Coping Mechanism,  Depression,  Health and Wellness

10 Things That You Can Do To Feel Better Over Time

If you were introduced to my website through my last post where I describe my “sunken place” and what it feels like, then this post is the next in the series. In order not to make the previous post long and overwhelming, I’ve decided to split it up into two parts – the introduction and the follow-up.

Here I will list some of my coping mechanisms (none of which involve alcohol) that gets me through my day-to-day most of the time. Gonna’ be real with you, the mind is a strange place and sometimes these tactics may not work effectively (if at all) some days. Still, trying to incorporate these activities into your life daily will make you better overall.

Disclaimer: This is by no means a comprehensive and exhaustive list. And of course, if your issues are bad enough, you need to seek medical attention and see if you can have some medication prescribed to you. Sometimes, it can’t be solved through a little bit of good thinking here or there. Sometimes, you DO need the boost from medication. Just come away from this with the full understanding that mediation is NOT the end. You have to work on yourself in combination with the medication.  That means undoing bad habits and substituting in new and healthy ones.

It will be hard and uncomfortable, but that is a mark of change, my friend.

Secondly, I recommend quite a few things– paid and free. This is not a sponsored post.

Now, on with the show!

Take a crack at guessing the first one. ?

Exercise.

big brother bb GIF
Exercisin’? Ya’ might as well tell me you’re fucking goats.

Yes, yes, I know. I can hear the eye rolling and the collective groan of my fellow [bleep]ing millennials everywhere. And if it’s the New Year when you’re reading this, you may hear the blood rushing in your ears at the very sight of the word exercise. Everywhere you go, everyone you speak to tells you the same thing: “workout”, “just take a 5-10 minute walk every day”, “it’s not as daunting of a task as you may think”, “don’t you wanna be summertime fine by the time summer rolls around, instead of compromising at the first smell of fresh ocean water, bikinis, and sunscreen?”.

Exercise has clear benefits. In an article written on Psychology Today, by Dr. Dave J. Linden, exploring the “runner’s high”, there is a bit of a “pleasure circuit” your brain enters when you exercise. Aside from the other numerous benefits from exercising like improved cardiovascular and pulmonary health, it also functions like a powerful anti-depressant. “[Exercise] blunts your brain’s response to physical and emotional stress.” In ADDITION to that, “there are also short-term benefits of exercise that wear off after an hour or two. These include an increased pain threshold, reduction of acute anxiety, and runner’s high…” Personally, I’ve never had a runner’s high, but this proves that there IS a reason people keeping throwing that advice at you like it’s a dog treat.

Exercise releases the floodgates on those feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. It can also help your adrenaline and cortisol levels, which directly impacts your anxiety and stress. All of this information can be read at length here.

Now, I’m not saying you have to put aside the already scant few dollars you might have to put up for a gym membership. At first, I didn’t have nor did I want to spend money on a gym membership. I did some exercises at home using YT videos or just going for a walk around my neighborhood. Those, two little things can help to slightly, if not significantly, lift your mood. Matter-of-fact, you don’t even have to exercise, you can just dance. Screw feeling like you’re working when things are already hard enough. Pump up the volume. Pump up the volume. Pump up the volume. Dance. DANCE. If you caught that reference, you and me? We’re here. ?✌?✌??

Image result for pump up the volume now that's what i call

I, up until August of 2017, hated to exercise. Trying to get me to go to the gym or just exercise was like trying to give a grown cat– who up until that point only drank water– a bath. It was a super daunting task for me. I felt like going to the gym, at the very least, would be full of people that would judge me and laugh at my inability to keep up and look like a finely cut and curated work of art. I also felt like it was a lot of work. I already spent my days at home sometimes feeling like even getting up to go to bed was a hard task by itself.

Unfortunately for me, I had to realize that even thinking that people were staring and judging was a little ?? self-absorbed on its own.

Fortunately for me, no one actually cared about anything other than how they looked and how they were doing. No one was checking for lil’ ol’ me. And that’s great, because I was clumsily trying to find my footing at the gym with routines to do and how to do them effectively. And even though it was a lot of work at first, with the help of a pre-workout (like bulletproof coffee or the sugar-free powdered stuff) it gave me the boost I needed to “JUST DO IIIIIT”.

Image result for shia labeouf just do it

After I got comfortable, I realized that I loved being in the gym. I was a natural gym rat. I loved the feeling of getting my exercises done. I loved the feeling of coming home week after week and seeing progress. I mean my ASS, which was previously nothing to gawk at, was rounding out and firming up. And my THIGHS, O’ lawd, they were thickening like a bowl of cold oatmeal. H-E-L-L-O. My stomach was getting cut. The. Absolute. Fuck. Up. In combination with my diet, I was starting to look and feel good.

