Read This If It Feels Like Your Depression Is Getting The Best Of You

Around you the sun keeps rising and setting. The traffic keeps pressing through in the most unrelenting way. The clouds roll by, the holidays happen. Everyone talks about how they can’t believe October is over and winter is almost here. And you smile as if you’re just excited as them.

But really, if you were being truly honest, you’d admit that nothing has felt different since the month of August. Rather everything feels blurry, muffled. You’ve lost track of the days and the nights because instead of being individual sunrises and sunsets, it’s just another day of you feeling like you’re walking upstream against a raging current. And instead of fighting, instead of it feeling like a challenge, you’re just getting tired.

Too many times you’ve just lain in bed avoiding any and every responsibility. You don’t know when the last time you checked your mail was. It’s probably overflowing with unanswered letters with bills and catalogs filled with girls who had enough energy to wash their hair that morning. You sit in the tub watching the now lukewarm water draining beneath you and you wish for a second that you’d go down with it into some abyss where there are no problems outside of wondering where the end of the pipe will take you.

The stereotypical depressed person is always in the dark maybe with ugly, forlorn, black, mascara streaks painting her cheeks or maybe with staring with bloodshot, red eyes from popping vessels while sobbing. And they sit alone, still in the dark, with that unnecessary war paint, contemplating how much better the world would be without them. And even though that’s a stereotype, sometimes that monster comes in rearing it’s nasty head and messes everything up.

As terrible as the extreme depression, the scary feeling of doom that exists, more often than not, it’s a different monster. And it’s a monster that doesn’t exist in the crazy highs or lows and because of that; it isn’t as easy to spot. It hangs out in the corners undetected just waiting until it can latch on and never let go.

Depression sometimes is a feeling of utter desolation, but what about when it isn’t?

Sarah Silverman recently described depression as the feeling of homesickness, but you’re home so there’s no way to satiate the feeling. I couldn’t agree or relate more. It’s knowing you have no real reason to not be ecstatic, to not be happy, but instead of feeling anything all you can feel is unenthused, sulky, static.

It’s seeing all of the crayons laid out in front of you, the entire 120-count Crayola box you always coveted in grade school, every single color you could possibly imagine. It’s seeing them and having the ability to pick any color, but only being able to force yourself back to the same broken grey crayon day after day after day.

It’s watching people promote asinine things like “drinking more tea” and “running for the endorphins” and thinking, “Fine. I’ll give it a fucking shot.” But then your bladder is bursting from your 18th cup of chamomile and your shins are aching from running for hours, but even after heeding all of this naturopathic bullshit you still just want to sit on the kitchen floor and eventually blend into your surroundings, ceasing to be you because being you is getting exhausting.

It’s hearing about how Prozac changed someone’s life and how therapy is their everything, so you keep popping open the little orange bottle and talking about your ex-bestfriend and your fears every Thursday. You do all of the things you’re supposed to do but nothing’s different. It’s researching at 4 AM for any possible answer but still not wanting to smile at jokes on Instagram or text anyone back because you just suck. And if you know it they must know it too.

It’s feeling like the same bland, sad, murky version of yourself day after day and just wondering if this is how the rest of your life will be.

So even though you got up this morning and you felt the like nothing was different, you feel like you’ve accepted that you will never have highs again, you still feel like you’re looking through fogged up glasses, and you’re simply going through the motions, there’s one thing to keep in mind.

You did get up.

And even though your world right now is that broken grey, your vision is clouded, you homesickness has not been relieved, and your choking down more fucking tea to try and “naturally cure yourself”, one day it won’t feel that way. It might not be tomorrow, or next month, but eventually it will be one day. That day your eyes will be clear, your heart won’t be heavy, and you’ll find yourself reaching for an orange or a green while you order a coffee because why not.

You just have to keep getting up.

A Short List Of Things I’d Do If I Didn’t Have Depression Or Anxiety

There are many moments in my life when I’d just stare into space and think about how my life would be so different if I didn’t have depression or anxiety. How I’d take more chances. How I’d stand up for myself when I need to the most. How I’d be more secure, more decisive, and just happier.

I wouldn’t think about the thousands of ways I could possibly die. I wouldn’t be afraid to make drastic changes for my health, sanity, and overall well-being. I wouldn’t keep self-sabotaging. I wouldn’t let the most excruciating pain of the past drag me even further behind. I wouldn’t isolate myself from others. I wouldn’t let my irrational fear of scarcity control the way I think or force me to accept a fate that keeps me wandering off to dead end after dead end.

