Spoiler alert! I am not always as happy as my Instagram account would have you to believe.
As a matter of fact for the past month and a half, I have battled with thoughts and feelings of depression. What this recent dance with depression has taught me is that you have to be willing to not be sad anymore. It is so addictive to live in a “woe is me” mindset.
To be honest, there were some days when it almost felt good to feel depressed. Weird! I know. Maybe it was because I could choose to be lazy. Not care about getting anything done. Then blame it on feeling sad and depressed!
Unfortunately for my depression, that is not how I want to live my life. I prefer to have a positive mindset. But like most people, I am human. I have feelings. And when those feelings get hurt, I feel sad and depressed.
While I am not 100% depression-free. I am actually still dealing with a few situations at the moment. I have found that doing the following 5 things helped me to turn an hour of sadness into a few second or minutes.
5 Ways to Choose Joy
1. Reconnect With God
If you are a Christian or someone who believes in Jesus then read on. If you are not, you may skip to this page to the next way you can choose joy over anger and depression.
I am by no definition a pure saint. In fact, I have made so many mistakes that I am the sinner who fell down but got back up. Like Donnie McClurkin said, “We fall down, but we get up. For a Saint is just a Sinner who fell down and got up.”
One of the greatest things I learned through reconnecting with God is that he is never “gone”. Although, we may choose to stay in a funk by thinking negative thoughts. God is always there, nudging a positive thought into our minds. He warms our hearts when we would much rather have an icebox where our hearts used to be. (Omarion from B2K lyrical reference there, for those that didn’t get it)
For me, it was as simple as finding a plan within the YouVersion Bible App on my iPad about depression. Praying that my entire being (mind, body, and spirit) would choose joy and happiness. Instead of anger and sadness.
I also decided to go back to church. To Buckhead church. This is a church whose mission is to build the Atlanta community’s relationship with Christ.
The action steps at this point would be:
- Start to read the Bible more. (An Electronic or physical copy is fine. Do this at least once per day)
- Go to church. (Whether for the first time ever or in a long time)
2. Start a gratitude journal
You have a lot to be grateful for. Waiting until October (Canada) or November (America + Everywhere else) to say your thanks. Well, that is too late!
Every day up until today you have woken up. Reason #1 you should be thankful today!
If you have a home or apartment that you live in. That is reason #2 to be thankful!
Each day there is something we take for granted. A thing we don’t think about losing because it has always been there. Have you ever stopped to think about what would happen if you DID lose it?
If that person stopped speaking to you? If your car stopped working like it did yesterday? If you got an eviction notice on your door? If there was no food in your fridge? No electricity for you to watch Netflix then Chill?
Be honest with yourself. You and I have far more things to be grateful for than to be moping around sad and depressed.
The action steps at this point are:
- Find/Buy a notebook
- Enter at least 1 thing, ability or person you are grateful to have in your life. (Think about how it would make you feel if that thing, ability, or person was no longer in your life.)
3. Begin to meditate
There are SO many reports out there on the benefits of mindfulness practices.
When I was in college, I took a Yoga class for the first time. It was an eye-opening experience! The third eye opened in fact (Yogi reference, LOL). One of the things I learned while in that Yoga class was to honor myself.
We have feelings. Sometimes we hide those emotions because of others. We do not want them to think less of us.
But those same people have emotions and feelings too. They have battled with depression just like you and I have/are. We’re ALL human!
Meditation allows you to still yourself. The voice and thoughts that run around daily have a chance to slow down. During meditation, for me at least, there is peace.
The action step at this point is:
- Begin meditating for at least 5 minutes per day. (Try alternative times throughout the day to find a time that works best for you.)
4. Focus on something you love
This might seem like a distracting move. And to be honest, it is!
I find that when I am feeling depressed the only way for me to get over it is to focus on a hobby.
My #1 hobby is writing. Whether it is a blog post or a journal entry. When I write, I unload my emotions. I can get as personal or be as private as I would like.
Ever since I was a young girl, I have written. It started out as poems. Then turned into songs. Now, I am here blogging! (Look at me now, you lot).
Writing comes easily to me because I do not limit myself. I share with myself and others what I am open to communicate at that moment.
The greatest benefit I have found in writing to beat my depression is the freedom to write whatever I want.
The action step at this point would be:
- Do a hobby you enjoy at least once per day
5. Open your lines of communication
This for me was the hardest to do. I am not the most open person when it comes to communicating with others. Hello, fellow introverts!
I have a select handful of people I would considering opening up to. The longer I contemplate telling them something. Chances are I have talked myself out of it. I have even gone as far as make myself believe that it wasn’t that big of a deal anyways!
Which almost always leads to moments of prolonged depression. Enter thoughts of my friends don’t care. They wouldn’t want to hear me whine about something so trivial. And the state of depression lingers even longer.
But I have come to understand that no one can minimize my feelings unless I want them to. While I cannot control how others will feel when I open up to them. I have learned that how I react to their response dictates whether my feelings were minimized or not.
FYI. No one has the power to make me (or you) feel less than. PERIOD.
The action steps at this point would be:
- Find 1 person you trust to open up to about your feelings.
To be honest with you, I am a work in progress. I have not 100% gotten rid of all my thoughts of depression. But these 5 ways to choose joy are what I am doing currently to help along the way!
I hope that this blog post helps you if you find yourself battling depression. Whether it is for a few minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years!
I am a firm believer of self-care. I try to balance personal space by myself with social interactions with others to battle depression. I am an introvert with extroverted tendencies. An oxymoron if you will.
If you have ever felt that your moments of depression are unique to you. That you are the only one out there who is going through this particular feeling of depression. I am here to let you know that you are not alone. It is hard to believe that someone else is going through what you are going through. Trust me I know.
Feel free to reach out to me via misstkms[at]gmail[dot]com. If you need some advice or encouragement. I would be happy to help you in anyway that I can.
If you enjoyed this post. If you feel it helped you find some ways to choose joy over depression, please leave a comment below!