Let’s be real: 2018 was a long, hard, roller coaster of a year. (Like, can you even believe that the Winter Olympics happened in the same year as the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, a Thai soccer team getting rescued from a cave, and Harry and Meghan’s wedding? I cannot.)
So yeah, 2018 has been a lot. But it’s also been a banner year for mental health awareness. More celebrities than ever have been opening up about their struggles with depression and anxiety (take that, stigma!). And new scientific research has continued to shed more light on the complexities of mental illness, from understanding the surprising link between climate change and mental health to how stress can even affect your memory.
There’s been a lot to learn this year, and we want to share the goods with you. Below, seven W+G staffers share the mental health advice they learned in 2018 that have helped them better handle their stress and anxiety.
Change your schedule to work for you
“The best thing I did for my mental health this year was start going to workout classes at 6 a.m. When my alarm goes off at 5:20 every morning, it feels utterly masochistic, but it’s worth getting out of bed for the feeling of accomplishment I have by 7 a.m. Moving my body right when I wake up helps me curb my anxiety first thing in the morning, and going so early gives me two full hours of awake time (coffee! journaling! meditation!) before emails start pouring in and the daily stress cycle begins. I cherish that time so much, one, because it helps me get organized, and, two, because it is alllllll mine.” —Zoe Weiner, associate beauty and fitness editor
“This year, I’ve learned that the best possible thing I can do for myself when I’m stressed out is to go back to the basics with healthy eating. For some reason, just knowing that I’ve fed my body lots of fruits, veggies, and healthy fats in a day makes me feel like I’m taking care of myself somehow. We’ll call it the avocado effect.” —Kells McPhillips, news writer
Opt out of platforms that make you miserable
“2018 has been a garbage fire in terms of politics and the world, and being on Twitter just made it worse. I felt like I was constantly bombarded with bad news and notifications, making me totally stressed and overloaded all the time. So when I went on vacation in October, I decided to delete the Twitter app off of my phone. I also moved all remaining social media apps to a folder so they’d be harder to access, and I turned off all notifications. I wanted a break.
“It made such a massive difference in how I felt—I could look at the news on my terms, once a day, rather than feeling like I was immersed in it all day. And once I stopped checking Twitter, I realized I really didn’t miss it. I have yet to install it back on my phone, and I don’t plan on it. Maybe my next step will be deleting Facebook, but…baby steps.” —Jessie Van Amburg, senior food and health editor
Retrain your brain to stave off anxiety spirals
“When I sat down with Lo Bosworth, Minaa B., and Ellen Vora, MD, to dive into all things anxiety for our November Well+Good TALK, the brilliant nuggets of advice came fast and furious. But there’s one thing Bosworth said that really stuck with me. When she feels herself spiraling into a black-hole-vortex of self-doubt and worry, she says she flips the script in her mind. ‘Instead of saying, what if? I ask myself, what is?’ she said. By focusing on the things you know to be true in the present, you can help avoid getting lost in that dark rabbit hole.
“So, how does this work? For me, it goes a little something like this: When that discursive voice in my mind starts to go, ‘What if my boss gets angry about that mistake I made? What if she thinks I’m stupid and can’t do my job? What if I *get fired*?’ I check myself. What is actually true? My boss has told me many times that she values my work. She wants me to succeed. She knows that mistakes happen. Ah, the sweet relief of sanity.” —Abbey Stone, managing editor
“Every night before bed when I have a thousand things going through my mind (because of course), I take a super deep inhale and count to 11. I then exhale counting to 8 and I repeat that 3 times. It makes me feel calmer and like I can actually sleep.” —Alex Taylor, assistant branded content editor
“Sometimes I find my to-do list growing and growing, and I get so overwhelmed that I have absolutely no idea where to start. A friend of mine, life coach Susie Moore, had this advice: Do a few easy things first. I started knocking off a couple easy tasks first thing in the morning, and I found that it helped me get into a super-motivated (and less stressed!) mindset.” —Emily Laurence, senior writer
Know when to it’s time to see a pro
“My mental health tip: Go to therapy or try an app like TalkSpace to help deal with your sh*t. Yoga and cathartic spin classes can be incredibly helpful, but they’re not intended as a solution for things like trauma, anxiety, depression etc. Baths and face masks and journaling are amazing, but don’t use self-care as an excuse to avoid getting professional help.” —Melisse Gelula, co-founder
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