Instead, I would live a life that’s closer to the one I envision for myself instead of surrendering to all the constraints of a harsh reality that keeps me paralyzed and fearful of uncertainty. I would take better care of myself and do more of what’s valuable to me and cut out any thought that’s extraneous to my future, irrelevant to my true self, and toxic to my mental health.

I often wonder how my life would turn out differently if I didn’t have depression or anxiety. But what I wonder about more often is how I can start to act upon the best interests of my future self, moving and taking control as if I didn’t suffer from severe depression or crippling anxiety. These are all the things I’d do:

Network with people

I’ll be honest here – I view networking as disingenuous and sleazy. I always stop myself from reaching out to people because I somehow equate advocating myself with “using other people for my own selfish gain.” Which is why I don’t do it at all and don’t even talk about the skills I have. My insecurities keep telling me that I have none – they tell me it’s because I’m worthless, I’m irrelevant, and I don’t deserve to ask for anything better in life, since I haven’t proven myself worthy yet. But recently, I’ve gotten so fed up with keeping myself stifled, silent, and small that I can’t move on with my life to greater things because of my irrational fear of being judged as incompetent and unqualified. If I didn’t have these thoughts of the worst possible outcome or feelings of worthlessness, I’d network my butt off. I’d tell people what I can do, even when I may not be a master at anything yet, because I have to start somewhere. I have to believe in myself and stand up for myself because otherwise, I’d be stuck in the pitiful stage of paying my dues for a lifetime.

Write more, even when depression makes me abnormally exhausted

I’m tired of keeping myself stuck with writing. I’m tired of holding in the thoughts that I still have yet to share – thoughts that have the potential to turn into thousands of articles, essays, and poems if I allowed myself to be even more vulnerable, resolute, and honest with myself. But my mind is a never-ending war zone, and every time I self-sabotage, my mental exhaustion manifests itself physically, and I shut down before I have a chance to express myself and share more of what’s on my mind. If depression didn’t affect me this way, I’d definitely write more and write my way to the freedom I’ve always craved – the ultimate freedom from my treacherous enemies that keep making their home in my mind.

Create more solutions to recurring problems

If I didn’t have depression or anxiety, I’d create more solutions to problems that always recur in my life: I’m too shy. I don’t stand up for myself. I let myself be a doormat. I let people make me feel grossly inferior and wallow in self-pity because of it. I avoid confrontation, even when confrontation is the only way to solve the problem of me not advocating for myself when I need to. I’d act in spite of the overwhelming feelings of inferiority, which tells me that I’m never going to be good enough to get what I deserve. I’d be a more solution-oriented thinker instead of a problem escapee and work my way out of my problems.

Love myself as I am, regardless of how others are doing “better”

I’d be bolder and claim that I am worthy, I am healing, I am evolving, and I am capable of freeing myself from what hurts me the most – the past, the deep-rooted terrors that control me, and agonizing self-hatred. I’d love myself for who I am and not beat myself up for lagging behind others who seem to be more outwardly successful and have what society considers as “better lives.” And the truth is, my life isn’t worse than someone else’s, but if people evaluate me harshly for it, I shouldn’t give their opinions any weight because my life is mine, and I will not spend the rest of my life hating myself or contorting myself just to fit into someone else’s agenda. If I didn’t have anxiety over how poorly I’m fitting in and if I didn’t get easily depressed about how worthless I seem on the outside compared to other people, I’d love the hell out of myself first and foremost, and then I’d build a life upon this abundance of love and settle for nothing less than that.

But now, it’s no longer a matter of what I would do.

It’s a matter of what I can do.

The Strongest Girls Are The Girls With Anxiety

She’s strong, because she’s in a constant battle with her anxiety. It’s telling her that she’s weak. That she shouldn’t speak up. That she shouldn’t get out of bed.

Some days, she listens to everything that voice tells her. But other days, she somewhat finds the power & strength to ignore it. She finds the strength to leave her room. To socialize. To smile.

She’s strong, because she shows up, even when she’s shaking. She speaks, even when it’s with a cracked voice. She keeps breathing, even when those breaths are shaky.

It would be easy for her to cancel plans with her friends, turn down dates, skip class, call in sick from work — and sometimes, she does. Sometimes, the idea of being around people is too much for her to handle.

