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5 Mental Health Tips From the Podcast 'Another Round With Heben and Tracy'

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I love listening to a variety of podcasts, from hilarious conversations with comedians to true crime stories. When I recently experienced a major depressive episode, my therapist advised I stop listening to podcasts about criminal activity because the disturbing content might be harmful to my recovery. One podcast I continued to listen to though was “Another Round with Heben and Tracy,” produced by BuzzFeed Audio. The hosts, Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton, discuss a range of topics, conduct lively interviews with guests and offer insight and tips on coping with mental health issues.

1. Self-Care in Response to the News

In Episode 7, “Living In America”, Heben and Tracy discuss taking time to care for yourself, especially in the wake of constant news stories about police violence and mass shootings. “Be kind to yourself,” Tracy states. She also recommends that people “take a break, disengage, log off” from Twitter when it’s inundated with stories of violence.

The week before I was hospitalized due to a major depressive episode, there was a horrific mass shooting, and stories of the shooter and victims flooded social media. I was already experiencing depressive symptoms before the shooting, and then I chose to read every news article I came across about the murders, which worsened my depression. I also became paranoid about being out in public, thinking I would be killed by a hateful person with a gun.   

In the episode, Heben notes she’s “trying to get better at a healthy amount of human interaction” so that she doesn’t disengage from people for too long. I also have a tendency to watch Netflix for too long instead of socializing. Although it can feel like such an effort at times, it’s important to spend time with family and friends to take my mind off the news.

2. Take Your Medication

In Episode 11, “Bob Loblaw”, Tracy opens up about the difficulty of finding a psychiatrist and anti-anxiety medication that actually works. “I started and I stopped so many times,” Tracy says. She also addresses the stigma associated with mental illness. “The thing about anxiety and depression is that they’re physical conditions, so you should treat them the same way (as you would a physical illness),” she explains. I have struggled with consistently taking medication for anxiety and depression as well. It often feels like a daunting task to even find a psychiatrist. I’ve found it helps when I open up to my parents about how I’m feeling, so then they continually encourage me to find a psychiatrist who will prescribe me medication that improves my mood.

3. Exercise as Self-Care

In Episode 28, “Madam Secretary, What’s Good?”, Heben and Tracy interview Hillary Clinton and ask her what she does for self-care. “I really love yoga,” Clinton responds. “I love long walks.” Although I know exercise eases the symptoms of anxiety and depression, I often lack the motivation to exercise. I have to remind myself that I don’t have to be someone who runs regularly or lifts weights in order to exercise. As the current Democratic presidential nominee reminded listeners, exercise can be as simple as going for a walk.

4. Starting Therapy

In episode 34, “The Most Introverted Sasha Fierce”, Heben and Tracy interview their co-worker, Arianna Rebolini, about her article, “A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Therapy.” As Heben notes, “Finding a therapist is overwhelming.” I have gone to therapists who I didn’t click with, which was stressful because I then had to begin the process over again of searching for a therapist who is taking new patients, located near where I live and covered by my health insurance. “It’s important to realize that it’s not always going to be immediately good and you just (need to) keep trying,” Arianna states. Tracy also reminds listeners, “If you don’t find a good fit right away, it’s not a reflection of you. It’s just personality differences.”

5. Celebrate Yourself

In episode 36, “U Mad?”, Heben and Tracy suggest an alternative to New Year’s resolutions: rememberlutions. “The idea is that throughout the year, you take a little slip of paper and whenever something good happens, when you’re feeling good about something, you write it down and put it in a jar,” Tracy explains. Then, at the time you would usually make your New Year’s resolutions, you read what you wrote throughout the year instead. “I’ve learned that the trick with resolutions is that you have to keep them super, super small and manageable,” Heben states. Every year, my New Year’s resolution was to work out regularly so that I lost weight. Depression has caused me to gain weight and I used to believe if I became physically fit, my mental health would change for the better, too. However, it’s important to recognize the small achievements, such as going for a walk when I would rather be laying on the couch, instead of fixating on overwhelming goals. It’s also important to hold onto these small achievements when I’m feeling depressed, so I can reframe my negative thinking about myself to be more positive.

Today’s rememberlutions: I went on a walk with my Dad, I ate a delicious dinner with my family, I watched a movie with my Mom and I listened to several episodes of “Another Round with Heben and Tracy.”

Lead photo courtesy of the “Another Round” Facebook page.

Originally published: August 25, 2016
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