Anxiety and depression affect many Americans today. Learning coping skills to manage anxiety and depression must be a priority this year.
The best way to do this is through individual counseling. Therapists can provide you with hundreds of coping mechanisms and regulating emotions. They can also help you create a toolbox of activities to help you manage all areas of your life.
Individual counseling is a process in which you work with a licensed mental health professional to resolve negative symptoms and other issues related to a mental illness. Your therapist will perform an extensive evaluation to develop the best treatment plan when you begin individual counseling.
With your input, you will decide if you wish to seek additional help from a Psychiatrist for possible medication assistance or groups where you can receive support from peers. Therapists can teach you how to take care of yourself first and better care of others later.
Build a Support System
The people you associate with will influence your mental health for the better or worse. If you hang out with abusive or consistently negative people, your anxiety and depression will worsen. If you surround yourself with happy, optimistic people with positive attitudes, your mood will be influenced in a good way.
Support teams include co-workers, bosses, family, friends, therapists, sponsors, and support group members. Choose people for your support system that will be accessible and available when you feel anxious or depressed.
Start a New Healthy Eating Lifestyle
What you eat and drink can help you manage anxiety and depression. Eating healthy foods versus processed foods is essential. Recent research shows that most of your “feel-good” neurotransmitters are in the gut. Neurotransmitters send signals to the brain, telling it how to feel.
When you are stressed, you are more likely to crave processed foods or to seek out “comfort foods” to fill the void. However, processed foods irritate neurotransmitters and lead to an increase in depression and anxiety, so it’s best to avoid them when possible.
Drinking alcohol, using drugs, or smoking cigarettes are habits that will dramatically worsen anxiety and depression. Too many habits diminish the body’s nutrients and inhibit mental processes.
Meditate or Pray
When you have anxiety and depression, you may experience racing thoughts and a lack of concentration. You may struggle to get started each morning or have desires to avoid the world. Meditation and prayer can help you start your day with calm and peace. Start now while it is still early in 2022, and find mind-calming activities that you can use when trying to cope with symptoms.
Practicing meditation or prayer can help calm the mind. Meditation gives you time to silence the mental chaos when you are overworked and pressured to complete work and when your to-do list at home is overwhelming.
Pay attention to your breathing while meditating or praying. If you are breathing fast, switch to long inhales and exhales. Short breaths can lead to hyperventilation. Deep breathing has been shown to have beneficial anxiety-relieving effects. Taking deep breaths can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, reducing symptoms.
Write About It
Writing in a journal is another great way to get the thoughts out of your mind and onto paper. Whether you are writing your prayers or jotting down all your random ideas, you will feel better after releasing and organizing some of your thoughts.
Every day, write about the things you are grateful for and appreciate. Make sure the words you put on paper are positive and encouraging. If you write negative statements or words, your thoughts are still focused on the negative. Even if you feel more depressed one day, make yourself write positive messages.
At the end of 2022, you can look back over the year and see how your symptoms have improved.
Reassess Your Relationships
Not all relationships are healthy. Even relationships with family and close friends can be unhealthy at times. This can cause stress that leads to mental or physical problems.
Just the thought of a negative person can raise stress levels. Being around them consistently can make your stress levels rise and become dangerous. If you cannot work with a negative person in changing their behaviors, it may be wise to limit your time with them.
Getting help from a counselor to help you deal with negative people in your life is a smart move. It may just be a simple action needed to improve your stress.
Manage Your Play Time
Even as an adult, you can benefit from having fun. Finding ways to play can reduce stress. Do something you enjoy and that makes you laugh. Laughter reduces stress. Finding time to do something fun is crucial to improving health.
It’s important not to allow work and personal duties to come between your playtime. It would be best if you had a healthy balance between all of them.
Getting good sleep is essential for taking care of your mental health. Good sleep can be defined by getting the correct number of hours, working in the right environment, and having sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene is the routine you establish before, during, and after sleep. It involves the habits you acquire that help your body recognize it is time for sleep, stay asleep for seven or more hours, and wake up in a way that doesn’t cause stress to the brain or body.
Some sleep hygiene tips include brushing your teeth, bathing, and preparing for bed at the same time each night. When you lay down for bed, do something positive but tiring, like reading a book. Turn off all electronics. Sleep in the dark and wake up using a soft-sounding alarm, or when your body says it is ready to wake up.
Learning to cope with anxiety and depression in 2022 can start today. An individual therapist is just one phone call or email away, eager to help you.
- Mental Health First Aid USA. The Importance of Having a Support System. Mental Health First Aid. Published August 6, 2020. Accessed October 5, 2022. https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2020/08/the-importance-of-having-a-support-system/
- Harvard Health Publishing. Why stress causes people to overeat. Harvard Health. Published February 15, 2021. Accessed October 5, 2022. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat
- Mittal R, Debs LH, Patel AP, et al. Neurotransmitters: The critical modulators regulating gut-brain axis. J Cell Physiol. 2017;232(9):2359-2372. doi:10.1002/jcp.25518
- NIAAA. Alcohol Alert Number 85. Published 2012. Accessed October 5, 2022. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA85/AA85.htm
- Mental Health America. How to keep a mental health journal. MHA Screening. Accessed October 5, 2022. https://www.wikihow.com/Keep-a-Mental-Health-Journal
- Smith K. 7 Signs that Stress Is Affecting Your Relationship. Psych Central. Published June 19, 2022. Accessed October 5, 2022. https://psychcentral.com/stress/signs-that-stress-is-affecting-your-relationship
- Wang S, Aamodt S. Play, Stress, and the Learning Brain. Cerebrum. 2012;2012:12.
Last medically reviewed October 5, 2022