Sometimes, I don’t get up, for whole days. In fact, sometimes, this winter, I didn’t get up for whole weeks. I think my total hours, out of doors, throughout the entirety of October 2014, were probably low enough to be counted on one hand. Days and days of staring at the clock, just waiting aimlessly for the time to pass itself by, and too exhausted to do anything with it, and feeling ever more hopeless and pointless and weak.
But sometimes you need those times in bed. Depression and anxiety are exhausting. I can’t find any studies that go into this in any great detail, but the amount of energy used in an anxiety attack – when your mind and body is constantly on the brink of an extreme fight-or-flight mode – must be extortionate. On top of that, tiredness is a physical, medically proven, symptom of depression. I’ve had days and days and days where my mental state and mood have actually been in a fairly chipper place, but my body just aches of an exhaustion that I can feel to my bones.
Now, there’s heaps of things you can try to get yourself over this and get up. My medication certainly helped me with my energy levels in part. But even with that I still need my down days while I’m in recovery. I found out just earlier today that you can get psychological assistance dogs, who can be trained to lick their owner’s feet until they get up in the morning! How great is that? But for now, I don’t have a dog, and if you can’t tempt the dachshund you look after to lick your smelly sleepy toes, maybe you will have days, and weeks too, of just lying and dozing in bed.
But what I have discovered, while I lay there aimlessly in bed, is how important it is to keep my mind light, open, and controlled (I guess it’s a bit like meditation). Otherwise, before I know it, I soon feel myself spiraling towards that only too familiar feeling of misery. And misery seems to love bed even more than I do.
So, let’s meditate awhile.
Here is a list of my ten favourite things that I like to meditate on when I’m too tired to get out of bed, and you might like to try for yourself. If you’ve read my article on Facebook-envy, it may be unsurprising for you to see that they do not include divulging in social media! So, here it is…
1. Listening to Radiolab
Radiolab is an awesome awesome podcast that will fill your mind with wonder and make you curious about ideas that you don’t even know exist yet. ‘Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.’ Doesn’t that sound cool? So go and open your mind a little bit for a while- I promise you won’t be let down- or able to stop talking about it! The best thing about podcasts like this is that they totally take all of your focus to listen properly. Great for any time you don’t trust yourself not think too much- I use mine for walking, travelling, washing up, laying in bed…
2. Playing Candy Crush
There’s something magical about the way those brightly coloured candies float down your screen and then burst into little stars. I love this game because there is no pressure of losing, it’s simply harmless bits of candy and maybe- oh dear, oh well, let’s try again. Great to play while listening to a podcast (see above!), and great for whiling away the time when you’re simply being comfy and warm in bed. You can play online for free on your computer, or download the app if you have a clever phone device. And then you can just pop and pop candy to your hearts content. Ahh… Before I knew mindful breathing, I even used to use this game as a distraction and relaxation game to calm me when I felt my anxiety coming on.
Colouring is not just for kids, and people are recognising the importance of play in therapy for adults more and more. Colouring combines logic, vision, creativity, patience, and on a basic level also helps improving your fine motor skills! What’s more, focusing your attention into a simple activity like colouring is a great way to clear your mind from its worries and find yourself engrossed in the present moment. Depending on how creative you’re feeling, you can easily pick up an adult colouring book online, or even begin designing your own mandalas in a sketch book.
4. Reading silly stories
Whether alone, or reading aloud in silly accents with a friend, go and immerse yourself in a world of adventure. But do make sure you keep it light-hearted. If you’re lying in bed all day, you probably have enough going on without adding some fictional tragedy to your list of woes. Reading gives me something to talk about when my people ask me how my day has been, other than me saying repeatedly how tired or miserable I’ve been feeling. I find that reading also has that wonderful quality of making me feel like I am being positively productive (more so than playing computer games I find). Maybe I feel like I’m giving my imagination a bit of a work out or something. Have your books easily accessible and on display. Physically having the bookshelf in front of me allows means I can see how much I have read already, and helps me realise what I am achieving as I work my way through, without me even having to leave bed that day.
