I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. Everyone’s experiences with anxiety and/ or depression are different and I’ve learnt that whilst my anxiety is never really going to go away for good, it’s always only temporary. Sometimes I go on for months without any problems at all and sometimes all the feelings come from nowhere, suddenly hitting me full force. But while waiting for these feelings to pass, I believe it’s so important to make time to do things you enjoy and to look after yourself. Here is a list of 20 things that help me to manage my anxiety and depression. I hope that some of these ideas can help you too if and when you might need them…
- Taking a Break
When the depression hits or anxiety starts creeping in, I hate it. I feel guilty and try pushing it to one side while I attempt to get on with my life. For me, this just makes it worse. I end up in a spiral of stress and anger and it’s exhausting. When you can, save the big decisions for another day. Take some time for yourself and don’t feel guilty about it!
- Making Lists
When things get a bit overwhelming, my brain gets fuzzy, I get stressed and tired and end up back in that spiral of anxiety. Making lists helps me organise my thoughts, set goals and prioritize the things that really matter.
This is the one that’s helped me the most since the very beginning. I remember being in my first year of school and whenever everything got too much for me to handle, my teacher would hand me my favourite book (at the time it was The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister) and let me sit quietly reading until I could think straight again. I still find picking up an old favourite like Harry Potter helps me escape my thoughts, lower my heart rate and slow down time for a while.
My favourites games at the moment are simulation/strategy games. Even though it’s only a game, I like having the little goals to achieve because it gives me something different to focus on. Plus, it’s relaxing to stick some music or a movie on in the background and just wind down for a while.
I find putting music on helps me get on with things around the flat that I don’t always feel up to doing when I’m feeling low, like washing up, dusting, cleaning out the cupboards. Especially if I’m listening to old favourites like Taylor Swift’s old country songs.
I have always loved colouring. I can be a pretty imaginative person but when I’m feeling a bit rubbish I can’t always think of a craft to do or something to draw so colouring is a perfect way for me to get creative without having to do too much thinking. It’s something you can do for 5 minutes or something you can do for hours on end.
This is most helpful when I can’t do any of the other options, like if I’m feeling anxious right before going somewhere or when I’m trying to get to sleep. Deep breaths and counting forward or backwards from 100 is enough to control my breathing and slow down my thoughts.
- PJs and a Movie
I find this most helpful after a particularly stressful day or event like exams, social events or appointments. Come home, put your PJs on, get a blanket, a hot drink and put on a film. Especially if it’s a comedy or a family film, my go-to films for times like these are usually Moana, Tangled or Shrek.
- Grounding Exercises
Focus on your senses and find something you can smell, something you can see, something you can touch, something you can hear and something you can taste. I usually look out a window, light a scented candle, listen to the birds outside my window. It helps to bring you back to earth when you need it.
- Pamper Time
Treat yourself to a nice bath or shower using the lovely smelling bath stuff you’ve been saving since Christmas, use a face mask and actually take the time to moisturise!
- Films & TV Shows
Now is a better time than any to re-watch your old favourites, guilt-free or start catching up on your To-Be-Watched list. It can be so comforting to watch a film from your past and it feels so productive to finally catch up on a show you’ve been falling behind on for months!
Falling down a Pinterest rabbit hole is dangerously time-consuming but I always find it makes me feel inspired, creative and excited to try something new whether that’s a recipe, a DIY or new way to organise my bookshelves!
- Let the Light In
Sometimes, I wake up and find I can’t even bring myself to try half the things on this list so I get myself to do one thing to start me off – open the curtains and open a window. Even if the weather is horrible, there’s something about the natural light and cool air that helps me feel refreshed, healthier and little more hopeful.
- Go Outside
Some days, going outside is just not an option. But when you feel up to it, whether that’s just sitting in the garden or a long walk, being outdoors can help reduce stress and clear your mind.
- Complete a Chore
I can’t handle the feeling of having 101 things that need to be done. Even if half of the things that need doing can wait or aren’t important, I keep adding more and more things to that list until I’m a curled-up ball of stress. I find getting the really little things done straight away, the things that take 2 minutes to achieve, helps me to relax and gives me less to think about. Even if it’s just doing a load of washing, taking the bins out or making the bed.
- Washing Your Face/ Brushing Your Hair
Perfect for the days when you have no choice but to get on with life; the days when you know you really have to get to work/college/school. Take a minute to wash your face, brush your hair, get dressed in something you feel good wearing like a favourite hoodie or top, take a deep breath and remind yourself that later on you can come home and do something nice.
- Writing Down Your Plans in a Calendar or Diary
Writing down plans is a great little reminder of the better things that are still to come! Whether it’s a book or a movie release you’ve been waiting for, an upcoming holiday or a day off work – keep track of all the little things that you have to look forward to!
I don’t think this one needs much explaining. Hugs are the best and most comforting thing of all. Nothing is as calming and reassuring as a hug.
- Talking to Somebody
Whether it’s a friend, a family member, a doctor – talking about mental health is important for everyone. It can help you process your thoughts, increases self-acceptance and often encourages others to share their own challenges.
- Remember it’s Just for Now
If you have anxiety and depression or even if you’re just having a bad time at the moment, it’s not going to be that way forever. It might not go away for good but it’s so important to remind yourself that better times are heading your way.
- Writing Down Your Plans in a Calendar or Diary
Have you got any tips of your own? Share them in the comments and maybe it’ll help someone who needs it today 🙂