We’ll explore ways to use your curiosity as a tool (or, if you prefer, as a weapon) to fight the doldrums. Let’s start with typical advice. To overcome depression, you might give or receive counsel to “express gratitude” frequently in life. However, unless you have made it a deeply ingrained habit, it is easy to forget or to do it in a haphazard way. Below, we’ll delve into some realistic, creative ways to really FEEL gratitude!
I know you don’t like to read more than three lines before moving on, but I’m going to give you some details and some links to help you anyway.
We’ll start with satisfying your curiosity, which leads more easily into feeling the warmth of gratitude.
This can help you overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is a type of depression that is triggered by a change in seasons, usually in the Fall. This seasonal depression gets worse in Winter and is known as the “winter blues.”
I once saw a quote that said, “If you’re bored, you are boring.” POW! AND WOW! That hit home. (I was a bored teenager living in a small Rocky Mountain town at the time.)
Inspired by that bit of inspiration plus a tumultuous homelife, I was active in church and participated in every available high school club singing, acting, the Future Teachers of America, etc. I fancied myself as a future city girl and joined pretty much everything except Future Farmers of America.
In addition, I had always been a voracious reader – going through five library books a week in addition to homework. This was long before we had the Internet and smart phones. Imagine what YOU can do now to enhance your life at any age!
Be Inquisitive! Read and Research
When it’s too cold or dreary for you to want to be outdoors, this is a time to use full spectrum lighting (that mimics daylight sun rays) to read (or listen to) inspirational books, personal growth books, or stories that are uplifting.
You might choose biographies, fiction, or non-fiction works. Choose anything that will transport your consciousness to worlds beyond your own experience, beyond your typical thoughts, and beyond your pain. It could be a novel, poetry, instructional text, or even a cookbook. Whatever it is, use it to your mental health advantage and be grateful for the expansion of your knowledge or awareness about worlds outside your own.
After I eloped and was working to put my husband through Stanford University, our budget was miniscule, and I was a lousy cook. However, I wanted to keep things interesting. So, I bought a cookbook and chose one new recipe per week to try something we had never eaten before.
I kept a little notebook similar to this one.
(There may have been times when I also described the expression on his face or any convulsions he may have had afterward.)
This could be fun to try with your loved ones!
Eventually, I Iearned to write his and my comments next to the recipes in the cookbook. That way, a year or more later, I always knew if Bob liked it a little, a lot, or not at all. That helped me decide whether to make the dish again or keep on steppin’. I also included notes about possible changes in ingredients to make the dish more palatable to our tastes.
Enjoy the Little Things and Keep Seeking Ways to Tweak Your Plan
That example falls into the category of ‘enjoying the little things in life.’ It was fun, creative, and healthful on a pauper’s budget. We both felt gratitude for the change of routine, new ideas, and honest feedback (pardon the pun).
Usually, my husband and I would talk about his studies, my work, or our philosophical thoughts on “whatever” and would not give much attention to a meal. However, since I was making notes about those special weekly meals, we actually “lived in the moment,” paying attention to the details of that present time and savoring the tastes, smells, feelings, and physical sensations that accompanied the event. It gave us much pleasure.
You can always get great food and drink ideas on Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media, as well as from books and magazines. Asking for that old family recipe also could be a great excuse to contact relatives or friends with whom you’ve been out of touch. That leads us to online conversations.
Do You Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, etc.?
Sometimes, you can feel less alone by seeing others as you talk with them. I find it much better than phone calls. It’s easy. If you don’t know how, ask me! (In fact, I can set up one free “Sip & Share” Zoom session to teach you. All you have to do is click on the link I will send you after we schedule a meeting date and time.)
Not everyone is a great conversationalist. Particularly, if you have been in isolation during the pandemic, you might think you have nothing to offer that is of interest. If you don’t know what to say to people, just pick out one of the ideas in this blog -or from among the things you find as you explore other ideas – and go for it! For the most part, people just want to know you’re thinking of them and care about them. You don’t have to be profound or a comedian. Thankfully, the mere act of getting in touch matters most. Everyone gets to be grateful.
Follow Your Curiosity & Learn a New Skill
It doesn’t have to be expensive/ You could learn a new hobby, business, sport, arts or craft skill. Sometimes, very little money or talent is required to do what you are seeking. For example, you can engage your mind and creativity by getting one of the powerful and inexpensive macro cameras and find all kinds of fascinating images inside your house!
Click Here for a definition and examples of macro photography.
Here is another link to give you all kinds of information and ideas if you would like to explore more: macro photography ideas – Search (bing.com)
Whether you share your macrophotography is entirely up to you, but you will be fascinated by what you see “under the microscope!” It is easier to be grateful for life when you witness the intricacy of nature’s creations.
Use Your Hands, Along with Your Mind
What if you want to work with your hands? From woodworking to car mechanics to gadget assembly to needlecraft, there are all kinds of options. All you have to do is “Google it” or go to YouTube for great videos on how to do almost anything.
