Being diagnosed with “Anxiety” and “Major Depressive Disorder” isn’t something you expect to hear. I’ve struggled with my mental health for years and have experienced some of the darkest times of my life. The feelings that I had can’t be explained, but let’s just say you probably wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy.
Anxiety and depression look different on everyone. Some people may be able to put a smile on their face while continuing to live their everyday lives while others, such as me, ends up in the bed all day with the blinds shut. After hitting rock bottom last year, I promised myself I wouldn’t let myself get that bad again. That’s when I started to wonder how I could manage anxiety and depression instead of allowing it to take control of my life.
I want to share these tips with you and I hope practicing them will help you gain more control of your mental health. Let me go ahead and make my quick disclaimer:
Disclaimer: These tips that I’m sharing have been working for me. The information in this post shouldn’t be looked at as professional or medical advice. If you ever need help, please reach out to your doctor.
Manage Anxiety and Depression With These Tips:
Write in a Journal
Journaling is a way to write down everything that’s on your mind in a safe space. It’s a way to release all of your stress and anxieties that you’ve been holding in. You can either buy a personal journal or download an app on your phone. On my iPhone, I use an app called “Journey” and it has become the perfect place for me to get things off my chest.
Although you can write down all of the challenges you’re facing, it’s also good to focus on the positives. When you explain what’s bothering you, figure out a way to turn it around and ask yourself “What lesson can I learn from this situation?” Another thing I love to do in my journal is to write down affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements that can help you overcome negative thoughts. Looking at affirmations reminds me that my problems are only temporary.
I’ve always been the type of person to push my problems to the back burner and not talk to anyone about it. I’d let all of my emotions build up and once I reach my breaking point I end up going off on someone; sometimes it’s not the person who brought the problems. It can get tiring holding things in since it puts unnecessary weight on your shoulders.
Keeping a journal has helped me to easily and quickly write down everything I’m holding back. This has been helpful when I’m overwhelmed!
Find a Therapist
Society has made it seem like you’re crazy if you have to see a therapist, however, that’s not true! Realizing that you need help is OK. Many people have a difficult time admitting something is wrong, so you should be proud that you’re taking the steps needed to improve your mental health.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen a total of 4 therapists. It was awkward and I always gave up on my sessions because I didn’t feel comfortable talking to a stranger about my crazy life. It’ll take time and patience to find the perfect therapist for you, don’t give up on your search! If I didn’t make the decision to go back to therapy this year, I wouldn’t have found my current therapist who is amazing.
There is someone out there for everyone, however, you must be willing to put in the work to research and make an appointment to go.
Identify Your Triggers + Set Boundaries
Each person has their own set of triggers, what do I mean by that? Well, have you ever been around a certain person or in a situation that all of a sudden makes you feel some type of way? That’s a trigger. Some events and experiences that you’ve gone through may cause your anxiety symptoms to begin or worsen them. It’s important to identify what your triggers are and set boundaries.
Once you identify what those triggers are, this is when you can start working towards avoiding them and finding ways to cope when it happens. Working with a therapist on this challenge is really helpful. They can help you figure out how to overcome certain triggers in a healthier way. Don’t feel bad if you need extra help to do this, therapists are here for a reason!
Set a Limit On How Much You Worry
I recently learned this tip in therapy and it has been helpful. Another way to manage your anxiety and depression is to limit the amount of time you worry each day. The majority of the time, our negative thoughts never happen. We can start overthinking certain situations which will cause your mental health to become worse.
Set a timer and take 15 minutes each day to worry about any and everything. Once those 15 minutes are up, push it to the side and go on about your day. At first, I didn’t understand how this could be helpful, but let me explain it further.
There are some days when I’m constantly thinking about something bad happening from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep. By the end of the day, not only do I feel miserable, but I feel mentally exhausted too. This is why setting a limit on how much you worry is best and will help you in the long run.
If you aren’t able to change the situation that you’re worried about, then it’s something that needs to be put on the back burner.
Challenge Your Negative Thoughts
The final tip you can incorporate in your daily life to manage anxiety and depression is to challenge your negative thoughts. I also learned this in therapy and it has been effective so far. At some point, we all struggle with negative thoughts; we tend to be overly critical and talk down on ourselves. When a negative thought pops up in your mind, it’s good to ask yourself whether or not it makes sense.
Challenging your negative thoughts isn’t something that’ll happen overnight, you have to work daily towards that goal. Once you start becoming mindful about your thoughts, you’ll realize how ridiculous and exaggerated they are. When you find yourself stuck with negative thoughts and self-talk, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this thought productive?
- What proof do I have that this negative thought will happen?
- Will this thought matter in 5 years? (or even next year)
- Will thinking about this help me reach my goals?
It will take time, but once you get into the habit of turning your negatives into a positive and questioning whether or not you’re being overly critical, you’ll start to have more control over your mental health and can remain positive. Whenever those situations pop up in your mind, put a stop to it!
Learning the best ways to manage your anxiety and depression will take patience and consistency. Don’t expect everything to go away overnight.
Everyone has their own share of challenges each day. Although venting to your friends and family can be helpful, don’t be afraid to step out and seek professional help. Find a therapist in your area that you can start seeing regularly. Even if your first or second therapist doesn’t work out, don’t give up! As I said in the beginning, this is my 4th therapist, what if I would’ve decided to not go anymore? I wouldn’t have found the perfect fit for me!
Once again, the content in this post shouldn’t be viewed as medical or professional advice. Reach out to your primary doctor if you need help or tips on better ways to manage your own anxiety and depression. Everything won’t work for everyone, however, I hope this post helped you realize you’re not alone and we’re in this fight together.
Do you struggle with managing your anxiety and depression? What has helped you gain control over your mental health?