Depression and anxiety manifest themselves in different ways for different people, and the level of anxiety and depression one experiences also varies. “When anxiety or depression is affecting everyday life and getting in the way of your daily activities for an extended period, one must seek professional help,” said Sana Rubiyana, counselling psychologist, Fortis Hospital, Richmond Road, Bangalore. This World Suicide Prevention Day, observed every year on September 10, Rubiyana lists out activities that can help one face anxiety and depression.
*Take time-out to practice yoga daily, listen to soothing/relaxing/ rhythmic music, meditate (mindful meditation), get a message once in a while for the momentary release of tension or practice relaxation techniques (deep breathing, inhale and exhale slowly).
*Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals, your mood is also dependent on what you consume, for people who don’t feel like eating when anxious or depressed, can try having smaller meals with increased frequency.
*Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other substances, which can aggravate anxiety, and trigger panic attacks. Alcohol acts as a depressant and must be avoided. Caffeine has been shown to make people more jittery.
*Get enough sleep. Your body needs additional sleep and rest during any mental health crisis. The number of hours doesn’t really matter, but the quality of sleep does. Avoid screen time of any kind two hours before bedtime. Screen time delays sleep by at least two hours. Indulge in “me time” before bedtime to improve the quality of sleep.
*Exercise daily preferably during the day. Your brain releases endorphins while exercising which is a happy hormone. It helps in elevating your mood and you will feel good and it will help in maintaining your health well.
*Perfectionism is an anxiety-based disorder. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get to your goals. Design ‘SMART’ goals which are (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bounded).
*Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your anxious and depressive thoughts into perspective: Is it really as bad as you think? Most people experience anxiety due to their ‘need to control’. Learn to accept the fact that not everything is in your control. The only things you can control are your mindset and perspective.
*Good laughter goes a long way. Use humour, jokes and laughter as a way of dealing with the crisis as it eases situations in your mind.
*Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. You can use positive affirmations as much as possible to see changes in your thought patterns from negative to positive ones.
*Build a network and get involved. Find ways to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress. Talk to people you can trust about what you are thinking and feeling. Ask for help from people around you. Talking out loud and being heard can reduce your anxiety and depression significantly.
*Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
*Start journaling. Write about everything you are thinking and feeling, and start acknowledging your emotions. When you don’t have someone to share with, these pages can become your listening ears. Journaling also puts things into perspective and gives clarity to your thoughts. You can also maintain a gratitude journal if you are experiencing depression. It will make you acknowledge the small joy, little positive changes and increase your gratitude feeling as well.
*Get a routine. Having a schedule will keep you grounded and ease your anxiety levels.
*Seek professional help. Get started with regular counselling and therapy. Some may also need to meet a psychiatrist for medications. Don’t feel ashamed in reaching out for help. Care for your mental health as much as you would for your physical health.