6 Tips to Shift from Depression/Anxiety to a HAPPIER Life

*If you'd rather listen to this podcast, check out this podcast episode on the topic!

Hey sweets!

Today's blog post is a bit different than my usual upbeat/informational posts.

However, I think it's super necessary for me to be transparent with you about the struggles I go through: 1. so you can see that I'm a human, just like you and 2. hopefully inspire you to take control of your life. 

And after all, they say we teach what we need to learn. So I hope that by teaching you some of my tips, it reminds me to *actually* be consistent with these practices when I need a mood booster. Because as I always say, it's one thing to KNOW something, it's a totally different thing to actually IMPLEMENT it into your life. That's where the magic happens. 

Have you ever been in a funk that you can't seem to shake, no matter how many affirmations you repeat, bubble baths you take, gym sessions you have? It's like there's a dark cloud just looming over you, following you around. Sure, you're able to laugh and have a great time for certain periods and forget about it -- but then it comes back with a vengeance within a few days (or even a few hours)?

That's how I've felt, on and off for the past few months. Just 'off' -- for a lack of better words to describe it.

It's felt SO MF hard to feel positive, where that used to come naturally to me.

Self care has no longer been a luxury, but a NECESSARY part of my everyday routine. Otherwise, I'm in shambles. 

This is not to make you feel bad for me. Not in the least bit. Because I'm not here to leave you with a sob story about how I have anxiety and depression and how much my life sucks -- because my life is freaking amazing. 

But that's why I wanted to share this with you -- because if you've ever felt like you have EVERYTHING you could possibly need from the outside looking in to be grateful for, yet you still can't shake your tendency toward anxiety and depression -- I feel you. So deeply.  

While I can't cure or fix whatever's going on in your life, I CAN offer some tips to help you navigate this difficult season of your life. Here are some things I try to practice in my everyday life, especially when I'm deep into my own head and full of anxiety and sadness. I hope they help you, too!

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Photo taken by Toronto-based photographer Amin

1. Be introspective, but don't get stuck there. Focus on the solution instead of the problem.

Do you know WHY you're feeling anxious and depressed? Sometimes the answer is obvious -- you're feeling stuck in your job, you are unhappy in your relationship, whatever else is bothering you. 

But sometimes it's not as black-and-white. And sometimes even if it IS black and white, you're too scared to do anything about it, which keeps you stuck in the situation.

Whether you know exactly where your worries are coming from, or you need to do some digging, take some time to grab a journal, sit alone, keep your phone AWAY from you, drink some tea and just write. Journaling helps me get all of my thoughts and ideas out of my head and on to paper. I can't tell you HOW MANY times I've come up with solutions, ideas or just fresh perspectives because I took the time to write it out, as opposed to trying to figure out what to do in my head. 

And it's important to realize that after the introspection, it's OK to move on and focus on the solution. 

So often we get sucked into this whole, "what's wrong with me?" cycle, and we spend so much time focusing on figuring out what's wrong so that we can 'fix it.'

Once you have a general idea, start taking steps in the right direction. You don't need to see the whole big picture right now, just take the NEXT RIGHT STEP that your heart tells you to make.

One of my favorite quotes is:

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That means taking small, baby steps (even if they seem so small the won't even matter) because small steps DO matter. They're what add up to LARGER solutions and outcomes.

For example, if you realize you hate your job and want to leave, what's one thing you can do TODAY to take steps toward that outcome? You don't have to go in and quit immediately, but maybe you can apply for ONE job today. Maybe you can spruce up your resume. Maybe you can reach out to a friend who's a recruiter and see if there's anything in alignment with what you really want to do. Maybe you're just missing hobbies outside of work, which would make you happier AT work... so you take a dance class. Go to the gym. Do something that makes you HAPPY.

What's the one thing you can to today to move the needle toward your ultimate happiness? Go do that thing. 

2. Realize it's not always going to be this way.

Just as nature has habitual seasons, so do our lives. One of my favorite quotes is 'it's always darkest just before the dawn' which means if you feel you're at the lowest low right now, that means your breakthrough is coming. You just have to have faith that things won't always be this way, and as long as you keep proactively trying to better your life (showing up and doing the necessary work to be happy), brighter days are just around the corner.

