Having pleasure in our lives is so important. Very often when we have gone through trauma, we don’t know how to, or we think we shouldn’t have fun and pleasure, so we end up having fun in ways that are detrimental to us. Or the only way we can have pleasure is when we are under the influence of alcohol or illicit substances. Experiencing pleasure is a mood booster.
- Listening to music, listening to something you love helps to lift your spirit. It can also help make difficult tasks that you don’t particularly like doing i.e. exercise,
- Get dressed up just for the sake of it – those beautiful item of clothing that is gathering dust in your wardrobe that you love. Choose mindfully what you dress yourself in and absorb those feelings that you are taking care of yourself.
- Watch a funny movie or video clip
- Play a puzzle or board game.
- meeting a friend for coffee or just going by yourself
- going for a swim
- Make a Spotify or YouTube playlist based on your current mood.
- Buy an essential oil diffuser and try aromatherapy using essential oils.
11. Take care of others
There are benefits of helping others but it this is about altruism where you are selfless and concerned with the welfare of others. Helping others can also make you happy, it can help lower blood pressure, and also gives you a sense of purpose and satisfaction. The only thing you need to watch is that it isn’t too your detriment also you are not expecting much in return.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen at Christmas
- Take an elderly neighbour shopping
12. Social connections
Connecting with others is generally one of the most difficult things to do when you have gone through trauma but the most beneficial.
Be on the lookout for opportunities to connect with other people. The only way to do this is to allow yourself to be vulnerable but not put yourself at risk. It is learning that balance between the two, but it is only learning and experience that can give you that. You can learn which people are safe by how they treat you and how they treat other people.
My previous article on A.C.E. (Avoid, Control and Escape) can help. You can decide to avoid social situations and meeting new people. You can learn to feel in control by first working out how to keep yourself safe physically and emotionally, taking your time to get to know people and allowing them into your life, don’t be afraid to ask for confirmation and advice, it is normal to second guess yourself at first as this is a new situation. Knowing that you don’t need to stay with a person, people or place that you are not comfortable is empowering, You can escape and leave.
Ideas for connecting with others include
- Avoid toxic people.
- Ask for help
- Ask friends and family to remind you that things will be OK, and that what you’re feeling is temporary.
- Join a support group for people who are going through what you’re going through.
- Join and attend a support group meeting. Share and listen.
- Volunteer at a local community organisation
13. Spend time in nature
- Try and make a commitment to be with nature regularly whether it’s a walk in the countryside or watering your plants.
- You also don’t need to be a seasoned gardener to enjoy gardening and to get the benefits of it.
- Sunshine is well document for benefiting your mental health.
- Research has shown that there are therapeutic benefits of nature for mental health and wellbeing.
- Spending time outdoors is a great self-care activity either on your own or with other people.
Willpower alone won’t be enough to help you to start exercising. Trying to adopt some simple strategies that you can do long term will benefit your emotional health:
- Little and often is best as it is better to exercise for just about 15/20 minutes a day rather than two hours a week.
- There are plenty of youtube videos to get you started, just try and do one that you would enjoy rather than doing one that is too much for you, which would put you off.
- Try and have some variety and try and keep it fun. There is something out there for you to enjoy.
- Planning ahead to incorporate into your day and your week will help. Keep your gym clothes ready
- Enrol in a workout class
- Try and get support and encouragement from others (even if it is online).
- Last but not least, keep it simple.
- Remember journalling is for you to write down your thoughts, feelings, experiences, worries, fears, anger, etc.
- Don’t be too concerned about grammar, your spelling or perfect punctuation.
- To get the most out of it try and ensure you are doing this privately without any distractions, you don’t need to journal your experiences – just journal how it made you feel (use the feeling wheel if you are stuck)
- Keep your journal private for your eyes only
- Use 15 minutes to write out your thoughts about anything bothering you. Then burn or throw away the paper.
16. Be Grateful
When you are experiencing depression and feel really stuck in your life, it is hard to think of anything to be grateful for. Gratitude helps to put you in a positive frame of mind, even if it is for the few minutes that you are thinking about it. Plus it has so many benefits for our mental and physical health including reducing our stress levels. Over time, doing this consistently and regularly, it would improve your outlook on the world. There are several ways you can do this.
- You can just write about five different things you are grateful for in your journal on a daily basis;
- Write down five things you are grateful for and keep re-reading the same ones on a daily basis.
- Or you could this could be part of your daily meditation practice where you take time out and just think about what you are grateful for. No matter what strategy you choose, just ensure you are doing it daily.
- Remind yourself of the good stuff in life by writing a list of things you’re grateful to have. Then post it somewhere you can see it often to help refocus your emotions when you feel down.
Research has shown that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing by boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem, helping you to build a sense of purpose, helping you to connect with others
Ideas to add learning to your life can include:
- Making a commitment to read books regularly
- Learn a new board game you’ve never played, such as chess, Carcassonne, Settlers of Caatan, or even Game of Thrones.
- Get some inspiration by reading stories of people who overcame adversity.
- Join an adult education class of a subject that you would enjoy learning – just for the sake of it
- Visit the library, or a bookstore. Browse or read at your pleasure.
- Listen to a chapter or two from an audiobook.
18. Be careful about what you Think and See
We need to deliberately filter the negativity that we have in our lives. Not all the time we can get rid of them totally, but we can often do things the minimise the impact they have on us. We can also intentionally filter in more positivity in our lives
- Minimise watching the news, high dramas or horror films. What you need to ask yourself is Are these television programmes uplifting me? Can you do anything about the information they are giving you? How does it make you feel after you are watching it?
- Write encouraging affirmations or inspirational quotes on Post-its and place them where you will see them every day.
- Disconnect from negative people on social media or mute them
- Follow people on social media that displays post that uplift and encourage you
Thank you for reading. I hope you got something from it.
If you wish to book a Therapy Session, do get in touch. I offer a free 15 minute consultation where we will discuss how I work and answer any questions.