Have you ever experienced stress so paralyzing, that you couldn’t concentrate enough to accomplish anything? Even the simplest tasks seem like they take much effort. Getting out of bed is a chore and you’re always anxiously waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under you. Sometimes you feel like you’re staring into an endless black hole and the daily grind becomes exhausting. If this has happened to you, trust me you’re not alone. Approximately 7% of U.S. adults experience depression, while 18% experience anxiety! With the emergence of social media, these numbers have risen, especially in young adults. These are only reported numbers; we all know there are many who are undiagnosed and/or untreated. As in all facets of healthcare, marginalized communities are often unable to access or afford mental health services.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As a healthcare professional, I strongly believe that the mind can greatly affect the physical. Unfortunately, our health care system in the U.S. does not prioritize mental health services nor encourage nurturing our emotional health. As someone who has dealt with depression and has to dodge my dark cloud every couple of years, I know it is important for me to have strategies in place. Today, I’m sharing the top methods I utilize to deal with stress and manage anxiety. Remember, a therapist is a great way to treat and PREVENT mental health issues. Having someone to talk to regularly can help you stay mentally healthy, just as seeing your primary provider for an annual.
If you have not tried yoga and meditation, do yourself a favor and get started now! When I practice yoga, I get to take 15 – 30 minutes to clear my mind, forget my responsibilities, and engage in play my body hasn’t seen since childhood. The best part: I get to do this GUILT free. I’m sure we can all relate to the feeling that if you are not being productive, you’re wasting time. However, yoga is extremely productive! Not only does it increase circulation throughout the body and relieve aches and stiffness, it puts you in a meditative state while you focus on your practice and breathing. If you are interested in starting a home practice, I highly recommend Yoga by Adrienne on YouTube. Yoga truly transports me to another place and can help energize me for the day or relax me at night. However, if I want to completely clear my mind without having to focus on getting into poses, I take a few minutes to meditate. Meditation is challenging, but it trains your mind to be powerful. Every time I practice, I realize that I have the power to control my thoughts. Often times when you are facing depression/anxiety, its easy to feel out of control and hopeless. Having tools in place that can help you regain that power is transformative.
It’s important to have a hobby that you do entirely for fun! This will be different for everybody, but for me, I love unleashing my creativity when I beat my face lol. I throw on some music and free my mind while I play with colors. If I’m feeling anxious or down before I apply my make up, I’m feeling relaxed and cheerful by the time I finish. It’s important to take time to do things that bring you pure joy. As a blogger balancing my full time career, I am literally always working. My blog is definitely my passion project, but sometimes I need to do an activity that isn’t production focused. Try to identify what this is for you, and then do it regularly.
It is human to fear opening up to someone else. Often times, our own spouses, family, and friends do not realize that we are suffering because we do not speak up! We are afraid to be seen as weak or do not want to bring someone else down with us. However, it is important to have individuals in your life that you can confide in without judgment. It’s impossible to find support if you never look for it. Read that again. Our brains are engineered to feel close to others in order to experience an emotionally full life. Depression can be tricky because the disease tells you that being alone and isolated is best for you, but this actually sinks you deeper into the black hole. Once you feel free to be vulnerable in a safe space, this is where healing can begin. If your family does not understand or is not supportive, definitely see a therapist ASAP or reach out to a support group. Listening ears are available, but you have to make the effort to locate them.
Drinking enough water, exercising regularly, and consuming more fruits and veggies aren’t just for your physical health. The same tactics you use to care for your body can greatly improve your mind. It’s important to start visualizing the body and mind as one, connected being. They truly do affect each other and if one is lacking, the other will suffer as well. There is so much healing power in simply stepping outside in the sun with fresh air to go for a long walk. This enables you to take in nutrients naturally while increasing circulation to your brain, and reconnecting with nature. Additionally, its no secret that food has healing properties if we use it for that purpose. If the right foods can eliminate diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer, then it makes complete sense that they can work just as well for depression and anxiety.
These are just some of the tactics I use to prevent myself from falling into a funk. As individuals, we all curate techniques that work specifically for us. Now it’s your turn to start thinking about changes you can incorporate into your life to promote your mental health. Maybe its getting back into reading for fun, journaling, buying an adult coloring book, soaking in a warm bath, hiking, cooking, or listening to uplifting podcasts? Whatever it is, make it yours and make it count by regularly engaging in it. Be strong.
xoxo, Global Midwife
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, only education. Always check with your healthcare provider.