10 Things You Can Do Right Now To Reduce Depression, Anxiety, and Irritability

1. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.

If sleeping is a problem, research good sleep hygiene and do the little things, like not watching television or eating or exercising before bed, having a good routine to wind down, and learning relaxation techniques and thought defusion techniques in order to calm worries and anxieties. I can not compromise sleep or I pay for it. Sometimes if I stay up late, I find that I’m acting like a different person the next day.

2. Eat regular and healthy meals and snacks and drink lots of water.

We all have our bad eating tendences. I tend to not eat enough sometimes, and so I have to remind myself to have snacks, eat more fruits and veggies, and not forget to eat. Some people snack throughout the whole day. Other people eat too much sugar or too much salt. But while bad eating habits are all bad in their own way, good eating habits look alike: more fruits and veggies and whole grains; less sugar; breakfast, lunch, and dinner; concrete snack instead of grazing; mindfulness about what you are eating. And drink water. I’ve lived half my life minorly dehydrated and it’s not healthy.

3. Exercise and regular physical activity.

Exercising for ten or twenty minutes in the morning and then sitting for the rest of the day is really not the best. I’m trying to live a more active lifestyle, and that can be hard. I try to play with my kids and go on walks and resist laziness. And I do like to formally exercise as well. I have a lot of different apps on my phone I switch between, like 7-minute workouts and yoga. I still want to improve on this–I want to feel stronger, and I know vigorous walking is a really good way to clear my mind.

4. Spend time outside.

I find myself incredibly happier when I spend more time outside. But in our modern lives, sometimes there is barely reason to go outside. We make excuses if it is hot or raining or snowing or whatever, but with proper preparation, you can be outside in almost every kind of weather, at least for a minute. Whenever I go camping, I feel this release when I have to be outside to cook and go to the bathroom and live. I wonder why we’ve made our lives so closed out to the outside world sometimes. Kick your kids outside to play and you’ll find that they are way less cranky–and if you go join them, you’re going to be less cranky too.

5. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

You’ve probably heard about this because it’s everywhere right now, and there are so many guides and apps out there. I am not a very mindful person and meditation is incredibly difficult for me, which is why I keep trying anyway. I need it to calm my mind and to remember what I value. And you don’t have to be good at it to be good at doing it. A week of distracted meditation is better than a week of no meditation. Just keep trying.

6. Limit screen time

How many times do you check your phone? How much time do you spend staring at a screen? Even if you do it for work or school, is there a way you can reduce it? I get constantly distracted on my phone and my computer, but I put blocks into place to help me. I usually have my web browser blocked on my phone so I can’t access the entire internet, and I never install games. And on my computer, I have an app called FocusMe (which I paid for, and it was worth it), which helps me block things without easy ways of getting to them again.

7. Simplify

There are lots of ways to simplify your life. You can get rid of stuff: when you look in a closet and the only things in there are the things you use and you love, you feel a whole lot calmer. We try to only have toys we really play with. It’s so nice to be have space around you and room to breathe. The joy of having a simpler life is much greater than the joy of having lots of stuff. And you can simplify your time too. What projects can you drop? How can you simplify errands and routines? How can you simplify parenting? How can you simplify your finances? If there is a way to simplify, that way may be a better way.

8. Set regular routines and follow them

You don’t have to have routines for the whole day, just small routines that help you know where you are. I wake up and read my scriptures, say my prayers, meditate, exercise, eat breakfast, read scriptures as a family, get in the shower, and get my kids dressed. If I do that every morning, my days go so much better. In the evening, we put the kids in the tub, brush teeth, and then read stories and say prayers. Kids like routine. Adults like routine. Life should have some stability to it.

9. Serve others and increase social interaction

Isolating yourself is really easy, but it will make you miserable. We need face-to-face interaction with other people. And we need to serve other people too. I’m always much happier when I serve, and sometimes it means that I drop what I’m doing in order to send a message, make a phone call, go visit, say hello, or edit something for someone. Making someone else happy in meaningful ways increases your own happiness.

10. Prayer and Scripture Study

My daily prayer and scripture study is essential to my life and my mental health. I need the Lord’s help in all of this. We all do.

