I have struggled with anxiety and depression most of my life. I constantly worry and create unlikely scenarios in my head. I have come to realize that it is pretty common for people my age to have these same struggles. I have been to many therapists throughout my life and I have finally found a therapist who I like and helps me. I realize not a lot of people out there have the privilege to go to therapy or still have misleading feelings about the whole thing. I wanted to share some of the best advice my therapist has ever given me for those who struggle with the same issues I do.
1. Sit with the feeling you feel and acknowledge its existence- Be okay with it
I usually complain to my therapist about an emotion I feel and that I don’t know how to get rid of it. My therapist then challenges that I don’t try to get rid of that emotion but that you acknowledge the feeling you are feeling and learn to be okay that it’s there. Even though that feeling is there doesn’t mean that it is your only feeling or emotion, but that you have a wide range of an “emotional pallet” and that one needs to learn to tap into those other emotions.
2. Let go of what you can’t control
It has been a very freeing thing for me to realize some of the things that makes me most upset are things I can’t control- like other people. Realizing that you have no control over those things helps you to let go of those things and focus on what you can control, which is yourself.
3. Be mindful- Live in the moment
This is probably a much more known thing as there are several apps dedicated to this very thing. But meditation does help for those with anxiety and non-stop thoughts and emotions. Just taking a few minutes out of your day or when you can feel the anxiety starting up if you take that time to just meditate and be still. You can use a YouTube tutorial or an app to walk you through your meditation. Focus on nothing but the silence and your body and how your body feels. Once the meditations over you feel slightly better and calmer; no, it’s not a 100% cure but it does soothe the anxiety.
4. Recognize the self-deprecating thoughts and talk yourself through them
The first step is learning that you are having negative thoughts and when you’re having them. Once you’ve done that you can catch those thoughts and speak back to those thoughts. My therapist told me to say to yourself what you would say to a friend. You wouldn’t say “You’re so ugly and dumb I can’t believe you just did that.” You would say to that friend something way more nice and reassuring. Learn to talk to yourself as a friend because you are your friend.
5. There’s nothing more wrong with you than there is with anyone else
Recently I’ve been asking my therapist “What’s wrong with me? Just tell me what it is so I can change it.” She responded with something I wasn’t expecting but was happy to hear, “There’s nothing wrong with you. No more than there is with anyone else out there.” This has been a little mantra I’ve been saying to myself because I know a lot of people with depression and anxiety out there like to blame everything on themselves and always think there’s something wrong with them. It’s nice to realize that yeah, maybe you do have some problems and issues you need to work through but that doesn’t mean there’s anything “wrong” with you. Also, there are many people out there too that have the EXACT same issues so you’re not alone or unprecedentedly messed up because most likely there are millions of people just as messed up as you.
Going to therapy isn’t an all in all cure, but it has helped me to cope better and shake some bad habits. It’s good to realize you have mental health issues and decide to better your mental health (everyone should focus on this). If that is through a therapist or medication or whatever it is you think is best for you- do it! With this new year ahead, focus on yourself and your mental health because it’s one of the most important things you have.