A few days ago, I reluctantly shared on Instagram that I’ve been dealing with anxiety/depression – and the response I received was overwhelming. I was very quickly reminded that our struggles don’t have to isolate us; in fact, they can bring us together if we commit to being fearlessly authentic. And I’m so thankful for so many people who did that by sharing their stories with me, and offering love and support.
*Before, I go on, I need to say that this is not medical advice and shouldn’t replace the recommendations of a therapist/physician. If you’re facing depression or mental illness, contact your doctor and take the necessary steps to get help.
After seeing how many people wake up every day and battle these feelings, my reluctancy and fear of talking about it quickly turned into the desire to continue talking about it in hopes that it will make a difference in someone’s life. So, I started thinking about the things that make my day a little better. While I can never determine exactly how I’ll feel every day, I can definitely take steps to make each day a little better, and that’s a responsibility I think we all have. We can’t always control our illnesses or conflicts, but there’s always at least one choice that’s ours to make.
These are the 5 things I try to do each day because they help. They seem really simple, but they are things that I’m likely to skip when I’m not feeling good, and that starts a vicious cycle for me. I hope at least one of these will make a small or large impact in your life.
Spend Time in the Word
Starting my day with Jesus is the most impactful decision I make every day. It takes me a little while to ease into the morning and I like being able to focus when I fully dive into whatever Bible Study I’m doing, so I usually begin my day with just a short devotional and verse from the Bible App. There’s no right way to do it, but focusing your eyes on Jesus before anything else will make a huge difference in your day.
Sometimes, I’m feeling lazy. Other times, I’m feeling bad about myself. Either way, if I skip breakfast, I have a much harder time concentrating and finding the energy to do anything, which leads to a lot of laying around. That’s another way of saying “spending time in my own head with my thoughts”. If you’ve ever battled depression/anxiety, you know that your own head is the last place you should probably be. For me, eating breakfast is like pushing the “start” button on my day. There are no breakfast rules here – grab a banana or make yourself 5 layer stuffed french toast.
Stay Away from Social Media
I’m such a huge believer in the positive and negative affects that social media has on our world. While it’s great to see long distance family members and friends doing well, someone’s engagement or pregnancy announcement, successful new business, or 10th trip to Europe can send me into a downward spiral. If that starts in the morning, it’s really difficult to change the direction of my day. I used to wake up and check social media before my feet hit the floor. Now, I make sure I’ve done everything else on this list and I’m a good place before I open up the highlight reel to see everyone else in a good place too. And if I’m not having a good day, I typically avoid social media for most, if not all, of the day, because I know that it will probably only make me feel worse.
Get Ready for the Day
Some of you have to get up and put on your brave face for work – but for those who don’t have to keep a schedule, it can be really easy to excuse away the same sweats and unwashed top knot for days – don’t. I’m not saying you need to get ready for prom, but just showering, putting on mascara, or changing into your fav athleisure (meaning you could wear it to Costco without looking like you wandered in off the streets) will make a difference. Mental health is much more important than outward appearance, but when I spend a few minutes doing some self care and I’m not embarrassed to look in the mirror, I feel a lot better inside too.
Talk to Someone
This is a really important piece of the puzzle for me. Some days, I wake up, and my thoughts are incredibly overwhelming. I know that I can’t keep them inside my head or it will be a really tough day. So I have a mental list of close friends that won’t mind hearing my crazy and can even offer some helpful insights and support. I’m not one for talking on the phone, so voice messaging works perfect for me. I usually record a message on my phone and send it off – even if that person doesn’t listen right away or respond, knowing that I didn’t have to hide my feelings away changes everything. I used to be really ashamed of feeling so sad, angry, broken, and scared, which made me feel even more of those things. Having a short, trusted list of people who love you and will continue to love you even after they’ve heard what’s going on in your head will make a big difference. For some people, this can also come in the form of a church group, a support group, or a therapist.
This isn’t science, and some days these tips help more than others, but for me, having a routine to follow is another key aspect in having a good day. So I get up, do these things, and focus on what I can control. I hope you know that you’re not alone in anything you’re facing, and there’s always hope and help. Each day presents new struggles, but it also provides new opportunities for joy. I try to find those opportunities; I hope you do too.