21 Ways to a Happier Depression: A Creative Guide to Getting Unstuck from Anxiety, Setbacks, and Stress
Depression and anxiety affect more than 50 million Americans in any given year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. That’s a significant percentage of the American population. Fortunately, most Americans have mild forms of these disorders. Unfortunately, most will never receive treatment of any kind.
How can we help those who suffer from anxiety and depression if they are not seen in a clinical setting? Clinical psychologist Seth Swirsky answers that question in his handsome and accessible book, 21 Ways to a Happier Depression: A Creative Guide to Getting Unstuck from Anxiety, Setbacks, and Stress. In this uplifting little volume, Swirsky offers tips to help those suffering from mild anxiety or depression to break free of their ill feelings.
The book is made of up 21 activities a person can do to immediately help themselves feel better when in any sort of a funk. There is no order to the activities. The reader can open to any page and get a quick idea for a pick-me-up. These are proven exercises. We really do feel better, for example, when we force ourselves to make the bed in the morning. Filing those papers that are piling up on the kitchen table will give a sense of accomplishment. Putting up photos of family and friends who make you feel good will lighten your mood when you see them. The ideas in the book are simple, affordable, and reasonable to implement.
The most delightful part of the book are lively watercolors by American artist, Kirsten Tradowsky. These images enliven the suggestions in the book. Watering and nurturing plants seems energizing with Tradowsky’s image. The paintings will make the reader smile.
The book is conversational, written as if you are reading notes from a loving friend.
There are great tidbits of information in the book. The suggestion to be complimentary to ourselves is difficult to do, but ever so important when one is battling anxiety or depression. Few of us would speak to our worst enemies the way we condemn ourselves. That’s a conversation that has to change if we’re to feel better.
Similarly, saying “Yes!” to life is also incredibly challenging and equally essential. When we’re not our best selves and feeling out of sorts, it’s hard to accept invitations to the movies or dinner or even force ourselves to spend an hour strolling with the dog. But life is made up of “Yes!” moments. It’s the things we do and the people we engage with that give our lives meaning and joy. Saying “Yes!” even when we want to stay home in bed is vital to overcoming anxiety and depression.
This is not a serious book about mental health or mental illness. There are no clinical references. This is not a workbook to move through from beginning to end. It is not suitable as a treatment substitute for those who have major or persistent depression, serious anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, or are grieving a significant loss.
But it is an attractive book that will help those with low levels of anxiety, depression, or even everyday stress find ways to break out of the blues. It’s also a good resource for friends and family of those who are struggling. Send your loved one a hand-written letter to bring them cheer. Make a plan to go to a concert or have a picnic in the park so you both will have something to look forward to. Give your friend a small, inexpensive gift to let them know you’re thinking of and appreciate them. Being thought of and remembered is uplifting in dark times.
“Happiness starts with you.” It’s a truism that is worth remembering. No one needs to suffer from anxiety or depression alone. Pushing against the feelings that pull us down makes a difference. 21 Ways to a Happier Depression is a resource intended to help you or someone you love smile . . . a smile perhaps being the best medicine of all.