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I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for almost half of my life. It kind of comes and goes now, but I’ve hit some very low lows because of it. I’m also very introverted and when I feel that I’m getting overwhelmed by things, I tend to need a lot of time to recuperate and refresh myself.
I know from the comments and emails and stuff that I get from you guys that many of you struggle with anxiety and/or depression too.
So you know how easy it can be to sort of give up. Sometimes it’s easy to let mental health issues like depression or anxiety affect or even control your life. But the thing is, as horrible as these issues can be, they’re things that you can manage.
You might like: 40 Ways to Manage Anxiety (Free Printable)
You don’t have to let anxiety or depression control everything. No, you might not be able to get rid of them completely, but you can lessen their effects and take your life back.
Everyone is different and we usually need something different, but here are 14 self-care ideas that help me better manage my anxiety and depression!
1- Have a meditation practice.
If you’re a regular reader here at TIL, you’ve probably seen me mention meditation again and again. But that’s just because it’s seriously so helpful for so many things, including managing anxiety and depression. While just one meditation session can help you feel calmer, you’ll notice more and more benefits the more you regularly do it.
The thing is, our minds never really get a break – even when we’re sleeping. And you probably know that anxiety and depression can be extremely draining on our minds. That’s where meditation comes in; it gives your brain a much needed break from stress, anxiety, depression, and everything else it does all day. You can find a guide to meditation right here, if you’d like to start doing it.
2- Take supplements for it.
Supplements can really help to improve our mental health. While they can’t always completely treat our mental health, they can certainly improve it – I can say this first hand. Remember that I’m not a medical professional and you should make sure to talk to your doctor before you start taking any new supplements. But here are a few that have been shown to help with anxiety and depression:
3- Take a mental health day.
When it comes to my mental health issues, I sometimes have a bad anxiety day or a bad depression day. But sometimes I have a bad week or month. I talked about this in a newsletter recently that some of you may have read. Sometimes we have lows that last a long time. If this is happening to you, you shouldn’t be ashamed or afraid of taking a “mental health day.”
You can use this mental health day however you choose. You can cancel your commitments and spend the day alone to reset and do activities that help you recharge and calm down. Or you can spend the day with someone you love, talking to them about your problems or whatever you need. It’s all about what helps your mental health.
4- Create routines.
Routines have been shown to really help people who struggle with mental health issues, especially anxiety. The same way that workout routines help our physical health, daily routines can help soothe our mental health. I know that it’s impossible for some people to establish a daily routine because of hectic lives, but having at least a morning routine can be very beneficial.
The way you start your morning is important because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Having a morning routine can help you ensure that you start the day in a stress-free way, doing things that make you feel happy and productive. You can check out this post here (with a free worksheet) to help you start a morning routine that works for you.
5- Keep a journal.
Journaling is another thing that I’ve mentioned so often, but for good reason. Journaling is one of the biggest things that’s helped me manage my mental health in the long-term. You can keep so many different types of journals and they help with so many different things, from being more mindful to being more organized to working out mental health issues. You can read a complete guide to journaling right here.
Here are a few different types of journals you can consider keeping:
6- Use grounding techniques.
The most helpful thing that I do to help myself in the midst of an anxiety attack is to use grounding exercises. They’re a great way to feel more connected to the present moment – to your body and your surroundings – when you’re having an attack. It helps me feel more comforted and well, grounded.
If you struggle with anxiety attacks and you haven’t tried grounding exercises, I really recommend that you do. Try to keep a few in mind so you can use them when you need them. Here’s an article from Dr. Sarah Allen that talks about 7 different grounding exercises that can help you calm down.
You might like: 5 Ways to Stop a Panic Attack in its Tracks
7- Get enough sleep.
Having an irregular sleep schedule or not getting enough sleep can negatively affect both our physical and mental health. I know that whenever I don’t get enough sleep (or get too much) my mood is much worse. I know that not all of us can have a super regular sleep schedule, but try to make it as regular as you can.
If you’re having trouble sleeping or you have a sleep disorder, be sure to talk to your doctor about it. Also, try to take a nap if and when you need to. Naps are so helpful for not only catching up on sleep, but also to sort of reset yourself when you’re struggling with depression or anxiety.
