There are many ways to interpret how to beat anxiety and depression but we will discuss 5 of them on this article. This is a very relevant topic nowadays. This is because of the disruptions brought by the COVID pandemic. It altered our entire way of living. This includes the way we work or study, to the way we go to stores and different places. These stressful times also include the huge emotional toll of losing loved ones due to the disease, and the continuing threat to our own health. To say that it changed the way we live is an understatement. This challenging era makes it all the more necessary for us to find ways of increasing our resilience. Part of this mindset if taking care of our mental health. Here are some ways in which you can beat depression and anxiety and take back control of your life, or at least, some aspects of it:
How to beat anxiety and depression: 5 Ways
Re-framing stress and other negative thoughts
Chronic stress result in faster aging on a cellular level. In the book, The Telomere Effect, authors Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D and Elissa Epel, Ph.D, dig deep into the causes of cellular aging and different ways to address those problems. Studies have shown that reframing stress as a “challenge” can minimize this aging process, or even reverse it. Negative thoughts, on the other hand, only add value when they make you think about things you can improve on and are within your control. Otherwise, there is no value you can get when playing and replaying negative thoughts in your mind. When feeling a negative emotion, ask what evidence makes it true, then what evidence makes it not true. And then, you can ask what’s a different way to look at the situation. The point of challenging your thoughts is just to help you remember that there’s usually more than one way to interpret a negative feeling or situation. Sometimes, negative thoughts are simply your subjective way of looking at things.
By practicing mindful analysis of negative thoughts, you can discover which of them are true and which are not true, and then you can banish those negative thoughts. For the negative things which are true, ask if you can do anything about them, then create a specific plan of action to address those problems. This practice helps offload mentally draining weight from your mind. This practice has also been proven to reduce aging on a cellular level.
Release the things you cannot control
One of the central ideas of Stoicism, focusing on things you can control and just releasing things and thoughts which is outside of your control, will open-up huge emotional and brain capacity. Much like the computer’s CPU or central processing unit, releasing resources, in this case, our mind’s focus and attention, will allow us to weather tougher times as we reserve our precious resilience “muscle” for things that we can actually influence. For example, other people’s reactions are to some degree, within our influence. But let’s be honest, their ultimate reaction and opinion will still be based on their unique state of mind, upbringing, culture or current life situation. There are just too many variables outside of our direct control. We cannot predict how other people will ultimately react so it’s futile to try to even control that aspect. Another example are environmental factors which are too huge for a human being to control: the weather, accidents, traffic. These might have negative effects on our well-being but we cannot really do anything to direct them to the outcomes we want. What we can control is how we view things differently. To see opportunities where others can’t. The first tip on this blog is relevant for that mindset: reframing negative thoughts.
Create a well-structured day
Creating a schedule gives the mind a certain level of predictability. Instead of being in a heightened state throughout the day, having a consistent schedule reduces anxiety because you allot a time for everything. Instead of thinking about things you might have forgotten to do, having a well-structed day assures your mind that everything will be taken care of at their own time. This system also applies to how you track your tasks. Taking down notes or using apps that allow you to track your tasks easily also helps with this sense of “structure”. It also offloads huge amounts of worry and emotion onto a physical and external object rather than having them occupy precious brain space.
Look at what’s already there
Optimism is good when used is the correct way. Yes, there’s a thing called “toxic positivity”, and that should be avoided at all costs. Optimism must be coupled with being realistic, acknowledging risks and creating action plans to mitigate those risks. Looking at our “blessings”, and the things we already have gives us much needed energy boost especially these days when negative and depressing news abound. We have to counter those negative vibes with realistic positivity.
There are other effective ways to combat anxiety and depression and the above ideas are some of them. The key take-away is that we can do something about our problems if we take appropriate actions. Remember to seek professional help when these steps don’t change your situation.