But most of the time, she does what she has to do. She switches off her alarm. She showers. She dresses. And then she gets shit done.

Of course, she gets distracted throughout the day. The tiniest thing can send her mind spinning. A text from someone she didn’t expect to hear from. An email she isn’t quite sure how to answer. A strange look from one of her coworkers or crushes.

She suffers from constant self-consciousness, but she pushes past it. She ignores the way she thinks everyone is looking at her, judging her, and she forces herself to be productive. She forces herself to focus on what’s important.

She refuses to let anxiety control her life. She won’t let her dark thoughts eclipse the positive ones. She’s motivated to be the best person she can be.

At times, her anxiety makes her feel weak. Lesser. Like she doesn’t deserve to be in the same room as people that can talk to strangers as if they’ve known each other for years.

But even though she feels inferior, that’s far from the truth. She’s a warrior. A badass. Why can’t she see that?

She tries so hard. She puts in so much effort. And she’s gotten so far.

Some people rarely venture outside of their comfort zone — but she’s outside of her comfort zone every damn day. She’s either worried about what to say or what to wear or where to park. She’s never relaxed. She’s always on edge.

That’s why she’s always learning. Always growing. Every second of every day.

Sure, there are times when she suffers from setbacks. When she doesn’t say a single word for hours. When she stays in her pajamas and puts off showering.

But there are other times when she finds the courage to speak her mind. When she surprises herself with how brave she can be.

She probably doesn’t realize it yet, but girls with anxiety are the strongest girls in the world, because they never have a minute of peace. Because they’re always struggling — and yet they’re always winning. 

What Overthinking Actually Is Because It’s So Much More Than Anxiety

Overthinking. It’s the nights you spend not sleeping as mistakes you’ve made in the past act as a plague to your mind. It’s worrying about things that might never happen as you dwell over the things that have.

It’s every fear you have that paralyzes you. And as you think more you hold back tears.

It’s failure becoming your worst reality in your mind. Failing class. Failing at a job. Failing in relationships.

People who overthink tend to strive for unrealistic expectations which lead to success.

But the cost is exhaustion maintaining it.

It’s being both physically and emotionally exhausted from a brain that never slows down or shuts off.

Overthinking is that pause between texts as you wonder how they interrupt what you said. It’s typing and deleting and sending yet another because your mind is playing tricks on you.

It’s the constant need for answers and responses just to keep your mind at bay and calm.

Overthinking is the voice of criticism that is trying to destroy you as it doubts everyone and everything around you. Then it makes you doubt yourself and second guess everything. You never follow your first instinct when you overthink things.

It’s following the destructive path your mind leads you down and you can’t make it stop if you want.

Overthinking is like some fire you can’t control and it just destroys everything in its path including you.

It’s the critical voice that clings to mistakes only to bring them up later.

Overthinking feels like you’re constantly waiting for something but you don’t actually know what it is you’re waiting for.

Waiting for something to change.

Waiting for something to go wrong.

Waiting for someone to get mad.

Waiting for something to end dramatically and it is your fault.

Overthinking come bearing apologizes you didn’t need to say in the first place but you’re sorry for questioning them and thinking the worst. It leads you thinking every worst scenario will be a reality.

Overthinking leads you to be overly cautious with everything.

Overthinking is like tiptoeing around everything like there are shards of broken glass below your feet and any wrong move will lead to pain.

It’s the fear of relationships because you need so much in a partner you wonder if you are better off alone.

Because how do you even explain to someone it isn’t you I’m doubting or don’t trust my mind is leading me to be so cautious? How do you explain to someone you’re interested in that you need to hear certain phrases over and over again like, “it’s okay” or “we are okay” or “I’m not leaving you.”

Overthinking in relationships is accepting you aren’t going to be the strong and confident one ever. It’s needing that reassurance for every doubt. It’s needing someone, to be honest, all the time and explain things very thoroughly. It’s the conversations that might be awkward but the person needs to be able to communicate. Tell you when something is wrong. Tell you when you are mad. Tell you exactly what they are thinking. It’s the fights you want solutions to immediately because if you don’t your mind will create ten more problems.

It’s listening to scenarios that are very real in your mind even though to a ‘normal’ person it’s so out there.

Overthinking is caring too much and no matter how much someone else’s opinion shouldn’t matter or that ignored text shouldn’t even impact you, under the surface, you are wondering what have I done wrong? And what can I do to fix it?

