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ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION – COPING TECHNIQUES

Anxiety and depression affects all walks of life. You can be a doctor, lawyer, accountant or shopkeeper no matter where you are or what you are and still suffer from these. Life is stressful enough that people turn to drug addiction, alcohol, smoking and self harm. But are there alternatives to that we can do to the least find hope to cope with these common mental health symptoms? Is better a better way to cope with these? In this discussion I would like to outline things that you can do to at least lessen the effects and find relief by using coping techniques. I am not here to advocate that you should not seek the help of a mental health professional but I would to outline to you what I teach my patients.

Exercise

It is well-known that exercise is no doubt a great stress reliever without a prescription. Adults who engage in regular physical activity experience reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms. Exercise increases the levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine which helps keeps us mentally healthy and fit. Studies on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety.

Regular exercise may help ease depression and anxiety by:

    • Releases Endorphins which are natural morphine like chemicals released by the brain during exercise which gives you that “high feeling” and is a pain reliever. Endorphins give you that sense of well being and hence reduced anxiety and depression.
    • Regular exercise gives that sense of well being and increases the flow of oxygen to your brain and body. Mentally it improves cognition and sharpness. I exercise early in the morning before work and I feel mentally sharp for the rest of the day. Some people like to exercise after work which can help you sleep because your body is tired.

Regular exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits, too. It can help you:

    • Improve confidence It gives you that confidence that” Hey it was not bad and after all.” It boosts confidence knowing that what seems impossible now seems possible. You feel better about your appearance
      Be more sociable Specially when you go for a group exercise it give you the chance to meet other people who maybe are also feeling anxious and depressed. This a good chance to go out with other people on social events, travel, dine together and the list goes on.
    • Cope in a healthy way Doing something positive to manage depression or anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Unhealthy coping habits such smoking, drinking alcohol and substance abuse which has detrimental effects on the mind and body can lead to job loss, marital and financial problems and homelessness.

 

There are literally many benefits of exercise other than reducing anxiety and depression. Here are some benefits:

  • maintain and lose weight Improved sleep
  • Decrease cardiac disease
  • Decrease risks of cancer
  • Control blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • Help you quit smoking
  • Strengthens muscle and bones
  • Strengthens your immune system
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved sexual health
  • Increased longevity

Eat a well balanced meal

As the old saying goes “You are what you eat.” What it boils down to is that what we eat matters for every aspect of our health, but especially our mental health. In my experience I have seen patients who are obese due to poor dietary choices. One could argue that being depressed makes us more likely to eat unhealthy foods. A well-balanced meal is the right choice to do. It has been proven that a diet that consists of a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grain, fish, olive oil, low-fat dairy and antioxidants and low intakes of animal foods is associated with a decreased risk of depression.

A diet that consists of a high consumption of red or processed meat, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes and high-fat gravy and low consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with an increased risk of depression.

I have advised my patients to eat small but frequent meals that way they can control their calorie intake and thus achieve weight control and avoids binge eating when it comes to lunch and dinner. Eat a carrot or a healthy snack in between before lunch and dinner. The benefit is that it keeps the blood sugar levels stable by keeping a steady energy level and a balanced appetite throughout the day making us less likely to eat foods high in sugar, fat and sodium and to maintain or loose weight.

So what are these foods that can help reduce anxiety and depression? Here they are:

  • Asparagus– people with anxiety and depression have low levels of folate. Asparagus boost mood.
  • Avocados – deficiencies in the B vitamins have been linked to increased anxiety. Avocados have Vitamin B6 that make neurotransmitters that includes serotonin.
  • Blueberries – it is rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C to provide anxiety relief.
  • Turkey – contains Tryptophan an amino acid also found in cow’s milk makes serotonin which helps regulate sleep and mood. Tryptophan is also found in cows milk because it helps you sleep. Remember your mother telling to drink your milk before you go to sleep. So give credit to your mother.
  • Almonds – contains Magnesium and an inadequate amount in the diet reduces the neurotransmitter serotonin
  • Salmon – contain omega-3 fatty acids that helps reduce anxiety. Other sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are chia seeds, soybeans, flax seeds and walnuts.

