Using Hygge to Calm Your Anxiety

hygge for anxiety

Hygge is one of those things no one knows how to pronounce or understands what it is. I know this because at work, we all had a good time trying to design a marketing campaign around it. Turns out, that’s pretty difficult when no one can even pronounce it! We all came to the conclusion that it was pronounced “Hue-guh” and not “Higg-ey” like we originally thought. So with that in mind, let’s talk about using Hygge to calm anxiety when it acts up.

What is Hygge?

Before you can live it, you have to understand it. Hygge, according to Wikipedia, is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness with feelings of wellness and contentment. Basically, it means you’re happy and you feel at ease.

Infusing Hygge into Your Life

Cozy blankets, candles lit everywhere, a good meal, a cup of coffee, journaling, a relaxing hobby. All of these and more can contribute to a hygge lifestyle. But an important aspect of hygge is having a space that contributes to serenity and contentment. I think the best place to start isn’t at Bath & Body Works buying a bunch of candles, but at a packing store buying boxes. Decluttering your home and getting rid of things you no longer use or cause anxiety is really important when it comes to perpetuating a relaxing atmosphere.

When I come home from work, I spend about 15 minutes decluttering my space from the night before (or from what my cats and dog have managed to get into during the day). I pick up shoes, bags, cups, and other clutter. After I’ve done this, I go about lighting candles, changing into comfy clothes, and putting on a favorite tv show. Usually I sit down with a comforting meal and settle in for the night.

Hygge extends beyond your home though! I love to keep my desk at work hygge-friendly and even my car! At my desk, I keep it as decluttered as possible and hang postcards from family and friends everywhere. I also keep a blanket at my chair so I can wrap up when I need something soft to help reduce my anxiety.

In my car, I try to keep it clean and smelling fresh with air fresheners and if the weather is nice enough, the moon roof stays open for fresh air!

Hygge Throughout the Year

Hygge is most commonly associated with the winter months but I think it extends throughout the year. Afterall, our anxiety certainly isn’t limited to one season! Use hygge concepts to help your anxiety during spring, summer, and fall too!

Spring hygge ideas: Fresh flowers on the table, lavender lemonade to sip on, open window next to an arm chair with a light blanket draped over it.

Summer hygge ideas: Strawberry salad to munch on, twinkle lights on your porch, basket full of fresh fruit and veggies sitting on the counter, soothing aloe vera for your skin.

Fall hygge ideas: Pumpkin soup on the stove, warm cinnamon latte in a cup, wicker basket filled with soft blankets, slow jazz music playing.

Any moment you can take to slow down and just be content in your space, is hygge driving out feelings of anxiety. Being content and happy is so hard in the world we live in. Happiness is often hard to find, but I’m learning that you can find it in the small things- and that can make all of the difference.

Loving Someone with Mental Health Issues: A Letter to My Husband

loving someone with mental health issues

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about love. More specifically, loving someone that has mental health issues. I was going to write a whole post on how to love someone that has anxiety and depression but then I realized I had already written something similar (which you can read here.)  So instead, I’m going to write a blog post, or rather a letter, to my husband. He’s been learning to navigate my mental health issues just as much as I have and acknowledging that your loved ones are often impacted by your issues is pretty important I think!

It can be hard to really show your significant other how you appreciate them for all that they do when it comes to your mental health. So maybe, they’ll appreciate this letter. Without further ado, David, this letter is for you:

Dear David,

Thanks so much for sticking by my side through all the ups and downs of my depression and anxiety. I know it can be frustrating and scary at times. Please know that I appreciate all that you put up with. It’s overwhelming for both of us and very confusing for you. I see the pained expression on your face trying to figure out if it was something you did that caused my anxiety to act up. I watch you trying to come up with a way to fix it for me.

It’s sometimes really difficult to explain how I’m feeling to you knowing that you really can’t understand it. It can be really lonely and isolating. But the times when you just sit next to me and hold my hand, reminding me that although I’m fighting a battle you can’t see, you’re there to fight too. That’s really the best feeling ever!

I know sometimes you may feel angry or sad that I’m not acting like my “normal” self. I know you’ve watched my entire face drain of emotion and go blank when the depression sets in. I’m sure it can be really upsetting. I’m sure I’ve ruined a few dates and even entire weekends thanks to this and for that I’m really sorry. But still you love me and plan another amazing date for us knowing that it could happen again.

