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Earlier this year, I reunited with my son after four years of being alienated from him by his father. The void I felt in my heart for years was finally filled. But confronting what had happened, the time we were apart also reminded me just how painful that whole experience was. Not only for me missing him all those years, but also for him being stuck in the middle — a position he should never have been put in.

As we returned to our lives, I suddenly felt the walls caving in on me. My mind raced with all the negative inner chatter about the things I couldn’t change. I cried. I felt helpless. After recognizing my symptoms resembled PTSD, I decided to see a therapist for the first time in years.

Therapy and counseling have held positive connotations for me growing up. Since I was 10, I’ve been intrigued by the mind, personality and behavior. I remember making a promise that someday I would do work that makes a difference in the world. Especially for people — like me — who never really felt they fit in. In 2008, I became a professional coach and inspirational speaker. Since then, I’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of people speak up, stand out, and change the world.

But then, how was it possible for “someone like me” to get diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and persistent depressive disorder this year?

Anxiety and depressive disorders do not define me; they inform me.

I was actually relieved when I got the diagnosis. Mental health disorders can afflict anyone at any time. To turn a blind eye to it will do you a disservice. Through my professional work, I’ve learned that you’ve got to know what is at the heart of the matter to break through the blocks. Mental health is no different.

Healing anxiety and depression is not a one-time event — it’s ongoing as long as I live.

I’ve tried and tested many ways to help heal my anxiety and depression over the last decade — before I even was diagnosed. The following are the most effective methods that have helped me. I’m not here to offer any expert advice on what will work for you. In fact, don’t believe what I say. Instead, I urge you to be a student and scientist: get informed, test out these ideas for yourself, and then use what works for you:

  • If you smoke, quit. I quit cold turkey nine years ago. In addition to improving my physical health, I have since felt less moody and nervous.
  • Replace bad habits with nutrition and exercise. I was a binge smoker and junk food eater. Both vices induced my stress and anxiety. If you can take a walk break, pack a lunch or get up and stretch periodically, you will feel physically better.
  • Talk to a professional coach, therapist or counselor. It’s not fair for family and friends to shoulder the burden of being our sounding board. It’s not their job to “fix” us, and they’re unable to remain objective — it’s not a slight on them; it just is. Avoid resenting those you love most and get help from a pro.
  • Write. Holding in your emotions can be physically ailing for your body. When you’re frustrated, sad, or inspired, write. It’s soothing for the soul and also empowers you to speak up and let things out.
  • Get an energy or intuitive healing. There are many modalities of intuitive and energy healing. One example is Reiki energy healing. If you especially have a hard time meditating, this form of healing will help you become centered and relaxed.
  • Be still. Meditate. Do yoga. Sit in silence near your favorite beach or lake. Find your sanctuary (internal or external) and prioritize a few minutes of stillness each day to quiet the inner chatter.
  • Help others. My favorite piece of advice I received from life and business mentors is: Help others and expect nothing in return. The reward is in the doing. If you do something with purpose and it serves another, your life will feel more meaningful because you are making a positive impact on the world.
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Berni Xiong
Berni Xiong is The Shin Kicking Life Spark. Her work as a Reiki Master and Intuitive Branding Coach helps impact-driven individuals speak up, stand out, and change the world. She is a contributing author of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive, and contributing writer at The Huffington Post. When she's not kicking shins, you can find her at bernixiong.com. Contact her at info@bernixiong.com.

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