Disclaimer: In my posts, I will relate a lot to my religion — Islam. But you are free to relate your battle and your journey with your own faith and practises, whatever they may be. This story serves as a universal guide and inspiration towards freeing yourself from depression. What I believe in may be different from you, but find a source of hope to hold you on.
“If you did not breathe today, how would you have lived your life differently?”
“If today is your last day on Earth, how would you have lived your life differently?”
And the various permutations of this type of question continues…
During my journey of battling depression, I tend to look back on the “What if” of life. Looking back is one of the biggest mistakes I made, because I felt even more depressed than I already was. When I looked back to all those mistakes I made, I felt even worse about myself. I didn’t like the feeling, but I didn’t know how to make it all go away.
I decided to focus entirely on completing my five daily prayers. I picked a focus and I worked on it. Well, faith is a constant struggle as it is, but when you consciously work on something, your mind and body will devote all your energy towards achieving that. Praises be to Allah, I am on my way towards that journey.
So, lovelies. Today, I want you to stop whatever you are doing and just do this:
Yes, keep on breathing. Start a new routine.
When your mind has something so easy to focus on, it will just focus on doing that. Breathing is a great start because when you breathe, you release all those carbon dioxide from your blood cells, and welcome in new and fresh oxygen into your body. This simple exercise keeps you calm and can even make you smile.
Here’s my top 5 tips on how to breathe:
1. Turn all mobile devices on airplane mode
I cannot emphasise this more. When I first started, I was truly dependent on my phone. I would constantly check them. Even when I wanted to do this breathing exercise, I couldn’t let it go. One trick I found to really work for me was to turn the device to airplane mode, so I can still use the timer function on it. I am still using my phone, but for non-communicative purposes. Place the phone far away from you after you’ve set the timer, okay?
2. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes
When you first begin this journey, your body won’t be used to this new process. Your body may tend to tell you to stop. Start with short durations: 1 minute, then 2 minutes, then 3, and so on. Take as much time as you need. The aim of this breathing exercise is to stay calm, and rid all those negativities in your life. If you are a Muslim, you can consider doing this exercise during Dzikir after prayers.
3. Sit down on a comfortable place
I feel calm when I sit down on a prayer mat. It reminds me to stay grounded to the tests that God has granted me. On those days where I can’t pray, I’ll position myself on the bed or the sofa. It’s best to sit in a cross-legged position, because it tends to keep you grounded, with most of your body parts close to one another.
4. Check Your Posture
This is the most important step. Before you begin the breathing exercise, sit upright. Tilt your head down slightly until you are comfortable. You are ready to begin.
5. Take Deep Breaths and Release
Take deep long breaths. As you inhale through your nose, slowly raise your head. Closing your eyes help to eliminate distractions too, so try it if you feel comfortable with that. As you exhale through your mouth, lower your head back to the position when you began.
During this process of breathing, think of all the things you want to achieve in your life… Think of all the people whom you love, and who loves you… Think of happy moments when you have achieved your dreams and goals…
You may cry during this process for the first few times you are doing it. It’s okay. Keep doing it anyways. When you release all those sadness, anger and frustration, your body tend to accept that you want to be happy and be better. Keep going strong and fight it.
Repeat this exercise minimum 5 times a day. Yes, it coincides with the number of prayers Muslims must do in a day. So my Muslim friends, this routine includes fulfilling all your daily prayers. It helps your brain focus on other things other than your depression, your sadness, your frustration.
Keep going strong. You are almost there.
Fight those negativities, replace them with positives.
No matter what anyone says or do to you, always remember this:
You are AMAZING, and
YOU ARE WORTH IT!