Persistent lack of motivation, sadness or negative mood, no longer feeling pleasure and enjoyment with thing that usually brought you pleasure, troubles with sleep, agitation and inner stress, persistent rumination, thoughts that you can’t avoid, trouble concentrating and feelings of anxiety; do you also feel like this?
These could be the first symptoms of a depression. If some of these symptoms look familiar to you, its advised that you fix them as soon as possible.
Here are some advises:
- Try to structure your day, to program your tasks and activities, specially during holiday or vacation periods.
- Physical exercise is important, preferably outside, out in the sun and fresh air.
- Try to stay in touch with your friends, to exchange ideas and thoughts with someone else that will make you think about positive things that can distract you.
- Do something good for yourself. Eat or drink something you love and enjoy it. Take a hot bath, read an amazing book, schedule a body massage… Be conscient.
- Plan relaxation exercises (like autogenic training, progressive muscular relaxation, breathing exercises, …) or exercises on focus and concentration throughout your day.
- – Create a “Diary of Happiness” by trying to remember of a good moment in your day, of a little moment of happiness, an instant of joy, of ease, and write it down every night before going to sleep. It doesn’t have to be a perfect moment, it can be just a small thing; a beautiful snow flake you saw, a ray of sunshine that heated you, an observation, meeting someone, a word, a look, a thought… This way, you create a collection of beautiful souvenirs. When you are not feeling well, you can read your personal collection of nice and positive moments to feel stronger.
- Sleep is important.If you struggle with sleep or you wake up during the night, try to focus on your breathing (try to prolong your breathing by counting it); try to imagine your favourite place using your five senses (what does it look like, what do you hear, what do you feel, what can you taste, what do you smell nearby?); Set your alarm in a way you can’t read the time; try to count from 1 to 100, from 1 to 99, from 2 to 98, etc.; try to meditate or go on an imaginary journey (if you want to, using meditation/guides for imaginary journeys you can find on the internet). If you cannot sleep at all, get up and open up the window, drink a nice hot mug of tea.
- – At the same time, each and every one of us has their own internet resources, much harder to access during times of crisis and stressful situations. It’s useless to ask what has always helped in these situations. Like everyone has their own different needs, it’s important to reflect on what you need yourself. Maybe what helps your friend, doesn’t necessarily help you.
- Ask for help when you see yourself having these negative thoughts that dominate you and that you can no longer control yourself. Don’t be alone in all of this. If you want, call us or write to us. We are here for you. Together, we can reflect on what could help you and, if necessary, we can guide you.
Our day to day life sometimes requires too much of us. But our batteries are not charged times infinity. Your body tries to supply you with all the energy that you need, every single one of your organs work non-stop without you even realizing it. But sometimes, your body sends you small signs: “Be careful, I need a break”. It can transmit us a signal by showing tiredness or making it difficult for you to focus, to sleep, or you can also be easily angry and readily annoyed. The sooner you notice this and take care of it by taking care of yourself, the more easily it will work.
Balance is important, but how does it work?
When you are in “action”, you do something constantly, you chase your current objective, you realize and do, you constantly inspire, but you don’t let go. Your body needs a conscious break, a deep long breath is a necessity for your body’s wellbeing, for your soul – let it go – create a distance from things.
Your body needs a break.
Give yourself a day when you schedule nothing,or you have yourself a lazy morning, you relax with a good book, a delicious cup of tea, a bath or hot shower, a nice group game, and why not a great movie night in your pyjamas (not in front of a small phone or tablet screen), cooking something delicious, maybe a yin yoga class or a Nidra yoga class online, everything your heart desires and that relaxes you.
At the same time, exercise is important. Sports that help you train something are very useful in reducing stress. Sports like yoga and Pilates or a nice walk outside in the fresh air, a jogging or cycling help you find your inner balance. There’s always something for everyone. Excellent guides, tutorials and videos are available online.
Distractions, a good remedy. Specially when you notice your thoughts keep circling round. Catch each one of your thoughts and write them down. In a way, you can then forget them for a moment and look at them again later if you so want to.
Try to control your breathing. Exercisesfor this purpose will help you. Try to consciously practice a relaxing breathing (exhaling longer than you breath in).
Breathing exercises are very effective and will help you let it go for a moment and re-direct your thoughts to your breathing instead. You can find online a large inventory of guided breathing exercises. The principle is simple: pay attention to exhaling longer and inhaling for a shorter amount of time (you can start by doing this, for example).
Online, you can find several breathing exercises, just chose which one relaxes you better.
