Stressed About ‘cost Of Living Crisis’ 10 Simple Ways To Ease Anxiety And Depression
ByStephanie Pappaspublished 17 February 22
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic turmoil have led to increased rates of anxiety and depression.
If you’re feeling anxious or depressed because you can’t afford to fuel up your car or buy groceries, you aren’t alone. With the cost of living at an all-time high in the U.K., and individuals still reeling from pandemic lockdowns, who could blame you? Though you can’t change the economy, there are simple actions you can take to stay sane and even boost your mental health.
Dips in mental health for a variety of reasons have been stark across the globe. In Great Britain, 17% of adults reported experiencing depression in summer 2021, up from about 10% pre-pandemic. The U.S. has seen a similar disruption in mental health: According to statistics published in April 2021 in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the percentage of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression in the U.S. rose from 36.5% to 41.5% between August 2020 and February 2021.
Anxiety and depression can seriously impact a person’s well-being, and they should be taken seriously. If you are in the U.K. and struggling, help is available via the Shout Crisis Text Line or via Samaritans’ free helpline at 116 123. The charity Mind offers guidance on how to find a therapist through the NHS or through charity organizations.
How Can You Help Yourself
Stress is a natural reaction to many situations in life, such as work, family, relationships and money problems.
We mentioned earlier on that a moderate amount of stress can help us perform better in challenging situations,34 but too much or prolonged stress can lead to physical problems. This can include lower immunity levels,35 digestive and intestinal difficulties, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome ,36 or mental health problems such as depression.37 It is therefore important that we manage our stress and keep it at a healthy level to prevent long-term damage to our bodies and minds.
Tap Into Your Spirituality
Religion can be an impactful source of support for many people dealing with depression, but there is no need to join a church, synagogue, or mosque unless you wish to. Simple daily practices such as meditation or adding to a list of things you’re grateful can help boost mood and overall well-being.
Meditation can have a range of beneficial effects such as lowering stress levels and helping people to become more aware of their thoughts and reactions.
Research indicates that an intervention called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy , which combines elements of cognitive behavioral therapy with mindfulness meditation, can be helpful in treating depression and preventing future relapses of symptoms.
Studies also suggest that different types of mindfulness meditative practices can also be effective in the treatment of depression.
There are many different types of meditation, but you can get started with a simple meditative exercise with these steps:
Recommended Reading: How To Deal With Stress And Anxiety Naturally
Why Is Dealing With Depression So Difficult
Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to take the steps that will help you to feel better. Sometimes, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like exercising or spending time with friends, can seem exhausting or impossible to put into action.
Its the Catch-22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There is a big difference, however, between something thats difficult and something thats impossible. While recovering from depression isnt quick or easy, you do have more control than you realizeeven if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there. You may not have much energy, but by drawing on all your reserves, you should have enough to take a walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one, for example.
Taking the first step is always the hardest. But going for a walk or getting up and dancing to your favorite music, for example, is something you can do right now. And it can substantially boost your mood and energy for several hourslong enough to put a second recovery step into action, such as preparing a mood-boosting meal or arranging to meet an old friend. By taking the following small but positive steps day by day, youll soon lift the heavy fog of depression and find yourself feeling happier, healthier, and more hopeful again.
What Can Prolonged Stress Lead To
Stress is a natural reaction to many situations in life, such as work, family, relationships and money problems.
We mentioned earlier on that a moderate amount of stress can help us perform better in challenging situations,34 but too much or prolonged stress can lead to physical problems. This can include lower immunity levels,35 digestive and intestinal difficulties, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome ,36 or mental health problems such as depression.3 This means it is important to manage your stress and keep it at a healthy level to prevent long-term damage to your body and mind.
Also Check: Where Can You Get Stress Balls
People With Social Anxiety Don’t Want To Be Alone
2. Worry vs. Problem Solving
Worrying is repetitive and unproductive, but it can often feel like youre working through problems. Real problem solving, in contrast, is a focused way of finding solutions. When youre worrying today, figure out whether theres an actual problem to solve or if your mind is simply spinning its wheels. Then aim to redirect your mental energy toward productive problem-solving.
3. Find Strength
When you find yourself hoping for an easy, problem-free day, shift your focus to how youll respond. Say to yourself, May I find strength to meet every challenge. May I find courage to face whatever comes my way. May I find grace in all I do. Problems are inevitable. How you handle them is up to you.
