For a long time there I was spiraling down a rabbit hole that I wasn’t sure I’d ever find a way out of. And to be totally honest with you, I wasn’t sure I wanted to. For years all I’ve had to hold onto were feelings of deep sadness, anger, and resentment. Those feelings have defined me and made me strong. Helped me make some hard decisions. Turned me into a businesswoman. But they also closed me off from the world. Despite my loneliness, I didn’t know who I’d be without sadness and anger sitting on my shoulders so I held them both tight and kept heading down the rabbit hole of deep depression.
Six months went by…
The snow turned to mud, mud turned to grass, the grass started to die… and I had no idea. I was so lost in my haze of depression that I couldn’t even tell you what month we were in. My boyfriend and my doctors didn’t know what to do with me. As a last resort before checking into a hospital I went to North Carolina for a therapy retreat. This therapy retreat was basically 3-4 hours of therapy per day with some spa treatments mixed in. I was forced to live a healthy lifestyle for a week and it really opened my eyes to how unkind I have been to myself and to my body.
My life had turned into a vicious cycle of me hating myself for my anger and for treating myself so badly and then projecting that hate onto other people. And then hating myself for projecting that hate. And then starting all over again.
Over the next few months I’ll be sharing my experience, the things I’ve learned, and the things I’m doing to stay both mentally and physically healthy. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some healthy habits I am introducing to my life. Some are new and some are just old habits that I slowly gave up over time.
And for some of you all of these things may be total no brainers that you’re already doing because you’re ‘normal’ and/or healthy and you’re gonna be all mad at me at the end of the post that I wasted like 4 minutes of your life and for that I am so sorry. But for the others who may be sad or depressed or in a funk or honestly just don’t have your shit together, I suggest adding some, if not all, of these healthy things into your lives. And I’ll be doing more detailed posts on some of these soon!
7 Healthy Habits
1. Reading and Journaling
For a while there I was all gung-ho on reading first thing in the morning but likeeee then I got slapped in the face with depression and literally couldn’t do anything but binge-watch Criminal Minds. <—- so not healthy. At my therapy retreat, if I wasn’t in a therapy session, yoga, or at the spa I was reading and journaling. The therapist assigned me books based on things we talked about and then I’d journal about what I read and how it made me feel. Basically, I read more books in a week than I’ve read in 5 years, learned a lot about myself, and found it super therapeutic.
I split my reading time between books for growth and books for enjoyment. Below are the books I am reading now. As I finish these up, my therapists here in Aspen will give me more reading to do so I’m thinking about maybe doing a once a month ‘books I’m reading’ kind of post. Thoughts?
2. Eating 3 Meals a Day
So I’ve struggled with eating for a long time and the deeper I got into my depression the more I struggled. Some of the time I was just too sad to eat and other times I’d convince myself that another day of not eating was another day closer to not having to be alive. And then other times I’d convince myself I didn’t deserve to eat. And then when I finally got really really hungry and was ready to shove all the food I could find into my face, my brain would decide that it was time to test my control.
Here’s the thing. Our brains need to be nourished and because mine was so undernourished, my thoughts stopped making sense. No wonder I couldn’t function enough to keep running my business or have any friends.
At my therapy retreat I was required to eat 3 meals a day with the other women who were there. These meals were simple but healthy. After one full day of eating I felt the fog in my brain start to clear up. And with the next full day of eating came even more clarity. I didn’t gain any weight which was a big fear of mine. In fact, I lost a couple pounds but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is how tricky our brains are. All of that negative talk in the beginning of this section was a direct combination of mental illnesses and my brain being hangry.
Now that I’m home I am taking the time to go grocery shopping and eat 3 healthy meals a day modeled after the ones that were made for me last week. If you too are battling a major depression you need to nourish your brain in order to start your healing process.
3. Yoga and Meditation
If you met me likeeee I dunno… two weeks ago, yoga would not be on this list and meditation was not in my vocabulary. But in all fairness this list would not have existed two weeks ago because I was the epitome of unhealthy both mentally and physically.
