Both anxiety and depression can have profound effects on our daily lives, most significantly making it challenging to maintain motivation, focus, and productivity. Even if the task is urgent, it can be difficult to start and finish what needs to be done. Most people who live with these mental health conditions have discovered methods that work for them, allowing them to complete tasks and navigate through life. Before we discuss the implications of anxiety and depression, we should establish the connection between the two conditions. Everyone experiences symptoms differently – and in a variety of combinations. Depression tells you that you are an incompetent parent and you are harming your family. Anxiety then compels you to overcompensate and perform perfectly in order to be the best parent ever. Because perfection is not possible, depression sets back in and the cycle continues.
While you may not be able to stop this negative cycle completely, you can learn to manage your emotions through connection with your thoughts and other people. Here are some tips to try.
- Understand your triggers and proactively work to disarm them. There are typically specific scenarios in someone’s life that will trigger an attack of either depression or anxiety and kick off a cycle between the two. For instance, a worker may experience anxiety during routine conversations with their boss. They may feel depressed during their shift, believing their work is never good enough – and then feel anxiety that they may lose their job. In this situation, they can speak with their supervisor and ask for more frequent feedback in order to diffuse any uncertainty.
- Remind yourself that thoughts are not reality. Those with mental health conditions often have pervasive, irrational thoughts. It is important to remind yourself that these thoughts do not represent nor define reality. Positive self-talk and thought reformation can reinforce true reality and enhance good attitudes and resulting thought processes.
- Look forward to good things every day. Every person knows what a reward looks like to them. Getting through a hard day – or finishing daunting tasks – is easier when we know that something we enjoy is on the other side. This may include a long walk outside, a dinner date with friends, or binge-watching a guilty pleasure. These events and incentives, no matter how small, can distract you from the cycle of negative thoughts that can often invade.
- Join a group and have conversations with people who can relate. Those who have never lived with depression or anxiety may not understand why you are having so much difficulty in completing everyday tasks. They may consider you lazy or unmotivated. By talking to others who are walking the same road and conquering the same challenges, individuals can feel more normal and understood. It helps to have an empathetic friend during a hard day, one that is encouraging, not judgemental. These people may be close friends who understand or people in support groups for anxiety or depression.
- Seek a qualified, compassionate mental health counselor. One of the most proactive steps you can take to fight back against depression and anxiety is to work with a therapist. Not only do they provide needed empathy and understanding, but they have the professional knowledge to identify triggers, thought patterns, and limiting beliefs – and help with strategies to deal with all your mental health connections. Speaking with a mental health professional gives you a non-judgemental place to vent and feel validated in your emotions while still putting yourself in a position to heal.
Denise Schonwald is a nationally certified mental health counselor based in Sarasota, Florida. Call today to learn more about video consultations and treatments to fit your schedule and make the connection to better mental health.