7 Small, Everyday Ways to Kick Depression’s Ass

Drink More Water (Just Kidding)

When it comes to depression, pretty much anyone with a heartbeat has something you need to try! (Did you know that hydration is key? Oh, you did, and you’re still depressed? Well, maybe you’re not drinking enough water.)

Let’s get real: A blog post won’t cure your depression. But these tips might make living with depression a little easier. With all that extra energy, you’ll be smiling and nodding like a champ the next time you’re forced to sit through another fucking lecture on hydration.

 

7 Small, Everyday Ways to Kick Depression’s Ass

 

1. Challenge Yourself

Try to do one thing every day that challenges you, even if it’s just washing the dishes. Accomplishing something you didn’t think you could do will help you build the confidence to take on other, bigger challenges. Check out this list for ideas to help you stretch your comfort zone (heads up: it’s totally okay to start out small and work up to scarier stuff. Start as small as you need to, as long as you’re starting.) If you need a little inspiration, you can read Michelle Poler’s blog 100 Days Without Fear – even if you’re not planning on jumping off a cliff anytime soon.

 

 

2. Shower

Baths get a lot of space in the self-care conversation, but showers will get you upright, engaged, and refreshed. Try a shower bomb to really up the “self-care” feel while you get cleaned up. (Pro tip: citrus and lemongrass are good options to wake you up when you’re dragging!)

 

 

3. Get Social

Plan some kind of positive social interaction every day. Spending time with people you like and care about – even if it’s just a quick text to say hi – will help you feel better overall. If you missed it, check out my list of the four types of friends you need in your social support squad (and feel free to send your besties a quick thank you text!)

 

 

4. Have Fun

Schedule at least 30 minutes for fun every day. This can mean time to play video games, work on a passion project, or spend time with your pup. Whatever it is, do something you actually like every day, as often as possible.

 

 

5. Make Your Bed

A clean, uncluttered space will help your mind follow suit. You’ll start the day off feeling productive and get to come home to a tidy space. Win-win. (If you’re not sold yet, check out what the author of The Happiness Project wrote about the happiness-boosting potential of making your bed.) Don’t feel like you need to dress your bed up too much, either – slap on a fitted sheet, a comforter, and a few pillows, and you’re golden. (For proof that flat sheets are unnecessary garbage, look no further.)

 

 

6. Treat Yourself

This doesn’t have to break the bank. Keep your favorite lotion stocked in your bag. Listen to your favorite album while you get ready for work. Find little ways to make daily routines a little brighter. If you’re stuck, here’s a list of ways you can treat yourself (without stuffing your face or spending all your rent money at Lush).

 

 

7. Make a “Did-It” List

To-do lists can drain your confidence on those days you just don’t get everything done. Make a “did-it” list of everything you accomplished during the day. Tracking your achievements will help retrain your brain to notice your everyday successes, not just your struggles. (Learn more about why tracking what you’ve done can be more useful – and more fun – than a to-do list.)

 

 

Share Your Secret

What do you do to make living with depression a little easier? Share your go-to techniques in the comments.

 

 

If you want more ideas to help you improve your mental health, you can check out my very first post here to learn more about the changes I’ve made in my life this year (so far!) and how they might help you.

♥ Meg

 

P.S. Because Pictures Are Prettier…

Here’s a handy lil infographic. (While you’re here, let me know if you want more visual content like this!)

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Make Up Your Mind(set)

Last week we talked about how your mindset can impact your life. We also discussed how you can tell which kind of mindset you’re working with – fixed or growth. (If you missed it, you can catch up here!)

To recap, a growth mindset is basically like a Fastpass for Space Mountain. Sure, you can ride without one if you really want to wait in line, but why not make it easier on yourself?

Okay, cool, you say, So, where’s the line to get a growth mindset? And can I actually just skip to the front? My friends are up there already. 

Well, bud, the line is here (and, no, you monster, I know your friends are gonna pull the same shit once you get up to the front. Just drain your phone battery playing Heads Up in line like the rest of us.)

