Depression & Anxiety- 5 Ways to Manage Right Now
I have Depression. Actually, I have managed having Depression my entire life. My Depression became worse in 2015/2016 and I have spent the last few years doing "my work" to get to a more peaceful and calm space. Now in my late twenties, I have gotten to a place where I am not ashamed of saying I struggle with Anxiety and Depression. My Anxiety and Depression has never defined me nor my success. I am fortunate to be able to share my process and my journey with all of you- none of us are ever alone.
On my Instagram, I have had the opportunity to connect with so many of you who have shared that you too feel depressed, hopeless or just overwhelmed sometimes. Through back and forth DM's, you share your stories, your struggles and your wants for your life. You express admiration in how "positive" I am on my Instagram and I assure you that I have off days as well. In the 10-15 minutes that I exchange positive words with you, I see you leave the conversation a little bit lighter, a little more focused and hopeful and I pray my words have helped you.
On IG, our timelines are filled with "perfect" images that look nothing like our own life. "Why cant I have a photographer follow me around everywhere and snap effortless photos? Why cant I wake up at 5am to meditate? Shit, how do you even meditate? "
If you are anything like me, you find yourself asking these questions everyday. The more you scroll your timeline, the more inadequate you tend to feel. Add in the everyday stress of life and a few weekly mishaps and you wonder how you are able to even get through to the end of the week. The truth is, even the shit you see on Instagram is staged and perfectly curated. Everybody struggles and the real secret is in the supports we use to get through our personal struggles. Life is hard, nobody is smiling and happy 100% of the time, do not believe the hype.
Through my own journey in managing my Depression and Anxiety, I have pulled together 5 tips you can do RIGHT NOW to get through a depressed or anxious space. These tips/ strategies have worked for me throughout the years and although none of them are magic, I have found that being consistent and mindful in doing them tends to really help whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or down.
PAUSE DISCLAIMER- PLEASE REMEMBER, I AM NOT A DOCTOR. IF YOU ARE FEELING TOO OVERHWELMED OR NEED A HIGHER LEVEL OF SUPPORT, PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO REACH OUT TO A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL, HELP IS POSSIBLE.
1. Stop the Scrolling
Although Instagram is a great distraction, it can also breed unnecessary anxiety and negative feelings. If you are feeling overwhelmed or depressed, consider disconnecting your IG app for a day or two. Giving your mind time to detox away from the energy of others is a helpful way to recharge and reflect. Although distraction seems like it is better than sitting in your feelings, observing other peoples lives from behind a phone screen can make you feel worse.
If you need to operate social media platforms for work (influencers, creatives etc.), consider setting a phone timer for your IG activity. Log on to upload your content or respond to your messages and then log off. Creating a space of uninterrupted reflection is so necessary and distraction will only put a Band-Aid on an inevitable wound.
2. Timeline Detox
A few months ago, I had to go in and completely detox WHO I was following on my social media. Literally, every time I logged on to social media, I felt like I was being attacked with negativity, gossip and bad energy from others. We all love to stay up to date with celebrity gossip, but at what cost are we engaging in other people's problems while letting our own drama magnify? While it seems harmless, constantly reading about the drama and problems of others depletes us of our own positive energy. When you are feeling Depressed or Anxious, every bit of positivity you have MUST be reserved for you.
When you are feeling up to it, start finding a few positive, inspiring accounts to follow instead of the celebrity drama blogs. By filling your timeline up with people who lift you up instead of bring you down, you are more likely to get inspired and feel better.
3. Self- Care is a MUST
The term "Self-Care" has become such a trendy buzz word during the last 2 years. Rather than bubble baths and pedicures, self- care is simply serving yourself in whatever way you need, whenever you need it. For some that may mean sitting in the car a few minutes after you get home to just breathe. For others, that could mean setting boundaries with your kids or significant other or turning down an event on the weekend that you do not have the energy to attend, self-care is simply listening to YOURSELF.
For me, self-care looks like giving myself space. I tend to do best when I have space to process whatever I am feeling or going through. Throughout the years, I have learned that space does not mean isolation so I prioritize having people around me who will give me space while still staying present. I have a process of getting through obstacles in my life and I need the space to not have all of the answers sometimes. I am not someone who tends to search for advice. I actually get anxiety at the thought of oversharing my problems with others. This method can sometimes create isolation for me so I rely on my husband or family to check-in when they feel like I have been MIA.
