The winter, or maybe more so the disproportional darkness that comes along with it, has a sombre effect on my mood. Struggling with depression and anxiety since I can remember, winter and the months leading up to it are every year a challenging time. So far so, that I try to prepare myself… Not only do I hit a minor crisis point when in April the pink cherry blossoms fade away – because for me that is the first sign of the “Vergänglichkeit” of the seasons – I also start in September to deny the existence of winter and then when the cold and darkness finally catches up with me, I try to hide in my bed in an attempt to convince my body that it’s made for hibernation.
Sometimes I see it coming otherwise it is more of a trap where I notice the hole just in the moment that my face hits the ground. As a child I had a peculiar coping strategy when I would trip and fall: instead of quickly getting up I would just lie there, closing my eyes and hope that nobody would notice. How little did I know then that this would be my strategy of choice also in the grown up world. Yes, I am a hider and avoider, which is the worst that you can do when you are acquainted with anxiety and depression – cause they see you lying there, on the ground, with your eyes closed, and if I can make an assumption I would say they find it rather amusing.
So I would like to share with you some tips and tricks how I try to tackle my inner hider and avoider and ergo how I fight depression and anxiety when they start to roll in. Just as a word of caution, those tips will most likely not work when you are already in a full blown depression or deep in the chaos of anxiety, but for me it turned out to be of some effectiveness when I start to feel it kicking in – which does not mean it is easy – cause it is not.
Be kind to yourself. Have you ever told yourself that you deserve to be happy? That you are smart and beautiful? Compassionate, loving and loveable? What sounds like a bit of a hippy-esque charade, is actually the most important thing you can do. In my experience a lot of people that suffer from anxiety and/ or depression have a hard time embracing self-love. If you feel low, don’t get upset with yourself, rather tell yourself that it is ok, it is ok to feel sad,anxious or simply shitty and that it will get better. I sometimes invasion my younger self and try to send it my love and compassion.
Drink and eat regularly. What? Yes! This is very important, drink a lot of water and spoil yourself with good healthy food. My anxiety kicks proper off when I have not eaten enough, or eaten very poorly. If you keep hydrated and well fed you will be more energised in dealing with all those mental health challenges.
Move your bum. Ok, let’s keep it real, I am not the most sportive person and I rather dislike the gym and with rather dislike I mean I freaking loathe it. But moving around is crucial – especially in winter. I hide for days in my bed and then I wonder why my anxiety spiked and I feel low in energy: cause I hid in bed and did not move. So for you lazy ones like me: do what ,ages you happy, if you really hate any kind of sport then think of something that could give you some sort of movement. I for example dance in the morning, I put some music on and dance in fro t of the mirror while putting on my make-up – yes that is the reason why I take ages in the morning. I also try to walk when I can, I work a lot and spend the rest of the time commuting, so when I have a bit time at my hands I definitely make an effort to walk. There is something you can do to move around!
Tell someone. I am horrible with this – the hider and avoider type. I don’t like to tell people what I am going through, which makes it ten times worse, because sooner or later I feel frustrated and isolated. Look around, I am certain there is someone in your reach that will understand, it might be scary at first but actually so so many of us struggle with mental health problems, but we never talk about it. So a bit of bravery petit(e) prince.
Last but not least do something that you like. For me writing and music are things that definitely helped me more than once to deal with an onset of anxiety. Actually having an output for your feelings is so beneficial for your health. If you were broad up in a similar fashion as I have, you might find it odd to let your feelings out, but trust me, if you are able to transform your negative feelings into something productive – your body, mind and soul will thank you.
Those are very broad tips but give it a go – it won’t harm you after all. As I said it is not easy and it doesn’t mean just because you jump around in front of your mirror and drink water that miraculously all anxiety and depression vanishes into thin air. It won’t. But maybe it will help you to navigate it. For me it is about surviving… Surviving those feelings with all means necessary – sometimes they disappear for a day or even a week, lately even months, but I know that they will return eventually.
If your anxiety or depression gets to a point were you feel it is impossible to deal with, please seek help. There is help out there from good ones to not so good ones, test and error but there is help out there! And finally you are not alone. It feels like you are but you are not and I am not. We are surrounded by people that go through pretty much the same shit. If you go through similar I send you my love and compassion. The morning will come and be freaking proud of yourself for dealing with it.