Mental, Physical, & Emotional Health
Speaking of that, YouTube has instructional videos on how to give yourself a reflexology or massage treatment and other techniques to improve your mood and your health – not to mention how to reduce various kinds of pain. Here is one of mine about how to release pain and stress in your neck and shoulders. stress relief shoulders, neck and back – YouTube
Put Your Ideas into Writing
Maybe it’s time to learn a new language or to write that book of the poetry that has been lurking in your subconscious mind for all these years. There are some great #wordprompts to get your imagination working overtime. You can find them on Twitter and in other social media places. Click on The Occasional Poet (me) to learn more. These sources provide daily or weekly prompts to challenge you, and people from all over the world participate! You might even make new friends in the process!
If you want to write a novel or a non-fiction work, what better time than now to start doing the research, most of which can be done online? What a blessing to have 1) a working mind 2) an idea of something to do 3) electricity 4) the Internet, 5) a computer 6) language, and 7) an ability to do the work? GRATITUDE WILL GROW AS YOUR CURIOSITY LEADS YOU ONWARD INTO NEW KNOWLEDGE!
Regardless of your gender, perhaps it is time to write your autobiography. You might want to publish it. You may simply want to leave it to your children and grandchildren to give them a better idea of who you are – not just the role you play in their lives.
Tips & Tricks
- Put that #scrapbook to good use in illustrating the history of your family!
- Have your kids or your grandchildren interview you and give you the recordings to compile or to use as writing notes.
- Revisit the places you have lived; photograph them; write about them. (Of course, travel to anyplace – new or old – is something that will pique your curiosity and change your mood in and of itself!)
Maybe You Just Need Puzzles or Word Games to Distract You from Melancholy
I used to love playing Scrabble, and that, as well as some card games, is something you can play alone or with others, while stimulating your brain and engaging your mind.
As for jigsaw puzzles, pick an image that makes you feel good as you look at the box cover and try to figure out what pieces go where. Here’s a link to one of the ones I’ve created. I have over 500 images there that can be matched with clothing, tote bags, mugs, and more. However, you can find puzzles in many places.
Whatever your expression of creativity is, it can help you find a zest and joy for life. There’s a feeling of satisfaction, freedom, and beauty in creating something. The mere act of expressing gratitude often has a way of lifting your spirits and helping you recognize even more things for which to be grateful!
Take the Focus Off Yourself!
It’s not just the weather and fewer hours of sunlight that affect us, of course. Winter – especially during holiday season – can be depressing for people who are single or alone or who have lost loved ones through divorce, death, etc. It is important to put things into perspective.
Most of us in North America do not face the kinds of devastating challenges that millions of other people undergo as they live in war zones, under dictatorships, or in famine areas. It is reminiscent of that saying about the person who felt sorry for himself for having no shoes until he saw someone who had no feet. Keep perspective.
There is much for which to be grateful, including the basics of health, housing, food, water, and relative safety.
- Some of us have lost all the people and/or animals we loved. Do you still have loved ones in your life?
- Some of us have lost mobility. Are you still able to move your body and perform daily functions normally?
- Some of us no longer see well. Can you see? Can you do things like listen to audio books to continue learning and being entertained after sight is vanquished?
- Some of us are homeless – and may be responsible for raising children despite being homeless. Do you have shelter? Food? Water?
You get the idea. Keeping one’s perspective can be a great source of gratitude.
Voluntarism Is One of the Best Ways to Help Yourself While Helping Others!
I could write a book about this. (In fact, I did.) I highly recommend volunteering to assist people (or animals) who are in more dire circumstances than you are. Voluntarism for worthy causes can be a great source of helping you feel good by focusing on the needs of someone or something else beyond your own immediate concerns. Some of the best years of my life and the best memories came from helping others in shelters, prisons, and other venues. They helped me gain the invaluable perspective that comes with realizing how comparatively fortunate I was and what a joy it was to serve.
Truthfully, if I were to recommend only one thing to get over the winter Blues, it would be this. It fulfills curiosity about other ways of being and gives you gratitude for those you meet, as well as for your own life. Furthermore, it doesn’t need to have limits – you can do it all year around, and I hope you will!
Sometimes, you just need someone to talk to who will listen in a non-judgmental way and may be able to provide insights as an objective observer. If you feel that kind of inclination, feel free to contact me for a FREE initial consultation, which I’ll give you via Zoom. We call it “Sip & Share.”
After you contact me at GetWellStayWell@outlook.com and tell me the nature of what you want to discuss, we can coordinate schedules, and I’ll send you a link to join me online. The free sessions usually last from 30-60 minutes. If you need some of my life coaching services thereafter, we can discuss that and see how best I may help you.
In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a great New Year!
Let’s Get Well, Stay Well and Live Well!