Friday, July 11th, 2014

Whipping depression and anxiety into shape: getting back on track to live and love life

Oh, I have the coolest clients ever. I love working with people who are honest and genuine and, despite feeling vulnerable,  are so generous with their stories and sharing with a view to helping others. My wee heart is overwhelmed with admiration for Laura, a young woman with such a big heart who has written the below. We hope Laura’s story provides hope and encouragement for anyone feeling overwhelmed. You are not alone. There are so many people here to help. In my experience it is the truly beautiful, creative souls who seem to suffer most. Please feel free to share with anyone who may need a boost. The world so needs sensitive souls who feel truly, deeply, creatively, sensitively and passionately. Don’t let the passionless people rule!

 

Getting Back on Track to Live and Love Life

 Have you ever felt incredibly overwhelmed to the point where it causes you to stop being able to function properly? I certainly have. For a chunk of my life (I am now 27) I have struggled with depression and anxiety.

I have spent the last few years letting my depression and anxiety control my life. I even got to the point where I could not go out of the house because I was so anxious and worried (worried about what you say? Oh gosh absolutely everything; what if this happens? I should have done that, ah why am I so weak – all running through my head 24/7 and completely jumbled up!).

After feeling so low, and feeling like I couldn’t carry on much longer like that, I decided enough was enough; I deserved to be happy! I had tried to manage my depression before and at times felt ok, but would always get back into a really bad slump again. For me, I think what was very different this time was that I believed I was worth something and I deserved to be happy just like every other being in this world.

We all have different issues and events in our lives that cause us to get sad and down. Mine was very much low self-esteem on the inside and out, and a few other things that added to my depression flaring up and getting worse. I think it’s really important to try and believe in yourself and know you can be happy. Know deep down that you can get through any thing, there may be loads of obstacles in the way – because that is life, right – but believe you will get through!

Here are some of the simple little strategies I have for keeping myself on track and managing my depression – and basically for trying to live a wholesome life in general:

Exercise:

Ah I know, it is that dreaded word, but trust me it helps immensely! Sometimes if I am feeling really, really low, I go for a little walk around my neighbourhood and it really does clear my head. It doesn’t need to be a huge walk, even just around the block and back. Also, I try to incorporate a bit of exercise in while socializing with my friends. So for example, sometimes a friend and I will grab a takeaway coffee and walk around Oriental Bay on a nice day. Or at the moment a group of us is playing indoor netball on at Thursday night and it is so much fun, plus I sure do get a bit of a cardio workout! Other types of exercise I find fun is: Spin classes at the gym (a sweat towel is a must), step classes (at first I was worried about looking like an idiot but then I decided stuff it, just do it and now I love them!), walking up Mt Kau Kau or Colonial Knob.

Find your ‘happy place’ and what brings you peacefulness and calm:

It is so important to know what brings you joy and pleasure in life. I don’t mean something farfetched like going on a trip to Bali – although that would be nice, and if you can go there every week then that is great. I would if I could too.  But what I mean is know what helps you feel happier, what makes you smile, what makes you feel calm so you can go there or do that when you are feeling low. For me my happy place is sitting on the beach at Petone on a beautiful day, and what would make it even better would be walking a gorgeous wee dog along there. I absolutely adore animals and they make me feel so calm and happy. I can be feeling stressed and down and then walk into a room where one of my cats is lounging (they have a tough life) and suddenly a smile will come across my face. They are my happiness; animals bring me a sense of peace. Other things that make me happy are my friends, family, movies, fashion, and beautiful nature – when I go for a walk I love looking at all the different colourful flowers in the gardens.

Stop being so hard on yourself!

I am definitely my toughest critic. And I know others do this to themselves too. We put ourselves down and are so judgemental and harsh towards ourselves. My advice to anyone who puts himself or herself down a lot would be to challenge what you are saying internally. For example, if you say to yourself “ah I have put on three kg’s, I’m so fat, I look so yuck”, make sure you catch yourself saying that and in your head challenge it: “calm down, it’s only three kg’s, you haven’t put on much weight at all. 3 kg’s is easy to lose, and no one is going to notice something so minor on you anyway!” This might sound silly to you, but it really works for me. Even just something as simple as saying “stop” (in your head) when you recognise a negative thought can help. You need to give yourself a break. If you are struggling with something don’t put yourself down, instead try to work out where to go next and remember no one is perfect!

Set little goals to accomplish:

When I am feeling down, I sometimes feel like I can’t bear to do anything. Something so normal like doing the washing can actually be a big deal and effort to do, so take little steps. Plan out your day, set yourself some goals and make sure they are realistic ones. When you plan out your day, make sure after every goal there is a reward for accomplishing that goal. Day one might have: do the washing in the morning, so once you have done this you might decide you get to watch a little bit of TV that you enjoy, or a few pieces of chocolate. Another goal might be to do some exercise, write some of your university essay, do the shopping, or write an email to a friend you have been meaning to write to. Once you start doing some of these goals, you will start feeling stronger within yourself. Go easy on yourself though.

Eat wholesome food:

I find when I am eating good nutritious food I feel I have a lot more energy and feel a lot better about myself. Something that I find really good is making a super smoothie in the morning. I have: frozen blueberries, milk, water, ice, chia seeds (these little seeds are so good for you), a handful of baby spinach (promise you actually can’t taste it – no seriously you can’t), some yoghurt and a bit of Complan or protein powder. It keeps me full for a long time and I love knowing that I have had some good nutritious stuff inside me as fuel for the day ahead.

 Let people inspire you:

I love reading blogs (including this one) and books which are by some really inspiring, talented people. I even like looking on Instagram and following cool people on there. Here are some of my faves:

– Zoe Marshall –      Instagram: zoebmarshall

– Julia & Libby –         Blog: juliaandlibby.com

– Richie Hardcore – Instagram: richiehardcore

I hope that this has helped anyone going through what I have and still am going through. I hope that wherever you are, whatever situation you are in and however you are feeling that you will believe in yourself enough to know you can get through this. Know that you are worth fighting for and that you can manage depression and get back on track. I still battle with my depression but I finally feel like I am actually living a life again. I am not saying I am always 100% happy but I am so much happier than I used to be and I look forward to what the future brings.

If anyone is struggling I would love to chat. Write in the comments below and I will check back to see if anyone has commented.

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