Anyway. Here are my top tips to help you start living that sweet growth mindset life:

 

6 Steps to Building a Better Mindset:

1. Embrace the Spectrum

You may relate more to one type of mindset, but the truth is everyone is a mix of both types. So, let go of the idea of having a 100% growth mindset, 100% of the time. Because, yeah, that’s not a real thing. What you can do is move toward using a growth mindset more frequently.

So, here’s your first challenge: Think about mindset change as a process, not a product. Take the pressure off of yourself to “perform” a growth mindset and make room for yourself to experience more of the real thing.

Old mindset: I need to use a growth mindset 24/7, or it doesn’t count.

New mindset: I’m working on using a growth mindset more often. 

 

2. Track Your Thoughts

Many unhelpful thoughts pop up in your brain out of habit. Remember neuroplasticity? By thinking the same types of thoughts over and over again, you strengthen those connections in the brain.

It’s like any other bad habit, except this one affects everything you think, feel, and do. (No pressure?)

Luckily, like any other bad habit, the first step is to realize, oh, gee, I’m doing this one thing a lot, and I don’t think it’s doing me any favors. Start paying attention to your brain’s mean little catchphrases and when they tend to pop up in your head.

By tracking your least favorite thought patterns, you can train your brain to pay more attention to them. Once you gain more awareness of your negative thought patterns, you can start working to challenge and change them.

Old mindset: I suck at meeting new people.

New mindset: Wait, I feel like I tell myself that a lot when I’m having a bad mental health day.

 

3. Effort Isn’t Everything

If you stop at, “Hey, at least I tried,” you’re missing the point. Putting in effort without intent is like earning attendance points – it’s somewhere to start, but not enough to pass the class. So, yes, try. But don’t get stuck trying to pedal a stationary bike cross-country. If what you’re doing doesn’t work, try harder, smarter, or different. 

P.S. If you’re feeling stuck, try the ol’ phone-a-friend method! It can help to get an outsider’s POV when you feel like you’ve tried everything.

Old mindset: I worked on this math problem for half an hour already, I can’t figure it out, and I don’t want to look at a number ever again. I’m gonna go watch Westworld.

New mindset: I haven’t been able to solve this problem yet, so I think I need to try something else. Maybe I can text someone from class for help?

 

4. Name the Voice

Growing up, my dad used to tell me that girls couldn’t play sports (yes, this actually happened, and yes, this was in the 2000’s). I eventually said fuck it and started doing sports anyway. But that fun little voice still pops up in my head sometimes.

If you just thought, Oh my God, me too, except it was ______!, write it down. You can make an inventory with two columns: Unhelpful thoughts + the name of the person who put those thoughts in my pretty little head.

Then, the next time that particular thought decides to drop by to ruin your day, you can say, “Okay, sure, Dad,” and get back to killing your workout.

Old mindset: I’m not good at writing.

New mindset: My English teacher used to say that I wasn’t a writer, but I know I can get better with practice.

 

5. Don’t Underestimate the Power of This Word

“Yet” is a little word that can make a big difference. When you catch yourself thinking, Ugh, I’m not good at this, throw in your new favorite word at the end. I’m not good at this isn’t gonna help you get better. But I’m not good at this, yet leaves room for you to grow.

Old mindset: I don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers.

New mindset: I don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers, yet.

 

6. Aim to Fail (Yes, Really)

Think of this as exposure therapy for your fear of failure. When you’re working on a project or practicing a skill, schedule time to fuck up. And don’t just fuck up a little. Work on becoming the best at fucking up.

Say you’re trying to write a novel. During your designated writing time, give yourself a few minutes or an hour to play with failure. Try to write the worst page of fiction ever written. Use as many cliches as you can think of. Leave spelling and grammar errors scattered across the page. Have (messy) fun!

Playing with failure will help you get to know it better while you’re in a safe environment. Then, when the real thing jumps out at you from behind a bush, you’ll be able to laugh, say, oh, you, and get back to work.

Old mindset: Every time I try to draw something, I mess it up.

New mindset: Okay, what is the weirdest-looking thing I can draw today?

 

Okay, Go Have Messy Fun Now.

