For the last 10 years, I’ve have mixed success with fighting depression (and more recently, anxiety). Recently I’ve been working with a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) organisation in the UK, and it has helped me realise that I knew what I had to do all along, I just had to put it into action.
Here are the 5 tips I’ve used myself to help improve my mood and calm my anxiety. It’s what has worked for me, and there’s no guarantee it will work for you, but I recommend giving them a try.
Sit Less. Move More.
Just 30 minutes of walking a day is enough to clear your thoughts and help you feel better about yourself. And if you want, you can always move more. There’re no downsides!
If you’re already doing 30 minutes, why not try doing a little more? Or mix it up with some bodyweight fitness to really get the happy chemicals going!
Spend 5 minutes at the beginning of each day laying out what you need to do. That way, you won’t spend hours staring blankly and wondering what to do next.
I do this in Reminders on my iPhone, so that it syncs to my Mac as well. But it’s up to you what app you use. It just has to be something you can quickly dump tasks into and then prioritise or organise as needed. Pen and paper works fine.
Write Specific To-Dos
Use a to-do list. And write specific to-dos. Examples include “Write 400 words about mental health” or “Cook Sausage and Mash for dinner”. The more specific, the better. And remember to mark them off as you do them, so you can look back and see what you’ve achieved.
Again, I use Reminders on my iPhone to do this. But the specific app or method is up to you.
Focus On One Thing
Depression and anxiety both impact your ability to concentrate and focus. By setting aside time to do each thing, you’ll be able to concentrate more. Don’t juggle, focus!
And if you’re having trouble focussing on that one task, give it a few minutes. If you’re still just staring at what needs to be done, get up and move around. Go get a glass of water. And once you’re refreshed, try again.
“Mindfulness” is the posh word we seem to give to the activity of spending some time doing some focussed breathing. Whether you download an app or use a timer, just breathe for a minute or two each day.
I use the Breathe app on my Apple Watch, and have set it to send me a couple of reminders through the day. Calm and Headspace also work for some, or you can use just a timer or manually count. 6-7 breaths a minute works well for me.
I hope some of this helps
Anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions can be hard to deal with, as they live in the part of us that make us, us. But, I’ve found that these simple tips have helped me on the days when I’m feeling bad.
And remember, you’re not the only one going through this. There are others. And we’re here when you need us. Check out Geek Mental Help Week 2016 for more content and resources.