Depression can be like a vacuum, sucking away all of your energy, motivation, productivity, and optimism. It can make accomplishing anything tedious and exhausting. Everything becomes an effort — even brushing your teeth.
As a busy wife, mother, and entrepreneur, getting sidelined by low energy isn’t always an option for me. The physical and emotional drain depression puts on me is challenging given all of my responsibilities, but I must do what I can to keep myself moving.
Whenever depression shows up it is always at the most inconvenient time. It throws a monkey wrench into my life and I must figure out a way to do damage control while feeling the lowest of lows.
In these moments, I feel incapable of feeling any more feelings because I am being bombarded by them all day long. But, as a mother I can’t just shut them off. I must stay emotionally available to my children 24/7. Motherhood is an on-call type of job. At any moment I must be ready to deal with their stress, frustrations, concerns, and fears.
Fatigue and exhaustion also plague me, making getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, and washing my face feel like I am running a marathon. By the time I shower and get dressed I am ready to go back to bed.
However, with deadlines, appointments, and errands to run I simply can’t sleep my depression away. Life doesn’t care that I have depression. So, I must find ways to incorporate self-care methods and healthy coping skills to reduce the effects of physical and emotional energy drain.
Sometimes I wake up completely unmotivated and need a boost to get the juices in my brain flowing again. A quick 5 or 10 minute meditation before I get out of bed is just what I need to recalibrate my mind and purge any negative emotions or thoughts that are keeping me stuck.
Instead of sitting in the funk, I choose to change the focus of my thoughts to something more positive. Plus, it sets the tone for the day and allows me to get more done.
Meditation is also very helpful if you find yourself being sidetracked by anxiety or if you’re unable to fall asleep because your mind is going a mile a minute.
Trying to shove as much as you can into one day can make you feel more drained and possibly less accomplished. Pacing yourself is another self-care method that can help to put your needs first — and may even force you to have more realistic expectations for yourself.
We all like to think we are superheroes who can do any and everything. Unfortunately, that isn’t how we are built. Gauge how you feel every morning. Do you feel overwhelmed, scattered, emotional, or anxious? If so, try to focus on the tasks that are most important to get done. Allow yourself to take breaks and give yourself permission to call it a day if you hit a wall.
I can’t stress this enough: Ask for help! If you can share your workload with a coworker or use their help in finishing a project, do so. Ask your spouse or significant other to take on some of your usual duties at home in their free time to lessen your load.
If you have older children, have them prepare dinner, clean up the kitchen, and start a load of laundry for you. And no need to worry about groceries. Now that you can order them from your phone, you can avoid the store and have them delivered according to your schedule.
Talk it out
If you see a therapist or counselor regularly, see if you can squeeze in an extra session to help you get through this particular episode. Some offices offer video or phone visits, so you won’t need to leave your home or office if you need to talk out your feelings and stressors.
Sometimes you can lose perspective when emotional and physical drain sets in. Having your therapist give you new ideas on how to handle what is going on can help you in managing and coping with it all. Also, it helps to have what you are experiencing validated and supported in a healthy and productive way.
Get some sun
Every day, I make sure to open my curtains to let the sunlight in. It is an automatic mood booster. Having the sun shine on my face while I work at my desk helps to keep me alert, creative, and productive.
Try to take a few minutes to go outside and sit in the sun. Go for a five-minute walk during your break or eat your lunch outside. Spend a couple of extra minutes outside while walking your dog. If you usually sit in the kitchen to have your morning cup of coffee, drink it out on the deck or patio.
Soak it up
I also live with fibromyalgia, and depression symptoms often exacerbates my aches and pains. For me, an Epsom salt bath helps me to relax by easing muscle pain and soreness — which in turn helps me sleep better.
I like to draw a bath, put in 2 cups of Epsom salt and a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender, to soothe and calm. You could also use an essential oil diffuser while you soak. Put on your favorite playlist or use this time to do a meditation.
Do not disturb
For me, getting enough restful sleep is very important when managing physical and emotional drain. Be sure to create a healthy sleep environment and stick to a sleep schedule.
Turn off your mobile devices and television thirty minutes before you go to bed. Try reading a book or listening to guided imagery for sleep to help you prepare for getting the best sleep you can get. Limit napping so that you aren’t wide awake when it’s time to call it a night. And avoid drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages right before bed.
For more information on how to manage depression, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
DEPR-US-NP-00048 JANUARY 2019