Okay, this is a weird one to me. To reduce depression, take a cold shower. Really. It's backed up by research, found here. Here's an excerpt: Exposure to cold is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline and to increase synaptic release of noradrenaline in the brain as well. Additionally, due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect. To see other benefits of cold showers (besides the one you always hear about) read this article.
Here's a little explanation from the article on Forbes.
"Here’s a little about MBCT: the practice marries mindfulness meditation (or mindfulness training) and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which are quite related to begin with. With mindfulness, an individual learns to observe his or her own thoughts with curiosity and without judgment, acknowledge them, and then let them go"
I looked around a little online and found this free mindfulness class. I don't know if I will try it. I may also go to a counselor that provides this training as I have good health insurance. On Psychology Today, they have a Find a Therapist service and you can indicate that you want them to be trained in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
It turns out that this tool for fighting depression is easy, inexpensive and tasty. It's yogurt! According to a study in the Netherlands, reported here in the Telegraph. I read this first this this morning and had 2 yogurts this morning for breakfast and I have to admit that I feel better today than I have for the past few weeks, despite having a bad phone call with my boss this morning, so maybe it works. This is something I could totally do every day, maybe not 2, but one yogurt a day. It does have to be one with live cultures. "A 2013 US study found that participants who consumed yogurt twice daily for a month showed lower levels of activity in the areas of the brain associated with emotion and pain, together with increased activity in areas associated with decision making."
A strawberry flavored, healthy weapon in the battle against depression? I'll take it! Seriously, this is wonderful.
"It's more than a little comforting to know that people can become happier, that pessimists can become optimists, and that stressed and negative brains can be trained to see more possibility." - Shawn Achor This is a quote from the post from Huffington Post. I'll wait here while you go read the article. It mentions a bunch of the things that we have already talked about on this blog, exercising, being kind do others, meditating (or praying), but it adds in a few I haven't heard of, such as abandoning shallow small talk and talking about things that matter. It's worth taking a look if you haven't already.
I came in to 2015 in a stress/survival state but I am going to leave 2015 in better shape. Who's with me? I found this 2015 Goal Setting Worksheet and I am going to fill it out, decide on my priorities and try and stopped being overwhelmed by all there is to do, so that I can feel more joy with what I have. Come on, join me!
I saw this yesterday. Tylenol can affect your mood. Researchers at Ohio State University found that Tylenol and "blunt emotions and even reduce the degree of positive and negative feelings." I don't know about you, but the fact that Tylenol has any effect on my feelings at all just makes me kind of uncomfortable. I think I will lay off the Tylenol. What do you think?
Give a restaurant gift card to someone standing by the road with a sign asking for help. Get a few to keep in your car for this reason.
Be a coach in the Special Olympics. Go to http://www.specialolympics.org or call 1 (800) 700-8585 to see how you can help.
Sponsor a child - This is more personal that just donating to a charity. There are several organizations through which you can do this.
Phone: (888) 511-6443
P.O. Box 9716
Federal Way, WA 98063-9716
or email email@example.com
These are only 2 of many. Find one you believe in and give.
Volunteer at a local hospital. Fix a meal, hold a hand, hold a baby, water the plants, show people around. Again, there are jobs for everyone. Look up your hospital on line or give them a call to find out how to get started.
Foster a pet. Help socialize them so that they may be adoptable later on. www.petfinder.com
Become a CASA volunteer. Be the voice of a child in court. http:www.casaforchildren.org or call 800-628-3233
Build a house - or help anyway, with Habitat for Humanity. www.habitat.org or call 1-800-HABITAT
If you haven't found what you want to do yet, check out www.volunteermatch.org for all kinds of volunteer work, even administrative work you can do without leaving home!
Just for fun, plan an outing doing as many good deeds as you can. For example: Send some fun mail. Head out to your local hospital and put dollars on the vending machines with notes. Put quarters on all the gumball machines you see. Go to a drive through and pay for the person behind you (Make it a McDonald's and you can donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities while you are there). Drop some baked goods at the fire department. Go to a store to get some yarn for the Linus blanket you are going to make later. Put the change you get back from your purchase into the Coinstar and choose a charity. When you get back home, visit all the web sites listed at the beginning of this book that are free and make donations and play Free Rice for a little while. For less than the cost of 1 dinner and a movie, you can have so much fun helping others.
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no person can help another without helping themselves.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
For the crafty - you can knit, crochet or do other needlework for charity.
Click on your state to find where to drop off blankets.
Our volunteers, known as “blanketeers,” provide new, handmade, washable blankets to be given as gifts to seriously ill and traumatized children, ages 0-18. It is Project Linus' policy to accept blankets of all sizes, depending on local chapter needs. All blanket styles are welcome, including quilts, tied comforters, fleece blankets, crocheted or knitted afghans, and receiving blankets in child-friendly colors. Always remember that blankets must be homemade, washable, free of pins, and come from smoke-free environments due to allergy reasons.
Crochet a mat for the homeless out of grocery bags. Here's a link to an Instructables tutorial of how to make the "plarn". http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-Plarn-3/
Once you've made a bunch of the plarn, then you just single crochet until you have a mat 3 feet wide and 6 feet long. It only takes a couple of months.
