Today, I didn’t move much. I worked from bed. I played with my dog. I got my nails done. I even flowed through some yoga tonight. But I didn’t move much.
And that’s okay.
You know what else I didn’t do today? I didn’t change my eating habits just because I didn’t hit the gym. I didn’t get mad at myself for not moving enough. I didn’t guilt myself into moving more. I didn’t think of myself as less of a person simply because I wasn’t active today.
Today I didn’t move much. I was still productive. I still felt good. I still did right by my body. But I didn’t move much.
I love activity. I love moving my body and seeing what it can do. I love being outside, hiking or walking with my dog. I love riding my horse. I love doing yoga. Sometimes, I even love running. But today, I didn’t move much.
And that’s okay.
Movement shouldn’t be a punishment for what you ate, nor a chore you have to do. You should do it because it makes you feel good. It makes you feel like your best self. It makes you happy. You should move because it’s good for your body and your soul. But there are going to be some days it just isn’t what your body craves. These are the days you rest. These are the days you recover. These days make you lazy. They don’t make you anything.
Today, I didn’t move much. I felt good. I ate healthy, I was happy. But I didn’t move much.
Anxiety and depression seem to be becoming more common in our society these days. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect about 18% of Americans and around one third of those affected don’t seek treatment. Additionally, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, at least 6.7% of Americans have one major depressive episode per year. However, sometimes, even when the depressive episode isn’t what you’d consider “major, or if your anxiety creeps in for no apparent reason, it makes it hard to function sometimes. It’s mentally and physically exhausting, focusing is nearly impossible, and it seems like you just can’t do anything. You feel trapped and, let me tell you, it sucks.
So what can you do when you don’t think you can do anything? What can you do when your body feels weak and heavy, just like your brain, for no apparent reason (or even if there is an obvious cause)? How can you help yourself, even if it’s just in the short term? Here’s what I do:
Take a little time for reflection. When did you start feeling this way? Did anything trigger it? For a few minutes, just sit in the feeling, recognize the feeling for what it is, and absorb it. Yes, it can be extremely uncomfortable to do so, but until you identify the problem you are currently having and really accept that you are feeling what you are feeling, it is much more difficult to feel better
Just get up. Sometimes, this can be the absolute hardest thing to do on days when it seems like you just can’t. However, this is probably the most important thing you can do to help yourself. Just get up and start moving. Start going through the motions of your every day life. Just start. I know you can.
Go outside. Once you’ve started your day, the next step is to get some sunshine (if there is some). It’s amazing what a little vitamin D can do for the soul. Even if you just go outside and sit, it can be extremely therapeutic. Try to focus on the sounds around you, the smells, the warmth of the sun, etc. Mother nature is pretty powerful, and she takes care of us.
Move. Exercise of any form produces endorphins, and in the words of Elle Woods: “Exercise gives you endorphins, Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” And if it’s good enough to help prove Brooke Windham’s innocence, I think it’ll help you fight your depression, even if it’s just a little.
Do something that normally makes you happy. I know with depression, the things that make you usually make you happy don’t seem enjoyable at all. With anxiety, they might get your heart and mind racing. But once you’re in the midst of those activities, you might just find the little spark that puts a smile on your face.
Cuddle. Whether it’s a significant other, a pet, or your old stuffed animal, it’s amazing what a little cuddling can do. It’s especially helpful if all of the items mentioned above really do seem impossible.
Light candles. For me, a little lavender and the smell of “calming waves” bring me peace. Additionally, the warm glow of the flame has a calming effect. It’s like bringing a little bit of the spa into your home.
When functioning really is impossible, that’s okay. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and try to work through it. Take care of yourself first and everything else will come.
I’m definitely not a therapist, and have no professional experience with mental health, but I do have personal experience. What I have mentioned above is how I cope on the days I just can’t. I have had quite a few days, particularly while I’ve been in graduate school, where functioning seems like the most daunting task of all. The aforementioned strategies are how I get through those days, and I’ve began seeing a therapist to help develop coping mechanisms and be more proactive with my mental health.
Please take care of yourself. Health isn’t just about kale salads or CrossFit. Your mental and emotional welfare are also extremely important when trying to live a full, balanced life. You can help yourself, even if that means seeking professional help. But on the days when you can’t speak to a professional, or feel like you can’t do anything, the above strategies may be able to give you a little more strength to get you through the day.
I’ve always been a bit of a homebody. When I was young, I had a hard time with sleepovers because all I wanted was to go home and sleep in my own bed. As I got older, those feelings didn’t change much, but I learned how to handle it better (most of the time). When high school rolled around, however, all I wanted to do was get out of my house, get out of town, and get away. I was a typical teenager; all I wanted a new town, new people, and a fresh start. So when I moved to Colorado for college, that’s what I got. Little did I know at the time, moving away would eventually be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
At almost exactly 1200 miles and 18 hours away from Santa Maria, California, Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, was the perfect change of scenery for me. It had everything an incoming college freshman could want: a great downtown area, a diverse student population, and all the outdoor adventures a girl could want. To say I was excited would be an understatement. On top of that, I’d been visiting Fort Collins my whole life on family vacations to see my extended family. So it was a great place to make a new start, but still have a bit of a safety net.
