As promised on my last Instagram post (@hollylovesplanning if you don't know it yet) I go into details for all my coping mechanisms to deal with my anxiety and depression. It still is easier for me to talk about my anxiety than my depression because I feel like, anxiety is a litte more socially acceptable than depression. Am I the only one who feels like that?
I distinct between two categories when it comes to coping mechanisms, “DISTRACTING” and “PROCESSING”. The distracting mechanism help me while I’m actually having an anxiety attack or feel depressed and the processing mechanism I use when I’m feeling better. Because my processing mechanisms have a lot to do with writing down things, it can be hard and get quite dark if I’d use them while feeling bad and it could be even more triggering then. When I’m feeling good though, I sometimes brush everything away and then I have to push myself to sit down and do it because for me, it works.
1. Going for a walk
This is a hard one for me. If I feel anxious, going out into the world can be the hardest thing ever! So instead of just going out and see where it takes me, I take a goal. Sometimes the goal just is to get some milk or toilet paper and instead of going to the supermarket that is literally just around the corner, I go to a little more fancy one that’s a little more further away and I walk there with my headphones in my ear, listening to a podcast where people talk OVER my own thoughts.
2. Read a book / listening to an audiobook
Escaping into a different world than my reality helps my so much! This is why I’m such a book nerd. So if I feel anxious but still kind of calm enough that I can actually sit down, I’ll read a book. Other times I need someone who talks to me, so I opt out for an audiobook. I still wait for the invention where I can read the book but just change to the audio version if I feel more like it. Another thing with reading books is, I sometimes feel guilty that I didn’t “do” anything while sitting down to read because I usually read for a few hours and not “only” for 30 minutes so having an audiobook where I can do some household chores, set up my Bullet Journal or go grocery shopping is great.
3. Watch Youtube / Netflix
This is my most go to coping mechanism I do to distract myself from feeling anxious. I love watching vlogs or baking videos on Youtube or watching “Friends” for the tenth gazillion’s time on Netflix. Watching someone elses life, kindly edited so I only see the good things, is my favourite thing to do while feeling bad.
4. Pampering myself
Doing something just for me, isn’t only distracting but good for my soul. It’s nice to feel good about my nails, skin or my hairless legs. Taking a bubble bath at any time of the day is soothing for body, mind and soul and I sometimes need restrict myself (especially in winter when I’m freezing) to not take two bubble baths a day.
5. Colour in some Mandalas
Doing repetitive and meditative things is great for me to calm my thoughts. I usually combine this with another distracting method like listening to an audiobook or watching something. Listening to your favourite playlist on my music subscription service also is a great thing for me and sometimes I catch myself dancing in my chair after a while and then I feel like I succeeded!
Having a breathing routine is the best thing ever. I unclench my teeth, I detache my tounge from the top of my mouth and release my shoulders from my ears (soo tense). I then start breathing in for 4 counts, stop for one count, breath out for 4 counts, stop for one count and only thinking about my breathing. In the beginning I always feel so out of breath and that it won’t work but I stick to it and after about 3-5min, my heart stops racing, my mind feels calmer and my body less tense. The great thing about breathing, I can do it everywhere, if I’m at work, in the bus or just at home on my sofa. If I’m at home, I try to close my eyes for it and if I’m at work I sometimes just go to the restroom for a second.
7. Cleaning my house
I feel so restless when I’m anxious and I’m at home. Leaving my house often isn’t an option for me, especially if I’m depressed. So cleaning and sorting out my home, is such a satisfying thing to do for me. First, I do something and I actually see what I’ve done. Having a clean home where everything is at its place, clears my head like nothing else. When I grow up, my dream job would be organizing homes. I’m 33 year old btw.
