By Michael Maitland, stem4 Ambassador & Author, ‘Out Of The Madhouse’ (JKP)
I experienced anxiety and depression for about eight years from when I was a teenager. Here are some tips based on my experiences – they may help you…
Accept You’re Not To Blame
Sometimes, bad things just happen – maybe you’ve been bullied online or have a troubled family relationship. Feeling down at times is a natural response to this. It’s not your fault. Other people would feel much the same as you. You’re not alone.
Often though, there’s no obvious reason for feeling anxious or depressed. I had a happy family life and everything I could wish for. But I still experienced all sorts of negative feelings deep down inside of me.
A good night’s sleep, with a regular bed-time and a regular getting-up time, was really good for me. It helped me to manage everything in-between better. I tried for eight hours’ sleep a night.
Eating healthily, at regular intervals, rather than snatching snacks at odd moments, is important. So too is exercise of some kind; walking, swimming, whatever you enjoy. I work out at a gym. It helps me relax and feel better about myself.
Relaxation exercises, even something as simple as breathing in and out in time with your walking strides, helped me with my mental health as well. I used to light a candle and focused on it, breathing slowly, at stressful moments. Even just taking five minutes out to shut your eyes can be good for you.
I found it helpful to be organised. I liked to have a structure to my day and needed to keep busy-ish. A daily planner, and ‘to-do’ lists kept me on track. The worst thing for me was being aimless. Too much time on my own made me feel down.
Setting aside times for yourself, whether to walk or a run or listen to music, can be beneficial. Some people also set aside ‘worry times’, so they can think about their worries at those times only. It worked for me and it may do for you too.
Talk To Someone
It’s good to talk to someone; a close friend or family member perhaps. That can work well but some people find that family and friends have set ideas about what they should or shouldn’t do. You may want to work things out for yourself rather than be told what to do.
You may prefer to talk to someone else; a professional perhaps, someone who is experienced in mental health matters. Your school or college may have a trained counsellor you can talk to. They are there to help you.
Your GP should be there for you as well. They should also be able to tell you what’s available locally in terms of counselling and local support groups from self-help organisations.
Bottom Line: It’s normal to feel down from time to time. You won’t always feel like this. Things will get better for you. I hope these tips help you.