Having a mental health problem sucks. Seriously. Anxiety and depression can take even the most motivated driven individual and turn them into a pile of sweatpants that can’t get out of bed. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, I want you to know that it’s NOT YOUR FAULT! I spent a long time feeling like my mental illness made me a “broken” person, which of course only made it more difficult to deal with. Please know that you are NOT “broken” and that (as much as it sucks) dealing with this is making you a stronger person by the day.
I also want to disclaim that I AM NOT A DOCTOR! If you are having serious mental health problem please see a psychologist/ psychiatrist! Therapy works wonders.
These tips are what work for me! They don’t cure depression and anxiety by any means, but they make getting through the day and enjoying my life a little easier!
Now without further ado, here are my top thirteen tips for managing anxiety and depression!
I ALWAYS find that when I’ve been inside all day my depression is worse. Take a walk, go to the beach, or just get out and run errands! Not only will you feel better about having done something, the vitamin D you get from the sun can combat depressive symptoms!
Take a shower!
I feel like CRAP until I’ve showered. Sometimes it’s SUPER hard to do when I’m feeling super depressed and unmotivated, so I try to give myself incentives (new bath products such as body exfoliators and lotions) to help me get up. Taking a shower helps clear my head and gives me a sense of self-care that’s SO important when you’re combatting mental health issues.
Give a stranger a compliment.
I try to compliment someone I don’t know on something I notice about them every day. This helps me get into a more positive mindset and some human contact usually puts me in a brighter mood! Plus, you’re brightening someone else’s day in the process! Win-win!
Turn off the screens.
It’s so easy to get locked into opening and closing the same five apps on your phone all day long. It’s incredibly unfulfilling and can also make you sleep worse, which only makes mental illness more difficult to deal with! Putting your phone down for an hour and doing something that reconnects you with yourself (see Tips 2 and 5!) is so helpful.
Even if you feel like you can’t. Don’t worry about if it’s good enough. Take out a set of paints or a coloring book that makes you happy and put on some fun music (I recommend this playlist from Spotify) and go to town! This can help you get out of your head and is super calming!
Buy fresh flowers.
I try to always keep fresh flowers in my house. Place them somewhere you will see them every day, like on your dining room table or your desk/vanity, and feel your whole space coming to life! Buying yourself flowers (even the $4 bouquets from Trader Joe’s-which is usually what I get) is a great way to remind yourself they you’re worth pampering and taking care of. The life it brings to your space can help everything feel less claustrophobic and more fun!
I know you hate this one. I hate this one too. It’s usually the first thing people suggest when they find out you’re struggling with mental health, and as a result it feels super cliche and trite. Plus, physical exercise can feel overwhelming even on a good day. But I PROMISE YOU, it’s worth it. It doesn’t have to be anything rigorous; a 15 minute yoga practice or walk will get you moving, focusing on the strength of your body, and the endorphins will instantly lift your mood!
Create a schedule.
One of the worst things about the one-two-punch that is having both depression and anxiety is the inability to do things. I often feel too depressed to do anything, which makes me anxious about not doing anything, which in turn makes me more depressed and… you get the picture. One thing that has really helped me with this is creating a to-do list for each day. I schedule what work I need to get done each day and I know that as long as the things on the list get done before bedtime, I don’t need to feel guilty! The trick to this is making your schedule manageable, and giving yourself permission to fail if it becomes too much. But the feeling of checking everything off helps me fight that disenfranchised “nothing matters” feeling that I get when I’m not feeling motivated!
Clean or organize.
This is another one that I used to roll my eyes at. Then I read this book. And holy crap, it changed my life. My mind feels less cluttered when my space isn’t cluttered, and doing the tidying makes me feel accomplished and proud, even if it’s the only thing I do all day.
Plan and eat healthy meals that you will look forward to every day.
Use lots of fresh fruits and veggies and plan your meals (especially breakfast) ahead of time so that you have something to look forward to. It’s SO much easier to get out of bed when I know I have a delicious breakfast that will feel good and fuel my body waiting for me!
I’m not saying you should put on a cocktail dress and five inch heels every day, but falling into the trap of calling wearing sweatpants every day “self care” is really real. Don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely days when sweatpants and a messy bun are GREAT self care, but doing this every day can start to make us feel like life is a non-event. When you feel like you look good, you approach the world with a more confident and positive attitude , which can make ALL the difference. Invest in clothes that are comfortable but still make you feel beautiful, and wear them regularly. It takes the same amount of time to put on sweatpants or an outfit you love and rock!
Practice self-care whenever possible.
Whether this means a breath bomb, a scented candle, a face mask (check out this post for a great one,) or all three, taking time to pamper yourself is super important when loving yourself gets hard. Taking the time for you will not only boost your self-image, but will also energize you for the day/week ahead! You cannot pour out of an empty pitcher.
Have compassion for yourself.
Know that this is NOT your fault. This fight you’re having with yourself every day can be incredibly draining, but I’m so proud of you for continuing to fight it anyway. Know that there will be days that you feel like you fail, and that’s OKAY. On those days, celebrate the little wins. And feel free to shoot me an email if you need to talk.