I have people who struggle with anxiety and/or depression in my office daily. These struggles seem to be common occurrences in people’s lives, and admittedly in my own life.
When we get so deeply lost in our anxiety and depression, our brains begin to play tricks on us. I think the simplest trick is that we seem to forget how to function. We begin feeling so low. so out of sorts that we stop doing the things our body needs us to do just to meet our basic needs.
Often, during the first couple of sessions with clients we work just to get their bodies back to a healthy place. I am not talking about weight or anything like that … no, just getting their bodies the basic essentials that any human needs.
Let’s break it down.
Your body needs food at least three times a day. You can break it into six meals if you want, but it needs to be at least three. I know that when you are feeling low or anxious, you may lose your appetite. Eat anyway. Set an alarm on your phone for three times a day, and when it goes off eat something. Even if it is just a little, grab a handful of peanuts if you have to but eat something. Eating is part of retraining your brain that you need food and that you like it.
Your body needs sleep, REM sleep. When in this state, you may feel tired often and want to rest - don’t. Avoid napping during the day; it throws off your sleep at night. You want to get into a deep sleep at night to really allow your body to rest, so avoid napping. If you have an IOS device, use the bedtime app on your phone to train yourself when to go to bed and when to get up. Set it to sleep for 8 hours, and get up when it goes off.
Exercise. Yes, I know you have no motivation to do this, but you need to push yourself. Set a goal to raise your heart rate for 20 minutes a day. You can do that simply by taking the dog on a walk (or the neighbor), riding a bike, or playing in the backyard with your kids. We know that exercise releases endorphins and that is what your body is screaming for! Plus, exercise will make you tired and hungry and help get your cycle back on track.
You need people. As much as your brain is telling you that you are unimportant and unlovable, you know this is wrong. Push past the lies that depression tries to convince you are true. Being alone only reinforces that feeling that no one cares about you. People do care about you. You are worth loving. Don’t spend longer than 15 hours by yourself, and virtual interaction does not count! Get together with a friend for coffee, go to a park, go to a store. Be around people! You were created for human interaction, so don’t deprive yourself of this.
Four daily habits to set for yourself: Eating, Sleeping, Exercise and Socializing. Start here when you feel like there is nothing else you can do.
And, do me a favor. If you mess up one day trying to get back on track, don’t live there, don’t stay stuck on the one day you didn’t meet your goals. That’s another trick your brain is playing on you. Focus forward, on all that is possible in the days to come.
Tell your brain this:
I am loved.
I am important.
I am worth it.