“Disclaimer: Cut up- A phrase used to indicate that your body is looking like it was carved out by the hand of God and Michelangelo in some beautiful dance of the ages after your workouts and “I’ll just have a water” start paying off. I am not talking about grievous injury.”

In short, you won’t regret it, even if you can only muster up a 5-minute walk, that’s better than nothing. If nothing else, it gives you a new environment to think about your next new fanfiction or doujinshi in.

Cleaning.

I know you’re saying to yourself, “OK, she’s out of her mind”.

Just hear me out.

It was something that I noticed that I did every time I felt angry and wanted to break something. I knew if I broke my own stuff that I’d have to take MY OWN money to repurchase it. So, I looked around my house and found something to take my anger out on… Those damn dirty dishes. So, I went into my kitchen and I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed, using all the elbow grease I could sweat out. I swept, I wiped down, out, up, I mopped, I polished, I sprayed, I dusted, I washed, dried, and folded. By the time that I was done, I was sooo tired (and covered in grime) and I while I didn’t forget why I was mad, I certainly no longer gave a fuck.

 

Image result for send in the cleaners gif
This is 100% me.

Who can when your house is clean, smells magnificent, and looks like something out of a poor Martha Stuart episode?

It helps. Just try it. Tell those dust bunnies to fucking beat it or you’ll send in the cleaners.

Tell ‘oze dirty bums dat ya’ seen da Goodfellas an’ da Godfather.

Journaling.

Actually, I’ve always wanted to start a blog of some sort. I just didn’t think I had any real content to write about. All I did was spend all day at home moping about and wishing that a topless Edward Elric and Meliodas were feeding me strawberries at his cottage in the country or in his upstairs room at his pub, respectively. I didn’t want to be on Earth where I had to be immersed in all of my problems, so I spent a lot of time in my head; which is a double-edged sword. I really had nothing of interest or anything of note to write about. I didn’t really have any talents that I could use to teach someone else something. Or so I thought.

Journaling helps me release whatever it is that I was feeling out onto a plain sheet of paper; or in my case, a plain word document. The simple act of trying to think about something to write was enough to put me off to wanting to write anything. So, I just started writing about something that I knew and was currently affecting me. Depression. There are millions of people out there in my age group who are dealing with the same issues that I am. Why not that?

According to the University of Rochester journaling helps with understanding your thoughts and feelings “more clearly”. It happens to “manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression”.  I know when I journal, I feel that it does those exact things. I feel a little less tense and a little freer. I can see the problem as plain as day in black and white and from there take some steps to figure out what to do. Usually, when I’m in my head and not letting anything out into a format that is easy to revise, thoughts have a dead end in my head, leaving me feeling “backed up”, confused, or foggy. Letting it go onto a piece of paper helps my brain sorta understand, “OK, it’s written down, I don’t have to keep thinking about this right now. If I want, I can always come back to this document or this sheet of paper and re-read”.

The authors (and medical professionals), Paul Ballas and Marianne Fraser, also have some tips to help you start journaling effectively. I’ll list two of them here:

  • writing every day to encourage a routine with journaling.
  • making it easy, which is a huge deal for me, to ensure there is the least bit of friction between you and your task. The less friction, the less likely you’ll find a reason not to do it. Put a cheap 99 cent book and pen in every section of the house you frequent if you have to. Even better, get an app to put on your phone that lets you journal whenever the hell you want. An app that I love and used to use regularly before this blog was Journey. It’s a free app in Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

As familiar as being in my own head all day is, I must admit that writing it out is a hell of a lot better. If this touched one life, even if it didn’t, I’d be happy with how this process in and of itself was healing.

Mindful Meditation

You don’t have to go vegan, give up all materialistic desires, and sit under a tall waterfall in order to benefit from meditation.

Image result for meditation under waterfall

If you take a look at this pdf, written by Ruth Baer, you’ll see that she identifies mindfulness as, “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis”. You’re taking a backseat in your life, so to speak, in order to be a quiet observer.

More and more these days, you’ll find that more people will advocate for some form of meditation. At least in the Western world, life grows more and more stressful under the weight of social pressure and obligations to career. Mindful meditation helps you re-center yourself and gain control of your thoughts, feelings, and state of being before it gets out of control. You can identify and fix so many things through mindful meditation. For example, in a post by SirIsaacMath on /r/meditation, he lists quite a few benefits: reducing depression, anxiety, stress, an increase in happiness in one’s life, enhances relationships with others, aids in focus, self-control, and so much more.