The root of overthinking is just wanting people to accept you and be happy with you because you are still learning how to be happy with yourself.

It’s choosing words so carefully because you never want to intentionally hurt someone.

Overthinking are the relationships that end and you always think it’s you that to blame.

Overthinking are the solutions you want to fix to something that isn’t even a problem.

Overthinking is the want and need to control things because it feels like this thing in your life controls you.

But you know you learn to adapt to this thing that hurts to live with but you don’t even remember what it was like to live without it.

And as you navigate through ramped thoughts you’ll find comfort in others who love you through this flaw and they learn to adapt to having someone like you a part of their life and they are the ones who help you through it constantly reminding you they won’t leave.

Using Psychology to Find Pain Relief

If you find being in pain has left you feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or a little grumpy, you aren’t alone. These emotions are very common among people living with ongoing pain.

Pain can upend every aspect of our lives — from how we move, sleep, think, feel, and interact with others to earning a living and doing the things that we love most. That can be an awful lot to deal with. A field of psychology called pain psychology can help.

To be clear, when we say “pain psychology,” we’re not suggesting that pain is “all in your head” or that “the pain is not real.” Nothing could be further from the truth. This form of psychology acknowledges and addresses both the emotional and physical consequences of pain and aims to help patients get to a better place at a deeper level.

Pain psychology therapies for the treatment of chronic pain have been well-established for decades. Past studies have shown the importance of utilizing psychological-based pain treatments for a whole host of painful conditions, including low back pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, and even arthritis. Most experts don’t view pain psychology treatment as a stand-alone therapy for chronic pain, but rather as one very important and complementary part of a more comprehensive approach. Integrating different types of treatments is sometimes referred to as “multi-modal” or “multidisciplinary,” and it speaks to the complex nature of how pain impacts the human experience.

So what are some examples of pain psychology treatments and how can they help?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The most studied and well-established psychological treatment used in multidisciplinary pain care, CBT is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing unhealthy thought patterns that may be exacerbating the experience of pain or mood problems like depression and anxiety. The theory behind CBT is that how we feel is influenced by how and what we think. By creating more positive thought processes, we can better manage pain. One of the goals of CBT treatment is to help patients become more effective problem solvers when faced with challenging life situations.

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). The approach behind ACT is to gain acceptance of one’s inner feelings and deeper emotions, even if they are troubling, and to learn to not let those feelings stand in the way of growing and evolving in a more positive direction. ACT can give  patients tools to help them problem-solve and make impactful changes in their lives, no matter how difficult the pain problem may be. ACT differs from CBT in that you are not reframing your thoughts and feelings, but instead simply observing them while still working toward the desired goals.

Mindfulness. Based on ancient meditation practices, Jon Kabat-Zinn is credited with leading the modern mindfulness movement as a tool to alleviate pain, stress, suffering, and depression. Mindfulness training focuses on being in the present moment, as opposed to being distracted or overwhelmed by thoughts about the past or the future. Being non-judgmental while paying attention to our present thoughts and feelings is an important part of practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness seems to help quiet an over-activated nervous system, and studies show promising results for its role in treating chronic pain. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a formal course developed to help with training and is now available in many communities.

Relaxation training. Any approach that can help calm an over-activated or overly stressed nervous system has the potential to relieve tension and pain in the body. Learning some simple breathing exercises can be a great tool to find relief during a challenging moment. Biofeedback is an example of a more formal relaxation approach, where monitors can provide direct feedback about bodily functions, like heart rate, as a tool to learn to control how the body responds and to then use this control as a way of tamping down the experience of pain.

In case you are wondering if any of this can really help, here are some tips on getting the most out of pain psychology treatment:

Find the experts. Not all psychologists and counselors have a background in treating chronic pain. Seek one who specializes in working with pain patients and is willing to make better pain management the focus. Consider using telehealth resources if you have trouble finding a pain psychologist nearby.

Build a toolbox. Once you start your treatment, start to make a list of the different things you are learning and working on. As you get more confident, make these techniques part of your toolbox, and a trusted resource for navigating all of the challenges and rough patches associated with your pain.

Manage flare-ups. Make sure to put your toolbox to good use on the bad days. Pain flare-ups can be exacerbating, but here is a chance to use pain psychology and relaxation techniques to quiet down these episodes so you can move on with your day again.

