Anxiety and depression are two conditions that can become debilitating if ignored. There are several ways to address and overcome anxiety and depression, including mindset, physical health, and certain types of therapy.
In this article, you will learn how to overcome anxiety and depression naturally.
How to Overcome Anxiety and Depression Naturally
The use of medications to control and mitigate mental health symptoms has exploded in recent years. Using psychopharmacology as a front-line defense for mental disorders has resulted in over 40 million prescriptions being filled in the United States during just one year. While some patients report great success in using these medications, others seek ways to obtain peace of mind and resolution from trauma without resorting to medical interventions.
For these latter folks, the focus has shifted from psychiatric medications to natural ways to improve quality of life. The following are some suggestions to explore in your journey toward natural healing. Many of these approaches are promoted by professionals in the mental health field, and you may find it helpful to seek out consultation from those who support all-natural journeys toward wellness.
Tip #1: Take Care of Your Body
The effect that our diet, sleep, and exercise habits have on our mental health is often overlooked in traditional psychiatric circles. For example, the experience of having a “gut feeling” is more valid than we realize. Much of the feel-good chemical of serotonin is produced within our digestive tract. Not only does this chemical contribute to improved mood, but it also assists with regulating a good sleep cycle. Combining healthy foods with the endorphins released during physical exercise can be a great way to stave off periods of depression and anxiety.
Tip #2: Adjust Your Perspectives
You may have heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.” While our physical health can determine some of our emotions and mood, we are also made up of what we think. The entire premise behind the popular Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach involves identifying the thoughts and beliefs which lie at the root of our depressive and anxious responses to life. Once we become aware of the patterns in our thinking that spur our negative emotions, we can grab those thoughts by the reins and refuse to let them have control.
You may not need the intense treatment offered in a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) program, but you can still apply some of the tips and tricks of this specialized therapy. One of the most popular concepts in treatment is the idea of Radical Acceptance. This applies the idea that “it is what it is.” No amount of regret, worry, or obsessing will make a difference when changing some things in life. It will only stop you from enjoying what is real and prevent you from progressing in the things that are genuinely within your control. Radical acceptance is the practice of determining what lies outside our control and then letting it go.
Another favorite in the modern therapist’s tool kit is the practice of mindfulness. This practice has grown in popularity over the past several years and has become integrated into several therapeutic modalities. With mindfulness, thoughts and emotions are experienced as they are, without needing to hold onto them or direct their outcome. Since depressive thoughts center around what has occurred in the past, and anxious thoughts focus on what may happen in the future, mindfulness encourages us to pay attention to the present. Mindfulness techniques can help us to manage – and even enjoy – the small moments which make up each day.
Tip #3: Learn to Laugh
It may sound silly to practice something that even small babies can do with no effort, but many adults find it difficult to identify the last time they laughed. This is unfortunate, as laughing has been shown to release endorphins into the bloodstream. These endorphins temporarily boost mood and work to counteract the existence of stress hormones.
Forcing laughter may not sound like an appealing idea, but giving the urge to laugh a little boost can produce genuine laughter. You don’t have to commit to extreme forms of voluntary laughter, such as joining a laughter yoga group. You can start by committing to watching a funny vlog or short comedy skit a couple of times a week. Integrating laughter into your life doesn’t make problems disappear, but clearing your mind through positive experiences can assist with finding new solutions.
Tip #4: Craft Your Support System
If you have ever watched a 90’s sitcom, you know the basic structure of a diverse social group. You’ve got the book-smart friend, the funny friend, and the friend who always wants to be serious. You’ve got the compassionate friend, the reliable friend, and the friend who is kind of a jerk (but you like him, anyway.) The protagonist of these shows always knows which friend to turn to to meet their needs and progress the storyline.
While our friend pool may not be as large as those in a television show, we, too, can benefit from identifying and cultivating the types of friendships that support our multifaceted personalities. Take some time to think about the nature of your relationships. Do you have people in your life who are great at listening without giving advice? Do you have someone who can always help you to see the brighter side of things? Do you have someone in your life who can work through finding solutions with you? If your list of friends and family doesn’t include any of these friendship traits, you may want to consider expanding your social circle. We need people around us who help us to grow and not those who encourage us to wallow in our misery.
Tip #5: Have Something to Look Forward To
If we aim for nothing, we are likely to hit it. Not having anything positive mapped out on our road ahead can make life seem daunting and overwhelming. The idea of more days ahead of being exactly like the ones behind can keep anyone in a funk. Whether you want to plan for something big, such as a career change, or something small, like a weekend vacation, being able to circle something on the calendar can motivate you to keep moving forward.
- Advisory Board. An estimated 40 million Americans take psychiatric drugs. Here’s what they’re taking. Published December 14, 2016. Accessed October 12, 2022. https://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2016/12/14/what-psychiatric-drugs-are-americans-taking
- Selhub E. Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Harvard Health. Published September 18, 2022. Accessed October 12, 2022. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626