1. Working out.
I hesitate to talk about diet and exercise in relation to mental health because so often it’s the first thing people who don’t really understand anxiety and depression jump to in order to “help.” But for me, coupling at least 30 minutes of cardio into my day really does make a noticeable difference. I also give myself an out. If I start a workout and 20 minutes in I still don’t want to do it, I stop. But I almost never stop after that because by then it’s either basically over or at least half-ish over. Even just a little effort has made a lot of difference in the control I feel I have over my mental state.
2. Drinking more water.
Listen, it’s not really a secret that I love wine and beer more than I love almost anything. But being constantly dehydrated was killing my focus and killing my skin quality. And feeling completely unfocused and insecure about my skin just heightens my anxiety. So I’ve been aiming to get those 64 ounces in every day. Not loving how much it makes me pee, but the rest is fine I guess.
3. Eating a green smoothie for breakfast every weekday morning.
I saw an episode of some medical show the other day where a girl developed scurvy and now that’s made me incredibly paranoid about getting some weird disease. So in order to attempt to make sure my eating habits border on “okay” instead of “completely awful” I’m eating one of those spinach, avocado, berry concoctions I used swear by back when I was in my #fitfam phase. I don’t have anything revolutionary to say about it other than eating slightly better makes me feel more in control. And being in control makes my anxiety 10,000 times better.
4. Keeping a bullet journal.
I got a really nice leather journal and I write everything in there. Travel dates, reminders, to do lists for the week AND day; it’s obsessive. But it helps me. And the satisfaction of physically crossing something off of a list and seeing everything laid out is very calming to me.
5. Getting rid of clutter and mess.
This is not a simple task by any means, but it’s helping. I just looked around my apartment the other day and realized how much crap I have acquired. I might be moving in the next 6 to 9 months and I don’t want to haul a bunch of stuff I don’t need to my next place. So I’ve begun the ever so fun (kidding, it sucks) task of throwing shit away and going through everything I own. I’m not getting “sparking joy” crazy or minimalistic about it, but there’s also not a need for an overflowing closet of clothes when I basically wear the same black jeans every day. There’s just not.
6. Using the Done app for short-term goals.
‘Done’ is an app where you put in goals and then just click it when it’s (shocker) done. I think you have to pay for it if you want to input more than 3 goals, but I really like it. It’s similar to my journal, where the satisfaction of saying, “Yes little app, I did drink enough water today,” is helpful. Again, it’s all about control. I thrive on control.
7. Muting people on Twitter.
There are some people in my life who to put it frankly, stress me the fuck out. But I’ve realized (in therapy, because all of these are coupled with weekly therapy) it’s not my responsibility to micromanage people’s lives. So what’s the solution? I don’t want to see it. Mute, mute, mute. Mute has become my new best friend.
8. And unfollowing others on Instagram.
My friend Ari’s Instagram recently glitched and unfollowed everyone except for Anna Faris and Joe Biden on her feed. After laughing about it for a while she had this moment where she said something to me about how it was liberating, because she realized she could re-curate her feed and only follow the people who she actually wanted to follow (including Joe Biden and Anna because, duh). And that just made me realize I was 1) following way too many brands and it was stupid and 2) there’s no need to follow people who you don’t care about. If their feed isn’t interesting, it’s not worth still following them. Cleaning out my life and my social media feeds, one day at a time.
9. Treating myself to manicures.
With the whole eating healthier, taking care of my skin, and drinking more water has come a lovely side effect, which is my nails are growing. I’ve bitten my nails pretty badly since 1st grade, and my cuticle situation was often Black Swan-esque to say the least. It made me massively insecure! I hated my hands for a very, very long time. So I’m treating myself to manicures every couple of weeks and allowing myself to feel nice about my nails. (Plus the gel is really shitty to pick off, which has helped with the picking problem.)
10. Not forcing myself to work after 6 if I really don’t want to.
I love work, I feel fulfilled by work. I’ve also worked so much that it became less fulfilling, and more overwhelming at times. So now provided that everything I needed to get done that day is in fact done, if I don’t feel like doing anything after 5/6 PM, I don’t. I don’t answer emails, I don’t check Slack, I let myself be done. Boundaries! Who knew they were so great. Big fan of boundaries.
11. Going for at least one 40 minute walk with my dog every night.
This ties into one part not feeling like a shitty human and one part exercise. I’m constantly worried that I’m a bad dog mom. I’ve been traveling a lot recently, I live in a city, we cohabitant in a small apartment. I just worry about it a lot. That coupled by a recent vet visit where we walked away being told she needed to lose some weight really pushed me to get out and active with her. She loves getting outside, and that longer walk is good for both of us.
12. Accepting that I can do all of this things religiously and not one of them will cure my anxiety.
Haha! That’s the kicker. I am working at remembering and accepting that I can be the healthiest, most balanced person and there will still be days when I can’t sleep, can’t focus, or freak out about going to the bank for no reason at all. But recognizing that takes away some of the power of anxiety. And even though that’s nothing monumental, at least it’s something.