On a daily basis, I am actively involved in efforts to stay ahead of my Anxiety and predisposition to depressive thoughts. It’s a lot of work, but work well worth it.
On a good morning I remember to take some of my meds — the two different types of “chill pills” that don’t need to be taken with food — right away. This prevents the onset of two hours of hell which will begin about an hour or so after I wake up if I don’t take the meds.
On a good morning I spend time contemplating reasons to be grateful — like for my funny pup, Franco. To make this practice of gratitude a habit I created the blog “Snazzy Images.” On it I share and write a bit about my favorite photos of beauty, peace, and fun in the world.
On a good morning I exercise to get good (happy) chemicals churning in my brain. For example, endorphins, which are released during exercise, are chemicals that both help fight pain (a common feeling attached to Anxiety and panic attacks) and trigger feelings of awesomeness (the opposite of negative Anxiety). If I can’t (or don’t) exercise in the morning, I make a point of doing chest opening stretches to fatigue the area of my body that first physically feels Anxiety.
On a good day, if I didn’t exercise in the morning, I find time to do so later. As noted above exercise is simply one of the best things you can do to help make a brain happy.
On a good day I try identity situations during the day that might induce Anxiety and try get ahead of them. For instance, I use some creative jujitsu to turn soon-to-be present Anxiety into future Accomplishment. If my Anxiety seems to be getting ready for attack, and it’s using the list of meetings and tasks I need to tend to that day to overwhelm me, I try to say to myself, “Just imagine what tonight will feel like once you’ve accomplished everything you’ve got to do today. Michael, you’re going to accomplish a ton today, and the world will be a better place because of it.” (Admittedly, this creative jujitsu is difficult, but when I can do it, it really makes for an awesome day.)
On a good day I remember to take my afternoon medications. (My record in this regard is roughly 75% success rate.) I do not enjoy low-level Anxiety pouncing on one-quarter of my afternoons / early evenings.
My good days, unfortunately, often start at 4 am (because of my meds) and end at around 8:30 pm. So at around 8 pm my super-sleepy self takes my nighttime meds and mulls over what I will be grateful for in the next day. As I do this — usually looking at photos on my laptop — my eyelids become very heavy. Soon they are closed, and I realize my laptop must be set on the bedside table. I do so, roll on to my side, and fall asleep without any worries about the day ahead.
Not all days are good days. But they are becoming much more frequent. I am grateful for this.
(For what I try to do on potentially bad days, visit this post from months ago. Note that my mental health was not nearly as good as it is these days.)