These days, we see more and more emphasis on mental health—particularly where topics such as depression, stress, and anxiety are concerned. People are more aware of the psychological aspects that affect and sometimes govern our lives. You see it on campuses and hospitals. You see it in the digital space, such as in social media.
Despite this, it seems many doctors still prefer to treat these mental conditions with drugs. These drugs can do more harm in the long run, yet medication remains the go-to approach as opposed to tackling the true roots of the issues.
More than any pill that you can take, sometimes changing some parts of your life can go a long way towards freeing your mind from the chains of stress and anxiety. As someone who has struggled with those issues in the past, here are some of the actions that have helped me recover.
You can try these and see if they work for you, or relay the information to people you care about who may also be in the same boat.
The root causes
From one person to another, the root causes of anxiety, depression, or stress will vary. However, one common thread that I’ve found, based on the people I know, has to do with a general lack of direction in life.
When one’s life feels out of whack and not on some predetermined path, it’s hard for people to set goals. Without goals, there is no sense of achievement or accomplishment.
It’s not an ideal situation. What’s more, if you combine it with sleep deprivation, isolation, a sedentary lifestyle, or poor diet – that’s a surefire recipe for depression.
That said, what can be done to address these root causes? Here are four natural ways through which you can gain back control.
- A fresh perspective
One great way to rid yourself of anxiety is to tweak your mindset. For example, if you’re feeling frustration over where you are currently in life, evaluate how you perceive success and accomplishment. You might be too focused on what everyone else seems to be doing—social media is great at throwing stuff like this in our faces.
Set your sights on the here and now, and work solely to achieve your dreams. It doesn’t matter how far up the corporate ladder your former high school classmate is, or that your ex is now living the life in Japan. Your only concern should be you.
In order to focus on the present, you need to stop over-thinking your past and future. Don’t pre-empt yourself by getting caught up in things that may or may not happen in the future; at the same time, it’s not good if you’re also too concerned over past events or actions. Don’t worry about the what-ifs or the what-may-have been?—the present is the time in which you need to make things happen.
- Contact with the outside world
While it’s tempting and easy to shut yourself off from the world when you’re experiencing stress or depression, sometimes isolation just won’t do you any good. Make sure you surround yourself with the love and care of friends and family.
You can start small; maybe just go get a cup of coffee with a few friends. Maybe you can hang out with a group you share a common interest with. Do some team sports, even. By the way, Facebook chats don’t count, okay?
Being with people can aid your perspective and help improve your mood. There are people who will be able to lift your spirits up just by being in the same room as you. At the same time, you will also see people going through their own problems and life struggles. Both of these types can inspire you and help you feel better.
- Healthy diet and regular exercise
A healthy body helps mental health. It’s why changing your diet and making an effort to exercise will do wonders for you and your mind.
If you don’t have a healthy, balanced diet, you will suffer from low serotonin levels. Since serotonin has a considerable effect on mental health, having low levels of this chemical in the brain can lead to depression. Make sure you get your daily servings of green leafy vegetables, good fats, and whole grains – a good diet has been shown to help improve dopamine and serotonin levels in the body.
As for regular exercise, not only will you stay active and get fit, you will also get a surge of endorphins with every workout. Endorphins are hormones in the brain and nervous system which inhibit pain signals and also produce feelings of euphoria, including satisfaction and excitement.
- Enough sleep
A considerable part of your overall health and well-being involves getting enough sleep. It won’t help any negative feelings get better if you’re always exhausted and sleep-deprived. How can you rid of your stress and anxiety if you’re always in need of some shut-eye?
Of course, it could be those same negative feelings causing you to lose sleep in the first place. You may have to turn to external tools to help you get the right amount of sleep every day. Things like sleep apps are convenient—you can track your sleep patterns, induce a sleep-conducive environment through background sounds, or have an alarm that eases you into the process of waking up instead of startling your consciousness into forced wakefulness.
You might want to cut back on the consumption of coffee as well. Kick your midday venti habit. See if alternatives like green tea or even turmeric tea can give you the energy boost you need to function.
Once you’ve tweaked your mindset, spent more time with people who matter, eaten the right foods, exercised more regularly, and given yourself a good amount of sleep, you might find that it all improves your life. Your stress, anxiety, or depression may not be gone overnight, but the important thing is to get better day by day.