Life they say isn’t always a bed of roses and sometimes in life, our highs may be accompanied by some lows, an otherwise sunny day might be enveloped by some dark pregnant clouds. On a personal note, I can tell you I’ve had days too when I’ve had to contend with depression and anxiety. I’ve hit the lows too, those unhappy moments when it feels like you are stuck in some dark cell and you just can’t seem to find your way out. You may have even done your best to stay out of harms way, practiced the 10 things people do every day to stay happy and yet something still went wrong.
In almost every case certain factors acts as the trigger for depression. It could be the result of losing a loved one, a job, failing in an exam, or an all-pervading sense of worthlessness or helplessness. So if you are feeling depressed there must a causal link to it, something at the root of it all.
Anxiety on the other hand seems to go hand in hand with depression, normally when we are depressed anxiety seems to set in, it’s hard to worry ourselves to death and quite possibly overplay our problems out of proportion. When we are depressed it’s hard not feel anxious about our situation, with our minds becoming blurry while answers might not be forthcoming.
With that said, it might be helpful to look at some of the best tips to get you out of the rout of anxiety and depression in everyday life. Here are 12 tips to help you overcome anxiety and depression.
#1 Set Goals.
The Real world won’t care about your self-esteem, you’ll be expected to accomplish something before you can feel good about yourself. – Bill Gates
One of the underlying reasons why people get depressed is because they are haunted by a sense of worthlessness and the only elixir for this is to set measurable and attainable goals. Once you attain your goals, it increases your sense of self-worth and restores your feel-good-factor. For esteem, do something. It might be making your first $1000 in 6 months, getting a college degree or anything else.
#2 Exercise Your Body
Exercise is a proven anti-depressant and does get your happy hormones firing on all cylinders. Take a trip to the gym, go for a walk, do some jogging.
#3 Think Positive
Do you tend to see the glass as half-empty or half-full?
Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds to be. – Abraham Lincoln
It’s way too easy to dwell on negative thoughts when we are depressed. Such thoughts plunge us lower into sadness. It’s much more productive to think positively. Ok some things might not have gone according to plan for you but there must have been some positives too. You have to suck it and dwell on the positives. It could have been worse you know. Change your thoughts and change your world. You can’t stop yourself from getting knocked down but it’s your responsibility to get back up.
Research conducted by the psychologist Martin Seligman has shown that people who think positive are more self-loving, expect better outcomes, blame themselves less when things go wrong and also see their problems as short-lived events whereas those who are pessimistic see the worst in people, blame themselves more when things go south while also seeing their challenges as permanent occurrences.
According to Mayo Clinic, positive thinking offers a wide spectrum of benefits which include;
- Longer life span
- Less stress
- Lower rates of depression
- Better stress management and coping skills
- Better Psychological health
- And increased well-being among others.
#4 Do Some Positive Self-talk
Positive self-talk is like an internal monologue you have with yourself to talk yourself through any difficulty. It’s that inner voice in your head which you use to evaluate your performance at anything you do. Psychologists say that when we engage in positive self-talk we can self-validate and affirm ourselves and this can improve our moods. When we are less critical of ourselves and our worth, we tend to feel empowered to do whatever makes us feel better. Engaging in positive self-talk is the perfect strategy to help overcome depression. Rather than think to yourself “Nobody likes me” just because someone you just met didn’t want to have a conversation with you, why not rather think “who doesn’t like being with me, she must be in a bad mood or something”. Or you are having some self-doubt about doing something, you can say to yourself “I can do this”. The point is, you do think better, feel better and perform better when you choose to engage in positive self-talk. It unlocks the door to depression and lets you out to a wide open field. You can self-talk yourself through any bad mood.
#5 Practice Journaling
Our fears, anxieties and sadness does need a little venting sometimes and journaling offers just that. All that it requires is that you keep a dairy by your side where you can let out whatever bothers you. You can write your frustrations, and the feelings swelling around your head. You don’t have to keep everything all in, writing down your woes is a way of letting go to feel relief. It’s a way to be a bit more expressive, to mind vomit and keep yourself from going stir crazy.
#6 Cry Your Worries Out
Is crying for babies? Not so fast.
