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Workin' It: My 16 Step Plan for Trying to Beat the Blues

Wednesday, November 08, 2006
A while back, I promised to post my plan for feeling better (not necessarily good or great, but better), so here it is. This is the 16-step plan I start to "work" when I start to feel the first tell-tale signs that I'm starting to become depressed. Do I work this plan perfectly? Um, no. Do I start feeling better instantly the second I start working my plan? In my dreams. Does it help? Generally, if I persevere and don't deviate from too many of the steps at once. (3, 4, 6, 11, 13, 14, and 15 are killers for me.)

1. Cut back on caffeine.
2. Reduce/eliminate alcohol from diet.
3. Stop treating sleep like a luxury item.
4. Let go of stress more effectively and minimize the sources of stress so there's less stress to deal with in the first place.
5. Have more fun with people in the real world, especially family and friends.
6. Spend less time online. A virtual life is no substitute for a real life.
7. Use organizational tools to manage the distraction/disorganization that is a byproduct of depression.
8. Create a working environment that supports me in my writing rather than distracting me in my thinking.
9. Tell people how I'm really doing. Not only does it feel better to be honest about these things (especially when you're a tell-it-like-it-is kind of person): it also gives people a chance to rally around when you're feeling extra blechy.
10. Up the creativity quotient in my life. The more creative I am, the better I feel.
11. Set a favor quotient. I can't possibly do every favor for everyone who asks, particularly when I'm feeling down. I have to pick and choose -- and not feel guilty about picking and choosing.
12. Make contributions to the planet in ways that are uniquely meaningful to me. This boosts rather than drains my energy.
13. Let other people give to me when they offer to do so. Martyrdom is so last millenium.
14. Set aside quiet time -- time for reflection, thinking, and planning.
15. Take care of the whole me. I feel best when my body, mind and spirit are nurtured, vital, strong.
16. Check in with my doctor when I'm feeling out of whack.* It's good to have someone else monitoring my health, too.

* I take my medications day in and day out, regardless of how I'm feeling. Why play biochemical roulette just for the heck of it? But medication alone isn't enough to beat a mood disorder. You've got to have a plan. That's why I decided to share mine - in the hope that doing so will get other women who struggle with mood disorders thinking about having a self-care plan at the ready. Because when you're depressed, you may not even recognize the signs that you're depressed or know what to do to start feeling better again.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:45 AM