Coping with anxiety and depression

16th February 2017

Back in May last year I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and in November I started seaking help for my mental illnesses. Right now, I’m still waiting to see a therapist and it’s looking likely that I won’t start therapy until the summer because of the long waiting list.

So, what’s happening in the meantime?

Well, I’m having to learn to deal with my mental health by myself. Fortunately the therapist sent me some self-help books and resources which I’ve read through and have found really quite useful.

I realised that in many ways I wasn’t helping myself. I realised that I could be doing more to take better care of my self, even really simple things.

So over the last few months I’ve made a few changes in my life and I have to say, I have noticed a difference. They’re not curing my mental health illness, and I still feel like I need to speak to a therapist, but they are certainly helping me and improving the way I feel.

I still have days where nothing makes me feel better and I have a “pity party” but I can say with confidence I’ve had more “better” days then I did before I started taking action.

Today I thought I’d share with you just a few of the things I’m doing to take better care of my mental health.

I give myself things to look forward to

I really struggle if I don’t have anything to look forward to in the future, whether that be just a trip home, a day out, a night out or something bigger like a holiday.

Being able to look at my diary and see up coming events excites me. It gives me something to think about when I’m at work which is usually when I allow my mind to wonder into bad places. For instance, right now I’m looking forward to going out with Tyrone on Friday for our February date night. And we’re getting the train so I can drink! Woo!

Also we’ve booked to go and see Brian Cox live in May and then Hans Zimmer in June, so I’m looking forward to these events even though I’ve got a bit longer to wait for these. And I’m sure we will book a summer holiday soon.

I work out

I’ve heard a lot about the benefits of physical exercise for mental health but as I’ve never been a fan of exercise I just assumed it would make me feel worse.

But I started working out because I knew that building the muscles around my hip would help with my pain, and to my surprise, I actually enjoyed it.

I recently got myself an exercise bike and I love getting home from work and working out on it. I like to set myself little challenges every day to see if I can achieve them.

I’ve also started going swimming again which helps me so much with my mental health. I find swimming so relaxing and it seems to take my mind off everything. It also gets me out of the house in an evening and forces me to switch up my routine.

Coping with anxiety and depression

I (try to) spend less time time online

I love writing my little blog, and I love building websites, but spending too much time online can really get me down. Social media is wonderful but it can be so damaging for my mental health. I get wrapped up in things that don’t even matter to me, or I start playing the old comparison game, and it never ends well.

I’m trying to get into the habit of checking my phone less throughout the day, and now when I get home from work, instead of crashing on the sofa with my laptop straight away, I do the house work or work out. Because I know that once I pick up my laptop I’ll be sucked in for the rest of the evening.

In fact, I only really go on my laptop if I need to do something, because if I’m just going on it for the sake of it then I’m just wasting time. It also makes me more excited for going on my laptop and working on blog when I do have time to do it.

I celebrate the little things in life

You are probably all aware that at the end of 2016 I started a new series on my blog called Little Victories where I talk about the positive things, no matter how small, that happened in the previous month.

Forcing myself to pick out the positives has really helped me recognise the little things in life that make me happy. I think because in my life I’ve been in many, many situations where everything that could go wrong has gone wrong (mainly the treatment of my hip dysplasia, where my mental health issues actually stem from) I do have a tendency to look at the negatives rather than the positives, and this is something I really need to focus on.

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Please note, just these things work for me doesn’t mean they will work for everyone. I’m certainly not an expert on this; I’m just learning about myself and my mental illnesses. If you are having problems with your mental health I encourage you to speak to someone about it.

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  1. I was diagnosed for the same reason back when I was high school. Some days are grueling, its hard to get back up. Although, these coping mechanisms work. . Exercise help with my anxiety as well and that’s why I love to run every other day. There are days when the sadness gets to me and I have to brawl my way out of it by keeping myself busy. Looking at the positive side of things helps a lot even when it’s something miniscule. Other than that, being on social media can be eucuckchchchcc sometimes. It’s good to take a break from it once in a while :) Hopefully all goes well and keep on rockin!’

    • Holly

      I think keeping busy and having something to occupy your mind is key. I wish I had the stamina to run because I live by a gorgeous park and by the sea so I imagine running there would be wonderful.