Mindful meditation requires nothing more than a few minutes of your time and a comfortable, distraction-free area. Set a timer, get comfortable (not too comfortable, you don’t want to fall asleep), close your eyes, and just quietly observe your thoughts without judgment. Remember: you are just an observer. Take the time to be in the now. Feel your body and where it occupies itself in space. Feel the sensations happening all over your body. Focus on your breath. (I know for some, this might alter how you naturally breathe, but with some practice, you’ll be able to tune into your breath without disturbing the rhythm.)

Image result for sleeping sitting up
snooooooooreee– !!! *ahem* H-huh… Oh, I was just *ahem* meditating… o-on the work that you gave me, Sir.

If you notice that the carpet feels soft, or you’re reminded of some chore you’re supposed to do and end up having a conversation with yourself, that’s fine. Acknowledge it without judgment and let the thoughts pass. Of course, you should, at some point that is comfortable for you, bring it your thoughts back to your breath. I think a good analogy is like a leaf floating down a river and it gets caught on the bank before the water and debris behind it ultimately pushes it down the river and out of your sight. The river is your mind. The debris is your thoughts. Just let them come and go.

I’ve implemented mindful meditation in my life a few times before. I am not yet consistent, but I will be because now I’m making a real effort to be. In the times that I’ve done a bit of MM coupled with a few moments of expressing gratitude, I’ve noticed that my day started out and ended a hell of a lot better.

Calm

Speaking of meditation, Calm is an app and website (calm.com) for soothing sounds to supplement your sessions of mindful meditation. Of course, having a pair of binaural headphones might enhance your experience, but ultimately you don’t need them in order to reap the benefits of using calm.com. You just need to make sure that both the left and right earpiece work on any pair of headphones. Mine is a $6 pair from the checkout at Walmart.

Calm is a San Francisco-based company is an app that facilitates the process of mindful meditation through the use of the calming sounds of nature. Sounds range from thunderstorms, rain hitting a window pane, to the sound of a calm lake, all accompanied by equally peaceful and scenic pictures.

Personally, when I use Calm, I like to sit and stare at the photo and listen intently to the sounds and drift off to a place in my mind where I am actually visiting the location in front of me. I imagine floating in the cool water or running and feeling the grass tickle the soles of my feet. It’s a magical experience.
Image result for a magical experience gif

There are a few paywalls in the app and on the website. However, they do give you several samples to choose from to help you get a feel for what they can do for your daily life. There are guided meditation sections, wherein a woman with a serene voice walks you through themed series designed with a specific purpose in mind. The names of a few of the series: “21 days of Calm”(free), “Forgiveness”, “7 Days of Managing Stress” (free), “Body Scan”, “7 Days of Gratitude” (free).

Wouldn’t you love the lush and golden voice of Morgan Freeman or sometimes with an equally calm voice to read you a bedtime story? Well, you’re in luck! They have that with their Sleep Stories. Listen to an abundance of stories, free and premium, as they guide you to sweet dreams.

Anyway, I won’t go on about this, check it out. I think you’ll enjoy it.

YouTube

Alternatively to Calm, you can use YT’s $free.99 service to find tons of similar videos on it. There are thousands to choose from and vary in length with different kinds of content. Of course, the con of using YT is that it isn’t curated nor combed through by someone who knows their stuff and it’s not like it’s all in one convenient playlist. Additionally, unless you have YTRed like me (a paid service), background play is not a feasible thing.

Of course, there are ways to circumvent all of these things, but it is a bit of work. The point of doing these things is to make it as easy and as smooth a process as is possible.  I’m all about free.99, but often times I’m really just not in the mood to do the work necessary in order to get it done. I’m fine with paying a little bit for convenience.

ASMR

As much of a meme it’s become over the past two years, I love ASMR.

Autonomic Sensory Meridian Response, the term (among others) used for describing the absolute best tingling feeling you get down your spine or over your skin when you hear a particular sound. There are hundreds of “triggers” that can set off this response like whispering, scissors, brushing hair, crinkling plastic, clicking pens, the list goes on and on.

My personal favorite is the sound of someone getting their hair cut. A long time ago when I used to regularly go to salons and get my hair trimmed, the sound of the scissors cutting my hair or the sounds of the curling iron curling my hair used to give me chills and elicit a sort or “violent” reaction from my body. It’s not really violent, but my body would jerk in response to hearing that noise after a while of hearing it and getting the chills and the static-like feelings all over.

Image result for orgasm gif
Actual footage of me melting in the salon chair.

Not everyone experiences this phenomenon and — to my knowledge– it isn’t super documented and researched. But more and more people are coming across it and finding that they experience the same thing, too.

At the moment, there is a subreddit, /r/ASMR, dedicated to cataloging these sounds and whether they are intentional or unintentional. The distinction is that the sounds in these videos are done with the intention of eliciting a reaction out of someone or if it’s just sounds that happen to be in a completely unrelated video. When I listen to ASMR, it has to be unintentional because otherwise, it just sounds like someone using a pair of scissors. I like the natural sounds that come with actually cutting someones’ hair. There is a difference.

