12 Ways I Overcome Depression and Anxiety
First of all, let's just get this out of the way. Absolutely no one is immune to a bout of depression and/or anxiety. Last I checked, over 300 million people around the world have been diagnosed with depression at one point or another. You are not weird. I've dealt with depression and anxiety from a very young age - it's just part of my life that comes and goes and I no longer freak out about it as I once did. Developing that "oh hey girl, you're back. uninvited. boo. whatever. this sucks. is what it is." attitude towards it has helped tremendously. It's 2020. Let's stop acting like depression and anxiety are shameful somehow. You are not alone. I got you, boo!
I've been a work at home Military Spouse for 15 years, so a lot of my adult life has been spent in isolation allowing me to become very aware of behaviors that either hurt or help me. As such, I've developed a solid set of rules that I live by in order to get back to a healthy physical and mental state. Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Like not even close. But this is what works for me, and I hope you'll find it helpful.
12 Ways I Overcome Depression and Anxiety
1. Drink Water - Make drinking a glass of water be the first thing you do each morning when you get up. You're already chipping away at your daily goal this way, and you've accomplished something you can feel good about. Additionally, water intake is crucial to regulating hormones. Lots of doctors recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces each day.
2. No Fast Food - When you're fighting back the dark clouds of depression, it's important to know exactly what you're putting into your body. Fast food and prepackaged meals tend to have loads of chemicals and preservatives. For instance, I was fortunate to learn early on that nitrates and aspartame give me debilitating migraines. Upon further research, I learned that certain chemicals in food affect hormone regulation as well. I'm not a doctor, so I don't want to get into the nitty gritty here, but I highly recommend you do this research. Start with the foods you've been consuming most as you feel a wave of depression coming on.
3. No Alcohol - Oh man, I love me a glass of wine (or three), but when I feel depression coming on I know the first thing that has to go is my vino. Alcohol is by nature a depressant. It disrupts hormonal balance and wreaks havoc on your nervous system. In fact, if you feel chronically depressed this is likely the first thing that needs to go. It could very well be the sole cause of your depression.
4. Exercise - Ugh! When I'm feeling depressed or anxious the absolute LAST thing I want to do is exercise. In fact it makes me angry to think of someone even suggesting it on especially tough days. That said, if you can force yourself to do any amount of exercise it will drastically improve your mood. Again, you're accomplishing something. More importantly, however, exercise increases the production and release of seratonin (the "happy chemical" in your brain). Bonus if you can exercise outdoors and get some sunshine/Vitamin D! Just sit outside if that's all you can do that day. Let the sun hit ya, and breathe in some fresh air.
5. Cut All Sugar And Limit Carbs - This might not work for everyone, but I've found by cutting all sugar and limiting my carb intake I feel brand new. I think more clearly. I feel more energetic. Our bodies are all different, so this may not work like magic for you as it does for me, but it's worth giving it a try.
6. Feel Your Feelings - There are many types of depression, but if yours is situational? Feel. Your. Feelings. Work through them. Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away. You’ll just end up prolonging things and feeling worse. Feel the feelings, work through them, make a plan.
7. Get Back Up - It may take a day, a week, a month, whatever.. Get back up, do the things you know you need to do to feel better. Most importantly, know that you will get back up. Trust yourself that this is not forever. That you will get back to yourself, and you will feel good again.
8. Have A Goal And Track Your Progress - A mindshift often works for me. Instead of focusing on how I feel, I focus on how I want to feel. And I set a goal to get there. I like to make this a goal I can track with actual numbers. Weight loss, water consumption, steps per day etc.. Something to show myself that I can set a goal, and make it happen.
9. Be Kind to Yourself - On especially bad days, depression can make you feel so heavy that even getting up seems impossible. Keep your self talk pragmatic. Recognize that this is depression. It's a thing. It's heavy. It sucks. You didn't choose to feel like this. It is not who you are. Then try to do at least one thing that day. Just one. The next day, try to do two things. And if you aren't able to? That's okay. This will pass. The single most unhelpful thing you can do is talk negatively to yourself while you're enduring those feelings.
10. Journal - Get it out, sister! Write down exactly how you feel, the good, bad and ugly. And make sure you date it and include anything circumstancial that may have contributed to your current state. This way you can begin to notice patterns, and have documentation if you decide to see a counselor or therapist. Which, by the way, is like a spa day for your brain. I freakin' love therapy!
11. Talk About It. Have A Support System. - Speaking of therapy.. If you have the means to do so, make an appointment. Therapy is a gift. Talking to someone about things you've kept locked up in your mind is so freeing. If you aren't able to meet with a therapist, find someone you can talk to. Call someone. Email someone. Message someone. There have been days where I don't even answer text messages because it's too much work, and I don't want to have to explain how I feel. But as soon as I feel that heaviness lift a little bit, the first thing I do is call my Sister and unload. Sometimes this is just a series of grunts. 🤷🏻♀️Which usually leads to much needed laughs. You don't even have to tell anyone what you're going through, but I promise talking to someone will make a world of difference in getting out of your head.
12 - Pray - Last, but first on my list. I know not everyone has/wants a relationship with Jesus. But let me tell ya, remembering to chat with Him first is the most important step in feeling like myself again. When something feels too heavy, I can say a silent prayer in my head and hand that burden over. What a gift!
Alrighty, friends! If you're struggling right now, please know you're not alone. These are strange times we're livin' in. Just put one foot in front of the other and know this will pass.
Big hugs and lots of love!
Disclaimer: The above tips are what have helped me over the years. I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice, if you are suffering from depression and/or anxiety and need help please contact your health care provider.
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