Think back to a time in your life when it felt like you were NEVER going to be happy again: maybe it was a break up, death in the family, you lost your job. It seemed like such a dark hole that you could never crawl out of at the time. But some way, somehow, you are still standing here breathing today. 

3. Focus on even the SMALLEST things you can be grateful for. 

I write a list of things I'm grateful for every morning in my journal. 

It can be simple things, like: the feeling of my warm bed, my cup of coffee, waking up next to Mark and snuggling, the fact that I am ALIVE AND BREATHING -- which is a huge blessing we take for granted DAILY.

Whether you write a list in a journal or your phone, or simply take a few minutes in the morning to say them out loud -- gratitude is a game changer. Do it as often as you can: when your boss is being a d*ck at work, when you're stuck in traffic, just repeat, "I am grateful for a delicious breakfast. I am grateful that I HAVE a job to drive to. I am grateful to be safe in this traffic right now. I'm grateful that I can listen to audiobooks during traffic and get to spend a little quiet time by myself."

Change your perspective, and your life changes. 

4. SELF. CARE. Get out of your mind and into your body.

When I get depressed or anxious, most of the time it's because I've been neglecting self care. And while many people stigmatize self care as bubble baths, getting your nails done, having a spa day (which are all great ways to care for yourself, so I'm not knockin' on 'em)... sometimes it requires a deeper level than that. 

When's the last time you just sat by yourself and read a book or journaled? With NO distractions -- aka NO PHONE. When we keep distracting ourselves from our feelings by numbing out with our phones, social media, food, alcohol, etc. instead of facing how we really feel -- we're never able to truly take care of ourselves on a DEEP level because we don't even KNOW ourselves anymore.

Whenever I'm feeling anxious or depressed, I try to get out of my mind and into my body. If you have the tendency to overanalyze or overthink everything, this will be SUPER helpful for you, too. 

Getting into your body simply means doing something that grounds you and brings you back to the present moment. You can stretch, take full deep breaths with your eyes closed (I do this and hold my hand on my heart and say 'I trust you'... super powerful), go for a walk, dance around the house, do jumping jacks, do a workout. You can do pretty much anything that centers and grounds you, and brings you back to the present moment. 

Because everything we need to be grateful is right here. right now. One of my favorite quotes says:

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All we really have is NOW. Anxiety and depression do not exist here and now -- it's only when we're dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Remember that and try to get out of your mind & into your body to come back to NOW. 

BOOK RECO for living in the present: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Game Changer. 

5. Realize YOU ARE HERE FOR A REASON.

Many times when I feel anxious or depressed, it's because I forget my larger purpose in life. Our minds are super powerful, and I can get to some pretty damn dark places. My mind will try to convince me that "I'm worthless. Ugly. Not worthy of success. That no one even cares." And once you get on the roller coaster, it can be SUPER hard to get off and convince yourself otherwise. It's kind of scary, actually. 

When you have these thoughts, please realize they are not YOU. They are your inner mean girl, trying to steal the shine and keep you small so that you don't have to show up in this world in the powerful way you're meant to. Your mind and body want to stay safe and comfortable, which is why SO MANY people experience depression and anxiety when they're just about to (or just did) break through to higher levels of success in their relationships, jobs, or happiness. 

6. Do Things That Make You Happy.

This sounds so simple, and it is. But are you actually doing it?

And I'm not even talking about major life changes here (quitting a job you hate, leaving a relationship that's no longer serving you -- although those can be HUGE reasons that you're avoiding that make you anxious and depressed). I'm talking about the little stuff that seems insignificant but can brighten up our day in a MOMENT. 

For example: watching cat videos on YouTube, listening to a podcast that inspires you, listening to happy, upbeat music, DANCING around your living room, cooking, watching a comedy show. 

How often do you get sucked into a Netflix series that is downright depressing and makes you anxious? (I love you Breaking Bad, but guilty.) Or you listen to a podcast that you think is 'helping you' but you find that you're just comparing yourself to the person and thinking, "Why aren't I this successful yet?" or you listen to emo music which naturally is going to make you want to curl up in a ball in the bathroom and cry.

So often, we love sulking in our own misery (crying? listen to emo music! REALLY GET IT ALL OUT! lol)... but our mood can instantly shift if we stop FEEDING the depression, other depressing shiz! 

And really, can you dance like a crazy person, jump out and down, or listen to your favorite upbeat music, and frown or cry at the same time? DIDN'T THINK SO.


