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Enjoy a life Feed the mind Commune with nature

Take time out to take care of you

Escape from everyday stress or depression Having fun can be the right prescription if you’re feeling depressed or just having a case of the blues. Experts agree that pleasurable activities reduce stress and fatigue, and improve mood. They can boost your confidence and heighten your awareness. When you're feeling down, you may not feel like doing anything. You just want to stay inside and pull the shades. It takes real effort to get out and do things. But that will make you feel better. Make a plan to start taking care of yourself by taking time out from depression. Here's how to get started: Make a schedule of activities to do in the next week. Then encourage yourself to follow through. Even little things can make a difference. Don't plan too much, too soon. Include activities that can be done alone or with someone else.

Here are some ideas:

Another place, another mood

  • Spend an afternoon browsing in a bookstore, library or museum.
  • Linger in a coffee shop over a latte and the morning paper. You can be among people without having to interact with anyone.
  • Visit a playground and enjoy the contagious laughter of the children at play.
  • Take a drive. Explore a neighborhood you've never visited, go to the mountains or the shore. Get out and walk around.

Feed the mind, feed the soul

  • Take photographs of nature scenes or city sights.
  • Enjoy a life enhancement book, such as The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama.
  • Sign up for a class - painting, yoga, Spanish. You'll get out, be with people, and stretch your mind, muscles or both. Call your local school district or city recreation department for low-cost options.
  • Play a board game or cards with a spouse or friend.
  • Check out a how-to video from the library and learn how to crochet, play guitar or teach your dog tricks.

Commune with nature

  • Take a walk around a nearby lake.
  • Do some gardening - fresh air, sunshine, planting, snipping, enjoying the blossoms.
  • Drink your coffee outside in the morning sun.
  • Pack a picnic - it doesn't have to be gourmet - and go to the park, alone or with a friend.

Get in touch with your creative side

  • Find your inner child. Have fun with some crayons, watercolors or modeling clay.
  • Bake some muffins.
  • Knit when you're stressed, lonely, sad or bored.

Relax and refresh

  • Listen to music. How about some oldies or jazz? Sing along.
  • Meditate.
  • Enjoy a bubble bath.
  • Sip a cup of fragrant tea.

Let's get physical

  • Take a swim. Your city recreation department can tell you where to find the nearest pool.
  • Walk the dog. Don't have a dog? Consider getting one for better mental wellness.
  • Do some stretching.
  • Take a bike ride.
  • Sex. Need we say more?

And finally

  • Print and tape this list on your refrigerator.
Volunteering can help you

Volunteering is good for your mental health

Boost your self-esteem, meet new people and learn new skills

“Now I have a reason to get up in the morning three days a week. I’m using skills I forgot I still had. I feel useful,” said Linda about her volunteer experience with a local women’s shelter. Since her diagnosis with severe depression several months ago, Linda has been out of the workforce. She’s using her volunteer experience to ease her way back. Whether you’re working, looking for work, or intentionally unemployed, volunteering can change your life. It can give a therapeutic lift to your mood and self-esteem. It adds structure to your life and gets you out among people with whom you share interests, and as it does for Linda, it can make you feel needed. "It's really important for people to be able to engage and take part in a variety of activities in their community - including volunteering,” said Mei Cobb, United Way Vice President of Volunteer Engagement. “For those dealing with depression or other mood disorders, becoming involved and truly making a difference in their communities can be particularly inspirational and life-affirming. Volunteering is a great way to re-engage with life, to recognize our interconnectedness and to make a positive impact on important issues." Whether it is important to you to solve a community problem, advance a worthy cause or to develop as a person, volunteering offers many benefits.

Volunteering can help you:

  • Make important networking contacts.
  • Learn or develop skills.
  • Teach your skills to others
  • Enhance your resume.
  • Gain work experience.
  • Build self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Meet new people.
  • Feel needed and valued.
  • Give back for help you may have received.
  • Demonstrate that you care about the community.
  • Make a difference in someone’s life.

To find a volunteer opportunity in your community, contact your local United Way, Volunteer Match, or an organization you’d like to be involved with. Print and tape this list on your refrigerator.