The therapy retreat I went to was wonderful but in all honesty it was the mandatory private yoga sessions that changed my entire world. I’ll say it again. Yoga changed my entire world.
I’ve taken yoga classes before and I never really ‘got it‘ if ya know what I mean. More than anything I left the classes feeling frustrated, defeated, and kind of like ‘what the heck is wrong with me? how on earth do people find that peaceful?’
I’m going to do more posts about yoga in the near future because it really was life changing for me and it kinda sucks that it took having to spend thousands of dollars on a therapy retreat to finally understand the therapeutic effects and benefits of yoga. I’m going to continue taking private yoga lessons here in Aspen for a while until I feel like I understand it enough to really benefit from the classes. I also bought a few books that my yoga instructor from the retreat recommended I read to ease my way into yoga.
Another word that was not in my vocabulary a couple weeks ago and I will be writing more about in the future. But don’t worry… I’m not about to get religious on you.
My first few days at the therapy retreat were rough for a few reasons but one of them was that I kept butting heads with the doctor about faith. I’ve always had a bad taste in my mouth when it came to faith and religion. In turn that bad taste made praying a no-go for me. I kept saying that I didn’t like the idea of religion and I couldn’t have faith in anything because what kind of higher power takes away someones family and gives them so much pain? But the truth is that I was just sitting around waiting for my pain to be justified and validated and it wasn’t happening… And you know what? It was never going to happen.
If you are unsure of where you sit with faith and/or the Universe, I really recommend you read Spirit Junkie. More than finding faith, it really helped me shift my mindset from fear to love and shed that need for validation (which I’ll be writing about in the future). Every morning and every night I pray. I’m not really sure to whom but out loud I ask to be guided to choose light instead of dark, love instead of fear, and most importantly to find forgiveness and use it as my guide to safety, serenity, and inner peace. I don’t know, I feel like even if there isn’t a higher power out there listening, it’s still a good every day reminder.
5. Caring for My Skin
It’s not like I’m old… but I’m not that young either! Skincare is something that is soooo easy to let fall to the wayside when your life is being run by depression. If there’s one thing I wish I never stopped doing, it’s caring for my skin. When my skin feels healthy, I feel a lot better about myself. I’ve been pampering my skin with Pamela Metamorphosis products which are amazing. I can’t wait to share them with you guys next week!
I think a big part of recovering from anything is being real with yourself. For me, my anxiety spikes at night which then triggers my inability to sleep. Then 48 hours later I haven’t shut my eyes for more than a blink and I’ve left really sassy comments in places that I’m not proud of. A big trigger for my anxiety is being plugged in for too long. I have such an all or nothing personality (work in progress) that a simple scroll through my Instagram feed can remind me of the 9 million things I should be doing or want to be doing and then my brain just doesn’t shut up.
Making a conscious effort to unplug at the same time every night has been really helpful for me. Unplugging for me means turning off my phone and computer from 8pm until morning and being at peace with being disconnected for a while. I know this is so not realistic for some people but figure out what works for you. Maybe you just keep your phone off or in a different room until bedtime.
7. Switching From Coffee to Tea – Kindaish
I’ve never really been a need caffeine to function kinda gal. And if that’s you… you may consider this to be bad advice. More than anything coffee has been a sense of comfort for me. And maybe even a way to pass time. Like at my last 9-5, I took coffee breaks the way smokers took cigarette breaks. I’m slightly surprised I haven’t had a heart attack yet.
I’ve limited my coffee to two cups a day and replace the rest of my would be coffees with chai tea (with a little milk and honey!). I’ve noticed a difference in my body since the switch. I don’t feel so heavy or bloated. And for someone who claims they don’t need caffeine to function, I’ve noticed a drop in my anxiety in the evenings.
What Healthy Habits do you live by? Tell me in the comments below!
Ready for one more healthy habit?! Start a daily mantra wall! Download my list of affirmations to help you get started.