In this post, I talk about some of my personal struggles with anxiety and depression and ways to relieve them. I haven't talked about these things a lot and it's new to me. So I hope that you can be nice and respect this not-so-easy choice to share this with you.
A lot of women (and men too) struggle with anxiety and depression. I'm one of them… In today's post, I want to give you my top three tools that I use, to reduce my anxiety.
I've been anxious and/or depressed for at least a decade of my life. Things haven't been continuously bad, some times have been better and some have been worse. But throughout my 20s and early 30s, I've experienced a lot of mental and emotional ups and downs.
Things got really bad in my late 20s. I had been in a tough relationship for years, overtrained and binge eaten for 5-7 years, and was completely unhappy with my career. At one point, it all accumulated…
One day, I found myself crying on a floor, totally helpless, and understanding that there's no way I can continue to live like this. I made the decision to seek for help. I went to see a therapist and was on anti depression medication for about a year.
I had no tools to deal with myself when tough moments came up. I had not read a single self help book or listened to any podcasts. I had no connection to my spiritual self. I thought spirituality is a big woo-woo and I don't have time for this.
After a while on medication and therapy, things got better. I also removed almost all these stressors that had caused me to feel bad, from my life.
But about 2 years ago, new stressors arrived…
Luckily, this time around I'm smarter and have better tools to deal with this stuff.
During the past 1.5-2 years, there's been plenty of things that have made me feel anxious. They're mostly related to changes in my physical body, gaining weight and losing my hardy earned fitness level, and at some times, feeling like losing my identity.
There's also been some financial issues that have caused me feel less than okay. I've questioned my work, if the message that I'm trying to share, is necessary and needed. If someone cares or not…?
To put it short, there's been plenty of self-worth struggles. And here's what I've come to understand: My struggles with self-worth and self-esteem are actually on the background of all the issues that I had in the past or have now. For example:
- feelings of unworthiness
- trusting others more than I trust myself
- not knowing what I really want
- thinking that fixing my body will fix everything else too
- thinking that I need to get more, be more, achieve more, impress more people, prove myself more.
Maybe you can relate? Women who are overachievers and perfectionists, also try to overachieve in fitness and keep their diets perfect…
Whatever the reasons behind your anxiety are, you can feel better. You deserve to feel better. I didn't have any tools in my 20s, but I have them now and I'd like to share them with you.
I'd like to give you some tools that I've found, work really quickly when you start to feel anxious. You can definitely do these things also if you're truly and deeply depressed, although in that case, I do recommend that you seek out for professional help.
Three Ways To Reduce Anxiety Fast:
I learned this technique from David Hanscom's book Back in Control.
I picked up this book to learn more about chronic back pain that I've been suffering from. However, this book was so much more than just a book about pain. It digs deep into psychology and teaches you the ways you can change your brain. That way, you will learn how to deal with automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) and find our ways out from pain.
Expressive writing means that you put on paper everything that comes to your mind. Bad and good. Things that you're ashamed of, things that you're proud of. Your deepest sources of anger and greatest joys. Everything.
Then, as soon as you finish, you destroy the paper. You can tear it into pieces, burn or throw in the paper shredder.
Hanscom recommends to write twice a day, morning and evening, for about 10-30 minutes each time. Yes it's time consuming, but it's been worth the time. I can tell you that it has been very helpful for me both in relieving back pain and reducing anxiety.
It's easy to write when you know that no one will never see it. Including you — it's not like a diary where you can go back and read your past entries and go through the same emotions that you had once you were writing. You just toss the paper so that it's gone forever.
Try it: Whenever you feel anxious, take out a piece of paper, write everything that crosses your mind on it, never worry about the correct grammar or perfect style, and just let everything flow. Trash it and repeat again in the evening and the next morning.
I'm really new to this, but I love it already!
You may have seen people doing “weird” rituals with a smoking piece of sage… I was sceptical for a long time and didn't try it. But recently, a friend told me more about it. She's been using it for years, to clense her house, her surroundings, and herself, from bad energy.
In the past, I would have filed it under The Ultimate Woo-Woo but guess what, I'm doing it now and really enjoying the calming effects of it.
Go to your nearest spiritual shop and get yourself some sage. There are plenty of videos on YouTube on how to smudge, so you can look them up and simply try.
I like to clense myself in the morning, but it's also great any time when you feel like you are super stressed out or anxious.
Deep Breathing and Visualizing
You may have seen my morning deep breathing videos that I sometimes post in my Instagram stories. I like to lit a few candles (I lovvve the sugar maple scented candles!) and just sit down and take a few deep breaths. About 5-10 minutes is my usual go-to.
I have a client whose job can get stressful at times. When she comes to meet me, she's already super stressed out. I always tell her that once we're done with our training, se needs to go home, take 5 minutes and breath deeply.
Interestingly, the same client can tell instantly if I haven't done my deep breathing exercises in the morning! She has asked me, Did you meditate today? Haha!
Lately, I've been adding some visualization to my meditation. For example, when I was really struggling with my back pain, there was no way I could do any barbell squats. (Although my back is much, much better now I still can't do them). I was in a lot of pain and wondering if I can ever do them again, what if my pain will never go away… Here's what I did, to take myself to a better place:
I visualized myself doing squats with a heavy barbell on my shoulders, and not feeling any pain. I visualize myself being really strong. I think through all the details, from approaching the bar to squatting and putting the bar back. I'm visualizing who else is there. People I can share my joy with. I feel strong and confident. I have no pain.
If you've never had serious pain, this may sound odd to you, but believe me, once you're in bad pain, it can consume your life.
Deep breathing and visualizing are great tools that help you to bring yourself out from this funk that we can get into if we're in pain, whether it's physical, mental or emotional. If you feel lost, hurt and want to hide, you can visualize yourself having super high energy, laughing, feeling great about yourself. Think where you are, what you do, who's around you, etc. Picture all of it.
If you're feeling anxious or even depressed once in a while, you need to do something about it. Don't wait, it won't magically go away just like that. Self care is super important. You can do so much to reduce your anxiety yourself, naturally. Give these tips a try and let me know how they worked!