You wake up in the morning. You don’t feel that ‘refreshed’ feeling that your friends and coworkers talk about. You just want to go back to sleep; to shut off the instant feelings of anxiety and stress that come on as you ease out of that peaceful dream you were having and come into reality at the same time as your mind becomes flooded with all of the responsibilities of the day. BOOM: “I have to feed the dogs, I have to eat/get dressed/get ready in the next hour to beat traffic, I can’t forget to take my medications and vitamins, to do that I need to eat first….” Oh and did I mention, this is all before your feet even touch the ground?
Believe me, I’ve been there; I live there. Anxiety, Depression, slight PTSD and Hashimoto’s Disease. I have been deemed “lovingly” in the past as ‘a little ball of anxiety.’ Well a little tennis ball sure does look HUGE to a small ant, and boy do I feel like an ant most days!
I grew up anxious and I stayed anxious well into my adult years, not knowing how to calm these feelings or whether they could be calmed at all. I have been looking into medications lately, but let me give you a list of things that have helped me to live a more peaceful life throughout the years. Now, not all of these will work for everyone, we are all so different; I’m just hoping some of them may help SOMEONE or inspire another self-care strategy in the process.
1. BREATHE: Okay Kaylee, I do that every day and guess who is still stressing?? Okay, agreed, but just try this. Set a goal (that YOU decide) to try for a week. For me I chose:
Five times a day, for 30 seconds each time. Breathing in slowly for 5 seconds, holding for 2 then slowly releasing for 5 seconds.
*Psych Wellness has an amazing video to help with this on their Facebook. (https://www.facebook.com/psychwellnesscenter/videos/2453277128038605/)
2. HEALTHY DIET: This one was a little forced on me (long story short, I have an autoimmune disease and to manage it I can’t eat a LOT of things) but boy am I glad for the change. Don’t get me wrong I miss pizza, cake, cheesy bread and pasta like there is no tomorrow, but I don’t miss the way I felt after eating them. Food is truly how we fuel our bodies. If you put cheap, tainted gasoline into your car for a few years it won’t be very happy with you. Give your body the best energy possible. (even if you cheat a bit, 3X a week or 3X a day, at least you are making a change!) START SMALL ON THIS ONE – if you change too drastically, too quickly it is much harder to make a habit of it.
3. FOCUS ON THE LITTLE THINGS: Be present. If you’re taking a walk down the street don’t think about what you are going to make for dinner or the gift you need to buy for that birthday; think about where you are. Are there birds chirping? Do you feel a breeze at all? Can you feel the sun on your shoulders? Look for pretty flowers or appreciate how beautiful the way the leaves look when blowing in the wind. We are surrounded by awe; anywhere you go, try to look around more often to really soak it in.
4. EXERCISE: This one was my worst enemy, and is only now becoming more of a “frenemy”. This is another one to start small on; a short stroll twice a week, light yoga every Saturday…. It truly doesn’t matter what it is, how long you do it or how sweaty you are after. All that matters is that you are getting yourself moving. Get that blood pumping and get those endorphins up! We aren’t meant to be sedentary creatures (she types as she is dreaming of that Netflix show she plans to binge tonight) and in today’s day and age it’s so much easier to ditch as much movement as possible. I must say my favorite type of exercise is dancing in the kitchen with my dogs when no one is home. Make it fun and make it your own!
5. THERAPY: I had a bad experience with a therapist years ago and finally decided to give it a try again. Finding a therapist that fits well with you could be incredibly easy or a bit of a task; but once you do, you will notice such a beautiful change in your life. I see a therapist now and she has given me more tips for my self-care toolbox and given me a new perspective on things that I had painted differently for YEARS. Talk therapy with a counselor you trust is a magical experience and I recommend it to all of my loved ones and even acquaintances! BUT, yoga, reading a good book, walking on the beach or spending time with a pet can also be forms of therapy! Don’t knock it until you try it for yourself!
I don’t know it all, no one does, but I do know what MY soul needs to feel better. We all have a certain amount of control over our minds, our bodies and our lives. Take the reins, take the wheel, take whatever you can and kick-start yourself into a brighter tomorrow. You hold the key, you just need to open the door – even if you just peek through the door a little bit to start.
Enough cliches. Just remember, you aren’t alone in the way you’re feeling; share this information with loved ones and maybe start your own self-care list. You are the captain now.
Marketing Coordinator/Office Manager at the Psychiatric Wellness Center
Volunteer Secretary with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Mental Health Advocate
Gianna De Keles, MS