10 Ways to Be Your Own Friend When Struggling With Depression
When battling your own mind, it is often challenging to love yourself. Yet, you must — even if you don’t feel like you can. Celebrate yourself. Treat yourself as though you are the most beloved individual on earth. Because… you are. Be kind to yourself. Hiding beneath the mental anguish, the pain and the struggles, you are extraordinary. Those words may feel far from the truth right now, but seek it out. Don’t give up — keep hanging on.
Here are 10 ways to be your own friend when you are fighting mental illness:
1. Breathe slowly and deeply.
Close your eyes and let yourself genuinely relax. Oftentimes, we don’t allow ourselves the time actually needed for this. In 2001, I lost my voice for a month. After being examined by a specialist, he informed me there wasn’t any reason for my lack of voice, and he referred me to a speech pathologist. Yes, speech therapy. I was the only adult patient in the waiting room. Turns out, I had forgotten how to breathe. Seriously? Yes. I was so tense and stressed that I was holding my breath without realizing it… even while attempting to speak. No breath was passing through my larynx to vibrate my vocal chords (how voice is made). I had only a whisper. I slowly relearned how to breathe and how to breathe while speaking. Relaxation became a much-needed goal.
2. Enjoy a sunrise.
Take a picture — preserve the beauty! Don’t miss out on these times of day! Sunrises come not only with beauty, but with stillness and peace, before the day is filled with cacophony.
3. Go for a walk.
Don’t plug yourself in to your music, don’t block yourself from the world around you. Take in nature. Notice and appreciate the details. Walking isn’t just for exercise. It’s a time to wind down. A time to process your thoughts. A time where thinking clearly becomes easier.
4. Cut out the negative.
Television shows, movies and music containing suspense, horror or negative speak can bring on high anxiety, oftentimes too much for someone already dealing with anxiety or depression. These emotions can take a toll on your mind. Even the news — it can be dreadful! Take a break from it when you need it.
5. Make a list of what is good about you.
Add to it each day, even if it is a single item. This is one of the most monumental challenges when you are just not in the “right” mind, when all you can sense is the gloom and doom, when all you feel is heartache. Push through. Begin with one thing you like about yourself — that you perceive as positive. Do not think what others may view your item to be. Own it for yourself. Maybe you have a nice smile, an artistic talent, a flair for organization. Explore your goodness.
6. Enjoy a hobby. Don’t have one? Take one up.
A hobby is a way to relax, meditate and enjoy a moment. Maybe a game or puzzle. Perhaps something creative, like leather crafting or calligraphy. Or something active, like geocaching or gardening. Many adults now enjoy advanced coloring books. Personally, I love games, solitarily or with my family. Being crafty or journaling relaxes me, as well.
7. Enjoy a laugh.
Watch a sitcom, a comedy film or YouTube videos! Laughing is good for the soul. After an arduous day at work, putting my feet up and laughing minimizes the stress of the work day I had dealt with.
8. Take care of what is necessary, even if you start with just one.
Get enough sleep, and disconnect from technology an hour before bed. Tech use keeps your mind engaged. Enjoy a warm shower. It can relieve muscle tension and calm your mind and body. Eat clean. What you eat affects your mood, sleep, brain functioning and more. Take your medication and vitamins!
9. Forgive yourself.
No one is perfect. If others seem to have it all together, they positively do not. Perfection is nonexistent.
10. Believe in yourself.
Believe you and your life will evolve into something better. I’m on that road too.
I believe it is imperative to become your own friend when you’re struggling with a mental illness. Commit to loving yourself unconditionally. Do not allow your mental battles cloud the fact that you are worthwhile, that you are extraordinary. Don’t give up — keep hanging on.
“If life seems jolly rotten,
There’s something you’ve forgotten!
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.” — Monty Python
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Thinkstock photo via berdsigns.