Take time out – Breathing, Meditation, Yoga, Massage Techniques

For many of us, relaxation means sitting in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day. Watching the new on TV can create stress and anxiety. To combat stress and anxiety, we need to activate the body’s natural relaxation response. You can do this by practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga and massage. By including these activities into your daily life can help reduce the damaging effects of stress, boost your energy and mood, and improve your mental and physical health.

  • Deep breathing – sit with your back straight. Place your hand on the abdomen and the other on your chest and breathe in through your nose and breathe out of your mouth. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you will be.
  • Meditation – it is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Benefits are better management of anxiety and depression, lowered blood pressure, better sleep, increased sense of well-being, improves focus and memory and improves cardiovascular health.
  • Yoga – it is an ancient practice that encourages relaxation and reduce stress. It incorporates breathing exercises, meditation and poses designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress.
  • Massage – it is the manipulation of soft tissues in the body. Massage techniques are commonly applied with hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearms, feet, or a device. The purpose of massage is generally for the treatment of body stress or pain. Massage increase blood flow to the tissues bringing rich oxygen. This form of therapy involves hands-on techniques to increase circulation, relieve tension, reduce stress, relieve anxiety, improve sleep, and promote relaxation throughout the entire body, as well as many other benefits.

Talk to someone

If you are suffering from anxiety and depression and becomes overwhelming it is best to seek professional help. Deciding who you want to talk to is an important first step. You need to trust them and to feel comfortable opening up to them.

Such services are EAP (Employee assistance Program) offered by most employers, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services), psychiatrist, crisis line, therapist, counselor and clergy. Other possibilities include close friends (who might relate to what you’re going through) family members (who can sometimes give you great support), teachers or youth workers (who are often good listeners and trained to deal with loads of issues).

Conclusion

Coping techniques that deal with anxiety and depression are exercise, eating a balanced meal, breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, massage and talking to someone. Of course there are other coping techniques that are available out there. Anxiety and depression can affect all walks life young and old, rich and poor. The lesson here is that you are not alone in this. If you feel overwhelmed, stressed or depressed use the above techniques and better yet seek professional help. My last word for you here is that you are too blessed to be stressed.

If you have any comments or questions on the above topic, please comment below as I would love to hear from you. Thank you !

 


16 responses to “ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION – COPING TECHNIQUES”

  1. Louise says:

    I totally agree with all the points you have made here, exercise, diet, rest are all important in alleviating anxiety and depression.

    I had a lot of years suffering with both and managed to control it with all of the above. I work in gardens and I find being in gardens working with nature is so good for my mental well-being. Good exercise too. One other thing that has really helped with anxiety also is Reiki.

    All the Best

    Louise

    • Alex says:

      Good morning Louise ! My website is still under construction and still working on it. Your comments is a testimony to others who are suffering from anxiety and depression. I preach what I teach to my patients – Yoga, deep breathing, meditation, massage therapy and reflexology too ! I appreciate your comments as this a problem not only in the US but in conjunction with the opioid epidemic which has skyrocketed. 

      Thanks for the revIew and hope to chat wIth you soon !

      God bless you !

      Alex 

  2. Divican says:

    I can say sincerely I have learnt a lot from this topic. As you have said for me when I relax is when I am watching news on a television after a stressful day of work. From your explanation I am going to spare my time to relax. I may ask you a question; what if I work the for six days and spare one relaxing, doing nothing at all, can this help me to compensate working the whole week without relaxing? Which time of the day do you advice to take the exercise?

    • Alex says:

      Hi Divican and thanks for your review. My friend we live in a world where there is too much bad news out there. I have stopped myself from watching TV and just immersed myself into listening to positive uplifting music to calm my stressful day. I am in the healthcare field and I get burned out after seeing so many patients in a 10 hour shift 4 days a week.

      As an answer to your question about sparing one day after working doing nothing at all is to give a much time as possible to relax the mind and body. Our minds can only take so much information and our bodies need to recuperate. If you do this you will feel much better the next fully recharged mentally and physically. But how do you do thIs in a busy world. The old saying is “Just do it.” But it takes discipline and keeping a schedule to follow through lIke settIng aside 30 mIns to one hour a day to exercIse whIch leads to your next questIon.

      Which tIme of the day Is best to exercIse? Personally I wake up early in the mornIng to do thIs before I head to work. But make sure you get enough sleep at least 8 hours to get fully recharged. Some people exercise after work which it helps them sleep for some it may not work.

