My mother took this photo of me 5 years ago. We were in between the most eastern tip of Papua New Guinea @ East Cape and Sewa Bay. We were lucky that day because the sun was out and was simply stunning but the current was strong. I had returned from cold, rainy concrete jungle Melbourne to raw Milne Bay in PNG and I felt sad. It was at the height of my depression and I wanted to crawl under my blanket, close my eyes and pretend everything was OK. That I was not depressed, that I was not unemployed or in debt.
Going home to the village where my grandmother and grandfather met 60 years prior was perfect. It was what I needed. To get all the hugs from my Aunties, Uncles and cousins, feel the warm sea on my face and eat as much tapioca cake as possible. My mother told me stories of her childhood, where she and my Aunties and Uncles used to go and play and I felt a deep connection to Sewa Bay even though it was my first time physically there.
It was my first step to healing and recovering and saying yes, I need help to navigate this storm of depression in my heart and mind and from there on, life looked up again.
What gives you joy when it is raining cats and dogs in your life? When you want to smile but it hurts to smile and your heart is heavy? Here is my list to find sunshine in your life when things don’t go your way.
- Soak up the sun. Vitamin D is important for happiness! (Be sun smart of course!)
- Move your body- humans are designed to move, not to stay stagnant
- Play basketball
- Find movement that works for you and move 3 x 20 minutes per week
- Connect with people. #IRL. I am not talking about sending your best friend a snapchat emoji. I am talking about making time to have a coffee, look at his or her face and hang out.
- Volunteer. I forced myself to volunteer when I was unemployed and sad it opened up a new world for me in terms of connecting with people and seeing how fortunate I am and what resources I do have available to get where I wanted to be.
- Seek professional help. E.g. counsellor or doctor. These guys are trained and have the skills to get your well again if you don’t feel great.
- Journal daily
- Count 10 x blessings you are grateful for when you wake up
- Count 10 x blessings you are grateful for when you sleep
- Practice yoga!
- Nourish your body with good food
- Drink 8 x glasses of water per day
- Listen to music loud
- Take as many mental health care and rest days as you need
- Surround yourself with your loving family and friends
- Say what you need to feel supported
These are the steps I took to find my feet again. Some days I didn’t want to complete these activities and some days I didn’t! But, the more effort you put into self-care and nourishment, the quicker you can find peace and happiness within. I hope these tips help in some way.