The best things that improved my depression and anxiety
Last week I ripped off the Bandaid and shared my most personal post yet. Thank you all for such kind words and support. I can’t describe how scary it is to fully open up and expose the most vulnerable sides only to be met with love and positivity. Thank you.
I’m happy to share that I’m feeling pretty well and am learning to let go of some of the anxiety. It’s been a long road, approximately two months, but it’s nice to feel more like myself each day. While recovery isn’t linear, I know if I’m patient and put the right supports in place, I’ll get there.
I also know a lot of us are hurting right now. My meditation lesson today was all about the shared experience of anxiety. In fact, it’s estimated that 40 million adults (or 18.1% of the entire US population) suffer from anxiety each year. Sadly, only 36% of those affected by anxiety will seek treatment. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take care of your mental health. I’m sharing a few things that have helped me with my depression and anxiety immensely and I hope will help others struggling too.
Please note, I am not a doctor (although I’d love to play one on TV!) so please consult your doctor first.
Before I get started, I wanted to thank Amazing Grace Equine Sanctuary for having Margaret and me at their barn. These photos are from a while ago and we visited just before my depression started. I will be writing a more in-depth article at all the amazing things that AGES is doing next week. In the meantime, please consider donating to support their fundraising efforts.
If you had a problem with your insulin levels, you’d seek medication. Mental health should be no different. While I understand people’s inclination to approach things naturally, I also believe that medication is important. Furthermore, medication in combination with talk therapy is the recommended treatment for depressive and anxiety.
I am currently prescribed 5 mg of escitalopram and have had minimal side effects. You can make an appointment with your internist or GP to be screened for depression/anxiety. Alternatively, you can find a psychiatrist to work with as well. Note, psychiatrists can prescribe medications while psychologists cannot.
I’ve been in therapy for about eight years now and encourage everyone to find a therapist they connect with. We’ve met weekly over the past two months while working through my mental health. After each session, I always feel a sense of relief and have felt better because of it. My therapist helped me understand my depression and anxiety and how to meet myself where I was at.
Exercise has been shown to greatly reduce depression and anxiety. When I was in college I experienced depression and found exercise through it. I was really good about working out up until a year ago. I moved neighborhoods and stopped going to classes. While I briefly trained for the marathon, I know my lack of exercise contributed to a decline in my mental health.
I started working out using the app called Headspace and did a four-week program. Since completing that, I started using Obe fitness. I’ve been keeping up with the workouts and each day rotate between cardio, strength, yoga, and pilates. While I don’t love working out, I truly believe I will continue to do so in order to keep my mind and body feeling good.
My relationship with anxiety has changed drastically since starting meditation. I’ve learned to not get caught up in the scary thoughts that my brain tells me. It’s easier now to let those thoughts go and come back to the present. I try to meditate every day through the app called Headspace. I completed the basics course and am now finishing up a course on Anxiety.
In total, over the past two months, I’ve spent 900 minutes meditating. It sounds like a lot but it averages out to 15 minutes each day. I use that time to calm my mind and remind myself to be present. I cannot recommend it enough.
Eating more greens and veggies
As a vegetarian, I already love my vegetables. However, like most people, I tend to go for carbs and cheese during stressful times. There’s nothing wrong with that and I think we should give our bodies what they want. More recently my body was telling me it needed some more nutrient-dense foods. So, in the mornings, I make myself a smoothie. I usually do some sort of combo with kale, blueberries, bananas, and oat milk. More recently, I’ve been experimenting with apples and peanut butter.
If you have any delicious smoothie recipes packed with nutrients, please share them below!
I still eat plenty of carbs and I feel better through the day because my body is satisfied.
Not watching the news
I loved watching the news for so long. It was a time my husband and I would sit down, enjoy a snack, and catch up on what’s happening. However, the news is inherently fear-based for ratings. Research also suggests that watching negative events on TV can negatively affect mental health.
I believe staying informed is important and when major events occur, I’ll be sure to read about them. For now, though, I’m tuning out.
When I started taking my medication, I started keeping a journal about its effects. Each night I’d write down my general mood that day and how I was feeling. I’ve continued to write each night as part of my wind-down routine. Writing things down has always helped me process my emotions and this has been incredibly helpful.
Each day I rate my depression and anxiety on a scale of 1-10. It’s nice to have a way to measure and track my growth and process. I also use this journal as a way to practice gratitude and shape my mind to think more positively. I’ve been eyeing this journal too and want to try it next.
Getting better sleep
Sleep is so key to so many functions of daily life and well-being. My sleep was suffering for a long time because of my anxiety. I started practicing better sleep hygiene (more to come on that!) and use this weighted blanket every night.
When sleep was a bit more elusive, I would take a melatonin capsule to help me get to sleep. I liked these because they are non-habit forming, vegan, and considered safe for most people. Of course, be sure to speak with your physician before taking any new supplements.
Doing things I know I love
It is really hard to find the motivation to do things when you are depressed. So on days when you can’t, don’t. But there were some days that I had energy and I would make sure to do something I loved. I went to book stores, walked dogs, hung out with friends, played with my animals, and evaluated dogs at CACC when I was feeling up to it.
Depression is hard because it feeds on itself and its a nasty cycle. So, on days when I could, I make sure to do things I knew I enjoyed.
These are just some of the things I’ve been implementing in my life that have helped me. I truly have never worked so hard on myself and being happy. I’ve been fighting like hell and been as diligent as possible with it. All the small steps have added up and I’m really glad to be feeling better.
Times are tough, the world is scary, so please make sure you are taking care of yourself.
Saber – This gorgeous gelding is such a fun and mischievous guy. He made me laugh constantly as he snuck mouthfuls of grass while we were shooting. Clearly, he was the boss in this duo. Saber was saved from a kill lot in Oklahoma hours before he was to be euthanized. He would love to be a pasture horse and spend the rest of his days grazing and looking handsome.
This dress is from Madewell and while it’s sold out, you can find it on Poshmark!