This week in Canada it’s CMHA Mental Health week! Mental Health is a serious Health topic, too often we hear people brush off depression as “someone’s just being miserable, whiny and attention seeking”. How can you possibly know what it is like for that person? Do you know what personal issues they are facing every day? No! Do you know if they are being bullied daily? No! Are they suffering at the hand of mental or physical abuse? You don’t know! So how can anyone tell someone who is suffering from depression to “Get a Grip” or “snap out of it”. We need to be more understanding and we need to have more empathy towards people suffering at the hands of depression or anxiety or paranoia etc… It’s easy for those who don’t have anxiety disorders to state that day to day life is “stressful” these days but simple “stress” is very different to “Anxiety Disorders”.
When Robin Williams passed away, a man who was famously happy, one of our greatest comedic actors and stand-up comics, I think It brought home the topic of Mental Health in a way that hadn’t been seen by the greater population previously. We saw Robin Williams in interviews and on TV and giving Oscar-winning performances in movies but how could we possibly know what was going on within, the demons that he was dealing with every day. Having suffered from Anxiety and Depression I understand that it hurts and I understand that you can feel afraid to talk to those close to you for fear of being told to “get a grip”, anxiety and depression are a chemical imbalance in the brain, there is no switch that we can flick to turn the feelings off, it’s an invisible, insidious illness that requires the world to be more understanding and to be better informed on the subject. It could just be that someone who is dealing with depression or anxiety simply needs you to listen and not judge, be that someone, you never know whose life you could save. This being Said, here are 10 tips that I have picked up on how to deal with Anxiety, *please bear in mind that if you suffer from an anxiety disorder like I do, these tips will not always work BUT for times when we are unable to see a Counsellor or if the feeling of anxiety is just starting to creep on, these may help to quell the anxiety before the onset of a Panic Attack or Anxiety Attack*
Take a little Time out: Take yourself out of whatever situation is making you stressed and panicky and spend some time, in a quiet room, on your own and just breathe.
- Breathe: Sounds silly, I know, but really, breathe! Big, deep, breaths from your stomach. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 2 and then breathe out for a count of 4.
- Exercise: Pilates videos on YouTube, Yoga classes, or just jogging around your local park on a nice day, it doesn’t matter what the exercise is, it’ll make you feel so much better: “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy….” preach Elle Woods! Preach!
- Get outside: Away from the positive ions (positive in this case is not a good thing) that are emitted by your screens and go outside for a walk, better yet, if you have water nearby, especially a waterfall, go there. There’s a reason we feel refreshed when we get outside on a crisp Winter morning or when we open a window at home to let the air in… Negative ions; which are oxygen atoms charged with an extra electron and are created in nature by water, air and sunlight, they clear the air of mold spores, pollen, pet dander, odors, cigarette smoke, bacteria, viruses, dust and other airborne particles that are hazardous to our health.
- Get enough Sleep: it seems easy right? Wrong! if you have anxiety, you know all too well that the moment you switch off the bedside light, your brain goes “Oh hai! looks like you want to sleep now… lets just bring up all those things you’re worried about with work, school or just life in general!” Get in to a “Sleep Hygiene routine” switch off ALL screens an hour before you want to sleep, start winding down, skincare, have a cup of soothing tea, read a book… all things that signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep. If that’s still hard for you to get some shut-eye then you may want to see a Doctor about insomnia. You can also get a Himalayan Rock salt lamp (they’re really inexpensive) and get that on in the bedroom… I’ve had one since last weekend and honestly I’ve not had such consistently good sleep in ages! For my top ways to get a good night’s sleep and how to develop a good Sleep Hygiene routine then check that post out HERE
- Cut out the Caffeine: This is a big one for a lot of people but we all know that Coffee is a stimulant, that’s why we inhale that first Cup of Joe each morning before we head out to work! But stimulants have side effects and what goes up must come down. Same goes for Chocolate; cut it out and I guarantee you’ll start feeling less stressed, (you’ll sleep better too!)
- Cut out Alcohol: Yeah, I know this post is probably sounding like a real Debbie Downer right about now; no coffee no alcohol… but Alcohol alters your brain chemistry and it’s a depressant, meaning that you end up feeling anxious and paranoid… as well as having the mother of all hangovers the next day! It’s not worth it.
- Tidy Up: I’ve been doing this A LOT recently, realizing that I get stressed and end up having anxiety attacks at home when I see clutter and stuff all over the place. I’ve been cleaning up and clearing out room by room so that surfaces are clear, I’m throwing out things that I don’t want or need: use this phrase for throwing things out at home: “Do I need it, Do I Love it, do I use it?” If the item doesn’t fit any of those questions then toss it… it’s just clutter and a cluttered home means a cluttered mind space!
- Go play with your pet: If you have a cat or a dog then go play with them, for dogs especially, they live for Human interaction and playtime, there’s a reason they’re called Man’s Best Friend. I have 2 cats and they’re both super affectionate (though they do not appreciate being cuddled by me!) but they love being petted and brushed and played with and I feel better when I hear them purring and seeing them happy. As a child and a teenager, when I was being bullied in School, coming home and playing with my cat, who showed affection and was fluffy and a furry friend who didn’t judge me, always made me feel better about what I was coping with daily in School.
- Spend time with Loved ones: Mum, Dad, Husband, Wife, Best Friend; whoever it is. Call them up if they’re a long way away. Talking to loved ones ALWAYS makes you feel better, even if they’re far away.
I also want to include that there are websites that can help you find ways and tips to deal with Mental Wellness and Anxiety: Mental Movement by Emma & Steph in London, who I want to congratulate massively because they just won the Health & Social Care Category at The UK Blog Awards!!, have created a Magazine & E-Zine contributed to by people who are dealing with mental health themselves! The site and magazine talks about all aspects of Mental Health issues from Anxiety, Depression and everything in between! With healthy recipes that boost your brain power and fight anxiety/ depression to featuring stories from people who suffer from Mental Health issues themselves, they talk about ways to fight anxiety and depression and ways to bounce back afterwards.
Have a Wonderful Weekend everyone
Be Kind & Take Care and Get Loud for Mental Health!