I don’t want to mislead you in any way, I am not a doctor nor do I work in the medical field. I may use incorrect terminology below or even go against your personal beliefs. That’s okay, this is my body & my experiences. If even one of these suggestions helps someone else in their life struggles, I’m game!
Doctors have told me I’m depressed (clinically), need to be on A.D.D meds, need to be on A.D.H.D meds. One doctor even told me that I need to attend more church & exercise more. Though I was offended at first, I have to admit that it actually helped hahahaha. << See that, it’s me being light-hearted. This isn’t some deep dark discussion about depression + anxiety. It’s not the beast that lurks under the bed – it’s you, it’s your mom, it’s your dad, it’s your brothers, sisters & best friends. There is not a single person that hasn’t suffered from some form of anxiety or depression, even if it’s just one day a year. Why am I making a blanket, non-statistical statement like that? Because it’s chemical & no one is perfect, we all struggle. So please do me a favor & do yourself a favor, stop feeling alone. No one will ever experience depression + anxiety for you or know your specific struggles, but you can rest assured that it’s a worldwide epidemic.
What have I noticed that we all have in common? Trouble seeking help in the midst of an attack. We all feel different, true, but we all describe seeking help in a similar way. My favorite way to describe it is like trying to walk through a giant vat of freshly poured, fast drying, concrete. I’m not going to tell you how to handle your depression + anxiety because I’m pretty sure I’ve made my point clear, I don’t understand what you’re personally going through. I will tell you how I try to “pretreat” mine though. Even though our attacks & experiences are different, I think pretreatment is as detrimental as what you do when you’re walking through the concrete.
Cut the caffeine. It was friendly for me, it was social. I was walking daily to snag a cup with a friend. I was using it to jar myself awake. I was hoping it’d help me focus at work. All it really did was breed anxiety. This made being successful socially, impossible. I crashed hard. The anxiousness made working proficiently a fleeting thought. Even if you don’t have these experiences, caffeine is strongly tied to irritating anxiety + depression as well as cuing attacks. I’m not telling you to closely monitor your diet and cut all forms of caffeine, I’m telling you to quit with the high doses. Research how much caffeine you’re really putting in your body. I switched to green tea, matcha, Yerba Mate, Runa……less than half the caffeine of regular coffee.
Aromatherapy. Before you tell me this is fru-fru bullshit, think about it. Certain smells trigger distant memories. You find yourself more relaxed in a spa. You become irritated by bad smells. There is some science behind certain scents stimulating specific parts of the brain, so build off of that. I think you can train yourself to relax if you diffuse lavender prior to bed, because it’s already stimulating that part of the brain. Again, personal beliefs, but here is an article by Dr. Axe on the top 4 essential oils for depression. Also, an article from Dr. Axe on the top 7 essential oils for anxiety. Don’t go to the drugstore & buy oils though, buy them from a reputable brand. I buy/sell Young Living because they grow the plants that they make the oils out of, no middle man, no excuses. I appreciate that. There are other companies that you can trace the oils origin, just do your research.
Physical activity. I don’t go run a mile. I go to Pure Barre 3-4x a week. I can’t explain what an hour of physical activity does for me any better than to say, it cuts my attacks down to 1/4 of what they used to be. It releases so many goooooood chemicals in the brain if you just get moving. Find what works for you or switch it up, just be active.
Get spiritual. Church may not be for you, that’s fine. Find something that makes you want to be a better person though & make sure it’s a constant in your life. I leave church once a week feeling refreshed, revitalized & ready to go kick some ass (probably not the best word choice, but it gets the job done)! Being in a giant room full of people actively trying to do the right thing & better themselves isn’t just cool, it’s life altering. Having a renewed goal once a week to be a better person & trust in someone else is uplifting in every sense of the word.
Take care of you. Every Sunday, before my shower I put on a 10 minute face mask. Just knowing that I put aside 10 extra minutes to do something nice for myself, to treat myself, makes me happy. That’s all, it just makes me happy. Do it daily, do it weekly, do it monthly – just do it as much as you can, make yourself happy. It’s not the job of anyone else, so stop putting that burden on someone else.
