Wednesday, March 18, 2015

10 MORE tips for fending off anxiety and depression

Hi All!

If you missed it, I just posted 10 tips for fending off anxiety and depression. If interested, catch those tips here.

As follows are 10 more tips. (I came up with a lot of tips, so I decided to break them up into two posts). I hope they're helpful! Peace to you!!

11.      Do positive things – with your hands

Make crafts, write letters, mail things (books, etc.) to friends, run errands, buy milk…

It’s good to keep your hands busy – this is something my brother told me once when I was first weathering the anxiety storm.

There was a point in my life where each night I wrote down 10 potential activities for the next day. Paint my nails, read a book, organize the bathroom drawer, call Corie, go to the park. Then, as I fell into a lull the next day, I would go to the list and pick an activity. Do it until I was bored, then back to the list. And the more positive things you can squeeze into your life, the better.

12.      Accept pet and housesitting jobs

These are like little mini-vacays. It may not be your thing, but personally I love it. And during the long season in my life when I particularly struggled with unwelcome feelings, I remember the times I was housesitting as protected moments.

There’s just always been something for me about being in someone else’s space. Enjoy their stylish furniture, eat their snacks, look at the photos in their frames. Use their laundry facilities. Just pretend you’re in a hotel, yo!

I love it. I suggest it.

Also, when I’m in someone else’s space, I tend to keep things tidier, which in turn makes me feel more calm and happy.

13.      Get a pet

There’s research on the effectiveness of this – well, I assume.

Pets make people happy. Purring cats calm me down; in fact, they absorb me, and when I’m lost in the negativity of my own head, I want nothing more than to be pulled into something more absorbing than my cynicism.

14.      Cook your own food

Several reasons why this is great – saves money, gets you eating more healthfully, and it gives you, again, something to do with your hands.

When I started cooking regularly, it really changed my outlook. I felt empowered, saw a task through to its finish, and enjoyed the fruits of my labor. All good things.

Also, as a classic middle kid, I often find myself feeling left out, unless someone expressly asks me to participate. For me, cooking is a way to have my hand in something, without letting others do it for me. I can’t tell you how life changing this has been for me – you’ll just have to see for yourself. And I love it! Making food for a hungry crowd makes me feel so good, and it’s so exciting when you find a good recipe and discover that you – you!! – can make it and make it well.

15.      Keep things tidy

I spoke to this a lot in two of my recent posts (here and here) – keeping things tidy keeps you (most likely) more calm and more happy. Clean environments have tremendous power to soothe, and to provide a sense of a peaceful home.

Further, once you’ve cleaned your space, get out of your house. Cleaning can take a while, so once you’re done, you don’t want to isolate yourself by hanging out much longer. And when you once again return home, you can enjoy coming home to a clean nook!

16.      Take mini vacations

When I was in graduate school, I toured Missouri in the summer between my first and second year of school.

And it was great.

I was short on cash, but I found places on the map that were 4-6 hours away, filled up my tank of gas, found a cat sitter, and hit the road. It was such a fun summer, and it was very low maintenance. Any place you can reasonably get to by car and then stay for free – sign yourself up.

That summer in Missouri I went to visit a couple that my family knows, who are more so my parents’ friends, and they were thrilled that I came to see them. Let me just say the pleasure was all mine. And it gave me something to do for the weekend. Better to spend downtime – and down times – in good company than sitting in your own head.

People love your company; not only do you put a smile on their faces by showing up, but they put a smile on yours.

17.      Focus on your physical surroundings, and your physical state

One thing I learned when I was seeing one of my counselors (for free, at my state university -- see tip #8 in my previous post) was the concept of focusing on my physical state, and telling myself that I was OK.

In practicing the act, I would tell myself very obvious statements about my purely physical state, as well as simple facts about my state of being and things around me:

I’m breathing.
This room is a little warm.
It’s 6 p.m. on Thursday.
I’m going to work tomorrow.
I can feel the bones of my butt on this hard chair.

I’m OK.

It sounds a little silly, but it helps you to stop thinking about all your thinking. And for some reason, to tell yourself you’re OK, the way you would tell a child, is helpful. Maybe it's because when you tell a child he's OK, you believe what you're saying, so if you tell yourself the same thing it has the effect?

It's a mystery to me. But I'd say give it a whirl.

18.      Remind yourself that a task will take as long as it will take

Standing in line sucks. Sometimes it takes a minute, sometimes it takes 10. Or 20. Or 30.

Breathe through it.

It will be over. It will take as long as it will take.

It will take as long as it needs to take to finish that report at work. To write that final paper. To scrub the shower. To wait for your kid to stop crying.

This is another tip that I feel a little weird giving out, because I don’t quite understand how it works, but I find it helpful. There’s just something to be said for telling yourself that the only way to get something done, or to wait it out, is to either get it done or wait it out.

This too shall pass.

19.      Drink water

In general, keep hydrated. And if you’re having a moment, grab some water and sip it.

When I started drinking water regularly, I noticed that I felt less agitated, got fewer headaches, and just felt more – no pun intended – fluid.

And it really is amazing how putting something cold and liquid on your tongue in a time of trauma can really help center and calm you.

On this same note, if you have, in particular, work anxiety, take a glass of water, or tea, or coffee, into meetings with you. I find that holding onto a warm mug gives me comfort, and sipping on something can help me get through either a stressful meeting, or one that’s boring and causes my mind to wander to negative, scary things.

20.  Seek to change your life, but lessen the pressure to CHANGE your life

This is a concept I’ve mulled over for a while.

We’re all about seeking BIG, grand things in this culture of ours. We want BIG entertainment, BIG life changes, BIG romantic gestures. We also seek perfection – the BEST day, the CUTEST outfit, the PERFECT execution of that karaoke song (I don’t know).


Lower the bar.

You can brush your teeth and it changes your life. You can go for a walk – a boring walk, in your boring neighborhood – and guess what? It changes your life.

Just seek a change of pace.

Life is a big, scary thing when we overthink it, but it’s also a series of little moments. Brushing your teeth, taking a walk, calling a friend, making dinner, getting that small task done for your boss, then another task done for your boss. You’ll get through it. Just break it down into smaller pieces, and focus on one thing at a time.

You’re gonna make it through. Meanwhile, feel free to seek out your Daily Bailey (the person, not the blog; but the blog, too, if that helps you) if you need to chat your way through it. Xo

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