I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but like many actual doctors I haven’t been taking care of myself lately.
It’s not surprising, but my anxiety has been running quite high at times lately. I see a news headline and it shoots up. My wife mentions that we’re running low on something and my anxiety rears it’s ugly head.
I noticed my heart racing while relaxing on the couch watching a rather sedate movie with my family. While I’m getting plenty of sleep, my right eye has started twitching, which is usually a sign of a lack of sleep for me. I’m also clearly stress eating and not getting a whole lot of fresh air.
I have been neglecting my health and well-being, which is not the thing to be doing right now, especially for someone with a history of depression.
Before I get into what I’m doing to try to course correct, let me say that I’ve been getting three things right. I’m sleeping, I’m taking my medication, and I haven’t had any alcohol (again, I’m not an alcoholic, but I stopped having any alcohol when my most recent depressive episode started 20 months ago).
While we were in Ottawa, I wasn’t working out. We came home and I got a bad cold (just a cold) and didn’t work out. I mistakingly didn’t make it a priority when I was feeling better. Exercise has long been a key to keeping my anxiety at bay and my depression muted. Not exercising during this very stressful time is incredibly foolish of me and I’m back to making it a priority.
I slacked off on meditating while we were away and didn’t feel like I could breath through my nose when I had the cold (again, just a cold) so I didn’t meditate. Last week I was scurry around getting ready to go downstairs for breakfast before planting myself at the computer in the basement for my workday. I was thinking, ‘I haven’t been meditating. Why not?’ and that’s when it occurred to me that I wasn’t because I felt like I had so much to do for work and stuff around the house that I didn’t feel like I could slow down and take the time to meditate. I stopped in my tracks and gave myself a mental smack upside the head. I wasn’t slowing down until my head hit the pillow at night and by then I was mentally exhausted. I needed to slow down during the day to give myself a chance to refocus, to calm my nervous system, to breathe. I need to meditate, so I’m trying to get back to making that a daily practice.
Natural Light and Fresh Air
Like many of you, I’m working from home, and my office space is in the basement. It’s dark as there’s only a small window in this room. For the first week or so of being home, it was also cold out. This resulted in me staying inside and not getting any fresh air or natural light. This weekend was nice so my wife and I went for a couple of walks with our dog. I also opened some of our windows and blinds to let in both fresh air and natural light. I’m making a point of going upstairs periodically to enjoy both my family’s company, but also the sunlight shining through our big windows.
I have been pretty good about drinking a lot of water since I had a kidney stone four years ago, but have been pretty bad about it lately. Not only is this not good for me, but also plays a part in the stress eating I’ve been doing. I’m now making sure I always have my water bottle or a cup of some healthy fluid within reach.
Social Media and News
So, I’m guilty of something I had stopped doing awhile ago. I’ve been sleeping with my phone on my nightstand and looking at it first thing in the morning. That has to stop. I’ve also been reading a lot of news, I mean a lot of news, and given the current state of things and my level of anxiety, I have to scale that back. I’m still reading news, but I’ve stopped checking it constantly.
Am I still going to feel anxious about what’s going on the world? I’d be lying, oblivious, or have a serious lack of empathy if I said I wasn’t. Am I going to stumble along the way? Absolutely. Am I going to keep eating chocolate chips as a snack? Probably. We’re all doing what we can to get through this.