THINGS I'VE LEARNT ABOUT DEALING WITH DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY

February 19, 2017




Following on from last week’s post (you can read that here), which was a bit of an outpouring of emotion about having depression, I thought I would take a look at strategies I try to implement in my daily life to keep me in a positive mental state. I am not an expert on this subject at all and these ideas may not work for everyone, I can only share what I know.

EXERCISE
I can’t say it enough how amazing exercise can be for your mental state. In winter I like to hit the gym, in particular classes where I’m concentrating on not dying so that’s all you think about. In summer it’s all about getting outdoors for me. Running is like a drug, once you start to see results you just want to keep going. Some studies have even shown that exercise can be as effective as taking anti-depressants!

EATING WELL
I immediately notice an improvement in my mood when I’m fuelling my body with the right stuff. Cutting back on salt and sugar means I sleep better and in turn wake up feeling well rested instead of struggling to get out from under the covers.

CUTTING BACK ON ALCOHOL
We all know alcohol is a depressant and when you yourself are depressed it only exacerbates the problem. I am all too familiar with the high of being out drinking until the wee hours with friends only to experience the crushing sense of desperation the next day and regret at my choices. As I get older it gets easier to not go out as much but I’m still guilty of having a few too many wines watching Scandal on the sofa.

KEEPING A JOURNAL
I love writing and one of my biggest therapies is pouring all my emotions out onto paper. Most of the crap I write is just an explosion of thoughts and rarely makes any sense, but there is something incredibly cathartic about just getting those words out of your head. Often times it’s my stupid brain playing tricks on me, trying to make me feel worthless and unimportant so I find reading those rambles back at a later date gives me real perspective on things that were troubling me.

BUILD A SUPPORT NETWORK
This has been the most important thing to me when times get tough. My friends are incredibly understanding about my past and are fully aware that sometimes I’m not in the best mental state. That simple understanding that I can’t cope going up to London for dinner all the time takes away the fear of just saying no to plans. Certain members of my family have also been so supportive I wouldn’t know what to do without them, having a sounding board and other people that understand exactly how you feel keeps me sane when my brain isn’t playing ball.


Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi


BE HONEST ABOUT HOW YOU'RE REALLY FEELING
If someone asks how you are and you feel like shit, say it. Maybe not the receptionist at work or the lady on the checkout at Sainsbury’s but use your support network. When close friends ask how things are most of the time they care about the answer and want to help you if they possibly can.

DON'T LISTEN TO THE NEGATIVE VOICES
This one is a lot easier said than done. Part of my CBT was learning to isolate those feeling of negativity and worthlessness and turn them into positive thinking. Every time I start to doubt what I’m doing or thinking I have to remind myself it’s my brain trying to mess with me. It’s all about learning to take control of your life, it’s not fate, or bad luck. Everything you do can have a positive or negative impact on the outcome. Noting down even small victories can be incredibly helpful to look back on when you feel like the negativity is winning.

KEEP YOUR ANXIETY IN CHECK
My anxiety is on a pretty manageable level and I wouldn’t say it hugely impacts my life but there are certain situations that I have been known to actively avoid. All my anxiety stems from being trapped somewhere, that could be as simple as sat in the middle of a row at the theatre unable to get to the loo or being in a huge crowd without an escape route. It seems so ridiculous to some people but just being able to have an aisle seat completely alleviates any symptoms I’m feeling. I am trying to be braver and my crowds fear has improved a lot over the last few years. Tomorrowland was a big turning point, the sheer number of people there would have sent me over the edge 5 years ago!

MEDITATION
Calm.com is one of my favourite apps and can be a real life saver in stressfull situations. Taking 10 minutes to refocus yourself and get any panicky or sad feelings in check can make such a difference to your day. I like to meditate in the evening as it gets me in a calm space before bed. 

REMEMBER THAT SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL LIFE
One of the most important things I’ve learnt over the past year or so is focussing on myself is the most important thing. Looking at what other people have or are achieving is fruitless and will only make you feel worse. We live in a world where everything is shared online but not everything you see can be believed. I am of course guilty of only sharing the best bits of my life, I only update my Facebook when I’m doing something fun. I certainly don’t give people a play by play on my very dull day at work. All these social media famous bloggers, vloggers and instagrammers are creating an illusion of a perfect life but they are all real people and I’m sure huge amounts of them are secretly struggling with a plethora of issues. If you’re having a bad day, step away from Instagram and get outside into the real world. The only person who can improve your lot in life is yourself, so stop worrying about how many Twitter followers you have and go and experience something!

For more information on depression and anxiety visit Mind UK - http://www.mind.org.uk/ or NHS - http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Depression/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Remember don't be afraid to ask for help - speak to someone you trust or visit your GP.




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1 comments

  1. What a lovely post! I can honestly sat I'm guilty about comparing my life to those on social media. I agree with you about cutting out sugar too- it does wonders to my body and mind x

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Copyright Charlotte Kerr 2017.
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