Disclaimer: I am in no way a medical professional. The advice I offer here is simply based on my personal experiences.
Mental health matters. This is something I truly, utterly believe. I also believe that opening up the discussion and just talking about mental health can have a massive effect on a person and their struggles. At least, I know it really did for me.
At it’s worst, depression turned me into a complete zombie. I struggled to get out of bed, and I’d spend periods just sat staring into space, unable to bring myself to move or do anything. I am a major Type A personality and perfectionist (although I’m also a lazy shite, but more on this later) and I think this may have been the only reason I got up every day and lived some semblance of a life. Being seen as subpar or less than was something that I just couldn’t stomach.
But there was no soul in anything I did. No emotions. I got up, went about my day, and spent most of my waking moments wishing I was in bed. I turned down almost every social invite I was given because I just could not face people and existing. When I was sat in groups or out with friends, I’d just be sat in the corner on my phone because making conversation was just too much effort.
My depression has improved, but I still have some bad episodes, and to be honest, at times the episodes are far worse than the extended period I suffered from in my second year of university.
With regards to my anxiety, I’ve always been an anxious person. Even as a child people always commented on how well behaved I was, when in truth I was just so scared of what people thought that I was terrified into inaction.
Sometimes, I find the anxiety is the harder to fight. I’ve lived with it for so long that I didn’t realise it was an issue until recently, whereas when I first began to suffer from depression I immediately sought out help to figure out what was wrong with me. My anxiety also tends to keep itself pretty lowkey – most of the time. It creeps along unnoticeable for quite some time before jumping out and knocking me flat on my backside.
Having realised, though, that these things are not an intrinsic part of my personality, and are in fact little angry voices living within my head, I’ve found them easier to live with. Instead of thinking that I’m broken and never going to be able to do the things I want, now it’s just a case of remembering to be kind to these little monsters sitting on my shoulders, and they, in turn, make living my life just that little bit easier.
An Established Sleep Pattern
I love sleep. So much. So much so that the idea of getting out of bed before 10 makes me cry.
Or it did.
My phone has a health app automatically installed, and when I told it I wanted to feel more rested it set me sleep goals. These goals simply involved me going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. I was dubious (waking up at half 7 on a weekend?! No thanks!) But I have actually seen a massive difference in my moods, and getting up early just sets up my day right. I actually get shit done.
Organisation is a big one. Being organised gives you the upper hand over anxiety in particular. Instead of panicking about upcoming deadlines you’re vaguely aware of, being organised, writing them down and then actually doing something about them is so much better for you. That way, even if something does go wrong, you’re prepared, and you stand a better chance of succeeding without a meltdown.
Or just exercise in general. Get out there, shake what ya mamma gave you. I know for some people in the depths of a depressive episode the idea of getting up and exercising is the last thing you think possible, but believe me when I say that the clarity and energy you can glean from exercise is priceless.
Yoga is so gentle and easy on the body you can sometimes feel like you aren’t exercising at all. That’s why I believe it’s perhaps the best form of exercise for those suffering from anxiety or depression.
And not just days where I pretend to do nothing and just sit there like a vegetable. I mean taking days off to do something purely for pleasure, purely for myself. Not for the blog. No university work. Just me.
I think, especially in today’s culture, days off are seen as a negative or something to be enjoyed once in a blue moon. Taking a day for yourself is actually really beneficial.
Pushing through to burnout is not the most productive way to get things done. Take a day. A bet you’ll be far more productive when you get back to work after your siesta.
These are my little tips and tricks for making friends with pain in the bum and nagging voice sat on my shoulders. They’re not perfect. They don’t work every time, and I’m not perfect when it comes to executing them. I’m improving though, and that’s the main thing.
If you’ve any tips and tricks that you’ve found really help you then leave them down below as a comment. Let’s open the discussion and help each other out. This can only improve our chances in the fight for better mental health.