp fiction is great for this, especially when you can suspend reality and put yourself in a character’s shoes who has such ridiculous or serious problems that yours become so much less.
I take a walk around the neighborhood, to see what’s new. If I’m mad or upset, I walk quickly, until I feel better, whether it’s five minutes or fifty. If I’m just melancholy, I’ll walk slower, trying to focus on what might have changed or the feeling of walking.
I spend time with friends, either quietly or not. This year has been difficult. My best friend and I have been watching the complete seasons of Gilmore Girls to help lighten things up. The series made me feel loved, especially during those times that I didn’t want to talk.
I go to the airport and watch families reunite at the end of the concourse. It always makes me happy that I do have my family. My children are young. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be one of those mothers catching college age children, running into outstretched arms, at the end of the concourse.
I watch a children’s movie, something like Finding Nemo, Ice Age or anything Charlie Brown. Perspective does such great things for people, and especially for me, because I find that my depression usually comes from how I view events and my choices related to those events.
I make a list of everything that’s bothering me. I often get depressed when I feel overwhelmed by having too many things to do. Getting them on paper literally takes the clutter out of my mind and puts it on paper, where I can see it and organize it. Then I can relax and, when I feel up to it, begin to tackle one thing at a time.
I am a certified and experienced grant proposal writer. I sit and reflect on what kind of cause, charity or group needs assistance the most. I then work on the goal of making that impact happen.
I crochet an afghan, scarf, hat, tablecloth, or bedspread. This is very soothing for my soul. When I feel anxious or depressed, knitting is not so relaxing, because it is too noisy and nerve-racking if you drop a stitch.
I love mountains and whenever I feel depressed or anxious, I make a mental image of a beautiful mountain scene and imagine that I am there. It is so soothing. Also, I try to paint a landscape scene with watercolors.
I smile, even when I don’t feel like it! A simple behavior such as a smile can go a long way towards convincing oneself that everything is fine. Studies have found that our conscious minds can only think of one thing at a time. If we focus on a positive behavior such as smiling, and if we associate this smile with a positive thought, such as “I am okay,” we will dispel the negative thoughts from our minds and, consequently, the negative biofeedback from our bodies.
I use the practice of conscious breath (a breath practice of deep aware breathing) to help me feel my connection to everything and everyone around me. It alleviates both the psychological experiences of feeling depressed or anxious as well as the physical causes. It is so effective I merely need three breaths in this manner to come back to my expression of happiness.
I have more spirit now that I am in recovery.
I take a Chicken Soup for the Soul book from my personal bookshelf and go to a nursing home. I ask if there is anyone who would like to have someone read them a story. It takes me out of my self pity. I always leave feeling much better than when I entered the nursing home.
I play a game of Scrabble with myself or a friend.
When bad things happen, I tell myself that I have the strength, and courage to get through this.
I pray for resolve to stand by my decisions, even when others think I am doing the wrong thing.
“I eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s “Cherry Garcia” every night as I watch Dr. Phil! Or, I take a hot bath while simultaneously eating a bowl of “Chunky Monkey.” Or, I start each morning with a strong cup of tea and Tastykakes ‘white with the chocolate stripe’. Sense a theme here?