      Cheers for a better mind and body !

      Thanks again for the review.

      Alex

  3. Selenity Jade says:

    Excellent article detailing quite a few ways to combat depression and anxiety. I myself suffer from anxiety and I can definitely say being active does help. Switching jobs to a very active one has helped me tremendously. Other ways I have found are to reduce caffeine intake. Caffeine is your enemy if you have anxiety! Also sleep. You have to get enough sleep. But depression suffers sometimes sleep TOO much so it’s a balancing act. Another huge help is a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D helps mood, AND helps other vitamins get used by your body, like B12 and stuff. Crazy, but I’m on 5000 IUs (plus what is in my multivitamin and calcium supplement) to help with calcium absorbing, and I have noticed a huge difference!

    I seriously recommend a pet. My doctor recommended a service dog at one point, but it wasn’t financially feasible for me. But I got my two cats listed as companion animals. I’ve been both with and without a pet, and I find my anxiety does much better with a pet. It also helps depression! 

    Music is also an excellent relaxation technique my therapist suggested.  But outside of my two cats and job, the best coping mechanism I developed is having a hobby. Mine is reading and writing, but having any hobby helps someone focus on things outside their heads. TV doesn’t work. That’s not a hobby. 🙂

    I have reduced my medications just doing these things. I only need my antianxiety meds MAYBE once a week now, as I cope so well. I’m also looking into yoga for relaxation and pain relief. We’ll see how it goes! 

    Thanks for the section on foods, though. I’m definitely going to try those out. Outside of reducing caffeine, I haven’t paid much attention to diet. So thanks! 

    • Alex says:

      Hi Selenity Jade ! Thanks for your excellent review and sharing your experience about your anxiety and depression. The coping techniques I have outlined there will definitely help you. I can also add listening to nature sounds on the background together with deep breathing exercises and practicing imagery will help reduce anxiety and depression. 

      I ask my patients who suffer from anxiety and depression what are their coping techniques some of them will say ” I call my friends, go out for a walk, pet my dog, read ebooks, yoga, massage and meditation.” There is no right or wrong answer but whatever it takes I will advocate but minus smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Prescribed medications has its benefits and side effects like weight gain, disturbed sleep, disturbed appetite, etc. 

      I advise my patIents the key to being mentally fIt and physIcally fIt is to eat a balanced dIet, exercIse, take your medIcatIons as prescrIbed and see your doctor for an annual physIcal exam. A sound mind is a sound body.

      I advocate is goal setting. We all have goals. Use the SMART method – Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time driven. Every New Year the most common goal is to lose weight but how many of us stick on to that. You want to break your big goals into smaller goals and be honest about it. The point Is to stIck to it and do not waver. 

      Thanks again for the review.

      Alex 

  4. tcheck says:

    Good insight on a huge problem Alex seems like an easy cure but it takes a lot of time and energy that most, for some reason chose, to avoid. Exercise these days take on a different twist with video games and a less active lifestyle is becoming normal, I like the healthy food breakdown and the, relax and take some times off when you get stressed out advice,

    Anxiety is a tough one to pinpoint but depression is a problem that needs to be addressed asap thanks for the good read and insight, T, C 

    • Alex says:

      Hi tcheck !

      Thanks for your review on Anxiety and Depression – Coping Techniques 

      Yes I agree it is easier said than done. With the advancement in technology and social media we are glued to our computers and cell phone that we neglect exercise and not get enough sleep. Hypertension, diabetes and cardiac disease are on the rise in this country. We do not exercise common among people with anxiety and depression, not eating the right healthy foods, smoking, substance abuse and drinking alcohol. There so may causes of anxiety and depression.The truth is how we handle them. Are we goIng to let It control us or we control them? By use of the copIng technIques I have outlIned it will at least help or better yet is to seek professional help through counseling or addiction treatment center referral. 

