5 Simple Joys on a Saturday

5 Simple Joys on a Saturday

“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” 
― Pearl S. Buck

Finding things to do in a small town is often challenging. However, we live next to a larger town, which has abundant shopping centers, restaurants, and a movie theater. It also has a couple of thrift and consignment stores to help freshen the wardrobe or buy a few $3 DVDs. It’s even more challenging to buy food in a small town, as the only grocery store in town lacks variety and is very expensive. With a little hindsight, I try to plans my trips to avoid anxiety and overspending.

To assuage my anxiety, I shopped, as planned, in the early morning hours today. Like a pro, I dashed effortlessly through the aisles, never once becoming stymied over an unstocked necessity. I checked off all the items on my list and stayed under budget. The best part was having to only carry 3 bags into the house!

While unloading groceries, my cat greeted me and snuck under my feet to sit on the porch. She looked so happy at just sitting there. I paused to look and listen to my environment, as to capture some of the simple joy of existing. Often, we chase unattainable and superfluous things to achieve happiness. Humans have a gift of complex minds, unlike animals, but they might have us outwitted when it comes to being happy in the moment.

5 Simple Joys on a Saturday

After I tried to capture my cat being “one with nature”, I figured I’d do a few simple things outside. These simple things brought a little light into my life.

Creatures

The cat seemed so determined to get outside- I listened for a moment to the sounds of spring. It almost sounded like a rainforest outside, with all the birds chirping and other creature sounds. Suddenly, there was a woosh sound and the birds all flocked away from the beast below (my cat).

While driving to the towpath, I noticed hens and ducks, fenced in makeshift, backyard barns. Along the trail where my family and I walked, I could hear cows mooing up ahead. We turned just as one of their cowbells rang. There was also one peaceful pony, standing around in the small plot of land.

Many of the farms were vast, however, I did see a few smaller animal sanctuaries next to a children’s swing sets and toys.

Farmer’s Market

When I rolled into town to grocery shop,  I glanced over a parking lot full of cars to see the main attraction. Just a farmer’s market. Then I thought about my new diet that includes more fruits and vegetables. I hadn’t planned on stopping there, and since I was unable to quickly assess an easy parking spot, I drove past. There were swarms of older people, grey-haired grannies bedazzled with sunhats, while their husbands dawdled along in loafers and polo shirts. I felt out of place and intimidated. Also, I didn’t have cash on me and most of the vendors only accept cash.

The sight of such a grass-roots movement of people buying locally-grown veggies appealed to my desire to be healthier. The mere sight and thought of the farmer’s market kind of inspired me. Sadly, I only implemented my newfound attitude by slicing up oranges for my family’s lunch. I did go out in the yard and weed a little bit though.

Water

The sound of the water rushing over the rocks was very calming. I leaned my phone over the babbling brook to snap a photo of the simple scene. My thoughts drifted off to the time I bought a “Sounds of Nature” CD from Goodwill a few years ago. I remembered how the sounds of the storm and rain drowned out the Friday-night noises coming from next door.

5 Simple Joys on a Saturday

Convenience Stores

In between that long stretch of time from lunch to dinner, we venture to the corner gas station or convenience store. Since pre-packaged, snack-sized goodies are a pricey luxury, my family view such seldom excursions as “treats.” Little nuggets of indulgence and generosity to ourselves. The kids opt for the Icee and I grab a Frappe.

Plants, Trees and Other Scenery

The community works hard to maintain the towpath for both pedestrians and cyclists. The grass is neatly-trimmed, with a few plants scattered among various park benches and picnic tables. Vast, open and welcoming, I’ve never been so pleased to just be outside and breathing air.

I suppose that living with anxiety and depression and so many other negative elements has made me appreciate the good times. Hopefully, I can better learn to make good times out of more of my days.

5 Simple Joys on a Saturday

Life Hacks For Staying Productive During Depression

Life Hacks for Staying Productive During Depression

“I found that with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone.” –Dwayne Johnson

Can you recall a time in your life when you were so crippled by depression that you weren’t able to focus on anything but your mental health? There was a time when I was so depressed and unable to do even the simplest of tasks. Sadly, this occurred right after the birth of my children, who are two years apart in age. It seemed as though everything was working against me. Some things I can distinctly remember are:

When Your Family Isn’t Equipped To Help

My mother, stepfather, and sister, lived an hour away from me. They were all pretty absorbed in their own problems. I remember feeling like a wallflower, an invisible entity when I was in their presence. My sister was a single mother at the time. She’d have my stepdad and my mom babysit for her while she pulled side jobs. She had many financial difficulties and often borrowed money from the family. They bickered about the money she owed them and complained about having to babysit so much.

