Monday, January 25, 2010

Singin’ the Blues—Part 3 of 3

© 2010
By Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

I’m back, talking about a blue state—the kind with no political agenda.

For those of you who might be joining this series in progress, I won’t repeat my caution about the difference between the garden-variety blues and clinical depression. With just a click, you can refer back to Part 1 of Singin’ the Blues to read this important information. Please do.

For you extroverts who have been patiently waiting, wondering if I’d ever get to your blues buster kit: Have you wondered if this exercise even applies to you? What, you down?

Depression: Introverts and Extrovert Differences

There have been a few psychiatric studies using the typical personality test that distinguishes introversion from extroversion and thinkers from feelers. These are just two of four sets of distinctions in the Myers-Briggs or MBTI Personality Test. David Janowsky, M.D., of the University of North Carolina, writing in the World Journal of Biological Psychiatry in 2002, found a prevalence of introverts and feelers among a depressed population (74 percent introverts and 84 percent feelers).

But don’t think you’re exempt, whatever your results on the MBTI. (For those of you who don’t recognize the buzz words, this is the test where you end up with four letters in four categories such as INFP or ESTJ.) Janowsky's figures refer primarily to more serious depression than the everyday blues. Still, with your outgoing, upbeat natures, you have farther to fall to a bummer. So find that box or bag and start building your blues kit now. You may not need it as often, but it’s like a smoke alarm. It will only save your life if it’s there when the house catches fire.

Get-Aways and Staycations: Great for Both “Innies” and “Outies”

In parallel to the Introvert Kit, if finances allow, I suggest a pre-paid gift card at a hotel or resort; only in your case, make it a place that’s teeming with people, like Disneyland, the Happiest Place in the World. One of those short cruises to Mexico or other nearby shores would be perfect for you: wall-to-wall vacationers, activities, and a disincentive to stick to yourself, even if you wanted to, living out of a postage-stamp sized cabin.

Of course, as you might guess: I first wrote this article before the economy went South. You may not be able to travel more than 50 miles in any direction for the time being. In that case, your best friend is the weekly What’s To Do Around Town insert in your local paper. Never throw it out till the next one comes. After a bad day at the office, a fight with your partner, or whatever triggers your downer, you need to find an event full of fellow human beings. This will charge your batteries and stoke you back up to your normal outgoing, sociable, talkative characteristics.

Heel Kicks, Flicks and Internet Clicks

Even if you don’t feel like it, go dancing. I haven’t met an extrovert yet that doesn’t start snapping out of the doldrums on a dance floor. You are just not sidelines, wallflower folks. Just sit there and have a Virgin Mary (remember alcohol aggravates depression) and let nature take its course.

If it’s not easy to leave home for whatever reason, have a stash of favorite funny or adventurous movies. And don’t watch them alone. Invite people over for a movie night complete with popcorn. Tell someone to stop en route and pick up the Milk Duds.

Again, if stuck solo—something an introvert would envy!—go to your favorite chat room on the Internet. You’re probably already a social networking junkie, and I’m sure you could cheer yourself up on Facebook or Twitter, as well. Bookmark the sites that work best for you for future reference. Stick to light subjects, like the message boards for your favorite TV shows. (I’m not even an extrovert, and I can spend weeks on those things, rehashing the latest episode.) Games or light chat on people connecting sites make more sense, given your mood, than most of the bad news lately. Don’t click on any article that sounds heavy.

Old-Fashioned Fixes: Phone Calls and Coffee Klatches

Because your blues are so busted by people, it’s more important to have ideas on how to substitute a people fix when connection in person is not practical. As a cheaper date alternative to your trip to Disneyland or Cabo, include a pre-paid long distance phone card in your kit, if you don’t already have unlimited calling. If you have friends across the world, make it international. Wouldn’t this be the perfect time to hear the voice of your favorite cyber-pal you have never met in person? And his or her cute Australian accent? Imagine how much fun it would be to chat it up!

Starbucks is a great place to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, several together, or many in a row. Besides, there's one on almost every corner. If you belong to a church, find out what’s cookin’ tonight, and drop into some activity you’ve never joined before. Your blues might be the entrée to a new committee or circle you would have never tried without a feel-bad nudge.

People Watching—and Doing Good for People and Fur People

A ball park, an airport—any place where vast quantities of people gather is fair game as a place to dispel your blues and dry up even your soggiest day.

Do something for someone else. There is nothing that cures a down mood more quickly and completely than helping others. Google “nonprofit agencies” and your city name. There’s a children’s charity--an animal, homeless, or women’s shelter-- that would be ecstatic to get your call and put you to work today to lend a helping hand to someone or many someones.


If you can sit still long enough (extroverts often have more trouble with this), journal your feelings, just like an introvert. These records of how you felt and what you did about it will offer the most practical recipe book of what to do next time you’re feeling low … which I hope is next to never. Consider a video diary like Sully does in the movie Avatar.

Throw a Party for Making Blues Buster Kits

When you’re in an up mood, send out an invitation with a list of supplies. Invite your friends to a kit-making party. This is likely to be the most unique theme party they’ve ever attended. You’ll probably laugh yourselves silly imagining how you’ll be prepared for chasing the blues. Heaven only knows what your synergy will produce in all that hilarity for blues cures. Please share your new discoveries in the Comments!

Swap phone numbers. These party pals have already been oriented toward the mission of the blues kit. They can be your telephone tree for times you need a buddy to help you beat a soggy day.

I hope you’ll continue to add to your Blues Buster emergency kits and share suggestions with those you love. Mood “first aid” might be one of the most overlooked of all forms of self-care.  We wouldn't think of not having bandages and Bactine in the house--but what about Rescue Remedy?  Read Singin' the Blues 2 for more on flower essences and this wonderful emergency calmative.

And since this blog is about spirited living, I’m all for seeing you back to your usual, spirited selves in no time flat.


Disclaimer: This article is provided purely for informational purposes. Readers are asked to make their own determination regarding the quality of the services and products described above. This article is not meant to be advice, and the information is not meant to replace medical or psychological treatment.

Photo credit: OLD MICROPHONE © Damianpalu...

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