Change your communication. Relationships with spouses, family members, and friends can be adversely affected when you are in pain. A good pain psychologist can help you learn communication strategies that will help you better educate others about what you are going through while also getting better connected with them.

Practice self-care. Sometimes the first step in helping others or accomplishing meaningful goals is to take great care of yourself. With levels of stress, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse around the country higher than ever, consider using pain psychology techniques as an important way of not letting your cup get too empty. And if insomnia has set in, remember many of these techniques have been shown to improve sleep, too.

If you have never considered pain psychology before, now might be a great time to make it a valuable part of your pain relief plan.

We Cannot Heal in a Toxic Environment

Survivors are always told that ”they are responsible for their healing.” I, as a survivor, say we as a collective world, society and culture are truly responsible for creating an environment that isn’t traumatized and causes intentional harm. One that isn’t oppressive in the first place.

A plant cannot thrive without the necessary conditions. An experiment was even carried out that showed how a plant responded to being verbally bullied by withering away and dying instead of thriving and growing. Humans are like plants, needing the right conditions to thrive. I do not believe trauma should be divided into small or big T’s, or abuse into ”worse” and ”lesser.” This is not helpful in any way as it only brings shame , and shame becomes toxic and blocks the healing process.

Survivors should not have to justify their pain or feel they are not worthy of help or support because pain and trauma is being measured. We shouldn’t allow abuse by acting only when it’s reached extreme measures, we should be saying ”no” period. Abuse is abuse. We should be supporting all who hurt and bleed not only physically, but also emotionally. It can take years for the psyche to heal, and even then, healing doesn’t mean things will be the same, it means adapting to a new life, managing the pain, triggers and emotions as well as the lessening of the struggle and pain. A fulfilling and a happy life is possible, but we need to adapt and learn new ways to live and function in life and new skills to help us do that.

COVID-19 is a collective threat and trauma. It has taken the lives of many and we have all struggled with all we have lost. Yet, sexual abuse and violence, domestic abuse and violence as well as racial trauma have been pandemics throughout endless history. And, in the present, continue to threaten the lives and well-being of so many who have lost their lives to offenders or are driven to end their pain by ending their own lives.

I see adverts encouraging survivors to come forward, and those who struggle with depression not to struggle in silence and to talk. How many times do survivors need to talk? We have been talking, but oppression has silenced us. Society has victim blamed us. Justice never seems to be served, changes take endless years to occur and when they do, it’s thanks to survivors.

The world thinks they can know pain they have never experienced, as well as judge those who have lived it.

As humans, sometimes we think we know better and know it all until it happens to us.

Survivors don’t need to speak up, the world needs to open their ears to listen, to see change and put it in action. It’s not enough saying, “I’m not a rapist, I’m not an abuser, I’m not racist, misogynistic …” because most of us have been the problem even when we don’t realize it. We need to really challenge ourselves and look within and we need to get angry collectively, not only when things personally affect us or loved ones.

If you really are in support of mental illness, stop shaming, judging, voting for leaders with narcissistic tendencies. Start believing survivors, start listening to them. Fight for equality, fight for justice, fight for the end of cruelty to all humans and animals. Start respecting the environment and world you don’t own and are not entitled to. Stop destroying life and nature and then wondering why things happen. Stop doing this and thinking there will be no consequences.

If we live in a world that doesn’t meet human needs, that isn’t safe or feels safe, do we really think mental illness is just a disease? That suicide is just the result of depression? Depression is a symptom that manifests in a world that can render us to feel helpless, hopeless and alone. The world needs to change if mental illness is to get any better. All these things are injuries to the psyche, and naturally, the psyche will bleed. Sadly, when it’s the psyche, many are left to bleed or told to stop bleeding. You see, struggling is a normal human experience and it’s hard to heal wounds when the environment that caused them doesn’t change.

Resources:

Suicide Prevention Resources:

If you are feeling suicidal, there is hope.

You can call Lifeline at 13 11 14

LET YOUR TRIGGERS BE YOUR TEACHER

Triggers make us human. They happen to us at work, in relationships, and in interactions with complete strangers.

A trigger is an unhealed emotional wound. The level of emotions you experience gives you insight in to how long the trigger has gone suppressed.

It’s not that triggers are bad, they actually give us an opportunity to observe and reflect which enables us to heal. If this sounds simple, it’s because it is. At the same time it’s so difficult to practice because we are having a subconscious reaction during an emotional trigger.