I felt guilty for asking for help with money, but I did seek their advice when I was dealing with my abusive husband. They always told me to get away from him, but nothing more than hollow words to appease their own conscience. It took me years before I attained the wisdom to leave my husband.

I especially desired emotional support. I was too far away from the family members that were able to help us. The church and a domestic violence support group offered me the social support and knowledge I needed to take care of my kids on my own.

I Lacked Self-Worth

After my pregnancies, it was hard for me to lose weight. Here I was, in my early 30’s, mentally and emotionally exhausted from depression and anxiety. The constant chipping away of my soul continued for 4 years. My ex-husband took great delight in berating me when I weighed 160 lbs. He told me my stomach stuck out more than my chest, and he could get anybody he wanted, but nobody would want me ever!

I Lacked Mobility

When you are poor, it’s hard to keep up a car. There’s the car payment, the insurance, the car repairs, and of course, e-check. In Ohio, if you have an older car, you can forget about passing the e-check. In fact, I had to get a waiver because I paid money to correct the deficiencies, but it still failed. Luckily, the county I currently live in doesn’t require e-check! But the car I lease now would pass the emissions test.

When you have young kids, many people run the other way when they see you’re in need. After trying to unsuccessfully find a place to stay, I wanted to see if the kids and I could be part of the transitional housing for the homeless. There were several churches that participated in this project. The only catch was you had to move your family each week to another church “host”. I didn’t think that was a great idea for my family, given the fact we had been through so much already. Eventually, we were approved for an income-based apartment. Many people endearingly refer to these homes as the “projects.” It was the best option for us at the time, despite the fact that there was a lot of shady activities going on in the complex.

How did I ever manage to be productive when all this was going on in my life? Nothing fell into place quickly, unfortunately. It took years, but those difficult years helped me become disciplined, even when I was depressed.

Some things that worked to my benefit during my most difficult times?

Ask For A Flexible Schedule

My employer (NACS) was aware of my situation, to some extent, and allowed me to come into work after my son got on the bus in the morning, and after I took my daughter to the childcare center.

Have A Routine At Home

My kids and I followed a regular routine of when we ate dinner, played, and slept. Going to sleep on time, at the same time each day, helps your body maintain a regular rhythm.

Enjoy Low-Key Activities

When you feel the surge of anxiety or depression, it’s hard to be around large groups of people (especially, confident and happy people). While it’s not good to isolate yourself from people, many times they unwittingly cause more hurt than good. We used to go to the park when very few people were there. I took my kids to the “Book Mobile” to get videos, books, and puppets. The Book Mobile is essentially the local library contained on a bus that comes to your establishment (nursing homes, the “projects”, etc.).

Some other “low-key” ideas to get you out of the house, without throwing you into chaos when you are least likely to enjoy it, would include:

  • Walking around a quiet lake
  • Going to the movies during matinee
  • Stopping for some ice-cream
  • Fishing, boating, camping
  • Visiting a nature center

Write Lists

My ex-husband used to scoff at the fact that I was so mentally burned-out that I needed to write everything down. If I didn’t write down even the most minute task, my brain was too foggy to recall key information. Amid depression, domestic violence, unexpected “guests” showing up to “party” with my ex, and the weekly visits from the police, my mind wasn’t focused on the future. Instead, I was stuck in mere survival mode.

My family could not have moved beyond those ashes of despair, that bleak kind of existence, if it wasn’t for writing down to-do lists, tasks, resources, and even Bible verses on index cards.

Get Up And Dressed

It’s important to give your appearance some hope the better days that lie ahead. When you take a shower and get dressed, it’s easier to be ready for whatever is going on in the day. There may be an expected opportunity waiting for you- an unexpected job offer, an unexpected friend may call and want to have lunch. Taking the time to get ready is refreshing to your body and your well-being!

Spiritual Healing for Depression

Disconnect And Depression

The solitude and a spiritual connection are the most important steps to understanding and conquering depression. Some of the circumstances can’t be changed, but a renewal in our minds is necessary to overcome depression.

Have You Ever Wanted To Cry But Don’t Know Why?

Every weekend I welcome the notion of not having to attend to work. Although work can be very satisfying, it often brings about many stressful elements. Some jobs, such as industrial or manufacturing environments are intrinsically more susceptible to stressors; high production quotas, working in extreme heat, and louder noise levels, are typical in many factories and warehouses. Tension among employees and low morale create negative feelings. Many workers return home not feeling fulfilled, but rather, overwhelmed or undervalued.