You might like: How to Turn Off Your Mind When You’re Too Stressed to Sleep
8- Practice gratitude.
I know that a lot of people don’t like to hear this, but practicing gratitude can really help with so much in life. Even when you’re at your lowest point, finding something to be grateful for is possible and it can help a lot. When you’re so caught up in negative thoughts, it can be hard to see that. Gratitude has been shown to alleviate stress and depression, improve relationships, and help people feel more happy in general.
Dedicate a few moments each day – or when you’re in the middle of a negative thought spiral – to think of five things you’re grateful for. Imagine if you woke up in the morning with only things you were consciously grateful for today. What would you end up losing? Thinking about things like this can help us stop taking the good things for granted and feel more happy with what we have.
You might like: How + Why I Practice Daily Gratitude
9- Challenge your feelings.
If you know where your anxiety or depression is coming from, it helps to challenge your thoughts and rationalize them. I know that when I’m feeling worked up about something, it’s usually something that I don’t need to be so upset about. I’m usually overthinking things too much or overreacting about something. So, I try to challenge my thoughts.
It can be hard to try to rationalize with yourself when you’re feeling really anxious or depressed, but you should at least try. Talk yourself through it, try to help yourself realize that you’re okay and your thoughts aren’t reality. Whatever you’re upset about probably isn’t as big of a deal as you’re making it out to be and worst case scenarios don’t usually happen. Really try to challenge your thoughts and it could quite likely help you calm down.
10- Spend time in nature.
Fresh air, sunlight, and vitamin D helps me clear my head, feel calmer, and feel happier. Research has shown that nature can do a lot of good for us including relieving stress, encouraging physical exercise, increasing social interaction, and soothing mental illness – including anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric conditions.
Spending even a little bit of time outside every day can help you feel better. You can go for a walk, go on a hike, ride your bike, or just sit outside reading or doing something else.
11- Set and work toward goals.
Working toward something that I want or something that would be good for me always helps me feel happier. If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, this might help you too. Set goals that would be good for you. Visualize the future of your dreams. Create a vision board that makes you happy.
Don’t just stop there, though. Create a plan to work toward your goals and dreams. Do something productive. This can help you feel more confident and accomplished. It also puts your mind on more positive things.
You might like: 8 Steps for Setting + Achieving SMART Goals
12- Use aromatherapy.
I lovelovelove candles and I believe that aromatherapy can be so helpful for our mental health. No matter what you need, there’s a scent that can help you. If you don’t like candles as much, you can also use an essential oil diffuser, essential oil jewelry, incense, or something else.
Here are some scents that help with depression and anxiety:
13- Do something creative.
Honestly, doing something creative might be my favorite way to take care of myself when I’m feeling anxious or depressed. Being creative can really help you to let out negative thoughts and emotions. It’s pretty therapeutic. I prefer drawing, crocheting, or DIY-ing when I’m feeling creative.
Some other ideas can be painting, dancing, writing, cooking, baking, or so many other things. I highly encourage you to find a creative hobby if you don’t have one, because it can do wonders for your mental health. And no matter what you think, I believe everyone has the ability to be creative. They just have to find the activity that suits them!
14- Do something to distract yourself.
Distracting yourself when you’re lost in a negative thought spiral can help a lot. Reading a book or playing video games usually helps me when I’m feeling anxious and stressed out. I usually prefer to read fiction when I’m struggling with these issues because it just gives my mind a little escape from reality. But sometimes reading a self-help or mental health book helps me too because it gives me motivation to get better and improve myself. I also love video games and they’ve become one of my favorite ways to de-stress too.
Again, distracting yourself could be different for you though. Maybe you prefer to watch TV, watch movies, or listen to music. It’s all about what works for you, but finding something to get lost in can be really helpful.
Want to learn more about self-care and self-love?
To learn more about self-care, how to fit it into your life, and how to love yourself more in general, read my new book! “Love Yourself: A Journey of Self-Care, Self-Acceptance, and Total Self-Love” is available in PDF, paperback, and Kindle format. 💜
What’s your favorite self-care activity to manage your anxiety/depression?