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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 March 30, 2020

      What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

      What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

      Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

      You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

      This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

      What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

      According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

      Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

      There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

      How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

      When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

      Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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      1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

      One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

      The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

      Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

      2. Be Honest

      A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

      If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

      On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

      Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

      3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

      Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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      If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

      4. Succeed at Something

      When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

      Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

      5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

      Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

      Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

      If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

      If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

      Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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      6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

      Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

      You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

      On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

      You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

      7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

      Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

      Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

      Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

      When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

      Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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      In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

      Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

      It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

      Final Thoughts

      When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

      The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

      Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

      Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

      Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

      More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

      Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
      [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
      [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
      [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
      [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
      [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
      [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
      [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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