Are your children getting on your nerves? Do you feel confused about exactly what it is you should be doing right now? Do you feel a little bit guilty even though you know you didn't do anything wrong?
Depression is a slippery slope to go down because once you start sliding, it gets harder and harder to put on the brakes. Same with anxiety.
No one really wants to go too far down those slopes, even if it may seem seductively fun at first. It's not. It can feel like sliding down into a dark hole with no way to stop when it goes out of control.
Most people don't want to harm their family with their own burgeoning mental issues. So we keep them to ourselves. Not a great idea.
There are so many ways to take baby steps towards mental clarity and focus. Why wait until we need serious and costly help?
So let's focus on what we can do today to help ourselves and our families. Please remember to reach out to a mental health professional anytime you feel that the things you're trying at home aren't helping you to get on the right track.
Always remember. All of our feelings are OK, even if they scare us. It's what we do that counts. And also what we say.
Any time we help ourselves with a mental issue and we clarify to our children what's happening, we teach them resilience. When we hide our problems and pretend to be perfect people, our children know. They start to try to hide their feelings, too.
Children learn by example. That's the way our brains are wired. We have what are called mirror neurons which give us that ability.
So parents and providers really need to know what to do to pro-actively deal with mental health issues before they get out of control. For ourselves and for the sake of our children.
It's that important.
The hand the rocks the cradle, rules the world." unknown
Everybody knows what anti-depressants are but very few people know about ways to avoid and lessen depression before it takes root.
And they have no idea about the hidden gems we all possess innately that we can unlock and put to our own good use. Just like we were able to do naturally and without even thinking when we were kids.
You can unlock your own natural gems, or pre-depressants (term created by the author) to help yourself feel better on your own. It takes effort and awareness but it won't cost you any money. Those natural abilities I'm talking about are the same ones that have taught you everything you know today as well as the same ones that taught you to have fun as a child.
They're your senses.
That's why I call tuning in to your senses the best pre-depressant available. And don't we all need some of this type of medicine in one of the most challenging times in history for mental health?
note: children everywhere are being diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and given a prescription for a "sensory diet" by their health care professionals. These "diets" often include things like swinging, lifting, spinning, jumping, and being rolled up in a blanket.
What professionals call a "sensory diet", kids and adults call fun! You can actually use it to unlock your senses at home without a prescription. But with modern life and all it's worries, you may have forgotten how. Or maybe you still think that fun is a frivolous waste of your time.
Plus, learning to hone in on your senses to keep mentally well is a pre-depressant that has no negative side effects whatsoever.
note: You may need more or less stimulation in your life in any of the following areas.. Listen to your gut feeling when making decisions concerning your sensory experiences.
Pre-depressant #1 Using visual cues to make yourself happy Here are a few ideas:
art walks, pleasant lighting, documenting your neighborhood through photos, drawing, organizing things, cutting down clutter, hiking, visiting museums (on or off-line!), outdoor sculpture gardens, nature, color therapy, light therapy, scientific observation, puzzles, scrabble, bananagrams, safe place and meditations, decorating rocks.
Pre-depressant #2 Using auditory cues to make yourself happier. Some ideas are:
podcasts, audiobooks, music, bird calls, learning a new language, book discussions, lectures, debates, silence, sound therapy, phone calls, online classes, poetry, singing
Pre-depressant #3 Using movement to make yourself feel happier. Here are some ideas:
sports, walking, running, aerobics, yoga, dance, cleaning, charity work, gardening, horseplay, acting, and hiking
Pre-depressant #4 Learning
Combining the above activities in unique and personal ways to create and learn something new is the best prescription for happiness ever! Think about how you feel when you're absorbed in learning a new skill of your own choosing for a purpose.
It's almost like a spark has been lit in your soul. You can go long periods without food and nothing seems to be so important as to get in your way. Some ideas for combining sensory experiences to learn something new are:
music and movement, dance class, hula hooping, weight lifting, tug of war, skating, surfing, biking,, free running, water ballet, and PJ Family Dance Party, any new hobby, scavenger hunting, lap reading, cooking, science experiments, and free play!
In child development, we call the above type of experiences multi-sensory learning and as a child and parent educator, I can tell you for sure that adults benefit from these experiences almost as much as children do.
When whole families participate in them together, the bonding can be nearly magical. Experiences like these can create mental health just as traumatic and stressful experiences can cause mental illness.
So, if you're starting to feel down, try starting a new love affair with your senses. You won't ever be sorry.
If you need more help with SELF Sleep, Eating, Learning and/or Fun, Learn more here.
Nanci J Bradley BS MA, 60+, is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, SELF-care facilitator, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI