Anxiety and depression. Everyone deals with these issues in their life at one time or another. Some are able to pass through it quickly but others… not so quickly. Some have it so bad that it can be debilitating and hard to do simple everyday things, like getting out of bed and functioning throughout the day. Many people may feel like it’s difficult to talk to others about these issues as they can be disregarded or invalidated, but that doesn’t make them any less real. As the symptoms are something you cannot see, it may be difficult for others to know what to say or do to help you out, so how can you find ways to cope with anxiety and depression?
There is hope.
Unfortunately, I know firsthand dealing with these issues as I have personally had to face them since I was a child. Whether it was a family member or myself, I finally have found a path to help me deal with these struggles. I’m not a doctor and what works for me may not work for you. (Please use the following suggestions at your discretion.) I have been taking some classes to help with these issues (plus, I LOVE to study psychology) and I feel that these are things that everyone should know about. Below are some starter points to help you when you feel like your anxiety and depression are starting to hit:
1. Allow Yourself to Feel the Emotion
Sounds simple right? In reality, it isn’t. But it is important. People tend to push their feelings aside because they feel that it’s not important enough, guilty, unjustified, or will hear from others to just “Put your bootstraps on.” All of these are invalidating to you. It’s OK to be scared, sad, or angry over whatever emotion you are having. When you allow yourself to feel that emotion, you are allowing yourself to accept what is going on. (Feeling vs acting upon it.) You don’t have to like it, and it’s ok to not agree with it, but feeling the emotion and accepting what is going on will allow you to take the next step of moving on from that situation.
Crying is tough. Some may feel it’s a sign of weakness or that you may be caving into the situation. This isn’t the case. Crying has many benefits for your health including relieving stress and lowering your blood pressure.
Finding time for yourself may seem like an impossible task, but you would be surprised when and how you can find the time. Remember that it’s truly important to have that “me time.” You are just as important as everything else in your life. Even if the concept is difficult to accept or understand, by allowing yourself to take time to self-soothe, this will help rejuvenate your soul. Self-soothing doesn’t have to be anything big or take a lot of time to do. Even 10 minutes a day is a great start to practice time for you. These things can be accomplished by taking a bubble bath, reading a good book, napping, shopping, or watching an awesome movie. It’s just something that is for YOU.
4. Source of Comfort (Related to Self-Soothe)
This is high on the list for me especially when I am in a place with larger crowds which can trigger my depression and anxiety. Places like Comic Con (which I love, but it can increase my anxiety), family events, grocery stores, movies, etc.
What do I mean by “Source of Comfort?” When I need something that is portable, I make a Self Soothe kit. This kit consists of taking a small bag and placing items in it that play off your five senses and are of comfort to you. It can be a picture of someone you love, a smell that is comforting to you, (oils, perfume, or cologne), favorite candy, or a rock. Yes, a rock. (Or something similar) It doesn’t HAVE to be a rock, but sometimes having something so simple to redirect my focus helps me to be mindful. Someone very dear to me was taking a trip to Spain. I was half joking with her when I asked her to bring a rock back for me. I have family from Spain and for me, I thought it would be cool to have something from there and wanted to have that connection. Her family brought one back for me from the Botanical Peace Gardens. I have this rock in my jacket so when the anxiety creeps in, I can hold the rock and think about the shape, texture, etc. This helps me to be mindful and use effective choices for my next step.
If you are in a position where you are unable to make your Self Soothe kit, just find something around you and observe that object. It could be anything, anywhere (i.e. a stoplight, stop sign, people walking around you. Describe the details of what you are observing).
5. Find an Outlet
Stress can take a toll on you in more ways that you could imagine. And that is why it is incredibly important to find an outlet for yourself to release some of those emotions and prevent them from taking over. It’s hard to find the time, energy, or even motivation to do it in the first place. Which is why at times you need to force yourself to keep that part of you alive. You deserve it. For me, my outlet is art. I could live, eat and breathe art. And I love all of my artist friends as seeing what they do brings meaning as I understand the time and effort they are putting into their work. Once I can find time for myself to start painting or drawing, I can find this instant peace because I don’t have to think about anything else. It’s like I’m finally free at that moment to focus on something for ME. So even if you are into reading, making cosplay, music, dancing, comedy, or gaming, allowing yourself to have that outlet will give your brain the break that it needs.
6. Allow Others In
Yes, this is tough. If you have ever suffered trauma, it’s easy to distance yourself from others as a way of protecting yourself. But pushing others away all the time may harm you more in the long run. I’m not saying to allow everyone in, but even if it’s one person, find that support system. Just talking out loud about what’s going on can be incredibly therapeutic. Others can help bring the validation, love, and confidence to help you find your path to healing.
If you find that you suffer from anxiety or depression, feel free to try using anything suggested above. You can even alter them so that they work for you. These coping mechanisms are based on studies that have been proven over time to help. (This study is mainly geared towards individuals who are facing Borderline Personality disorder. They can still be effective, however, regardless if you have BPD or not).
No, this will not cure you. I still struggle tremendously with a lot of things, but having these reminders helps me greatly with my anxiety and depression.
Remember that you are an amazing person. It’s hard to accept if you are constantly wondering how you are doing it. It takes a lot of courage and strength to face those struggles every day. Give yourself the credit that you deserve.
*Keep in mind that these are only suggestions. Because they work for me, doesn’t mean they are right for you. Please use discretion and contact your support system for further assistance.