By Sarish Siddiqui
There have been moments and even years of my life where I unknowingly suffered from depression and anxiety. Depression is when you truly do not care about anything, while anxiety is when you care too much about everything. We live in a world where if you break a body part everyone will come running to save you, but when you say you are depressed everyone runs away. It’s something we fear. That negative stigma is not helping anyone though. I naturally love helping people, so I want to teach you a few tips to help you overcome feelings of depression, sadness, or anxiety. Every human being should strive to be a more confident, mentally stable, and positive person. Mental wellness is one of the most undervalued current issues and I am a firm believer everyone should take care of it over anything else.
1. Journal or keep a personal private diary.
Society teaches us that expressing any sense of vulnerability is a sign of weakness. I beg to differ though, expressing vulnerability shows a sign of strength. If you aren’t happy with your life you must be doing something wrong, right? Wrong. There is not a single person who wakes up every day feeling like a bundle of sunshine. Writing is the therapy I give to myself each day. In all honesty, it is difficult to open yourself up and talk about your feelings. People are incredibly judgmental. If you want to improve your mental health, then you should take fifteen minutes out of your day to write it down. Write in any format, whether it’s a stream of consciousness or a few words. Write in moments of sadness, anxiousness, and happiness. Write down five things you love about yourself, five things you want to improve on, and what you are going to do to create change in your life.
2. You are never alone.
Whether you realize it or not every human being is going through something. We all have insecurities and problems. Remember you are never alone. I’m sure at least ten of your problems are made up scenarios you created for no logical reason. Learn to control your thoughts and do not allow them to control you. Life is tough. Self-doubt will eat away at your soul. If you can’t learn to enjoy life when you have problems, then you never will. Because I promise you, you will always have at least one problem in your life. Never doubt who you are as a person. You are capable of more than you could have ever imagined. Remember you weren’t given anything in this life that you can’t handle.
3. Step out into the sunlight.
Did you know that sunlight triggers the release of serotonin and endorphins that lead to a happier mood? It not only keeps your bones healthy by producing vitamin D but also absorbs calcium too. It has positive benefits for your mental and physical health, so you’re your way to a beach in Mexico now! I’m kidding, that clearly isn’t feasible for everyone. Sometimes, you just need to step outside, breathe and remember you can get through anything. Inhale confidence and exhale doubt. Go for a walk during your lunch break. Go for a run by yourself or venture on a hike with your friends. Join a club sport. If you live in a place with little to no sunshine, then you can always purchase a light therapy box.
4. Speak well of yourself.
You never truly realize how negatively you speak to yourself. We all have our moments where we do not feel like our most attractive self. It’s called being a human being. There is a difference in saying “I’m an idiot” as opposed to saying, “I’m being an idiot right now.” Speak to yourself in a kinder manner. When you look in the mirror, you should tell yourself, “Damn, I look good today and there’s no one in the world like me, so I must be something special.” When you wake up, remember start every day with a smile. If you have to fake it, then that’s okay too. Regardless, you will always feel a little better about yourself when you do. If you need inspiration for a smile, then think of someone or something that makes you happy.
5. Reward yourself and learn to love life.
None of us are getting out of this life alive, so learn to love your life because you only get one. Make yourself a priority every now and then. Reward yourself! Eat that delicious food because you deserve it. Take a walk on the wild side. Jump into the ocean. Be fun. Be silly. Be different. Do what makes your heart light up. If you are not threatening, ruining, or hurting anyone, then I see no problem with doing what sets your heart on fire. Find your passion. Do something because you love it and it makes you feel alive. More importantly, remember to avoid people who lower your self-esteem and make you feel bad about yourself.
6. Listen to podcasts.
Whenever I feel sad, unhappy, or uneasy, I listen to podcasts or watch Ted Talks. I love learning from others especially when I feel like I can’t handle my own problems. Never stop learning because life truly never stops teaching you lessons. You can overcome your problems, fears, and emotions by learning from other people’s life experiences. Check out 11 Great Ted Talks About Depression they all discuss the importance of mental health. Nick Vujicic’s Overcoming Hopelessness, the last one on the list truly changed my life. Let me know what you think!
7. Talk to someone.
Sometimes, it is difficult to speak to the people closest to you about your problems. Sometimes, writing down your feelings is not enough. When you feel lost or alone, you feel like you have no one to turn to, but I promise there is always someone willing to listen to you. If you do not have a desire to see a therapist, then try a free crisis hotline number. Don’t fear judgment or be ashamed to ask for help. Take care of yourself because your life matters whether you realize it or not. You matter!
· National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
· National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
· Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
· Boys Town National Hotline: 1-800-448-3000
· Teen Line: 1-310-855-HOPE (4673) or 1-800-TLC-TEEN (852-8336)
8. Take care of your body.
When you exercise your body releases endorphins that trigger that feeling of positiveness in your body. Exercising is a form of therapy. It’s the celebration of your body. Find exercises that are continuous and rhythmic like weight training, swimming, or Zumba these help with depression. Eat like you love yourself and your body. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks of you. Honestly, most people don’t notice the little things you dislike about yourself. There will never be a time in your life where you 100% love everything about your body, so learn to love it now. A negative mind will ruin your focus. Remember progress is still progress no matter how small. Create small goals for yourself first.
9. Meditation is key.
Timeless and Calm are two of my favorite free meditation applications that I use daily. Meditation helps you clear your mind, increases your productivity and helps you detach from the little things. It reduces your stress levels, relieves anxiety, and creates a better sense of self-understanding. Did you know that it reduces your risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death too? A negative mind will prevent you from living a positive life. Start every morning meditating for eight minutes and end every night doing the same. It will do wonders for your soul.
10. Be your own superhero.
People say, “I am always here for you if you need anything.” Sadly, that is not necessarily true. Every person is busy figuring out what they are doing with their lives. If someone is unavailable, then promise me you will not take it personally. Sadly, the fact of the matter is, no one will always be there for you. At the end of the day, regardless of if you talk to a therapist or a friend, you are the only person you who can save yourself from depression, anxiety, or suicide. Strength grows in the moments where you think you cannot go on, but you do. Remember you must fight through the worst days of your life to earn the best ones. Everything you need is already within you, you just need to search for it. Find your strength, compassion, and courage. You will glow differently when you feel better about yourself, so what do you have to lose?