There is no single cause of depression or anxiety. In fact, the cause of these symptoms tends to be multifactorial, and overcoming it requires a well-rounded, holistic approach. Before you read on, I'd like to invite you to take a moment and ask yourself the following questions, "What could my body be trying to tell me right now?" "What signals might I have missed?" "What do I need more of in my life?"
What can I do to manage depression and anxiety
Rule out other causes. Anxiety and depression can often be symptoms of an underlying cause. Therefore, it is important to ensure you are working with knowledgeable health professionals (e.g., an integrative medical doctor) to rule out any potential nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, methylation issues, hormonal imbalances and/or physical health conditions etc.
Practice self-compassion. When we suffer from anxiety and/or depression we sometimes blame ourselves for thinking or behaving in a certain way. This is not helpful and is likely to fuel your worry or low mood. Try to speak to yourself in the way that you would speak to a dear friend, family member or loved pet. What would you say to a close friend experiencing the same pain and suffering as you?
Gently exploring your environment can also be helpful. Could it be that you are feeling burnout, overworked, or stuck in a job you hate? Could it be that you are in a toxic relationship, not getting enough sleep, or going through some personal stress?
Be present. When you notice your mind generating anxious or depressed thoughts or images, gently bring it back to where your body is. That is, bring it back to the present moment and engage fully in what you are doing. Our mind can be very good at digging up old and hurtful memories or events or thinking about things in the future. Using your breath as an anchor can be helpful.
Name it. Naming our feelings for what they are can reduce the intensity and impact they have on us. Practice saying, “this is anxiety”; “this is worry”, “this is sadness” or “this is my limbic system”.
Make room for it. Struggling with, trying to control, or avoiding our emotions only makes them stronger. Try localising them and creating some space for them. Ask yourself what would this feeling look like if it were an object? What colour is it? Is it sharp or does it have smooth edges? Does it move? How big is it? Where do you feel it? Is it deep inside you or towards the surface of your body? Once you have answered these questions, practice breathing in and around it.
Learn your triggers. Notice the things that make your anxiety and/or depression better or worse.
Breathe deeply. Deep breathing can have an immediate calming effect on our nervous system. When you feel anxious or under stress, you are more likely to breathe quickly and in a shallow manner. Practice taking slow deep breaths. Deep breathing also has a positive effect on our lymphatic system and can help to reduce inflammation, which has links to depression and anxiety.
Sleep. Not getting enough sleep can have a dramatic effect on our anxiety, depression, and ability to cope under stress. Furthermore, sleep allows our brain to clear out toxins and it also serves a restorative function. Ensure you are sleeping 7 – 9 hours every night.
Get moving. Exercise has shown to be an effective way to reduce inflammation, anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as stress. Get moving every day, even if it is just for 5 minutes! Any movement is better than none.
Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake. These substances can stimulate or depress our nervous system and can trigger and/or perpetuate anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Connect. Talking to a close friend, family member, or trusted health care professional can be a helpful way to cope with mental health issues. This takes a lot of courage, but it is important to remember that there is always someone out there who can support you.
If you'd like support to manage depression, anxiety or any other mental health concern please feel free to call us on (07) 5370 8858 or contact us in writing.