Depression and anxiety have been lifelong struggles for me. I have memories of being as young as fourth grade and having anxiety attacks. I’ve been on and off of medication for years, but finally felt like I hit my stride recently. In the past six months, I haven’t felt a need to be on anything. It’s been such a freeing feeling. Then BAM. In one week, there were two celebrity suicides and I felt like depression and anxiety articles were getting passed around at such a rapid rate I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The normal stuff I usually do to clear my mind wasn’t working, and the heavy feeling piled on. Before I knew it, I was in a really dark place. And out of nowhere!
There are so many reasons I don’t want to/can’t be in a dark place right now. Obviously, who would ever want to feel like absolute garbage and dragged into the depths of despair if they didn’t have to be? But I have a lot going on. It’s summer vacation and my three kids are home all day and need me. I’m trying to bring in an additional income with the work that I do and I need to focus. And honestly, I’m just so sick of pissing away my life feeling so rotten I don’t even want to get out of bed. I remember whole parts of my life based upon the dark cloud that was overhead during them: the summer I was so worried about skin cancer I never went outside, the winter I never went to a movie because I was afraid I would get shot, the entire year I was so upset about three separate people I knew of suffering from a brain tumor that I convinced myself I might have one.
I get so sick of myself sometimes.
But you know what? The show must go on. I have a life to live and I need to keep some handy tricks I can turn to when I feel absolutely horrible and worthless and have a business to run. The way depression and anxiety are, these don’t always work, but they are ALWAYS worth a try.
- Change and uplift your surroundings. Recently, I started to wonder if my penchant for wearing dark neutral colors, listening to soulful music, and several other habits could be effecting me on a cellular level. I guess I never thought about how some of these tiny decisions I make in a day might be really bringing me down. I thought it was interesting to try an experiment where I did the opposite of what I would usually do and see how it made me feel. Wearing a bright pattern instead of my typical black shirt; taking the time to style my hair rather than throwing it into a topknot, listening to uplifting Christian music rather than Adele, etc. I was really surprised how much better I felt after just a few days of trying to make some minor changes.
- Do the “hardest” thing on your to do list. I tend to make minuscule tasks into these HUGE deal, difficult to conquer roadblocks. The longer I put off doing something, even if it’s easy, the bigger the task FEELS even if it’s no big deal. The best feeling though? Sitting down and plowing through something that I’ve been putting off and making harder than it is. Nike said it best. Just do it.
- Time block to laser focus on a task. I am very easily distracted and before I know it, hours have gone by and despite sitting in front of my work, I’ve accomplished nothing. It can be very hard to be disciplined, but especially since I have three kids and my time is limited, when I have the time to work I just need to GO for it. Setting a timer on my cell phone works great for me. Depending on the task, I usually give myself 5 minutes or 20 minutes. I’m not allowed to stop doing that task until my timer goes off. No breaks!
- Eat and exercise for energy. The only thing I want to do when I am feeling rotten is to lay on the couch and close my eyes and be alone. But the bad feelings pull me in deeper when I give in to that. Fighting the feeling and throwing on my running shoes always helps, even if I don’t go very far or very fast. The endorphins lift my spirits when I can channel that negativity into something positive. The same goes for food. When I feel bad, I want cheesy carbs and chocolate. But they bring me from feeling low to feeling lower. If I can curb my cravings and get myself to eat something healthy I feel like a different, and happier person.
- Do work that lights your soul on fire. Much of the time I have spent dreading work in the past was because I didn’t like what I had to do. When I’m drowning in work I’m not passionate about, deadlines seem to eat me alive and everything is stress. If this is the case for you, you need to shift what you’re doing. What’s your “why?” Is it to stay home with your kids and be financially free? That’s a reason that drives you when you feel like working, but what about when you don’t feel like it? I’m not saying depression and anxiety won’t still rear their ugly heads into your life, but if you have a deep reason for doing the work you do, it will be more bearable to show up even on those days. And above all, relax. We should only be working so hard so we can play hard too. If you’re not taking some time to find enjoyment in life, what’s it really about?
I hope at least one of these points was something you can institute into your own life. I’d love to hear any additional tips you have in the comments. And please, if you thought this was a useful post, share it with a friend!
Do you suffer from anxiety or depression? How do you cope?