My husband I live in what used to be a small cotton-farming town that has since evolved into a bedroom community of Dallas. But even though that large, metropolitan city is less than 30 miles to the west, it might as well be on the other side of the Earth considering how many times we visit it. I TRY to make the trip every quarter, but it usually ends up being just once or twice a year.
Whenever we go “downtown” we gawk at the tall buildings and homeless people like true hicks from the sticks. I remember the first time we encountered a restaurant that had seating areas for dogs (outrageous!) and the first time we found a bar in a movie theater (outstanding!). Even though the light rail service is nothing more than a way to work for most people, we press our faces against the windows and stare at the passing scenery like kids on their first Choo-Choo ride.
I mention this because it is important to get out of the house and do something different every once in a while if you are going to stay emotionally healthy. As I tell my clients (over and over) “If you just stay in the house all the time you ARE going to be depressed.” But I know how hard it is to make that first step out the door. I have trouble with it myself.
I feel like we all occupy a spot on the scale of social anxiety somewhere between Social Butterfly and Hermit. I definitely track toward the Hermit side. Left to my own devices, I would spend each and every weekend puttering around the house, sitting out by my pond and binge-watching irreverent cartoon shows. It takes an act of will to get me out on the street, even if I’m going to something I enjoy.
That’s why I’ve come up with my mantra – “Just get in the car!” Whether it’s choir practice or an art exhibit, I can’t let myself over-think. I’ll come up with a million reasons NOT to go. I’m tired/sick/depressed. I’ve got a lot of projects around the house I need to get to. They won’t miss me. Maybe they’ll even be glad that I don’t show up. Maybe nobody really likes me at all!
That’s what’s known in the business as “Stinkin’ Thinkin’”. So before I can go there, I tell myself to “just get in the car, for heaven’s sake!” After that it’s “Just drive over there” and “Just go inside”. And that’s what I counsel everyone else to do as well. We NEED social contact, even if we don’t particularly LIKE it. It’s like exercising and eating right. You hate to do it, but you definitely feel better if you do.
So you there, on the couch! How long has it been since you’ve been somewhere? How long has it been since you were even OUTSIDE? That’s TOO long. Just get in the car!!!