By Cece Flores
I know I’m not the only one who ever feels this way, and that in itself is validating. But there are times when simply acknowledging that you’re not technically alone won’t do much to ease your panic. I’m talking about those moments when repeating some mantra urging yourself to stay positive won’t quell the worry or stop the anger from boiling over. These are moments when action and not just words or thoughts are required. These are moments where, hard as it may be, you need to fight for yourself.
It’s difficult and I’ve never been particularly good at it. The first therapist who ever made an impact on my life, God rest her soul, used to crack down on me for this a lot. I’d roll my eyes at her suggestions for self-care, reaching my hands out to express instead my desire to be medicated so as not to have to deal at all. Of course, medication can be super helpful. But you will land, time and time again, in a steaming pile of doo if you don’t learn to do things that can help you when they’re not quite enough.
I’ve found myself at a new level of rock bottom many times, where my old coping techniques didn’t seem to work anymore and I’d spiral out of control thinking, “I’ve done it! I’ve finally gone completely, irreversibly mad!” That’s not a winning attitude, and is also not the truth. It takes a lot of practice, patience and starting over but self-care is ultimately the best gift you can give to yourself. Here are some ideas I can pass along to you that I hope will help:
Seems kinda juvenile but hear me out: coloring is dope. Having a creative outlet in general can do great things for the mind in terms of having a way to unpack what we think and feel. It gives us somewhere to place all the frustration, and produce something beautiful and profound out of what can feel so ugly. Coloring, specifically, can be good for anxiety and depression. A core thing I learned when dealing with anxiety was the concept of grounding oneself. When you can pluck yourself out of your head and plant yourself back into reality by doing anything that demands some physical and mental attention, you are grounding yourself. Painting, drawing, dancing, singing, sometimes even writing, can have the same effect. My only worry when it comes to writing (having some experience with it myself) is that if you’re prone to writer’s block, you might be too harsh on yourself. Stick to any feel-good activity that requires some attention to detail but also incorporates a sense of fun.
This was one of the suggestions I’d roll my eyes at. Cleaning, for a lot of us, is boring and more of a chore than an activity, but it shares the same concept. It’s something you can physically do that only requires a little mental effort, and usually once you see the results you’ve yielded you’re left with a sense of pride. Who did that? You did that.
In all honesty, when I’m depressed I have a lot of trouble with this one. My collection of dry shampoos and perfumes don’t lie. Who has time to care about brushing their teeth or hair when life’s falling apart, right? It is imperative, though, that you take care of your health and personal hygiene sadly counts. Sometimes I just sit in a hot bath and don’t even move, and that has to count too. The action of trying is sometimes enough. I’ll make it a whole ordeal: bath salts (not those), bath bombs, bubbles, tacky celebrity bath products (Britney Spears’ Fantasy, though), the whole thing. Follow up with anything that makes your skin softer than a baby’s derrière and you’ll feel like a goddess for DAYS. You’ll feel like you accomplished something, your self-esteem might experience a small boost, you might feel like you can present yourself to the world again after hiding from it.
If you’re feeling up to it, and if you have supportive friends or family, try to reach out to someone. Be as open and honest as you can. If you just want to vent but don’t want advice, if you just want to cry (or laugh), tell them. One thing I do often is ask people to tell me a story. Whether it’s a real story or a fictional one, it allows me to focus on a narrative other than mine.
This one’s important and should definitely be explored if possible. So much of our lives are connected to our phones, the internet and social media especially, and that can be a great thing. But having a tiny computer in your hands that shoots terrible news into your brain every minute of the day isn’t healthy. People who need to use social media for work might have a harder time with this one, but the introduction of muting (if you’re really in a position where blocking or deleting would just give you another unnecessary headache) really helps. Sometimes, even the people we love can contribute to these doom-y, negative feelings. Putting your phone on airplane or do not disturb mode for a few hours a day can help you disconnect with relatively no hard feelings. Of course, there are people who expect you to respond to their every whim: they are not healthy for you either.
What do you do when you’re feeling less than your fab self? I’d sincerely like to hear from you, either here in the comments or on social media.
Cece is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.