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Episode 19

Emotional Self Care: What To Do When Feeling Down

Street art showing depression
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Wondering how to get out of a rut? And does exercise for depression work?

These are great questions, and you're not alone.

In this coached walk podcast episode, get simple tips to help you get out of your funk and reclaim your motivation.

(It’s important to mention that if you are feeling very depressed – rather than in a funk – you should consult a mental health professional or your primary care doctor. Reach out to them for help.)

Losing your groove

Where did your groove go? When you lose it, it’s may or may not be obvious to your peeps. But inside, you:

  • Don’t feel like doing anything.
  • Don’t feel motivated to work out.
  • Don’t get anything accomplished.

Feeling a little out of sorts is really normal right now. The pandemic changed everything, and it’s been hard to get back on track - especially if we feel like we can’t make plans for the immediate future.

Put on your walking shoes and let’s take advantage of the many mental health benefits to walking. You’ll get those happy hormones flowing while you learn how to get your groove back.

Highlights: Emotional self care tips

There’s a lot of focus in our world on self care, but not on emotional self care. Check in with yourself regularly to monitor how you’re really feeling. If your emotional tank runs dry it can be hard to cope with life's demands and move forward. You feel tired. Empty. Stressed. Unmotivated.

When you’re out of sorts and not yourself, it can seem overwhelming to try get back to whatever your normal is. You don’t have to take huge steps to feel better, though. Small steps really can make a huge difference.

These tiny doable changes will help you take care of your mental health and put you on a happier path

Stopping social media in the mornings

Try not to stay in bed scrolling through social media in the mornings. It’s easy to get sucked into it and lose track of time. Then you’re rushing to start your day, feeling behind, and your stress level climbs. Listen to a short morning meditation or get up, make your bed, and enjoy a quiet cup of coffee (or tea).

Petting your pet

(Or someone else’s pet). Stroking your pet’s fur is relaxing and calming. The unconditional love your furbabies give you eases depression and loneliness. They bring a sense of comfort, connection, and even fun. They bring us so much joy.

Releasing feel good hormones

A reward system gives you a reason to do the things you don’t want to do. Giving yourself a reward or something to look forward to increases your dopamine levels, which helps you feel more alert, focused, inspired, and happy. It’s a cycle of do something + reward  = motivation to do the thing again. Your reward can be small, big, or something you've really wanted.

Connecting with people

Talk to friends or family either face-to-face or through Zoom or Facetime. See their faces, don’t just text or call. We all need real connections with other people, and the pandemic has made that more difficult. It’s easy to feel isolated and lonely when you don’t talk to or see people on a regular basis. If there's no one you really want to talk to (thanks, politics) join an online group you find interesting and make new connections.

Asking for help

People may not know how you’re really feeling. If you put on your “happy face,” everyone thinks you’re just fine. Or as the Oracle said in the first Matrix movie, "right as rain." Tell people your true feelings. It's OK. Ask for help. Ask for company. Ask for advice. Pretending to be OK doesn't help anyone.

Exercising and mental health

Exercise is key to feeling better. Make yourself do it, even if you don’t want to. It doesn’t have to be hard. You can dance, walk, hike, swim, or play with your pets or kids…just do something to move your body. When you exercise you release endorphins, which reduce pain, alleviate stress, and give you a feeling of well-being. And, exercise has been scientifically proven to help ease depression.

Yoga and meditation

Yoga is fantastic for depression. Find an instructor (live or online) who you like the teaching style of. Personally, I adore Yoga with Adriene. Find a quiet spot and just try for 10 or 15 minutes to help ground you and relieve stress. Meditation is also helpful, especially if you focus on your breathing. Try my walking meditation to get the benefits of both meditation and exercise.

Quotes from the episode

"We need to find a ways to make our lives different and better."

"It's so easy to stay in place - doing nothing new - in a life where nothing gets better and nothing ever changes."

"We get stuck in things that are not the best habits."

"You're just stuck in a place where you feel like you're trapped and you can't get out."

"We need to give ourselves things to look forward to and give ourselves small rewards."

"If you're in a dark tunnel and someone shines of flashlight on the exit, you can find the exit."

"Interrupt that circuit of the downward spiral."

Photo: Thessaloniki, Greece

Host

Helen is an author, entrepreneur, certified personal trainer, and lifestyle coach. She lost over 80 pounds and kept it off for 16 years. She loves travel, chocolate, and cats.