If there’s anyone who understands depression, anxiety, or mental health in general…it’s me. I’ve battled depression since I was a junior in high school which led to an eating disorder. You can read about that HERE and HERE. I’ve also always been slightly OCD and as of recently I have dealt with some pretty intense anxiety. If there’s one thing that drives me crazy in this world, it’s that we don’t talk about mental health enough. Yet, if you really start talking to people, so many people have battled with some type of mental health problem and have been or are on some type of medication for it.
I have had several attempts at what’s worked and what hasn’t worked when it comes to dealing with my anxiety and depression. I thought I would share what’s worked for me and how I’ve learned to cope!
Please keep in mind, I am NOT (and far from) a doctor, therapist, or any type of professional – these are just some tips on what has worked for me!
1. Spend time with God
Listen, if you’ve read my blog at all (or know me), you know God is a big part of my life. When I was deep in an anxiety episode a few months ago, my mom looked at me and said “Do you not trust in God at all?” That hit me hard. I wasn’t trusting in Him!! I really believe the root of all anxiety is fear. I was so afraid of not being able to control exactly what was happening in my life, that it caused me to lose all trust in God’s plan for me.
If you struggle knowing how to spend time with God, here are some things I do almost everyday:
- Wake-up and immediately “Thank God” for the day
- Develop a Morning Prayer routine (I use the Orthodox Prayer Book!)
- Discover a devotional you love and spend 10 minutes reading through it & the Bible
- My current devotional is this one –> CLICK HERE
- Journal your prayers
- Throughout the day I constantly talk to God praying, “Lord, Jesus Christ, Have Mercy on Me a Sinner”
- Pray before meals
- Develop an Evening Prayer routine
- Listen to a Christian-based podcast
2. Talk to SOMEONE, but be picky about who you choose
I tell my mom EVERYTHING. Too much sometimes. When I started getting anxiety attacks, I realized I couldn’t just rely on my mom to solve all my problems. It wasn’t fair to her or to me. I still tell her everything (sorry mom), but instead of trying to seek out her advice or her approval, I speak to a therapist now. Having an outside source and someone to talk to has been extremely beneficial to me! One of the BEST pieces of advice my therapist has given me so far is this: Excitement and feeling worried stem from the same part of your brain. So, when you start to feel yourself becoming worried, anxious, or fearful – turn that into excitement over the situation instead!
3. Find an exercise routine you love
It has taken me YEARS to find an exercise routine I enjoy. I’ve done cross country running, Crossfit, more running, random things at the gym, etc. I have only recently discovered a HIIT program that I LOVE. Plus, I love a good, long walk with my dog to ease my anxiety. Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy! Just be careful not to exercise too much or your could experience adrenal fatigue. Been there, done that. Here are a few symptoms of adrenal fatigue –> CLICK HERE.
4. Eat a wide variety of FRUITS & VEGGIES!
It’s really no secret that good nutrition = a good gut = a good life. Highly-processed, excessively sugared foods can wreak havoc on your gut health. Adding fiber-rich foods into your body along with pro/pre-biotic and Omega-3 fatty acids will benefit your gut TREMENDOUSLY. And your gut and brain are intricately linked!! I take these fruit and vegetables capsules every.single.day in order to get over 40 fruits and vegetables into my body alongside a already healthy diet. CLICK HERE to learn more about those capsules!
5. Get off your phone
Listen, I get it. It’s tempting to scroll Instagram for hours while you lay in bed with the TV on. But STOP. Sit your phone down. Turn it on Airplane mode. Leave it at home every once in a while. When I have my phone, I feel anxious. I feel like I always need to be on it, checking in on someone or wondering why a certain person hasn’t reached out to me yet. I know there are times we really do need our phones, and if you’re married with kids – I am sure you need yours a lot! But try limiting your phone time to only certain parts of the day. For example, I usually check Instagram once in the morning and once again while making dinner. If I need to get back with someone, I usually wait until later in the morning and then again in the afternoon!
6. Find a new hobby / read a new book
During my period of anxiety attacks, I found a new hobby that I ended up loving! I started baking bread! I’ve only mastered the classic dinner rolls, but I am excited to branch out and try new things like sourdough, challah, naan, etc. Reading has also always been one of my favorite hobbies to escape and let my mind have a break from constantly overthinking. I’ll write a separate blog post of all the books that have changed my life and then link them here!
7. Surround yourself with positive people
Have you ever heard the saying, “You become the five people you spend the most time with?” This is so true! If you’ve been following my blog for long, you know that I used to be surrounded by negative people and negative energy and that was a major cause for my poor self-image. For the past year I have really dedicated myself to spending time with high-quality, high-vibe people and it has been so transformational to my mental health.
8. Take a long, hot bath
I used to HATE baths. I didn’t like sitting still for 10+ minutes in a hot bath of my own filth. (Is that gross?) But here’s what I discovered – just as everything is in life, it is what you make of it! I decided to hang some lights around my mirror, light some candles, buy fancy epsom salts and bubble bath, and listen to some music in the dark each time I took a bath. When I was going through my season of anxiety attacks, I took a bath almost every night right before bed! It was a great way to calm my mind and body, focus on my breathing, and spend time in prayer.
9. Think of OTHER people – volunteer, call a friend, surprise someone with a gift!
I will be the first person to admit that I am incredibly self-centered. The root of all my anxiety is fear, no doubt, but it’s also ME. I always think I’VE done something to someone and now they hate ME. When you focus on other people, something magical happens…you stop thinking about YOURSELF.
10. Forgive yourself.
You are human. You are a sinner. The only perfect thing is our Lord and Savior. You are not perfect and you never will be. But guess what? Jesus already forgave you before you even committed the sin. He already forgave you when you spent all day in a panic, thinking of yourself. If the Ultimate Creator and Savior of our souls can forgive you…can’t you forgive yourself? This was a big one for me. I really had to learn to grant myself GRACE. I realized it was OK to feel sad or anxious or upset just as it’s OK to feel excited, happy, or joyful. Let your emotions be your emotions and don’t get so wrapped up in apologizing for them.
I hope you found these 10 things helpful! Since I like to be 100% honest on my blog I should also tell you that if you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, do NOT feel ashamed for taking antidepressants. It’s taken me a while to find exactly the type of medicine that works for my body. It’s important to talk with your doctor anytime you feel like your medicine is negatively impacting you too! Listen to your body.
Thanks for reading. xx