What to Do When It’s a Friend or Loved One w/Anxiety or Depression Pt 7

Avoid minimizing

People face all kinds of unpleasant situations in life. Some of these challenges have a much broader or far-reaching impact than others.

It’s not for anyone else to say how upset someone should (or shouldn’t) feel about any given type of distress.

Comparing a loved one’s difficulties with problems faced by other people often happens inadvertently, as an attempt at consolation.

You might intend to cheer them up by saying things like, “It could be a lot worse,” or “At least you still have a job.” This denies them their experience and often implies they shouldn’t feel bad in the first place.

No matter how trivial you think someone’s concern is, avoid brushing it off.

Sure, maybe the lecture your best friend received from her boss wouldn’t have bothered you. But you can’t fully understand her experience or emotional response, so it’s not fair to minimize her feelings.

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/emotional-support#avoid-minimizing

My thoughts: When I was younger and I was having these mood swings or thoughts, my parents told me to “pray about it”. I really didn’t understand the whole concept of God and prayer. As time went on, not only did I not pray about it, I did nothing about it for a very long time and it was just accepted behavior or “something is wrong with that one”.

Since I have become older and I finally started to not only get the help I need but, also to understand what it was I was dealing with, my parents seem to have grown as well. They have somewhat of a better understanding and acceptance that praying is necessary but, so is self-help (meditation, reading, exercising, etc.) and therapy.

I figured out who I could talk to and who I could not by the responses of those in my circle. If I was minimized, if anxiety and depression was minimized, if they stared at me as if I had a unicorn horn in the middle of my forehead, or the pompous, “Sorry, I don’t have anxiety. So, I don’t know what to tell you”, I never opened my mouth to those people again. When they ask me what’s wrong, I say, “Nothing.”

~Nikki

What to Do When It’s a Friend or Loved One w/Anxiety or Depression Pt 6

Build them up

Times of personal difficulty, especially ones involving rejection, can bring people down and make them doubt themselves and their abilities.

If you notice someone you care for seems to be a little low, harder on themselves than usual, or going through some self-doubt, a sincere compliment or two can go a long way toward improving their outlook.

When offering compliments, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind:

  • Keep them relevant to the current situation. For example, you might remind a friend who’s upset about a mistake at work about their usual pattern of success.
  • Choose compliments that highlight specific strengths over empty compliments that might apply to anyone. Instead of simply saying “You’re so thoughtful,” pinpoint what makes them thoughtful and share your appreciation for that skill.
  • Don’t gush. A well-placed compliment can make someone feel great. Overdoing it can make people skeptical of the compliments, or even a little uncomfortable (even when you do really mean them).

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/emotional-support#positivity

~Nikki

What to Do When It’s a Friend or Loved One w/Anxiety or Depression Pt 5

Skip the advice

You might think you’re helping someone by telling them how to fix a problem. But, generally speaking, people don’t want advice unless they request it.

Even when you know you have the right solution, don’t offer it unless they specifically ask something like, “What do you think I should do?” or “Do you know of anything that might help?”

If they’ve moved from “venting” to “talking through the problem,” a better approach often involves using reflective questions to help them find solutions on their own.

You might, for example, say something like:

  • “Have you been in a situation like this before? What helped then?”
  • “Can you think of any specific changes that might help you feel better?”

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/emotional-support#avoid-advice

I know you know everything or maybe you know exactly what to do BUT, SKIP THE ADVICE UNLESS YOU ARE ASKED!

~Nikki

What to Do When It’s a Friend or Loved One w/Anxiety or Depression Pt. 4 You’re a Judge?

Avoid judgment

Nobody likes feeling judged. Someone facing a difficult situation as a result of their actions may have done some self-judgment already.

Regardless, when seeking support, people generally don’t want to hear a critique — even if you offer constructive criticism with the best of intentions.

When offering support, try to keep your opinions on what they should have done or where they went wrong to yourself.

Avoid asking questions they might interpret as blaming or judgmental, such as, “So what made them so mad at you?”

