RESILIENCE LETTERS: Come Alive – Beating the Blues

Dear M,

I’ve retreated into my cocoon.  I’m really struggling.  It’s  spring and I feel sluggish and slightly depressed.  I look out at another grey day and I open the door of my balcony and the wind is chilling.  I am functioning. I go to work, I eat well, I sleep and I don’t feel ‘normal’. I feel disconnected.  My joie de vivre feels like a distant memory.  How do I get out of this awful flatness?

Yours truly,

Flat Out.

Dear Flat Out,

Let me reassure you that what you are feeling is normal.  Many people experience these emotional valleys.  It is especially evident on a seasonal basis during late winter and early spring or around holidays  particularly when we are ‘supposed’ to feel happy but can happen anytime of the year.  Your low mood may also be connected to an anniversary of an emotionally difficult event or a recent loss. It may also be the very human experience of awareness of our mortality – an existential moment in time where you realise you haven’t accomplished all that you hoped to have achieved (thus far) in your life.

Here are four simple and specific ways to help you unblock your stuck energy and connect with your mind, body and spirit.

M – MEDITATION   This often feels counter intuitive.  As uncomfortable as it is, take some time to deliberately sit with your flatness. Just Breathe.  Practice a five minute (or more) daily meditation for a week.  Invite the flatness to introduce itself and hang around.  Take time to focus instead of running or hiding and distracting yourself .  See what happens. Listen to your breath and what your body says to you.  Connect with your spirit as it is. When we meet ourselves where we are, a funny thing happens. We begin to wake up.

M- MAKING SENSE    We feel alive through our senses: – taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing.  Go for a silent walk, alone or with a friend.  Approach the walk as if it was the very first time that you are exploring your neighbourhood.  Be aware of how your foot contacts the ground as you walk. Pay attention to what you see directly in front of you and in your peripheral vision.  If it is a grey day notice all the shades you see.  Listen to the soundscape.  Notice the smells.  When you are finished, wander around a local indoor or outdoor food market Talk to the market vendors. Try some new foods.  Eat slowly and mindfully. Notice how your mood shifts even slightly with each taste experience.  Living through your senses and engaging with others will bring you out of your flatness.

M- MAKING MEANING  Exercise your heart muscle! What are you here for? What small act can you do to repair the world today?  Can you do something for someone else to make their life easier?  Engage in small talk with strangers like the market vendor.  Be curious – find out their story. You’d be surprised at how even a little bit of contact can edge out loneliness and dullness and open your heart.

M- MOVING in NATURE   Turn off the technological connections in your life, temporarily.  Experience the restorative effects of your own nature and the natural environment (whether spending time gardening, playing in a local park, visiting a public garden, or venturing out to a wilderness setting).  It is a universal healing experience when humans are close to nature.  It brings us in tune with our senses and off the treadmill of negative thinking.  If getting close to nature isn’t feasible today, pretend by listening to some CD’s like birdsongs or waterfalls.  Or play some music that matches your mood and then change it up as your mood shifts.  Just start humming to the sounds and moving with the rhythms.  If you dare, invite someone to dance with you.  Your own nature and the natural world around you have all the elements to nourish your heart and soul.  Let them!

Marilyn Minden R.S.W.
Psychotherapy and Coaching