Prayer in the midst of despair

Last post, I talked about struggles with mental health. When I have struggled, I have often prayed, sometimes in desperation, asking over and over for help. And there have been often times when I didn’t feel anything.

I wanted the peace of the Spirit so many times, and I couldn’t feel it. Recently, I read the book Silent Souls Weeping, by Jane Clayson Johnson, and in the beginning of the book it talks about how people who are struggling and afflicted with depression and other issues sometimes can’t feel the Spirit. The book mentioned an analogy where there was electricity coming in, but the switch was off. The Spirit is like the electricity. And it is still there, but sometimes I have been unable to feel it because the switch was off.

I think sometimes it’s like noise: my brain gets so incredibly noisy sometimes with racing thoughts and overwhelming emotions that I literally can’t hear anything else. I can’t hear or feel the Spirit, even though it is still there.

Sometimes I have felt like I was all alone. But I was never really alone. And the Lord has helped me in the ways that I really needed it, through very small and simple things.

Now, I don’t have all the answers. Sometimes I wanted help that wasn’t there. I simply wanted healing and peace that didn’t come. It was really hard without a reason.

But other times, people have called or texted at the exact right time. My children have been protected from harm. I’ve been able to do things beyond my capabilities.

I’ve received priesthood blessings that have not only provided comfort, but have literally calmed my mind. I know that others have prayed for me as well when I have been struggling. My mom and my husband especially has been a huge support. One time, my mom came and helped clean up the cereal that was spread across my entire house. My husband has fixed meals and put the kids to bed and even taken time off work to help me.

And throughout this all, I am so grateful for the commandments that have helped me live my life without further complications. I had a happy home growing up. I have never tried alcohol and drugs. I always knew my values and the direction I wanted my life to go.

And I have relied on my Savior, Jesus Christ, knowing that he can heal me, and he can heal those that I have hurt along the way, especially my children and my husband. I know there is always hope in him.

I used to get in downward spirals of despair, thinking that there was no way out, that there was nothing I could do and I was worthless and beyond saving. Things just hurt sometimes. But when I remember the atonement of Jesus Christ, it shuts down those downward spirals and helps me come up again. Because I am never beyond saving. I am never beyond hope.

I know that know, more deeply than I did before. I can return to my Lord over and over again, and he offers healing and peace.

My experience with bipolar 2

A few months after the birth of my third child, I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease or hyperthyroidism, where my thyroid was working too hard. Medication worked really well, putting me back to normal with no side effects. I went into remission and then relapsed two and a half years later, but medication worked again. Overall, it’s mostly a minor and uninteresting part of my life.

But that’s not my only chronic health condition, and the second one is a lot harder to talk about. It’s been around a lot longer and it’s been a longer journey to diagnose and treat. And I hesitate to talk about it to people. I have mental health problems; specifically I deal with bipolar 2.

Quite a few years ago, I went to the doctor and mentioned depression and I was put on antidepressants that didn’t really work. One other doctor was simply dismissive, and none of them really asked that much about my symptoms. I set out on my own to try to fix myself, reading books about cognitive behavior therapy and other sorts of therapy. I exercised and tried to make friends and live the best life I could. But I really just wanted the issue to go away. And I thought it would go away, if I was strong enough and worked hard enough at it and my life was in the best place it could be.

The depression never really lasted that long anyway. The older I got, the more I wondered if I was really dealing with depression. I would read about bipolar or borderline personality disorder and sometimes I wanted there to be another name out there to describe how I was feeling.

When I looked back at my journals, I could see an instability in the way I felt and dealt with life. Some days and weeks were normal and good and happy and I felt like myself, with the normal ups and downs of living. But then sometimes those ups and downs would be exaggerated and all over the place. There were days when I could do so much, focused and motivated. But then I would try to repeat those days, and I couldn’t. There were days when I did very little, falling down into sadness and discouragement. And there were other sorts of days too: days when I would get extremely irritable. Days when I couldn’t really function and it literally felt like my brain simply wasn’t working. Days when I screamed or ran away or wanted to hurt myself because of the mental anguish I was feeling.

It has been really hard lately, and the last few months have been some of the most difficult in my life. I would search things and search things, trying to figure out what to do. I wasn’t depressed. I wasn’t manic. I was just not right some of the time and I didn’t know what to do about it.