      Alex 

  5. Colleen says:

    Alex, you’ve given a lot of helpful tips and suggestions. We really are too blessed to be stressed! You have elaborated on very effective, healthy coping techniques. Having gone through a variety of losses and traumatic events, I have learned that I feel better physically when I choose healthy foods, regular exercise, and spend time with my friends and serving others. The things you’ve suggested in this post are spot on! 🙂

    I quickly learned that going to the gym to relieve stress was not as helpful for me as being outdoors or in quiet environments. Fresh air does wonders to clear my mind as I appreciate the beautiful things God has blessed me to see and experience. So for me, walking and praying (esp. in the early morning stillness) or walking near water are all very therapeutic. However, if the overwhelm is too great, then I think it’s a good idea to seek the help of a Christian counselor to gain a different perspective. There should be no stigma about seeking professional help, because we are to bear one another’s burdens. Sometimes life events can leave us overwhelmed, so talking with a trained professional (when we’re ready) can be very beneficial.

    The same is true with having adequate, quality sleep and eating the kind of foods you mentioned. That’s critical for me, so my body can rebuild itself, and so that my immune system and my energy can be replenished, which helps me think clearly and be more productive. And yes, avocados, fruits, veggies, fish, nuts, and salads are some of my favorite foods.

    Thanks for the great post, Alex! Your expertise shines through! 🙂

    • Alex says:

      Hi Colleen !

      Thank you for your excellent revIew of AnxIety and Depression- Coping Techniques. I really appreciate that it will help you in the long run. Yes choosing the right foods, exercise, spend time with friends and serving others. For me serving others gives me the joy that I can make a difference in someone’s life. I practice what I preach. 

      Yes we are too blessed to be stressed! God has created us in his own image and we are to protect our mind and  body wIth the resources He has created – foods we eat, the fresh aIr, the oceans, the good people He surrounds us but yet over the years man altered the things He has created.

      Yes I agree that there is a big difference if life becomes overwhelming it is better to seek a counselor. Whether It be a ChrIstIan counselor or somebody that you know who specIalIzes In mental health. 

      Yes I agree that sleep is essential so that you can function the next day but too many of us are not getting enough sleep. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, financial problems, etc can all affect sleep. The advise is to seek help, relax, meditate, pray, do breathing exercises, listen to relaxing music to prepare your mind to sleep. Many resort to sleep  medications with all of its side effects. 

  6. Mehedi says:

    Hi Alex

    This is a really great post. I’m really glad to read your informative article. I’ve read your article very well. I really appreciate your article. I agree with you. I particularly like the stressing of natural approaches. I work away from home during the week and it’s often tough to deal with the separation, loneliness, and isolation. It’s not far from home, but far enough not to be home every night.
    I find exercise, good diet and when I am away, taking time for myself are necessary.
    One thing to absolutely avoids …alcohol. Nothing makes you feel worse than feeling sad AND sick. Alcohol is a natural depressant, which will dig the sadness hole deeper. Even if you drink with friends, you always end the night alone (in your own head).
    Best regards
    #Mehedi

    • Alex says:

      Hi MehedI,

      Thank you so much for your comments on AnxIety and DepressIon – CopIng TechnIques

      There are natural ways to cope wIth anxIety & depressIon but not too many people do not know about It. They resort to drugs and alcohol whIch results destroyIng lives, incarceratIon, marriage problems and homelessness.

      Exercise, eating a balanced meal, taking your prescribed medications and visit you doctor for an annual physical checkup Is the wisest thIng to do. But sadly as I have seen not too many people specially sufferIng from anxIety and depressIon do this. 

      I am glad you avoid alcohol and you did the right thing. Alcohol can kill people, wreck families and worse of all can lead to liver cancer just like smoking can lead to lung cancer.

      Thanks again and I hope I have helped you because to be mentally fit is also to be physical fit !

      Alex

  7. Kristoff says:

    Thank you for the commitment and advocacy, Alex. Wishing you more success on this. Mabuhay ka! —Kristoff

    • Alex says:

      Hi Kristoff,

      Thank you for visiting my website. I am here as advocate for people suffering from behavioral health issues whether it be anxiety, depression, substance abuse, PTSD, obesity or sleep problems. I want to motivate and inspire others that there are alternatives to behavioral health issues other than prescribed medications. If you have read my blog on Anxiety and Depression – Coping Techniques I outline ways to deal with this. Please share the article to others who may benefit from it.

      Alex,RN

  8. Marilou says:

    This is a good idea, people need to take care of ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally most of all to trust God..
    thanks for sharing and God bless

    • Alex says:

      Malou thanks for the reply. I totally agree with you on this. The Lord is number one as he is the Great Physician who heals. Please schare my blog on Anxiety and Depression – Coping Techniques to others.

      Alex

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