Even if you don’t offer any direct judgment or criticism, tone can convey a lot of emotion, so your voice might share emotions you didn’t intend to say outright.

Take care to keep notes of disapproval out of your voice by focusing on feelings like sympathy and compassion when you speak.

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/emotional-support#avoid-judgment

~Nikki

What to Do When It’s a Loved One or Friend w/Anxiety or Depression Pt 3

Validate

Think about the last time you went through something difficult. You probably wanted to talk to someone about the problem, but you may not have necessarily wanted them to fix it for you or make it go away.

Maybe you just wanted to vent your frustration or disappointment and get some soothing acknowledgment in return.

Support doesn’t require you to fully understand a problem or provide a solution. Often, it involves nothing more than validation.

When you validate someone, you’re letting them know you see and understand their perspective.

The support people often want most is recognition of their distress. So, when a loved one tells you about the challenges they’re going through, they may not need you to jump in and help. You might offer the best support simply by showing concern and offering a caring presence.

Some validating phrases you can use are:

  • “I’m sorry you’re dealing with that situation. It sounds so painful.”
  • “That sounds so upsetting. I understand why you’re feeling so stressed right now.”

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/emotional-support#validation

~Nikki

What To Do When It’s a Loved One or Friend with Anxiety or Depression. Pt 2

Be Socially and Emotionally Supportive

What it is

People show emotional support for others by offering genuine encouragement, reassurance, and compassion. This might include things like verbal expressions of sympathy or physical gestures of affection.

Emotional support can come from other sources, too — religious or spiritual sources, community activities, or even your pets. Whatever form it takes, this support can improve anyone’s outlook and general wellness.

Some people have a knack for being emotionally supportive, but this skill doesn’t come naturally to everyone.

ASK AND LISTEN

Ask…

When you want to provide emotional support to someone you care about, asking a few questions is a great place to start.

“How can I support you?” can sometimes work, but it’s not always the best approach.

While good intentions lie behind questions like these, they sometimes fail to have the impact you desire.

People don’t always know what they want or need, especially in the middle of a difficult situation. So, this question can be so broad it leaves someone unsure how to reply.

Instead, try asking questions tailored to a situation or the person’s state of mind, such as:

  • “You seem a little upset today. Would you like to talk about it?”
  • “I know your boss was giving you a tough time. How have you been holding up?”

If you know someone has faced some challenges and aren’t sure how to open a conversation, try starting with some general questions, such as, “What’s been happening in your life lately?”

Try to keep your questions open-ended instead of asking questions that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” This invites an explanation and helps keep the discussion going.

… and listen

It’s not enough to simply ask questions. Listening actively, or empathically, is another important part of providing emotional support.

When you really listen to someone, you give them your full attention. Show interest in their words by:

  • displaying open body language, like turning your body toward them, relaxing your face, or keeping your arms and legs uncrossed
  • avoiding distractions, like playing with your phone or thinking about other things you need to do
  • nodding along with their words or making noises of agreement instead of interrupting
  • asking for clarification when you don’t understand something
  • summarizing what they’ve said to show you have a good grasp of the situation

Using good listening skills shows others you care about what they’re going through. For someone who’s struggling, knowing that someone else has heard their pain can make a big difference.

healthline.com

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/emotional-support#active-listening

~Nikki

What To Do When It’s a Friend or Loved One with Anxiety or Depression Part 1

What do you do when it’s a friend or a loved one that has anxiety or depression?

Strong relationships can go a long way toward improving the outlook and emotional well-being when they live with mental health conditions.

Friends and family can:

  • listen with compassion when they need to talk
  • provide encouragement and emotional support
  • join them in hobbies or activities that offer a positive distraction
  • offer rides, grocery runs, and other more tangible forms of support when they have trouble getting things done

Simply knowing they have someone they trust in their life can often help them feel less alone, whether they actually want to talk about your symptoms or not.

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/depression-and-anxiety#coping-tips

Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: Tearing Down Paradigms

Me: Why does this have to be so hard?