You’ve probably secretly Googled “what causes depression and anxiety” hoping to find some answers that may help you understand. Everything you find is probably not all that helpful to you and doesn’t get you any closer to understanding what’s going on inside my mind and body. That’s got to be frustrating for you! When you love someone, you want to do everything you can to make their life better. But for me, sweetheart, you can’t make my mental health issues go away. They’ll probably always be there. But as long as you’re there too, it makes living with it so much easier!

Having said all of that, I want you to know that your support and the time you spend listening to me explain how I feel makes everything so much easier. I feel like no matter what comes of my depression or anxiety that I’ll be able to live! And maybe even thrive! You and I are a good pair. And even though my mental health isn’t top notch, our world together is.

All my love,

Liz

How to Make Amends With Your Hometown

hometown at sunset

Hey guys! I really wanted to chat with you about a part of you that can both positively and negatively affect your mental health-  and that is going home. Back to your roots. Where it all began. For some of us it brings nothing but sweet memories, and for others- memories you’d rather forget. Our upbringing really determines so much of our adulthood and the things we struggle with. 

Two weekends ago I went home for my Mom’s birthday, and wow, it was such a wonderful time! I loved seeing my family, friends, and all the familiar spots I went to growing up in Southern Maryland. Places that will always be a part of me and places I’ll tell my grandkids about. But anyone’s hometown can drudge up things they’d rather now reconcile with and that’s what this blog is about.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or mental health expert. I love my hometown and appreciate the place my parents decided to raise me and my sister in. I recognize that not everyone had the great childhood I did and that’s who I’m talking to in this blog. 

Going Home for the First Time

Everyone has a place they call home. And everyone has a place they’d rather not visit again. For me, that place is Leonardtown High School. I’m totally okay with never walking those halls again. I was an outcast, awkward freshman, and a big nobody. No one was ever mean to me per se, but I prefer not to go back. I just felt out of my element. 

I visit my hometown a few times a year because my parents and sister still live there. And I’ll be honest and say I had a great childhood full of love and memories I’ll have until the day I die. But for some people, going home, especially for the first time, can be scary. If this is you, wanting to reconcile with your past, take a deep breath, this next step isn’t easy. 

Admit Your Feelings

This is so hard. ADMITTING what you’re feeling and being willing to accept it can be the hardest thing you’ll do on your visit home. It’s okay to feel scared, intimidated, worried, and a million other emotions. Admit to yourself how you feel and most importantly, why you have those feelings. Say it out loud. Let it sink in. Don’t hide it. Honesty with yourself is one of the most important parts of healing.

Reconcile with the Places that Hurt You

Obviously “places” can’t hurt you, but the people they house can. I remember being a kid in our church feeling absolutely hurt by people I thought were my friends. The church didn’t hurt me but the people did. Of course every time I drive by that church I turn away knowing that I had been hurt there.

Wherever that place is for you, sometimes reconciling with the structure in which the hurt occurred can be enough. I’m a believer that you leave your energy (whether positive or negative) everywhere you go. So go back to the place where the hurt occurred and replace the negative energy you left with your positive energy, knowing that you have grown so much as a person and won’t let a bad memory control your happiness!

Sometimes it feels impossible to forgive the people that hurt you. But let the tears flow and the energy release. When you’re ready, you’ll find the ability to forgive in your heart and spirit. Most importantly, you’ll move on.

You Don’t Have to Love It

Really though. You don’t have to love your hometown. Not everyone does and that’s okay. You don’t have to have fond memories of Christmases and Fourth of July’s. We don’t all have those happy memories. I have delightful memories of holidays spent at home but I’m one of the lucky few! 

It’s ok to say “yes, this is the place that I grew up, but it is not my home.” I love that Miranda Lambert song called “The House that Built Me.” I dread the day my parents sell my childhood home, it literally is the house that built me! But for some people they rather not revere the places that shaped them as people and that’s completely okay no matter what their reason. Their feelings are valid. Acknowledge the places that shaped you as a person, but don’t feel pressure to revere them.

Talk to Your Counselor

I hate going to the Internet for help so I always say talk to your counselor. Be honest about the things that have formed you as person. We all have a history. Talk with your counselor about the places and people that make up your earliest memories. A licensed professional will be able to create a personalized strategy that allows you to reconcile with your formative years and find a way to move on or feel better about the place you came from.

