3 Ways to Beat the Blues


beat the blues

Shortly after my second baby was born, I learned exactly what the term “post-partum depression” meant. I remember calling my newly-retired dad on more than one occasion and asking him to come watch my newborn and toddler because I could hardly bring myself to get out of bed. It took time and tears and more than a few counseling sessions, but I fought back against that monster of depression and beat the blues. I found myself again, the mom who could love and enjoy her children, her husband, her home, her friends. I realized anew how good it felt to feel… well, good.

But I didn’t realize that the depression that knocked me on the ground after giving birth would worm its way into a semi-permanent place in my life. Even now, 9 years after my son was born and 8.5 years since I managed to shake off that initial dark period, I know all too well the feeling of waking up in the morning and thinking, “I can’t today. I just can’t.” The trivial realities of everyday life—laundry, dishes, milk spills, bickering between kids—suddenly seem to be insurmountable, and I want to wrap myself in a ball and wait it out. Like an angry bear, maybe if I just hold still long enough, maybe it will get bored and move along.

Unfortunately, this is not a feasible reality for me—or for you, either. Mom life means we have to climb out of our beds and get through our day, regardless of the emotional bear waiting out there for us. While we may never banish the blues forever, we can develop tools to give us hope on tough days. Here are a few tips to help the next time you find yourself feeling down.

1. Take care of your body

So many things that seem like a good idea when we are depressed will only serve to make us feel worse. Rarely does someone seeking comfort crave celery and cucumbers; instead, foods like chips, chocolate, and ice cream typically top the list. Similarly, someone who is feeling blue doesn’t usually think, “I can’t wait to hit the gym today!” Instead, we look to the couch to be our companion and Netflix to be our distraction. But giving in to those desires will likely leave you feeling tired, sick, and guilty. And too often those feelings lead to further junk food cravings and more binge-watching. It is a vicious cycle.

Before giving into a day of lounging away the blues, try fueling your body instead. Grab a healthy snack and get moving! It doesn’t have to be a full-on workout—although that’s probably not a bad idea—but a nice walk or even a dance party with the kiddos can get your heart pumping, your mind off your troubles, and your endorphins flowing. And even if it isn’t a miracle cure, it’s definitely not going to hurt.

2. Build your team

Out-of-whack emotions will lie to you and make you feel isolated. You might feel like you can’t reach out to the people in your life, worried that they have more important things to do or that you will only be a burden. But the truth is that the people you love want to love and support you, too! The key here is to make a plan. First, make sure you are building positive friendships in your life. Second, on a day when you are feeling good, make a list of the people you can call when you’re down. Then talk to those people—your husband, your BFF, your parent, a woman whom you think of as a mentor—about it ahead of time. Ask if it’s okay to lean on them when you’re feeling down. Then when your dark & twisty emotions whisper, “You are all alone. There is no one you can call,” you can remind yourself that you have loving people in your life who are waiting for you to call them.

3. Tell yourself the truth

Positive self-talk has some merit, but only if you actually believe the things you are saying are true. Again, planning is key here. Sit down on a good day and list things you know are true, like “I am loved by my family no matter how I am feeling.” Maybe ask your children or friends to jot down some kind words that you can review. Personally, I turn to my faith and my belief in Scriptures and I find verses like these that provide encouragement and strength to get through the hard days.

Just do the next thing

This one is so simple but very effective. It’s easy to look around our houses and see everything that is unfinished, to think of every friend we’ve been wanting to catch up with, every parenting decision we’ve been meaning to implement, every family member who needs a quick phone call. It’s impossible to do it all, and when your emotions are on overload, it’s easy to do nothing instead. At times like these, you have to take your focus off of the big picture and just do something. Put one foot in front of the other, and then do it again. Don’t focus on cleaning the whole kitchen; just try to get the dirty dishes all in the sink. When that’s done, do the next thing. One step at a time. Don’t expect a miracle and don’t pressure yourself to fix it all. Just do the next thing. {Tweet This}

What are some of your favorite tools to beat the blues?

Comments


  • Jlynn Curless

    For me it starts with prayer. Music soothes my spirit and soul. I also use scented candles .. vanilla. Taking a relaxing bubble bath with candles and music with the room semi dark. It’s hard to be down when singing. These are my lifelines.

  • GEANEAN

    Love this article! Thankfully I didn’t deal with Post Partum Depression, but I do have ups and downs from day to day. Hormones. Ugh! Your tips are definitely helpful. And I love to add positive Christian music to my routine while cleaning. Rather than thinking of cleaning as a chore, it gets me dancing and singing while being productive!