A couple years ago I could barely drag myself out of bed to start the day. If I did manage to leave the safety of the down duvet on my Tempurpedic, it wasn’t until at least noon. I wasn’t living; I simply existed.
There were plenty of factors of course. I was breaking my neck working for someone else; I was unsure of the future of the relationship I was in and my family had moved away. These were all justifiable reasons to feel sad, but what I felt went beyond that. I felt trapped in a rut and had no idea how to get out.
Yet, somehow I did. Somehow I was able to scratch and claw my way out of that deep, dark hole known as depression and despite some minor stumbles, I didn’t fall back in.
Whether you’re stuck in a miserable hole, or just want to find a little more happiness, these tips will help set you on the right track.
Determine Who They Are
There’s a small group of people you don’t consider your support system until you’re in trouble and need them. Chances are there are tons of people in your life that can be considered “friends” and then there are your actual friends. Then there are the two or three people you can actually turn to when you need them.
Try and make that distinction before you need help. This will save you a lot of disappointment when you lean on somebody who doesn’t know how in the hell to support you. This isn’t a bad thing, we’re just not equipped to have 75 super-close friends that will do anything for you. Hell, you’re lucky if you have two.
Don’t be afraid to reach out. If you have close friends, especially friends you’ve been there for, call them. Tell them what’s going on. Don’t be afraid of burdening them. They’re adults, they can handle it. Sometimes just having a friend around to watch a movie, or to get out of the house and have coffee with helps tremendously.
… But Not Too Hard
Leaning on someone and depending on someone are totally different and you need to know the difference so you don’t suffocate the people there for you. When I was going through my depression I leaned so heavily on my boyfriend that at points he cracked a bit. I had to learn to take some weight off him and distribute it to others in my life. So, be careful not to overdo it. If you call your best girlfriend several times a day to complain, or ask her to come over every day, she’s not going to be able to handle it. Before you know it, you will be that emotional vampire your best friend is avoiding.
It’s not always about you and part of getting yourself out of the swamp, is to step outside yourself and your own bullshit. Help others. Listen to your friends’ problems too. Ask them about their lives. Not only will this help you see beyond your own issues, but you won’t feel like a strain on them because they can share their stuff too.
Accentuate the Positive; Eliminate the Negative
You know that friend that constantly bitches about her shitty job, her crappy friends, how much she hates so-and-so, and feels the need to post on Facebook how much life sucks? Say bye-bye to her. Negativity breeds negativity and negative people will drag you under faster than you can lose a new lipgloss.
You may not even realize that someone is bringing you down at first, which is why you need to re-adjust your perspective. Is there someone you talk with and mutually complain to? I’m not talking about an occasional vent session with your best friend; this is more like a routine. If that person is feeding into you rather than trying to show you the sunny side, you should reconsider your “venting partner.”
Take a step back.
You don’t necessarily have to cut someone off completely, but know that a negative person isn’t good for you. Distancing yourself is the best way to becoming more positive. It might be they don’t even realize they’re being Negative Nelly, so counter their negatives with positives. If they don’t start to absorb the good vibes, it may be best to drop them.
I also use social media to maintain my mood. I follow accounts that post positive quotes and mantras on Twitter & Instagram and if I see negativity on my Facebook timeline, I hide them or delete them as a friend.
Change that Thing
Is there something that’s making you unhappy? Perhaps you hate your job? Is your boyfriend mean to you? Are you unhappy with your body?
Change it. That’s it.
People let themselves get so stuck in something they aren’t happy with because it’s too hard to change. Yes, happiness requires effort. If you want to be happy you might have to make yourself uncomfortable for a bit. I’m not saying quit your job on the spot. Obviously you need the income or you wouldn’t have the job in the first place, right? Start looking into alternatives and then make the transition. Find a headhunter and utilize their expertise and have them look for you. You never know what kind of opportunities could pop up. Or if you’ve wanted to start your own thing, start it up as a side project until it makes sense to go full-time.
When it comes to your body, you know what to do. Get your ass in the gym, reach out to a friend whose super healthy for support, and start educating yourself on healthy eating. Yes, being healthy and fit may seem difficult, but once you get started the endorphins you feel and the progress you see will be worth it.
As far as your significant other is concerned, I don’t recommend “transitioning.” If you’re unhappy with your mate and talking it out or working on it isn’t making it better, break it off. The initial pain will fade and you’ll find your new focus (you) will make you much happier.
Try Something New
Sometimes to break out of a funk or ignite happiness you need to try something new. Perhaps there’s a restaurant outside your comfort zone you want to try, a new workout routine or an activity of some sort you’ve never done. Get out and do it.
New things will stimulate your mind and body, giving you a whole new type of energy to boost your mood. Even if it’s trying something new once and only once, you’re breaking yourself out of the monotony. It’s very difficult to stay unhappy when you’re constantly switching things up.
This is your life and you are in charge of it—no one else. Your boyfriend isn’t accountable for you getting out of bed each day, your best friend isn’t responsible for your good or bad mood and your boss certainly can’t dictate whether or not you are happy with your life.
It’s all you.
I had to refuse to succumb to the misery. There are still days now and then where I just don’t want to do it. I don’t want to face the day, the world or anyone in it. But I get up and do it anyway, because I’m responsible for my happiness.
And you’re responsible for yours.
How do you bring “happy” back to your life? Share your inspiration with us!
*This article was first published in the January 2014 issue of Indie Chick Magazine.
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