And then I found a picture that sort of showed how I was feeling. It looked like this:

Source:  https://psycheducation.org

I read about bipolarity being a spectrum disorder. I read about people who felt like I had.

Every morning, I was reading mental health books, writing gratitude and doing therapy exercises, and I started meditating as well. One meditation I listened to talked about going and visiting my older self. And so I imagined talking to an older version of myself, and I told myself that I didn’t have to do this alone, and that I could go and get help.

So with finally understanding that I wasn’t alone in how I felt, I didn’t need to isolate and hide my problems, and that I really did need help and couldn’t fix it by myself, I finally called someone.

I went to a psychiatric nurse practitioner and I got a prescription for a mood stabilizer. I read about lifestyle changes that I could make that would help me more. I went to my mom’s house for two weeks to be around more people and get my feet underneath me again, since I had not been very functional.

And things are helping. I’ve finally accepted that this isn’t going to just go away, but I can deal with it too the best I can and seek help from others.

My conclusion in all of this is that if you are dealing with depression or anxiety or something that you don’t understand at all, you’re not alone. It’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad person and there is help and hope ahead.

And here is my follow-up post about the Lord’s help through all of this.


Doing things and getting things done

I like to make lists. But then I have a problem: I am so caught up in getting the list done and checking it off that I don’t spend any time actually enjoying what I’m doing.

This creates a lot of stress in my life because I am rarely present and mindful. Instead, I just think about getting it done and over with. It drains enjoyment out of anything to think that way. When the biggest thrill in my life is checking something off, that’s a problem.

I don’t need to accomplish everything on my to-do list. It’s not the point of life. I don’t want to have a lifetime of just accomplishing stuff that doesn’t always matter that much. I want to develop relationships. I want to build up a home that is filled with love, instead of just a home that is neatly organized and clean.

Instead of just cooking a meal to get it over with, it’s so much better to slow down a bit and take the time to cook a nice meal and even make it fancy or different. Instead of just rushing through schoolwork, it’s better to focus on the problems and the papers and to recognize how you are learning and progressing. Smiling through exercise helps me do more. Laughing with my kids helps them feel loved.

Today I made a really long to-do list. There is no way at all that I am going to get everything done on it. But that’s sort of the point. I don’t need a perfect, productive day. I just need to live and enjoy all the interruptions. Sometimes I need to learn how to leave things undone, and keep living off of what I value instead of just trying to be a productivity machine.


A look back

(This was written around January 2018, two month before I moved away from Wyoming.)

When I first came to Wyoming, I was unimpressed. It was dull and windy. I came on a particularly lousy day, as I found out later. It felt isolated and confusing because it was different than anything I was used to.

But my husband had been looking for a good job for literally years and this was finally a really good offer. It allowed him to progress in his career and support our family.

He was excited. I begrudgingly said yes because I didn’t feel there was any other option. I moved to Wyoming.

I will be forever grateful for story time at the local library, a program that ran for a very short time. I showed up and I met so many people who had daughters the same age as my daughter. I wrote down their names and I searched them on Facebook when I got home.

I had something unexpected: friends and a community. I even had some neighbors.

We moved there in March and by the time my daughter went to kindergarten in August, she had many friends. She gained many more. I started going to PTO meetings. And school events. And I met more and more people.

A year later, a preschool started in town right when my son needed it, giving him the friends and experience he needed.

We had the community of the tiny town we lived in, and also the community of the bigger town where we went to go to church and do our grocery shopping. They had a little once-a-week preschool I took all my kids to and then did the shopping after. We visited the library there too, and spent time making friends wherever we could.

I put myself out there. I walked up to people and introduced myself. I showed up. I tried. Sometimes I failed. But I tried.

When I moved to Nevada, I was optimistic, but the experience turned out to be extremely difficult. We survived.

When I moved to Wyoming, I was pessimistic, but the experience turned out to be wonderful in so many ways.

I don’t think my expectations had much to do with it. But I am hopeful in new adventures.

I gained so many friends. I will have even more friends in the future as we go to more places.

Thoughts over two years later:

I knew we wouldn’t be in Wyoming long. I could feel it, though the two years we were there seemed too short. It was sometimes difficult to live there, but it was also totally amazing. I miss it. But I’m okay with where I’m living now too. I have made new friends, like I always do. And I know that new adventures will come, over and over again, and new difficulties will come, and there will also be so much joy along the way.