Take care of others. If I can reasonably help (sometimes unreasonably), I am. That can mean a lot of things. Let it. Don’t box yourself in when it comes to doing that one small deed that will change someone else’s day. Buy the homeless guy a sandwich even if he really wanted a bottle of liquor. Tell your bestie she looks pretty, even if that’s abnormal for your friendship. If it’s kind & crosses your mind, verbalize it. There are no limits here folks.
Put your f*cking phone down. Be present. I own this website, it requires a lot of time spent on my phone. I’m also born in the 90s, it requires a lot of time spent on my phone. When you’re eating with family or friends, turn the sucker upside down. When you have a night out, turn it off, you probably don’t want to see those photos anyways. When you’re making yourself a morning cup of tea (we already talked about that coffee!) leave it on the charger for a while longer. If you forget your phone at home & feel naked, you have a problem.
Open your blinds. Every. Single. Day. Rainy? Who cares. Sunny? Stand in the sunshine. Open them. Don’t box yourself in, trust me, don’t do it. Unless you have a migraine, please do this one simple thing for yourself.
Get ready in the morning. What does that mean for you? For me that means I straighten, curl or braid my hair. I put mascara on. It makes me feel put together & in turn I feel more confident. That doesn’t mean there aren’t days I’m in my pajamas with my hair in a bun & Netflix on, I just try to limit those days. If I feel put together, I’m more likely to venture out with friends or just outside in general.
Eat healthy. What you put in your body really does matter. That’s not my opinion either. That’s real life shit you guys, be careful. Yes I eat hamburgers, pizza, & drink beer. No I don’t obviously do that all the time. I choose whole foods to cook for myself. I don’t add sugar to anything I cook at home unless it’s natural sugar. I keep my home stocked with “clean” food & I eat my “bad” stuff at restaurants. Moderation is key & it’s different for everyone, but awareness is more important. Doing something like the Whole30 teaches you to read labels, it makes you more aware of what you’re putting in your body. Make this a habit. Don’t ignore what you’re putting in your body; food is sustenance. It’s what fuels you.
Take a trip. Solo. If funds aren’t available, drive to your nearest state park and take a hike. Camp out. Climb a mountain. Stay at a spa. Book a hotel in your city for one evening. Go sit and have lunch by yourself, outside, in the fresh air. Make yourself a picnic. You have kids? Not as easy, but not impossible. Dance in the friggin’ rain. Splash in the puddles. Take a trip!
Sleep. Do whatever it takes. Make this a priority. I’m not going to tell you how. Some of you have kids. Some of you have snoring husbands. Some of you have insomnia. Figure out what it takes because this is detrimental. Don’t choose something over bedtime unless that something won’t be there tomorrow. Because guess what, sleep won’t be there tomorrow either. You cannot catch up on sleep, it’s not physically possible. Your body needs it when it needs it for a reason.
You just read these & are disappointed. You learned nothing new. You already knew you could be doing these things. That’s the point. DO THEM. Take care of yourself.
To all of my loved ones that deal with depression + anxiety. Talk to me. It’s my job to make you laugh, to calm you down, to listen. Though you know I’m a problem solver, I will always do my best to put aside my personal inclinations & try to figure out what it is that you need.
LOVE this article lady!! I have mild anxiety but my boyfriend has it bad. It sometimes causes him to withdrawn for days at a time. This article is amazing and I am glad you reminded me of the importance of self-care and health. I may be incorporating some essential oils into our home more often (shoutout to your lovely lavender)! Thanks for being so genuinely you in your writing Tasha!
Oh my goodness, you are the sweetest! It’s great that he has you. It’s the little things that you do for each other that will help 10 fold! Thanks for reading, I really hope it can help in some small way 🙂
Lynn Rule says
Great post! My 18year old son has autism (high functioning so he is verbal, has some social skills) but his anxiety is huge! We have done most of the things on this list – diet, caffeine, exercise, sunlight… it makes a huge difference! As he is getting older, he is more aware of things that trigger it and has learned to mentally put himself in a good place when necessary. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t have moments, but they have been significantly reduced in frequency and intensity. Thank you for sharing!
Lynn! I already shot you an email, but golly I hope I could help – even if it’s just a little. Having a child on the spectrum seems to be such a different experience for each family I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in my life. The triggers are hard to figure out & seem to even change sometimes. Momma knows best so hopefully you can find a way to help him through this beautiful life because anxiety is so hard to move past. Let me know if I can help you research anything or if you’ve found something that has helped! xx Tasha