 

 

Photo by Monica Bourgeau on Unsplash

What to Expect for February Mental Health

bouquet effect

Who else is glad January is over? It’s one of those months that only exists because it has to. February is a little better in that it’s a month full of pink, chocolate, and a ground hog that may or may not see it’s shadow (but he’s the cutest thing ever!). None the less, it’s a month that can also drag on and on. Winter, although beautiful in it’s own right, is not my favorite season for mental health reasons. It’s just hard! Sunlight is hard to find, coats keep us concealed, and central heating gives us dry skin. I’ll pass. So what can we expect this month in terms of mental health? 

february mental health

Hope for the Coming Weeks

We’re almost half way through winter! Finally. In my opinion, winter starts as soon as Christmas ends. Christmas is really it’s own season. Right around the first week of February however, we start to feel hope! March is just around the corner! The birds will be singing, the earth is starting to wake up again, and Michael’s Craft Store is full of Easter greenery. There is hope indeed! 

Loneliness (Looking at You Valentine’s Day)

Ah, Valentine’s Day. The dreaded holiday of single people. I remember being single not so long ago and thinking the holiday was silly. Even as someone who’s married I still kind of think it is. And as an independent gal, I’ll buy my own flowers and chocolate if I want them! However, for many single people, it can be a really lonely time. It seems like everyone on social media is out on a date and you wonder when it’s going to be your turn. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, take yourself on a date or meet up with some friends. Get the wine and cheeseboard and treat yourself to some roses! I’ve always thought that before you can love someone else, you have to love yourself. 

Stretches of Depression

Even though we can FEEL spring coming, February can still be depressing. Many of us will probably experience a few stretches of depression throughout the month. These are most likely to occur during rainy or snowy weather thanks to the sun hiding behind the clouds. It’s important to go outside and get fresh air in your lungs and take vitamins! Meditation and keeping a journal can also help during this time. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Just like in January, this will still be something many people deal with well into February. S.A.D.  impacts mental health as well as physical health at times. The mind-body connection is real people! Since this disorder can be difficult to treat, it’s best to tell your doctor about the symptoms you’re experiencing to know what kind of treatment will be best for you. BUT know that you are not alone in the way you feel. Many, many people understand the feelings of sadness and exhaustion. 

Hibernation Mode

People, like some animals, often feel the need to hibernate this time of the year. The cold and wet conditions tell us we need to stay inside to thrive. Unfortunately, this usually leads to feelings of isolation and exhaustion. The more we stay inside and in bed, the more isolated and tired we feel. Have you ever slept for 11 hours straight? You usually feel like you can sleep even longer. That’s like hibernation, except in humans, it usually just ends in a splitting headache and feeling depressed. Get out of bed and be among people, even if you don’t want to. 

February isn’t always a fun month. But taking care of your mental health is the best way to get through it. My grandmom always used to say “it’s always brighter in the morning,” and the morning will come sooner than you think.

What’s a Worry Journal and How Do You Use it?

worry journal

Hi everyone! It’s the start of another week and I wanted to share a tool I’ve been using recently to cope with my anxiety! I find that my worries can be so overwhelming that I can’t process them or pinpoint exactly what’s bothering me. So instead of finding ways to relieve my anxiety, I spend all my time going round and round in my head about what it is I’m worried about. It drains my mental energy and exhausts me. So I’ve started keeping a “worry journal.” Don’t worry (pun intended,) it’s better than you think!

What the Heck is a Worry Journal?

A worry journal is just a notebook you carry with you (it doesn’t need to be huge) that you can whip out when something(s) is bothering you and you need to pinpoint what it is and why it’s giving you anxiety. For me, I sit down at my desk every day, put on some music and just write down what it is that’s giving me anxiety. Sometimes it’s just a few bullet points and other times it’s paragraphs of concerns! At least a few times a week I have to go back to it in the middle of the day and write something else down.

What this does is allows me to clear out the space in my brain that is literally trying to make sense of my anxieties. It also gives me some much needed clarity. I’m not going to say it totally takes away all of my worries, but it definitely makes them more manageable.

How Do I Use It?

Use your worry journal in addition to your normal anxiety treatment. I like to think of my worry journal as an accessory that pulls the entire outfit together. What I mean is I have vitamins, doctor-prescribed medication, workout routines, and a mental health counselor to help me cope with my anxiety. My journal is just that perfect addition that completes my treatment.

When you sit down to write, jot down everything that may be weighing on your mind! And write for as long as you need to! If you have one big worry with several others attached to it, then write those down as bullet points underneath the bigger worry. This kind of organization can often provide the visual clarity you need to think logically about your anxieties. I’ve found that when I write down what’s bothering me, I recognize how I can eliminate the worry or at least cope with it in a healthy manner.

Final Thoughts

Writing may not be as therapeutic for you as it is for me, but I think it’s worth a try! Knowing that I have a place to write down my worries is so helpful! I encourage you to try it out and see if it helps. Good luck!