Introduction to Series
We have reached the halfway point in our series, “101 Activities to Improve Your Mood.” If you’re visiting us for the first time today, welcome! We hope you feel encouraged by our discussion and find new ideas to lift your mood. Vincent and I are therapists who work frequently with clients who struggle with depression and anxiety.
Discouragement and low motivation can make it seem next to impossible to want to do anything. BUT, when you are faced with a list of one hundred and one coping skills, it is kind of hard to rationalize your way out of doing just one!
Be sure to check out weeks one through five where we discussed activities involving God, slowing down, fun, and animals and nature. We will finish off the next few weeks with aesthetics, creating and learning, touch and smell, and helping.
Please note that God is the underlying theme to all of these themes. In Him we move and have our being, and we would be remiss to not recognize His fingerprints on His creations.
Paul reminds us in Philippians 4: 8 to think on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. When we do this, an un-understandable peace through Jesus comes upon us! His words to the church in Philippi were meant to encourage unity and steadfastness.
Depression is a kind of bondage. It shackles its victims to secrecy and shame. It is the furtherest thing from peace and is such a lonely road. As a therapist I find that when clients talk to someone about their depression, it starts to break the chains. When its not a secret any more, it loses its grip—its power.
Our God is a relational God. He made us in His image and made us to be in relationship. When we are not, we are missing an important component of what He intended for us.
We learn what it is like to be in relationship with Him from the Bible, but we also learn about being in relationship with others. Relationship, in some ways, is like food and water. We need it to survive.
What are some activities that can draw you closer to others?
1. Talk to someone about it. By sharing your thoughts with others, you allow them to understand you. When you feel understood, an emotional burden is lifted. You feel like you are not alone. (Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”)
12. Visit an old friend. Healthy individuals have a wide array of support. They have numerous people where they can find emotional support. Even introverted or quiet people can have 4 to 5 people that they are comfortable talking with. Having only one or two persons to speak with really limits a person’s perspective and may keep them stuck in an unhealthy mental state.
24. Have friends over for a meal. According to some studies, having close friends may help you fight disease. Inviting people into your home lessens loneliness and solitude that promote depression.
36. Call an old friend. Having no friends leads to psychological dysfunction. Picking up the phone and giving old friends a call is good for mental and physical health.
47. Play chess at a local game room. Playing casual games helps to reduce stress according to a recent study. Board games help to reduce isolation, keep the brain younger, and develop social skills.
More Socializing Ideas
67. Play board games with the family. Game night with the family is good way to connect with each other in a healthy environment. Playing games together reduces stress, sharpens cognitive skills, and reduces the risk of mental illness.
92. Join a book club. “As a rough rule of thumb, if you belong to no groups but decide to join one, you cut your risk of dying over the next year in half,” says scientist Robert D. Putnam in his book Bowling Alone. Being a part of group also influences the health decisions people make, leading them to healthier lifestyle choices. The more groups you are a part of, the less likely you are to become depressed. If you suffer from depression, joining a group could help you recover and prevent relapse.
96. Participate in a counseling group. Group counseling teaches social skills. It provides you the chance to hear many perspectives on what you’re going through. Group provides support and encouragement as you develop new coping skills. Here are some free counseling groups you may want to explore – Celebrate Recovery, GriefShare, DivorceCare, or Stephen Ministries.
57. Learn ballroom dancing. As with other exercise, dancing releases large amounts of dopamine – “the feel good hormone”. Dancing not only provides exercise, but also a lot of socialization.
35. Cross-stitch. Cross stitchers find that cross stitching creates calm, reduces stress and when done in a group setting, promotes community.
Everyone has a story. Everyone has lost or will have lost. Everyone has sinned and makes mistakes.
The trouble is, sometimes we lose sight of this about each other. It’s like we get lost in our own individual deep, dark pit and we forget that many others reside in their own dark places. Before you know it, there is a world populated by people caught up in their own storms, unable to see past their strife to recognize other’s struggles.
This is the problem with epidemic-level depression. Depression tells us the lie that no one else feels the way we do and keeps us mired in our own despair. Then consider the fact that millions of us suffer from depression and you have a world of disconnected people.
Many times the treatment for depression is doing the very thing that depression makes us fear: talking to other people about it, sharing our experiences, empathizing with others.
You are not alone. You are loved.