I Let Light in and I Feel Much Better

I live with anxiety and depression all year long; however, it hits the hardest December through February. It could be the cold climate or the fact that the sun goes down by 5:30.  Either way it makes basic tasks near impossible to complete.  After a few near nervous breakdowns yesterday, I sat and thought about the triggers.  For me; cold, darkness, and clutter top my list.  Since I am the only one in my household with this condition.  It is important to communicate what I am feeling.  It is not always well received initially but is still necessary.

When you tell your family that clutter contributes to your depression it could sound like an attack.  Choose your words carefully so your loved ones are less likely to go on the defense and more likely to consider small ways they can help.  Sharing my feelings and experiences was my first step.  Even if you live alone, telling your loved ones can help.  It may help them understand why you may seem distant.

I discovered that I was causing part of the problem.  I had room darkening window treatments in my bedroom.  I took them down and even though the sun was not shining, the change let in light.  I felt my mood changing almost immediately.  Now all my window treatments are white or semi sheer.  It’s only day two but I can say getting out of the bed was not daunting as it was the day before.  I opened my eyes and smiled at my surroundings this morning.

I don’t have control over the weather.  However, making my home as comfortable as possible equips me to go out and face it more positively.  Even if the only thing getting me through the day is knowing my comfort zone is waiting for me to return, that is a start.  I am taking it one day at a time.  Today I feel great.

Cooking is Therapy

This morning was a tough one. I was not in control when I woke up. Anxiety was ruling me. I don’t know why. I usually can identify my triggers but not today. I woke up anxious. The thought of getting out of bed and leaving the house had me panicked. Fighting against it had me exhausted.

After maybe a half hour of trying to reason with myself, I concluded I just wasn’t ready. Fortunately today was not a day when I had to force it. I had some leeway.  I took it. I went back to sleep.  I just took a brief nap, less than an hour.  Then I started my day.  It would be a day of routine errands, nothing too heavy.

While I was out I felt that cloud of anxiety creeping over me again.  First at the bank.  Then at a few more of my stops.  When I arrived back home I was discombobulated.  I found myself walking from room to room for no reason.  I eventually sat myself down.  I went over my to do list and saw that I was done.  I sat and ate quietly.  Then I went into the kitchen for therapy.

I made baked glazed donuts for the first time.  The task took me roughly ninety minutes.  It was a quiet and calming ninety minutes.  As I prepped, measured, and mixed I felt at peace.  This is all I need; quiet and my kitchen.

How do you cope with anxiety?

Grateful for My Village

Few things are more devastating than plans gone awry but life happens.  The good news is if you are wise enough to learn from the challenges you face, you will come out a better person.  I try to use these experiences to positively add to my character and to be of assistance to others that are facing similar situations.  Doing this allows me to stray from feelings of anger and bitterness and instead express gratitude.  I know when you are pained or disappointed the last thing you’re thinking is to be grateful.  However, when the dust settles you will be able to identify the positives.  Here are some of my tips for overcoming.

Self reflection is key.  I try to take a step back and examine the role I played.  I also look for missteps like signs I may have ignored.  Taking responsibility for how my actions may have contributed to an outcome will assist me in not repeating the same mistake.  At the same time I want to avoid beating myself up.  This serves no real purpose.

Next I allow myself to be in my feelings.  Anger is okay.  Sadness is okay.  I just remind myself not to live in these feelings.  Acknowledge them, experience them, and then move on.  Never allow yourself to stay down for too long.

Now this is where my village comes in.  Talking to people you trust helps immensely.  I am grateful to have a small circle of people who I can depend on.  They always know what to say and what to offer.  For me it’s usually just a listening ear or another perspective.  The people who love you generally will not steer you wrong, at least not intentionally.

As my life changes in ways I could not have expected, I can not help but smile and feel joy when I think about the people that love me.  It is a beautiful thing to love and to feel love.  That love allows me to keep my smile throughout all things.

Life Hack: Lists

Making lists has made some of my most stressful days more manageable.  This morning at 3am I was already dreading the day ahead.  I was repeatedly running through the days to do list and growing more tired every time I thought about it.  Then I remembered how listing helps.

