Happy Monday, guys! So, today I'm gonna get a little real. The past few months have been very rough for me. After what seems like years, I regressed into an extreme state of anxiety and depression. I found myself dreading getting up in the morning, and neglecting the things that I loved most (this blog included!). Over the last few weeks, I have finally started to feel a little more like myself. Here are some of the things that have helped me find peace- I hope they help you too!
1. Listen to your body.
The worst thing you can do is ignore your body's warning signs of stress, anxiety, or depression. This can be the most difficult thing to overcome (it was for me at least), because of the self-destructive nature of stress and anxiety. Here's how it started for me: anxiety slowly started to creep into parts of my day, but I just ignored it. I thought if I just kept focusing on school, friends, and work, that my anxiety might just go away on its own. I was wrong. I had let my anxiety build up so much, that I started feeling sick to my stomach almost every day. I became overwhelmed, and sank deeper into depression. I didn't want to get out of bed, go to class, or even take my anxiety medication (which lead to many emotional breakdowns). The main thing is, if your body is giving you these signals- something is wrong!
2. Find a hobby or creative outlet.
It can be so tempting to lay in bed and binge watch Netflix whenever I am feeling down, but that usually only makes me feel worse about myself. I know that depression can make you feel like you can't do anything, even the activities you used to love. But I find that focusing my (usually negative) energy into something can do wonders for my mood. I just purchased a Wreck This Journal (which I'll actually be posting about soon!), which suprisingly has done wonders for my anxiety. Something like drawing, painting, coloring, or just journaling can be perfect, because your mind is focused on that task instead of your worries. Plus, something about creating just boots my mood!
3. Get moving.
I know it's hammered into everyone's head that exercise makes you feel better, and when you're feeling down it's usually the last thing you want to do. I get it. But every time I do something as simple as some light stretches, I feel soooo much better. Of course, whatever kind of exercise you choose is all about personal preference. I have found that doing some yoga every morning before starting my daily routine improves my mood for the rest of the day by 100%.
4. Make a daily To-Do list.
And don't forget to reward yourself! Anxiety has a strange way of making you put off important things, even though you logically know that these things need to get done. I had been putting off things like homework, laundry, and making appointments (talking on the phone makes me extremely anxious. I hate it!) But, having a seemingly never-ending to-do list of important things also creates more anxiety. I started rewarding myself- I wouldn't watch another episode of Bob's Burgers until I made a doctors appointment. It seems simple, but sometimes a little self-restraint is all you need.
5. Say no.
This is something that is very hard for me. I am a people-pleaser. If someone asks for a favor, I usually just say yes because I like helping people out. But something that I need to remember is that it's ok to say no sometimes. Especially if you really don't want to do something, but just feel bad about saying no. Also, it's important to remember that you don't always need to give an explanation- 'no' can be a complete sentence.
6. Don't forget about your friends & family.
When you're depressed, it can be really tempting to totally isolate yourself. Sometimes I just didn't have the energy to interact with people, or I didn't want the people I loved to see me in such a depressed state. There were times where the only person I would hang out with over the course of a week was with my boyfriend, because I knew he would love and accept me no matter what mood I was in. However, I know my friends and family would do the same thing- I know they care about me, and still love me even when I'm feeling anxious to the point of vomiting. Just remember that although depression can make it seem like you're alone, you're usually not!
7. Know your tendencies.
This is an important step in recovering from any mental illness. Knowing the things that set you off and how you typically react to these events is the first step in discovering possible coping techniques. For example, I previously mentioned that talking on the phone/making appointments can make me extremely anxious. But obviously this is something that I can't avoid, so I try and cope as best I can. If you know your personality traits and how you might react to stress, it can be much easier to handle the stress when it comes!
8. Put things in perspective.
This is another thing that can be hard. When stress starts building up and depression starts to hit, you can feel helpless. When I get depressed or anxious, all I can think about are my worries about school, homework, friends, etc. I get stuck in my own head. It can be helpful to remember that there is a big huge world out there that is not entirely focused on you- and I don't mean that in a bad way! It might seem like your problems are huge, when in reality, they are only small worries.
9. Let go of the notion of "feeling happy"
For years, my number one goal was to just "be happy." I think it's because happiness is something stressed so heavily in our society. When you feel anything less than content, it can feel like something is wrong. As humans, we weren't' built to be happy all the time. It's totally normal to feel angry, sad, or nervous, it can even be good for you. What would you learn if you were happy all the time?
10. Know when to get help.
With all this being said, do not be afraid to reach out! I know that it can be awkward, and even panic-inducing at times, but suffering in silence is even worse. Start small by talking to a close friend or family member. If you're still feeling down and have a feeling that it is something more, don't be afraid to seek medical help. When I first started feeling depressed, I made an appointment with my general care doctor and talked to him about it. This way, you can get detailed information tailored to you and your specific concerns- my general care doctor helped refer me to a psychiatrist and we worked together to decide on a medication that worked for me.
These are the things that have helped me through the last few months. I hope this helped at least a few people! Honestly, just making this list was a very therapeutic thing for me. I hope to be blogging way more often around here! :) Have a lovely day ♥