Coping Strategies for Anxiety & Depression

Focus on the Breath

Since the origin of anxiety and depression lies in the brain, moving your attention to the body helps reduce the discomfort brought on by panic or depression. Training your attention on the breath and simply focusing on the in and out rhythm can help alleviate many difficult symptoms and produce calming results. Deepening your breath with a concentrated awareness is also beneficial. Follow the intake of air, hold it in for a few moments, then release it in a controlled exhalation to create a calming anchor.

Get Up and Stretch

Just as the breath helps you get centered in your body so, too, does stretching. Standing and extending your body in an easy stretch brings awareness into the limbs and torso. If you are unable to stand, sit as comfortably as possible and train your attention on various muscle groups. For instance, focus on your right foot and tighten the muscles in that foot. Hold it for approximately ten seconds, then release the tension. You can then move up the legs and the rest of the body in the same manner, tightening and releasing as you go. This gentle activity will help you move awareness from the state of the mind to the state of the body.

Control Your Thoughts

When the mind starts spinning out of control, it is helpful to get slow the raging thought processes that are causing the upheaval. Most troubling thoughts that accompany anxiety and depression are either an extreme exaggeration of your body's normal responses, or an anguished imagining of future scenarios. Staying in the present moment is an important key to effectively coping with out-of-control thought patterns. By reminding yourself that these thoughts do not pose a danger and that what might occur in the future is unknown, you can get a grip on this runaway mode of the mind.

Monitor Your Stress

Sometimes it is impossible to escape the powerful grip of panic and depression. When you feel trapped in these distressing states of mind, monitor and rate your feelings of stress in each moment. Using a one-to-ten scale, with one being least stressful and ten being most stressful, identify the level of distress that accompanies each thought. This process enables you to step outside the unpleasantness of troubling feelings and gain a more balanced perspective. When caught in the midst of an anxiety attack or depressive episode, it is important to have some coping mechanisms at hand. In planning ahead, you can find options that will help reign in distressing or runaway thoughts. If you suffer from the effects of panic or depression, it is vital not to let a troubled state of mind overtake you and deter you from living your life.