For much of my life, I had low level depression aka melancholia. It often felt like a cloud followed me around. Then several years ago, something changed. Profound anxiety arrived. A lifetime of poor nutrition, poor relationship and work-related choices and not listening to my body's warning system caught up with me. Of course, there's aging too.
All these things came together and ongoing panic attacks and exhausting anxiety set in. Unlike weather fronts, that come and go... this storm stayed around.
Healing my personal anxiety and panic has been a slow and ongoing process. I still face the angst almost daily. And I've learned that the more I tend to my life, my health, my relationship with self and others, my choices... the better I feel.
The more depleted we get, the longer it can take to fill back up. For awhile, it seemed like the positive steps I took didn't matter. But they did. I just didn't feel it. If you feel depleted, angst-ful and stressed... here are 11 of the things that helped me:
1. Problem ownership: The first step to course correcting or healing anything is acknowledging your own responsibility for self. If you're reading this, it's likely you're not 10. That means you are capable of making change yourself. No blaming, no "Poor me," no waiting for someone else to change. Changing your life is up to you.
2. Gentle persistence: I'm not a big fan of the punitive route to change, because I've used it so much myself and it doesn't feel good. I'm a big list keeper - so I list the changes I want to make. If I don't make them, then I seek to check in. Is this something I really want to change? If Yes, I keep at it. I'm not big into wearing the rubberband and popping myself for a "bad" thought or action. I like tuning into beauty and tuning up and persisting with the tasks at hand ~ lovingly.
3. Experimental change: This is a big one. Try something different and see how you feel. Too often, we do NOT check in with ourselves. If we feel anxiety and then take a walk, how does that feel? If we eat too much sugar, how does that feel? When I felt so far gone, it was hard to get clarity on this because I felt so bad. It's still a great practice to keep trying.
4. Less stimulation: I'm not going to say "Quit social media or blow up your tv!" I am going to say less stimulation. Or better yet, more "real time." Real time involves time with yourself, time with others. Hey, maybe even no phone or tv around. Yikes! What would you do? An artist double date, playing chess, looking at the sky!
5. Nature: Nature is healing, and more time in it always helps. Find places that are natural and quiet and spend time there. Whether it's daily, weekly, monthly or a special trip... incorporating nature is a healing practice. Of course, pictures of nature help too, just make sure you get the real thing. I also have a fish friend and plants in my office and that feels good too.
6. Food, clean water and supplementation: Although this is further down on the list, it's a BIG priority. Maybe it's further down because it's been one of my biggest challenges aka opportunities. I'm not big into kitchen time. Due to some health issues, I've really been putting more focus on less carbs, minimal sugar and more protein and veggies. As a longtime vegetarian, this is a task. I must say, that when I eat healthy I always feel better. Check it out for yourself! Get an accountability buddy if you need one. Quality water and supplementation are musts too and worthy of attention!
7. Exercise: Another of my least favorite things is becoming more favorite. Physical activity is huge in the world of lessening stress and creating resiliency in the body. I've always loved walking - walking with a friend is nice too! The mini trampoline has been a favorite of mine. Now I love squash - which feels like chess and aerobics combined. Yoga, frankly, has not always been my favorite because I feel so wired inside. Slowing down... argh! And when I do it, I can feel the difference. Find what works for you!
8. Rest: Some people may rest too much, but if you're stressed it's likely you are resting too little. I try to get to bed by 10ish and let myself wake up naturally - usually around 6ish. I could not sleep with a tv or lights on personally. But I do sometimes listen to a meditation at bedtime, or read a bedtime story. I always diffuse my Young Living oils! They are a gift from heaven. Naps, reading, watching the sky are all other restful practices! Be scandalous, and actually have a day of rest or a weekly period of time to rest while awake :)
9. Good company: This is a hard-earned lesson. Good company matters. When I choose who to hang out with and who not to hang out with, this is not a judgement of anyone's worth. It's a choice I deserve to honor myself. Frankly, it honors others too. If someone does not feel good to me, it's highly likely I don't feel good to them either. When we can acknowledge the qualities we love in someone, and that there may be a gap (or some qualities we do not love)... we can accept them and then decide what to do. Trying to change others will never work - especially if they do not want to change. Choose company that supports, uplifts and inspires you... not that feels limiting, negative and jealous.
10. Creativity: This is a huge assistant to me when I feel stressed. Listening to music I enjoy or practicing the ukulele. Drawing, painting, sewing... having an artist date or double date with a friend to create and write. Even in war zones, people create art as a healing expression. Likewise in the distress of your world, keeping a journal, listening to music, cooking, drawing, painting a room > can all be calming and healing.
11. The Elephant: One of my biggest problems with the tendency in our culture to immediately medicate anxiety or distressed feelings... is something I call - The Elephant in the Room. Often there is some personal growth work or a decision we are avoiding. There was a time when I faced choices that no yoga, essential oils, incense, friends, or trampolining-in-nature-looking at clouds could fix. I think you know what I mean! Sometimes we need to face what isn't working, even when we don't know how to solve it. Just saying, "Yes, this does not work for me!" is a start. Look at the elephant - elephants embody wisdom and this could turn out to be amazing healing!!
You are the only you on this planet, precious and unique! You are worthy of goodness - as all people are. Your life matters. I hope some or all of these tips help. I always love new ideas and hearing what works for you! Let me know!!
Painting: "When someone told her she couldn't, she said "Watch me" by Debi Amburgey Ellis, Pink Chucks Studio