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a man walking through a doorway, half of him is inside, in pajamas and sad, while the other half is outside, dressed up, and happy

5 Steps for Curing the Blues

Author’s note: This article is not about clinical depression. That’s a more serious condition so we’ll save it for another post.

I’m a double minded man.

There are days when my leukemia is pretty much out of mind. I get up early, do some chores around the house, take a walk, and work on some sort of project.

But Leuk is an invisible enemy lurking in the subconscious “like a splinter in your mind,” to quote Morpheus. Somedays I give in to it and fall into a sort of lethargic bliss. It almost feels good to give in, as weird as that sounds.

How do I know the blues are coming?

It may start with something small like not getting dressed in the morning or skipping a shower. Then maybe I don’t eat well, pigging out on potato chips and not much else.

(I’ve actually made a potato chip sandwich. Yep, that’s just potato chips and mayo between two slices of white bread. It tastes great but, yeah, not exactly a nutritious meal.)

The first sign that I’m fading out is when I go without shaving. My beard grows fast, so in just a few days my poor wife is living with a caveman. Combine that with not showering and, yeah, it gets pretty ugly.

How I get out of my funk

So what can we do to get back on track after we’ve derailed ourselves? Here are 5 steps we can take to get out of our blue funk:

Set a goal

Have at least one thing you need to get done each day. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just washing the dishes will do. It gives you a purpose for getting up in the morning. A small task, no matter how trivial, adds meaning to your day.

Start the day right

Force yourself to take a shower and get dressed. You’ll feel like a new person––and you’ll smell better too!

Take a walk

This one might require some determination on your part. Believe me, on your down days you will not feel like going outside and pounding the pavement, but do it anyway. All that fresh air will make the day seem a lot better.

Listen to music

Seriously, this is a big one. Music is a powerful mood changer. As crazy as it sounds, even the Blues (songs that are usually about bad times) will lift your spirit. Of course, good old rock n’ roll will soothe your soul too.

Stop being a hermit

Shut down the game apps, YouTube and Netflix. Use your smartphone for what it actually is – a phone. Call a friend. Or if you have others in the house, stop hiding from them. Stop disengaging and start engaging.

Finally, when you do have an off day, don’t beat yourself up over it. This cancer thing is a daily battle for your mind. You will have grey days, but the fog will lift.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Ann Harper moderator
    3 weeks ago

    @jim-smith I just try not to think of my cancer much. I do what I can to keep my body healthy, but other than that – I feel good and I’m living life. Thank you for the artcle.

  • Susan Gonsalves moderator
    4 weeks ago

    @jim-smith What an awesome article! Boy, we all get those days sometimes and the shower thing and eating badly…I can so relate. Like your suggestions too…setting a task, a small one, is so important to focus on and get your mind off “Leuk.” I’ll try my best to stumble over the dark days and get to the light.

  • Deb Wesloh moderator
    1 month ago

    What a great story and suggestions. I enjoy your writing style!
    I think everyone has the blues every so often, especially those diagnosed with cancer. Walking and music are my go to “blues breakers.”
    Potato chip and mayo sandwich…hmmm sounds good, I might have to try it.

  • Ramae Hamrin moderator
    1 month ago

    Your article comes at a good time, @jim-smith. January seems to be when it gets a little harder to stay upbeat and out of a funk. I couldn’t agree with these more — each one of them. I just recently discovered the power of putting a station of oldies or 80’s music (those are oldies to some!). It’s almost night and day what it can do for the mood. And I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in a sour mood before a walk and happy afterward, even through snow. A shower or bath sometimes is the only goal for the day, and that’s okay! I’m with my dog more than people, but even so, really being present with him can be an instant mood lift. Great suggestions, great read!

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    4 weeks ago

    @rhamrin You’re right. A cold January can get you down. Although we just had some light snow here and it made the world beautiful (covered up all the mess in the yard I should have cleaned up!). Dogs are the best of companions. Way better than cats, for sure. Anyway, I’m glad your music helps. Mine is from a slightly earlier era, but 80’s are great too – reminds me of the times when I was raising my daughter and son. Take care.

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