As a woman battling depression and anxiety, it can be hard to enact changes in my life. I see things about myself and my life that I hate, but I can’t seem to find the strength to do anything about it. This has to change.
I’ve come to the realization that mental illness is like any other illness, in that it takes time and dedication to get better. You can’t do nothing and expect your circumstances to improve. That’s why I’ve tried to be more intentional about my life and my actions and the words I speak in order to battle my negative thoughts and feelings.
1.) Positive affirmation
I’m a firm believer that the words you say and the thoughts you think will come to be. So if I’m constantly telling myself what a failure I am, I’m going to feel like a failure. I will be a failure.
So lately, when I catch myself thinking these negative thoughts, I counteract them by hand-writing in a notebook.
I love myself.
I’m doing my best.
My friends do not secretly hate me.
My family is not ashamed of me.
Writing it down enough times, repeating the words in my head, has helped me to fight the negative thoughts and realize: it’s all made up. These things aren’t actually true. My parents have never told me or treated me like they were ashamed of me. My friends have never secretly hated me, although this false thinking has caused issues in my relationships. No one has ever told me I was fat or ugly. I tell myself these things enough that soon, I’m believing they’re true.
2.) Be intentional about sleep
Insomnia sucks, and can also lend itself to foul moods and depressing thoughts. I’ve struggled with it for years and have only just recently been successfully combating the crappy sleep cycle. Being more intentional about your sleep schedule and making sure you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day is so important.
Something that’s helped me tremendously is taking melatonin before bed. Do your own research on dosage and ask your doctor before taking it, but it’s an over-the-counter supplement that my doctor recommended to me. I take it about 20 minutes before bed and I’m out like a light. It’s absolutely incredible. As someone who struggles with falling asleep and staying up way past her bedtime with thoughts racing through her head, these gummies have changed my life.
My sleep cycle is a work in progress, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
3.) Listen to your body
I really think this applies to both diet and social life. Listen, diets don’t work for everyone, and most are extremely problematic. Focus on how the foods you eat react with your body. If you eat something and then 4 hours later you’re on the toilet and you see your life flash before your eyes, maybe don’t eat that. Carbs can feel really great in the moment, but I’m definitely kicking myself later that day.
Eat foods that make your body feel good, and pursue a healthy body rather than a “summer body” or whatever. Exercise is proven to have great effects on people with depression, but don’t take it too far. Don’t hurt yourself. Listen.
Same goes for your social life! I know that as an introvert, I love hanging out with friends and going to gatherings. Sometimes though, it’s good for your health to just say no. Listen to your body. Take that breather. Don’t push yourself.
4.) Don’t be so hard on yourself
You’re going to have bad days. That’s just a scientific fact. But don’t let that discourage you from the progress that you’ve made. Look at you! You’ve made it this far and you should be so proud of yourself. Are you the kind of person who thinks back on your younger self and cringes and then obsesses about it for hours on end? Same. But listen, instead of bemoaning your past self and dwelling on the mistakes you made or the dumb things you did, think about it like this: you’ve come so far. Look at how much you’ve grown and improved already!
We are never going to be perfect, and we’re going to spend the rest of our lives doing cringey things. Move on. You’re not the same person you were yesterday, and you can do better.