Donate through CoinStar. You know the machines in front of many stores that will count your change. They will also take charitable donations. Any size donation will be accepted. CoinStar supports these charities: American Red Cross, Audubon, Autism Speaks, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Change Making Change, Children's Miracle Network, Feeding America, Humane Society of U.S., Jumpstart, Ronald McDonald House Charities, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, UNICEF and World Wildlife Fund.
Sell something you no longer need on Ebay and donate the proceeds. Ebay has a program called Ebay Giving Works and you can choose how much you want to donate.
Help The Ronald McDonald House Charities. Of course you can always drop your change in the charity boxes at every McDonald's restaurant, but if you live near a Ronald McDonald House, you can also donate your time. They have a 30 ways in 30 days list on their website with 30 ways you can help. http://rmhc.org/how-you-can-help/volunteer/30-ways-in-30-days/
These include bringing baked goods, planting flowers, cooking a meal, decorating a room. There are all kinds of jobs here for all kinds of volunteers, whether you are good with people, a good cook or good with plants. Anyone who can answer a phone can help. If you are housebound, you can collect pop tabs from aluminum cans for their program. Phone: 630-623-7048 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm challenging you, today, to do at least one random act of kindness. It will make you feel better as well as the recipient. For some of them, you don't have to put down your phone or get out of your chair. Seriously, do it now.
Have a un-birthday party at your home. Bake a cake, decorate, invite friends and ask them to bring the amount of money they would spend on your birthday present as a donation to your charity. Fun ones for this could be Heifer International or World Vision (www.heifer.org or donate.worldvision.org). You could divide your guests into teams and have them compete against each other to see where the money would go. Imagine how much fun to play as team goat or team chicken and then send the money to a charity at the end of the party.)
Hand out bottles of water to workers on a hot day; of course be careful not to hold up traffic.
Pay for someone's toll or hamburger, in line behind you at a drive through. (If you are worried about how much this will cost, just say, I'd like to pay $5.00 of the cost of the meal for the person behind me, or please give the person behind me a free ice cream cone, on me and tell them to have a great day!)
Get some travel size toiletries and donate them to a hospital. The hospital I volunteer for is a Children's Hospital and they accept all kind of supplies, new toys or stuffed animals, toiletries for parents who have to stay overnight such as shampoo, deodorant and tooth paste/brushes. Call your local hospital and ask what you can do.
Have a bake sale and donate the proceeds to your favorite charity.
Send happy mail. Did you know you can mail a small package of candy or a small toy priority mail with stamps? If it weighs less than 13 ounces, you can put stamps and an address on it and drop it in a post office box. Look at https://www.usps.com/ to calculate how much it will cost.
I looked it up today and here are some general guidelines, although prices change frequently.
To mail a 1 ounce package just about anywhere in the United States from my address was 2.07 and to mail a 13 ounce package was 3.77 no matter what zip code I put in. Just for fun, mail someone a package of crayons, a candy bar, a book or a small toy. Make someone's day. This is great for the grandkids, but everyone is a kid at heart!
Put a couple of quarters on a gumball machine for a child to find, or put a dollar on a vending machine (especially in a hospital!) with a little note that says something like, "Enjoy this random act of kindness.". This is so fun!
Reach out to your neighbors. Bake loaves of banana bread, wrap and deliver them.
Send someone a little note, a thank you card. Thanksgiving is a great time of year to send a note to say thank you to someone who has been a help to you.
Pray for a friend or even a stranger. (Read Praying for Strangers by River Jordan for inspiration.)
Pick up litter.
Smile at someone.
Hold the door for someone.
Take the carts in at a grocery store.
Donate your old stuff to charity.
Write a note to someone and hand deliver it. This is especially great with your in-house family members, husband and kids.
Elijah's Hope Go to www.elijahshope.net and commit to pray for an orphan every day. There is no monetary donation involved, just your time. Unlike the other sites in the last section, you will have to register with the site and provide an email address.
6. The Child Health Site - This is where you can donate health care to a child. They keep a running total of the number of children who have been helped each day at the bottom of the page that you will see after you click and donate. On the day I was writing this, 204 children had been helped.
8. The Rainforest Site - When you click on this site's give button, you save the rainforest, an amount measured in square feet. Every little bit helps. 100% of the sponsor's money goes to the rainforest.
9. Free Rice - Play a vocabulary game, answer a math question or even prep for your SAT test using this site and every correct answer donates 10 grains of rice for a hungry person through the United Nations World Food Program. You'll need to play quite a while to give them a whole bowlful, but hey, it's fun and kind of addictive.
Here at our house, we've started a blessings jar and we're putting in blessings and memories and then we will open it and read them all on New Year's Eve. Here's a link to a Pinterest Board with a lot of ideas for how to make one. Ours is very simple, a jar with a taped on label, but whatever works.
I have made it through a lot of things in the past couple of years, my mom's Alzheimer's disease has been the number one stressor, but you can add to that working, raising teenagers, health problems, having to sell the house I grew up in (not to mention cleaning it out!) losing my job, having surgery ... it goes on and on. I can't focus on it. I just can't. I try to do one thing at a time throughout the day until dinnertime and after dinner I try and recharge myself. One of the ways I am able to cope is because I have started art journaling. I draw flowers and trees and I don't actually draw all that well, but it helps me, it refuels me for the next day of coping with one thing after the other. Art has been proven to help with stress, anxiety and mental health.