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How to Start Recovering from Depression or Anxiety

So, you’re here.  This is a big step.  Maybe it’s your first step.  Maybe you’re a little scared right now.  And maybe you’re a lot depressed, or anxious.  Maybe you’re panicking a little on the inside.  Here’s how to start recovering from depression or anxiety.

 So, you're here.  This is a big step.  Maybe it's your first step.  Maybe you're a little scared right now.  And maybe you're a lot depressed, or anxious.  Maybe you're panicking a little on the inside.  Here's how to start recovering from depression or anxiety.

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How to Start Recovering from Depression or Anxiety | Depression Recovery

But first… It’s Ok to Ask for Help

When you’re depressed, overwhelmed, or struggling in some way, asking for help can be terrifying. But it can also be the very thing that gets you on the path toward a better life.

There can sometimes be a stigma that it’s not ok to ask for help ever, that you need to do everything yourself, or that it’s better to suffer alone than tell someone else.

But the truth is, you’re actually able to be your best self and do the most good in the world when you yourself are well, rather than burned out, stressed out, or depressed. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

And moreover, none of us are born truly knowing how to navigate life. So if you stumble and fall, it’s ok to ask someone for help who is a little farther along in their journey and may have some tips for how to get through what you’re going through.

Asking for help – whether that’s hiring a therapist or someone else to support you or just asking a friend for advice – can shorten your learning curve dramatically and help you get better a lot faster than if you tried to figure it out completely alone.

There is no shame in asking others for help as you navigate through life. 😃

Over the many years that humans have been living, there is enough collective knowledge in the world to sort through just about any problem or predicament you can think of: all you have to do is ask.

Wherever you are right now is exactly where you need to be.  Trust that you will always get out of your experiences exactly what you need to.

So you’re here on this journey, and you’re taking the first step toward recovery.  Although the road before you may be long, you’re not alone.  If you need someone to talk to, you can work with an online therapist from the comfort of your home or talk to a free active listener on 7 Cups.  People really do care.

And now, I’m going to share some tips to get you started.  Specifically, habits that will keep you out of the clutches of depression and on the solid road to recovery.  If you follow these tips every day, in whatever way you can manage, you will see a noticeable difference in your life.

This is a lot of information to take in, so if you want you can start by just picking and choosing a couple things to start with, and maybe integrate the rest over the next few months or year.  Start with whatever is easiest for you so you can start building up small victories for yourself.  Recovery is a process and a journey, so feel free to take it at whatever pace you’re comfortable with.  With that said, here are my baseline suggestions for a healthier you:

1. Exercise several times a week.

Or do some other form of movement that gets you sweating and therefore releases endorphins, which = happy hormones!  I mostly get in my exercise by cleaning my apartment (with a heavy vacuum cleaner, etc) and walking places instead of driving, but it still works.  It does wonders for your mood.  Try it!

2. Meditate when you feel anxious, or daily to maintain calmness.

Just sit in stillness for 10 minutes and don’t think about anything, or let your mind wander without remaining fixed on any particular thought.  That’s it.  You don’t even have to do a yoga pose 🙂

[Recommended Reading: 6 Guided Meditations for Relaxation and 7 Meditation Tracks to Calm Your Anxiety]

3. If applicable, see your therapist or doctors regularly

If you think you have depression or anxiety and you don’t already have doctors or a support system in place, I would definitely encourage you to seek help.  And if you try to reach out to someone and they don’t respond positively or in a helpful way, please keep trying until you find someone who does.  People don’t know how to handle mental illness, but it’s important you have professional help if you think you need help.  If you can’t afford a therapist, see our list of websites for free online therapy.

4. Drink lots of water.

Try for 7-8 glasses a day.  If that’s too much, just add an extra glass or two each day.  It also helps you to not overeat, which we sometimes do when we’re depressed (if you binge on junk food, it will make you more depressed because of all the sugar and fat.  And we don’t want that 🙁 ).

Get a free list of 10 Ways to Be Happier

5. Eat more fruits and vegetables, and less junk food and alcohol.

Fruits and veggies give you energy!  Sometimes if I need a quick boost I’ll eat a cup of steamed broccoli.  And consuming junk, as you probably already know, makes you feel like junk.  (Hopefully if you’re under 21 you’re not drinking at all 😉  Alcohol is a major depressant to your body).  And please, eat regularly.  If you skip meals or starve yourself, this can actually cause depression, anxiety, or mood swings.

6. Limit caffeine to 1-2 cups per day, tops.

I used to drink a lot of energy drinks in college but those can really mess with your body so try to keep it as simple as possible.  Green tea (or herbal tea) is AWESOME for your body and health.  And whatever improves your body’s health also helps your mental health.  Keep that in mind.<

Ok, phew, that was a lot.

Action step: Pick one of the changes above and do it TODAY.  If it’s night when you’re reading this, schedule it in for tomorrow.  Set a reminder on your phone (if you don’t schedule it, you’ll be like “Mehhh maybe later” and then not actually get around to it.).  So do it now rather than later.  Even if it’s just making a cup of green tea or drinking a glass of water.  Baby steps count.

You can do this.

[Recommended Reading: How to Start Feeling Better (Tips for Depression)]

This article is an excerpt from our 30 Day Negativity Detox, an online class about letting go of the negativity in your life and  replacing it with positivity and good habits.

Ridley Fitzgerald

Wednesday 21st of June 2017

This is really helpful to know about depression. My dad suffers from pretty bad depression right now, and I want to help him out. He loves snacks, so I'll tell him to not binge on junk food at night!


Wednesday 21st of June 2017

That's awesome to hear that you are looking for tips for your dad! That's very kind. Best of luck to both of you. :)


Friday 4th of November 2016

I have depression and I don't know why


Sunday 6th of November 2016

Hi Jaiden- I'm sorry you're depressed. :( There could be lots of different reasons for it. Have you tried tracking your moods and doing some journaling or maybe talking to someone to figure out why you're feeling like this?

Phillips Jordan

Wednesday 27th of January 2016

Depression can happen for many reasons, whether it's because of your past, or maybe even a recent event... but one thing is for sure, you don't have to remain in this state of suffering..... You can change that! I happened to find this author who helped save my life. He has now written the things he told me, that saved me from my awful depressive disease, into a book! Please go check it out and support him! It's free for the next 4 days! http://www.amazon.com/Depression-Powerful-Naturally-Overcome-Anxiety-ebook/dp/B01AYCJEYG


Wednesday 27th of January 2016

Thanks for letting us know. :)

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