10 Habits That Help Overcome Sudden Sadness and Anxiety
“The largest part of what we call ‘personality’ is determined by how we've opted to defend ourselves against anxiety and sadness.” ~Alain de Botton
I'd love to say that I am one of the lucky people that do not experience anxiety attacks and sudden waves of sadness, but unfortunately that is not the case. I have learned over the last number of years that this is not an uncommon condition.
A couple years ago, the waves of stress were crashing into my life and body so fast, I felt so overwhelmed I decided to record myself in one of these so called anxiety attacks. A couple hours later, I watched it and was terrified, I did not recognize the girl in the video. That day I decided sadness was not going to overcome, and anxiety was not going to take part of me forever. However, as you might have guessed, sadness knocks on the door again. So what it is it?
Truth is, sadness is a part of our lives, it will always be near by waiting to show up at the door again, and we are inevitably going to feel it one day. We are going to lose a loved one or a pet, we will get dumped, we will not meet expectations in sports, school, work, etc. and the feelings of anxiety will creep in.
This is not about shutting those feelings in a box and locking them forever that is if I do say so myself, not possible. What we can do is work with it, we can invite those feelings to sit with us and we can work in many ways to invite them out as fast as possible. Below I have listed 10 that I have gathered along these years. In no specific order.
Clean my space/room
Yes, you might think this is probably not what one wants to do when it feels like tomorrow might not come, but it helps more than you might think. Clear space, clear mind. Unfold and refold your clothes, get rid of the old ones. Go through your files, all the miscellaneous objects. Vacuum, and make your bed. It is far better than it seems in your head.
Make a list of things I'm grateful for
I like to describe this list with no specific order, but this one by far is my number one. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen, and the list is endless. If you have a roof under your head, if you have something to eat, somewhere to sleep, if you have all your limbs, if you can see, if you can hear, if you can feel something. If today was sunny, I am grateful. The list gets longer and longer as you practice this step. I am grateful today to be able to share this with you.
Eat something good
This one is a messy one, it can be easy to indulge in a tub of ice cream, chips, or chocolate, but that often does not make us feel great after, or it might. I usually sit and think of something I really really want and wait 20 min and think again, if it's still on my mind I immediately go for it. If it's something homemade, I make sure to take my time to enjoy making it, and eating it. I will usually go for pizza, not going to lie.
Huge one, exercise has way more benefits than we can ever imagine. For me,mental health is number one in the list of benefits that exercise provides. I'm no expert but I'm positive the science behind it is massive and I can name more than 50 ways to practice this step. Whether it is a HIIT workout, a free class at the recreation and wellness center, a bike ride, a run. A lot of the times we use money as an excuse to not workout, not only is there plenty of ways to do it without spending a dime but also many of the local gyms offer "first try free" classes, well this is a good time to take up on the offer.
Go for a walk outdoors
While I understand this might not be enjoyable or doable in a lot of places, if you live on the island that is not the case. Connecting with the outdoors is often a way for you to acknowledge scenery and clear your mind, ground yourself in the universe. In my belief, removing yourself from a closed environment opens the gates of stress and releases all the toxic and negative energy, while of course, taking advantage of what earth has so kindly gifted us.
Listen to a Ted Talk or podcast
To attend a Ted Talk you need a $10,000 membership (INSANE!) but to listen to one it's completely free. Ted Talks have brought me back to my better self when I needed it the most. They range from 3 minutes to 20 or even 40 minutes. Podcasts are similar too, just sit down and find one you are intrigued by, there is a lot of material to choose from. This one here is one of my favourite ones: https://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership
Talk on the phone with a rriend/family member
Talking with anyone about how you feel will likely release a lot of emotions, but even talking with someone just about anything will open your mind to different ideas. Sometimes it's nice to talk to a family member, but friends works just fine.
Meditation brings an incredible amount of benefits to our life, mentally, physically and emotionally. Meditation and yoga go hand in hand, you could start by a yoga class and find meditation after or the other way around. The importance of these two put together is mindfulness. Taking a few minutes or an hour in those moments of immense blur to be aware of yourself and your emotions goes a long way, yoga and meditation allow you to do that. I would recommend anyone who is new to this subject to read "Walk like a Buddha" by Lodro Rinzler.
As for yoga, the practices vary but all achieve the same goal. Hatha, Bikram, Vinyasa flow, yin, all strive for the same idea of mindfulness and awareness through the movement and stretch of your body. Both have been a big part of my life and I don't think twice before recommending following this practices to anyone I come across with.
Write in a journal
Writing in a journal is an alternative to talking to someone. Sometimes it becomes almost impossible to find the right person, or any person, or the courage to speak. Writing is different, there is no pressure to say the wrong thing and there is no answer, there is only you.
I often read back at old journals and the waves of change in my emotions. It seems significant in the moment, the sadness is present and it's real, but looking back at it is different. It helps you understand further down the road, it helps you remember that you have, in fact, been through this and you will most definitely get through it again.
Try one new thing
One of the mantras I always try to live by is to always step outside my comfort zone. We always hear it, life starts at the end of your comfort zone, but when we are feeling low this doesn't seem very appealing. This is when we need it the most, to take a deep breath and sign ourselves up for a pottery class. To stop for a minute and think 'what is something I haven't tried but am always intrigued by?'
I'm not trying to get anyone to go bungee jumping or skydiving, although go for it if you want. Maybe it's a new book, or you try baking. Whatever it is that you choose keep in mind that you are doing this for yourself, any step in any direction is a step closer to who you are becoming.
After all, we are never going to control the things that happen to us but we are able to control the way we react to them and how long we allow those feelings to stay with us. I used to think a bad morning inevitably meant a bad day, today I feel like it doesn't have to be that way. You decide who you want to be, just remember that good enough is the new perfect.