God: Because walls don’t come down easily. It takes demolition.

Me: I don’t like this.

God: I know. But, it’s for your good.

That did not make me feel much better. Knowing something is for my good but, the huge challenge of not just shifting thoughts but, tearing down fixed thoughts. Breakthroughs are BREAK-THROUGHS and they come by breaking something. This mental war to remove a fear is a battle I haven’t fought in a long time. I am not sure if I have ever been through something like this and if I have, I can’t remember. So, how do I deal with this thing? This…huge fear about a particular thing. This fixed array of thoughts?

I’m not quite ready to face it but, I know I have to. In the meantime, I am trying to understand the root of this fear and how to control my thoughts and tear down thoughts at the same time. In my research, this came about, “THOUGHTS ARE DIFFICULT TO CONTROL BUT, NOT IMPOSSIBLE”. The NOT IMPOSSIBLE part gave me hope and it’s continuing to give me the strength to keep up the “good fight”. Think about it, so many things we do or have done are difficult but we do them!

I got that from Swami Makundananda along with these things:

  • It requires EFFORT
  • It requires PRACTICE. Effort and Practice.
  • It requires DETACHMENT. Effort and Detachment

And this will lead to success.

I am trying and it is a very difficult challenge that has come at a time when I wish it had not. Yet, here I am in the middle of it. If you believe in prayer, send up some for me. If you believe in love and light send that, too. Continuously. Overcoming this paradigm is draining and I am just beginning to uproot it through understanding. Not to mention, my attitude is “I don’t like this!” and I am trying to conform to “acceptance” because I know accepting it will make it easier.

~Nikki

Mental Health: What Helps Me

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

One of the major keys to dealing with anxiety and depression is to get ahold of it before it spirals out of control. But exactly how is that done? Also, having a plan for when it does spiral out of control is necessary to expedite your recovery to mental and emotional stability. Therapy, scriptures, and affirmations are three major tools that have helped me. Also, having someone you trust when you can’t talk to your therapist and having a SOURCE, which I call God/Creator/Divine/Source when you have no one to talk to is major. For me, Source is always available but, I know there are things I can do on my own to help myself. And this is encouraged by Source.

I think you should really get to know who you are and how things affect you. The only way to do that is to be totally honest with yourself. I am sensitive as I found most creative people are. It allows us to channel our emotions into what we are creating. I have a tendency to take things more personally, overthink, and overanalyze. I have learned how to back out of those things and become an observer for the most part. I also know that it takes me time to move past things. Over the years it has become easier to move past things. I think that comes with wisdom and not age.

Here are some of the things I do to help me to get ahold of anxiety and depression:

I acknowledge what I am feeling and then I ask myself why I am feeling it. What happened? Who said it? Consider the source from which it came from and are they credible? No one is more credible than God for me. If it’s coming from a person I don’t know, a person that is negative, a person that doesn’t like me, why would I feed into their opinion? Exactly. Unless, deep down inside I feel that way about myself and I am honest if I do! If they say, “You are ugly” and lately I have been ripping myself apart I’m going to feel bad. BUT YOU have the power to change what you feel by changing what you think and speak.

I use affirmations for anxiety and depression. If I feel afraid to sleep, I say to myself over and over, I am safe in my body. I am safe in my home.

I use scripture pertaining to whatever I am feeling or scriptures to contrary. If I feel weak, I say I am strong. If I feel afraid, I say God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power and love.

I pray.

I say, “Oh. I am feeling some anxiety today. I can fold my clothes. I can do some work as I work through this. I can do some exercise.”

If I have persistent thoughts or episodes, I make an appointment with my therapist (currently searching for a new one).

I talk to a friend I trust.

I cry. Crying is a release.

I pamper myself. I take hot showers. I oil and lotion up. I give myself a pedi/mani or go get one. I soak in a lavender Epsom salt and pink Himalayan salt mix. I schedule a massage session.