There are those of us who feel the shedding of tears when they hit a rough patch would make them appear weak, so we tend to bottle it all in, act macho even when we are hurting on the inside and that makes our hurt swell more on the inside. We might even think crying is something reserved for children and that probably explains why they are so carefree about their troubles after a good cry (they tend to forget what bothers them). But crying doesn’t mean you are weak, it means your lachrymal apparatus is working. You are no cry baby for letting tears tickle down your face. In fact psychologists believe that crying is healthy reduces emotional stress and releases feel-good chemicals that actually make us feel better.
#7 Accept Your Situation
On the average, people who are depressed do everything possible to mask their depression, they downplay it and even try to ignore the cause of their depression. Such a strategy to overcoming depression is at best ineffective and could be likened to the defeatist strategy of the ostrich that buries its head in the sand as a camouflage from an onrushing predator (I can hear your giggles!). Challenges won’t just go ta-da because we deny their existence. When we deny that we are depressed, a challenging situation can deteriorate and harm us insidiously. Accepting that you have a situation at hand is no defeatist approach but instead can be the trump card for a paradigm shift in helping you cope with the problem. Also this will help you isolate the reason behind your depression and to figure a way out.
#8 Realize That You Are Not Alone
Nothing drives away depression more than the realization that we are not the only ones going through a situation. Sometimes knowing that someone out there is going through what you are depressed about can help can your frayed nerves. You can reach out to others who have your shared experience and bond with them.
So what if it feels like your life is falling apart and there is no one to reach out to?
Here is what you should do. Go to Google, and Google up whatever is bothering you, read up the first 1000 results (or less if can’t) and after knowing there others in out there in your situation, you’ll feel better. Now get off the internet and go deal the problem. Be your own fixer. Nothing is ever beyond repair, no matter what.
#9 Do something – Anything
In treating depression, there’s a clinical theory called behavioral activation. You will best understand this theory when rationalized in a numerical way. Assuming you have to walk a 100 yards to escape your depression, if you take that first step, it’s one less a 100. It means that any small step you take can change your mood when you are depressed. All you have to do is make a move to change it and soon enough, it will be all over. So what can do you to change it?
- Go outdoors and get some sunlight
- Strike up a casual conversation with a stranger
- Get a pet and bond with it: I don’t know your particular preference for pets but dogs have been recommended to protect against loneliness.
- Be a volunteer somewhere, your local community or church
- Read inspirational quotes or watch inspirational videos. This applies to music too (I’d recommend either “Go One More” or “Breathe” by Superchick)
- Do anything that distracts you; do fun things, paint if you can, play fun games.
#10 Practice Meditation
I’ve talked about the power of meditation and its benefits as revealed by recent studies in the 25 amazing brain hacks. According to Jeffrey Greeson, PhD, an assistant professor of Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center “mindfulness teaches us that we are more than who we think we are”. Meditation is an effective approach applied in psychotherapy to treat psychological disorders including depression. When you spend 10 to 15 minutes meditating, breathing in and out and focusing on whatever you want to feel (Please don’t focus on your hurt), it calms the thoughts and dispels negative feelings responsible for depression. Developing meditation can help you identify and release some of the thoughts that could be keeping you feeling lonely.
#11 Talk To A Trusted Friend Or Relative.
I know without a doubt that you’ve got a strong mentality and obviously feel you can get your act together all by yourself but you might want to hear this – you are no superman and that means there will be issues even you can’t deal with. That is precisely why you should fall back on your support system which could consist of trusted friends, relatives and family members. Depression is an anti-social syndrome which builds an air of loneliness around you on its arrival. It will try to cage you in, isolate you and close every exit to the outside world and once it does that you are done for. In moments of depression, you need a shoulder to lean on, a friend to confide in and share your feelings with. Having someone with whom you can share your feelings and frustrations with can help dispel our loneliness, additionally we can get empowered when they offer us encouragement.
#12 Get Professional Help
Everything I’ve said here should be taken to be a Band-Aid on depression. In the more serious cases of depression, you’d be well advised to see a mental health professional. Probably someone with a background in cognitive behavior as this has been shown to help. You can explore therapy as well.