10 Things I Do When I'm Not Feeling It


I think, like most people, I've always had a touch of anxiety and depression. The human condition, I suppose. When I was younger I really, really, struggled with how to control it alone and often felt sick to my stomach and had a lot of trouble sleeping (I complained so often about my stomach they tested me for an ulcer... in kindergarten). Since then, though, I've gotten much better with a variety of strategies, since I "don't have time to go to therapy" and "don't want to take medication" (I think both of those things are really great tools and that everyone sort of have their own "recipe" for feeling better when it comes to mental health). 

I listen to the podcast "The Armchair Expert" and Dax Sheppard constantly references a list of ten things that he turns to when he's not feeling his best, so I thought I would do the same and share. It's nice to have a quick list of go-to actions when the moment strikes, and it also helps me feel in control over my feelings, day, and life.

1. Plan something fun for the near future: People always ask me why I'm so busy, and there are two answers. One is that I really just like experiencing things outside of the house and the other is that when I'm feeling down or a little pessimistic I'll sit down with my calendar and schedule something fun to look forward to. It's an instant mood booster.

2. Work out: I do some sort of physical activity for at least thirty minutes 5-7 days a week. Sometimes it's intense like a run full of hills and sprints, other times just a walk and maybe some ab work. Working out makes me feel so much better and I always can tell if I miss more than a day or two by the bad mood that results.

3. I get productive: Feeling lazy or like I'm not accomplishing anything bothers my greatly. I'll tackle a few things on my to-do list, get some grading done, or organize a cupboard. My need for productivity is probably a problem sometimes, since I have trouble relaxing, but I think it helps more than it hurts.

4. See a friend: I am fairly social; I like to have plans with friends two or three times a month during the school year, on top of getting to work every day with one of my best friends (and lots of other colleagues that are now friends). The other day I was extremely cranky when I woke up (that was more due to being tired than anything else), but after a breakfast date when an old friend I felt a million times better. 

5.  Go outside: A walk around the neighborhood, taking Sawyer over to the duck pond, laying in the backyard, a hike, time at the beach, hanging outside while Sawyer draws with sidewalk chalk.... being outside cheers me up. I think it's a combination of the sun/fresh air, but also being removed from whatever is possibly bugging me inside (feel overwhelmed, an argument with my husband, etc...). 

6. Reading: This is probably obvious, but allowing yourself to temporarily be transported into someone else's life is a nice distraction. 

7. Journal Writing: I have kept a journal since I was seven-years-old and it's a great place for just venting or worrying as much as I want. 

8. Caffeinate: I am a very tired person and have been since I had my kid. It's basically just my permanent state of being, and while I have adapted on one level, there are days where I'm just more exhausted than normal and it makes me more anxious. At this point I indulge in Starbucks or whatever else I can find to give me a boost. 

9. Create: This may be cross-stitching, working on my yearly family photo book, blogging, doing a house project, or helping Sawyer do new decorations for his door. Baking and cooking is also a surefire mood booster.

10. Play with Sawyer: Although he does factor significantly into my exhaustion and sometimes frustration, he is hilarious and fun. Everything is exciting to him and he's content to just run around making up games. 

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