A few weeks ago I was preparing for back to back trips and feeling overwhelmed.  Then I wrote out everything I needed to accomplish before traveling.  For some reason writing it down felt like a transfer of the burden.  The responsibilities were very much still mine but the weight felt of my shoulders.  I no longer felt the need to constantly recall the list in my head.  I took it one step at a time.  I crossed things of the list as I accomplished them.  With the list, my overwhelming day was no longer insurmountable.

Today is going to be a list day.  There is power in writing.  Whether you’re writing a list, a goal, or a journal entry; there is power in pen and paper.  The next time you set out to accomplish something, write it down.  Watch how much more manageable it will be.

How Journaling Saved My Life

Everyone needs an outlet. Sometimes life can get the best of you. The good news is you always have a choice in how you respond. Admitedly I haven’t always chosen the right response.  Fortunately I’m able to recognize my missteps and learn from them.  Self awareness is imperative in growth.  It is my hope that sharing my mistakes will prevent others from making those very same mistakes.

One of the most beneficial lessons I’ve learned is also the simplest.  Slow down.  That’s it.  For me, slowing down simply means not making major decisions when emotions are running high.  I have made the worst decisions when I was angry, sad, overly concerned, or depressed.  Taking a moment to live in the emotion helps.  I use the time to explore how I got to that emotion and if I should even be there.

Then there are my dark days.  They are not ominous as they sound.  My dark days are just an extension of me slowing down.  For me a dark day is a day of quiet.  It’s a day focused solely on meditation and prayer.  Dark days work miracles for my anxiety.  The thing is, with scheduling, dark days can sometimes be impossible.  That’s where journaling comes in.

Journaling is therapeutic.  It provides much needed release. It creates a record that can help in reaching self-awareness.  It can be done nearly anywhere.  It doesn’t have to take much time and best of all it doesn’t cost a thing.

The release I get from writing out my thoughts is priceless.  I started writing poetry at a young age.  Unfortunately I didn’t save my work.  I wrote to heal and would discard it afterwards.  I wish I hadn’t.  There’s so much value in written word.  I’m making a commitment to myself to stick to my writing and to save it.  I know in my case it will ultimately lead me to find peace during the darkest storms.  Perhaps journaling can do the same for you.

Patience is Golden

I have seen “never” evolve into “now” a time or two. It is an unexpected beauty to behold. What it has taught me is to stay in the game. Don’t give up.  What you need is almost always on the other side of giving up.  Just don’t give in to that feeling of defeat.  I am so grateful to have witnessed my patience pay off.

It is a process I have to apply to every aspect of my life on an ongoing basis.  Patience is needed for every goal set.  If you have the strength to get past those thoughts of “never” your reward will be worth all the effort.  We’ve all been there; stuck in a state of doubt.  Maybe you are thinking you will never reach your career goals or relationship goals.  If you believe you won’t, that belief will become your truth.

Instead of living in doubt, live in determination.  Exercise patience.  Couple it with perseverance and watch the blessings flow.  I make it a point to show gratitude even when things aren’t quite how I’d prefer them to be.  The result is overwhelmingly positive.  Today may not be my day but I remain grateful and patient.  Gratitude and patience bring me calm and peace.  When I shift my focus away from what’s not going well, the “never’s,” it allows me to change my perspective.  It allows me to see how things fall into place.

Just like that a “never” can turn into a “now” when it’s least expected.

Turbulence is not a Deterrent

On a recent flight, I had time to really think about my life experiences. I thought about how specific events have molded me. It was a short flight but long enough for me to dig deep in thought.

It was an evening flight on a commercial airline that was half full.  I felt as if I was alone on the flight.  It was just me, the night sky, clouds, and occasional flickers of light below.  It was quiet outside of the hum of the plane.  I was tired and happy to have the much needed moment of peace.

It wasn’t long before that peace was interrupted by startling turbulence.  It was the kind of turbulence that has you bracing yourself.  At any moment I expected to hear an announcement saying the worse or see the oxygen masks fall from above.  That didn’t happen.

Almost as quickly as it began, it ended.  For me it felt like a much needed reminder of how quickly things can change.  It can feel like the end of the world.  Then in an instance, you’re in paradise.  That’s where I am.  So many experiences felt meant to break me.  Yet here I am, not broken, not deterred, and very much looking forward to tomorrow.

That moment on the flight was a reminder of all the things I’ve been able to overcome by faith.  It was a reminder to smile through the turbulence.  Paradise is just ahead.