A few weeks ago, I received a handful of text messages, DMs, and calls asking, “What do you do when you’re anxious, because I need some advice.” I get asked this question a lot, but I was surprised at the number and frequency they were coming in.
“Okay, is there something in the water across the entire United States?” I asked myself. “Cause something weird is going on here.”
And of course, it’s not the water, but we do seem to live in a time where people have a lot on their minds. Maybe it’s the political turmoil we see each day or the perfectly curated pictures that flood our feeds and cause us to play that comparison game. Or maybe you’ve always struggled with anxiety and depression, because a lot of us have.
Or, who knows, maybe it’s the weather.
Regardless, it’s a good reminder that no matter what happens in our daily lives, everyone experiences highs and lows, and we all need some tools to help us work through those tough moments.
So, I’ve compiled a list of things that have helped me work through rough moments and get my mental health in check and hopefully they can help you.
1. Get Involved
Volunteer – When we feel anxious or low, we often begin to look inward. We become hyper-focused on what we’re feeling and forget that there are others around us who are in need too. Volunteering is a good way to remind us that what we’re feeling, while it may be real and need to be addressed, doesn’t have to consume our every moment. Plus, when you volunteer, you walk away feeling good about helping others and about yourself. You can check out Volunteer Match for opportunities in the Charlotte area.
Join MeetUp.com – I have a friend who does a great job of getting involved in all of the MeetUps here in Charlotte. Not knowing a soul, she’d show up and do her best to meet friends and new people. I’d say it worked out in her favor – she met her significant other! There’s something to be said for being so bold, and I believe getting out and meeting new people, experiencing new walks of life, and simply trying something outside of our comfort zones helps us better understand our sense of worth and gives us courage to try more new things.
SweatNET – You are reading this on a platform that’s filled with a lot of other active members in the community. Reach out to your SweatNET Ambassadors! Follow us on social media, come to our events. We want to meet you and hang out. Most importantly, we want you to know you’re not alone.
ARC Running – This is my own personal plug. Come out to ARC Running. We’re a casual run club that meets every Tuesday at 7 PM near the tennis courts in Freedom Park off of East Blvd. We welcome all age groups and fitness levels. Then we go out to eat… can’t get any better than that! The goal is to bring people together in a setting that’s fun and laid back. We’re a community that welcomes all. For more info, follow our Instagram (@arc_running) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. A Support System
Therapy – The word gets thrown around like a hot potato these days, and some people are proud to grab it, claim it, and profess its effectiveness. Others? Well, they think it’s another ploy for doctors to make money. Or just another way to lament our actually perfectly fine lives to someone else. Or just a outright scam. Those people don’t understand what it feels like to have thoughts racing so fast you can’t sit still, can’t stop the tears, can’t catch your breath. Those people don’t understand what it’s like to go through a divorce, to lose a child, or to simply be overwhelmed. Go to therapy. When I say it has saved my quality of life, I mean, my therapist has helped me retrain my thoughts, so that when negative thoughts do come in, I don’t entertain them.
A toolkit – I recently wrote a blog post on ways to work through anxiety that don’t include running (cause I know y’all don’t have the same affinity for running that I do…). The biggest takeaways? Have a routine that you actually stick to and create a toolkit of things you’ve tried that work for you. Because what works for me may not work for you.
Train for a race (or something like that) – I find that when I working towards running a marathon (like Charlotte Marathon) or a half marathon, my mental health is much better, because I have a steady and routine workout plan. Maybe running isn’t your style, and that’s OK. Building a workout routine helps consistently pump those happy endorphins into your system, and who doesn’t want those for their mental health?
3. Keep These Things In Mind
This too shall pass – If you feel like you’ve hit a rut, and you just can’t get out of it, remember that this too shall pass. You won’t always feel this way, especially if you seek help if you need help. Sometimes, we take what we’re feeling and blow it up into a large monster it was never intended to be. Staying vigilant in knowing what triggers anxiety or depression in your life will help mitigate mental monsters (My B.A. in English Lit paid off just in that alliteration right there. #win).
Get away from your phone – I’m currently reading Catherine Price’s book, How To Break Up With Your Phone, cause let’s be honest… we’re all a little addicted to our phones. But here’s the thing, recent studies have shown that the use of smartphones (in excessive quantities) can lead to issues with self-esteem, sleep, anxiety, and depression. Oh, you think you’re not using your phone in excessive quantities? If you have an iPhone head over to your Settings, then go to Battery, then you’ll see just how much time you spend in each app. According to Price’s book, Americans spend more than 4 hours a day on their phones… where do you rank?
Go see your doctor – Finally, let’s be clear here. Medicine is OK. For a long time, I fought medicine. I thought that taking it meant failure and that my anxiety and depression was something I could just work through on my own. Granted, I have done enough work throughout my life to not need medicine, but I have take medicine plenty of times, and sometimes it DOES help. So, if you feel like you need something to help you, do not hesitate to seek help.
Well, folks. That’s all I’ve got for you (for right now). But you can always check out my blog www.runningmyselftogether.com or head over to my Instagram (@runningmyselftogether) for more mental health and running inspiration.