About three months into my first semester at CSU, I began to feel homesick. Things I’d hated about the Central Coast of California, I suddenly craved; the fog, the lack of seasons, the familiarity of it all. I missed it more than I ever thought possible. Luckily, soon after this feeling started, I was able to go home for the holidays and get my fix. This pattern continued throughout my time as an undergraduate- I’d be in school for a few months, miss the heck out of California, go home for a break, and be ready to return to Colorado.
During my last semester of my senior year, I was ready to leave Fort Collins for good. I’d had a great four years, but I was ready for something different, even if different meant moving home to figure out my life. About three weeks before I graduated, however, I received an email about a new master’s program the university had just started. A few faculty members proceeded to encourage me to apply, and while I did, I wasn’t particularly sold on the idea of graduate school. Even though I had been accepted to the program and offered full tuition coverage, I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to continue my education. I was ready to move home, to be back in California, and to start my life. I was tired of Fort Collins and burnt out on school. I was ready to move on. But opportunities like the one I had been offered don’t come around very often, so I chose to return to CSU to begin the second leg of my journey there.
At first, I was extremely happy to go back. It was like I was getting a new start but in the same place with my old friends. It seemed ideal. Unfortunately, however, the excitement soon wore off and I found myself falling into my old cycle again, but much quicker this time. Within a couple months, I was missing home. Every little thing that reminded me of the Central Coast nearly brought tears to my eyes. When I finally got the chance to visit home at Christmas, it wasn’t quite the fix I was jonesing for. I left the coast still wanting more and went back to Fort Collins to finish my second semester of grad school.
Emotionally, it was probably the roughest semester of my life and I quickly found myself dreaming of home. During that semester, however, I found out that home was changing. My mom and step-dad had decided to buy a house in a new town and fix it up. They told the family that they planned on moving by the end of the year. That hit me hard. While I didn’t think I’d necessarily miss Santa Maria, that house had been my home for fifteen years. I went through so much in that house and I had a hard time thinking that it wouldn’t be home anymore.
A couple weeks ago, I was able to take a trip home. In the eight days I was in California, I took full advantage of what it had to offer. I visited family in the Sonoma Valley (one of my absolute favorite places) before heading down to the Central Coast. I took advantage of the delicious Mexican food, the beaches, and being close to family. In addition to that, I took the time to say goodbye to the town and the house that have been home for the last fifteen years. I walked around my neighborhood, thinking about how much the houses had changed over the years. I walked past my old elementary school, internally reminiscing about my childhood years spent there. I spent time wandering around my house, moving from room to room, remembering all the milestones met on those hardwood floors. I lounged in the backyard, appreciating the blooming rosebushes and thinking about my very first dog buried beneath them. I did all of these things as a way of saying goodbye to my long-time home. It was the best way to get closer with the fact that I may never get to truly go home again.
Throughout the last few years, and particularly in the last few weeks, I have been learning to appreciate the past for what it was and to look forward to the future as it comes. Most importantly, however, I’ve been learning that the best way to do both of those things is to live in the moment and be mindful of the experiences you’re having every single day. They say you can’t go home again, and while I might be losing the house I’ve called home for the last fifteen years, I will never lose my home. I truly believe that we make new homes as we go throughout life and each one of those new homes is made up if pieces of your old homes. And in that way, each of us can always go home again.
Today was a good day. I got a full night’s sleep, ate a healthy breakfast, and even got a good workout in. But aside from all of that, I was genuinely happy.
Having been going a million miles a minute for the last couple weeks, I’ve been utterly exhausted. I would try to look like a full-functioning human being by wearing trendy outfits, doing my makeup, and even doing my hair. I was putting a lot of effort into everything: my work, school, appearance. But I wasn’t making any effort to be kind to myself.
Today, that changed. For the first time in a while, I was able to put my sanity and happiness before anything. I left the house in workout clothes and last night’s makeup (a habit I really don’t recommend. It wreaks havoc on your skin and eyelashes), with my hair in a high ponytail and flyaways creating an aura of relaxation around my head. Even while looking like a complete mess, post-workout sweat and all, I was the most confident I have been in a long time. I walked around campus, listening the The Chainsmoker’s album The Bouquet, feeling like I could take on the world. And I want to share that feeling with all of you.
There’s a quote that I have been obsessed with for a while:
This idea is one I try to keep with me every day. No matter how crappy or beat down I feel, I know that I am truly glorious simply because I am me. Today, even when I looked like a sweaty, raccoon-eyed, crazy-haired zombie, I was confident. I was able to embrace who I was today, and that made all the difference.
So, to whoever is reading this, you are absolutely glorious because you are you. No matter your size, shape, color, mood, skillset, etc. you are a beautiful human being and don’t you ever think otherwise.