5 Self-Help Activities We LOVE for Anxiety & Depression in 2023!
Combating anxiety and depression is NOT easy. Here are 5 self-help activities to reduce the overwhelming patterns of feelings and thoughts.
Studies by the Anxiety & Depression Association of American (ADAA.org), show that 264 million people, Worldwide, live with depression. Furthermore, in 2017, around 17.3 million adults (18+) in the U.S. had experienced at least one major depressive episode (the most common form of depression), in the last year.
Combined with the assessment that anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental illness in the U.S. Affecting 40 million adults (18+), every year. It’s not surprising for an individual who suffers from depression to also experience an anxiety disorder. But, to be clear, depression and anxiety are not the same. Although the symptoms are similar, such as irritability and nervousness, each issue is unique regarding the causes, as well as, the emotional and behavioral implications.
Now, if you are reading this post, I’m assuming it’s for reason. Please know, you are not alone (not to sound too cliché). These numbers were posted back in 2017 and with the most recent events (i.e. COVID-19), just how much have these numbers changed? Likewise, what about the individuals who silently suffer?
This is Why Self-Help for Depression & Anxiety is Crucial!
Early on in life (around 9), I knew I suffered from anxiety and depression. But, I did not actively seek treatment and wasn’t clinically diagnosed until well after I was 30 (I think 33).
For years, I suffered silently, and although I reached a breaking point that was the catalyst or spark to my Spiritual Journey of Self-Discovery. I am still in awe of the many years I spent, not knowing how to cope or fundamentally understand the emotional, mental and physical damage, these disorders can cause.
As a quick disclaimer, below are activities that I have participated in to supplement treatment of my own Mental Health disorders. Yet, one size does not fit all. If you are experiencing severe depression and anxiety, please seek medical attention from a licensed Therapist.
5 SIMPLE, YET EFFECTIVE SELF-HELP ACTIVITIES FOR DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
1. Bibliotherapy (Reading Therapy):
A book lover, I was excited when I stumbled upon the term Bibliotherapy. Recognized as a therapeutic approach that uses literature to support good mental health (goodtherapy.org). The simple act of reading a book is a cost-effective way to temporarily escape from the unpleasant behaviors that come with anxiety and depression.
Whether you are into fiction or non-fiction, others perks of Bibliotherapy include (but are not limited to):
- An increase in self-esteem
- Provide guidance on ways to heal
- Assist in connecting and building relationships
- Improve sleep quality (I strive to read every night before bed)
- Reduces stress and anxiety by slowing down mental thoughts
- Diminish symptoms of depression by allowing an individual to gain perspective and feeling (i.e. empathy for characters)
In general, books are an underutilized, inspiring and invaluable resource when it comes to self-help activities for depression and anxiety. Especially when you consider audio-books, which brings me to the next tip.
FREE PRINTABLE: Bibliotherapy Book Challenge to begin your reading journey back to mental wellness.
First and foremost, there are a bunch of self-help podcasts for depression and anxiety. If you are seeking recommendations, google search “Self Help Podcast for Depression and Anxiety,” and you’ll find pages of the “BEST” 10, 11, 15, 20 … 21 (etc.) podcasts. To be easy, I’ll mention 3 that I appreciate, while noting a few of the mental health benefits.
With easy accessibility and a variety of topics to choose from, the benefits of podcasts are very similar, if not the same, as Bibliotherapy.
Allowing the listener to either tune into an in-depth discussion, which I opt for when I listen to the Crime Junkie podcast. Or, learn new healing techniques, like the Tapping Solution, which I discovered via Dear Gabby. Podcasts are another great way to temporarily pause unpleasant behavior patterns and practice the art of being in the present moment.
Evade Dwelling in the Past & Running Wild to the Future.
Other benefits of listening to podcasts include the opportunity to shut off visual media (i.e. the news or social media). Which can be damaging to an individual who is sensitive to external factors. Additionally, podcasts also encourage the imagination and activate neglected parts of our brain (i.e. active listening).
Moreover, it’s also said that certain podcast topics can stimulate certain parts of the brain. As an example, when I listen to the podcast – Manifest Your Best Life with Sarah Prout, which occasionally has meditations, a chemical called oxytocin is released, which is known to reduce stress and Anxiety.
3. Join Communities or Self-Help Groups Online:
Another benefit of listening to podcasts, brings me to the next activity of joining a self-help group online. Nowadays, many podcasts offer the listener a membership, for a minimal fee, to join a community of like minded individuals (common platforms include Facebook and Zoom).
I personally consider these communities, or self-help groups online, to be very similar to a group therapy session or attending an in-person support group. In general, all aim to provide assistance in easing and reducing the discomfort of anxiety and depression.
“The belief behind self-help groups is that the shared experience of group members is highly valuable in the promotion of understanding and healing”
By joining a community online, not only am I able to connect with the host, who in some cases is an actual Therapist (or specialized professional). But, I can also connect with other contributing members who are experiencing very similar life situations and possibly live thousands of miles away.
Not only does this provide me with a sense of belonging, but being in the comfort of my own home, provides me with a space that feels safe enough to be open and vulnerable. Similarly, without the need to worry about privacy, I am given an opportunity to speak freely, without fear or judgement, in order to receive help.
Vulnerability is Essential for Freedom.
When I experienced group therapy, it was uncomfortable. I found it hard to speak face to face with an individual who clearly did not relate. An introvert, it was even more difficult to speak in front of a group with large starring eyes. I felt judged and very afraid to open up.
Especially when one lady complained about a young girl in the group, who she felt, did not have any real-life problems. Safe to say, through-out each session, I sat in silence. Although the intentions behind the group were good, the experience was questionable.
4. Download a Hypnotherapy App:
In the summer of 2020, I came upon a Hypnotherapist by the name of Grace Smith, who coined the term Hypnotherapy, as – meditation with a goal.
Still in the process of trying to figure out if a meditation practice was for me, I was instantly intrigued. So much so, I literally ran and purchased her self-hypnosis book – Close Your Eyes, Get Free (which by the way, includes access to self-hypnosis audio).
Exploring a relaxed (theta) state to work on habitual patterns, programmed in our subconscious minds.
After poking around her website, I was really excited to discover a Self-Hypnosis App – Grace Space Hypnosis. With this particular app, you can listen to a hypnosis series or choose a single customizable session. Likewise, it allows an individual to work on different mental health issues, making the benefits of this self-help activity endless. Although there are other hypnotherapy apps to consider, I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the work and mission of Grace Smith.
5. Walking in Nature:
One of the best self-help activities for depression and anxiety is movement (you may call it, exercise). Up for an occasional run, I typically opt for a natural and easy way to move my body, like yoga or walking.
The mental health benefits of walking prove to be an effective and quick way to improve your emotional well-being. Moreover, the psychological benefits of spending time in nature can serve as a welcoming distraction away from problems.
While walking, try bringing your attention to your surroundings, breaking away from negative thought patterns that feed depression and anxiety. A two for one deal, other benefits of walking in nature are:
- Stress relief achieved by calming nerves.
- Sleep improvement, reducing the feeling of fatigue.
- Increasing mental alertness and/or concentration (more focused).
- A release of the feel good chemicals in the brain, leading to natural mood enhancement.
So there you have it folks, 5 self-help activities we love for anxiety and depression. Defined as the use of one’s own efforts and resources to achieve things without relying on others. Self-help is highly encouraged for living in a world of unexpected circumstances beyond our control. Similarly, external turmoil should not dictate your internal peace. Last but not least, I know this work is not easy, but it is essential for personal growth and so much more!