5 Quotes + Tips That Get Me Through Bad Days

 I am the one thing in life I can control.

— Hamilton (Musical)

The following line is equally good — “I am inimitable / I am an original” — but this is the one I find most helpful. You will never be able to control other people’s actions. You will never be able to control what people think about you.  There is only one thing in this world that you have complete control over, and that is you. Your thoughts, your actions, what you put into this world, that’s all you need to worry about. Life gets quite a bit lighter when you accept and let go of the things you can’t control.

Motion creates emotion.

— Tony Robbins

Usually, if you have depression or something similar, everyone tells you to “go outside, get exercise!” with the goal in mind being to rid you of your gloomy depressive haze and make you happy. This quote, however, suggests motion as a means of creating emotion. Any emotion. Because whether we’re angry or happy or anything else, emotion is what gives us the drive to do things. And, often, if you’ve just been lying in bed all day, you don’t currently have a huge breadth of emotions.

The motion doesn’t have to be big, anything to give you a slight change of scene or viewpoint. Depending on the day, it can just be getting out of bed. Judge for yourself what you’re up for. I recommend putting on music you can’t not dance to (which is early 2010s pop for me. Happy nostalgia can be very helpful nostalgia!), but other, less exerting suggestions include: reading a book, taking a walk, sitting outside, calling a friend, texting a friend dumb memes that you know will make you both laugh, and putting on a new outfit and showering if you haven’t already.

Have courage and be kind.

— Cinderella (2015)

This quote has honestly become my life mantra. As long as I have it, I can get through anything, because if my only goal is to be as kind as I can no matter what (disclaimer within reason obviously blah blah blah if someone is stabbing you you don’t need to be nice to them), I no longer have anything to worry about.

Having a goal that’s aimed outwards — trying to make other people feel better rather than trying to make yourself feel better — can take a lot of pressure off, and be really helpful in getting you outside of yourself for a little. When I had auditions and rehearsals that I was really nervous about, my therapist suggested thinking about the nerves of the other people auditioning and rehearsing instead of my own. When we decided that my goal would be to make the people around me feel more comfortable and not worry so much about myself, although I was still scared, it didn’t seem to matter as much anymore. Trying to hide or calm anxiety is an extremely difficult and scary task; complimenting someone is not. So that was my lens: find the good in other people and bring it to their attention. Many times, approaching people in order to give them a compliment was still scary for me, but a smile often suffices when words can’t quite make it out. A quick, genuine smile at someone who looks scared lets them know that you’re on their side, and can go quite a long way.

Living by this quote is also helpful in taking down the stress of arguments and other unpleasant situations. If I feel that someone has been rude to me, but I can recount everything I did as being only kind, I can at least be confident that I did nothing to provoke it. And, referring back to quote one, that means that I can let go of it without worrying about it!

When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.

— Alexander den Heijer

Pretty self-explanatory! ♡

Imma keep running ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.

— Beyoncé, “Freedom”

And finally, Queen Bey. This lyric changed how I thought about myself, and about healing myself. I have the potential to do incredible things, to have so many new experiences that change and shape who I am. When I quit on myself, I quit on that future me that would have been. I quit on everything I would have done, and everyone who would have been effected by future me’s existence.

My existence is to be prized and valued, but prizes don’t come without hard work, dedication, and courage. So Imma keep running ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves. 

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Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

 

How I Became Happier By Giving Up Positive Thinking

I used to think that positive thinking never worked for me because I just wasn’t fully committed to it. I thought it must just be one of those mind over matter things where if you could absolutely, completely, convince yourself you were happy, you would be. And maybe that’s true, but let me tell you, it’s definitely the hard way into positivity and I’ve only ever felt worse from attempting it.

So, if I gave up on even attempting positive thinking, how did I get happier? Well, I didn’t give up so much as I remodeled it. I stopped thinking of it as positive thinking and started thinking of it as productive thinking.

Before I elaborate, I just want to say that I didn’t come up with this reconstruction all on my own. I’ve started regularly using planners from The Happiness Planner and, while they didn’t call it productive thinking, it was their approach to negative things that led me to that title.

At the very beginning of the planner, there’s a section where you have to write in the things that make you feel bad. I fully expected myself to skip this part. I deal with quite a bit of anxiety and off and on depression, so I have a lot of negative thoughts floating around my mind for little to no reason to begin with. Actively trying to pull negativity with actual reasons behind it to the surface on top of that sends me into the Land of Nope Nopity Nope Nope Not Today Nope.

But, because I’m also a fairly motivated and determined person and I wanted to complete the entire planner, I filled it out anyway. To my surprise, instead of freaking out, I actually felt better. This I credit entirely to the format of the planner (I promise I’m not associated with it I just thought it was really good). It doesn’t just tell you to write down the things that make you feel bad and then focus on positive things instead. The exact process it guides you through is: “What makes you feel upset? Is it beyond your control? If not, how can you change it?”

