I have a dear friend who was just in the hospital. Work had become so stressful that her long-controlled depression exploded and she wanted to walk into high-speed traffic. The funny thing is, the work is pleasant. It's the relationships with management, the inconsistent rules, the lack of quality, the unreasonable demands, the constant criticism, and complete lack of positive feedback that wears one down. I know my friend is a quality worker -- I've seen her in action many times. Her mind was spinning out of control as she tried to determine how soon she could get back to work, how much she'd lost in wages, how she was going to pay the rent. I suggested that she tell herself that she wasn't going back to that job, that there were other financial solutions available until she can find a healthy environment. She changed her thinking and immediately felt better.
My point is that anything can feel like work, if we're doing it with a mindset of necessity, obligation, even desperation. I've embarrassed myself several times by arguing that I HAD to be allowed to do something differently at work, even though management didn't see it that way. Volunteering, on the other hand, is on our own terms. We can define how much time we'll give and how strenuous the work load can be and when we need to step down It's not attached to our survival, so the pressure is minimal. We do it because we care, because we believe we can make a difference, because our hearts are touched when we see those who benefit from our contribution.
I don't have as many options as I used to -- my stamina is low, I can't get up and down stairs, can't stand or sit for long periods, am slow to get up from a chair. Social security has agreed that I'm disabled, so I have a small income. I'm overjoyed that I get to spend my days volunteering, even with limitations. Volunteerism is the embodiment of grace. Grace -- the giving of a gift without expectation of anything in return, is my absolute favorite quality in humanity, and the world needs vast amounts more of it. People think the word has a religious connotation or that they'll seem airy-fairy if they embrace the possibilities that come with grace. So don't use that word if you don't like it. Use volunteering instead.
The most effective way to make yourself feel better when you're low is to do something kind for someone in need. You cannot help but be cheered by their gratitude, and feel better about yourself for your generous behavior. The world is in desperate need of grace. I feel like God is shriveling up in despair as more and more hearts are closed to the mystery of the divine. But grace can cure us. Grace can free our hearts and allow us to imagine a perfect world.
If you can't think of a place to volunteer, even just a little, get in touch with me and I'll hook you up with something that you love, no matter where you live. And you will have made my day. : )