Are you prone to depression? "Woah! Jumping right into the heavy material today, are we?" Well, depending on which expert you consult, major depression affects 6-12% of the human population. And while the other 88-94% of the population may not deal with depression on a daily basis, it is likely that you have experienced or will experience at least one depressive episode in your lifetime. Now depression is not the only mental health concern that exists, by any means, but because it's so common and because I've personally suffered from depression in the past, it's where I want to keep my focus today as I address mental health rhythms.
Just like we have physical health rhythms to keep our bodies working right...getting daily movement, eating enough vegetables, etc., there are many other areas of health that contribute to our wholeness. Mental health rhythms would be those habits you employ to keep your mood and thought patterns in a sound place. As I mentioned, coping with depression has been a big part of my health story, so I got to thinking this morning about the rhythms I have in place to prevents its return. I practice these rhythms all the time, but when I feel depression begin to creep back in, I press into them even more diligently.
For me, it's all about balance. My mental health relies heavily on the balance between having enough "white space" on the calendar (or down time, to put it another way) and having enough stimulation and responsibility. In busier seasons, I strive to keep one evening per week completely free of commitments. I find that, especially as an introvert, I need that time to not only get a good night's sleep, but to wind down properly for that sleep. Simply put, if I become overly tired, I'm prone to depression. Over-isolation can also lead to depression for me, so in slower seasons (since I do a lot of my work from home), I require myself to get out of the house (ideally into fresh air and sunshine) and to have physical contact with another human being at least once a day. On top of tending to my physical and spiritual health, these guideposts go a long way for my mood and thought patterns. Sure, my rhythms are simple, but they do make all the difference for my mental health!
What are your mental health rhythms? Is this a season for you to create more white space or to get out and connect? I'd love to hear from you!