Although this is something we don’t speak about too much, 1 in 13 persons globally suffer of a form of anxiety and 1 in 20 people suffer of depression. Overall, one in four people in this world suffer of a certain form of mental illness, and this comes as no surprise given the many unhealthy ways in which we choose to live our lives – induced by the society norms and options nowadays.
In the past, people were hunters and their bodies were made to resist a high level of activity every day. Their sleep was according to the sun and the natural light, their food was natural and unprocessed and the level of stress and worry were at a level they could cope with. Nothing similar to the way we live today – sedentary when our body is craving for activity, sleeping late while watching TV and giving our brain a lot of unnatural light and messing with it, eating a lot of chemicals and sugar that harm our body with every gram and facing high levels of stress and worry every day at work, commute, school and even in our free time.
No wonder really why our brain simply says “take a break” with some emergency stop ways such as anxiety, depression or other forms of “illness”. It’s crucial that we know what’s happening to us whenever anxiety or depression kicks in – so that we can take the appropriate measures as early as possible and give our body and brain the things they need to be getting.
Anxiety and depression symptoms
Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety and depression are the feeling of worry to extreme, being lost and with no direction. Not being in the mood for anything, having negative thoughts about everything in your life, personally, professionally and the outside world. Nothing seems to make you happy or bring joy to your life anymore. You lack confidence, you feel an impostor, and you think you don’t deserve anything nor you wish for anything – you just wait for something to happen that will just make you feel better. Friends and family, your job and colleagues – they all seem to be disconnected from you and anything you do seems fade, uninteresting, unimportant. You might hate your job, be unhappy about your relationships, unsatisfied with your lifestyle, lacking the mood for your passions.
And what really happens during anxiety and depression is that the body is somehow unable to face outside things anymore – there are a lot of factors that don’t go well anymore and the body’s regeneration mechanism simply shuts down. We then feel a total lack of adaptability and resilience, our immune system doesn’t respond well to bacterial and viral threats. We lack appetite or we eat too much, we’re always tired, and in the end, our cognition declines – we’re unable to solve problems or think rationally or this has become really hard. Only to get to the point when we think we will never get better and we’re unable to see the end of it all.
Anxiety and depression can start with milder forms – but even the worse ones can be tackled and cured with simple, but systematic and disciplined lifestyle changes. Of course, these will not replace seeking medical help if you’ve reached the point when you need it, but it will definitely help improve much faster even in cases of serious stages of anxiety, panic attacks and depression.
As mentioned previously, anxiety and depression causes are related to our very different and unhealthy lifestyle we live today – no matter the reasons why we do so. Our brain and body are not adapted to living as society lives today and therefore we need to take some steps back and give our body what it needs to function properly. Here are some of the changes that if done consistently, will help you improve and even cure these negative states.
- Relationships: people dealing with anxiety and depression tend to isolate themselves from everyone they used to be close with. Don’t do that. Talk to your friends and dear ones, tell them what you feel and ask them to support you by never leaving you alone. Alone time means you’ll think and worry and enter an infinite negativity loop that will only worsen your state.
- Job: balance is key here. Balance the amount of tasks you are taking on your plate, learn to say no and keep your stress level at a manageable state. And most importantly, leave on time as frequently as you can, to have time for your family and passions. We spend on average a third of our lives at work – our aim should be to make that place an agreeable one as well, so always ask yourself how can you achieve that?
- Thoughts: while dealing with anxiety and depression the hardest things to fight with are our negative thoughts. And they’re also the hardest thing to shift around and change – it needs a lot of discipline to do so. Therefore, what you need to do is have a journal with you all the times and write down all the negative thoughts you are having. Next to them, write one or two more realistic scenarios or solutions – the idea is to re-train your brain to think more positively and rational. An example of such a negative though would be that you’re feeling down and worthless because of the way you look – you feel you’re overweight and that makes you avoid people and situations that would otherwise make you happy. Well, one solution would be to meet a nutritionist and make a plan for a balanced eating and exercising, another thing could be to make a plan on your own or the third thing could be to get a personal trainer to help you exercise correctly and eat properly.
- Physical activity: as mentioned before, our body is built to hunt, run, walk very long distances, and nowadays we do nothing similar to that anymore. Physical activity helps the body produce the good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin – which help us fight the negative feelings anxiety and depression produce. On so many levels doing any kind of sport helps us, that I can only stress one more that you should practice something every day – even if it’s only walking. Just try to have 30 min of brisk walking to work or back – or anything that requires an effort.
- Passions: they help us have a goal, a purpose and a lot of will to pursue them. Engage in your passions as often as you can, and as regularly as possible. When dealing with anxiety and depression, make a priority to invest time in what you really love doing – besides helping alleviate the negativity, they also give you a purpose and energy to face the rest of your world.
- Eating healthy: no need to talk about this too much I assume. Processed food, sugar, caffeine and alcohol bring into the body chemicals that only harm it – including the brain functions. That’s why try to avoid or limit their intake as much as possible, and replace them with healthier choices – unprocessed foods, vegetable, organic meat, tea and natural sugar from fruits.
- Sleeping: getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep is what you need – and the more regular the hours, the better. Try waking up at the same time every day, and go to sleep at the same time every day. This way, you will have a regular healthy sleep that will be so beneficial in curing your depression or anxiety. More tips on this you can find here.
This was just a brief overview of the simple things you should be changing in order to give your body some time-out and fight anxiety and depression. The next level is to learn to control our environment and our reactions to it, which hormones help us and how to help our body produce more of those and how to build daily routines to help us be better soon. All of these in a course I’ll be launching soon – register to the newsletter if you want to be one of the firsts to find out about the course. The course will focus a lot not just on solutions, but also on understanding the causes of anxiety and depression and why are you feeling the way you are feeling. Its purpose is to make you see the big picture and take the steps to change your state by simple but consistent improvements in the way you’re thinking and living.
Meantime, do start to make little, but constant changes to your lifestyle, and you’ll soon see major improvements in the way you see your life and the world. And of course, feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.