What got me through my dark times (and could work for you!)
I've had a lot of dark times in my life, just as everyone has. I have gone through times were my lungs were full of pressure and anxiety and I had to struggle for every breath. I have had times where all I could do was fall on my knees and pray to my God to grant me strength for one more day. I have had times where all I could do besides get out of bed, was lay motionless on the couch for hours on end.
When it comes to dark times, I have had my fair share. I've fought through the bad times with my OCD, breathed through the anxiety, and put on a brave face during the depressed days.
But there is something that has always kept me going. There is one thing that I can find a small escape and reprieve through. My hobbies have literally sustained me during the times where I wasn't sure if I could keep going.
During high school, when I was at my worst, I had to find an outlet. I was starting to go insane with just school and stress. I wanted something that I could funnel energy and time into that did not involve my issues. I quite frankly needed it in order to survive what I was going through.
So I turned to music. I would sit at my desk, lay on my bed, and (on my good days) I would dance to the music that played out of my little iPod touch. Hours would race by, and I would find that I was not nearly as stressed during those times I was listening to music. My attention was focused on something other than my problems. I was enjoying myself for the first time in a long time, and those few hours a week saved me from my brain. I was able to take a breath and relax.
I decided to see if this technique would work on a few other of my hobbies. Running? Yup. Swimming? No. Reading? Sometimes. Crafting? Only if I had something on to listen too. Piano? Sometimes. Cleaning? See crafting.
I mentally started making a list of all the things that I loved doing. I then started to sort through what would take my mind off my issues and what didn't work as well. I had a lot of trial and error, a lot of fails and misses, and a lot of confusion. But in the end, I was able to make a clear decision on what worked and what didn't.
Over the years this list has changed a bit. Somethings don't work anymore, some work now, and some are not as efficient as they once were. But that's okay. The concept still remains the same!
I have come to recognize and accept the fact that as we get older our joys change and so will our brains. We will get better at handling and finding ways to cope with our problems, but we need to allow ourselves that growth and time. We will get better. But until we find the solution that works best for us, we need to find little ways to give our brains a break from working overtime.
So, what do I do nowadays to give myself a break and let my mind go blank?
I read. Not just any books though. I have to read books that make me think or have some element of mystery to them. These books allow me to be swallowed up in the story and not mindlessly reading.
I photograph. From start to finish, photography is so enjoyable to me. I love the creative freedom I get as I am taking pictures all the way to the editing time spent behind a laptop. Photography requires all my attention and I love that.
I lift weights. I feel powerful and focused as I concentrate on lifting my weights and working out. I don't let my mind wander. I am more concerned with not crushing my foot!
I still listen to music. Although I don't dance nearly as much anymore, I do a lot with music in the background. I have a specific playlist I listen too if I am overwhelmed and am able to calm down way faster with it. I seriously am so grateful for music and the way it has impacted my life for the better!
I meditate. I wasn't a big believer in meditations and guided imagery until I started going to hypnotherapy. Now I'm addicted. I love the app Calm and having the peace that comes from concentrating on being present. I listen to these when I am having a full blown panic attack and it has helped to calm me down more than once.
Those are some of the things that I enjoy doing. I love spending time with my husband and my pup, but sometimes feels my mind slipping if I am not in conversation with my husband. That's okay! I know that it's okay if I am not constantly in conversation with him, we are just comfortable with one another and find joy in doing our own activities near each other.
I want to give you a challenge. Start to notice what gives you peace. What hobbies do you practice that give you peace of mind? What activities could you combine to be even more efficient with your time? Once you know your own brain a little better you will be able to figure out the best way to treat yourself!
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