Anxiety and Depression, although two different mental health problems can occur at the same time. In fact, research done by Mind (Mental health charity) last year states that 8% of us that have mental health problems suffer from a mixture of anxiety and depression.
So not only are we contending with symptoms of depression, such as negative thoughts, feeling low, lack of energy and motivation, sleeping too much. But we are also trying to deal with anxiety symptoms such as not being able to relax, a constant knot in the pit of our stomach, panic attacks, not being able to eat, or if you’re like me, constantly eating so we never really have to deal with our feelings and what’s going on in our minds.
When we are feeling low, finding time for ourselves is the furthest thing from our minds; the thought of going to the gym, or cooking a healthy meal sometimes can seem like too much effort, so instead we put it off till ‘tomorrow’ or we grab the easiest thing that we can find in our cupboards to eat.
Actively doing something ‘for yourself’ can make you feel better, and it doesn’t have to be grand gestures. We can look after ourselves in small, easy ways. The messages our mind receives will still be the same; that you care about you, and that you matter.
Below are some quick and easy ways you can start looking after yourself. For some people reading them, they may not even seem to come under ‘self-care’ – more like basic needs, however at my lowest, I struggled to even get a glass of water down me, let alone try and do anything else on that list. Hopefully that gives you an indication of how depression can affect people.
Go for a 10 minute walk
We know that getting out and getting some fresh air is good for us, but many of us just don’t find the energy or the motivation to make it out every day, even with the best of intentions. With the Mind over Marathon airing in April, there seemed to be an emphasis on running being really good for your mental health – which it is. However, if you have never ran, or don’t want to run, then going for a walk is just as good for your mental health. Even if you start off by going out for 10 mins every day, and then working your way up to 20mins, it will give you a boost in energy and leave you feeling refreshed. The change in scenery, even for just 10mins will make you feel more stimulated.
Write out your feelings
Sometimes our feelings can be so overwhelming, that it feels like we might burst if we keep them inside any longer. This makes it difficult to concentrate on things that have to be done, it makes it difficult to sleep at night – we just can’t seem to switch off. Writing down what’s on your mind for 5 minutes before going to bed can really help with expressing your feelings. This is not a rundown of what you have done during the day, or a to-do list for tomorrow. This is about getting your feelings out onto paper/screen (I love writing in notebooks, the act of writing relaxes me) but it’s up to you, whether you write it out or type it out – you use whatever makes it easy for you.
Drink 2 more glasses of water
Dehydration can affect your energy levels, it affects your concertation, and it also affects your skin. When we are hydrated, we sleep better, we feel better, we can focus more on the task at hand, and we look better. Even if it’s a case of drinking a few glasses a day, it can start to make you feel better.
Find inspirational quotes and sayings
Pinterest and Instagram have really changed how I spend my time on the phone, especially when I’m feeling really down and alone. Pinterest has this great concept of boards, where you can pin your own as well as other people’s images (called pins) onto your board creating a collection – for me it’s a collection of quotes. Instagram is the same, rather than posting pictures of myself, I use Instagram to look at and post inspirational quotes that I relate to.
This makes me feel more connected to the people who have posted the quote and everyone else who has commented or engaged with it. It reinforces the fact that I’m not alone, no matter how lonely I feel.
Email a friend
Suffering from depression can isolate you from your support network – no matter how good your friends or family are, they’re not going to be able to read your mind. Try and make the time to reconnect with them – even if it’s a really brief email every so often. We have become so type savvy, that talking now feels like something we have to plan into a diary – if that seems like too much effort, and it’s ok if it does, then email your friends. You can do it whenever you feel like – even in the middle of the night, when you can’t get to sleep, and it takes the pressure away from having to respond immediately; email leaves the control entirely in your hands.
Take a shower
When we are feeling low, even showering can seem like too much effort. There’s been days where all I’ve wanted to do (and have done) is stay in bed all day, as there didn’t seem to be much point in getting up. But on the days I have forced myself to take a shower, even if it’s for 5 minutes, I have felt much better about myself afterwards. It’s given me enough energy to do more things for myself for the rest of the day. So even if you don’t feel like it, making yourself take a shower can stop you sinking lower into the cycle of gloom.
Organise your space
Many people I’ve spoken to say that having a quick tidy around puts them in a better frame of mind. It’s something very true about our environment reflecting how we feel, and when I spend some time (even 10 minutes) each day tidying, I can almost feel myself processing my thoughts and working through things that are troubling me. I know there’s such a thing as organised mess (I work in it every day); but when I feel really stressed, it’s going through my wardrobe, or tidying the living room and even just washing up that can really help calm my mind.
Listen to your favourite song
Music can affect or moods and feelings on such a deep level. Simply by taking few minutes and listening to your favourite song, can lift your mood and improve how you feel. If you feel up to it, make a playlist of the songs that make you feel good. Sometimes, when we are sad we want to listen to sad songs, but that can make us sadder (I do it regularly, and then end up in tears because the song reminds me of sad times), so try and keep away from sad songs.
Even if we take a few minutes a day to consciously do something for ourselves, it can create positive reinforcement of the messages we send ourselves. After all, looking after ourselves is our own responsibility, and we are worth the time we dedicate to ourselves.
If you want to talk to someone regarding the issues raised in this blog, please contact us. We are offering a free two week trial for online counselling.