I hope you have had a chocolate filled Easter weekend and if you live in the UK that you have enjoyed the glorious weather over the weekend – what a treat that was!
Last month I wrote about anxiety and depression and how they impact me. Today I’m going to share with you some tips for things you can do when you feel anxiety creeping up or depression looming over you.
I did touch on this slightly in a previous post but I’m intending on going into more details today. As depression and anxiety can both be quite different I’m intending on writing two lists for each one. Also included is how you can support a loved one when they need it.
Whilst I cannot speak for everyone, and I know that everyone suffers from depression in different ways, I found the following to be incredibly helpful for me. When in the depths of depression it can be really difficult to see a way out of it and ultimately I do always seek help from a medical professional be it a doctor for antidepressants or a counsellor for therapy. When it comes to depression there are a couple of ways, besides the two mentioned above, that I use to get myself out of it, I either face it head on, try to get to the root cause or I distract myself. It depends how vulnerable I’m feeling that day.
Facing my depression head on
When I face it head on I do a lot of research into depression, causes for it, I try to link it to my childhood to see if I can figure out my trigger – I’m still searching. But with every search I find something else out about myself and with the rate that people are writing blogs or creating podcasts on the subject I’m literally always finding out something new. Since doing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Test and discovering I am an INFJ I have come to realise that a lot of my depression comes from this. But also the fact that I am inherently a people pleaser, consistently trying to say and do things that make others happy and not really thinking of myself (this doesn’t mean I’m not selfish occasionally but it is my general go-to.) I also write a lot, to try and figure out what I’m feeling because I know that later on I can go back and unpack what I’ve written and talk myself round. Now these two things aren’t going to work for everyone but they might.
If I’m not in a place to face them head on then I will distract myself, usually with the following:
1. My number one way to distract myself is tuning in to my creativity. Be it a colouring book, knitting, sewing, quilting, writing. My creativity allows me to escape for a while. It helps me forget my worries and give my full focus to whatever project it is I’m working on.
2. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about my inner child and how to help heal it. One of the things that came out of the session with myself was that I used to love to just play around with my make up and hair. So I’ve found myself recently doing just that.
3. I will contact friends and family who I know will help distract me for a while.
4. I will watch something I know I’ll enjoy. At the moment I know it’s Schitt’s Creek but things change and sometimes if I’m not in the mood I will find something else but what I love about Schitt’s Creek is it’s subtle humour, it’s relationships within the show and the fact that it’s just a quick 20 minutes per episode. So if I’m needing a quick distraction I just throw one of those episodes on and focus on that.
5. Music. Music has always been a great distraction for me. If I’m feeling low I will tend to gravitate towards sadder songs but I’m making a conscious effort to put on cheery ones to try and lift me.
As I’ve said previously anxiety is a fairly new emotion for me and I’m still trying to work it all out, what my triggers are and how to soothe them. I haven’t had a screaming panic attack in nearly 2 years now (I now get little silent ones instead but they are far less scary than the screaming ones!) I am trying to work in accepting myself for who I am and also making sure I say to myself that I would never say the mean things I think are acceptable to say to myself to my best friend. I’m a work in progress but I’m getting there. When my anxiety really kicks in though this is what I need.
What I need during anxiety
I need space. I need people to not touch me. I need to felt understood. I need to know it’s going to be okay without actually saying “it’s going to be okay.” I need to be told when I’m having a paranoid moment. I need to feel safe. I need to feel like there are people who accept me – warts and all. I need encouragement- encouragement to treat myself well, to eat well, to exercise, to relax, to meditate – even if only for 30 seconds! I need to be distracted – don’t focus on the anxiety.
Tips and hints for anxiety sufferers
I’m going to be truthful here. I still haven’t found the perfect solution to my anxiety. I was taking medication for a while but with everything I was taking for my arthritis I just didn’t want to put more and more chemicals into my body. I know this wasn’t maybe the wisest decision I’ve ever made but it was mine to make and the doctor supported it. A lot of the times my anxiety is calmed by the activities I mentioned above for my distraction from depression but on the mind website their suggestions for self-care are as follows:
1. Talk to someone you trust
2. Try to manage your worries by setting time aside to allow yourself to focus on them.
3. Look after your physical health by sleeping well (enough – not too little, not too much.) Thinking about your diet (eating regularly to keep your blood sugar levels stable.) Trying to fit in some physics exercise.
4. Try breathing exercises. This can be included in your mindfulness moments.
5. Keep a diary. It can be useful to keep track of the trigger to help you reflect later. Or keep a diary of what’s going well. The quote on the webpage is someone sharing their experiences of keeping a photo diary – so it doesn’t even require writing anything down. This can help when you’re having an anxiety moment.
6. Peer support- meeting with others who have been in the same position.
7. Complementary and alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, massage, reflexology etc. I for one can vouch for a hot stones massage. I fall asleep nearly everytime!
Ultimately you will find what works for you. Much like I have.
Remember if you are feeling like this do seek medical guidance. I only came off of my antidepressant and anti anxiety pills with the support of my doctor and by reducing the dosage slowly.
If you are feeling suicidal and live in the UK then please call any of the following numbers:
1. 999 – ask for the nearest crisis resolution team (CRT)
2. The Samaritans on 116 124
3 If you are aged 35 and under, or concerned about someone who is, you can call Papyrus on 0800 068 4141 or text 07786 209 697
4. NHS choices 24 on 111
5. C.A.L.M. is a national helpline for men specifically. And can be reached by calling 0800 58 58 58
Next time I’m going to be discussing what I have been reading to change my mindset and hopefully pull myself out of the last little bit.
Till then take care of yourselves, remember how valued you are.