Our reaction is literally below our awareness, which is why if another person is involved it can leave them feeling completely confused.

In healing triggers, we change the way we perceive the world around us and our interactions with the people in it. If we can identify triggers and separate ourselves from the emotional reaction, we gain insight.

How to identify triggers:

1. Set an intention to see them
In the morning in bed or (even better) during meditation set an intention to see and learn from your triggers. Say to yourself, “I want to be able to see my emotional triggers today so that I can become a better version of myself.” Setting an intention begins to wire to the pathways of the brain to objectively view what you previously just reacted to.

2. Get a journal or notebook
Writing is incredibly powerful because our busy minds cannot always see and log patterns. Using a journal to write down times you were triggered, how you felt, and how you reacted will give you valuable data. As you write and read past reactions you’ll learn so much about things you couldn’t see before. Let’s say that someone makes a comment to you at work. You feel your blood boil and it throws your energy off for hours afterwards. Taking 3-5 minutes to write down what happened as well as the thoughts and feelings you’re having each time something like this happens will help you for the next step.

3. Find the “why”
We think other people are triggering us, but they’re just holding mirrors up to our triggers. For every emotional reaction, there is a root underlying cause. Usually this comes from childhood or a past emotionally powerful moment. The more you observe instead of reacting the more insight you will receive. When you can understand why you react emotionally in different situations, you open yourself to choice in how you react.

Now that you have set an intention to identify and learn from your triggers, you’ll need to know how to get through them when they come up.

Emotions change the chemistry of both the brain and the body, so understand that this is a process that takes a lot of work. In the beginning of this practice you will feel completely overwhelmed, but each time you do this you have an emotional breakthrough.

Here’s how to use triggers for growth:

1. Feel the emotion as energy
Relabel what you are feeling as energy. Allow the energy to go through you. Try not to label it or react to it. Just acknowledge and breathe.

2. Practice observation
We have been in a subconscious habit of reacting to our triggers. In the beginning observing the trigger will feel almost impossible. Use your journal to write down what your feeling even if it doesn’t make sense. Every time you observe your reaction acknowledge how difficult this was and assign a positive emotion to the experience. As you practice the pathways of the brain will change and you’ll be less inclined to go into habitual reaction.

3. Lock in your progress
Use this affirmation as often as needed. Breathe and say this while connecting to the emotion of gratitude “I am grateful for this emotion and what it can teach me.” Linking any thoughts with emotion helps to actually change you.  It’s what manifestation is all about.  Thoughts and feeling together are very powerful.

4. Be mindful of your new relationship to emotions
With some presence and practice you will begin to see how your ideas around emotions are shifting. You become lighter and more willing to have a different emotional experience. Each time this is practiced you become more aware of your own behaviors, habits and thoughts. Self-awareness will be your reward.

5. Release
Allow yourself to process and move forward. Do not push yourself to observe and learn if you’re having a natural resistance to it. Be patient and use your intuition to let you know when to release.

Vagus Nerve: A Path To Healing

The vagus nerve is a bundle of nerves leading from the gut through the heart and to the brain. It is the longest cranial nerve and has communication with every organ.

It’s main function is to power the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic service system known as the “rest and digest” system. It plays a role in heart rate, sexual arousal, digestion, urination and gastrointestinal activity.

The vagus nerve works tirelessly to control inflammation. It alerts the brain to release neurotransmitters when inflammatory proteins called cytokines are present. These neurotransmitters help the body repair then reduce inflammation.

Another function of the vagus nerve is to trigger the release of acetylcholine which controls muscles, dilates blood vessels and slows heart rate. It is safe to say the vagus nerve may be the most important nerve that the majority of people are still unaware of.

Scientists have linked vagus nerve dysfunction to obesity, chronic inflammation, depression, anxiety, seizures, abnormally low heart rate, fainting and GI issues.

Vagal tone can be improved naturally through stimulation with techniques that can be done at home. Working to strengthen your vagal tone will help with mood, digestion, and overall well being.