Take time to figure out what self-care needs to look like for you. Write down reminders for yourself or set appointments in your phone to practice self-care for yourself. Create boundaries that serve YOUR NEEDS unapologetically. Self-Care is the ability to pour into your own metaphorical cup first. The overflow of your cup is what will serve others. If your cup is empty, you cannot be of service to others.
4. Get Out, Get Moving
When we are Depressed or Anxious, we tend to need the security of being indoors rather than out. I remember being Depressed and feeling like all I wanted was rain outside because it would justify my depression keeping me in the house. Honestly, Depression often is the equivalent of feeling stuck in the mud. Even though you want to get up and move, physically, you often feel unable to. Take things slow and try to get outside even if its only for an hour or two. Try engaging in outside activities that do not envolve high energy or a lot of people. I have found that simply sitting outside for a lunch solo or going to the park tends to really help me. Even if you find you cant manage an hour outside, make it a priority to at least get up and move your body in some way. There is something about the sunlight and fresh air that tends to wake up our mind and shift our perspective.
When you are feeling anxious or depressed, please do not use that was an opportunity to start a strenuous workout routine IF you are someone who rarely works out. Compulsivity and obsession can magnify during periods of depression or anxiety What seemed like a harmless workout (#bodygoals) could create higher levels of stress and trauma. Instead, take it slow with whatever physical activity you are getting into to. For me, I enjoy sex with my husband. Key word, Husband so please manage your risky behaviors as well :) Stay safe!
5. When in Doubt, Write it Down
During the last year, I have really gotten into journaling. For me, journaling looks like simply writing down every random thought that comes to my head. Whether it be by writing lists, goals, thoughts or just feelings, I have found that the process of getting it out allows me to release whatever pent up thoughts, fears or feelings that are crowding my mind. My journal pages don't make a lot of sense and they rarely look very pretty. Usually, I take about 10-20 minutes to jot down thoughts EXACTLY when I feel them. I carry around about 2 notebooks with me daily and I make sure I write things down as soon as the thought approaches my mind.
Next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or unheard, write it down. Do not worry about what you write or how you write it, just get your thoughts on paper.
Therapy- If you do not have a relationship with a therapist, I thoroughly recommend you start one asap. www.therapyforblackgirls.com is an amazing resource if you do not know where to start
Food Choices- What you ingest in your body has everything to do with the way you feel. During times of Depression or Anxiety, make sure your water intake is where it needs to be. Say no to fried or carb heavy foods. Alcohol is a hell no so don't even try it.
Wash Your Hair- I am not sure why this works for me but it does. Depression can present itself in a lack of prioritization for personal upkeep so I try my best to put a little effort with my clothes, hair and makeup. Even if all you can manage is yoga sweats, make sure they are clean.
Head to the Movies- I recently started doing this and I really enjoy it. I do not know what it is about a dark movie theater or a giant bucket of popcorn, but it is a great distraction when you are feeling overwhelmed. Because movies are 2-3 hours long, you do not run the risk of spending 6+ hours on IG scrolling your timeline or finding emotional quotes to post.
Eat a Good Meal- I am all about saving money and cutting your eating out, but when I am feeling overwhelmed or anxious, sometimes I treat myself to a nice meal out.
Clean Your Space- Our environment can breed chaos and anxiety more than any external factor ( in my experience). When I am feeling anxious, I reasonably refresh my space. Changing the sheets, vacuuming, dusting or even organizing my clothes helps me to stay focused on a specific task while making my immediate surroundings more functional and stress-free.
This list is not exhaustive, but I think it provides a great place to start. Please remember you are never alone in the way you are feeling. When you are going through something, its easy to feel like nobody understands or can relate, but I promise they can. When you are down, make it a priority to write down at least 6 things that are positive in your life. Use those 6 things as constant reminders during your process of overcoming.
What are some ways that you deal with Anxiety and Depression? What have you found that really works for you?
Remember, Depression and Anxiety is serious and is nothing to be ashamed about. Please use whatever resources you have and reach out to trusted people when you are unsure of how to move forward.
Hang in there ladies!
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