Ways to Help Cope with Anxiety and Depression

Lily Zimmerman, Writer

Coping with the diagnosis of a mental illness such as anxiety or depression is never easy. It may seem like your world was flipped upside down. Your thoughts will start to spiral out of control. It’s terrifying to think of what others will think of you. 

You look towards your parents or guardian scared of their reaction. I am here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with having a mental illness or multiple. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. It is okay to cry and be upset, but don’t dwell on it for too long. Don’t let it take over your life. It is part of your life, not your whole life. It will do you good to remember that. 

Let’s talk about how to calm your anxiety first. Note, not all these tricks will work for you, but I offer what has worked for me.  

The most helpful trick you can do which might sound silly is to breathe. The first breathing method is called boxed breathing. Imagine a box, and breathe in for four seconds. That’s the first line of the box. Next, hold your breath for four seconds. Finally, release the air for four seconds and repeat.

The second trick I want to help you learn is a grounding exercise with your five senses. Focus on five objects you can see, four objects you can touch, three objects you can hear, two objects you can smell, and finally one thing you can taste. Say it out loud or in your head and go over it a few times until you can feel yourself calming down. These are just two great ways to help calm your mind. 

Now how do you calm depression? Although this is incredibly complicated, here are a few strategies I use that have been taught to me. The first step is to not isolate yourself. Sit in your living room; you don’t have to talk unless you want to, just sit. It is okay to feel what you are feeling, breathe. Another exercise you can try is to write what you are feeling on a piece of paper. Crumble the piece of paper or rip it apart… do whatever makes you feel a little better. Do one activity a day you enjoy or find helpful. 

Anxiety and depression like to be in control. I am only offering some ways to take back that control. All of these tricks are easier said than done, but with practice, and with patience for yourself and these strategies the more likely they are to help.