4. Define Your Best Life
When youre tempted to avoid something today because of anxiety, ask yourself what kind of life you want to have lived. One defined by fear and avoidance? One where you played it safe, even when it meant missing out on things you cared about? Or a life of defying fear and inertia to do what mattered to you? Plan to take one action today that your future self will thank you for.
5. Take the Wheel
6. Love Conquers Fear
7. Change the Conversation
8. Face Your Fears
9. Move Through Procrastination
10. Maximize Outdoor Time
11. Practice Kindness
12. Can I Open to This?
How To Manage Stress Anxiety And Depression
Anxiety and depression go hand in hand. People with social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety disorder, or other similar disorders spend most of their time in a highly agitated state.
In recent years, mental health issues have been on the rise. This is because of the amount of competition that a person faces in their life.
People are more worried about their job, money, and other responsibilities today than they were before. These daily stresses have given rise to several health issues among people.
Not everyone is capable of managing and handling stress efficiently, and often, depression sets in.
You May Like: Why Is Life So Stressful
How To Manage Your Symptoms
In addition to a formal treatment plan from your doctor, these strategies may help you find relief from symptoms. Its important to know, though, that these tips may not work for everyone, and they may not work each time.
The goal of managing depression and anxiety is to create a series of treatment options that can all work together to help, to some degree, whenever you need to use them.
Flex Your Gratitude Muscles
When everything looks bleak, it’s not easy to find a silver lining. But the very act of searching for that silver lining practicing gratitude can help make the world a brighter place. Inone now-famous experiment, researchers asked participants to keep journals noting either daily hassles, things they were thankful for, or neutral life events. The participants also tracked their moods. People who listed things they were grateful for over a 21-day period reported more positive moods and fewer negative moods than those who listed neutral events. They also reported feeling more satisfied with their lives overall and more optimistic. Other studies have since found similar effects. For example, expressing gratitude within a relationship can boost people’s happiness in that relationship, according to 2012 research.
Don’t Miss: Where Do You Feel Stress In Your Body
Tips For Living With Depression
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Everything feels more challenging when you’re dealing with depression. Going to work, socializing with friends, or even just getting out of bed can feel like a struggle.
But there are some things you can do to cope with your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Here are eight tips for living with depression.
This video has been medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD.
Smoking Drinking And Drug Use And Stress
You might find that you smoke, drink alcohol or use recreational drugs to reduce stress. However, this often makes problems worse.28
Research shows that smoking may increase feelings of anxiety.29 Nicotine creates an immediate, temporary, sense of relaxation, which can then lead to withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Similarly, you may use alcohol as a means to manage and cope with difficult feelings, and to temporarily reduce feelings of anxiety. However, alcohol may make existing mental health problems worse. It can make you feel more anxious and depressed in the long run.30 It is important to know the recommended limits31 and drink responsibly.
Prescription drugs, such as tranquillisers and sleeping tablets, which may have been prescribed for very good reasons, can also cause mental and physical health problems if used for long periods of time.32 Street drugs, such as cannabis or ecstasy, are usually taken for recreational purposes. For some people, problems start as their bodies get used to repeated use of the drug. This leads to the need for increased doses to maintain the same effect.33
You May Like: Why Am I So Stressed All The Time
Connect With Others And Break Negative Thought Patterns
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted social lives, Americans were reporting high levels of loneliness.According to a survey commissioned by the health insurer Cigna, 61% of Americans reported feeling lonely in 2019.
That’s bad news for mental health, because loneliness is linked to depressive symptoms as well as a whole host of health problems, from poor sleep to poorer immune function toearly death. Research does show that loneliness can be beaten back, though: Interventions such as support groups or increased opportunities for social interaction can help people make connections, according to a paper in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, but there were even better results for programs that helped people build social skills and break negative thought patterns about socialization. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps unravel distorted thought patterns such as the idea that surely everyone at that dinner party secretly hated you was one promising intervention, that review found.
Know That Today Isnt Indicative Of Tomorrow
Todays mood, emotions, or thoughts dont belong to tomorrow.
If you were unsuccessful at getting out of bed or accomplishing your goals today, remember that you havent lost tomorrows opportunity to try again.
Give yourself the grace to accept that while some days will be difficult, some days will also be great. Try to look forward to tomorrows fresh start.
