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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.

      More by this author

      Tom Pritchard

      Copywriter, Proofreader and Storyteller

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      Last Updated on January 16, 2020

      12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

      12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

      The way you feel about yourself greatly influences how you live and interact with others. If you are confident about yourself, you tend to see yourself positively and actually enjoy spending time with and around people. You don’t feel self-conscious or awkward around others, and that allows you to live your fullest and happiest life.

      However, if you’re drowning in a sea of self-doubt, hesitancy and shyness, you often withdraw and isolate yourself from others and avoid interacting and connecting with people. That anxiety you feel in the pit of your stomach when you are around people is holding you back greatly and it is not good for your emotional health and overall well-being. You need to do something about it if you are low in self-confidence or have friends or family members who are not confident.

      “Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you’re better than everyone, it’s walking in not having to compare yourself to anyone” – Anonymous

      Here are simple, practical tips to boost your confidence right now and make you feel and act your best.

      1. Stop labeling yourself as awkward, timid or shy.

      When you label yourself as awkward, timid or shy, you sub-consciously tell your mind to act accordingly and psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations. Instead of labeling and entertaining negative self-talk, visualize and affirm yourself as confident and strong. Close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself in different situation as you would like to be.

      Be your own cheerleader. Experts believe that positive affirmation and good mental practices like picturing yourself winning or achieving a goal can lead to greater feelings of self-assurance and prepare your brain for success.[1] As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” Picture yourself as confident and soon enough you will begin to manifest behavior that gives evidence to this new ‘fact.’

      2. Recognize that the world is not focused on you (unless, of course, you are Kanye West).

      That means you don’t have to be excessively sensitive about who you are or what you are doing (or not doing). You are not on the center stage; there is no need for preoccupation with self and perfectionism. As rap music star Rocko sings, “You just do you and I will do me, aight?”

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      Forget about trying to please everyone or being perfect. Trying to be perfect and being a people-pleaser puts too much pressure on you and creates unnecessary anxiety. Besides, people are too preoccupied with their own issues to pay much attention to your every move unless, of course, you are a mega famous, super celebrity like Beyonce or Kanye West.

      3. Focus on other people as opposed to yourself.

      If you are low on confidence, self-conscious, nervous and shy in social situations, focus your attention on other people and what they are saying or doing instead of focusing on your own awkwardness.

      For example, think about what it is that is interesting about the person who’s the centre of the party or the guy or girl you are talking with. Prompt them to talk more about themselves and be genuinely curious and interested in what they say. You will instantly come across as confident and warmhearted.

      People generally want to talk about themselves, be heard and understood. They will love it when you’re eager and willing to listen to them and really hear what they have to say.

      This habit of focusing more on what you love in others as opposed to what you dislike in yourself will not only help you become more assertive and comfortable in virtually all social situations, but also instantly make you feel great about yourself.

      4. Know (and accept) yourself for who you are.

      Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu, author of the internationally acclaimed book The Art of War, said, “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” Even in the battle with lack of confidence, you will need to know yourself to win.

      Knowing yourself starts with understanding that people are not all the same, neither are all social situation suitable for everyone. You might not be confident in large gatherings, but you could be bold and confident in one-on-one and small group interactions. We all have our own unique gifts and unique ways of expressing ourselves. Embrace yours!

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      Introverts, for example, have a quiet confidence that is, unfortunately, often confused for shyness. They are naturally low key and prefer to spend time alone. However, this natural disposition affords them certain unique gifts, such as an ability to listen better than most people and notice things that others don’t.

      Your uniqueness is where your strength and advantage lies. You won’t be comfortable and confident in all situations all the time. Albert Einstein said,

      “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

      5. Crack a smile.

      If there is one sure way to instantly boost your confidence, it’s cracking a smile. Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at The George Washington University, says that flashing those pretty, pearly white teeth will immediately make you appear both confident and composed. But, the effect of smiling is not just external. Studies show that smiling can also help nix feelings of stress and pave the way for a happier and more relaxed you.[2]

      Not a bad return for something seemingly so trite, wouldn’t you agree?