Here’s your takeaway for today:

  • You have everything you need right now to change the way you think and feel
  • Be patient with yourself – you’re learning (always)
  • Make the best fucking mess you can

Kay, now go play!

♥️ Meg

P.S. Let me know what kind of mess you made today!
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Does Your Mindset Need a Makeover?

Think about the last time you messed up. I don’t mean a small mistake, like you forgot to return your library books for a week and racked up a few bucks in late fees.

I mean, something huge. Like, you wrote a series finale for a beloved sitcom. But instead of leaving things on a positive note, you wrote something that completely unraveled the entire character arc of the protagonist and rendered the whole series unwatchable. (No, I’m not over How I Met Your Mother yet. Grieving takes time, guys.)

 

Quiz Time!

 

After the episode bombed (or whatever), how did you react? Did you…?

A. Sink into a bottle of wine, spend the night calling yourself mean names, and decide that writing isn’t for you. Maybe you’ll go back to school and become an accountant or something?

B. Take a deep breath and give yourself a break. Accept that the finale didn’t turn out how you (or anyone else) hoped it would and use the experience as a learning opportunity.

 

Why do I ask?

Well, research suggests that the way you approach failure is more important than the fact that you messed up. So, let’s unpack that.

 

What Is a Fixed Mindset?

If you related to option A more in our little scenario, you’re rocking a Fixed Mindset. You might agree with a handful of these statements:

  • I’m just not good at math.
  • I’m not a creative person.
  • I’m pretty smart, so I usually do well on tests.

Are you catching on to a theme here? If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your strengths and weaknesses are – you guessed it- fixed. You’re always been good at baking and bad at soccer, and you always will be. You probably believe that your traits are pretty much locked in at birth, too. You’re creative, stubborn, and sarcastic. End of story.

 

 

More importantly, you are deathly afraid of failure. You would rather bake that one chocolate chip cookie recipe your family loves for the hundredth time than try out that lemon souffle you saw on Pinterest that might fall flat.

You value the safety of sure success over the risk of taking on a new challenge – and maybe not nailing it.

 

Okay, So What’s a Growth Mindset, Then?

If you’re more an option B kind of girl, you are the lucky owner of a Growth Mindset. You might throw out a few of these phrases in your daily life:

  • I’m not too happy with how I did on this test, so I’ll study more for the next one.
  • I can’t run for very long yet, but I’ll get better with more practice.
  • It sucks that that guy from the gym didn’t want to go out, but I’m happy I pulled myself together enough to ask.

Do you see a few key differences here? People who have a growth mindset aren’t delusional. They accept the fact that they’re good at some things and not great at others. But they also know that they can get better.

 

 

Having a growth mindset means that you:

  • Accept your potential to change
  • Embrace the magic of meaningful effort

If you have a growth mindset, you’re not afraid to take a risk because you’ll either achieve something amazing or learn something from your failure.

 

Does Your Mindset Actually Matter?

But wait. A growth mindset might make you popular on Instagram (#inspiration), but can your mindset actually impact your life? Actually, yes.

Research suggests that people with growth mindsets are more likely to take on new challenges than people with fixed mindsets. They also have better attitudes toward failure. Actually, they don’t tend to perceive themselves as having failed. Instead, they see setbacks as learning opportunities.

 

 

To watch a growth mindset in action, please do yourself the favor of watching or reading Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, which includes countless gems (like this one!):

 

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.

 

Can You Change Your Mindset?

Are you firmly planted in the fixed mindset camp and feeling a little salty about this whole glorification of the growth mindset? Don’t worry. If your mindset isn’t doing you any favors, you can learn to develop a growth mindset (and start reaping the benefits, too.)

Thanks to neuroscience, we know that it’s possible to change the actual physical structure of the brain through dedicated practice. (Science is so cool, you guys. This is called neuroplasticity if you want to learn more!)

 

 

I sense a follow-up post…

Want to learn how to start developing a growth mindset? Feel like this whole thing might be a bit more nuanced than it looks at first glance? Let’s chat next week.

Until then, let me know: Are you currently playing for #TeamFixed or #TeamGrowth?

 

♥ Meg

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The 4 People You Need on Your Social Support Squad

If you’re going through hell, keep going.

