Anxiety and depression are concerns effecting billions of people across the globe. They impacts our lives, our thinking and our happiness. Having gone through depression, I know it can be difficult to bring yourself back to the way you were. But, the good thing is that while it takes time, the very minute you decide to change things you instantly feel better and begin to see hope once again. All you need is persistence and the will to improve your situation. Here’s what I learned during my journey from depressed back to lively:
Be kind to yourself
There were so many times when I tried to shake off my anxiety and felt frustrated with myself for continuing to feel this way. It took a while and a lot of research on depression and anxiety for me to realize that these feelings are just another type of injury.
When we fracture a leg, we don’t get upset with ourselves or force ourselves to walk anyway; instead we try not to burden our leg so it heals quickly. Similarly, with anxiety and depression our hearts, minds and souls are going through turmoil and must be cared for if we wish to recover.
Anxiety has a way of draining our hope and energy, so if you’re not able to act like you used to or perform as well at work as you used to, don’t beat yourself up over it. The first step is to acknowledge that you have anxiety. Improve your situation by setting small goals and appreciate yourself for sticking to them.
Feeling depressed tends to draw us away from people. This not only amplifies the feeling of isolation but you end up feeling guilty for neglecting your relationships. Remember that social support is crucial in overcoming depression. Try to stay connected to supportive people from your social circle. If you don’t feel like turning to someone you know, expand your circle by making new friends. Here are some things I learned:
- There’s nothing like face time
Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all good ways of connecting to your social group but they can’t substitute good old-fashioned face time. Being in the company of other people will reduce your anxiety. Moreover, you’ll be able to talk about your anxiety and learn new things which opens up your brain to new possibilities.
Be socially active
When we’re bogged down by anxiety we feel much more comfortable staying in our comfort zone. Therefore, try to push yourself to be socially active. Once you’re a part of a social activity you’ll feel less depressed.
You’d be surprised how wonderful helping others will make you feel. So, try to help a friend or an acquaintance or engage in volunteer work.
Get a move on
Exercise has been medically proven to heal anxiety and depression almost as effectively as medication. This is because it changes the way our minds work by increasing the levels of dopamine and serotonin (nerve transmitters) in the brain. It also increases the production of BDNF, which is a key growth hormone. BDNF levels plummet when we’re depressed causing some parts of the brain to shrink over time and impairing functions like memory and learning. If we exercise, this trend of diminishing brain function is reversed. So, try to get around 30 minutes of physical activity every day and you’ll begin to see a significant increase in your energy levels.
Use relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation go a long way in relieving depression and anxiety. Some researchers have found it to be as effective as antidepressants. Meditation teaches us mindfulness, which is a practice of focusing on the present. I can attest to a depressed mind continuously dwelling on negative things that happened in the past or worrying about things that might happen. So, by being mindful we stop stressing over negative feelings and instead live in the moment. What I opted for was yoga because it combines the benefits of meditation, stretching exercises and breathing techniques. A few minutes of yoga everyday makes you more focused, calm, refreshed and emotionally stable.
Do things that make you happy
Try to do things that give you joy like listening to upbeat music, painting, hanging out with friends or going on a retreat. If you find it difficult to be excited about things when you’re depressed then recall things you used to enjoy and start doing them again. You may need to push yourself a little at first but it’ll be worth it because if not immediately, you’ll definitely feel more energetic and lively after some time.
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Adopt a mood-boosting diet
There are several foods that helps in reducing anxiety. Here are some essential nutrients that your body needs to fight anxiety and depression:
- Vitamin D, which is found in salmon and milk.
- Vitamin B-complex found in leafy greens, chicken, citrus fruits, eggs and beans.
- Probiotic which is a bacteria found in yoghurt.
- Complex carbohydrates found in pasta and rice.
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in olive oil, fish (particularly salmon) and walnuts.
One thing that helped me during these phases was using herbal teas. They help you relax and provide your body with caffeine, antioxidants and nutrients such as magnesium, iron and calcium.
Challenge negative thoughts
Our brains have two parts; the amygdala which is the primitive part and generates primal feelings including fear and our frontal lobes which are educated and sophisticated and are capable of applying logic to the fear originated by the primitive part of our brains.
Therefore, when you feel scared or worried, just remind yourself that these negative thoughts are the result of your depression and challenge them with logical reasoning. Try to look at your situation from another person’s perspective by asking questions like ‘what advice would I give a friend who thought this way’, or ‘how would I have seen this situation if I wasn’t depressed?’ This will stop you from worrying about unimportant things and gain a balanced perspective on life.
Make sure you get enough sleep
Insufficient sleep will contribute to your anxiety as it disrupts the functioning of the frontal lobe. Therefore, be sure to get seven to eight hours of sleep.
Watch a movie
When we’re depressed, we feel mentally exhausted due to constant worrying and over analysis of life’s situations. In such an instance, psychologist Elisha Goldstein suggests that we relieve depression by distancing ourselves from our thoughts and watch them from a distance like we would a watch movie.
Read up about anxiety and depression
Anxiety and depression are overwhelming sensations. But they seem even more daunting if we don’t understand them properly. More importantly, if you want to overcome something you need to know what it’s all about so that you tackle it.
Therefore, researching about depression and anxiety will help you realize that they are extremely manageable and are being faced by millions of people worldwide. Go to your local library or visit reliable online resources to gain in-depth knowledge about these feelings.
Get professional help
Once you’ve taken these self-help measures and you still feel that you need support, then consult a professional. People are different and so are their situations, moreover, in some cases you can not recover on your own so don’t be hesitant to ask for help.
These techniques will take you a long way in your fight against anxiety and depression, all you need is patience and consistency.
ABOUT Audrey Throne
Audrey Throne is a mother and a professional blogger by choice. She has completed her masters in English literature from university of Brimingham. As a blogger she wrote quite a few posts on health, technology as well as management. She loves to discover new places and share experiences in words. Find her on Twitter: @audrey_throne.