I go to my bathroom and read my yearly marching orders or my affirmations to reset my brain.

Now, what about when anxiety is CODE RED or depression is CODE BLUE!

My plan is to shut things down for a day or two this can include social media and putting phone calls on hold.

I call my therapist.

I rely on all the things above.

I immerse myself in Netflix, a blanket, and the couch.

I allow myself to sleep.

I lose myself in a hobby.

BUT the maximum I give myself is TWO DAYS and then I MUST come out of it. Anything longer than that can set me up for darker and deeper holes that are difficult and require help to come out of. I come out of it by pushing, forcing, and dragging myself to get back to a routine. A little at a time. And during this time, I make sure personal hygiene stays on top. If you don’t wash your face, brush your teeth, change clothes, shower, YOU WILL FEEL EVEN MORE LIKE CRAP. People tend to let themselves go in bouts of anxiety and deep dark times of depression.

During this time, I stay hydrated. I do allow myself some treats but I also make sure I eat as healthily as possible. Too much sugar or salt will make you feel worse. I add one of those packs of Vitamin C to my water. I sit on the porch. I go for a walk. I do 10 minutes of yoga if I don’t feel like doing 30. I do tai chi because it is slow movement. I may just stretch every two hours.

I hope this helps someone. Recently in Memphis, this week, we went through so many tragedies many of us are feeling things we can’t explain and some of us know exactly what we are feeling.

~Nikki

Mental Health and Healthy Eating for a PEACE OF MIND

I have to admit that when I have too much sugar in my diet, I feel terrible. When I don’t eat enough carbs, I feel terrible. When my insulin level rises, I can’t think straight and when it is too low, I can’t think straight. I feel grouchy. Whether you are diabetic or not, the body needs balance. A fatty, sugary diet doesn’t help your body or your mind. A diet lacking in nutrition or protein doesn’t help your body, brain, organs or mind.

What we eat doesn’t just affect our physical health: it can also affect our mental health and wellbeing. Eating well – which means having a balanced diet full of vegetables and nutrients – can improve your sense of wellbeing and your mood. -mentalhealth.org/uk

When you stick to a diet of healthy food, you’re setting yourself up for fewer mood fluctuations, an overall happier outlook and an improved ability to focus, Dr. Cora says. Studies have even found that healthy diets can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. -aetna.com

When I am in a depressive state or dealing with exhaustion, water helps me tremendously. What I take into my physical body helps me tremendously. I am tempted to eat sugary foods and salty foods. More so salty when I am feeling anxious and sweet when I am feeling depressed. These types of foods only bring me a temporary feeling of satisfaction. Below is an explanation from aetna.com

Here’s how it works: Your GI tract is home to billions of bacteria that influence the production of neurotransmitters, chemical substances that constantly carry messages from the gut to the brain. (Dopamine and serotonin are two common examples.)

Eating healthy food promotes the growth of “good” bacteria, which in turn positively affects neurotransmitter production. A steady diet of junk food, on the other hand, can cause inflammation that hampers production. When neurotransmitter production is in good shape, your brain receives these positive messages loud and clear, and your emotions reflect it. But when production goes awry, so might your mood.

Sugar, in particular, is considered a major culprit of inflammation, plus it feeds “bad” bacteria in the GI tract. Ironically, it can also cause a temporary spike in “feel good” neurotransmitters, like dopamine. That isn’t good for you either, says Rachel Brown, co-founder of The Wellness Project, a consultancy that works with corporations to promote good health among employees. The result is a fleeting sugar rush that is followed shortly thereafter by a crash “that’s terrible for your mood,” she says.

When you stick to a diet of healthy food, you’re setting yourself up for fewer mood fluctuations, an overall happier outlook and an improved ability to focus, Dr. Cora says. Studies have even found that healthy diets can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Unhealthy diets have been linked to an increased risk of dementia or stroke.

To read more and to be better informed so that you can make better choices, here is the link https://www.aetna.com/health-guide/food-affects-mental-health.html

~Nikki