It is during the weekend that I have time to reflect on the occurrences of the previous week. When I find myself feeling depressed, or worse, I feel like crying but I’m unsure where my feelings of depression are rooted, I can’t help but consider the obvious causes. Five out of seven of my days are spent in a flurry of activity, errands and other demands. My busyness may have been masking my depression. Working and having an active life is not necessarily unhealthy. It is unhealthy to use aspects of a busy lifestyle (i.e, being consumed by your workload, using shopping and errands) to distract or soothe our emotions. The effects of busyness and distraction can be similar to how an addict uses drugs to escape from reality or negative emotions.

Isolation

When we feel unsupported at our jobs, we may turn to our family and friends for guidance and encouragement. However, we may not always have a strong network of social support (see The 7 Elements of Wellness). In some instances, our social mobility may be affected by our familial or marital status- that is, if you are divorced or a single parent, you are more likely to experience feelings of isolation. Those living with fewer social ties are 2 to 3 times more likely to become depressed. Having a strong support system of healthy relationships can insulate individuals from feeling overwhelmed when faced with challenging circumstances.

As a divorced or single person, you may feel the world seems to favor couples. After experiencing the break up in the family, you may no longer have access to extended family members. Your family and even your children may blame you for the breakdown in relationships. This is more likely to occur when they are feeling the effects of social isolation, or they may see the world as favoring families that aren’t divorced or headed by a single parent. It is very important to instill a sense of self-worth in your children so that they may be equipped to recognize the reality of divorce- there will be fewer resources, but nevertheless, such realities are conquered by many people each day. By conveying the idea that a strong family is comprised of quality relationships, children can be better equipped to overcome feelings of isolation, in school and at home.

It is especially complicated to meet the emotional needs of your children when your own feelings of isolation are profound. I have accepted the fact that we will be excluded from the benefits of an undisrupted family- in fact, I consider the value of not having to attend to stressful relationships. It is best to spend quality time with my children, and not dwell on what has been lost (although acknowledging grief and loss are healthy elements of healing).

In my quest to understand my feelings of disconnect and depression, my efforts are applied to searching for the emotional aspects of depression; while I realize the many components that contribute to depression, I must give greater attention to those things that which affect me the greatest. For individuals who suffer from bipolar or other mood disorders, emotions play a significant role in one’s well being.

Spiritual Disconnect?

Our social ties are a significant aspect of our overall well being, but what is more important is our spiritual connection. By spending time alone, or engaged in religious or worship activities, we can become more attuned and connected to our purpose in the world.

One of the first things I realize when I have solitude is that I have not renewed my mind. In fact, my process towards renewal may have begun yesterday, when I have had a strong desire to clear out unused things in our home. By being engaged with this process of “clearing out” the, I was letting go of the ideas and concepts attached to these things. Initially, I was displeased that I was, once again, purging things to soothe my anxiety. Solitude has given me the gift of insight to see that I am on the path to renewal- a push many of us subconsciously resist.

The emotional overload we experience in life can cause confusion and agitation. Agitation means the state of anxiety, but it also means “stirring” or “disrupting” something. You may need to be more attentive to your spiritual connection and free yourself from worldly distractions. Excessive worries and fears can hinder our relationship with not only others but also our relationship with God. Our Enemy wants us to live in fear and to be too distracted to pray and give thanks.

When I understand that I am being oppressed by fear and worry, I recall James 4:7, which states “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”– New International Version (NIV).

Unresolved Grief

The loss of a spouse due to divorce isn’t the same as how someone feels when they’ve lost a spouse due to death. Divorce is often sought because of a betrayal, perhaps physical or spiritual, as often is the case when adultery is involved. Sometimes divorce is the result of emotional betrayal or abandonment in favor of alcohol or drugs. The reckless disregard that accompanies adultery, abandonment, or abuse, leaves a profound impression upon the soul. It is difficult to move on if these feelings are suppressed. The marital relationship was created to promote spirituality, health, and happiness. When we lack this sort of relationship, it is easy to fall prey to feelings of low self-worth.

To overcome grief and depression, it is important to ensure the following:

  • Eat vitamin-rich, unprocessed foods when possible. Drink water to cleanse toxins in your body.
  • Enjoy solitude so that you are better equipped to enjoy time with your family.
  • Spend time in nature! Not only does sunshine provide vitamin D that can improve our mood, but being in nature will help you reconnect spiritually.
  • Acknowledge negative feelings through the appropriate outlets. If you don’t have a trusted friend, spend time in prayer. You can also release negative feelings through art, writing, and music as well.

References:

  1. https://www.wakeupcloud.com/overcome-spiritual-depression/
  2. https://www.christianhelpfordepression.org/depression-is-it-a-spirit/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIoP3K28TV3AIVGI3ICh0nJAlKEAMYASAAEgKii_D_BwE
  3. http://www.theworldcounts.com/life/potentials/social-connections-and-happiness