I believe that when you’re feeling depressed, you shouldn’t try to be productive.
(Before reading this post, you could benefit from clicking here to read Part One and Part Two. Please keep in mind that I am talking about situational depression in this series rather than clinical depression. However, many of the strategies I recommend can work in treating both types of depression. I explain more about the differences between situational and clinical depression in Part 1 of this series.)
When you’re feeling depressed, you don’t want to do anything. “Unproductive” would be an understatement, right?
You feel lethargic, unmotivated, uncaring, unhopeful. All you want to do is sit around and do nothing. When you get tired of doing nothing, watching t.v., or scrolling social media, you might take a nap.
This is the pattern of “blah” I found myself repeating after a recent emotionally trying period. I had quit working (I am an entrepreneur, so I didn’t have an office to go to) and just spent most of the day in my bed.
Every day, I’d feel guilty that I wasn’t getting anything done. That I was just sitting here, wasting my life. I’m sure you’ve felt the same way.
Our world is a fast-paced one, where if we’re not checking a hundred things off our “to-do” list every day, we don’t feel like we’re “doing enough.”
But we’re not on this planet to “do.” We’re on this planet to “be” and to “become.”
When you’re feeling depressed, allow yourself to feel that way without judging yourself harshly. Understand that everybody suffers from some form of depression at least once in their lives. It’s just part of the human condition. (If you’re interested, here are some statistics on depression).
But it doesn’t have to last forever. One of the ways you can start to feel better when you’re depressed is to do just one productive thing a day.
Ditch the checklist and the guilt that goes along with it. Just do one positive thing, and call it good.
- That productive thing could be:
- Taking a shower, getting dressed, and putting on makeup.
- Doing a load of laundry.
- Organizing your sock drawer.
- Sending a text to a friend asking them how they are doing.
- Making yourself a sandwich.
- Watering the plants in your home.
- Feeding your pets.
As you can see, these are not big, time-consuming, energy-draining things. But at the end of the day, you can say, “I did one productive thing today.” And you can feel good about that. Chances are, you might accidentally do more than one productive thing.
After my dad died, I sunk into a depression. I literally had no drive to do anything. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t smile. I had a hard time even getting out of bed.
But I realized there was one thing I could do to be productive that hardly took any brain power at all. I could cut straight lines in fabric. And I could sew straight lines in fabric.
I had previously purchased material to make my college-bound daughter a quilt. It was just one of those simple flannel quilts with squares where you clip the seams.
So every day, I just mindlessly cut out squares of fabric. Then I mindlessly sewed the squares together.
At the end of my period of grief, I had completed her quilt, just by doing one small productive thing each day.
The more you recognize even the smallest accomplishments, the more you’re on your way to feeling better about yourself, regaining energy, and breaking out of your depression.
So, what small, productive thing will you do today? Tell me in the comments!
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