Building a killer social support team is the most important investment you can make in your mental health. So today I thought it would be nice to draw attention to the types of people who make a positive difference in our lives. Spread some love, you know? So, here’s my platonic love letter for the allies and friends who make going through hell feel a little bit more like heaven.

 

The 4 Types of People You Need On Your Social Support Team:

 

1. The Warrior

Her suit of armor may just be a Lululemon hoodie, but she’s a tough bitch. And she’s not afraid to fight for you when it comes down to it.

Too freaked out to buy a self-help book for your personality-disordered self at Barnes and Noble? She’ll buy it for you while educating the judgy sales clerk.

When it comes to sticking up for you, no dragon is too big to conquer. Of course, the goal is, ultimately, to find your own voice, but it doesn’t hurt to have someone on your side while you’re working on it.

 

2. The Scholar

To say this girl is thorough would be putting it lightly. She has definitely put in her fair share of time researching your mental illness (and checking in with you to hear your thoughts!)

If you two are close, she may even have an organized collection of info on how she can best support you.

It’s not just that she’s a smarty pants (and an amazing resource) – it’s that she cares enough to actively seek out ways to support you while you’re dealing with shit. A+ friend tbh.

 

3. The Angel

This might be your best friend, your boyfriend, or your mom. But whatever clothes they wear, you don’t know what you would do without them.

They seem to have an unending supply of patience and a solid understanding of whether you need a hug, a laugh, or a break from other humans when you’re feeling bad.

Are they perfect? Well, no. But when it comes down to it, they are practically heaven-sent.

 

4. The (Tough) Lover

You may not want to call them for a pep talk, but they are guaranteed to get your ass out of bed if you’ve been a little too mopey lately.

It can be nice to have friends who are more on the Snow White side of things too, but let’s be real – do you really need another person to enable your bullshit?

This person can read you like a magazine. She knows when to back off (I mean, a few minutes of self-pity on a bad day won’t kill you) and when to challenge you. And tbh she’s usually right (although she doesn’t necessarily need to know that).

 

It takes a village…

I will never turn down the opportunity to talk up mental healthcare options like CBT or meaningful self-care. But really, you need a fucking village when you’re dealing with mental health issues.

 

What about you?

If you have amazing people in your life that help you cope, feel free to take an Internet break and shoot them a quick thank you. Then let me know in the comments what your favorite people do to help you deal with the BS.

Until next time!

♥ Meg

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Adulting 101: It’s Okay to Celebrate the Small Things

Small Celebrations

Saturday was a big day for small celebrations at my house. I’m extra AF, so we celebrated my dog Mac’s 2nd birthday. I bought him some peanut butter frozen yogurt and a new chew toy. Last year, for his 1st birthday, he got a purple monkey, and this year, it’s a yellow monkey. Look, Ma, traditions can be fun!

 

Adulting Deserves Cake and Fireworks, TBH

I also celebrated adulting. I prefer when my Saturday mornings are full of coffee, trips to the beach, and lots of writing. This past Saturday? I paid a toll bill, responded to work emails, and made plans for my trip coming up this week.

While booking somewhere for Mac to stay, I learned that – oops – one of his vaccines just expired. As in, it literally just expired that day, because of course it did.

Mental rewind to last year: If this kind of small set-back had happened a year ago, I would not have handled it well. I would be stressed out, crying, and passing the baton on to someone else to deal with. Because I just can’t.

This year? I made a phone call. (Listen, guys, I never use the call function on my phone.)

And less than two hours later, we were at the vet, getting shit done. Mac took his shot like a champ and I did my best to support him, distracting him with a popsicle stick covered in peanut butter.

Basically, I was an adult. I had a regularsized problem and dealt with it right away. And surprise! It worked. Mac’s all set up for his mini-vacation this week, and I’m not back-pedaling to try to deal with problems I created by procrastinating.

It’s a small victory, but you know what? You take them where you can get them.

TLDR: No one cured cancer, but it’s okay to celebrate your dog’s birthday or making a phone call.

♥ Meg

P.S. What small things have you celebrated recently?

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