Read Also: How To Stop From Stressing
Symptoms Of Anxiety In Men
Anxiety is more than having sweaty palms and butterflies in your stomach. Symptoms of anxiety can include ongoing feelings of worry, fear and impending doom that are so severe they interfere with your ability to work, maintain relationships and get a decent nights sleep. Physical signs of anxiety may include:
- pounding or racing heart
- thinking about death or suicide.
Learn To Recognize Negative Thinking
Sometimes these thoughts can be obvious, such as times when you berate or criticize yourself. Other times, they can be more subtle. You might find yourself engaging in things like catastrophizing or all-or-nothing thinking.
Catastrophizing involves always anticipating negative outcomes. All-or-nothing thinking means that you think of things as either successes or failures with no in-between. Once you get better at recognizing these cognitive patterns, you can start working on some healthier replacements.
Read Also: Can Stress Make You Feel Sick
Small Steps Big Impact
Depression can drain your energy, leaving you feeling empty and fatigued. This can make it difficult to muster the strength or desire to seek treatment.
However, there are small steps you can take to help you feel more in control and improve your overall sense of well-being.
Read on to learn how to incorporate these strategies in a way that makes sense for you.
Accept The Things You Can’t Change
Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. Try to concentrate on the things you do have control over.
“If your company is going under and is making redundancies, for example, there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Professor Cooper.
“In a situation like that, you need to focus on the things that you can control, such as looking for a new job.”
You May Like: How Do You Reduce Stress
Where Can I Find Clinical Trials For Depression
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so others may receive better help in the future.
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and around the country conduct many studies with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to your health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit NIMH’s clinical trials information.
Why Does Anxiety Lead To Depression
Most people dont even give a second thought to things and do what theyre doing, having fun, and enjoying themselves. People with anxiety disorders, including myself, know that these thoughts of nervousness and worrying are irrational, and most of the time, there isnt anything to worry about, but we continue to suffer.
As per Dr. Sally R. Connolly, LCSW who says, Its a cycle. When you get anxious and start to worry, you start to feel bad about it. In turn, depression starts to set in.
Don’t Miss: Can Stress Cause Arthritis To Flare Up
How To Control Stress Anger And Depression
Life is unpredictable, and you will often face hardship and disappointment. During such times it is quite common to become tense. But excessive tension can lead to stress, anger, and depression which is harmful to your body. This article will share some strategies to control your anxiety, anger, and depression.
Practice Breathing Technique
Breathing is considered the most effective technique for managing your anger, depression, and stress. It is a useful method of overcoming your anxiety, and a well-recognised psychological counsellor recommends this method. There are many breathing techniques to calm yourself. It would be best if you settled down with a breathing technique that you are comfortable with.
Let the Stress and Anger Go Away From Your Body
Expose your emotions out while you are exercising. Workout in the morning, involve yourself in some physical activity, it helps to release good hormones from your body. However, you should avoid doing some exercise that consists of the expression of anger.
Make Yourself Calm
Practising breathing techniques helps you to visualise yourself calm. After taking a few deep breaths, you can close your eyes and picture yourself calm. To do this, you need to relax your body and imagine yourself in a tension-free situation by making your mind calm and focused. You can take it one step further by creating a mental image of what it feels when you are calm. Next time when you are angry, imagine the picture again.
What Are The Treatments For Depression
Many helpful treatments for depression are available. Treatment for depression can help reduce symptoms and shorten how long the depression lasts. Treatment can include getting therapy and/or taking medications. Your doctor or a qualified mental health professional can help you determine what treatment is best for you.
- Therapy. Many people benefit from psychotherapyalso called therapy or counseling.7,8 Most therapy lasts for a short time and focuses on thoughts feelings and issues that are happening in your life now. In some cases understanding your past can help but finding ways to address what is happening in your life now can help you cope and prepare you for challenges in the future.With therapy, youll work with your therapist to learn skills to help you cope with life, change behaviors that are causing problems and find solutions. Do not feel shy or embarrassed about talking openly and honestly about your feelings and concerns. This is an important part of getting better.Some common goals of therapy include:
- Getting healthier
- Making sense of past painful events
- Identifying things that worsen your depression
- Having better relationships with family and friends
- Understanding why something bothers you and creating a plan to deal with it
Don’t Miss: How To Relieve Stress From Eyes