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5 Things I Do to Keep Anxiety and Depression from Crushing Me

It’s all about the small things. If I keep up taking care of myself in the form of manageable activities each day, it helps my overall outlook and general mental health. Even if I’m in one of those phases where I cry more than laugh and waking up is an Olympic feat – the little things I do for myself in the form of self-care make all the different. For various reasons, I’ve been in a funk lately but I’m getting closer to the LIGHT. I feel you, good moods and happiness. Before being able to shrug off the robe of sadness, I was in a bad state.

Here’s a quick rundown of things I have cried over in the last month:

While reading a Buzzfeed story about a senior dog being excited about a soldier coming home.

While cleaning crumbs off the kitchen counter. Don’t remember why, just a random attack of sads.

While putting on eyeliner and it not going on right the first time.

Upon seeing my face during a hormonal breakout.

So yeah, after a build-up of these crying incidents, I said to myself, MICHELLE GET AHOLD OF YOURSELF. And then I went to my tried and true methods of self-care. (Although, sometimes self-care isn’t a replacement for therapy and anti-depressants – so, know yourself and know when it’s time to do things other than buy yourself a bottle of fancy nail polish.)

Treat myself to beauty splurges.

Fuck yeah. I buy myself some crazy clay mask, I slap that on, and 10-30 minutes later I experience the joy that can only come from picking something off your face – but in a healthy, non-epidermis-ruining way. I also buy serums after serious research. Is it weird I like to research all my skin products extensively? Whatever, it’s part of the JOURNEY.

But really, I will say that skincare is possibly a better splurge than say, clothes, as much as it pains me to say that as somebody who has too many clothes from I’m-feeling-sad shopping sprees. At least with skincare, it loves you back a little. You’re actively investing in your health. Clothes are great (neva’ change, clothes, you’re amazing and I still love you) but choose a fancy face mask and treat yourself to some quiet time instead of spinning around in a new dress that will keep your attention for a bit before the novelty of it fades away.

Eating.

Oh man, this is the first thing to fall off when I’m stressed out but it’s the most important one on the list. As somebody with a past in eating disorders, I have to be vigilant about falling off from my normal-ish eating schedule. Because sometimes in the warped, dangerous landscape of my mind, I think that if I have control over my body, I will have control over other things in my life.

But really, what ends up happening is that I lose too much weight, become unhappy, and became angry all the time and easily irritated. And also, just exhausted. Not fun.

I will have none of that, thank you, kind sir.

My answer to being lazy when I’m off work and avoidant of the work cooking involves is using the slower cooker. Oh, the slow cooker. I love you even though the prep work for recipes is sometimes a real bitch and a half. But, how can you not want to eat when you get off work and the house smells like delicious food? (You can’t. You will eat. And you will eat lots.)

Caffeine.

Yeah, caffeine. I know I’m not the only one who feels strangely optimistic and happy after a morning cup of coffee. I am not a morning person but as soon as I have that coffee, I morph into a morning person. (Just kidding, but for a second, I feel like I could be one.) That’s also when I stupidly decide to sign up for a 6am yoga class the next day when I’m on that caffeine high. And then the next morning I hate everything until that sweet, sweet caffeine hits my bloodstream and my heart beats twice as fast as normal.

I have to be careful with caffeine because there is a balance between feeling energized by coffee and having 5 cups of coffee and experiencing heart palpitations. (That’s never happened.) But really, too much coffee can set off a serious anxiety response that lasts for hours. Annnnd that’s what I get for overdosing on a stimulant. But, within the confines of reasonable consumption, caffeine is a great addition to my life.

Thank you, caffeine. I love you.

Sleeping.

I have taken an entire weekend day to sleep before and no fucks were given. It’s the only answer to days where everything hurts and your muscles are inexplicably tired. Sometimes, your body knows what it needs better than you do. Don’t fight it. Just let yourself sleep and recover. Living and being in your body is WORK. Acknowledge it with an all-day nap.

I recommend complementing your all-day nap with a snack nest wherein you place food and beverages nearby for accessible, convenient consumption should you feel peckish when you awaken from your slumber.

Exercise

Intense exercise is great for working off anxious energy but so is yoga and walkin’ or even dancing in front of your mirror to Justin Bieber. Just something to get those happy chemicals cycling around your body (I know science, I am fluent in it).

I personally like doing yoga in the morning to set forth the intention of starting my day in a positive manner. Or, I’ll do it at the end of the day to relax and put a nice little cap on the day. It’s a less alcohol-filled night cap.

Yoga is kind of a given in terms of self-care exercise – it’s a moving meditation where you really have to focus on being present and pay attention to small details in your body. So, I want to go out of the box and suggest another kind of exercise I have found helpful to calm myself: weight lifting. Weight lifting? Okay, that seems like a weird option maybe but hear me out, weight lifting is another type of exercise where you have to be in tune with your body and its limits and potential.

It depends on the way you prefer to channel your nervous energy: lift it out with some good music and sweat or let it drift out during some yoga where you’re doing a shoulder stand so you don’t have room in your head to think about what dumb thing you said to your boss that day.

What do you guys do to calm the monsters in your head?

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