Recently, I’ve noticed that my blog posts and overall outlook on life have been a bit depressing. This has been made even more apparent by the emails and notes of encouragement I’ve received from some of you (thank you! it means a lot to know that my words are being read and considered). Hardly a depressing person by nature (or at least, that’s what I keep telling myself), I’ve been taking steps to get to the root of my recent depression and anxiety and try to reverse it. I started doing so a week ago and have already had quite a few breakthroughs, which I’ll share this week. Coping with stress and overcoming obstacles is tough when you try to do so naturally without seeking professional help or treatment, but it’s not impossible with the plethora or resources available at our fingertips. It’s truly amazing what you can accomplish when you identify an issue and really focus on correcting it.
1. Trying “new” ways of curing back pain.
A few months ago, I was photographing a beauty event for a corporate client that featured a lipsologist. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s the art of reading lip prints. It might seem a little strange, and in fact there are only a handful of certified lipsologists out there, but the brief encounter I had with Jilly Eddy of Lipsology really did leave an impression. Not only was my lip print reading pretty accurate, but without even indicating that I suffered from chronic shoulder pain, she told me to read the work of Dr. John Sarno. It took several months to follow up on her recommendation, but not long ago I finally read his book, “Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection,” and it really did jump start my desire to dig into the emotional roots of my depression. Also on my current reading list is the work of Dr. David Hanson, recommended by one of my readers. Give them both a read, if you can.
2. Getting back on a vitamin and supplement routine
When my boyfriend and I moved in together, we had an extreme excess of two things between the two of us: physical books and vitamins. We’re both obsessed with maximizing human performance, he through mental means and myself through physical means, and this meant piles of reference books and supplements. While we’ve slimmed down our book collection by increasing our virtual Kindle libraries instead, we’ve failed to reduce the amount of bottles that crowd our limited cabinet space. In fact, I still heckle him over every new Amazon package he receives as 8 times out of 10 it’s a new supplement or vitamin. While I still don’t know what half the supplements he orders are supposed to do, I can attest to two in particular that I’ve seen make pretty big changes to my emotional and mental health:
Living in the Pacific Northwest where sunset is around 4:00pm during the winter, many residents of this area are prone to suffering from something that has one of the most accurate acronyms out there, SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. Also known as winter blues, seasonal depression, SAD depression, etc, it basically has to do with the lack of sunlight and thus vitamin D that residents of cold weather areas tend to suffer from. I find this to be particularly true for myself given that I grew up on a tropical island and still feel happiest and most at ease in a warm, sunny area. One of the best and easiest ways to address SAD is to increase the amount of vitamin D one consumes, either through natural sunlight absorption, consumption of certain foods, or taking a vitamin D supplement. The latter is generally easiest during winter months, although there are also light box therapy that seeks to artificially mimic sunlight. I have this light box in particular which works decently, but I still prefer going the supplement route instead.
Besides in addition to vitamin D, 5-HTP is the other supplement that we always have on hand. Short for 5-hydroxytryptophan, this supplement is a little more experimental and less proven to be effective, but it ultimately increases the body’s production of serotonin. The result can be better control of depression, anxiety, mood, metabolism, and addictive behaviors. Again, not a ton of evidence proving it works, but I feel like 5-HTP supplements do help me personally.
3. Keep It Simple
One of my dad’s catch phrases that sticks out in my mind is, “keep it simple, stupid.” I didn’t know it growing up, but it turns out my dad’s phrase is a wider-known design principle noted by the U.S. Navy (dad was in fact a F-14 Navy fighter pilot). While I’ve chosen to omit the “stupid” part of the principle, I’ve found that the root of my recent problems have stemmed from overcomplicating things, especially in regard to my new web design business. Unlike photography, web design has become more and more appealing to me over time because it has a ton more possibilities. I can use web design in conjunction with photography to build beautiful online portfolios, e-commerce platforms, or just about anything I can think of. The unlimited possibilities of web design work have been both a blessing and curse, as more often than not I take a very simple concept and overcomplicate it. Here’s an example.
A recent restaurant web design client tasked me with creating an online job board for his business, which was set to have at least 10 franchise locations open in the coming months. This meant that every job application submitted would have to correspond with a specific email address for each location. Immediately, I started looking at specific job board management software, often shuddering at the outrageous prices and pages of documentation that came with them. Looking at my time tracking notes, I spent close to 30 hours going in circles with these programs, often on the phone with customer support as I rushed to find a quick solution for my client. Finally, I had coffee with a UI (user-interface) designer friend and casually mentioned my dilemma to him. “Why not just use a contact form system for the job applications rather than mess with complicated software,” he asked. Boom. I went home and did just that, and in 30 minutes came up with a solution that worked flawlessly for my client. One sentence made the world of difference when I was reminded to keep it simple.
Over To You
Do you have methods of coping with stress and overcoming obstacles in life? I’d love to hear them! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot me a message.
P.S. Planning a sunny escape! Recommendations (or meetups!) appreciated.
This has been a plan for a while, but only recently became reality. I have officially booked a travel extravaganza for the entire month of April that will take me to Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Bali, and Kuala Lumpur. It will be the last travel adventure of my twenties, and I will hit my major goal of visiting a total of 29 countries at age 29. Making these travel plans has definitely lifted my spirits with something big to look forward to. If you have any travel recommendations for these locations, or will be there yourself in April, please let me know!