If you are depressed or suffer from debilitating anxiety, you know that the weekends can feel like the loneliest and most empty days of the week. The usual tasks of the workweek aren’t there to provide structure and your colleagues are all making their plans for a relaxing weekend full of family, friends and fun.
You, however, are dreading the long days in front of you that feel aimless and lonely and maybe fear ridden. You may be the person who goes to work all weekend anyway, looking like an overachiever but really just escaping the emptiness of a lonely apartment or a family with more expectations than you can imagine. Work might be your escape.
Or maybe you lay in bed or on the couch all weekend, eating unhealthy food and watching TV or sleeping too much. You may lay there with your mind going over and over something that is bothering you or that happened during the week. Or maybe it is something you are dreading in your future. You get out your crystal ball and dream up horrible outcomes that make you more afraid and stressed out than you already are.
None of that is fun or enriches your life. Those habits that you have learned in order to escape the suffering of depression or debilitating anxiety aren’t serving you as best as they could, but they were good attempts!
In treating clients with anxiety and depression, I really emphasize what I call “enrichment”. These are the things you add to your life that give it meaning and make you feel in control. It is an essential piece to feeling better and really one of the most effective ways out of this rut.
No matter what is going on or what has happened, we all have choices and are capable of engaging in behaviors that make us feel better, no matter how small they seem. You owe it to yourself to leave the sofa this weekend and start a new life.
Here are 6 Things You Can Do Right Now-No Matter What:
1. Get out with people. You don’t have to be with them necessarily, just get out where people are. The park, coffee shop, grocery store, anywhere where you aren’t alone.
2.Find a spiritual place where others are and you can join in. Even if you aren’t religious, churches can be great places as they also promote sense of community. Research has shown us that possessing a sense of belonging to the community is the best way to remain emotionally successful.
3. Organize and take control of something in your life. A room, closet, your finances or your car. Anything that gives you a sense of accomplishment. In other blogs I have discussed the link between organization and depression and anxiety. Get rid of anything that is cluttering up your life.
4. Do a physical activity. Anything. Dance in your house, go walking or jogging or go to a gym if you belong to one. Physical activity interrupts the rumination in your brain that is typical of depression and anxiety.
5. Go around and do 5 things for someone else. These can be very small things like opening a door and smiling at someone, picking up something they drop, help them reach something in the store, nothing huge, but you will notice how you feel when they react to your gesture. It will feel good. These good interactions beef up the serotonin in your brain needed to shake the depression. If you know of someone who needs help with something, go help them.
6. Go to a bookstore and redesign your life as you would like it. Often our depression and anxiety stem from feeling no control over the events in our lives or being stuck in routines we can’t stand to think of for another day.
- Go to the magazine aisle, pick out everything in every topic that looks of interest to you. See what excites you, which activities or hobbies stand out as something you might love? Ones that really speak to you will be the ones you get lost in, your time will just fly by as you look at those.
- You might not have the finances or time right now to fully participate in whatever they are but you can get online and join chat groups and interact with others who share that passion. They may be things you would never have dreamed of being interested in.
- This novelty also kicks up serotonin in your brain and builds hope.
These may seem like small things that cannot possible help with how you are feeling but they really work. I know you are probably thinking you just don’t feel like it and can’t imagine mustering up the energy to go try them out. Please give them a chance, give yourself a chance to live a life full of enriching experiences and the opportunity to shake those depressing weekends!
If you do spend too much time ruminating or gazing into your crystal ball for future disasters, come to the PsychSkills website and get our free worksheet on breaking dysfunctional thoughts and patterns.
Then go have a good weekend!
Dr. Audrey Sherman, Psychology That Makes Sense!