Greetings and Salutations, blog readers!
Today I am passing along some things I am doing to battle my depression! I have been getting better and better at navigating my mental health, and while I have several forms of mental health to battle, like PTSD, anxiety, depression, ocd, all made nice and spicey with autism, this blog Is more for depression, specifically…
But, it would be disingenuous to act like the other stuff doesn’t play a part, so I mention them, because they play a part in how I am actively fighting my depression.
For a few days now I have felt a pretty bad spell of depression pulling on me, and I can’t afford to let myself slip into a depression, and, more the point, I truly don’t want to. I like where my life is, I have so much to be grateful and happy for, and this depression is largely a purely chemical one.
That doesn’t make it smaller, as anyone battling depression can tell you, however, it does, with the help of therapy and cannabis, inform my plan on how to fight it, and not give in too much, while prioritizing my health.
This isn’t some “Stay busy until it passes” advice, but rather doing attainable things to help you stay in a healthier mindset when your mindset says “nah”.
So here are some things I have been doing to battle my depression and promote good mental health.
A lot of these things are likely things you may have been told, but I try to add my own unique spin to how I am making it work for me, and this is something I highly suggest you do. Lots of these tips and tricks for better mental health are written by neurotypical people who don’t get that our brains are wired differently, so, I try to write these from the lens of someone who’s brain works differently, so you can apply these lessons in a way that works for your brain too.
This has been made easier by starting my new job, and I will admit, having something to wake up for has helped my depression, quite a bit. Before this job, I was still forcing myself awake as early as possible, but the “god I’m still unemployed” depression would be hard to fight in the morning. Now, that depression has been replaced by new job anxiety.
The response is the same for me, however. I have never been good at mornings, so I try to do the following. It is important to note, I am also following a few different mental health and productivity hacks, like the ten minute rule, so, keep these things in mind when applying this to your own life.
First, when I get up, I force myself to brush my teeth, splash my face with water, and add SPF. These are the minimums I must do, but I always try to had doing a bit of a face massage with my gua sha stone or amethyst face roller.
I find taking a few minutes for massaging my face not only helps me wake up and look better, but it signals to my brain “Hey, we are taking care of ourselves, we are worth this time and effort. We love ourselves” when those thoughts aren’t able to fight through the fog of depression and anxiety.
This routine helps me get ready for the day, encourages my brain to be kinder to me, and, helps soothe anxieties that may start cropping up, because already I have done “so much” for getting ready.
On days when I feel able to do more, I will also toss on a bra and new shirt. On days when I don’t, I toss on clean socks and different sleep pants, because clean socks are good for any situation, and I don’t like my sleep pants being worn outside of my bed.
Doing this, within the first ten minutes of rising, gives me a huge jump on my day. I tend to wander around while I brush my teeth, so, I can also put the water on for my coffee, pour a glass of cold water, and turn on my computer for work.
This means that within ten minutes of rising, I have coffee going, most of my “get ready” routine done, and my stuff is already loading up for work.
This gives me a massive feeling of accomplishment and lets me launch into the next part of my morning.
Depending on my mood, I will do five to ten minutes of cleaning, doing things like the litter box, sweeping, picking up anything my cats knocked off in the middle of the night. I used to make my bed at this point, but I like letting the sheets air out a bit, so I save this task for later. The litter box and sweeping rarely takes an entire ten minutes, so I will use whatever time is left in the 10-15 minutes I am allotting myself, and I will do some super light stretching- nothing major, touching my toes, reaching for the sky, basic stuff to wake up.
I then make sure I have drunk the full glass of water before I pour my coffee, to ensure I have started the day hydrated. (Normally I drink it while I do stuff but if I forgot, sure, I’ll chug it.) If you don’t do water, grab some water flavoring powder, maybe some infused with vitamin C, and use that. Either way, drink something hydrating, not just coffee or an energy drink, before indulging in your caffeine.
Hydration is way too important for mental and physical health for it to be ignored, so make sure you are pouring your second glass of water when you pour your first cup of coffee.
Once I have my first glass of water down and I am sipping my coffee, I often sit with my heating pad on my back, and one or both of my cats on my lap, while I sit on the couch and just get my head sorted.
Often, this means I queue up a YouTube video on my tv, return messages from people who don’t hurt my mental health, and prepare for the day by taking in only the content I know that will make me happy. For example, I tend to find my TikTok fairly safe, because I’ll frequently have TikToks to check from Justin, Kim, Tom, and they all tend to send good stuff. I won’t go on Twitter until I know mentally where I am at, and what I can handle, because while my timeline is full of good people, it is also full of news, and some mornings I just don’t need to hear about how we as humans have further fucked the ocean or whatever other fucked up thing is happening.
I try to be done with my morning routine by thirty minutes prior to work, but, thankfully, I work from home, so things like bathroom breaks and cooking breakfast, can happen while I check work emails and go over my daily assignments. I do plan on writing a LONG blog about how working from home has done wonders for my mental health, but for now I will leave it at, I am VERY grateful, and highly suggest you work hard to find a work from home job that serves you, because it has been a huge help for me.