8. Listening to 90’s music
I was born in the 80’s grew up in the 90’s so listening to this music just puts me in a good mood. Even though it usually isn’t the music that gets my heart going (this always will be Roots Reggae all the way) but it’s so fun to sing and whip my hair to it, that it’s great for distraction. Getting my heart going, sometimes isn’t the thing I need, what I need are songs I can sing to as loud as I want to and having having headphones on, even if I’m at home helps to not hear myself while doing this.
And I mean Bullet Journaling with this. Journaling my thoughts can be quite hard when I’m depressed and anxious because I’m just stuck in my effing thought spiral that doesn’t have an end (as John Green said, “it’s just turtles all the way down”). Because Bullet Journaling is a quite structured and still free and open way to plan my life, this is the greatest help I’ve ever had. Doodling is perfect to calm my thoughts and having a place to do this and do something productive, is the best thing in the world. If you don’t have a Bullet Journal, look into it. It migh help you too.
10. Exercise / Yoga
I just reenrolled in dancing class and I LOVE it. Oh those endorphins are the best thing. I have such a bubbly, energy loaded and positive dancing teacher and I feel so pumped and happy when I leave, even though I feel like I just sweated out every single drop of water I had in my body. Doing Yoga is great to train my breathing and stretch out my tense muscles and it clams everything down.
1. Write a card to a friend
Writing a card to a friend is great because I don’t feel as lonely anymore and writing positive things to a positive person in my life, sets my mind to a more positive approach. If I feel weird sending a card out of nowhere, I just send Birthday Cards and everyone is happy if they find something else in their letterbox than invoices, right?
2. Writing down how I feel and why I feel it
Writing down how I feel and why I feel it helps me to find behaviour patterns that might not be the best for me. If I put myself constantly in situations where I come out of anxious or depressed, I should see how I can change the approach to these situations or how I can get out of those.
3. Track my mood / anxiety
I have my hormone diaries in my Bullet Journal where I not only track my mood but also other aspects in my life, on one page. It helps me to know that some of the days I feel anxious actually go hand in hand with my hormone cycle and on those days, I try to “ignore” my anxiety because it’s not anxiety out of a situation that happened but just because I’m at a certain point in my cycle.
4. Tell myself how fast I’ve come or write it down
It’s so easy to forget how far I’ve come in my mental health journey because it feels like a never ending story. So often I feel that nothing I do ever changes my life, that I always will feel like this and nothing will ever help me. This. Is. Not. True. And I need to remind myself constantly. Standing in front of a mirror (awkward) and telling myself things that are changed already, is a huge thing to process my success.
5. Manifest my wishes / goals
Wanting something is the scariest thing for me. For years and years I’ve worked on myself without really setting goals or wish for something because I was scared s***less that I’d disappoint myself. So setting goals and actually want something from life and writing everything down, was a scary thing to do and I’ve only started this year with it. To be totally honest, at first I’ve got scared again and I’ve even had a really bad depressive phase because of it but thanks to my therapist, I worked through it and now I’m still kind of scared but I’m working hard towards my goals and it feels so so good.
6. Write a letter where I vent but never send it
Negative feelings happen, even toward a person I love. If I don’t want to talk to this person about it because either of being scared of a lash back or just because I don’t feel like it’s worth the drama (and being honest, drama is never worth it), I write a letter to this person where I vent about everything that makes me angry, disappointed and annoyed but I never send the letter. Just writing it down helps me to get everything out the system because negativity has to get out but it doesn’t neccesarily need to get out into the world.
7. Make Post-It notes with things I’ve achieved
Feeling good about myself and the things I’ve achieved is not something that comes naturally to me. Writing everything down on little notes and having them at places where I see them, really helps me to not only have them in my heart but also in my freaking mind. I have to give worth to myself, it’s no one’s job to do this for me, except me.
This post is already getting really long but just to end it:
This is just what I do to try to keep my mind in place. Your way might be different, that doesn’t mean it’s worse. If you struggle, please reach out for help, it’s unfair to expect from yourself to deal with everything on your own.
If you have any questions, feel free to write me, I'm more than happy to help as much as I can.