Practical Steps to Prepare for an Emotional Storm
A storm gathers in the distance. Warning vibrations echo against your rib cage. Distant, but swelling. White-knuckled acceptance fills the yawning calm between now and its arrival. A scream, choked silent. It will blow over, like storms in the past; you know this. But storms lay siege to life, eroding it a little more each time they wash through it. You must prepare or you will break.
Cycles of depression create riptides and tidal waves, pulling your healthy emotions out past their breaking point, then holding them down until they stop fighting and go limp or numb. Tune your barometer to sense a storm coming while it is still far off. This will give you time to prepare. You have probably rehearsed how to react to emergencies and natural disasters. You know how to buckle down, prepare a safe space, consolidate food, light, and warmth amid this natural, disastrous, attack. Treat your emotional self with the same kind of proactive care.
1. Prepare food ahead of time.
If you predict a depressive episode approaching, grocery shop and meal prep beforehand. When deep exhaustion and the heavy fogginess of fatigue encloses you and depression dulls your ability to care about your wellbeing, accessible, healthy food, will relieve stress. Nutrition is essential to holistic health. Prep food that is easy and soothing for your digestion. Your digestive system uses about 15% of the body’s overall daily energy. Blended or “predigested” foods do not tax the digestive system. Vegetable soups and broths, especially probiotic miso broth or mineral and vitamin-rich bone and vegetable broths, are ideal.
2. Customize your meals to your emotional needs.
Food affects how you feel; eat what you want to feel. If your depression is heavy, eat light, high vibrational foods. Lean into fresh, nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, and herbs, raw salads with herbs like rosemary and thyme, lemon, and pickled and fermented foods. Massage greens and cruciferous vegetables with some salt to break down the protective cell walls to digest easily, add a serving of veggies, raw or roasted, and top with an easy, healthy dressing.
Ingest color, especially when you feel grey and colorless. Chlorophyll absorbs the energy from the sun and converts it into carbohydrates in vegetables. The darker, more vibrant greens are, the richer in chlorophyll, and denser in sun-energy, they are. Root vegetables, mushrooms, and salt are grounding. They grow from deep in the ground and anchor emotions that tend to spiral into anxiety or detachment.
Your body is the shelter within which your emotions dwell. Insulate it and fill it with warmth if the onslaught of emotions leaves you cold and shaky. Warming spices invigorate your emotional self, rubbing the circulation back into shivering, numbed nerves in the wake of depression or an anxiety attack.
3. Move to discharge emotions.
Motion and emotion are intrinsically linked. Movement allows emotions to cycle through and cycle out. Stagnancy halts renewal. Sweating releases toxicity and melts the icy storms that slash inside us.
Depression lays siege to motivation and energy, making it difficult to move and exercise what we were created to do. Anticipate this. Before depression hits, workout intensely and create energy within yourself. Exercise enhances mitochondria function and quantity, improving the overall energy production capacity. Create the habit of daily exercise so when depression or anxiety washes over, you have a stock of willpower and routine already built up. This training will give you a small advantage in the battle of willpower against yourself. Move every day, even, or especially, when it is hard.
4. Establish routines to maximize your days.
Build the habit of getting up early. This defense will protect you against drowning in the tidal waves coming your way. Just like holding your breath under water every time a wave washes over you, waking up early every day becomes second nature; a defense and life-raft when you are too tired to keep yourself afloat. Create a simple nighttime ritual to end a potentially tumultuous day with a soothing constant.
Start a good book and keep it on hand. If it is helpful, schedule daily reading time into your calendar. This will relieve you of the need to create your own escape from reality. It will be a lighthouse; something unchanging, and a promise that people are creating, and will create, beautiful things, always. And you will too. Hope is vital. Prepare your physical space.
5. Get rid of everything in your living space that will tempt and sabotage you.
Know your coping mechanisms, why you gravitate towards them, and their consequences. Find substitutes for dangerous or unhealthy tendencies that allow a similar release. Do you self harm? Or abuse alcohol, drugs, sex, or food? Maybe you isolate yourself or spend extravagantly. Whatever it is, learn why. Put a limit on your credit card or only use cash, ask someone to keep your alcohol/drugs/potential self-harm instruments. If it is available, invite someone you trust to stay with you. Clean your living space so your environment does not reinforce the chaos within. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, and respect that.
Write out what you will prioritize, what you care about, and how you want to feel. Go back and reread this to remind yourself of who you are and what you want. Manifest it. Don’t let the oncoming hurricane paralyze or asphyxiate your goals. There is enough to repair in a storm’s aftermath without adding any extra emotional or physical self-destruction.
6. Be proud of yourself.
Above all, listen to yourself. Be proud of yourself, every day, for something. Do something, every day, worth being proud of.
After the storm, rebuild and repair. Allow the lightness of freedom to swell inside of you. Grab the thin, vibrating air between your teeth. Attack life with ferocious intention and renewed energy. It is yours. You fought for it.