Ten Things to Do When You’re Blue

kitten brishes
There’s plenty of reasons these days to be depressed or discouraged, and it’s always tempting when you feel down to seek solace in things that are addictive or self-destructive (you know what I’m talking about). Here are ten better things to do, that can also make you feel better:

  1. Learn Something New: Delve into and explore something useful or interesting, something that will engage you, distract you, get you thinking in new ways and new directions. Something to add to your repertoire of talents or knowledge. From TH White’s Once & Future King
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then–to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn–pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics–why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until is it is time to learn to plough.”
  1. Talk It Out: Find a sympathetic listener and just think out loud, get it all out. Or just get together with someone you love and talk about something else entirely, just to take your mind off whatever is haunting you, give it a break. If you can’t find someone to talk to, then do what crows do when they’re alone: Sing.
  2. Move: Exercise. Dance. Run. Walk. Get on a train. Go drive somewhere you’ve never been. Movement is calming, relaxing, inspiring. Rock-a-bye, baby.
  3. Move Forward: Do the next step in some project. Start something you’ve been putting off. Finish something. Get something done. Check it off and feel the past receding.
  4. Play: Spend time with animals or children. Play, run, lose yourself in the products of your imagination. Exhaust yourself. Laugh. No competitive stuff, just play for the sheer joy of it. 
  5. Help Someone: Do something small for someone else. Rake the lawn or shovel the snow of a senior neighbour. Help someone obviously looking for directions. Smile at strangers. Wave back at children. Give authentic compliments. Do small favours. Send someone an unexpected letter or gift. Doesn’t even need to be explicitly appreciated. You’ll know.
  6. Open Your Senses: Listen to music and get lost in it. Go somewhere you’ve never been and just take in the sights, sounds, smells. If you’re stuck inside, watch a travelogue, look at funny pictures, listen to comedians or children laughing or nature sounds or new music. Sense something new and you’ll feel different, better.
  7. Flirt: Just for fun. It’s marvelous therapy for the blues. But remember to follow the Oxford rules so you don’t inadvertently get yourself in trouble.
  8. Create: Make something. Draw something. Cook something. Invent something. Paint, sculpt, compose, rearrange. Make it up as you go.
  9. Avoid Vexatious People: Some people just can’t help rubbing you the wrong way. Some people get off on it: putting others down makes them feel better. Life is too short to put up with such people. They should be made to wear signs.

Yeah, I know I haven’t mentioned the two things that sad people spend most of their time doing online. I’m not a big fan of escapism, and I see far too much of it. Such a waste, such a cost, a demeaning of time. We need you, blue or not, here, now, in this world.

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11 Responses to Ten Things to Do When You’re Blue

  1. theresa says:

    I am not sure what those two things are but I suppose one is playing games and the other is another sort of time waster. It is a good point and a reality check. Still, some people are so serious and intense they really need to check out once in a while. One thing I didn’t see in your list is doing something that you do well. I find that the surest way of getting into the zone or in a state of flow is to do some of the things that I am really good at and enjoy doing. Learning new things can sometimes be frustrating, even if they do take my mind off of being sad. Just a thought.

  2. theresa says:

    I think what I meant to say is that learning something new is enjoyable after it has been accomplished but the process itself is not always. With the sense of mastery one experiences when doing something one does well the joy is embedded in the process. For example, I get a little sense of delight seeing that I’ve finally figured out out to type italics in the browser but only experience a sense of trepedition and doom while waiting to see if works the first time, as above. I hope this explains what I was trying to say: mastery vs accomplishment.

  3. theresa says:

    And then there is the failure one experiences when one sees the errors and typos in one’s efforts, seeminly etched in stone when it is too late to go back and make corrections.

  4. kara says:

    Your picture says it all. Thanks for making my Monday a better day.

  5. Aaron says:

    Numbers 3 and 6 really get me in a better mood. As soon as I recognize that I’m in a bad mood, it’s time to go to the gym, or answer some newbie questions on a help forum.Great post, thanks :-)

  6. judy says:

    thank you!!!

  7. Janet says:

    I was searching for the TH White paragraph that you have here, and I found your blog. WOW! Do you have a lot of friends? Want a couple more? I like what you have to say. You sound like a really decent person.

  8. Interesting repost for another time and place. The things you wrote about weren’t just to do when you feel ‘blue’. They appear to be essential to any healthy life-style, both mentally and physically. Your current posts speak to the fact we must all be learning NOW, new things daily re:Mental processing – how to get past the hype to find the truth (personal, political, economic) andAction – how to be more self-sufficient with less materials.As for escapism, I think the majority of your colleagues in SL are there just for that purpose. You may be experimenting with various models but the experiment is taking place in a model which profits out of escapism. The degree of sophistication for representing the environment and adoption of avatars which meet one’s fancy for intrigue, indicates the desire to play rather than discuss. Thanks for the reprise…

  9. Concerned Fellow Blogger says:
  10. Kat says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I really needed it. I loved the quote from the book, especially. (: It is incredibly true.

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