Overcoming Anxiety And Depression
Many people suffer from anxiety and/or depression at some point in their lives. While the road to recovery is not easy, there are methods you can use to speed your return to your former, happy self.
If you've ever been the victim of (or close to anyone who has experienced) anxiety and/or depression you know the suffering and confusion it can cause. It's pretty much like wandering through a landmine, blindfolded, fingers crossed, hoping to avoid the explosions of thoughts and feelings that you've come to dread that signal the onset of an anxiety attack or a bout with depression. It's not an effective method for avoiding pain and from time to time things just explode in your face.
When you're walking that long and winding road that will return you to yourself (and it can be done), you need all of the help you can get. There are several tips below that many sufferers of anxiety and depression have tried and found to be effective as they make their way back to peaceful living. It does take courage to try, but please give the following methods a chance.
Relax and Let It Come
There is absolutely nothing to be gained in trying to avoid the fear and sadness that accompany anxiety/depression. The feelings come and go and in the early stages of your illness you are powerless to stop them. Just ride it out much as you would ride a wave in the ocean or a rollercoaster at the amusement park. Just float and bob along and take things as they come. However horrible the feelings are, they do pass if you just let them. Realize you are powerless at this point to stop them and just let them come and go.
However, awful the feelings of anxiety and depression are, eventually you recognize and become somewhat accustomed to the havoc they wreak in your life. One good thing to do is to keep busy. Immerse yourself in activities that occupy your mind. Chances are, your mind is playing some tricks on you right now and your objective is to keep your mind busy and lessen the amount of time you have to think about your problems.
Television and movies are not usually effective occupations. The mind can still wander and explore the murky depths of your problems while the show plays on in front your unseeing eyes. Books and newspapers also seem to be hard for an anxiety/depression sufferer to follow. What does seem to work are things that require you to think about anything other than what is going on in your own mind.
Some things that have been very effective for those who are recovering are crossword puzzles, word searches, jumbles and such. You must be actively seeking the answers in order to progress the puzzle and your mind cannot dwell on your problems at the same time.
Also effective are physical activities like housework, gardening, crafts and simple remodeling. I know it sounds absolutely overwhelming to think of accomplishing some of these things in your current condition; however, you absolutely must get up out of your chair (or bed or couch) and working on projects such as these will take your mind off of yourself. Just begin with small manageable steps and watch yourself slowly but surely come out of your shell.
Find a Friend
If at all possible, find one or two good friends that you can confide in. It is not good to broadcast your troubles to everyone you meet, no matter how great the temptation (and right now it is probably pretty great). However, it is a wonderful relief to have a couple of good and dear friends who understand you and will continue to tell you it will be okay (and it will).
The best scenario is to find someone who has been through anxiety/depression and recovered. When you talk to them, you know in your heart that they know your pain. They describe what they went through and it is your story. And you thought you were the only one. The incredible relief at knowing other people have suffered and recovered is indescribable.
If you don't happen to know anyone personally who has experienced what you are going through, consult with a psychologist/psychiatrist to be put in touch with a group who specializes in these areas. At first it may seem a bit daunting to think of discussing your misery with others, especially strangers, however you have no idea how good it feels to know that others have experienced the horrible things you are experiencing and that you absolutely are not losing your mind.
Take Care of Yourself Physically
While facing the challenges of anxiety/depression, it is very easy to be so consumed that you forget to take care of yourself physically. No matter how hard it seems, you will be better off if you take care of your physical needs.
Get up every day and have a shower, shampoo your hair, brush and floss your teeth, shave and get dressed. You may not feel like doing anything other than curling up into a ball in your bed but you must keep living. The routine of getting cleaned up and taking care of yourself will eventually give you a feeling of security and well-being if you keep up with it.
Make sure you eat three meals a day. They don't have to be large but just get some good, nourishing food into you at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take a multi-vitamin. Take any prescribed medication. Get plenty of rest (as much as you can). Dress comfortably. Take care of yourself in the ways that you deserve. You'll be surprised at the benefits and good feelings that come from being as physically comfortable as possible.
Get a Ritual
Now is a good time to find something that comforts you. A ritual. Something you do that makes you feel better and gives you a sense of safety and security. When you feel the dreaded sweaty palms and overwhelming fear that accompany anxiety or the awful sensation of dread and sadness that accompany depression, you need something that you can do reflexively to comfort yourself. It may not rid you of the overwhelming sensations you are experiencing, but it can give you an anchor to hold onto while the storm rages around you.
Some people knit or crochet. Some people have a worry stone that they rub. Others may prefer a rosary or repeating prayers they've known since childhood. Perhaps it's a beloved pet that you hold on your lap and stroke when you're feeling your worst. Only you can know what your port in the storm is but work on it until you find one.
Recovery from anxiety/depression is not easy nor is it fast. In fact, it's probably one of the hardest fights you'll ever have; however, the steps above can tip the scales in your favor and the battle can be won. You can recover from anxiety and depression and be stronger than you ever were before. You can persevere.