It’s been a challenging eleven months for all of us. For everyone around the world. How can we help but not feel “down” at times? Depressed? Anxious? Perhaps all of the above.
Not to sound repetitive but as I’ve shared before I lost my Brother and my Mom eight days apart last April. Last week my precious Puggle Bailey crossed the rainbow bridge. For the first time in a long time I felt depression creeping up on me. I was determined to stay positive. I’d like to share some of the things I did that kept me sane during these insane times in hopes they can help someone else.
1) Exercise – Committing to a regular exercise routine and following it every day makes you feel good. The fact that you did it even when you may not have wanted to provides a sense of accomplishment. It boosts your spirit! Exercise has been (medically) proven to be beneficial mentally as well as physically. (Feel good chemicals…that’s another post).
2) Fresh air and sunshine – Working from home or sitting in the house for extended periods of time is just plain bad for our mental health. There’s nothing like fresh air and sunshine no matter the season. I make a habit of getting out every day even to just look at the ocean or watch the sun set. It’s always beautiful. Some studies have suggested that not wearing sunglasses outdoors and allowing the light to reach our eyes can boost our mood. The optic nerve sends a signal to the part of the brain that regulates production of serotonin and melatonin, feel good chemicals. Having always worn sunglasses, I recently started taking them off! I feel the difference! Hey, I’ll do whatever it takes. In addition to that, meeting people on walks and exchanging a smile or a hello during excruciatingly lonely times was awesome. Look, people!!!
3) Refusing to claim it – Years ago I would talk about “my anxiety”. That’s right, it was mine. Do you see where I’m going with this? By claiming it I gave it so much power. I attached anxiety to my name, to my being. Anxiety and me went together. I realized I didn’t want to be in a relationship with anxiety anymore. It really matters how we speak to ourselves and about ourselves. No more “my ms” either. When I started on this fitness journey three years ago, little by little I became less anxious. Now I’ve gone off topic here, however, I would like to say, anxiety is not a life sentence. I was on medication for severe anxiety for thirty years. Thirty years thinking I could never get better. Today, I am completely off anxiety medication. Recovery is possible.
4) Friendship – Although I’ve only seen my best friend a handful of times this past year, knowing she was there for me meant so much to me. Outdoor dining a couple of times, phone calls, drive bys, and drop offs all lifted both of our spirits. Having a friend you can confide in, cry and laugh with is a blessing.
5) Pets – Dogs are creatures of habit and routines are so important for all of us – even more so during this anything but routine time. Walks, in and out, feeding, medications, you know. They bring so much joy to my life. Bailey brought so much joy to my life. A big part of my life revolved around Bailey, a diabetic dog who needed insulin injections twice a day. Talk about a creature of habit!
6) Eating real food – In the past if I was very fatigued I would often skip a meal or to be honest, eat crappy food that made me feel like crap. Buying and cooking enough for a few days has made life easier. Eating good just makes you feel good.
7) Trying new things – It was in trying new things that I learned how relaxing painting a picture can be. A simple paint by number. If I was feeling ansy or bored I would paint, a little each day. It’s fun, therapeutic, and I have a nice painting to hang. I painted some old furniture too. Completing an online course through my local college was amazing. There’s all kinds of (free) classe online.
8) Faith – Last but not least – Now I’m not a “holy roller”, however, my faith has grown immensely this past year. When you’re alone in the middle of a pandemic and your brother dies while your Mother is on hospice and you can’t have any help in the home for fear of catching covid, turning to God got me through. Faith made me stronger. It made me grateful. Most importantly, it made me realize how minute having multiple sclerosis is in the grand scheme of things. I continue to put my life in God’s hands on a daily basis. There have been days where I just said, “okay, what do you want me to do with this God”? The only answer I’ve interpreted as an answer is to keep on doing what I’m doing.
Thanks for reading, be well♡