Betterhelp.com

Believe it or not, I still actively speak to a therapist. Before I came across Better Help, I was lazily scrolling down my Instagram feed. I had seen many targeted ads throughout my browsing the internet that mentioned a couple place for online therapy. Of course, initially, my thoughts were an immediate and flat, “no”. I didn’t have money to spend on a therapist in person nor the medication.  And I certainly didn’t think I could afford one online. “Therapists are expensive,” I reasoned angrily before scrolling down.

Eventually, this ad and I crossed paths again. This time I decided to check it out with a heavy dose of skepticism. I kicked my nose up and began seeing what they had to offer. They I came across doctors, what they specialize in, and their testimonials from clients that they had. My resolve softened but quickly hardened again as I rummaged around for some prices. $45/week.

Come again?

$45/week. Insurance can possibly cover some of the cost. Financial aid if you can’t afford the $45/week.

I was baffled. I thought that was like the cost for half an hour at a brick and mortar counselor’s office. Unfortunately, while I was 95% convinced to use it, I still didn’t want to cough up the cash for it. I believe over the next 24 hours (or as I was about to leave), I received an offer for a 7-day trial. I hopped on that deal so fast, I think I might have left skid marks on my carpet.

Image result for freddie mercury
“I’m trav’lin’ at the speed of liiiiiiight.”

In a mere 12 hours, I was connected to a counselor whom I best fit with after filling out a short series of questions. I’ve now been speaking to her for about over a week, and it definitely feels good to be back in the room with a professional who could help me again. Although it’s hard to be working on my issues, I can say without a doubt that it is a game saver and I’m eternally grateful for a website like it.

Update (04/04/2018): For more information on BetterHelp and online therapy, please visit this link and let ’em know I sent ya’. 🙂 (This link is sponsored. However, I’ve been using BH before this and I’m still a strong believer in their website and the help that they offer. It’s always worth a shot with at least a free 7-day trial, but I’m almost 100% certain you’ll stay for longer than that.)

Hobbies

“Oi, buddy, ye payin’ any rent in here while damaging real estate, ya’ pricks? “

Sometimes, just doing something you love to help block out all the negative feelings is all you need.

I love, love, LOVE watching anime and reading manga. (I think I’ll do a post on all of the anime and manga that I adore). I also draw and play games. These help to take my mind off what I’m feeling, and suck me into a world where my current and only problem is is what is in front of me. It was a welcome immersion that helped me pour out all of my frustration in a creative way.

There isn’t much to say about this one, but don’t let it consume your life. It’s easy to use escapism to ease the daily grind. It’s even easier to let that be all you do. These techniques should only be used for managing your issues. At some point, you’re going to have to confront the monster in your closet.

Music

Music is such an important part of being a human. We’ve been bopping our heads, tapping our feet, clapping our hands, and wiggling our bodies since we were born. We are born with this innate affinity for music. And music goes even farther than that with our ancestors tapping on drums. It’s really no wonder that it’s so good for mood-boosting.

Music therapy is a great way to channel your feelings. For me, I deeply connect to music. It’s one of the easiest ways for me to feel better, or at the very least, lighter. I believe in spiritual… things, that I’ll talk about in another post, that emphasize this aspect of my being. But as a sneak peek, being a Taurus means that I am connected to the throat chakra. It is the domain in which I best self-express. So singing and humming, both of which I love to do (but not that great at), are excellent choices for me.

“Emotional experiences of aesthetic products are important to our happiness and well-being. Music, movies, paintings, or novels that are compatible with our current mood and feelings, akin to an empathic [sic] friend, are more appreciated when we experience broken or failing relationships,” write authors Chan Jean Lee (KAIST Business School), Eduardo B. Andrade (FGV School of Administration), and Stephen E. Palmer (University of California, Berkeley) – Journal of Consumer Research

Singing, dancing, listening, humming all gives me a healthy release of emotions like no other, even without all of the ethereal, multidimensional mumbo-jumbo. Listen to what you want to and get it all out in the open. Dance like no one’s watching. Sing for your life.


I didn’t think this would be as long as it was, but as it turns out, the more I write about something, the harder it is for me to stop talking. I must learn brevity.

Down in the comments below, let me know some of the tactics that help you overcome your daily woes. I’d love to know more tips that I can add to my arsenal! Thanks for reading

Until next time,

Peace and peace.

Hi, I'm Althia! I love psychology have a particular obsession with promoting mental health. That being said, I have one specific goal that I want to achieve. I want to help millennials to finess mental illness and inspire personal growth one motivational & informational post at a time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *