Much as I dislike the topic, I wanted to share one more piece of my anxiety/depression story before I move on to more current things. This isn’t meant as a ploy to dwell on the negative, but as an offered hand of assistance on the off chance someone else out there needs it.
Not that I think I’m the fountain of knowledge just because it happened to me. Not even close.
But there were some things that really helped when I was in the midst of an anxiety attack or a depressing week, and I wanted to share them with you. They definitely aren’t magic or cure-alls; they didn’t always help. But they did most of the time.
Basically, take this with a grain of salt.
Little Things That Helped My Depression & Anxiety:
Getting out of the house. Specifically, taking walks or doing something outdoors. Although I personally enjoyed going to bookstores or museums too.
Watching a happy TV show/movie. NOT sad stories or thrillers. I had to acknowledge that as much as I am attracted to edge-of-my-seat stories, it would set my mood into an edgy, anxious state.
Prayer/meditation. I almost didn’t list this because it’s one of those trite things you hear over and over. But it works. It might seem impossible when your brain is in a frenzied state, but if you can manage to reign in your thoughts enough to “be still and know”, it can be SUCH a help.
Breathing. Sit, eyes closed, and just focus on breathing for a minute. I like to use numbers to focus on my inhales and exhales, so I’d mentally think, “1…2…1…2…” as I was breathing in and out. This especially helped during bouts of insomnia.
Music. For me, some days it’s classical, some days it’s Pharrell, some days it’s Hamilton, but music has turned into such a healing tool. Thank you composers, songwriters, and artists everywhere!
Making tea or cocoa or coffee. There’s something magical about hot beverages that just gives me a mental hug and says everything is going to be okay. Note: I only made coffee if I haven’t had a cup earlier that day–drinking too much of that would trigger my anxiety.
At-home spa stuff. Going girly here: stuff like a mask or a scrub or painting my nails or bubble baths are an instant mood-boost. The world could seem to be falling apart, but a delicious-smelling hand scrub would reassure me that it wouldn’t. It really seems silly, writing it out like that, but it’s the way it was.
Candles. Not just the smells, but the soft glow and flickering light they give off. As a teen, one of my favorite things to do was shut myself in my room at night and light it solely with candles. Again, it’s soft and warm and welcoming in a way lightbulbs aren’t.
Giving myself a break. Mentally. I’m not perfect. I never will be perfect. So why do I give myself this perfectionist standard that I MUST DO OR ELSE. No. Sometimes the clothes take a week to be folded. At least they are clean. Sometimes dishes don’t get washed for a day or two. At least we have plenty of others to use. Sometimes I don’t get out of pajamas the whole day. At least I didn’t try to go to Wal-Mart in such attire (like some of the college students around here do). I’m not perfect and that’s okay.
It’s interesting how the things I’m most passionate about (writing, reading) were the hardest to face when I was in the midst of this. It was almost as if they were forbidden places where I couldn’t even think to enter in such a state. Perhaps it is a good thing that I didn’t mix the two. I don’t have bad memories associated with my novel. But it also made things extremely hard, to have fewer handholds to grab onto as I mentally crawled from the pit.
These “Little Things” were there to provide those for me. Little handholds to cling to. Little shelters to crawl under. Little anchors in the storm.
And as much as I’d never hope anyone would need to hear this, I know there are far too many people who do. Take these. Be kind to yourself. Get help. Talk to friends. This isn’t the way it has to be.
You can do this. Deep breaths. 1…2…1…2…