It sounds so obvious whenever I repeat it to anyone, but after years of having things like “Happy thoughts only!” and “Focus on the good!” drilled into my mind under the guise of positive thinking, it didn’t even occur to me anymore to just acknowledge a bad situation, ask myself if I could do anything about it, and either let it go if I couldn’t or get to work if I could.

I took this line of thinking outside the planner and immediately felt a huge release. It wasn’t a magic cure-all solution, but it was light-years better than my old attempts at positive thinking.

See, this is what my head used to look like when I tried to “think positive”:

“Man, it’s been a really bad day. I feel awful.

Oh, wait  —  that’s a negative thought! Uhhh, okay, positive thought, positive thought . . .

I feel good. There, yeah, I feel good! The rest of today’s gonna be good. Just smile, be happy.

I’m lying. I feel awful. I’ve had a bad day and I feel awful.

No! I feel GOOD! Everything’s GREAT! Look, I’m SMILING!

Maybe I should just go audition for that muppet on Sesame Street who lives in the trash.”

The end result is that by trying to push out the “bad thoughts,” I end up dwelling on what made me feel bad way longer than I would have if I’d just acknowledged that I was having a bad day and moved on.

It’s like trying to teach yourself math just by saying “Think mathematically.” Where are the steps? Where are the formulas? Where are the practice sheets? It just doesn’t work. You’ll end up staring at the first problem all day trying to will your brainwaves into working like Einstein’s.

Not to mention, even if you succeed in warping a bad situation into a good one, you’ll start getting dependent on being able to happify everything, and there are some things in life that just aren’t happy and aren’t meant to be.

Productive thinking is about steps. It’s about making progress. It’s about keeping yourself moving forward no matter how you feel. It’s about letting go of the things you can’t change instead of trying to force them into the positivity mold.

This is my thought process now that my aim is to think productively:

“Wow, I feel really bad today. Well, sometimes going for a walk makes me feel better, so I’ll try that, but if it doesn’t work out, I’ll accept that I just feel bad today and keep going anyway because bad days are okay, too.”

You’ll probably still hear me use the term “positive thinking” just because it’s what I and most other people are used to, but in my opinion it tends to lead people in the wrong direction. It’s okay to focus on the good. It’s okay to do everything you can to try to make yourself and others feel good. What’s not okay is trying to force everything into the Box of Goodness.

Consider positivity your pet cat. If you try to pick it up and put it where you want it, it’ll keep getting up and walking away. But if you leave it be and get to work, you’ll turn around to find it sprawled across all your belongings.

 


 

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash

8 New Year’s Resolutions For People With Depression

1. Aim to accomplish one thing a day.

It can be big or small, depending on how you’re feeling; anything from adding an extra mile to your run to taking a shower and putting on real clothes. No accomplishment is better or worse than another. On bad days, getting dressed and feeding yourself can take just as much effort as your biggest accomplishment on a good day. Your depression may not go away entirely, but you will have good days where you feel like you again, and until then you just need to keep moving.

At the end of the day, write down what you’ve done.

2. Listen to yourself and your body.

If your muscles feel so weak you can barely hold a glass of water, but you have no explanation for it, cancel anyway. It’s good to push through things sometimes, but there are also times when pushing through just makes it worse. Stop pushing through everything just to say you did, and save your energy for the things you can’t cancel. Just because you don’t have an explanation doesn’t mean what you’re going through isn’t real.

3. Get outside.

I don’t care if you go stand outside the front door for ten minutes and then come right back in. Get outside every day.

4. Nourish your body.

Your body is doing its best to be healthy and functional for you. Help it out  —  give it water and feed it good things, even if they take a little longer to make.

5. Stop trying to fight your emotions.

Stop clinging to happiness, stop fighting sadness, stop trying to convince yourself that your heart doesn’t feel like it’s beating out of your chest. Keep reminding yourself to let yourself feel what you’re feeling. (Note: if you don’t have practice doing this, it can be hard! A couple of good mindfulness apps to get you started are Calm and Headspace.)

6. Read more, and read whatever you want.

If “grown-up” novels bring the weight of the world crashing down on you, that’s fine. Go read Winnie-the-Pooh.

7. Exercise often.

It can be three squats or an hour long run. Whatever you can do, do it. This is especially important on days where you almost feel good, but not quite. Exercising might give you that extra boost you need to get going, even if it’s just for a couple minutes.

Aim for 5–6 days a week.

8. Ask for help.

A trick of depression is making you feel like you can’t ask for help. Fight this. Fight it and fight it again. Even if you feel too tired, or you feel like you’re bothering them, or asking for help just doesn’t seem worth it, ask anyway. Ask for help over and over again until you get it. Your health and happiness are worth it.

I was starting to think about my New Years resolutions for 2017 and I realized quite a few of them related to depression. Most of these are all things I’ve been doing off and on in 2016 and have found to be helpful, so I’m resolving to make them a habit in 2017. I thought I’d share them in case they could help anyone else, too. ❤