What to do When You Feel Empty

Here’s a preface. It’s 3 AM, I’ve already gotten my required 7 hours of sleep. How often do I get to bed at 8? Probably not since elementary school.

Yesterday wasn’t bad. The best thing was watching my students perform at their recitals and doing so well with their songs. It should have been great. It should have been a dose of happiness long enough to last at least the rest of the weekend, but it didn’t last longer than the car ride home.

I started feeling emotionally empty. All the happiness drained out and left me somewhat neutral but very easily agitated.

So what do you do when you feel empty? Well I went to bed. I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want to feel so badly so I turned myself off. Now it’s 3:17 AM and it’s not nearly as bad.

Feeling empty and drained straight up sucks. No buffer here, it’s almost like depression isn’t quite ready to let you go. You could be fine for months and then snap into a rut with no warning. But one of the biggest things I’ve always had to remember about depression is that I’m stronger than it, and I decide how to react. I decide if I need medical help. I decide if depression makes me feel worthless. I decide if my indifference about the day goes negative. It’s all about mindset, so be careful where you allow yours to be.

I’ve found that one of the best things to do when I feel empty and have low self esteem is to take care of someone else. Take a friend to lunch, talk with a stranger at the store, be kind to someone for no reason. Watching their reaction always gives me the ability to smile. So, here’s a list of…

Things To Do When You Feel Empty

People watch
Meet a new friend at the store
Go to the library
Find a good book and just read (I’m reading The Joy of X and it is phenomenal)
Star Gaze
Study something new
Send kind messages to old friends (or new!)
Clean the kitchen
Clean the house
Call your mom
Call your sister
Play some video games with friends
Drive
Listen to a new album
Listen to an old favorite
Cry a little bit
Drive some more
Play a musical instrument
Appreciate something in Nature
Do something for a child
Plan your next trip
Do something to improve work the next day
Paint your nails
Get up early, and go to sleep early
Make breakfast for the people you live with
Meditate
Listen to the Danish String Quartet
Promote your website
Organize your room
Smile at the people you make eye contact with
Wink at your student you see at the mall
Notice the mom passed out in the parent area of the children’s play center and appreciate not having that situation. (I love you moms, don’t get me wrong. I’m just not ready to handle that.)
Get a new perfume
Exercise
Set a new goal for the week, month, year
Cook a meal
Drink a cup of tea
Talk to the people around you
Be there to help someone who asks for it
Focus on getting better

And of course, a list of NON recommended behaviors:
Try not to reread texts or conversations that upset you
Please don’t act rashly
Don’t over commit to something that isn’t possible
Don’t think this will last forever
Don’t stalk the poison in your life on social media
Don’t sulk
Don’t stay cooped up all day
Don’t let yourself think you’re worthless

There is so much more that is possible, enjoyable and beautiful than the sides of the world that are depressing, sad and cold. It’s okay to have the low moments, it gives you the opportunity to rebuild, no matter how big or small the drop may be. It also helps you appreciate feeling better the next day, and the next.

Mental Health is as important as physical health, and some struggle with it more than others. Remember that it doesn’t get to be stronger than you give it permission to be.

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