How to Manage Darker Days

A question I’m often asked: “Do you have anxiety like every day?”

Yes and no.

Yes, I have anxiety every day, because, well…I have anxiety. Every day. It doesn’t go away, really, any more than asthma goes away day-to-day. There are things that bring it up some days that don’t even happen on others.

No, it doesn’t affect me the same every day. Some days I do feel like it’s gone completely; I am completely at peace, productive, on-task, effortlessly content. On other days, I’m not sure I’ll ever know what it means to be joyful or purposeful ever again. Others with GAD, or different anxiety disorders, experience symptoms far more or far less intense than me. Or they don’t even need the label at all.

That’s something else I’m learning:

You don’t need to have anxiety to experience anxiety.

I’ve said this before, but it seems many are reluctant to express a struggle for fear of being labeled. “I mean, yea I get super worried, my thoughts race, and I can’t function sometimes, but I don’t like, you know…have anxiety.” And that’s fine; good, even. I wouldn’t wish anxiety on anyone. But just because your struggle isn’t a label doesn’t make it less of a struggle. Too many of us ignore our struggles until they become glaring, consuming, ohmydayswhatisgoingonwithme. It would’ve been better to acknowledge them earlier, form healthful habits, and grow through them. Just speaking from experience over here…

These are seven ways I manage these darker days (the anxiety attack days, the why-can’t-I-get-my-life-together-days, or whatever you call them). Here’s an intro:

Quality Counseling

I’ve received invaluable help from Christ-like counselors, and I’ve also been the recipient of counsel that verged on malpractice. I’ll share the principles that have helped me know when counseling can help and how to find quality counselors.

Exercise & Nutrition

Everyone knows they should eat better and exercise more, but it really does affect our mental health. This isn’t a five-step-plan to be ripped in 30 days. It’s more of a paradigm-shift for two activities that are often shelved as guilt-inducing instead of beneficial.

Meaningful Relationships

When God told Adam that it’s not good for man to be alone, I don’t think he was just talking about romantic relationships. Meaningful and close relationships can provide a place of healing, lessons, and encouragement, especially when gone about in purposeful ways.

Reality in Christ

I know the Bible says some things, and then my life shows other things, but sometimes I forget the Bible verses as soon as I’m done reading them. I feel you. I’ll share what I’ve learned in maintaining reality in Christ, even when emotions scream otherwise.

Know Your Triggers

I just have really bad days sometimes…they just happen. But maybe if there was a pattern and I could see it…? Often, there are events, situations, and emotional reactions that set us off. Knowing what they are and how to counteract them specifically can be a game-changer.

Be Kind to Yourself

Life can be overwhelming. Sometimes it seems like we just need to get over it and get on with it. But we need to simultaneously be honest and kind to ourselves to grow through the darker days.

Be a Blessing

When my mentor told me to do so, I thought she was just being insensitive. But it turns out that serving others can encourage our own hearts more than we thought.

Now, these seven things are not listed in order of importance, logical progression, or even chronologically of how I learned them. So don’t stone me for not putting Jesus first, please. (I honestly don’t have a good reason for the order…but if you see a good reason, feel free to say that’s the one!)