That we are all vulnerable. And not only is that okay, but it is something beautiful because it proves our humanness. It proves that gentility should overprecede ignorance and hostility. That our mental health is our responsibility, because just like our bodies, our minds are also profound, unique and beautiful that should be taken care of, defined and never ignored. And once we’ve mastered that, we can be living illustrations for the world to learn from.
I know that depression and anxiety can feel totally overpowering and overwhelming. It can consume you in ways in which it controls you. Your thought patterns, emotional responses, physical energy, and even your short term memory are all affected by depression and anxiety. And because it can feel so dominating, it is vital that you do not try to kill it alone. Therapy, counselling and all the help that you can possibly get, should always be your first plan of action.
However, there are small yet effective steps that you can practice to cope and manage the severity of your depression and anxiety. Below I’ve listed 5 actions and activities that you should implement into your life daily, whilst also sticking to an action plan as explained above.
1. Do something spontaneous, random and out of your usual routine. Depression can make life feel monotonous and mundane to say the least. You do the same things again and again, every day. Or you literally do nothing at all. Duvet days are no longer a Sunday treat, but a compulsion of the mind as you lack the motive or energy to even leave the bed. That is why forcing yourself to do something spontaneous and different can feel like a breeze of fresh air. And it absolutely does not need to be a demanding task. Keep it simple, keep it easy, and then slowly build up on it on days you feel slightly better. Some ideas are:
- A quick walk in the morning around the block.
- Cooking a easy meal.
- Tidying up something you’ve been procrastinating on.
- Playing with your pet.
- Doing easy home diy’s or even a bit of gardening.
The choices are endless, so feel free to add your own ideas. But just bare in mind that you should start off by keeping it simple and easy so that it doesn’t burn you out or mentally drain you. The feeling of doing something out of your routine, mixed with the feeling of satisfaction of completing a motive, can be a powerful and revitalising feeling.
2. Practice gratitude. Make a list. No literally, grab a pen and paper and write down all the things you own, love and appreciate. All the good things that you have experienced. All the happy memories. The good nostalgia. Things you find beautiful. Add the most weirdest or silliest of things – if they make you smile then they should be on this list! Do this daily, even if you don’t feel like it, or even if you can only think of one thing on some days. Trust me, it all counts when you look back on your list a week later, a month later, 6 months later and so on.
3. Hold on to that pen and paper because I want you to play a game. Write the first word that comes to your mind without thinking about it. Then write another word, and then another. Carry on adding to this list for a minute or two. No matter how random, or weirdly nonsensical the words that pop up in your mind are, just carry on writing it and adding it to your list. Once you’re done, analyse your list. Some might actually have absolutely no meaning or weight to your emotional state, but you will definately find a good bunch that will shed some light to 2 things: feelings and thoughts that are hidden in your subconscious mind. And feelings that you have been suppressing. If you try to do this daily, you should begin to notice a pattern. Same words might pop up. Or similar words. Or words that are more negative/positive then the days before. It’s a good and unique way of tracking your thought patterns and emotions, while releasing pent up thoughts and feeling that you might’ve not even realised are there. Plus it’s kinda fun!
4. Create a positivity board. Get yourself a board, and pin up things that signify your dreams and goals, things that you love and that make you happy. Photos, newspaper or magazine cut outs – anything and everything that defines you or who you want to be. Keep adding to it, and every time you feel your worst, look at this board and think of each thing you have included on it. And remind yourself why.
5. Train yourself to be more aware of your surroundings. Use your 5 senses to their actual potential. This is practicing mindfulness. Depression can literally numb our senses down. Noise can feel like just noise. When really it could be laughter, trees rustling, birds chirping, baby’s cooing, rain tapping, and so many other beautiful things. But depression tells us it’s noise and chaos. Be more mindful no matter where you are, and you’ll begin to notice things you otherwise wouldn’t have, you’ll see beauty and peace where you normally see chaos and mental exhaustion. Listen to the rain, notice the beautifully formed clouds above you, look how the trees sway with the wind, feel the rain on your skin. It’s the little things that are the most impactful. And being mindful, calms the heart and soul.
That’s my 5 steps for you. Remember no one and nothing can define you except yourself. Not even depression, not even anxiety. Celebrate this day, and use these steps to improve the quality of your life, even if you don’t suffer from a mental health disorder. If you have any steps of your own, then comment comment and comment below!