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A guide for Inspiration, How-To's and Overcoming Obstacles 

  • Brenda J

Depression and Anxiety: Using Your Bucket List to Heal

Depression and anxiety can make you feel helpless. It can zap the life out of you, drain all your motivation and derail your intentions. Challenging yourself with a task from your personal bucket list can help ease the discomfort. Being down is a time when you need this the most!

I’m not talking about trekking to the top of Mount Everest, blowing your savings to sleep in a glass hut over the turquoise sea or drag yourself on an African safari. These trendy bucket list ideas and “keeping up with the Jones’” is an old mentality. Not useful in this day and age. I’m talking about YOUR dreams and YOUR goals. What sparks you! OR… what used to spark you.

What used to spark you may not seem appealing while you’re down. I love hiking for instance. I have thousands of miles under my old dusty Keen’s to prove it… to prove it to myself in times of serious doubt. When I am down, getting to the trail head is a difficult task. But I force myself. I remember so many times on the drive to the trail head, hysterically crying like a two-year old having a temper tantrum in my truck and telling myself, “I don’t want to!” and “I can’t do this!” Man, those where low times.

I bargained. “Just one mile, that is all you have to do,” I tell myself. This was an easy request to give in to. I would allow myself to turn around after giving a real heart full try of one mile. This would be considered an accomplishment and no need to beat myself up. These hikes were part of a yearlong bucket list task so I had to keep up.

But guess what always happened at the one mile mark. I call it, “hiker’s high.” It’s like runner’s high where the feel-good chemicals in our brain like endorphins, are released and keep you going. And that I did. I would often do another 5 or 10 or even 15 miles without second thought.

Never did I regret going out for a hike to ease my depression. Never. Or any exercise for that matter. And knowing that I never regretted it helped persuade that two-year old fighting within me to just get myself out and hike. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just do it. Just do something.

Whatever your personal bucket list is, it came at a moment that sparked you at one time. You have to trust that when you are at your low. There is a great chance that it will spark you again if you just give it a try.

Pick an easy one. Pick something physical and exercise related so you can benefit from the “runners high” too. You’re looking for easy wins right now. It could be growing delicious tomatoes, joining a workout class, or a home improvement DIY project. All bucket lists items have a varying degree of difficulty. Might as well take advantage of the situation and bang out the easy ones now. They got to get done one way or another and you’re going to ease your discomfort in the process. Fight that two-year-old temper tantrum inside you. Your adult self will thank you for it.

Tell me in the comments below what bucket list items have helped you combat depression and/or anxiety. Or tell me what bucket list items that you might try soon to ease your depression.


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