I’m full of melancholy, my soul is filled with sadness, but also with wonder, faith and hunger. I’m defined by my dreams, guided by my soul, but I’m being haunted by the world at times. Sometimes depression takes the best of me, while bringing out the worst in me. Whenever this happens, I find it hard to find solid ground, to stay calm and grateful, positive and patient. Most of the time, I feel it as soon as I wake up; the dark clouds cause a lack of energy, motivation and meaning. I feel lost and I crave to be found, by anyone, other than myself. I’m stuck in my mind, busy replaying, overthinking, trying my best to drag myself out of it. But it’s hard. Sometimes there’s nothing I can do but staring at the blank, white walls in my room. I feel empty, hallow, as if living soaked the life out of me. But I’m slowly finding ways to pick myself up again, to keep myself from drowing too deep. This list of things and activities help me to reset. Maybe these things will help you as well.
1. Meditating to binaural beats
I don’t exactly know how this kind of music works; all I know is that it does. Whenever I feel bad anxiety coming up or I feel shades of depression creeping in, I put on some binaural beats and I feel better in a couple of moments. I try to scan my body. Feel the energy in every body part. Focus and then let go. Turn tension into relaxation. Focus on my breathing, let my chest raise and fall down again. I’m observing my thoughts, without judging. Just let them pass.
2. Reading about self-development/spirituality/art
I’m a really big fan of self-development, art and spirituality. Works, theories and books, researches and speculations. I love to explore, to learn more about myself and my interaction with the world around me. I love theories about life, that help me find my way through my own spirit and the universe. Learning about personality types also had a huge impact on my life and opened my eyes. Finding out that I am an INFP (Myers–Briggs Type) helped me to find peace, understanding and clarity. I’m a stereotype when it comes to this, and I’m loving it. Knowing that everything I do, feel and think is shared by other people of the same personality type is nice to know. Reading on life helps me to find meaning, in a world sometimes seemingly meaningless.
At times, especially when my mood is blue, I have trouble finding the motivation and energy to get things done. I struggle with ordering, organising and articulating. Although in moments like this, I force myself to write. Write as many words as I can, write it out of my mind. The words calm me, they’re soothing in a way. I’m expressing my conscious and subconscious fears and desires and it makes me feel better instantly. Because as soon as it all stacks up, when the wall in my mind is build again, there’s too much to process, there’s too much to comprehend. It needs to get out, I need to let it all out. The emotions, the feelings, the memories and the dreams. As soon as it is on paper, my mind is clear again.
4. Walking & Exploring
I constantly need new stimuli, from the inside and out. I get stuck easily while I’m in a routine and learning nothing new. It drives me mad to be stuck with the same old activities and observations. I feel best when I’m wandering, letting my feet take lead. Following the way the wind blows, letting the unexpected fill my soul. I love exploring new places, seeing new faces, buildings, streets and artworks. It opens my mind, to something bigger than me. There’s so much to discover, so much my mind could burst. It’s calming and addictive to discover more and more about this beautiful world.
This is quite a tricky one, because it can work both ways. When I’m sad, I’m prone to listening to sad music, that’ll only make me feel worse, but understood as well, in a way. I can’t handle happy music when I’m sad, it makes me shiver, angry and agressive. I can’t quite explain why. Making music, on the other hand, helps me some times, but not in every case, not always. My music can become a burden, it can feel too heavy on my shoulders and my heart. Sometimes it’s better to avoid it, then to try to make it work. Inspiration can’t be forced, so whenever I try to do this, I’ll only feel worse. Although music is one of the few things keeping me alive, guiding me through life. I have a complicated relationship with my original work. Because most of my songs are born from pain, so everytime I sing them, I relive every emotion, I get hurt all over again. It all becomes so vivid again.
6. Cleaning and organising
It might sounds a bit strange, but I find comfort in cleaning my space and organising everything around me. I make sure everything fits, matches and aligns. As soon as I do this, it becomes more organized inside my mind. I declutter, throw things away, find joy in the minimalistic and surround myself with all of my favourite objects. I burn candles and sweep the floor, organise my closet by colour and do the laundry in a mindful manner. The cleaning of the outside, is a detox of my inside. It helps me to create order, space and serenity.
I’m not a great cook, but I love the process of making dinner or lunch. I try to do it as mindfully as possible. I focus on every single detail, I’m concentrating on my hands and the materials that are used in the process. My mind is clear, blank, as I’m watching the way everything unfolds. How the laws of physics act and perform in front of my eyes. It leaves me in awe. I know that being healthy and taking care of my body and health is something I need to do to stay mentally healthy as well. And I do notice the difference of my mental state based on the way I care for my physcial health.
I’m a little bit ashamed of saying this, because there’s quite some history to this. When I was younger I used to buy a lot of things I didn’t need, because the process of buying stuff would make me feel better. Something new made me feel new. Now I’m living in a way more minimalistic manner, but I still can get overly excited when I purchase something new. A dress, a make-up product, musical equipment and even just dull groceries. I get incredibly happy as soon as I posess something that wasn’t mine before. I hate the way that I still rely on this, but as long as it’s not ruling my life and I’m responsible enough with my money, I don’t see any harm in it.
9. Watching a movie
Mostly I don’t have the concentration to watch a full movie, but when I do, I try to watch one. Everytime I’m watching a film, I’m asking myself why I don’t watch them more often. Because they distract me in a perfect way. They take me of my mind, invite me into an alternate world, whether fiction or not, and make me feel understood, even if I don’t relate to any of the characters. Movies are a great excape from the cluttered, anxious, chaotic mind. I love them.
10. Social interaction
When I’m depressed or anxious I always find it incredibly hard to not isolate myself. I have the urge to become really distant towards everyone around me. I hide away in my room, focus too much on my art and lose touch with reality slowly. The next thing I do is complaining about me feeling so lonely, while it’s my own fault for feeling this way. But experience told me that other people DO make me feel better when I’m not at my best. Maybe not at first, but after a little while I spend in their company, I feel myself getting more energetic, optimistic and I’m ready to live again. Talking, calling, laughing, discussing and being in another envirnoment is useful. But for me, it’s the hardest thing to do, getting social, when all I want is to avoid social contact. But I’ve learned that I need the social contact to stay sane, so lately I’ve been pushing myself to be out and about.
For me being happy takes effort, lots of it. Because I’m a naturally pessimistic and idealistic person. But with the day I’m learning how to be happy with a little less effort and a little more trust.