So there ya have it!

I'm hoping these 6 tips help you get out of a funk if you're in one, or prevent it from happening in the first place as much as possible.

I know depression and anxiety are a very real thing, and this post is not meant to make light of them and just say "HEY! GET HAPPY! IT'S THAT EASY!" If you do need to seek professional help, please, please, please do so. Asking for help is one of the strongest moves you can make in life.

But if you start implementing these things and your day is just a LITTLE bit brighter, I've done my job here. 

:)

LOVE YA TONS!

xo, TONS OF HAPPINESS

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7 Questions to Reflect on in 2017 to Create MAGIC in 2018

First of all: how is it already the end of 2017?

I feel like I say that every year, but DANG time is just flyin' by!

In this blog post, I'm going to give you some questions to reflect on about 2017.

But why, Julie? I am just tooooo excited to start planning for 2018!

Because before you can create powerful intentions and set goals for 2018, it's important to reflect on the past year of your life to see what's gone right, what you could improve upon, and to celebrate yo pretty self - because I'm sure you don't do that enough!

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Why It's Important to Reflect (And Not Just Plan for the Future)

I absolutely LOVE the energy of the New Year -- it gives us the sense of a 'fresh start,' and there's a collective energy of everyone getting excited about setting goals and intentions.

And while I'm not a huge fan of 'starting on Monday' (how ironic since January 1 falls on a Monday this year), I am ALL for whatever it takes for people to get excited about their lives and setting intentions/goals to make positive changes.

BUT HOLD UP A MINUTE LIL MAMA: what about the past year of your life that you just lived and rocked? The one where you seemingly fell on your face yet also totally thrived in?

Often we're busy creating goals and resolutions for 2018 that we forget to take inventory of the whole last year of our life!

Here's why it's important to reflect FIRST, and THEN plan for 2018:

  • Reflection allows you to look back at your year as a whole. What went right? What went wrong? What could you do better next year?
     
  • I'm a huge fan of CELEBRATING OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS! Reflecting allows us to look back at all we've achieved over the past year -- which is usually a lot more than we think. This simple confidence boost gives us the fuel we need to create even BIGGER dreams for the year ahead.
     
  • It's not always about what we should CHANGE in ourselves. Rather, let's look at what we were doing RIGHT all year long and continue to expand on that (vs. focus only on the negative / what we need to change).

Grab your journal, my love!

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Grab your journal! This is meant to be an interactive exercise.

Just remember this is a reflection of your own life, so make it as true to you and unfiltered as possible.

The wonderful thing about journaling is no one has to see it but YOU! So be brutally honest with yourself here -- about the good AND the not-so-good.

Being completely honest, vulnerable and self aware is key to making true changes in our future selves. Keep that in mind as you're answering the questions.

7 Magic-Making Questions

1. What were the highlights of your year? (This is an 'overview' question - we will go into more depth later. Feel free to answer in bullet points.)

2. What went RIGHT for you in 2017? How can you bring more of that into 2018?

3. We can't change the past, so this isn't a 'what would you change' question. But, it is important to look back at ways we could've improved so we don't make the same mistakes over again. What could you improve upon on 2018? (I recommend breaking this down into sections: personal, fitness, work, spirituality, relationships, finances, whatever 'main categories' of your life you feel apply.)

4. What did you create that you're proud of?

5. What was a big, scary challenge or event that you overcame this year?

6. What dreams did you set out yourself and ACCOMPLISH in 2017? Or, what actions did you take to take steps toward your bigger dreams, even if they haven't all come to fruition yet?

7. WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT TODAY?!


I hope you found these introspective questions helpful, and feel even more prepared / ready to tackle all the highs & lows 2018 will throw your way.

My hope for you this year:

You'll come even MORE into your own skin,

see your biggest dreams come to life,

work hard,

play lots,

and learn how to create a body and life you love.

That's what I'm here to teach you.

Stay tuned for the rest of Setting Goals with Soul! Every week in January 2018, we'll be chatting all about goals, setting intentions, and giving you the tools to make 2018 your most transformative year yet.

Sign up for my email list to be sure you never miss a life-changing post!

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I hope you found this post helpful! If you did, share it with a friend who should celebrate her accomplishments and be PROUD of herself.

Comment below: What was your greatest accomplishment or biggest highlight of 2017? Let's celebrate YOU!


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