An image of a football game has probably crossed your mind already just by reading the title (Go Patriots!), but contrary to where your mind has probably taken you; the ESPN I am referring to here is not the famous sports channel. Instead, it is the 4 way step to self care during anxiety; Exercise, Sleep, Plan and Nutrition.
Sleep is the first point to be addressed because it is the building block of ESPN. If you don’t get enough sleep, you will not be able to fulfill the rest of the coping mechanisms. Want to be a 100% sure? Try it out for yourself. Stay up late then sleep and wake up early. After coming back from class, try to exercise or plan an event, or even try to prepare a meal to eat; you will collapse before you even attempt to do any of them.
While it is hard to sleep when you have a million things on your mind, it is not impossible. To get better sleep make sure you schedule your days starting in the early morning so that you will be tired enough by the end of the day. That way, staying up super late would be out of the question as you will pass out most likely by 12 am. If you need additional help, you can always take sleeping medicine if that works best for you. Another good way to sleep is to take a dancing lesson or exercise at night so that it wears you out by the time you come home, and puts you to sleep. Make sure you watch a nice clip whether it is a funny/romantic scene, or listen to your favorite music, so that your anxiety and depression won’t follow you to bed. While you can’t control your dreams, sleeping on a happy note does help with relaxation and optimizing your sleep time. Once you start getting enough sleep, you will have enough energy to start your day and plan it out.
That takes us to the next point, nutrition. You already know that your body needs fuel to work even though it is very tempting to reject food when you are feeling down. To overcome the problem, try to remind yourself that without nutrition, you will be able to do nothing but sleep, and by doing that, you will miss your daily obligations and become more depressed. Sometimes, mental health illness also prohibits us from eating for different reasons such as self punishment or mood swings. Therefore, it is important to remind yourself to eat so you can be able to perform your daily routine. Place an alarm on your phone that reminds you of meal times so you won’t forget. You can also try to surround yourself with people during meal times to feel more encouraged to eat. Most importantly, remember that without nutrition, you won’t be able to work out and have enough energy to stay in shape, which will enhance your problem if you care about appearance.
Speaking of working out, don’t forget about it! I know the idea of it isn’t exciting especially when you are feeling down, but twice a week at least should be a good goal for exercising. Make sure you bring with you to the gym your favorite work out music to get motivated. Most importantly, pick your gym inspiration technique. That is crucial to get you ready and motivated to work out because let’s face it, without motivation, going to the gym isn’t going to happen. Always congratulate yourself when you’re done with your workout and give yourself a treat. That can be chocolate, watching a movie, or just a positive pep talk to yourself. The best thing about it is that you decide what motivates you and what kind of an after gym reward you want. The key here is that you are your own master, and that is important to because your mind is usually in control during depression/anxiety.
Lastly, plan it out. Don’t forget to plan what you want to do during your days, whether that is studying, working, hanging out with friends or even just watching an episode on Netflix. Sometimes, our mental health impedes us from following our daily routine or achieving our goals. Therefore a to do list is important to keep us in the loop of our priorities. Finally, don’t forget to add some fun activities to your daily plan, and make sure they are activities that make you happy. At the end of the day you owe it to yourself to be happy, you deserve it.
By: Lana Mehier, Anxiety In Teens Contributor