Special Note: If you start having thoughts of wanting to die or harm yourself, seek professional help immediately, or let a loved one know. Or call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides 24/7, free, and confidential support.
When the COVID-19 Pandemic first appeared in early 2020, Jack and I were as startled as everyone by the strict restrictions of just going to the grocery store to buy toilet paper and food. After a few weeks, we both agreed “NO MORE.”
We moved to the country, lowered our living expenses (cut them over half), started an organic garden and became far more self sufficient (energy, water, food backups and redundancies). In a nutshell, we simplified.
While many people we knew were rushing to get experimental vaccines, buying hoards of masks, staying home and complying with lockdowns, we took the opposite approach.
We went on several roadtrips (Washington DC, Las Vegas, Colorado Springs, Phoenix, Graceland in Memphis, Pigeon Forge in the Smoky Mountains, Andy Griffith Museum in North Carolina, Ark Encounter in Kentucky and other crowded places) visiting 20 states.
We were a bit surprised to see both ends of the spectrum:
1. People wearing masks, gloves, headgear and wrapped in extra clothing just to walk outside to their mailbox.
2. Or like us, RVers, bikers, campers, and travelers enjoying America’s freedoms indoors and outside. We only wore masks per local establishment restrictions, but even then, like other patriots, it was minimal. We attended theater plays, saw movies, enjoyed concerts, explored museums and road amusement park rides.
Everyone experiences ups and downs, but the sadness we’ve been seeing from some people is like weather. It tends to come and go, and it can lift quickly if something positive happens. We made sure to focus on positiveness. We turned off the TV and especially mainstream media of any kind (radio, newspapers, magazine’s, etc.)
Those who took similar approaches seem to snap out of it—sort of like a rain cloud moved aside by the sun.
When It’s More Than Normal Sadness
But some people practically bolted themselves indoors and continuously watched the propaganda and news. Their sadness wasn’t a temporary occurance like a rainshower. It is full blown depression, like a season.
Depression moves in and stays for a while, most of the day, every day, for weeks at a time. It can affect your mood, your physical health, and the way you perceive just about everything. Rather than an emotional state, depression is a health condition.
Consider simplifying your life, finding alternative news sources (like CleverJourneys.Com), and improving your well being. Here are some suggestions:
1. Get moving. Any form of regular exercise boosts mood and energy. It’s hard to get moving when you’re feeling down, so start with small steps and build from there. Standing, stretching, or taking a quick walk around your house or neighborhood is better than being boarded up. And guess what? You don’t need to wear a mask! As a registered nurse of 40 years, I’m not about to wear a mask so frivolously. Just move!!!
2. Try meditating. Research has shown that medication can improve depression symptoms, but research shows you can equate the benefits of 30 minutes of meditation to the effects of one antidepressant pill. Of course, if your doctor has prescribed medication, you should continue to take it as instructed—but you can add meditation to your routine. There are plenty of apps that can help you get started, including Headspace, Calm, and The Mindfulness App. Or simply just go walk!
3. Go outside. Spending time in nature can decrease feelings of depression. It also exposes you to sunlight, which can help your body produce vitamin D. Low levels of the nutrient have been linked to depression, but soaking up even 15 minutes of sun per day can lift your spirits in the present and over the long term.
4. Foster close relationships. Nurturing your existing relationships with friends and family is one of the best things you can do for your health. But it’s also never too late to forge new bonds. How? Sign up for a book club, volunteer to lend a hand at your local community center or place of worship, take a group exercise class, or simply invite a neighbor to meet for a cup of coffee. As feelings of connection increase, depression often decreases.
5. Read. Simply pick up a book and read it. I say book, instead of reading on a computer or phone, for the sake of your eyes. Each day, I have a ritual of reading Bible devotionals and a few chapters in a novel. Library cards are a good thing. It is positive and good for the spirit.
6. Practice gratitude. Making daily lists of what you’re grateful for has been found to help lift mood. Even if you’re not able to write everything down, simply thinking about it or expressing gratitude to others can help boost happiness.
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