The month of May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and since we are coming very close to the end of the month, I thought I’d bring more of this topic on my blog. To those of you who have been following me on my journey for quite some time now (whether you’re a personal friend or a friend that I have recently made through the bookish community), you’ll know that I have been battling depression and anxiety for years. I made an entire discussion post talking about my experience with it and how literature has played a significant role in helping me cope. If you missed that post, you can check it out here.
Before I begin with this list, I just want to put a disclaimer: I do not think of myself as an expert on mental health (I myself am still very confused about my illnesses at times) and this list should not be looked at or taken as expert advice. While I studied clinical and behavioral psychology in high school and university, I am still not (unfortunately) a professional in the subject and in no way am I in a position to be giving out professional advice either. The list I’m about to give you guys is a personal list. This list is of things that help me deal with my anxiety and my depression. And my only hope is that you may try some of these things and that you find one or more of the things listed helpful to you. In no way am I claiming that this will help cure your mental illness. If you feel that you are in need of a more serious help than a mere list, then please, I encourage you to seek out professional help.
Now if you are here looking for 15 simple and easy ways to help ease your anxiety and depression, then you are at the right place. Let’s get this list rolling already, shall we?
1.) Read short stories. Reading is my greatest escape. But sometimes, I find that reading a whole novel can be overwhelming. Why not try shorter stories instead?
2.) Zentangle. If you don’t know what Zentangle is, it’s basically doodling. To your heart’s desire. Doodling can be a great way to calm yourself. When you do Zentangle, your mind is able to focus on tiny details at a time. You don’t even have to be Picasso to be successful at this! Here’s an example that I did:
3.) YouTube babies laughing. This may sound weird, but you might be surprised just how effective this can be. Baby laughs are contagious!
4.) Why stop at videos of laughing babies? YouTube some cat or dog videos! Or whatever your favourite animal/pet is! Personally, I love watching kitten videos because although I have a pup, I really am more of a cat person. Cat videos will always melt my heart.
5.) Bake your favourite treats! I don’t bake, but I know it sure helps me when I eat sweets! Lol. If you’re good at baking and need a pick-me-up, contact me… I’m good at eating.
6.) Put on your favourite childhood film. When things get a little too rough, a hint of innocence can help. What better way to achieve that than putting on something you loved as a child? Nostalgia can be great to the weary mind sometimes!
7.) Go for a short (or long) walk. I’m more of a home body and find pleasure in staying inside. However, a good walk when the sun is out can do wonders! Simply being outside and breathing fresh air can help ease your mood.
8.) Light some incense or your favourite candle. It may surprise you that out of all of our five senses, smell can have the greatest impact. Perhaps there’s a certain scent that reminds you of a happy time. Simply smelling said scent can bring you happiness at the present time. Also, if you are like me and you love to put on incense from time to time, you’d know that there are specific aromas that help destress!
9.) Google random facts. Often times when I am feeling down, what I need is just a good senseless distraction. So I surf the web. Google some random facts to give your brain something random to think about. Not to mention, you might actually learn a new thing or two.
Did you know, that if a set of twins marry another set of twins, their children are more siblings than they are cousins?!
10.) Pamper yourself! Do I even need to explain why this is on my list? Dedicating some much needed and well deserved time to yourself is good from time to time! Put on a mask, hop in the tub for some bubble bath, pour yourself a glass of wine (or your favourite non alcoholic drink), eat your favourite snacks, put on your favourite movie… Whatever it is that you enjoy that you don’t usually have enough time to do, make time for it and do it!
11.) Take a walk down memory lane. Much like watching your favourite childhood films, looking at old photos from your childhood can really help too. Every time I look at photos from my childhood, I get giddy inside and I can’t help but think of happy (and stress free) times!
12.) Watch a comedy film. Hey, I understand that sometimes walking down memory lane isn’t the best way to go. So perhaps watching some comedy films will help! Some of my recommendations are: 21 Jump Street, We’re The Millers, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Click… And so many more others!
13.) Make a list of things you are grateful for. Simply seeing in written form the things that you’re grateful for can actually make you even more grateful for them. It’s also a good reminder for when you feel lost and can’t seem to find the silver lining.
14.) Clean or organize. An old roommate of mine loved to clean whenever she was stressed or anxious or just feeling sad. Hey, I’m not going to lie about how much I appreciated having her around and her sometimes compulsive need to clean and organize our place. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
15.) Get a friend to accompany you. Solitude can be an amazing thing, but sometimes we just need another set of helping hands. Hit up a close friend and do whatever your hearts desire! You can sit on the couch and bum it out all day, even. As long as it’s making you and your friend happy!
And there you have my simple list! Again, I am not claiming that any of these are guaranteed to help you with your anxiety or depression. You may find some that work for you, or you may find that none of them work at all.
But whatever it is that you are going through, just know that you are not alone in the battle. I may not know exactly just how rough things are looking for you right now, but I understand. I have been there before and will continue to be there time and time again. It is a place that I will always (not willingly, of course) visit, so just know that I am there with you if you need me. We don’t even personally have to know each other. I am here if you just need somebody to rant to and let it all out! And I mean it.
If any of these work for you or if you have a different list from mine, please do let me know!
Take care, friends! xo