Whether it’s the time in which we live or an increase in transparency, anxiety and depression have become much more common than we would like. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health disorders. In the US, over 17 million adults suffer from depression, and about 40 million adults suffer from anxiety. Keep in mind, these numbers do not account for the children and adolescents who also suffer from these two terrible illnesses. What are anxiety and depression, and what can we do about them? Although we all experience anxiety and/or depressive symptoms at some point in our lives, anxiety and depression are diagnosed based on the types and severity of symptoms and the frequency in which they occur. We use diagnostic guides and questionnaires to aid in making an appropriate diagnosis. While many patients suffering from anxiety and depression require medications, everyone can benefit from lifestyle changes. The following are tips anyone can use to aid in managing anxiety and depression:
1. Fuel Your Body
Get back to the basics and fuel your body well with restful sleep and good nutrition. We have one body. How can we expect it to treat us well if we try to “fuel” it with crappy food and no sleep?
2. Give your mind a break.
We live in a society where we are praised for proving how little rest we require. In my opinion, this leads to an issue of quantity over quality. Are we actually getting better results at work and home because we work non-stop? Let’s take a step back, enjoy your lunch break, sit and have an “unplugged” dinner with your family, take 15-30 minutes to meditate, or just do whatever it is that you like to do that does not require much thought process. I mentioned meditate. Maybe you cringed. Maybe you’re interested, but you just don’t know where to start. Meditation comes in many forms. It can be as informal or formal as you would like. There are actually meditation apps that can guide you in a daily meditation practice. Also, simply sitting,
closing your eyes, and taking several deep breaths is known to aid in relaxation.
3. Allow yourself time to worry.
I know it sounds weird, but some people benefit from scheduling a “worry time.” Alot 15-30 minutes a day to allow yourself to think about all of those worrisome things that cloud your mind throughout the day.
4. Cut back on the caffeine and alcohol.
People tend to load up on caffeine because they feel mentally and physically exhausted. Then, at the end of the day they self-medicate with alcohol to calm their anxiety. Neither of these techniques actually benefit you long-term.
5. Help someone else.
Whether you volunteer at your church or help your elderly neighbor with some yard work, helping others can bring you a sense of joy and fulfillment.
6. Move your body!
Exercise is so very important for mental health. It causes your body to release those feel-good endorphins, and you naturally worry less while you’re exercising. You don’t have to be a fitness guru to benefit from it either. If you’re somewhat of a novice, start with something slow-paced like a 20-minute walk outside. Yoga is also a fantastic option as it focuses on strength-building, flexibility, and mental peace.
There is not one simple cure for anxiety and depression. True mental health is more of a cumulative approach, and it requires ongoing effort. If you are suffering from anxiety and depression, you are not alone, and you do not need to suffer in silence. Together, we can come up with a plan to help you achieve the mental peace you deserve.