Six thoughts

I’ve had quite a bit of technology problems lately: I locked myself out of my phone and ended up resetting it; my computer blew up with electrical problems; and a whole bunch of files on my website randomly disappeared. Conclusions: keep good backups of all your stuff. In multiple ways. I like to have things backed up at least three times and sometimes I do more. I was being quite relaxed on my backups, and that’s when everything died.


It’s better to love what you do than to do what you love. A lot of people don’t really chose their career paths and life goes in very unexpected directions. Often, people end up choosing a career by what internship they happen to get. Or sometimes life completely changes and we find ourselves in an unexpected place. And it’s just good to love where you’re at because we can’t always control as much as we would like to. I never expected to be a homeschooling mom of four children living in the middle of nowhere, but I can love being here.


I have been telling myself that if I wake up and read my scriptures, say my prayers, and exercise, I’m going to have a great day. Those things help, but I think it’s also really effective that I’m telling myself I’m going to have a good day. It’s a bit of a placebo effect.


The world is so much bigger and more complex than we can ever understand. It’s like we can’t understand big numbers–a million and a billion and a trillion all seem similar, even though they aren’t at all. Sometimes it feels heavy that we’ll never understand enough, but it’s also freeing too, because there is always more to learn.


We only influence a small handful of people in our life. My sphere of influence is mostly my four little children and my husband right now. You might have family, co-workers, neighbors, and more. But it’s not like those that influence millions are that much more important than those that influence a few. What matters is that you are loved and that you love. The size of the sphere doesn’t matter.


You can feel both optimistic and pessimistic about one thing. Because our feelings are temporary and come and go. I may feel excited one moment and then nervous and afraid a few moments later. Our feelings don’t create who we are.

enjoying where I live

A few days ago, I was sitting at home with my kids. We were bored. There isn’t a lot to do where I live, or very many places to go–and I have usually blamed my circumstances on any discontent I’ve felt, and wanted to be somewhere else.

But I moved away from this and then I came back (I sort of recommend doing this, because usually you don’t appreciate what you have until you don’t have it anymore). I know now that I get bored at home no matter where I live. It’s just part of life with small children.

So I wasn’t in a bad situation after all, and I didn’t have to change anything about my life to find additional happiness. I just needed to change myself.

For a little bit, I felt bored and I felt a bit discontented (and that was okay), but then those feeling passed. And we had a really good time because we were bored. We played with Legos and created a game called haunted, which consisted of pretending you are a ghost in a sleeping bag. The kids slid down my legs over and over again for a while–so I became a playground, which was sort of hilarious.

For a few months, I lived in a dream location, but it turned out that I wasn’t any happier there than I was living out in the middle of nowhere.

So lately, I’ve been working on myself. Not trying to get rid of emotions, but trying to accept them. I know that my life isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s not that bad either.

I don’t hate where I live anymore. In fact, there are a lot of really good things about where I live. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, for example. I have a comfortable house that is free. We get to spend so much time together as a family without ever having to feel super busy.

All of a sudden, instead of always looking for something better, I feel like I’ve woken up and I’ve looked around and I’ve discovered that my life, as it is, is pretty amazing after all.

A little adjustment can make a large change

Do you ever feel like you need some change in your life? And not just a little change, but a big change, like throwing out all of your stuff, moving, never looking at the internet again, and changing your appearance completely.

Sometimes we can make small adjustments in order to have the large change that we want.

Small adjustments can be radical. Here are some of the small things that have helped me:

  • Reading my scriptures first thing in the morning
  • Spending time on my mental health every day (usually by reading workbooks)
  • Special time with my children
  • Exercising for five minutes in the morning
  • Trying to go outside more often
  • Organizing my closets
  • Rearranging furniture
  • Switching up my planning routines
  • Writing a gratitude journal
  • Eliminating a color I don’t like from my wardrobe
  • Reading a book from a different genre than I’m used to
  • Blocking a website

Some of the changes can be subtle, like switching up or a routine or doing something for five minutes every day. But those small things have a profound influence on changing our entire lives.


