We all get sad but we don’t have to stay there. Here are some tips to drag yourself out of the doldrums.
It was one of those days. The sweetest little white possum was being pegged as being our first climate change extinction.
This headline was closely followed by the news that Russia was pulling the plug on a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty with the US, creating fears of another nuclear arms race.
Meanwhile, Tassie was burning, parts of Queensland were flooding and parts of New South Wales were sweltering in record-breaking heatwaves.
On the other side of the planet, residents of Michigan, USA, were being warned of possible record-breaking wind chills in the wake of the polar vortex.
Yet, world leaders were bickering about creating more weapons of destruction. As if we need weapons when it is so clear we are managing the murder of our planet just fine without them.
Another day in paradise. It could be any day. Depressing, right?
It doesn’t really matter how positive your attitude is, sometimes things just pile up to send you into a state of despair.
That’s why it’s vital to have a bag of tricks to drag yourself out of the doldrums.
I could avoid the news and, in fact, have done that before. It’s a funny admission for someone who began her working life as a journalist.
However, sticking our heads in the sand and pretending everything is OK solves nothing. If you buy into the thought that those who do nothing are part of the problem, then you have to take responsibility for being a contributor.
By the same token, holding onto and then spreading that negativity only serves to cause more harm and perhaps distress to those around you.
So what are we to do?
HOW TO DRAG YOURSELF OUT OF THE DOLDRUMS CREATIVELY
You have to love the old Scouts motto – ‘be prepared’.
It works for just about everything in life.
Preparing for downtimes is just as important as packing carefully for a camping trip or preparing your home for fire or storm damage.
You’ll find it much harder to find a solution when you are already caught up in it.
However, if you have a plan, you can work towards pulling yourself out of the doldrums as soon as you become aware that is where you are headed. You can use your superpowers.
Please remember, sadness and depression are two different things.
We all feel sad at times and with a little bit of planning, we can turn that around.
However, if you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, it is important to seek professional help.
There are many wonderful organisations with people who can help.
A few to call in Australia are:
Lifeline on 131114
Beyond Blue on 1300224636
HOW TO DRAG YOURSELF OUT OF THE DOLDRUMS CREATIVELY – THE BAG OF TRICKS
GO FOR A WALK
What works for some, may not work for all, so it’s good to try variations at a time when you are not already stuck in the doldrums.
Having said that, there is countless evidence that walking can easily lift your mood.
The energy it takes helps disperse anger and frustration.
More than that, it’s an opportunity to see what is right with the world – a beautiful tree or flower, the happy face of a dog.
Most fellow walkers are quick with a smile and a friendly ‘hello’ – something that always helps to lift moods.
On this gloomy news day, the first thing out of my bag of tricks was a long walk. I instantly felt the anger and frustration leaving me.
As it did, I became more aware of my surroundings and less stuck in my sad thoughts.
This went a long way toward dragging me out of the doldrums but I still felt a cloud of sadness surrounding me, so returned to my bag of tricks to improve my mood.
I wanted some quick and easy ‘fixes’ as I had much to accomplish on this day. Being stuck in the doldrums tends to steal your motivation and colour all that you try to achieve.
Here are some of my favourite ways to drag yourself out of the doldrums creatively.
HOW TO DRAG YOURSELF OUT OF THE DOLDRUMS CREATIVELY – THE HAPPY HEART
- A plain sheet of paper
- Coloured pencils or crayons
- Draw a simple heart shape on the paper.
- Draw lines within it to divide into many different spaces. Try for at least 20.
- Colour each space, using coloured pencils or crayons. Make it as colourful as you can. Colour has a powerful effect on our moods.
- Don’t aim for perfection. Just relax and allow yourself to enjoy the process.
- Use the corresponding coloured pencil or crayon to write just one word that describes something you love next to one of the shapes within the heart. Repeat until all the shapes have a word attached to them. Don’t think of these things before you colour your heart. Be sure to enjoy the creativity first.
WHY THIS WORKS
There has been much research showing the positive effects of simple doodling and colouring on our moods. This simple exercise includes these activities and the heart symbol has also been shown to lift moods.
The next part of the exercise, writing down things we love, serves to remind us of the good things in life and also encourage gratitude for them. You may struggle at first to think of enough words to match each space in the heart. That is also part of the process because when you are thinking of things you love, you can’t be thinking of things that make you sad.
Every time I do this it’s different. The obvious things like family and friends are always in my heart.
This time, in 26 spaces, I mentioned nature, in its various forms, seven times and laughing was written twice.
Nature was clearly on my mind because of the news stories I had read that led to my doldrums. However, writing it in my heart shape made me think of it in a more positive and cheerful way.
HOW TO DRAG YOURSELF OUT OF THE DOLDRUMS CREATIVELY – THE RADIANT RAINBOW
Another wonderful project in my bag of tricks to drag yourself out of the doldrums is to draw a rainbow.
- Keep it simple – like a child’s drawing.
- Draw or write cheerful messages around it.
WHY THIS WORKS
Again, colour is a powerful tool to lift moods and the colours of the rainbow are particularly cheerful.
Drawing curved lines, as opposed to straight lines, tends to help you relax and ‘go with the flow’, making it easier to drag yourself out of the doldrums.
Keeping the images really simple helps connect us to our inner child and gives us a break from adult issues that could be weighing us down.
If you’d like more tips for dragging yourself out of the doldrums creatively, download your free copy of Draw for Joy, the ultimate guide to art therapy exercises you can do at home. You will also be treated to a bi-monthly newsletter packed with projects and tips for living life creatively.
Here’s hoping you can avoid the doldrums and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.