Do more of what makes you happy

Hello! I am Nicole Lee, LICSW. Welcome to my blog!

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I am a clinical social worker who currently does therapy with clients identified with disordered eating. One of the first things I always ask my clients is – what do you do for fun? I get lots of sidelong glances from this one – I’m sure they are wondering how some random “fun” activity is going to help that raging “ED” (eating disorder) voice go away. Well what I find is that, especially in those with disordered eating, is that they have centered all of their free time around their eating disorder, and have nothing left that is just for fun anymore. By establishing a hobby, you can carve out time in your life just to relax and do what you enjoy. It sounds simple, but can have remarkable results. What do you like to do for fun?

If you struggle with any habits that you aren’t as happy with, such as disordered eating, you may try to create a list of positive activities you can do before using your less functional coping skill (i.e. binge eating, biting your nails, etc.). If you struggle to find activities that you like to do now, you may have to think back to another time when you did allow yourself to have hobbies and down time, and think what you liked to do then.

Some common activities you can do on your own might be reading (check out The Emily Program for some great suggestions for those struggling with disordered eating), meditating with an app on your phone or with You Tube, listen to cheery music or calling, texting or, best yet, face-timing with a support person. Also, watching some funny TV can help lift your spirits if you are down.

If you struggle with depression, anxiety, or ADHD symptoms, you might struggle with being fidgety. Sometimes going with the fidget and giving yourself something to do can help calm your mind. My favorite way to fidget is to crochet, knit or weave. If you have interest in learning how to do any of these, you can get supplies here, and there are plenty of tutorials online here. For the less crafty, there are a plethora of other way fun fidget toys to pick from here. You can combine the activities above with a fidget activity in order to keep your mind and your hands busy.

A huge contributing factor to depression and other mental health concerns is isolation. One way to increase your happiness is to increase your social time. Depression decreases motivation and takes pleasure away from the things you used to like to do, so getting out of the house and being social can be a push if you are suffering from these symptoms, but can be effective in increasing positive mood. If you are struggling to find motivation to do this, start slow – meet a friend for coffee or do something that is short in duration and a low-pressure activity. Work your way up from there.

As we say, “Fake it until you make it.” Slap on that smile, and your brain thinks you are happy. Go forth, find a hobby and have fun!