Thoughts on marriage and living without my husband

From October to December of this year, I spent most of the time living with myself and my children while my husband worked about four hours away. He came and saw us most weekends, but a lot of the times it was just me. And it was hard.

Now that I’m living back with my husband, I find that I have a whole lot more time and things are a lot easier in many ways. Dillon cleans a lot, something that I need to be more grateful for. Without him, I was a wreck sometimes and my house was a disaster.

But it’s not just the cleaning. He helps take care of my kids. He supports me over and over again. Without him, it was so hard emotionally to wake up and just go through day after day by myself with the kids to take care of. I would go days without speaking in person to an adult.

I gained a new empathy for single moms. I wasn’t a single mom–I could still call my husband and he visited often. But it was still really hard.

Single moms have to do the impossible. I learned that if I didn’t have a husband, I couldn’t do it on my own. While I spent days by myself, I didn’t ever have to worry about finances and how to make money. I was relying on my husband’s income. And there was enough to do with taking care of my kids and cooking and cleaning and trying to keep it all together (and failing at times).

Logistically, I couldn’t make it as a single mom right now, and I’m very glad I don’t have to. But there are so many single moms out there who have to do it. It can be easy to blame them or to just expect them to figure it out, but it’s very different when you are in the situation and trying to make things work.

Some days were fine. Life wasn’t miserable at all. But it was more difficult and it took much more effort. I learned a lot about myself–I tend to be a little bit too lazy, but at the same time, I can get weird expectations of myself and I make myself feel like a failure when I’m doing okay. And I learned that happiness doesn’t have to do with where you are as much as who you are. I get miserable because I don’t leave my house some days, but that’s just a choice I can make that’s independent of circumstances. I learned I need to step up more and I am more capable than I realize.

I am so grateful for my own husband. He has a career where we live out in the middle of nowhere, somewhere where it’s too far away for my kids to go to public school. But it is so much better being with him than living so far apart. The kids are happier. I am happier. Everyone is happier. We can do so much more together than we ever could do it on our own.

If anyone is reading this who is doing it on their own–I know that I never really came close to the things that you experience. I only understand a little bit how hard it is. But just appreciate yourself for trying every day. Because that’s all there is in life: we wake up, and we keep trying.

Change is the only constant

So I have been doing some reflection. I can become quite a miserable person. I always want something more out of life. And while sometimes that seems like a rather ungrateful thing, I just get bored easily. I can’t do the same thing over and over again.

I have tried to find the perfect routine, the perfect cleaning schedule, the right way to live. But in reality, I want change. And I want it regularly. I like having things to look forward to. I like experiencing different things.

And on the other side, I am sort of a lazy, depressed homebody and I have a hard time kicking myself out the door and going on the adventures that would make me happy.

I want to try to be more adventurous in life. I sit and I plan every day with a very strong sense of duty and a very small sense of adventure. I usually want to get things done for the sake of getting them done instead of for the sake of doing them.

So I want to make a change. I want to build more change into my life regularly, so I’m not doing the same thing over and over again (and becoming miserable as I do it). I have some ideas:

  • Switch out how I plan. Try new apps, new planners, and new methods–not in an attempt to find the perfect way, to be continually interested in new ways.
  • Switch out routines. Instead of trying to stick to the same exact morning routine (and continually failing at it), switch things up. Take a bath instead of a shower, or switch orders, and mix things up.
  • Try new recipes regularly, and try cooking in new and different ways that excite me.
  • Switch out productivity blocking, software, and rules regularly (I always find new ways to waste my time).
  • Go on adventures to try new things and do things in different ways. Learn from other people.
  • Create regularly in new and different ways. Draw or paint or play an instrument or sing or create a video or whatever.
  • Dare myself to do new and exciting things–such as working on classes, going on dates with my kids, and trying new things.
  • Physically push myself to do better. I know I don’t like to do the same sort of exercise every day, so I want to switch it up more. Maybe try running for a week or a bike ride or aerobics class or whatever.
  • Be mindful of the exciting changes that happen around me, such as changes to my children and changes to the weather.
  • Organize my things in new and different ways.
  • Limit what I have to do in favor of things I want to do. And make the things I have to do more interesting so I want to do them.
  • Experiment.
  • Listen to music. Sing. Dance. Create.
  • Take joy in the current moment instead of worrying about what the future will bring.