10 Ways to Improve Vagal Tone:

  1. Gargling. This is probably the simplest and most accessible way for a person to work on their vagal tone. In the morning gargle some water as hard as you can. You’ll know you’ve stimulated the vagus nerve when you begin to get a tear response in your eyes.
  2. Breathwork. Deep slow breaths from the belly will stimulate the vagus nerve. Sit or lay down and breathe in as much as you can. Hold it for a second or two and then release. Repeat this 5-10 times. You’ll feel euphoric and relaxed afterwards.
  3. Laughter. Laughter releases a ton of neurotransmitter which improves vagal tone. Laugh hard and often.
  4. Fish Oils. EPA and EHA lower heart rate which strengthens vagal tone.
  5. Fasting. The vagus nerve is the director of the parasympathetic nervous system known as the rest and digest system. Giving the digestion process a break through intermittent fasting or less snacks throughout the day will also improve vagal tone.
  6. Yoga. The breathing and movement of yoga helps with digestion and has been shown to increase GABA levels. Improving GABA levels will stimulate the vagal tone.
  7. Singing. Singing works the muscles in the back of the throat which stimulates the vagus nerve. Just be sure to sing at the top of your lungs for this effect to take place. A great place to do this is in the car.
  8. Cold Showers. Cold showers are tough at first, but they can greatly improve vagal tone. As you adjust to the cold, the sympathetic nervous system lowers and the parasympathetic system gets stronger directly affecting the vagus nerve.
  9. Massage. A massage stimulates the lymphatics and improves vagal tone.
  10. Aromatherapy. Essential oils such as lavender and bergamot have shown to increase heart rate variability which improves vagal tone.

What Overthinking Actually Is Because It’s So Much More Than Anxiety

Overthinking. It’s the nights you spend not sleeping as mistakes you’ve made in the past act as a plague to your mind. It’s worrying about things that might never happen as you dwell over the things that have.

It’s every fear you have that paralyzes you. And as you think more you hold back tears.

It’s failure becoming your worst reality in your mind. Failing class. Failing at a job. Failing in relationships.

People who overthink tend to strive for unrealistic expectations which lead to success.

But the cost is exhaustion maintaining it.

It’s being both physically and emotionally exhausted from a brain that never slows down or shuts off.

Overthinking is that pause between texts as you wonder how they interrupting what you said. It’s typing and deleting and sending yet another because your mind is playing tricks on you.

It’s the constant need for answers and responses just to keep your mind at bay and calm.

Overthinking is the voice of criticism that is trying to destroy you as it doubts everyone and everything around you. Then it makes you doubt yourself and second guess everything. You never follow your first instinct when you overthink things.

It’s following the destructive path your mind leads you down and you can’t make it stop if you want.

Overthinking is like some fire you can’t control and it just destroys everything in its path including you.

It’s the critical voice that clings to mistakes only to bring them up later.

Overthinking feels like you’re constantly waiting for something but you don’t actually know what it is you’re waiting for.

Waiting for something to change.

Waiting for something to go wrong.

Waiting for someone to get mad.

Waiting for something to end dramatically and it is your fault.

Overthinking come bearing apologizes you didn’t need to say in the first place but you’re sorry for questioning them and thinking the worst. It leads you thinking every worst scenario will be a reality.

Overthinking leads you to be overly cautious with everything.

Overthinking is like tiptoeing around everything like there are shards of broken glass below your feet and any wrong move will lead to pain.

It’s the fear of relationships because you need so much in a partner you wonder if you are better off alone.

Because how do you even explain to someone it isn’t you I’m doubting or don’t trust my mind is leading me to be so cautious? How do you explain to someone you’re interested in that you need to hear certain phrases over and over again like, “it’s okay” or “we are okay” or “I’m not leaving you.”

Overthinking in relationships is accepting you aren’t going to be the strong and confident one ever. It’s needing that reassurance for every doubt. It’s needing someone, to be honest, all the time and explain things very thoroughly. It’s the conversations that might be awkward but the person needs to be able to communicate. Tell you when something is wrong. Tell you when you are mad. Tell you exactly what they are thinking. It’s the fights you want solutions to immediately because if you don’t your mind will create ten more problems.

It’s listening to scenarios that are very real in your mind even though to a normal person it’s so out there.

Overthinking is caring too much and no matter how much someone else’s opinion shouldn’t matter or that ignored text shouldn’t even impact you, under the surface, you are wondering what have I done wrong? And what can I do to fix it?

The root of overthinking is just wanting people to accept you and be happy with you because you are still learning how to be happy with yourself.

It’s choosing words so carefully because you never want to intentionally hurt someone.

Overthinking are the relationships that end and you always think it’s you that to blame.

Overthinking are the solutions you want to fix to something that isn’t even a problem.

