Tag Archives: Mental Health

Ten Ways to Keep Depression At Bay

Yesterday I posted about the Please Hear What I’m Not Saying Anthology for MIND. I have been medicated three times for depression, and I absolutely needed it each time. They were all work-related. Now I work for myself, much of that stress is relieved. I find the medication numbs me so I cannot write poetry, and writing poetry is essential to my well-being. So for myself, I have rejected medication.

So how do I stave off depression? Caveat: these work for me but may not work for you, and the battle is often with the dreadful lethargy that is one of the main symptoms of depression, and that stops one doing anything. I find it helps to spot the signs and take evasive action while the energy to do so is still around.

  1. Take some time every day to go outdoors, even if it’s just a stroll round the garden, a walk to the shops or in the park, or ten minutes on a bench outside with a blanket and a flask of tea.
  2. Set some small achieveable goals every day. Simple things like getting a shower, getting dressed, making the bed. Then at the end of the day, when you feel another wasted day has gone by, you can remind yourself of these small accomplishments.
  3. Take exercise, because that increases seratonin in the brain. Can a friend pick you up and take you swimming, is there somewhere nearby where you can walk or run? Try an exercise video at home, from YouTube, or do some gentle yoga. Salute to the Sun is a great way to start the day. Or put a good track on and have a 5 minute dance-athon. You might feel so good you want to carry on longer.
  4. Housework is one of the things that can seem overwhelming, and like self-care, often goes by the board. But if you can choose a daily goal of tidying or cleaning one small thing, like the sink area, or clearing a surface, it really lifts the mood.
  5. Take Vitamin D.
  6. Although junk food is very tempting, such as chocolate for a quick lift, try to eat nourishing foods, plenty of fruit and veg, and if possible, keep away from ready meals.
  7. Spend some time with a pet or small child. Animals and small humans live in the present and are fun to be around.
  8. I find crafting really helps me. If I have some knitting on the go, or some hand sewing, I can sit down to do it, and even if I only do a little, it feels like an accomplishment and gives me a reason to look forward. I don’t do jigsaws anymore, but they can achieve the same thing.
  9. Do something nice for someone else. Even if it’s just an email, a phone call, a small gift, a genuine compliment, it will make you feel better that you have brightened someone else’s day.
  10. Read poetry. A poem can only take a minute to read, and a lifetime to remember. Poetry is a consolation. Poetry tells you you are not alone.

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Poetry and Mental Health

Poetry can be a wonderful drug to help with mental health issues, both writing it and reading it. It is a drug without side effects. A good starting point would be Daisy Goodwin’s anthology 101 Poems to Keep you Sane. Haiku books, with lush illustrations, are often very calming. Another good thing to do is to keep a file or notebook of poems you love. I’ve been doing this since I was 13 and got poetry books out of the library; it was a way of keeping ones I could not bear to be without. These days, one can subscribe to poemhunter, get a poem a day, and keep a digital copy of poems special to you.

23rd July sees an event at Macclesfield Heritage centre; Peter Street and I are hosting and guesting at an open mic night, following a workshop we gave at The Mind Centre, where we met some wonderful people who hopefully will be there tomorrow night. There is also an artist in residence working to help people express themselves through art work. Expressing one’s emotions can be difficult to do, but self expression can aid communications, distance difficult emotions, and raise self-esteem.

Whether or not you are coming to the event, I invite anyone to add their own favourite poem which sees them through difficult times, so that we can create a mini-anthology here.

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