Dealing with a mental health condition can cause significant strain on your emotional well-being as well as impact your quality of life. This is the case with depression and anxiety, as both disorders can co-occur. Additionally, several lifestyle factors can influence the severity of these conditions. Thus, practicing good mental health habits and knowing what unhelpful coping methods to avoid is crucial.
To help you, here are the dos and don’ts when coping with anxiety and depression:
Do: Consult With A Mental Health Professional
Getting professional help has been identified as one of the most long-term constructive methods to tackle depression and anxiety. Not only can treatment help you cope with mental health conditions, but it can also equip you with the skills to reframe your negative thinking patterns to be more effective at managing your emotions.
A therapist can be best for you to improve your mental wellness through guidance, emotional support, and behavioral therapy. Otherwise, a psychiatrist can help you if you need a medical diagnosis and access medication such as anti-anxiety tablets or antidepressants. If you prefer a more convenient solution, you can opt for virtual mental health services, which can be just as beneficial by providing tailored treatment options that suit your time and needs while at home.
Do: Exercise And Stay Active
Exercise can positively impact both your physical and mental health. Many studies have shown that working out for 30 minutes outside in the sun at least three to five days a week can enhance your mood because your body releases ‘happy hormones,’ such as endorphins and serotonin.
Moreover, staying active is also known to increase your energy levels and help you relax by reducing stress and muscle tension. The best part is that you don’t need intensive training to gain these mental health benefits. Any physical activity, such as light aerobic stretches and walking around your neighborhood will suffice.
Do: Utilize Journaling
Writing down your thoughts in a journal can be a powerful and personal tool for understanding your emotions, fears, and behaviors so you can examine them from a different perspective. It also presents an opportunity to practice positive self-talk and compassion.
In addition, you can use it to track and document symptoms, triggers, and struggles that need addressing. This could lead to better mental clarity because journaling can declutter your mind from repeated thoughts and be an outlet for getting your frustrations out.
Do: Prioritize Sleep Hygiene
Insomnia and irregular sleeping patterns have been shown to worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety. This is because sleep is vital for your mind to regulate your mental health, physical and mental energy, and daily cognitive functions necessary for school and work.
Therefore, an important strategy to combat depression and anxiety is to utilize a health practice known as sleep hygiene. These are habits you can implement into your night routine to help promote consistently good-quality sleep. Some of these include going to bed at the same time every night and conditioning your room to be as dark, cool, and quiet as possible an hour before sleeping.
Don’t: Be Alone For Too Long
While you might be tempted to self-isolate and socially withdraw when going through depression and anxiety, it’s better not to be alone for long periods. While spending time with yourself is necessary and healthy, it can worsen the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Loneliness can socially and emotionally disconnect you from sustaining meaningful relationships. Meanwhile, socializing with your loved ones can be a major source of social support.
Don’t: Drink Too Much Alcohol And Caffeine
Depression and anxiety can drain your physical and mental energy, making it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. And drinking too much alcohol and caffeine can lower your energy levels even more through dehydration.
Furthermore, caffeinated drinks such as coffee contain stimulants that can affect your nervous system and trigger anxiety symptoms such as restlessness, trembling, and a rapid heartbeat, among others. Alcohol, on the other hand, can interfere with mood-boosting chemicals in your brain. This can also lead to dependency behaviors as a coping mechanism for low mood and energy.
Don’t: Indulge In An Unhealthy Diet
Just like exercise, your diet and how your body physically feels can affect depression and anxiety symptoms. Eating foods that are low in nutrition and are heavily processed, sweetened, or fried can leave you feeling sluggish and heavy, and you may have to deal with abdominal discomfort.
Furthermore, these foods have also been linked to causing inflammation by affecting your gut microbiome and making you more prone to illnesses. Over time, this can worsen depression by lowering your mood and energy while contributing to anxiety with fear of lifestyle diseases that increase in risk because of a poor diet.
Don’t: Spend Too Much Time On Social Media
Your media consumption habits also impact your mental health, particularly depression and anxiety. Studies have shown spending too much time on social media can lead to depression by lowering your self-esteem and reducing in-person social interactions.
Furthermore, since social media tends to highlight people’s achievements, beauty, and status, it can make your mind feel dissatisfied about your appearance and life. The hyper-competitiveness for ‘virality,’ popularity, and projecting perfection can lead to social anxiety disorder where fear of public humiliation, social rejection, and face-to-face contact increase.
Don’t: Suppress Your Emotions
Ignoring or burying your feelings can be a double whammy for your mental health. It can be the leading cause of depression and anxiety or intensify any existing symptoms. This is because your mind needs to regulate your emotions to improve your emotional intelligence.
Part of this is helping you process and cope with difficult or stressful life situations. These factors can make it more challenging to handle depression and anxiety while continuing the cycle of negative mental health.
Practicing good mental health habits can help you cope with depression and anxiety. In this case, seeking professional help, getting enough sleep, journaling, and staying active are evidence-based strategies that can uplift your mood and improve symptoms. Meanwhile, isolation, poor diet, drinking, social media habits, and emotional suppression make coping more challenging. Therefore, with proper awareness of your choices and prioritizing a useful daily routine, you can work towards better mental well-being.