Relaxation techniques are useful in moments of tension, stress and pressure. Exhaling and letting it go is what needs to be done. Imaginary journeys, progressive muscular relaxation like Jacobson, autogenic training, sophrology, meditation, tapping techniques (also called “tapotement”, like EFT-PEP) are recommended. You can find exercise guides and explanations on the internet.
If you feel strong emotions such as wrath, inner aggression, annoyance are always you first reactions to something, try to exhaust yourself before the relaxation exercise (run really fast around the block; hit a pillow or scream; hit a virtual boxing ball with your first while exhaling; jump on the same spot; fictitious trapping of anger, slowly at first, and then faster and faster, …).
Think about what’s good for you (hot shower, hot bath, do something with your friends, paint, joke around, Lego, Sudoku, puzzles, reading, walking, jogging, swimming, sauna, a cup of tea, dancing, singing, listening to your favourite songs, …) and try to schedule some time for YOURSELF.
The important thing here is to take yourself seriously and to take care of yourself. You become also conscious of your own feelings and needs.
Human beings love certainty and tend to always want to know what is going on and want to avoid anything that remotely resembles a threat. We want everything to be under our control. When something isn’t quite clear, when a feeling of loss of control sets in or when we don’t feel generally in a safe place, it’s normal to react with stress. Unfortunately, this happens sometimes. This can sometimes make us pay a large price or even force our limits. Sometimes the loss of control or anxiety is strong enough to trigger a panic attack.
What to do when having a panic attack? It’s useful to know exactly where in your body you feel for the first time the imminent panic attack (for example, “it’s like my throat closes”, “like a heavy rock over my chest suffocates my breathing”, “like something is hitting me in the head”, “my heartbeat gets really fast”, “my hands get wet” …). This way, you can be conscious of the impending attack a lot earlier and of yourself in this situation. You can try to keep calm before the panic attack starts.
When having a panic attack, try to control your breathing. You can briefly and consciously inhale (ideally through the nose) and exhale slowly (through your mouth, in a pout – as if you were whistling – in order to slightly slow the flow of air). Put some intensity on your exhalation because this encourages your body to relax. You can count while you are doing it. Try, most importantly, to prolong your breathing by counting 1-2 when inhaling, 2-3 exhaling. Maybe you will even count to 5-6 later.
If you notice that you breathing becomes calmer and it’s much easier to exhale slowly, you can also do a quick break after exhaling.
However, if you notice that your panic attack starts really strong and violent, and you have issues controlling your breathing, you can also inhale and exhale a dozen times in a small bag made of plastic or paper; like this, you can see the movements of your breath and you are able to calm yourself simultaneously. After 10 breaths into the bag, breathe normally. (Repeat the breathing into the bag if you notice that you need another set of 10 breaths).
You have the impression everyone else does things easily, everyone is so sure about themselves, they have always such an easy time talking, they always know what to say, they approach others effortlessly, they are welcome, they are popular, interesting people, and they don’t need to put in a lot of effort to have good grades. You know… you are not alone feeling this!
Most times, it seems like these types of people have everything going on for them, easy, everything just falls on their hands, and they have interesting lives. We have a tendency to putting people on a pedestal and to compare our weaknesses to their strengths. Maybe there’s people that make themselves appear positive and beautiful and happy on social media, but deliberately ignore the difficult and flaws of things.
We are all different, we have strong suits and weaknesses thus having different limitations and different strong suits.
Maybe it is a weakness for you to talk in front of other people without blushing, to be around people without feeling a ball stuck in your throat, to look and talk to a guy or a girl without them knowing that you heart is just beating heavily against your chest. You have all the necessary qualities to be able to do be relaxed and stressless, and this will help you feel more confident about yourself, surer about yourself.
Comparative and pejorative expressions such as “it’s so typical of you”, “don’t be so noisy”, “you are so chaotic”, “you are crazy” … are, unfortunately, gathered and branded onto our memory in a way that we start believing in that ourselves and create a path in life where difficult situations get heavy on our trails due to us blocking constantly. Eventually, our self-confidence cracks. Good news is, it can be rebuilt and reinforced.
Our colleagues from Rat Auf Draht in Austria have gathered a beautiful collection of “advises to boost up your self-confidence”:
Instead of comparing yourself to others, think about the good things YOU have done. Our colleagues at Pro Juventute in Switzerland have created this amazing video about the subject:
A healthy self-confidence will help you evaluate, in a realistic way, your strong and weak suits, this way better preparing you for your goals. People that have low self-confidence underestimate themselves constantly and can’t, tragically, realize what they are capable of. They don’t dare to follow their dreams and chase their goals. This would be a shame, wouldn’t it ?
