GAD Coping Small Ways to Feel Better When You're Depressed Guide Small Ways to Feel Better When You're Depressed Guide Overview Understanding Your Emotions What Does Depression Feel Like? Identify Your Emotions Cope With Your Emotions How to Feel Better When You Feel Lonely When You Feel Emotional When You Feel Unappreciated When You Feel a Loss of Interest When You Feel Irritable When You Feel Tired When You Feel Worthless When You Feel Anxious When You Feel Unhappy When You Feel Helpless When You Feel Hopeless 9 Things to Do If You Feel Anxious By Sara Lindberg, M.Ed Sara Lindberg, M.Ed Sara Lindberg, M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on mental health, fitness, nutrition, and parenting. Learn about our editorial process Updated on December 14, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Jamie Grill/Getty Images Everyone goes through periods of feeling anxious and worried. After all, it’s a normal human experience. And whether you’re dealing with occasional bouts of anxiety or trying to manage excessive worries, doubts, and fears, having tools to help you calm your mind and body can reduce the intensity and duration of these feelings. Here are nine strategies that can relax your mind, ease your anxiety, and help you regain control of your thoughts so that you can feel better. Understand the Connection Between Anxiety and Depression While not a specific strategy, understanding the connection between anxiety and depression can help you determine if what you’re dealing with is temporary or a sign of something more serious. According to Leela R. Magavi, MD, a psychiatrist and regional medical director for Community Psychiatry, anxiety and depression are intertwined and frequently exacerbate each other. Part of the reason, she said, is because the same neurochemicals are implicated in both conditions. More specifically, Julian Lagoy, MD, a psychiatrist with Community Psychiatry, explained that since decreased serotonin causes both depression and anxiety, it’s common for someone with depression to also feel anxious at the same time. That’s why it’s critical to acknowledge feelings of anxiety and share them with an expert, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with depression or are showing signs of depression. Acknowledge Your Anxiety Acknowledging when you feel anxious allows you to take steps to ease the symptoms. The first step is to accept that you cannot control everything. To do this, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) recommends putting feelings of stress or anxiety in perspective. When you have an anxious thought that won’t go away, ask yourself: “Is it really as bad as I think?” Take yourself through the process of breaking down the thought before jumping to the worst-case scenario. If you still answer yes, ask yourself the following:How do I know the thought is true (what is the evidence)? Can I reframe the thought into a more positive or realistic scenario? What are the chances the thing I’m worried about will actually happen? What is the worst possible outcome? How bad is this, and can I handle it? This exercise is helpful for people who deal with chronic anxiety and worry. Schedule a Worry Break It may sound counterintuitive when looking at strategies to help you find relief from anxiety, but allowing yourself a short worry break each day can free up your energy to focus on the task at hand. How you set this up depends on your routine. One way is to schedule a chunk of time later in the day, maybe 15 minutes after dinner, to go through your worries for the day. Earlier in the day, you can write down any worries or anxieties that creep into your mind. Then, give yourself permission to deal with them later. This allows you to go about your day while still acknowledging that something is bothering you. Later, when you go over the worry list, make sure to set a timer. Review what you wrote, identify any thoughts that are still causing anxiety, and cross off those that don’t seem important anymore. Allow yourself a few minutes to sit with each concern. Interrupt Your Thoughts When negative thoughts or excessive worries run through your head, it can feel like there is no way to turn them off. One strategy to try is interrupting your anxious thoughts by doing something else. While it might not work every time, you may find that taking a break from overthinking can lead to fewer intrusive thoughts throughout the day. Here are some techniques to try: Practice deep breathingTake a mindfulness breakMove your bodyEngage in an activity that brings you joyCall a friend or loved oneGet outdoors and take a walkKeep your hands busy by drawing, knitting, doing a puzzle, or building something Negative Thinking Patterns and Your Beliefs Practice Mindfulness Meditation and Relaxation Mindfulness meditation, relaxation, and breathing exercises can help calm your mind and body, which may allow you to feel less worried. Plus, it only takes a few minutes each day to feel a difference. Use this time to be aware of what’s going on in your mind and body. Start with five minutes a day and work your way up to mindful moments several times a day. To help you get started, listen to a guided meditation, or recorded breathing exercises. Once you feel comfortable with the practice, you will find more focus and awareness throughout the day. Engage in Diaphragmatic Breathing Engaging in diaphragmatic breathing and registering bodily cues could help you better understand your emotional response to stress, according to Magavi. Many people who experience anxiety find it helpful to partake in guided body scan meditations while breathing slowly and deeply to identify how each emotion triggers disparate sensations in their body, Magavi said. You can use this information to think about how to respond verbally or behaviorally. She recommends using diaphragmatic breathing and pranayama, which is alternative breathing or the practice of breath control. Do One Thing Each Day That Brings You Joy When you’re feeling anxious and want to take your mind off the stressor, Lagoy says to carve out time to do the things you love, whether that is riding a bike, reading a book, painting, or catching up with friends. “Regular exercise can help prevent or alleviate anxiety, as well as learning techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or practicing mindfulness,” Lagoy said. Consider What Your Anxiety Is Telling You Feeling anxious isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, anxious thoughts could be your body’s way of giving you valuable information. The next time you feel worry, fear, stress, or overwhelming thoughts of dread, stop, and take a deep breath. Instead of defaulting to “this is my anxiety talking,” reframe how you view the situation and ask yourself if your body is trying to tell you something. Do you need to slow down? Maybe you’re getting sick, and your body is responding with stress. Or maybe, there is a real threat, and you need to take action. The Benefits of Anxiety and Nervousness Talk to a Mental Health Professional Feeling anxious all the time can be a sign of a mental health issue like depression. If your anxiety becomes excessive and difficult to manage, ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health professional, or contact a mental health professional directly. Talking with a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist who can treat the underlying issue may help you feel better. Press Play for Advice On Mental Strength Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares 10 lessons about mental strength. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts A Word From Verywell Occasional bouts of anxiety and worry may just be a sign that you need to take a break and implement some of the strategies listed above. Adding exercise, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, or a worry break into your day may help ease your mind. But if anxiety, nervousness, or worrying becomes excessive or begins to impact your life, it might be time to seek professional help. 'I Hate Life': What to Do If Nothing Makes You Happy 2 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. n.d. Chen KW, Berger CC, Manheimer E, et al. Meditative therapies for reducing anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depress Anxiety. 2012;29(7):545-62. doi:10.1002/da.21964 By Sara Lindberg, M.Ed Sara Lindberg, M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on mental health, fitness, nutrition, and parenting. 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