Living with Anxiety or Depression
Depression or anxiety can introduce some real challenges into your life. Living with either of these mental health conditions (or both) often feels isolating and overwhelming. Like any mental health issue, depression and anxiety change the way we experience the world. They can distort the lens through which we see ourselves and others and our circumstances. While mental health needs often require professional help, there are self-care strategies that can bring you some much-needed relief and make a meaningful difference.
About Mental Health Coping Strategies
Before we continue, we want to reiterate that using coping strategies alone isn’t always enough. Professional help and treatment is usually the most effective approach. We recommend trying the self-care tips for anxiety and depression we provide below, with the understanding that they can be part of your solution, but not the entirety of it. Help in the form of outpatient and residential treatment for mental health has helped millions of people live better lives. This type of care can help you or your loved one manage their anxiety or depression more effectively too.
Understanding Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are mental health conditions that may have a profound impact on the lives of both the people who are diagnosed and those closest to them. Anxiety is typically characterized by feelings of worry, fear, and unease, while depression is marked by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in things you once enjoyed.
When Worry or Sadness Becomes a Problem
What make makes worry or sadness a mental health condition instead of just a passing mood is the intensity and consistency. Everyone gets worried or sad from time to time. But for a person with an anxiety disorder, these symptoms are chronic. That is, they feel worried and uneasy much (if not most) of the time. A person with clinical depression feels sad or hopeless much or most of the time. No one is meant to live that way, so if you or someone you care about does, it’s time to consider asking for help.
Symptoms and Factors
These conditions can be caused by a variety of factors, including biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Common symptoms of anxiety and depression include difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite or weight, irritability, and lack of energy. It’s important to remember that these conditions are treatable and seeking help from a mental health professional can make all the difference in managing symptoms and improving one’s quality of life.
Some symptoms of anxiety:
- Persistent worry
- Fear (esp. of things which aren’t a clear and present danger)
- Nervousness and unease
- Feeling compelled to isolate/avoid other
- Muscle tension, stomach aches
Some symptoms of depression:
- Inexplicable sadness
- Feeling hopeless
- Feelings of futility (like nothing matters)
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Losing interest in what you used to enjoy
- Neglecting personal hygiene
Practical Self-Care Tips for Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression can definitely impact both mental and physical health. This is one reason why self-care is so crucial. Self-care really can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms and make it easier to persevere. Some of these tips may sound too simple to make a difference, but they are clinically proven to benefit both anxiety and depression.
You’ve got nothing to lose by trying them out and there’s a good possibility they will offer you at least some relief. If you find that they aren’t enough by themselves to reach the level of wellness you desire, that’s OK. That’s what mental health treatment is for and Harmony Health Group can be of service to you if treatment is what you need.
Remember, it’s never too late to start taking care of yourself and you should because you deserve it.
Here are our suggestions to help you do just that:
Routine is Your Friend
While keeping a regular schedule and routine might strike some people as boring, it’s actually a pretty practical way to help anxiety and depression symptoms at bay. As much as many of us enjoy some random excitement, we are all creatures of habit by nature. Keeping a steady routine can lessen depression by keeping you occupied and giving you a sense of purpose. Making sure you get to appointments early is also a super simple way to reduce a common source of anxiety and stress and it’s easy to make it a habit.
Make Healthy Sleep a Priority
Most of us vastly underestimate how important sleep is. Just because you can (sort of) function on just 4-5 hours of sleep doesn’t mean it’s OK. A lack of sleep is proven to contribute to depression and anxiety. Getting enough sleep is a must for your health and well-being, no matter who you are.
Make getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night a priority. It can be tempting to sacrifice sleep for work or play, but a lack of sleep can lead to negative effects on our health. In addition to anxiety and depression, not getting enough sleep can lead to things like decreased immunity, mood swings, and memory problems. So, if you’re looking to prioritize your health and well-being, make sure to prioritize getting enough sleep each night. Your mind and body will be better for it.
Believe it or not, often the times when we most want to be alone are the times when we really ought to be around other people. Even if people close to you aren’t available, sometimes spending an afternoon in a coffee shop instead of at home alone can help. Especially if you strike up some conversation. We understand that putting yourself out there to interact with friends or strangers when you’re feeling moody might not be easy, but trust us when we say that it will make a much bigger difference in how you feel than you probably imagine.
Even the most solitary among us is a social creature by nature. Humans are meant to be together. When we spend too much time isolating ourselves, it has a real and tangible impact on our happiness and sense of security.
Eat Healthy Meals and Snacks
We know this one may sound a little too simple, but again we ask you to trust us. The fact is that having healthy meals and snacks throughout the day is vital to keeping your body fueled with the nutrients it needs. Fluctuating blood sugar levels have an all too real effect on mood. Research also shows that brain health has an impact on depression and anxiety– and proper nutrition is essential to brain health.
It matters what you eat. Believe it or not, a poor diet can be a major contributor to some mental health problems. It’s not always easy to know what to eat, but a good rule to remember is to avoid simple carbohydrates, sugar, processed foods and fast food as much as possible. Make sure you’re eating enough essential fatty acids.
You don’t need to become a gym rat or a marathon runner, but it is very important to get some form of regular exercise. The data is conclusive on this— there’s no question that regular exercise helps mental health. Exercise reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body and releases endorphins, which are natural “feel good” chemicals. This might sound silly too, but if you’re in a funk, try drinking a couple of tall glasses of cold water and go for a brisk 20-30 minute walk.
We won’t tell you that will solve all your problems—but we can virtually guarantee it will make you feel noticeably better than you did before. Now imagine the impact that doing regular, vigorous exercise could have on your mood.
Self-Care and Mental Health Treatment
Self-care practices are important for absolutely everyone. If you’re living with depression or anxiety though, it becomes even more important. Because your condition can sometimes mean self-care gets neglected and a lack of it can make your condition worse.
Sometimes self-care means knowing when to ask for the help you need and finding the willingness to do it. That’s where mental health treatment enters the frame. If you or someone you care about is living with anxiety or depression, Harmony Health Group wants to help.
Give us a call at (866) 461-4474 to learn more about our mental health treatment programs and how we can help with depression, anxiety and more.