A healthy self-confidence gives you a positive aura that is inviting and interesting to others. It’s fun and feels good to be yourself!
You are unique and that is a good thing !
Here are 8 tips that can help you to better cope with your anxiety. The aim of these tips is to get back or maintain control over you and what is happening.
It is important to know that not all exercises are suitable for everyone. That is why we would like to invite you to try out these exercises first, so that you can create your own “emergency box” or “tool box” with your own methods that suit you best. Perhaps you may find or even have methods that have always been helpful to you in stressful situations, such as a certain song, a certain audio book, doing yoga, having a walk in the forest, doing a relaxation exercise, jogging … Anything that helps to relieve yourself of worries is permitted. It’s about doing specifically what is good for you!
As you can imagine, it will be helpful to practice the methods regularly. That way, a routine can be established and you can come back to it more quickly when a “crisis situation” is looming. You will see that the more familiar you become with an exercise, the sooner the exercise will be effective.
- Breathing meditation
This is about becoming aware of your own breath. First simply observe how you breathe in and out.
Then take a few deep breaths in through your nose into your belly and out again. Pay close attention to how your chest and belly rise and fall – up and down. When you start this exercise, take a few deep breaths at the beginning, otherwise you may feel dizzy and uncomfortable.
After that you can let your breath flow again without controlling or influencing it.
You will notice over time that your breath will calm down again and your anxious thoughts will dissolve.
- Calculation and counting techniques
If you like numbers, this might be just the thing for you. It’s about engaging with something completely different in order to consciously stop your thoughts. There are many different methods. Either you count backwards from 100 or 50 in steps of five or three: 50, 47, 42… Or you count 3×3, 4×4, 5×5…
You can also count like this: 1-100, 2-99, 3-98, 4-97, 5-96, 6-95… so you always count in parallel from 1 to 100 and then count backwards from 100 at the same time. If you get lost, start again from the beginning: 1-100. You will see that no other thoughts will come up again. This could also help with falling asleep when you can’t get your thoughts to quiet down.
- ABC of wellbeing
If you are more of a fan of words, this might be a more suitable method for you. This is about thinking of one or more positive words in alphabetical order: e.g. A for awakeness, B for beautiful flowers, C for chances, D for duvet … This immediately creates positive, relaxed and beautiful images in your mind that interrupt the way you’re thinking.
- Poems, song lyrics
If you prefer poems or lyrics, check out which ones you particularly like and which give you a good feeling again and again. Memorise them so that you can always bring them out when you need them. Beautiful texts may calm, relax, motivate, inspire or distract you or put things into perspective.
- Saying stop
Really simple, isn’t it? But unfortunately that isn’t always the case. With the help of small rituals, you can help yourself to implement saying stop. For example, you can tie a hair ribbon or a rubber band to your wrist, which you can pull on and let go in such moments and say stop.
You can also breathe out consciously in these moments and imagine signalling distance by holding your arm outstretched further and further. Symbolically, you are signalling in your mind that you are holding things further and further away from you.
Another method is to imagine a big stop sign in front of your inner eye in such moments. It is very helpful to practise this in advance by first imagining the picture of the stop sign and then regularly trying to call up your picture.
These little tips can be very powerful and help you with the implementation.
Moving always helps with anxiety. Movement helps physically relieving stress and regain clarity of thought, whether it is getting a glass of water, simply standing up and walking across the room, …
- Imagination exercise
Another help is to specifically remember beautiful places in the moment of fear and to imagine yourself there with all 5 senses. This can be a beautiful place you have already been there or a place you are inventing, it can be a beautiful garden, a place in your home where you feel comfortable… These beautiful images also bring out beautiful feelings that relax you.
- The 5-4-3-2-1 exercise
This exercise helps you stop your thoughts, control your impulses, relax and stop the anxiety or panic attack. It is easy to learn and like the other exercises, you can do it anytime, anywhere.
It’s about taking a place, standing or sitting, with your eyes open to describe concrete perceptions in the ‘here and now’.
This is how it works: Say out loud or in your mind what you are perceiving with your senses right now:
5 times: I see … ! → 5 times: I hear … ! → 5 times: I feel … ! →
4 times: I see … ! → 4 times: I hear … ! → 4 times: I feel … ! →
3 times: I see … ! → 3 times: I hear … ! → 3 times: I feel … ! →
2 times: I see … ! → 2 times: I hear … ! → 2 times: I feel … ! →
1 time: I see … ! → 1 time: I hear … ! → 1 time: I feel … !
It is okay to name the same perceptions!
Why not try it out right now?
A little tip – these exercises are also helpful with falling asleep.