I have had depression and anxiety since the time I didn’t even know what they were. I remember feeling constantly tired, unmotivated, sad, lonely, restless, and losing interest in things I once used to enjoy. It amazes me to think about how long it actually took for me to name the various symptoms I was experiencing. Even upon realization, I didn’t know where to seek help. Neither did I know anyone else that was experiencing something similar or perhaps I did, but just wasn’t aware of it. I remember feeling the need to scream at the top of my lungs because the only response I ever got from everyone was “you’re absolutely fine.” Looking back, I realize I’ve come such a long way! From being absolutely clueless to starting small and building from there, I’ve learnt quiet a bit on my road to recovery. Here’s a list of 8 things I stopped doing that I believe continuously help me on this never ending road:
I try my best not to complain. Pretty sure my siblings are rolling their eyes at the moment but hey, I’ve worked quite a bit on this one and I’d like to give myself some credit for that! Honestly, as great as it feels to say things out loud, sometimes it’s best not to. Saying them out loud means you’re investing into your thoughts and they become even more real! There’s no way thoughts alone can be the cause of our suffering and unhappiness; it’s when we identify and attach ourselves to them that we often stumble! For this reason, I choose to ignore some of the negative things my mind feeds me – I like to think of them as clouds that come and go.
I stopped being a part of negative conversations. A simple reminder that engaging in them is costly to my own peace of mind goes a long way. And if for some reason, I must partake in the conversation, I limit my time trying to engage and do so without becoming too involved. This is much easier to do by remembering that engaging in such conversations is actually a choice and not an obligation.
Avoiding conversations about depression and anxiety
Being vocal about my depression and anxiety has opened up a whole new world. I’ve found that the more I share my stories and experiences with other people, the more I see myself in them. In fact, talking about it is not just beneficial for me but also for the person that I’m having those conversations with – it makes us realize that we are not alone and that we are all surrounded by so many other people that are in similar situations. Additionally, by being vocal about my mental health, people around me feel more comfortable in bringing up their mental health since they are no longer afraid of being judged. So not only am I helping myself in the process, but I’m also helping others. It can’t get any better than that, can it?
Pushing my body
I have accepted the limitations of my body and found a great sense of freedom in that. Letting go of the vision of perfect health, accepting who I am right now and where I am right now, deciding to start from there and to move within my body’s limits has completely changed my outlook on things. After I embraced this new norm, I realized I no longer get upset about not being able to do certain activities such as ice-skating or skiing.
Fooled by social media
We have all been there – getting deceived by how perfect someone’s life looks on Instagram. However, the easiest way to realize that it’s all a façade is by comparing your own life to what you put up on your Instagram feed and stories. Is your life really as perfect as it looks on social media? I am sure the answer is a big, fat NOPE. So why compare the low points in our life with someone else’s high points? Bet you anything they have just as many struggles as you do in their lives!
As important as self-care is, it can sometimes feel unattainable with depression and anxiety. At times like these, I like to remind myself that if I don’t take care of myself, how can I expect others to do the same? And that self-care can be as simple as accepting help, getting enough rest and relaxation, dressing in a way that makes me feel good, and setting healthy boundaries with my family, friends and co-workers. These little things can help us fall in love with the person that’s staring back at us in the mirror!
Trying to be someone I’m not
I stopped trying to fit into someone else’s idea of who I should be and it was the most liberating thing ever! Unfortunately, I have spent several years of my life criticizing the person I was, disappointed with myself for not fitting into people’s ideas of who I should be and constantly trying to achieve that. Over time though, I realized how exhausting that was, how unhappy that made me, and how damaging it was for my self worth. So please go ahead – don’t be afraid to disappoint!
I have a love affair with coffee; it’s my one true love. It’s been there for me through the good times and the hard times without ever letting me down or hurting me. However, since it’s a stimulant and activates one’s “fight or flight” response, I’ve noticed that it does make my anxiety worse at times. For this reason, whenever I’m experiencing excessive or persistent anxiety, I eliminate coffee from my diet. And if coffee ever complains, I don’t mind reminding it that we were on a break.
Taking little steps like the ones I have mentioned above in order to help with depression and anxiety requires being self-aware. Knowing what my triggers are so I start working on myself as soon as they first knock on my door. However, keep in mind that everyone’s experiences, triggers and coping mechanisms are different – the things that work for me might not work for you and that’s okay! Give yourself some time to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Is there anything you do that helps with your depression and anxiety but hasn’t been mentioned on this list? Please share in the comments below!
Love and spoons,