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10 Great Ways to Beat Anxiety and Depression

Updated on January 6, 2012

1. Think about what is bothering you:
Try to figure out exactly what it is that you are depressed or worried about. Find the root of it, explore it and make a list of every part of it that is bugging you. Ask yourself on paper (no matter how strange that may seem) what aspects of what is bothering you are really bothering you. What is at the heart of the matter? Ask the hard questions and answer truthfully, then brainstorm solutions or look at the core problems and see if they really are problems. If the things that are bothering you are propped up by other things that don’t really matter by themselves, then the larger problem isn’t really a problem at all, is it?

2. Talk to family or a friend:
For every problem you can’t seem to work your way past, there is a relative or a friend who you can talk to that won’t try to give you advice or “set you straight.” Find that person within your social circle and reach out to them, talk to them, tell them what is bothering you and listen to what they say. If there really and truly is no one, then seek someone out. There are plenty of lonely people both online and offline who would love someone to talk to.

3. Make a contingency plan that allows for happiness:
Usually, when I pin my hopes on something important to me, I experience periods of anxiety where I start to wonder what I’ll do if things “don’t work out” the way I want them to. This is where a contingency plan comes into effect. Take a piece of paper, fold it in half to make a folder shape (that way you can give it a catchy cover) and inside, create realistic answers or plans to the worst-case scenario versions of the worries that are plaguing your mind. Go all out. Consider everything that could go wrong and have a little fun at your own expense. Instead of “what if my car stops working” consider what you would do if your car broke down far from home and you had to spend several hundred dollars to get back. Now, create solutions that are fun and realistic. If your car blows up, detail reasonable ways to go about getting a new one, or consider if you even really need one. Look at life without a car, and if you decide you do need one, create a working plan now that you can use later on if what you’re worrying about comes to pass.

4. Make a list of things that make you happy:
This is a great one to do proactively. If you know that you are prone to depression, keep a list of things that make you happy that you can add to. Next time you feel on the top of the world, figure out what put you there and put it on the list. Don’t write down things that aren’t readily accessible (like graduating or seeing someone out of state) because seeing them and knowing that you can’t do them will just depress you more. Write down things that you can run to and use quickly and effectively to take care of the problem as soon as it strikes. If you were to do something you really enjoy doing right now, what would it be? Run around outside? Eat ice cream? Whatever it is, put it on the list. When you’re feeling like you’re in the pits, dig out the list and go through it until you’re back on top again. Take time to be nice to yourself. Take time to enjoy life. It’s the only one you have.

5. Make a list of solutions, mantras or evidence:

If you go through regular periods where you have anxiety or get depressed or worried about something happening (despite all evidence to the contrary) try making a list of that contrary evidence. Not only will it help you through your current bout of anxiety/depression, you’ll have it handy for any future breakdowns as a quick release. The second you start worrying about something that might happen, just whip out the list of evidence or solutions and read it. It’ll kill the worries almost instantly.

6. Stand in front of a mirror and praise yourself:
Everyone has their beauty. Even if you’re not concerned about your physical appearance, this one can help put you in a better space. It’s simple: Stand in front of a mirror and focus only on the things that are awesome about you or that other people have mentioned that they liked about you. Say these things while looking yourself in the eyes. Believe the things you say. Be open, passionate, kind. Praise not just the physical you, but your traits, your talents and the things that make you both awesome and unique.

7. Step back:
If something in your life seems unsurmountable, take time to look elsewhere. Can’t scale a particular hurdle in your life that is giving you grief and making you run around in circles or even just tempting you to give up? Step back from the problem, take a deep breath, rest, take a bath, do something else, and let a new approach to the problem come to you. It worked for Archimedes and it can work for you! Realize that your day is only one in seven within your week, that it is one of 365 in just this year. If you live to be at least 100, how many years do you have left? How does this one day and the problems within it compare to the grander scheme of things?

8. To do lists:

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been saved from swirling down into the depths by something as simple as a to do list. The trick is to make it a game– how much stuff can you get done on the list before the day ends? Depending on how you like to work, you can either overburden the list with more than you could do in a day, or break down tasks into much smaller components (butter toast, put on shoes, drive to work, etc. instead of just “WORK.”) if you run out of things to do before the depression is gone, make up some new ones. You can find some ideas on “101 Easy Ways to make the world a better place,” “101 ways to pass the time when you’re bored” and “101 ways to say ‘I love you.’

9. Write. Just write:
If all else fails, just put pen to paper and let all the worries, anger and sad feelings stream out. Just let it all out. Have a good cry. Take it to the very edge and just fill up as much paper about your problems as you can just to get it all out there and off your chest. Even if no one ever reads it (sometimes especially because no one ever reads it!) you’ll feel better putting it out there and into better perspective instead of just holding it all in and bottling it all up.

10. Watch “No arms, no legs, no worries

Then take joy in doing a good deed by visiting one of my sponsors. :)


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