5 Tips for Managing Anxiety and Depression

“Ignore those who say just get over it. Healing is a process.”

__________

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When people talk about getting healthy mental health is often left out of the conversation. People invest significant time into building diet and exercise plans, but not as much into living in healthy mental spaces. Mental health plays a major part in a person’s ability to move through life. I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression for quite a few years now, and it hasn’t always been something that I’ve talked about. Like many people, I found talking about my mental health embarrassing. When I first started realizing the symptoms I had no idea what was happening to me. I struggled a lot trying to figure things out on my own and had a lot of downs before I realized how to get up. It’s still hard sometimes, but because of what I went through I feel it’s so important to share my story and the things that have helped me become stronger.

Now that I’m fully aware of what anxiety is I realize that I’ve had it my whole life. We’re sort of like conjoined twins but in more of a Voldemort on the back of Quirrell’s head kind of way. Anxiety was the pulsing in my ears and tingling in my fingers at 7 as I reread paragraphs over and over trying to memorize them in case I was called on next to read aloud so that no one would catch my stutter and think that I was stupid.  It was all the little irrational fears and scenarios in my head that kept me from putting myself out there and going for what I really wanted. It was the rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, and chest tightness that almost caused my first car accident.   It was overwhelming in every way imaginable, but because knowledge of mental illness was so limited I just thought that I was a) weird and b) irrational.

I had spoken to my father once about having what I called an “episode” at school and he was both angry and annoyed. He interrogated me coldly about why I would do something like that at school. When I couldn’t come up with any solid answers his only advice was that I needed to control myself and get it together.

It wasn’t until an amazing teacher (word to Swad) pulled me aside and shared her own experiences that I had a name for my episodes and realized that they were normal and that I could do something about them.

Unlike anxiety, depression made more of a slow creep into my life. For the greater part of my childhood and my teen years I was happy, and I mean truly happy. I had friends, I didn’t want for much, and I was allowed almost as much freedom as I wanted. My happiness, however, was overpowered by a constant state of fear.

When you are made to feel fearful all of the time no space feels like your own. No one can ever be let in too close or find out too much. It becomes lonely. For a long time, everyone just chalked it up to teen angst not realizing that everything I was projecting outward was just a personification of how sad I felt inside.

During college, my depression became harder for me to mask and manage. I was low and would entertain ANYTHING that promised to pick me up. I left home seeking solace and found one of the most enabling environment imaginable. I quickly realized that though I couldn’t make the sadness disappear I could, however,  quiet it with all of the escapes that college had to offer.

These days, college and those dark times seem like distant memories. I have made peace with my past and have grown to love all of the imperfections that make me the woman I am today. My journey was long and my journey was hard. Because of that, it’s important to me to share the 5 main things that aid me in keeping a positive head space and not falling victim to my anxiety and depression.

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Talking it out

Whether it’s to a therapist or to your close friends, you have to get it all off of your chest. I know it might feel scary or feel like you’re opening the door for judgment,  but anxiety and depression are more common than people like to let on. Tons of people have had the same experiences and/or feelings as you. I know that when you get into a depressive phase it’s hard to believe that anyone can relate to you, but these are the times when you need people the most. Make it a point to get comfortable reaching out when you feel yourself slipping. The people who love you when you’re up will love you when you’re down. They will help you get through whatever it is you’re going through and be there when you need them. Never be afraid to hit someone up and say,  “Hey, throw me a lifeline.”

Yoga

When  I go through one of my anxiety spells I spiral so quickly. My negative emotions become weeds taking over any space for positivity to flourish.  I found yoga after watching an interview with Russell Simmons a few years back. Hearing how important it was to his daily routine motivated me to give it a try. For someone who is usually so “go, go, go”- yoga can be frustrating. Every move is very slow and deliberate. Yoga helped me to take control of the noise and quiet it. It also helped me feel more positive and comfortable in my own skin.

Essential Oils

Essential oils have been a godsend. When Co and I would talk about our stress load and anxiety she put me on to lavender. She said she’d put it on her wrist in the morning and smell it to calm herself anytime she felt anxious and overwhelmed throughout the day. After that worked for me I started really looking into what other oils were out there and how they could help with other things in my life. I have since bought an oil diffuser and have been water whippin lol. Check out these helpful tips for blending and mixing your own oils for the best results.

Tea

When I’m shaky and sad and unable to snap out of it nothing helps like tea. The aroma, the warmth, and the feel of the cup are honestly like a hug from the universe. It warms my soul and all the places that feel empty and dark. This is especially helpful when I cannot get to sleep.

Writing

Blogging is definitely bae, but journaling has always been my first love. Journaling is one of my go-to situations when I am feeling really depressed. I started doing this before I started talking to anyone and a lot of times it was really great for me to get all of my emotions out. When you’re only talking to yourself there is no one to judge you or make you feel worse about your current situation. A lot of times I end up crying, but it’s cathartic because I need to unload all of these things from my brain. Writing everything down candidly and without any filters helps take the burden off my mind and pain out of my body.

Mental health is a definitely something we all should be taking serious and never something we should let anyone make us feel bad about. If I can make one final recommendation I would definitely suggest seeing a therapist if you can afford it. I haven’t tried it myself, but I have quite a few friends who have seen major improvements from it. It can be a little expensive, but now they have companies like talkspace that offer affordable, convenient, over the phone services.

If you have any other tips or just want to talk about your experience PLEASE feel free to share them below. This is a safe space! Peace & love dolls.

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