I don’t always like to talk about this topic. It’s not something everyone knows about, and I’m not very good at being vulnerable. While I’ve never been officially diagnosed with depression or anxiety, I’ve had small tastes of it. Feeling like not doing anything because what’s the point? As if there’s nothing that can change your situation. Like the whole world is caving in around you. Like you’re the reason it is. It sucks. It really sucks. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one to deal with it either. And most likely, you know a few people who deal with it too, or maybe are one.
I specifically deal with really bad self-doubt. Things go wrong in my life, and I immediately jump to the “it’s my fault” conclusion. Being a pessimist/realist/barely optimistic doesn’t help. Working on it is a long and hard process, and I’ve been blessed with understanding and supportive friends. I’m nowhere near qualified to offer professional help, but I thought I would offer a few tips to how I help calm myself and cheer myself up. So here’s a few that I’ve found the most helpful to me.
1: Taking Deep Breaths
I know it’s cliche, but it really can help. Regulating your breathing can bring down your heart rate and forces you to focus on something other than what’s making you anxious, stressed, or upset. While it may not distract from it completely, it can divide your attention, which can still help.
2: Removing Yourself from the Situation/Distract Yourself
One of the things I try to do is remove myself from the situation, if I can. Staying in the stressful or upsetting situation can make things worse, so removing myself and distracting myself with other environments allows me to get a fresh perspective. But since, I’m still in college, removing myself from a stressful class or from people I know I still see everyday isn’t always possible. So instead I distract myself. Focusing on a different task like another assignment, trying to think of something else entirely, or if I can, just browsing the web. Whatever helps keep me from thinking about the situation can help a lot.
3: Do Something You Enjoy
One of the best ways I distract myself is by doing things I enjoy. Watching videos, reading, writing, playing video games, listening to music, things like that. This really helps get me away from thinking about whatever’s making me stressed or upset. Recently, I had a whole episode of self-depressive thoughts and self-doubt, and it took a little longer to bounce back from it than usual. I ended up going back and watching videos from some fandoms I had previously been a part of, which helped a lot with calming me down and distracting me from my thoughts. Doing things you enjoy, even little things, helps a lot with distracting from stress and upsetting thoughts.
4: Remembering It Isn’t True/That Bad
Not everyone will find this last step easy. Heck, I don’t find it easy either. But if I’m able to calm myself down enough, I can usually talk myself down from the thoughts or the stress-induced panic. Again, it can take a little while to get there. That’s why this is the last step after calming down and distracting yourself. Reminding yourself that sometimes you can overthink things or that something you thought was true ended being wrong (which happens naturally a lot anyways) can help be the further push out of panic. Again, this isn’t an easy step, but if it can be reached and done, it can help as well.
I know for a fact that not all of these steps will help everyone. I don’t deal with chronic anxiety or depression, so my tips probably won’t help someone who does. But they can help someone who deals with situation or stress-induced anxiety or self-depressive thoughts. If you do suffer from chronic anxiety or depression, or other types of mental illnesses, I would strongly advise seeking counseling. Some of the best advice I got was from my counselor here at school, and her help was a blessing to me. So definitely try to find counseling.
Stress can be a nasty trigger for mental illnesses, but knowing how to handle stress can help make things a little easier. Again, my tips won’t help everyone, but I do want to share them for anyone who might want them. Until next time, readers. And know you aren’t alone.