Overthinking is the want and need to control things because it feels like this thing in your life controls you.

But you know you learn to adapt to this thing that hurts to live with but you don’t even remember what it was like to live without it.

And as you navigate through ramped thoughts you’ll find comfort in others who love you through this flaw and they learn to adapt to having someone like you a part of their life and they are the ones who help you through it constantly reminding you they won’t leave.

30 Things To Keep In Mind When You’re Struggling

No matter your age we all struggle and sometimes that struggle feels like it’ll last forever but it doesn’t. One thing that I always remember for myself is that my pain is inevitable but my staying in suffering is a choice. Let’s talk about the 30 things to remember when it feels like the world is crashing around you.

  1. I always say this, ITS OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY. Don’t guilt yourself for how you feel, it’s valid. You have no issues accepting yourself in a happy space, the dark spaces are a part of you too. Embrace it little by little (I can discuss how in another post, no worries).
  2. Eat, this really just popped in my head. I have a tendency to forget to eat when I’m upset but it only makes things worse. Your body needs fuel and when you neglect that, it only worsens your mental space.
  3. Don’t decide for your friends or loved ones that they can’t handle you. There are going to be people you hold dear that don’t understand or can’t provide support but don’t judge everyone because of that one person. People will surprise you and let’s be real you need the support in this time.
  4. Don’t isolate. This means avoiding calls, text, and all contact. Inevitably it makes you feel more alone. Let people in.
  5. Your family loving you counts, don’t count them out because they’re family. I can remember saying to my mom “you have to love me I’m your child”, but I’ve learned through my Mental Health practice…. that’s not so true.
  6. There is something to be grateful for, even if it’s as small as the warmth your covers give you. Try to say one thing a day you’re grateful for it goes a long way.
  7. Having a day where you stay in bed and watch your favorite show is okay. It doesn’t mean you are less than, it just means you need a day. Take it.
  8. Self-sabotage is real when you’re feeling sad. We as people want to prove ourselves right that we aren’t good enough or that person doesn’t love us. Learn to recognize any self-sabotaging behavior you possess.
  9. You’ve got something special to offer the world, I know it sounds corny but in suffering we don’t see ourselves as we truly are. Don’t let this time of suffering take that away from you, instead let it help you grow more into the person you’re meant to be.
  10. You’ll find your way back to yourself but understand it’ll take the 3 p’s, patience, persistence, and pain (acceptance of).
  11. That heartbreaking thing that person said to you a long time ago or yesterday doesn’t have to be your reality. You decide always who you are, some contribute but you’re the CEO that approves the message.
  12. Avoiding pain only makes it come back stronger. The sooner you learn to process pain the sooner you’ll be able to navigate it and let it teach you something.
  13. Drinking or using drugs will not make it better. Alcohol is a depressant that should tell you enough and drugs will mask it and act like it’s gone but come knocking on your door at 2am asking where you’ve been. I’m not against a wine night with your friends and crying it out BUT every day no, no, and no.
  14. Put your favorite song on and dance it out. Studies suggest moving the body is good for those that suffer from anxiety, depression, etc. LOL I’m such a “studies suggest” person…bear with me.
  15. Crying is not for the weak, holding all that in can be damaging let it out.
  16. When you feel somewhat ready, identify why you’re suffering.
  17. You know it was coming…. seek out therapy. Talking to someone that is non-judgmental can be refreshing.
  18. You are stronger than you’re giving yourself credit for.
  19. It’s okay to feel wronged and disappointed, we just can’t stay in that space, love…It at times can breed self-loathing and that’s not you.
  20. If you have children it’s okay to let them see you be a human. I’m not suggesting breaking things and so on but it’s okay to let them know mommy’s going through a hard time but she’ll be okay. Kids can be the best comforters by just giving you a hug
  21. You matter, simple.
  22. Getting creative can help to express the pain you’re unable to put in words. Grab a paintbrush or some clay.
  23. Someday you’ll look at this period of time in your life and wonder how you got through it AND you’ll be proud of yourself.
  24. No one person is worth you staying in suffering unless you deem it so.
  25. You’re in control, don’t forget.
  26. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel but you got to walk towards it; it’s not coming to you.
  27. Learning radical acceptance will change your life.
  28. Did I mention you matter and you have something to offer the universe? okay cool.
  29. I’m rooting for you. Sending positive vibes your way always.
  30. CHIN UP!