Every year, more and more people are diagnosed with anxiety and depression – whether it be hereditary or from lack of self-care and stress. From a young age, we are conditioned to take care of others before ourselves.
There’s often a misconception that if we take care of ourselves first, that we are being selfish. This misconception leads us away from self-preservation as we try to take on more than we can handle.
When you’re managing life with anxiety and depression, the smallest form of self-care can feel like a chore. We are so focused on other things and people that our own mental and physical health takes a back seat.
When you do have time, the last thing you want to do is think about addressing your own issues, because frankly, you’re already mentally exhausted and just want a second to breathe instead of focusing on the million what ifs that are running rampant in your brain.
I had my first full blown anxiety attack at age 18 and was soon after diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder.
In my case, this was not brought on by stress – it was hereditary. I, like anyone else, battle with my demons day in and day out. Some days are easy, and some days, I’m exhausted before I even open my eyes to start the day.
Over the years, I’ve done everything possible to learn how to reduce my anxiety. I’ve read article upon article. I’ve taken so many classes that I could write full book on being mindful.
I’ve been offered medication to help control it, and I’ve talked to quite a few doctors. I’ve analyzed every aspect of life trying to find my triggers which only caused my anxiety and depression to worsen.
One day, it finally clicked and I realized I didn’t need to FIX myself – I wasn’t broken. I just needed to find simple ways to take care of myself and by doing this I was decreasing my symptoms.
For so many of us, we see anxiety and depression as a problem that we have to fix. We tend to focus and over analyze the problem instead of focusing on the solution.
Life is stressful, but we need to remember to zero our focus inward and remember that if we take care of ourselves by nurturing our bodies, we will be decreasing our stress levels and stopping the storm before it starts.
There are many ways to take care of yourself and be mindful of what your body needs. It all starts with a little TLC.
Here are 5 mindfulness tips ways to help reduce anxiety and depression.
- Set aside “worry time”.
Now, this may seem like it would beat the point because you’re trying to worry less, right? It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but in theory, it’s one of the best tools I was ever taught!
Each day, set aside a specific time to worry (no more than 10-15 minutes. You definitely do NOT want to end up wasting your precious time doing nothing but focusing on those darned worries.) You can write them down, or simply think about them and what possible steps you could take to resolving that worry.
This is a great way to channel your worries and allows you to stop your mind from running. When your time is up, take a few deep breaths and free your mind. If a “what if” starts to creep into your head, make a mental note that you will focus on that what if during your worry time tomorrow.
2.Allow yourself some good old Me Time!
Don’t confuse this with worry time. This is time solely for YOU – and you definitely deserve it! Life gets hectic and it’s so easy to get swallowed up in everything going on around you. It’s so important to spend a bit of time alone each day.
For some of us, this means waking up before the rest of the house and curling up on the couch with a cup of herbal tea or going for a run. For others, this might mean sitting in bed with a good book before turning the lights out. It doesn’t really matter what you do so long as you’re able to relax and recharge your batteries.
3.Eat a balanced, healthy diet.
Have you ever assessed how you feel after eating different meals? I’ve noticed over the years that when eating junk food – as good as that pizza or burger and fries tastes – I feel so heavy and sluggish after eating it.
Yet, after eating a balanced meal with lean protein, vegetables and a portion of grains, I feel more energized and awake. Following a healthy diet and drinking lots of water will help your body to function more properly and will provide you with the proper nutrients that you need. In turn, you will feel better about yourself and when you feel better about yourself, you make better, healthier choices.
4. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it!
Lack of sleep, goes hand in hand with anxiety and depression. It’s so important to make sure that you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.
Although this isn’t always possible, it’s important to make the effort. Make your bedroom a comforting place to be. Be sure to keep it tidy and ensure that at night, there are no lights that will be shining in to interrupt your sleep.
Pick a time that works with your schedule to turn the lights out and try to make a habit out of going to sleep at that time each night. This will give your body a schedule, and as time goes by, it will get easier to fall asleep at that time each day – essentially allowing your body better quality sleep.
5. Get active!
Being active can be a HUGE help when handling anxiety and depression. Activity helps your body to release feel good endorphins into your system that are proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and help you feel more in control and content.
I know sometimes it’s hard to get going, but grab your ear buds, put on your favorite playlist and zone out. Go for a run (or a walk – anything to get yourself moving!) and let your body do the hard work for you. Even if it’s hard to start, you’ll be surprised how good you feel once you finish!
I know that life can be a struggle but it doesn’t have to be a constant up-hill battle – even when living with anxiety and depression. No one is going to care for you the way that you care for yourself, so treat yourself with love and compassion.
Never forget that if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be here to take care of anyone else. Value your body and your health, remember that you’re only living one life and remember that YOU ARE WORTH IT!!
About The Author
Born and raised in San Francisco, CA, Jacleen Garcia is a 32 year old stay at home mother of 2 boys. Living with anxiety and depression herself, Jacleen is very passionate about mental health, always finding new ways to combat anxiety and depression while having a busy life. Jacleen loves to help others learn new strategies to stay mindful and in a better state of mental health.