5. Watching Scrubs
Films are always a good go-to activity on a bed day to keep yourself mentally entertained. However, sometimes I find full feature length films too exhausting, even without any physical effort on my part. That’s why I like watching television series. While there is an overall arcing storyline if I want to go in for the long haul, I can also choose to watch stand-alone episodes and still come away feeling content. As with reading, I find the key is to keep it light- comedy and uplifting stories only. Scrubs ticks all the right boxes for me; it’s silly, funny, light hearted, and always has some sort of life meaning message at the end for an added bit of soppiness. I like to think of it as a bit of research, too, as I’m sure it’s obviously true-to-life narrative means I can see what my boyfriend will definitely be getting up to each day as a Junior Doctor. On top of that, at roughly 20 minutes an episode, it’s also a great length for a cup of tea sit down just as a midday rest!
6. Watching shamelessly pop-culture music videos
Throughout my life as I knew it before the anxiety, I always sought out the most heart-felt, raw, and human emotions, laid bare in my listening choices. I wanted to see artists tears and sweat, and feel every chord racing through my blood until it almost physically ached. Right now, however, there couldn’t be anything I need less in my life. And yeah, sometimes I miss being able to wallow in The Antlers. And maybe it’s a little tragic that I’ve had to place aside what used to be such a monumental part of my life, but I’m just not in a place where I can deal with that type of emotion anymore. So, it is with great trepidation that I say, bring out the popular spectacle, and let me be embraced by its infectious, incessant bubbliness. And, lucky for me, as I am so openly affected by music emotionally, it really can just be that quick-fix of Taylor Swift or Beyoncé blasting through my speakers, giving me that little lift I might need to get me through the afternoon.
Exploring the internet has never been more of an aesthetically pleasing or enjoyably easy experience for me. Through Pinterest, you can search anything, and lots of lovely linked pictures will appear on your reader to browse through at your pleasure. You can really cater to your own tastes by adding interests and reference boards for well, just… whatever you like! Epic wedding planning, pictures of dogs sneezing, homemade hot chocolate recipes, interior design incorporating real trees into functioning homes, travel tips for Sri Lanka, fashion styles you’d like to try, yoga poses, photos of the sea- you name it, they’ve got it. A wonderful world to explore all of your favourite things or indulge in something new, and while away the hours in bed with some discovery.
8. Looking at pictures of happy puppies online
Oh, man, they’re so fluffy.
9. Get crafty
There is a strong evidence that creative people are more likely to develop depression. I’m certainly not saying that everyone who has depression is creative, or that all creatives will develop depression!- but there are links. This article has a lot to say on the matter, and is quite a pleasant read if you are interested. Either way, getting crafty is a great way to spend time in bed- and you don’t want to bite your nails while watching a film! The lovely thing about being creative is that if you feel like you can’t find the motivation to just do it for yourself, you can always do it for someone else. Put your thoughts towards making someone else happy, if you can’t find the energy to do it for yourself right now. Make a friend or family member a card, or decorate a mug for them, or, if you know you’re really gonna be bed-bound for a while, build and paint for them an entire airfix lifeboat. Doing it for someone else gives your actions meaning, and your day some purpose, while reminding you of who/what you are thankful for. Plus you get that warm fuzzy feeling when you gift it to them at the end. And everyone loves presents. Here are some of my favourite crafts I either have or am planning on trying out some time- do feel free take a look/add your own in the comments below.
10. The BuzzFeed
Apparently Buzzfeed has the ‘hottest, most social content on the web‘. While I’ll leave you to make your own mind up about that, Buzzfeed is certainly a very entertaining site full of hilarious, never-taking-life-too-seriously, easy to read articles on pretty much everything. A great way to spend time in bed when you don’t want to watch the news or go on social media, but do want to stay in touch with what’s trending in the outside world.
So, there you have it. My top ten things to do if you’re ever too exhausted to leave bed, whatever the reason. Give them a go, and let me know what you think. Feel free to add more ideas or activities you use too- I always love finding new things to try.
Hope you’re all well,