December Dysfunction

As many of you know, I struggle at times with chronic recurring cycles of depression. It is mostly well-controlled with medication, self-care and amazing, supportive friends. Winter, with its gloom, curtailed physical activity and the holiday season seems to be a bit of a challenge some years – and it is this year. Stupid neurochemistry!

I thought it would be a good time to post a reminder – and an accountability statement for myself – of what constitutes good self care for me, when stress & depression roll in.

  • Exercise. Daily if possible. Getting outside in the natural light earlier in the day is a bonus! I enjoy walking outside and swimming laps, but my gap between desire and effectiveness leaves something to be, well, desired.

  • Stay in touch with people. Make myself accountable to friends, get out of the house to work in the office, and make a point to see friends and family in person.
  • Eat healthy and get enough sleep. This is again, obvious, but a diet of toast, tea and macaroni and cheese isn’t all that good for the frame of mind or waistline. And sleep? I need to at least climb in bed and make myself available for sleep at a reasonable hour.
  • Do nice things for myself. I need to remember to do pleasurable, satisfying things for myself a couple of times a week to combat the persistent anhedonia — get a pedicure, pick up flowers, read a fun book, listen to good music, have a decent meal.
  • Participate in creative activities. For me, creativity is an antidote to depression. It helps me express what I’m feeling and the tangible results are very satisfying. Writing, quilting, beading, metalsmithing, photography and web design all make me happy.
  • Manage my attitude. This is easier said than done, but maintaining an awareness of my attitude and self-talk and focusing on what’s positive helps so much. This is why I started my December daily gratitude posts.
  • Meditate, daily. With or without a yoga practice beforehand. ;) It’s such an effective stress and anxiety management technique — it’s just difficult to make a priority with my overscheduled, hurried, productivity-oriented mindset.

What do you do to manage stress, depression & anxiety in your life?
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Previous posts on the subject – note the predominantly midwinter timeframe – are:

Winter Gloom – January 2010
Depression Take II – June 2009
Living with Depression – January 2008
Frame of Mind – December 2007

2 Responses to “December Dysfunction”

  1. Vince Says:

    I find music and reading helps. And actually connecting with people. It can be in meat space or online, but while I like to cocoon and doing so has benefits, over-cocooning is not mentally healthy.

  2. Jeri Says:

    Yes, with overcocooning one stops bathing regularly and dressing decently – and begins to prefer the cats to people.

    Oh, wait…