We all go through up and downs in life but it’s important to address how we react in those moments…
In my last blog post, I mentioned I was MIA because I had to take a step back and focus on myself. The truth is, I was going through a depression the past few months and needed to catch my breath.
I’m writing this because I want you to know mental illness doesn’t define who you are! It’s taken many years for me to realize it because I used to feel stuck. In sharing this, I hope to empower others going through a similar experience by discussing what helps me. *Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, I’m sharing my experience and coping techniques for mental illness.*
Where I’ve been
I’ve spent the past few months focusing on my business and am working hard to achieve my dreams. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’ve been forcing myself to be productive because no one else can do these things for you! I’ve been working out, spending time with loved ones, and I even started teaching Bhangra Fitness classes again! I want you to know that it doesn’t matter where someone else is at because the only competition you have is yourself. You can’t let fear, depression, anxiety or circumstances hold you back because an illness isn’t who you are. You have the ability to write your own story and all it takes to start is investing in yourself!
I can’t lie… It hasn’t been easy because there are many times when I feel as though I’m at war with my mind because all I want to do at that moment is stay in my room and avoid life. But I know I can’t give up because I’ve worked too hard to let that happen! I used to love blaming the universe for all my problems because I wasn’t ready to be held accountable…
Coping with mental illness
I’d like to start off by saying please stop draining energy into the things that are beyond your control! You can’t control mental illness but you can improve your quality of life and manage it to the point where it no longer disrupts your life. You need to focus on what you can change which is why it’s important to stay productive. Here’s what I’ve been doing:
- Avoid the pity party – you have to start by avoiding self-sabotage and you must stop feeling sorry for yourself. You are not a victim, you are a warrior!
- Every day when I wake up and before bed, I say three things I’m grateful for. Gratitude not only helps you to have a positive mindset, but it also helps you to focus on the good things and avoid the negatives.
- Scheduling is a must especially for days I don’t have anything planned. I set my alarm and make a to-do list the night before. This helps to hold yourself accountable and follow a consistent routine.
- Meditation and practicing mindfulness is a lifesaver! If your excuse is, “I don’t have the time” I’m sure you can spare at least five minutes. There are many apps available to assist you if you don’t know where to start. I like using Headspace because some days I only have 3-5 minutes; it helps to calm you down and feel relaxed. I encourage you to try different apps because something that works for me, may not necessarily work for you.
- Fitness has transformed my life. On my social, I always mention that fitness is my cure and it’s no joke. In losing 70 pounds, I rediscovered a love for health and wellness. It’s less about the physical appearance and more about the mental aspect. Going to the gym makes me feel empowered and I force myself to workout even when I don’t feel like it because that’s when I need it the most. Again, even if you can start with 5 minutes and work your way up, it’ll make a difference.
- If you work from home I encourage you to separate your room and workspace. I stopped working from my bed because it made me feel like I was couped up and I got lazy.
- Retrain your brain – this is one of the hardest things I’ve learned because you don’t see your hard work pay off until you’re tested and it doesn’t happen overnight. Retraining your brain is a difficult skill but it’s achievable. I used to be a very negative and miserable person; when I first started I didn’t believe in what I was practicing. I started off by looking at positive quotes and after a month, it seriously worked! What’s helped the most is catching my negative thoughts and reframing the sentences. If you think you can’t, you’ll eventually believe it and same goes for if you think you can.
- Setting goals – not only do you have something to look forward to, but it gives you meaning and distracts your mind.
- Practicing self-compassion – I mentioned this in my previous wellness post because you can’t grow unless you learn to love yourself. You have to acknowledge your wins and be proud of yourself. It’s about being kind and loving who you are. If you don’t know where to start, reflect on how you treat your family and friends.
- Last but not least, the biggest motivation for me is looking at how far I’ve come. I remember what rock bottom felt like because it helps me to appreciate where I’m at now and focus on the goals I’d like to achieve.
These are a few things that help me to avoid falling into a deep depression. In practicing these skills, I’ve noticed I no longer question my existence and I think it’s because of how much I appreciate and value my life and those around me. I want to thank everyone that’s sent a kind message and supported My Ottawa Life – you don’t know how much that means! THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Please don’t ever give up because your life is SO precious.
I hope this helps you,