  2. I love this post. while it may not work for everyone, this will give us some ideas on try onto ourselves. spending less time online sure is one of my ways to feel less depressed or anxious. for me, it’s a way to detach from the world as it gives me a placebo effect. when i’m depressed, i sometimes deactivate my social media accounts temporarily because logging out doesn’t really help while deactivating does. i used to be scared that people might think i’m doing it for attention but i don’t really give a damn anymore now. deactivating my accounts also give me a placebo effect, makes me feel like i no longer have wires that connect me to the world. detaching may not be a suitable coping idea for everyone but it works for me. i’ve been meaning to write a post regarding how i handle with my mental illness too but it will take some time for me to construct and piece together some words.

    p.s: it makes me glad to know when someone who has mental illness is receiving help from an expert. i didn’t have that chance and i still don’t so it’s nice to hear other people who do.

    • Holly

      Thank you. :)

      Deactivating social media accounts is a really good idea because then you really won’t be tempted to look.

      If you do write that post you’ll have to let me know. I’d be interested to read it!

      Thank you. It was really difficult for me to open up to my doctor but I’m glad I did. It’s just a shame the waiting list for mental health support in the UK is so long. I hope I can share my experience on the blog.

  3. I do all these things and it helps me too, I’m happier when I work out, when I spend less time online. Making the “good things” posts on my blog in the last 2 years really help me. It practically forced me to think of good things. I also make plans, it’s something good to think of. x

    • Holly

      Glad to hear they help you too! I like your “good things” series so it’s great that it helps you as well as provides other people with something interesting to read!

  4. Kya

    It’s wonderful that you are seeking help and I hope that you will be able to receive great support. Even though you have to wait, at least you have knowledge that plans are in action. :)

    It can be so hard to deal with depression. One of the most important things that I have found, is to also realise that it’s not your fault. You can’t blame yourself because you are feeling that way and on the bad days when you can’t really find anything to help, you just have to try and take it slow.

    Finding things and ways to cope can be a great relief. I am really pleased to hear that you have a number of them and it sounds like they do have an impact on how you are feeling. Having things to look forward to can be such a major help.

    Something that also helped me was to write down how I felt and to also write down certain things that were triggers and made me feel a lot worse. It’s not always easy to work them out, but when you can it’s a good way to work out how to avoid or manage them.

    I also like to keep a journal (I use Day One) and a Mood Journal (I use Optimism Online). Sometimes I get a bit slack with them, but that’s okay! :D

    Take care of yourself and if you ever need another voice to listen, email me any time. :)

  5. These strategies are great starting ways to help you cope. Although I was never diagnosed with anxiety or depression, there are times when I felt down as well. Even if it’s only temporary, the post-workout high recharges your mind and calms you down. They also knock me out physically that I have no choice but to sleep afterwards! And we all know sleep helps. ;) It’s great to read that you’re enjoying your workouts as well.

    Stay strong!

  6. I can relate to this post (as usual!) so much. I have been suffering from anxiety since I was 16(?) years old, I had been given a lot of medication for it to help reduce the horrible attacks I used to get. I hated relying on them and always felt so weird being on them generally.

    It wasn’t until mid-2016 I was like, actually no, I can’t be bothered with this. It felt like sometimes the medications made it worse or made something else in my body imbalance. So I stopped taking them and went for a more natural approach with meditation and exercise. it has both really done wonders to my mental health as well as physical health. I feel much more positive and mindful with meditation and exercise has all the amazing benefits of feeling freaking awesome.

    Another thing I started doing is the 5 minute journal which focuses on positive things I’m grateful for and this too has really helped me steer away from the negative feelings and has helped reduce anxiety!

    I really enjoyed reading this, I’m glad you’re actively trying to help yourself. That is the mindset that will always result in great things <3

  7. I’m glad these are all working for you :) I am especially glad to hear that you found ways to exercise that you enjoy – I can imagine how hard it can be with your hip.

    The comparison game is dangerous, and I used to compare myself to other people all the time when my self-esteem was low. I feel much better about myself now, and I don’t try to compete or compare myself to anyone. I don’t remember if I did anything to fix it, but I now have reasons to feel good about myself and that stops me from comparing to other people. Instead I see other people as inspiration or motivation rather than a comparing point.

    I have a very bad habit of just being stuck on the computer or on my phone if I use it. I think doing chores is a good idea – I used to do that to stall and stop using the computer as soon as I got home. I should definitely try that again. 😄 Another thing I am trying is to not use my phone right after waking up, or right before bed. I consume social media when I want, and I even unfollowed some people on Twitter recently because I didn’t want to read a lot of their content. It didn’t interest me or it made me feel horrible for various reasons.

    I’m so glad to hear you are doing well ❤️

  8. Oh and I’m seeing Hans Zimmer in May! Yeaaaassss!