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Most of us understand the difference between having depression and having the blues.
Depression is a constant heaviness or despondency we can’t usually remedy without professional help. Being depressed is both a physical and mental state, it affects us on a deep level, and most often requires a diagnosis. It’s a lasting condition, and we carry it along for the ride wherever we go.
The “blues” are those dreary, dull, or lackluster feelings we get occasionally when things just don’t seem to be going right. The blues are melancholy, but they do not make us feel hopeless. They are usually temporary, and most of us feel them from time to time.
Feeling mellow and can’t seem to break it? There’s some good news about beating those blues! If we have just five minutes we can shake them out and move on with our intentions, our day, and yes, our life.
There are five things we can do now, in the next five minutes, to clear our heads, welcome some fresh, new energy, and bring some peace right back into our otherwise relatively happy hearts.
1. Minute One: let’s stop everything and just breathe. No thinking, no dwelling, no planning. With our eyes closed, we can take four very slow, deep breaths. We can empty our minds and get quiet. We breathe in, we breathe out. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. Let’s not think about the past or the future. Let’s breathe within the present moment. Let’s just stop, breathe, and ground ourselves.
2. Minute Two: now, let’s open our eyes. Let’s move to the brightest part of the room, or better yet, let’s step outside. We can stand tall and still, absorbing the light, whatever light is available to us. If we are near a window, we can look outside. If we are outside, we can look up. It’s time to listen. We can hear small noises inside our home. We can hear our pet moving, our dishwasher humming, our clock ticking. We can listen to a car passing, a bird singing, a church bell ringing. We can stand tall, and quiet, with our shoulders back. We can look and listen, just for a minute.
3. Minute Three: it’s time to move toward a water source. Let’s pour a 12 oz. glass and drink up. We can sip every 10 seconds until our glass is empty. We can feel the water move down through our esophagus to our belly, moistening the parched parts of ourselves. We can feel the water replenish and nurture us on the inside. We can think about the small act of kindness to ourselves, our bodies, for stopping to drink a big glass of water, and why “watering ourselves” is so important for our life, our health, and our contentment. We can think about a personal mantra to repeat during minute four. Here are two good ones:
“I won’t let my past beat me, and I won’t let my future meet me until it’s here.”
“I am present, I am healthy today, and I am worthy of love.”
4. Minute Four: let’s move to the middle of the room and create a bit of space around ourselves for stretching with a personal mantra. Clasping our hands behind our backs, we will bend forward, sending our arms up toward the ceiling. We will hold for a moment and then release. Then, we’ll bend forward, letting our hands sweep the ground near our feet, stretching the backs of our legs. From here we can move to downward facing dog and peddle out our legs. Stepping forward, we can round our backs and come up slowly. Making a big circle, we can reach our arms to the sky, and pull our hands down into prayer, softly repeating the mantra we created for ourselves, to ourselves.
5. Minute Five: let’s sit and make a list. Making a list gratifies instantly. We will begin by listing five things we are grateful for in this very moment, right here, right now. They can be big, like “my mom is still alive, I am currently cancer-free, I woke up this morning, or I have food to nourish myself.” They can be small, such as “today is my day off, I slept well last night, my daughter is in a good mood, or my groceries are put away.” Big or small, these five things are important to us in some way. Next, we will write down five things we can “do” during this very day, the only day we’re guaranteed, that will keep us moving, motivated, and task-focused, so that our blues can float away. Things like, “exercise, meet my friend for coffee, change the sheets on my bed, or finish my poem.” Lists often make everything feel contained and doable. They serve as a reminder to be grateful, and how we can feel productive.
Depression is different from the blues. Depression goes beyond a quick five-minute fix, and this author will not downplay the very real and physical feelings that hold hands with diagnosed depression.
The blues are a different story, though, and this simple practice can help keep them at bay before they ruin a whole day. It’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s immediate help in the moment when we need it the most.
Just try it. Now, don’t you feel better?