It’s been nonstop today! You’re nearing the end of your to-do list… just one more email, then you’ll have a cup of tea – ah, wait, you forgot you need to put the hoover through. Better do it right now, before dinner. What did you say you were going to cook? Aaaargh! Curry! You need to pop to the shop for rice! Ah well, you might take some time to unwind later on, before bed. Or maybe just go to sleep… oh, that sounds nice.
Life gets so busy, doesn’t it? I bet some days you wish you had 48 hours available. Work and chores seem to have a knack for sneaking into every last minute we want to reserve for ourselves, to just stop, to just breathe, to just be… what a luxury that is!
And yet, it is no such thing. No, I am not about to unleash a tsunami of clichés about the importance of treating and indulging yourself – it goes deeper than that, especially if your mood has been sliding down, because nothing paves the way for depression quite like chronic stress.
If you feel depressed, chances are your levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – are through the roof. Do you ever find yourself exhausted without really knowing why? That’s the collateral damage of a stress response that doesn’t stop – the constant tension, the holding your breath, the keeping on the lookout for threats.
When you’re that exhausted, it’s easy to also feel that you’re losing control of your life, that you’re powerless, that things are hopeless – the typical hallmarks of depression, fuelled and reinforced by stress.
There’s more to relaxing than allowing ourselves some sheepish ‘me time’ after we’ve finished one list of important tasks and before we get started on another. It’s not a treat, it’s not indulgence, and it’s not a waste of time – learning to relax, in whichever way works for you, can interrupt the stress-depression cycle before it turns into a downward spiral.
Make that cup of tea.