I tend to log into work, and from there I spend time giving myself affirmations and reassurance, since the job is new and it causes me anxiety, and I balance my nerves. My job and coworkers, thus far, have been incredibly kind, welcoming, and helpful, so it has been pretty easy to stay happy and productive at work.
When I have moments I can step away from my computer, I take little 3-5- sometimes 10- minute breaks.
In these breaks, I will do some more light stretching, and small little puttering tasks, like washing my coffee mug, taking out the trash, tidying up around my work area.
I will stay hydrated by drinking and refilling my glass and having to pee means I don’t hurt my back, neck, and wrists as much, by staying in one position for a long time, and being forced to stretch my limbs when I stand/go to use the restroom.
Another rule I follow is every intrusive, depressive or anxious thought, I meet with a thought of gratefulness. I am still working on this, but anytime I get worried, for example, “I am worried about the landlord charging me late fees when I am desperately trying to catch up from being unemployed” and I will see myself worrying about this thought, and I focus on something I am grateful for: “I am grateful I have a job that will let me make payments on my debt soon.”
And- here is the hard part- I must force myself to not thing or dwell on things I can’t control. It isn’t easy, and it is something I have been working on in therapy, but, I am glad for my efforts and doing these two things- focusing on things I am grateful for, and not focusing on things I can’t control, has helped my mental health in major ways.
An attitude of gratitude is always a key helper for mental health. Not only will being grateful and practicing gratitude in your life make you feel better in the moment, but doing gratitude exercises every day keeps your daily mental health stronger, leading to less (or at least less debilitating) depressive spells and anxious days.
It’s also helpful for you, when you feel let down by yourself, and I practice this daily as well- an example-
“I am so upset and mad at myself that my anxiety and other issues have me unable to leave my apartment today”
Can easily become “I am grateful I am learning when I can’t handle going outside, and that I am working on this.” Or, as I have been doing, “I am grateful I am aware of my limitations and have a work from home job that allows me to still work and be helpful without hating myself more for missing work.”
Gratitude does a lot.
After I finish work, I have been making it a habit, more so when I can feel depressive episodes coming on, to stretch and do yoga, for at least thirty minutes, and, if I can do more, I will do something for cardio, be it jumping jacks or my stationary bike.
If I can’t, it’s okay. I did something and I am grateful for it. So even if I only stretch for 20 minutes, or 10, I still honor myself and focus on being grateful that I did that much.
After that, I make sure to take a shower. Even if I can’t handle or don’t want to wash my hair, I will at least get into a hot shower and wash my entire body off. This may sound weird to neurotypical people, but, for Neurodivergent people or those suffering from anxiety, depression, or, in my case, very specific water-based triggers, it can be hard to shower.
I urge you to do something for hygiene, even if it’s just standing under hot water for five minutes.
A quick body shower, wash your hair if you can. Brush your teeth. Do something to help your hygiene and reinforce in your mind that you are worth small acts of kindness and care.
After the shower, grab something you enjoy for food, and try to make it something healthy. I haven’t been able to do much in terms of healthy eating, but I can at least toss some frozen peas into the pasta I make and tell myself that I am worth eating something healthy and giving my body some nutrients.
If you can do a healthier meal, by all means do, but just make sure you eat something that makes you feel good and loved. Wash your dishes afterwards- The clean sink theory I follow helps me keep my anxiety and depression lower by always having my sink cleaned out. Then you can say “hey look at me, I have a clean sink, I already washed my dishes, and I don’t have that looming over me.” Another thing to be grateful for.
Drink plenty of water before and after all of these steps, and, if you are able, maybe spend the evening logging some journal time.
I try to blog, journal, something to record my thoughts, anywhere, be it my computer or one of my notebooks. Then, I will do some writing, and, if at any point I need something fun to do, I can play video games and relax, get lost in a digital world that makes me happy and brings me bliss.
I balance my day with healthy and loving things that bolster a positive mental state and give myself plenty of breaks too.
I wind down with a chamomile/lavender tea and read from a book I’ve read before that way I don’t have anxiety about what is going to happen. If I feel sleep may be hard, I’ll play Ponyo in the background, and I keep my white noise machine going throughout the night to help me sleep. I brush my teeth, do my skin routine, always trying to use my facial stones, and put my hair in braids or a hair bonnet, or at least in a bun on my head.
Just like my morning routine, it is simple and helpful, and encourages me to feel better, while taking care of my body and reminding myself that I am worth it. If I am able, I try to add extra self-care in, like a face mask or something, but, I also know it is often too much for me to do.
I can’t say any of these things will cure mental health struggles, but they will, more so if done every day, bolster a stronger mental health, and help the bad days not be so rough.
I hope it helps. Be kind to yourself.
Thanks for reading,