      6. Break a sweat—with exercise.

      Working out is another great way to make yourself feel amazing and confident. Science has shown that exercising increases your endorphins, helps reduce stress, tones your muscles and makes you feel happy and confident.[3]

      And hey, all you have to do is take a walk a few times a week and you’ll see the benefits. What seems to matter—as far as your confidence goes—is whether you break a sweat, not how strenuous your session is, which is pretty cool. Start working out now.

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      7. Groom yourself.

      This might seem mundane, but it’s amazing how much of a difference a shower and shave can have on your confidence and self-image. And when you spritz on a scent, the boost on confidence and self-esteem is incredible. As it turns out, your favorite fragrance does more than make you smell oh-so-nice.

      A study found that a fragrance can inspire confidence in men. Interestingly, the study also found that the more a man likes the fragrance, the more confident he might feel. Another study found that 90% of women feel more confident while wearing a scent than those who go fragrance-free.

      8. Dress nicely.

      Another one that might seem trite, but it works. If you dress nicely, you’ll instantly feel good about yourself and give your confidence a real boost. That is largely because you’ll feel attractive, presentable and sometimes even successful in nice clothes.

      While dressing nicely means something different for everyone, it does not necessarily mean wearing $500 designer outfits. It means wearing clothes that are clean, that you are comfortable in and that are nice-looking and presentable, including casual clothes.

      9. Do activities you enjoy.

      Whether it is reading a book, playing a musical instrument, riding your bicycle or going fishing, do what you really enjoy and what makes you truly happy often. It will boost your self-esteem, soothe your ego and allow you to identify with your gifts and talents. That will in turn bolster your self-belief and grow your confidence exponentially.

      You might not become popular for doing what you love, but you might not even want to be popular at all. Being popular doesn’t make you happy; doing what you love does.

      10. Prepare for the possibility of rejection / setback.

      Late World No. 1 professional tennis player Arthur Ashe said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation.” You need to prepare for the possibility of rejection and setback.

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      Why?

      Everybody suffers rejection and setback at one point or another. You are not exempted. The question on your mind, therefore, should not be if you will be rejected, but how you will handle rejection when it comes.

      Prepare yourself adequately in every situation to minimize the risk and effect of rejection and so that your confidence is not broken. For example, learn public speaking and rehearse what you are going to say beforehand if you have landed a public speaking engagement. That way, you are sure of yourself and confident you have what it takes to hack it. If you are rejected, don’t take it personally.

      Rejection and setbacks happen to the best of us. Take it as a learning experience. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

      11. Face uncomfortable situations square in the face.

      Don’t run away from uncomfortable situations. Running away from people or situations because you feel scared, shy or timid only confirms and reinforces your shyness. Instead, face the situation that makes you uneasy square in the face. For example, go ahead and talk to that person you are afraid to approach, or go straight to the front of your yoga class! What’s the worst that can happen?

      Prepare and be ready for any eventuality. The more you face your fears, the more you realize you are stronger than you thought and the more confident you get. This simple, yet admittedly courageous, act makes you unstoppable. You get comfortable being uncomfortable and begin to feel like you can take on the world. And that is the hallmark of someone destined for great things.

      12. Sit up straight and walk tall—you are awesome!

      Yes, sit up straight and believe you are awesome. Don’t slump in your chair or slouch your shoulders. Experts say the right stance can not only keep your self-esteem and mood lifted, but also lead to more confidence in your own thoughts.[4]

      The way to sit is to open up your chest and keep your head level so that you look and feel poised and assured. And when you get up, stand tall and walk like you’re on a mission. People who sit up straight and walk tall are more attractive and instantly feel more confident. Try it now: you’ll feel fierce and confident just by sitting up straight and walking tall.

      Featured photo credit: Freshh Connection via unsplash.com

      Reference

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