Just as I’ve been open about my depression, I’ve been open about seeing a therapist on an ongoing basis. I’ve seen several over the past 30 years, but the one I’ve been seeing on an off for the most recent six years has helped me more than all the rest combined. Since I’ve seen so much benefit from the work we’ve done together, I at least try every activity or homework she gives me.
During our session a couple of weeks ago she walked me through the four areas of well being – physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional. As we went through each one we developed a list of things that I currently do, have done when I’m in an episode of depression, and things I could be doing, but don’t do (or at least don’t do enough).
I ended up with a handwritten small poster that I can hang up to easily reference. I also took a picture of it so that I have it on my phone.
The purpose of doing this activity is to A) remind me of the tools I have in my tool box, B) give me a bit of a checklist to look at if I feel like somethings not quite right and C) give me a list of things I can do to take care of myself if / when another episode of depression slams into me.
We came up with 12-19 items, depending on the area. Some examples under each item include:
- Physical – Rest, mindfulness practice, exercise, sleep, get out in nature, eat foods that make me feel physically healthy, limit screen time, declutter (physical and mental space), and get plenty of fluid
- Mental – Mindfulness and gratitude practices, sleep, get out in nature, limit distractions, hug / connect with my family, live inline with my values (Manifesto), and exercise
- Spiritual – Gratitude, get out in nature, contribute to my community, let go / forgive, meditation, and growth
- Emotional – Mindfulness, honour my feelings, sleep, stick to my boundaries on time and space, have fun / laugh / feel joy, connect with others, grieve, be engaged / present, and have courage / self-advocacy
These aren’t all of them, but you get the point. Yes, there are cross-overs between them and I pay special attention to those things that do hit on multiple areas because those are activities that likely help me a lot.
I’ve often looked at the areas of my life as being things like health, family, career, hobbies, community, friends, financial, etc., but this exercise made me see well-being as being about more than just health. It’s about who I am, how I live my life on a day-to-day basis, and what enables me to live my life fully.