I have been struggling with my depression and anxiety lately. Two feelings that have followed, and at times, plagued me for years. They’ve also taught me a lot about myself, my resilience, and what it means to truly take care of oneself.
Most of the time these feelings sit at a 4 or a 5 severity level, which is completely manageable. Other times they’re at an 8 or 9 and it seems impossible.
But, I have come to know and understand these feelings. And practice three specific strategies that keep me at a steady state. These practices have completely altered the way I approach depression and anxiety and reduced my symptoms dramatically.
1. Telling on myself. Sharing with people what’s really going on, thus relieving myself of the toxic burden of shame. The story I tell myself is, if I tell you what’s going on, you won’t respect me. You’ll write my value to zero. When the truth is, when I’m vulnerable with you, you can be vulnerable with me. And that’s when we truly connect as our authentic selves. The kind of connection that makes us feel heard, seen, and cared for.
2. I’ve been interviewing my depression and anxiety. Asking them, in a kind voice, what exactly it is they’ve come to teach me. My favorite poem is The Guesthouse by Rumi. He suggests that we meet all feelings at the door no matter what they are, as they are all guides from beyond. My God doesn’t give me these feelings to punish me, rather, to try and tell me something. I have gathered that my depression and anxiety are often here to teach me how to be gentle and compassionate towards others and myself. To slow down and listen with thoughtful, uninterrupted intention.
3. Meditation – this has been a true game changer. I meditate for 20 min in the morning and 20 min before bed. When I first started this practice, I couldn’t feel or see the results. It is difficult for me to quiet my mind and just slow down. But my body and mind were slowly at work each time I allowed myself the space, just 40 min a day, to try and be still. After about a week, I was able to start quieting my mind for the first 1-2 min. Today, I can get up to 4-5 min of quiet where I repeat a simple mantra and am able to redirect my thoughts when my mind wanders from my intention.
My mantra centers around abundance as my anxiety, and scarcity as my depression.
This week, take action when you start to struggle. Don’t trap yourself inside of your anxiety, depression, or shame. Give one or all three of these strategies a try. Or put your own self-care into motion. And last, but not least, do share a bit of yourself with others. Allow others to support and guide you through the hard times. You may just find they need the same. We are always stronger together.
Unconditional Love, Accountability, Community
-Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community