I’m very open about my battles with anxiety and depression, having been first diagnosed when I was 17. I’ve had almost 17 years of dealing (or not dealing, during some periods of my life) with my mental health, and have definitely come to terms with it all. It’s part of me and it’s not something I’m ashamed of, just like I wouldn’t be ashamed of getting an ear infection or catching a cold.
This week has been a trying week for a number of reasons, the main being that I forgot to order a repeat prescription of my sertraline. I’m on a watered down dose until I can pick some more up tomorrow. I went cold turkey, so to speak, for four days and was not in a good way. Luckily, I found a sheet with enough pills to get me to the end of the week, so I wasn’t in anguish for too long. Tip for you, set a reminder to order a repeat prescription so that you’re not caught short.
What works for me:
It got me thinking about the strategies I use when I am feeling more anxious, or when the depression is tough to deal with. I thought I’d share some of these approaches with you. If it helps one person, sharing my journey will have been worthwhile.
- Sleep it off.
I don’t mean to spend days and days in bed, as I think this is counter-productive, but try to get decent sleep or rest. Sometimes it’s exhausting just being in your own head. Anxiety takes up so much of my energy that I do need a lot of sleep to recover. For me, a solid 10 hours resets my mind and helps me to think more logically and clearly about what’s going on with my brain. This publication from the Mental Health Foundation makes for a very interesting read.
- Own your feelings.
If you need to cry, shout, sit quietly, wallow for a little bit, then give yourself a little bit of space and time to do this. I find it helps to ground me and provides a little bit of precision with my thoughts. I’m sick of people being told to “get over it” or “get on with things” as this does not help at all. Process your feelings. Understand them. Own them. It’s, in my experience, the best way to get on top of them and handle them appropriately.
Yep, I know. When you’re feeling shitty the last thing that you want to do is exercise. But it works. You all know the science behind it, how exercise boosts those endorphins. For years, I’ve pretended I thought it was bullshit, but I think that I was just making excuses. This NHS guide is helpful by explaining things better than I can. Most recently, I have discovered the benefits of home-exercise. The FIIT app is fantastic (I’m going to review this next week), and I am completely in love with Yoga. It’s taken to the ripe old age of 33, but I have finally found an exercise that is totally for me. Try the Yoga for Beginners app if you want to try it out for yourself.
- Get out in nature.
This is easy for me, as I live in The Lake District so have nature on my doorstep. I find getting out for a walk helps, or doing something in the garden. We’ve recently paid for a National Trust membership too, so this will make things far easier to find somewhere different to visit. If you’re in a more urban area, go to a local park, or plant something and nourish it, watching it grow. Mind have published a really interesting document about the benefits of nature on mental health. In a nutshell, nature can help by: improving your mood reducing feelings of stress or anger · helping you take time out and feel more relaxed · improving your physical health · improving your confidence and self-esteem · helping you be more active · helping you make new connections · providing peer support.
- Dance it out.
Often seen in Grey’s Anatomy, I have always been a fan of “dancing it out”! I guess it’s linked to the endorphins and exercise, but it helps me feel a lot happier in myself. You can’t beat locking yourself in the kitchen and having a good old dance. Usually, it’s to Take That or Taylor Swift! Dancing has an unreal amount of benefits for our overall health and well-being.
A bit of quiet time to read is time for me. I’m an avid reader and feel that it’s the perfect bit of escapism when I feel myself slipping somewhat. For me, reading is good for my soul. It might mean re-reading Harry Potter for the 100th time, or reading something brand new. I’ve signed up to Reading in Heels, a reading subscription box, which is allowing me the chance to read something I maybe wouldn’t pick for myself.
- Listening to music.
Surely this helps everyone? I find that there’s a playlist for every mood. I think it’s also the perfect strategy to combine with others. My go-to iTunes album atm is The Greatest Showman OST! I can’t get enough of it.
- Cook some good food.
Joining SlimmingWorld has exposed me to a whole new way of cooking. It’s all about going back to natural, whole foods, dropping out the processed stuff and learning what’s good for my body. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and it’s a real hobby of mine. It’s even better now that I appreciate the positive benefits of cooking a nutritious meal.
- Opening up to therapy.
This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and can be quite a costly method of treating mental health, but it’s one that I swear by. I first went to counselling when I was in Year 10 or 11 and finding the pressures of school too much. I’ve since tried CBT, and a range of talking therapies. Recently, I started seeing an alternative therapist. Although not for everyone, this was most successful for me because I felt that it tuned into my interest in spiritualism and holistic approaches, whilst treating my depression and anxiety at the root of the problems.
- Talk to friends.
Sometimes it’s extremely difficult, but I am an advocate for spending time with your loved ones, with people you trust. You may not feel comfortable talking about some topics, but the act of sharing some of what’s troubling you can lift a huge weight. I call time with my friends “time for my soul food”! The loyalty, affection and reality checks from your friends can work wonders for your mental health.
Have a go at some of these ideas and let me know what works best for you.
All links are unaffiliated and offered as I have found them useful in the past. I was not paid or approached to promote anything in this post!