Saturday, 30 August 2014

Choose Happy: An Introduction

I mentioned a little while ago that I was going to start into a series called Choose Happy. If you were wondering where it was or what it was going to be about, well, here you go! This is my first post of hopefully lots and lots, and we're going to kick off with a bit of an introduction.

I suffer from clinical depression. When I was first diagnosed, I knew I didn't want to start on medication - antidepressants are wonderful things and some people genuinely need them, but I knew I could manage without and I prefer not to put unnecessary chemicals into my body. I have a therapist that I see regularly, but mainly I manage my illness with exercise, healthy eating, good sleep, wonderful friends and family, and a heap of little things I like to do to improve my life and make me feel better. 

Even if you don't suffer from depression, everyone gets sad sometimes, or has off days, or even just sometimes takes a look at their life and realises they've just been on autopilot instead of really enjoying themselves. I want to start talking about little, everyday ways to get some of your happiness back. The biggest contributor to happiness is your own mental attitude and the choices you make, so I want to talk about how to choose happy.

I want to keep it simple for my first post, so I wanted to start with something I call my 'Happy List'. I have a special notebook I use for writing this stuff, and the first few pages are dedicated to a sort of master list of things that make me feel better. They're not quite instant pick-me-ups (although I have a couple lists of those too!), they're more like bigger tasks that I like to keep in the back of my mind every day, and they help me make better choices. I add to my list all the time, but here it is at the moment - and yes, I do write them as if I'm telling another person to do things! The other person being myself. What can I say? I'm weird :P

  • Always exercise in the morning. No excuses, you'll feel more tired if you sleep in!
  • Get outdoors within half an hour of waking up as often as possible.
  • Keep your spaces neat, clean and organised.
  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Focus on vegetables as your most important food group.
  • Sleep enough and early.
  • Working feels better than procrastinating.
  • Get it out of your brain and onto paper. Keep notebooks and keep them organised.
  • Take pride in your appearance. Nice clothes, hair, makeup, nails, jewellery, shoes, bag, skincare, everything. The more you can do, the better you'll feel.
  • Focus on getting less screen time and more world time.
  • Sit at your desk, not on your bed.
  • Keep moving.
  • Light candles, burn incense, use essential oils - make your space smell good.
  • Clean something noticeable. Hoovering is a great option!
  • Dance to a song you love.
  • Look up and try out new music. Remember why it makes you happy.
  • Run if you want to run. Training plans forgive more miles easier than less. Or cross-train after your run, or before, or both. More is okay.
  • Don't be scared to say no, or not yet, or not today.
  • Take a shower at bedtime.
This is a very personal collection of things that work for me, so don't worry if you can't relate to half of them! It can be really useful to make your own 'Happy List', so if you want, I'd encourage you to try it out and see for yourself!

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  1. Depression is really tough. (Actually, "really tough" doesn't even adequately express the difficulty.) I'm glad you've found things that help you stay focused on healthy habits and help you stick with your goal of managing your illness without medication! Running helps me, but yoga has probably been an even bigger help because the studio I attend really pushes mindfulness and letting go of unhelpful thoughts.

    1. I've been meaning to try out yoga, it seems like everyone who mentions exercising to combat depression does (and recommends) yoga. I think my gym runs the occasional yoga class so I'll definitely have to check that out!