Many people suffer from anxiety and depression.
Worrying about the past, stressing about the future or being overwhelmed about the present.
It is not surprising given the amount of social media and news that is based on fear or speculation rather than fact.
It is not surprising many of us are surrounded by concern.
For some people, this concern can turn to anxiety or depression or both.
Likewise, if you have suffered in the past, with bullying or bereavement, and never really dealt with it, then it will not be surprising if your body and mind finally rebel, and anxiety and depression set in.
If you do suffer, then hopefully I can offer some potential solutions.
Firstly however, let me explain why our minds do it.
Anxiety is a primitive response related to flight or fight.
When there is danger, the body releases stress hormones including adrenaline and cortisol that increase your heart rate and gives you sweaty palms.
The reaction should be that you run away or fight.
Either way, later your body is able to relax, and the hormones return to normal.
Our modern-day problem is that some people are under constant stress, so the hormones keep being produced. Our bodies and minds are not designed to live under these conditions.
There are three normal courses of action for anxiety and depression.
Firstly, and sadly this is far too common, leave it and hope it goes away.
Often people do not want to admit they have a problem, as it may make them feel weak in the eyes of others, this is especially true of men.
So they carry on, if nothing is wrong, when inside they are falling apart.
Secondly is the medical solution.
A Doctor has a whole range of drugs that can offer potential solutions. These often mask or numb the feelings, but do not actually deal with the reason that was causing the anxiety or depression in the first place.
They do have a purpose though, especially if the patient has suicidal thoughts.
As a therapist, I would recommend that your doctor is often the best place to start, to ensure of a correct diagnosis.
Then there is therapy or counselling.
Ultimately, this is the way forward. Without talking about how you feel and why you feel the way you do; you cannot take the responsibility of getting your life back on track.
Talking with a qualified therapist, counsellor or life coach will enable you to move forward with your life.
You may need only a few sessions, maybe more depending on the issues and how deep you have buried them.
When you look there is lots of potential help out there. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk is always a good place to start.
But there are some practical steps you can make immediately.
- Firstly, ease off social media, I am not saying cut it out, but if you reach for your phone first thing in the morning and look at social media, then you are trying to ease a dopamine fix!
- Secondly, avoid the constant daily news feed. Again, you do not need to cut it out completely, but the news once a day, and ideally not at night before you go to bed, is enough.
Then the three key elements of sleep, activity and breath.
The importance of Sleep in tackling Anxiety & Depression
Sleep is vital so that the body and mind are able to process and recharge. Often when we are in a stressed state, our sleep is disrupted.
Here are a few simple measures to help.
Firstly, cut out any caffeine or alcohol 4-hours before you go to bed.
Make sure you have a regular routine. Yes, that means if you get up at 6.30am for work during the week, it is still best to keep to a similar pattern at weekends.
Try not to sleep heavily during the day. A 20-minute nap in the early afternoon is fine, but anymore can further disrupt your night-time sleep.
Read instead of sitting in front of a screen. The light from screens disrupts the melatonin hormone. That’s the one that makes you sleepy.
The importance of Activity & Exercise in tackling Anxiety & Depression
I am not asking you to join a gym or run a marathon but getting the 10,000 steps in a day is good advice.
As much of this should be outside where possible. Engaging in the environment is good for the brain too.
The importance of your Breathing in tackling Anxiety & Depression
Breath. Being aware of your breath is one of the most useful skills you can learn.
Breath slowly, especially if you are feeling anxious. Often our breath becomes shallow when we get stressed.
If we slow our breath down and make it deeper, then we find we relax.
Meditation is especially helpful in this area.
If you are suffering with anxiety and depression, or you know someone who is. It is time to take responsibility.
Talk to a friend, go see your GP or contact a therapist or counsellor, but do something.
We have one life, why go through it with the weight of the world on your shoulders.