A Day in My Life: Keeping Anxiety/Depression at Bay
Not letting Mental Health struggles like depression and anxiety into your life is not something you can always do. Nor is it something you even think about doing if you haven't dealt with its uncertainty before.
Our lives before having an unforeseen blanket wrap its unwanting frayed ends around us are daunting enough trying to make it in a world filled with six billion other people with goals of "living your best life."
Sure we can work out more often than not, eat our veggies and not overindulge on sugary goods. But without having experienced depression or anxiety, you don't have any need to worry about those things other than gaining those extra unwanted pounds.
However, when it does suddenly appear one day, your world changes. Your life is now being ruled by an unknown object that decides when and where it will show up in our day. Perhaps it greeted you as your eyes open from your sleep and decided to be by your side every minute of your waking day. Or it may pop up to say hello after your peaceful morning alone is over and you make your first steps outside into the busy world around you. Or maybe you are like me, and it comes without a dought after a day of eating poorly, or perhaps even just a single meal that sits in your gut with all of the wrong ingredients not wanting to digest.
I have had all of these situations come up in my time and many more, yet I have found out that a daily way of living life that gives me the best opportunity to keep the mental struggles away. I try my best to practice them daily and find a routine that I can keep, but life does get in the way, and sometimes I do want to indulge on the less healthy areas our society has to offer. But when this occurs, I stop and take a deep breath and accept the situation I have put myself into and patiently wait until it passes. I hope you do the same because no one is perfect and worrying about it will not help you during that moment, it will only compound the feeling you are fighting.
Here is what a good day looks like to me.
Waking up/ Morning Routine
My morning starts at 530 am. By having a constant time of waking up, I believe it helps my body in finding its inner routine, something that I can not tell it to do. Waking up earlier than most people, with no specific need to leave the house at that time, gives me the mental strength to take on the day and whatever it throws at me.
No matter what is going on that day, I spend the first sixty minutes going through my morning routine of showering, drinking hot lemon water to help start my digestion and reading a self-help novel. Then putting everything down while I practice fifteen to twenty minutes of meditation, once that is over I finally allow myself to open my phone and computer to check all that went on in the night and reply to any messages or emails I have. You can see my full morning routine with times spent during each part and video here.
The idea of the routine is to allow my brain to come into the craziness of my day slowly. I have done it for so long now, that if by some chance I do open my phone before this is done I instantly notice a source of displeasure in my head, almost as if it has been shocked and recoils.
Post morning routine/ Work
Now that I have allowed myself to fully wake up and get my brain and gut in the right place by prepping them for the day, I like to find something that I can do without much risk of messing up. The task should give me joy while doing it also. And when I complete it, I want it to bring a smile to my face. For me, usually, this is to complete 10 minutes of writing, either in my journal or finishing a section in my latest blog.
The idea for this part of my morning is to get an early win, boost the morale of the troops for the day. I may also do such tasks as.
• clean the kitchen
• take out the garbage
• replying to all emails that have been building up that I am dreading on responding to
• Or something as simple as sorting the recycling from paper and plastic
Once this win has occurred, I usually stop and look at what I just finished and give a slight smile. The feeling of checking the first thing off my daily list before 7 am is a beautiful thing.
I then dive headlong into my checklist for work needed to complete for the day, which I have written out the night before. Depending on how big the projects are, I usually have 3-5 things on my list to complete.
I used to think about everything under the sun. I wanted to complete to have the most fantastic day and write them all down. And as the day grew longer, I would see a vast amount of boxes unchecked that would leave me feeling like I was failing. After some time, I realized my mistake and gave myself the best opportunity to finish the day with a fully ticked off list.
After all, you can always fit in more boxes if your list gets finished before you want to stop your productivity for the day.
I usually spend 3-4 hours during this work period.
Mid Day/ Workout
My morning has come to an end, and I have done my first stint of work for the day, I am ready to clear my head from the constant screen time and thinking. I tend to feel 'full' at this time, and If I decide to push it and work longer, I notice that my quality of work starts declining.
When this occurs, I try to rewrite areas to get them to the standard I am expecting. These actions can put my mind into a dangerous area, where I can start falling into a negative mental space because I have stopped winning and started trying to rework my small fails over and over.
I have to stop, step back and look at where I am for the day. How productive I have been up until this point and how it isn't a loss if I stop now. I need to be honest with myself, bullshitting at this time in my day is not beneficial to my mind or my work.
To clear my head, I go for my workout. I find no better way to reverse a possible upcoming state of mental fatigue by choosing some physical activity to focus on. Pushing my mind and body into areas that momentarily make me feel uncomfortable, yet moments after I am washed over with a sense of gratitude and accomplishment and sweat!
My regular workout routine takes place in a gym, with a variety of weightlifting exercises taking place in a 60-90 minute time frame. Like my morning routine, I have a pre-workout routine that acts, in the same way, to limber up my body and mind. Preparing it for the vigours, I am going to put myself through while also giving me incremental wins in the 20 minutes I take to accomplish it.
Other things I may do instead of working out in the gym are
• A yoga class
• A run outside
• A long bike ride
• Going to my local park to do an outdoor workout/sprints
Mid Day/ Post workout
My ability to wake up and get going with a productive day as soon as it begins is something I enjoy thoroughly. Unfortunately, every yin has its yang, and my counter to a productive morning is a struggle to have that same drive when 3 pm hits.
I can have every notebook prepped, and checklist made up. But no pre-planning to ensuring a solid finish to my workday, that I know of at this time in life.
Due to this understanding of my habits, I have a few plans that I will concede to with complete knowledge and no hard feelings toward myself, depending on how I am doing mentally at that time.
I hit a local coffee shop that has a pleasing aesthetic to me. Even though I could spend days alone, I have learnt that a common place where others are is a positive thing for me to be around. Also, an appealing visual space with good workflow can help me get into the right state of mind to bang out a couple of hours of work.
Open up a book and get lost in it. I have found reading has allowed me to get out of my head, the ability to think about the characters or what the author is trying to get across will enable me to get away from any anxiety or cluttered head.
Accept defeat and do whatever the rest of the day calls for. Perhaps its sunny and I can go for a long walk while listening to a podcast, or it's cloudy and rainy where I may watch a course online how to better an area of interest to me.
I start winding down my day just before 7 pm and the final meal of my day. Since I wake at 530 am or earlier, I like to be in bed with the lights off no later than 11, preferably earlier.
The most significant aspects of ending my day in the right mindset are to make sure I plan out my following morning. I write down my checklist either on my big white board in my room or daily journal. Being able to see this done gives me the confidence I won't be floundering between projects I don't need to touch the next day.
If I do watch T.V., I keep it to one show and no more, but more importantly, I don't watch the show as my final action before sleep. I always give myself a minimum of 30 minutes without screen time before I turn the lights off. I spend this time reading or perhaps journaling on anything that is flowing around inside my head.
I notice a significant difference when I wake from my sleep if I don't look at the blue light screens and also allowing my brain to work before I sleep. My night time actions rarely affect my ending of the day, yet they set the standard for my next day.
If I treat myself right in the night, then I have the best opportunity to start my next day on the right foot and live my life on my terms.
As always, I am not a professional in this area. These are my views on what it has been like to live with mental instability and how I have been able to cope with them. If I can help you find your own path to bettering yourself then I have done something I am grateful for I.
Please seek help from a real professional if you need to, there is no shame in asking for help.
This website has contact points to help you wherever you are on the world