It’s 2019, and chances are, you or someone you know that is dealing with and are treated for some kind of anxiety. My therapist says that most of her clients are millennials, but research will tell you that most adults treated are 50+.Regardless of age and gender, mental health is something just as serious as any other physical ailment in your body, so this is a conversation that needs to be had.
Last year I struggled immensely with keeping my anxiety in check, but I did not want to take medication for it. Here are six simple things I do on the daily to help me deal:
Working Out- Being physical and sweating has been the best therapy for me (despite the idea that staying home and watching a Game Of Thrones marathon while eating an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s is the best cure all). It is well known that when you exercise, your body releases feel-good endorphins into your brain that enhances your sense of well-being and make you feel awesome. In a typical week, I will work out 3-4 times for about an hour, but even if it is something on a smaller scale like walking around the block or on a treadmill for 10 or 20 minutes, it will still have the same feel good effect.
2. CBD Oil: I was really skeptical to trying out something that came from a marijuana plant, (ha!), but it is natural and won’t get you high because there is no THC present in the oil (which, on days when my anxiety was at its peak, I probably wouldn’t have mind being high tbh…). Every time I know that I am about to encounter a situation or sense panic or depression creeping in, I take a few drops and within a few minutes those anxious feelings start to subside. I also use it for nights where I cannot turn my brain off to get quality sleep. In my opinion, it’s calming effects mirror those of essential oils just a bit stronger because it is ingested.
3. Time In The Sauna: Another game changer for me. Sitting still, disconnecting from the outside world and focusing your mind on your body, breathing, and the immediacy of the moment in a room heated well over 160 degrees doesn’t sound relaxing, but strangely enough, my body has been craving these quiet sessions. There are so many benefits to be reaped from spending even just a few minutes in the sauna that go beyond your mental health as well. There are so many studies currently being conducted on how getting your body to reach a hyperthermic state (elevating your body temperature) in settings like the sauna can help you lessen your depression and anxiety by more than 50% for up to 6 weeks. Imagine how good you would feel using the sauna a few times a week? It’s worth giving it a try.
4. Journaling: Writing has always been a passion of mine from a young age, but over the last year, it has been a lifesaver. I have started journaling again not just for fun, but to have a daily time to write out and keep track of whatever is causing my anxiety or whatever is helping it diminish. I also started writing out a few things that I am thankful for for that day. It sounds basic, but it really helps.
5. Good Distractions: There are many moments when I feel my anxiety or depression starting to resurface. If you are able to recognize those signs in your body or mood, then it is best to find something to keep you and your over-thinking brain busy. It could be something as simple as doing chores around the house. Or going shopping, (obviously my favorite…lol). Listen to music. Maybe even playing a game on your phone or video games with your kids. Reading is also a good way to distract yourself. In my experience, whatever was making me anxious is usually lessoned or altogether gone from my thoughts by the time I am finished with whatever I used to distract myself.
6. Check In With Your Good And Bad Feelings: Having a disorder like anxiety or depression is something that is hard to talk about with someone, even those that are close to you. When I first realized that something was off with myself mentally, it took me nearly a year to tell someone and to get help. Right now, there is only one person, besides my therapist, that I am comfortable talking about it with, but that is better than keeping all your feelings bottled up. You need to literally talk it out. Ask the person you trust the most to check in on you on a few times a week and have them ask you how you are doing and feeling and if you are feeling any better, worse, or the same. Notice I suggest having THEM ask YOU because chances are you will be too embarrassed or feel too awkward to ever bring it up in a casual conversation. No matter how close you are to your “person,” it will be hard and may feel a little weird being so open with them, but I cannot stress how important it is to set this up and be 100% open and honest with them, yourself, and your feelings.
And Diary, please remember that anxiety and depression can happen to anybody regardless of age, gender, race, and religion. If you know you need help, then do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for it from a friend, family member, spouse, medical doctor, or therapist. Also, check in on all of your friends from time to time–even the “happy” ones. I love you and I hope you find the inner peace you deserve.