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4 Ways to Overcome Depression and Anxiety

4 Ways to Overcome Depression and Anxiety

Depression, anxiety, melancholy. Tough to suffer from, tough to be around, tough to know how to help.

Having recently navigated an episode of depression, low mood, (call it what you will), I wanted to share what I find useful in working through and out of an episode without harming myself, my prospects or those around whom I love.

This is part of a larger conversation around depression and anxiety. Valuable insight is available, from William Styron’s personal account to numerous helpful infographics and articles. This article is my joining in that effort of community support.

By no means an exhaustive list, the points may not even be relevant to anyone beyond myself. But if they are, and they help you or someone you know, then they are worth putting out there.

1. Put things in order

A former housemate swears by the adage: ‘tidy space; tidy mind’. In this logic, comfort comes from seeing a room is ordered. Acting as an external representation of that unseeable internal landscape of your mind, that organised space lessens the fears of surprise or threat that may spring at any moment to prove those dangerous thoughts of failure and self-hate right.

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And as the objects are organised and ordered, so may your thoughts become discrete manageable and tidy-able entities—less fractious demons, more obedient books on a shelf.

Touching, seeing and organising objects is cathartic and therapeutic. Holding real objects with their weight and density helps create a connection back to the ‘real-world’. Like the talismans in the film Inception, they offer the sufferer of depression an understanding that there can be a way out or simply that there is another reality of which they are still part, willingly or otherwise.

Items of a household are neatly organised on a table, viewed from above.

    2. Counter the core insecurity

    For me, this moment is always given away by a smile that rises through me and won’t be prevented from showing. Or sometimes it is the tears and a willingness to become defenceless to them.

    This is where the core insecurity of the depression is faced down with love, empathy and understanding. It is the moment that you feel understood and not the isolated, hopeless emotional hermit you have felt all day/week/month.

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    Finding that is depression’s golden egg.

    Crucially, in that moment I am able to experience something other than the dull drone of melancholy, even if it is only for a moment. That makes the episode of depression only a part of my existence, instead of the overwhelming whole it can feel from inside. This moment counters the tyrannical power of those wild and dangerous depressive thoughts and makes them only thoughts. Thoughts are vulnerable to logic and reason, and from there is a way back.

    It is a crack through which the light gets in (thank you, Leonard Cohen).

    I can’t say what it will be for you or anyone else as I can’t even say for sure what it is for me. If you can talk about the core insecurity (if there is such a thing) when outside of an episode, it’ll make the trial and error easier, though not absent it entirely.

    3. Allow time and take your opportunities

    Depression, like anything else, has its own cycles and requires time. While it may seem like depression can break all of a sudden, the cycle is usually a slow and complex affair.

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    Everyone is different but trust that most will know a) it is irrational, b) it is unsociable and c) it is undesirable. Each of these undesirable is then further reinforced by those around the sufferer, they will only extend the cycle and make the depression harder to leave behind.

    Find a way to accept the depression into social spaces, listen to the concerns and don’t immediately rubbish them and still show them love. IF you can do this, you will not only be an incredibly generous person but will likely be doing the groundwork that helps the cycle pass swiftly and the sufferer feel less like the outcast their mind is convincing them they are.

    And in that first moment of relief from the depression, there is an opportunity. If my experience is valid, it’s in that moment that I will hear logic and love again and not second guess it. So that is when to offer it and, trusting you are heard, your love may well be a help to save that person’s life.

    A candle burns in a glass jar on a table in a dark room

      4. Do not expect to ‘cure’ depression

      As far as I’m aware, there is no definite cure for depression.

      There are ways of coping, ways of nurturing the absence or diluting of episodes. There are drugs and conversations and exercise and groups and all sorts of options with a variety of efficacies. But they are not cures, so speaking about needing to achieve that, I think, isn’t helpful. It creates a pressure and guarantees you won’t succeed.

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      For example, if you believe you are cured and you fall back into an episode, your failure to cure yourself makes that episode many times worse. It creates a potentially vicious cycle, where the very existence of the episode itself is the symbol of failure on which the viciousness feeds. Instead, when depression arrives, try to accept it wholeheartedly, then put that heart to work on turning the self-hate to self-love.

      Which is why, as hard as it may be, offering that love from the outside is all you can ever really do. Accepting the current situation and showing love to coax the sufferer out is the best medicine for most episodes. It requires great strength and patience, but on such qualities are love built.

      It is when the episode of depression or anxiety has passed (hopefully) that a more logical, mutual conversation can occur to lessen the potential cost on those who have to sit by and wait for their loved one to re-emerges from the greyness.

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      Tom Pritchard

      Copywriter, Proofreader and Storyteller

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      Last Updated on September 18, 2020

      13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

      13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

      For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

      “We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

      “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

      Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

      You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

      Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

      1. Take a step back and evaluate

      When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

      1. What is the problem?
      2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
      3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
      4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
      5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

      Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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      2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

      If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

      At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

      Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

      3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

      Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

      4. Process your thoughts/emotions

      Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

      1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
      2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
      3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
      4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

      5. Acknowledge your thoughts

      Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

      By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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      Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

      6. Give yourself a break

      If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

      7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

      A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

      Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

      After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

      8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

      As Helen Keller once said,

      “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

      Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

      9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

      In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

      1. What’s the situation?
      2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
      3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
      4. Take action on your next steps!

      After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

      10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

      A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

      Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

      For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

      11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

      No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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      12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

      No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

      13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

      There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

      After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

      Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

      Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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