Guest Post by Kamira Gayle, Author & Creator of Impurrfectlife.com – A blog about finding joy, life inspiration and comfort after pet loss.
Depression. Whether you are experiencing the loss of a pet, going through a life transition or just saddened by the events going on in this crazy world, it’s important to know that what we fill our minds with, will transcend into our reality and shape our attitude, knowing this is the first step to conquer depression. I’m a glass half full type of person and although I have experienced some awful things, I manage to push through the storm and make it to the other side. However, it hasn’t always easy.
Pet loss is one of the hardest life changing events one can experience. I’m going to share several tools I used that helped get me out of my funk. I hope you find a few tips to help lift your mood and know you will make it through too. Now, in no particular order, here are 12 tips that helped me conquer depression.
Ideas on how to conquer depression:
1. Listen to upbeat music
There is nothing like the tunes of a good song to help snap you out of a bad mood. The power of music is a wonderful thing. The most memorable songs that we remember usually have to do with love and also make us feel we have a story we can identify with. I’m a generation X baby so my favourite tunes include artists like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Michael Jackson. I mean who on Earth doesn’t like at least one Michael Jackson song, right?! Plug those headphones in your phone or turn up the speakers at home and let the music take you away.
Fitting in exercise is important too. I’ve struggled with consistency in this department however I can testify that when I am consistent, I do notice a physical body mind connection tied to exercise and attitude. You don’t have to take my word for it. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the benefits exercise include an increase in endorphin’s, reduced anxiety, improved immunity, rise in confidence and improved ability to cope with everyday problems.
3. Eat well
When I say have a cheat meal and eat well I mean exactly that. Everything in moderation. My kryptonite is chocolate however even I know I cannot have that every day or I’d be a diabetic. So, when you are depressed, I think it’s okay to have one cheat meal and then continue to eat healthy foods. The best option is to eat whole foods, unprocessed and organic if possible. But do the best you can with the resources available to you.
The priority is to make sure you are getting quality food and nutrients. Depending on the type of person you are, when you are depressed, you may not even want to eat. But taking care of yourself is important. You need food to sustain you and help you stay energised enough to make it through the day and ultimately conquer depression.
4. Watch video/photos of your pet during healthy times
I wrote a post called The Phone Call that Changed My Life a while back and one of the things that gave me great comfort and made me smile was finding old photos and video footage of my cat when she was healthy. Seeing images and video of her purring and content helped me to remember her full life in the moments before illness struck. I don’t think our furry friends would want us to dwell on the negative last moments. They would want us to remember and honour their entire lives.
5. See a comedy show or movie
“Laughter is the best medicine” and this brings me to my fourth idea. Go see a comedy show or turn on your On-Demand TV and look up comics. I like the comedian Gabriel Iglesias. Or if you prefer, try going out to see a comedy show. I’ve been to a few comedy shows and always had a good time. So, if you enjoy a good laugh, bring a friend and make it a girls or guys night out. By the time the night is over your belly will be sore from laughing and your mood will be lighter.
6. Have a good cry then pick yourself up off the floor
This sounds simple but it’s true. Sometimes you just need a good cry. Do just that. Shut the door, close the blinds and let it all out. Remember you are human not superman. To let out your sadness, anger, frustration or whatever through tears is therapeutic and brave. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Releasing those emotions helps to cleanse the soul. As I mentioned before, pent-up emotions held inside over time is not healthy. So, don’t feel bad, have a good cry and then pick yourself up and carry on.
7. Get creative
I am a creative person and like to try anything that helps me expand my mind and creativity in a productive manner such as painting, doodling, colouring books, writing, and working on certain crafting projects. I find that creating art helps you be productive in a positive manner in addition to helping one express their emotions. Making art can actually be therapeutic. If you are not the artist type, perhaps try something you never tried before. The important thing is to find an alternative outlet to work through your grief other than staying in bed.
8. Get out of the house
Getting fresh air and leaving your house is an important step to healing and cheering up your mood. Who wants to be trapped in the house all day every day depressed for weeks on end? Not me. I know when I was crying and grieving after the loss of my pet, I felt physically better when I got myself out of bed and out of the house. You need a change of scenery. You need fresh air to breathe. Having a different space to help clear your mind or distract you from dwelling on the negative is a good thing. It’s healthy to get out and be more active. It’s not only a positive for your physical body but also your mental health state.
9. Find a support system
Another trick to conquering depression is finding a support system. Whether that means talking to compassionate and understanding friends or finding support groups online. You need to talk out your frustrations, fears and concerns with others. It’s not good to have pent-up negative energy, anger or resentment inside.
Personally, I found great comfort in talking to my friends and family at home. I also found support online in like-minded support groups for those experiencing loss of a pet. You’d be surprised how strangers can relate to your struggle. I wrote a post called 8 Resources to Healing after Pet loss which includes information to a couple of support groups you may want to check out. If you are suffering from severe depression, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a qualified therapist.
If you are like me and have adored animals all your life, I found it therapeutic and rewarding to volunteer for an animal shelter. After the loss of my cat I was so sad. I am a glass half full type of person like I mentioned however you know when you are not quite yourself. A few months after my cat Dusty passed I still had that inner voice nagging me. I still needed to do something more. It was then that I decided to turn my pain to purpose. I found a no-kill shelter to volunteer for and today, 18 months later, I am still a part of the volunteer team.
Meeting new people and using my skills to help animals gave me a new sense of purpose. Volunteering provided a type of inner fulfillment that made me feel better.
11. Read Books about Pet loss/Pet Memoirs
There are plenty of free e-books and affordable reading material you can rent or buy to help provide you different perspectives on dealing with pet loss. I listed a few book titles in my prior post called 8 Resources to Healing After Pet loss. Check them out. I found that reading books by authors going through a similar journey helped give me validation, education and comfort. Reading this material let me be intentional on focusing on positivity and the strength to make it through this difficult time.
12. Take it one day at a time
Finally, remember to just take it one day at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day so you won’t find your happiness in one day either. It’s a journey to conquer depression. However, what you can do is decide not to let your sadness leave you deflated. Choose consciously to try to find some joy in each day and do something positive to feed your soul.
Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.
– Arnold Schwarzenegger