Dealing Stress Depression

Dealing with stress and depression

Stress and depression could be considered two of the modern epidemics. Stress was known as the 20th century epidemic, but unfortunately seems to have crossed into the 21st century with the rest of us. Depression has become the most common mental health disorder, meaning that many people will have to deal with at some point. But dealing with these problems is not always easy, not even when we have the tools to do so. In this article, we will be talking about stress and depression and how we can deal with them even when we are tired or lack resources to take action.

Stress and depression could be considered two of the modern epidemics. Stress was known as the 20th century epidemic, but unfortunately seems to have crossed into the 21st century with the rest of us. Depression has become the most common mental health disorder, meaning that many people will have to deal with at some point. But dealing with these problems is not always easy, not even when we have the tools to do so. In this article, we will be talking about stress and depression and how we can deal with them even when we are tired or lack resources to take action.

How can stress and depression manifest?

Sometimes, it takes us a while to identify what’s happening to us. We might feel something is wrong or just worse than usual, but if we are not used to thinking about it, it can take a while to identify something as the result of depression or stress. Many people are used to focusing on other factors first, like simply being tired or having a physical ailment. The effects of both can manifest in similar ways sometimes, and there are symptoms to pay attention to.

  • Unexplained pains: stomachaches, headaches, muscle aches, etc.
  • Exhaustion, fatigue, lack of energy even for enjoyable things.
  • Irritation, frustration, anger.
  • Lack of interest and enjoyment in things that used to be enjoyable.
  • Sleeping too much or too little, insomnia.
  • Lack of appetite or excessive appetite, especially for comfort foods, sweets, and junk food.
  • Difficulty concentrating, thinking, paying attention.

These are some signs common to stress and depression. Depression, additionally, can be accompanied by feelings of worthlesness or inappropriate guilt, as well as a pervasive feeling of sadness. Stress can contribute to depression, as well as to other mental health and physical health issues, while depression can be a big source of stress as well.

It’s worth noting that sometimes depression can be linked to life events, but it can also appear when everything seems to be fine or, at least, when there aren’t any life events that seem to trigger it. Depression and stress affect people of all walks of life and all situations, so even if you feel you have no “valid” reason to be stressed or depressed, it’s important to acknowledge what is happening and work with it.

When we try to deal using the wrong tools

So, imagine the situation. You are feeling tired all the time and angry too, maybe irrationally frustrated with the people around you. You notice you have a hard time enjoying the things you like or, even if you still enjoy them, it’s hard to find the time or energy to do them, which just frustrates you more. So, what do you do?

Different people will cope differently with the situation, and many will not choose the healthiest coping methods. This occurs for several reasons. People might use the methods they learned in their childhood by watching their parents or the ones that feel more accessible or better known. Sometimes people feel caught in the same patterns they tend to use. For example, people might munch on chips when stressed, so when they are faced with a chronically stressful situation, they begin eating a lot more. Another example could be snapping at others. The people who do this often come from families where their parents used to do the same, so it’s a familiar pattern. Meditation or art, however, might not be strategies the person has been exposed to in the past.

What are some unhealthy coping tools? The first one involves using substances to deal with stress or depression, meaning substances like alcohol or drugs. A person might use them to self-medicate. Alcohol and drugs provide a momentary relief. They can relax someone who is high-strung and tense or make the situation more enjoyable. Some drugs provide a feeling of euphoria people who feel depressed might crave. However, this is a short-term solution that doesn’t work in the long run and makes things much worse. A person will develop tolerance to the substances and will need to increase the dosage over time to get the same effect, but eventually the positive effects will fade. Alcohol and drugs can also make the symptoms worse, for instance, exacerbating stress, irritability, depression, and others.

Another unhealthy coping tool is using food to deal with stress and emotions. While a comfort food every once in a while doesn’t do harm, eating isn’t the best way of dealing with emotions. The person might become eating compulsively and without enjoyment, so they will feel that they are losing control. Eating can lead to gaining weight, but even if it doesn’t, this loss of control can make the person feel guilty and anxious, blaming themselves for not being disciplined enough. It can exacerbate the problem, because it doesn’t involve working with the root cause of the symptoms and because it can lead to guilt and health issues.

Another strategy people use to deal with the tension is expressing the anger by directing it at family members, friends, or themselves. They might snap, shout, blame, or fight, which can offer a momentary release of tension, but eventually it will take a toll on relationships and contribute to the guilt the person is feeling.

There may be other tools people use to try to cope with the things they feel and experience. Some people might withdraw into gaming or shopping or many other things that help them feel momentarily better or distract them from their situation. But these tools rarely work. There are more effective ways of dealing with depression and stress, which tend to work better in the long term. Think of these solutions as your toolkit. When you identify what you are feeling as being associated with stress or depression, you might pick the right tool for the moment.

The toolkit

These are some strategies you can use to your advantage to cope with depression and stress. Sometimes, you might feel very low on energy and feel unwilling to try new ideas, especially if they feel overwhelming. Start small. A good tip is to start with time-tested self-care habits or do something you already know. Try things that you feel will not require as much energy. Note also that many things, like meditation or exercise, can also be good sources of energy and can make you feel a little more up to other strategies. A second important point is that many ideas work best if they are practiced consistently. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed to start meditating or exercise. Making those things a habit can help you face things with more resources and be better prepared to deal with negative situations. Some things can help prevent you from feeling burnout or excessively stressed, like eating right, exercising, and taking time to rest. We often act when the situation is already dire, but taking action before that happens can mitigate the negative effects that might occur.

  • Self-care

Self-care covers a wide variety of practices. They refer to the things that make you feel good and the things you do for yourself – drinking chocolate, reading a good book, taking a hot bath, going out for a walk, drawing, journaling, etc. These are small things that have a significant impact on our well-being. Taking time to incorporate these practices into your daily life can help manage the stress you feel.

  • Meditation and relaxation

Meditation and relaxation practices can help reduce the negative effects of stress. They also tend to improve the mood and increase your energy. Anyone can learn to meditate and through a constant practice, the benefits grow over time.

  • Art

Artistic pursuits are a great way of dealing with stress and depression. Drawing, writing, sculpting, playing music, or any other artistic pursuit can do a lot to improve one’s state. An important factor to make the most of the therapeutic benefits of art is to focus on the process, not on the result. It doesn’t matter if the drawing isn’t up to professional standards, what matters is that you enjoy making it.

  • Balanced nutrition

A balanced nutrition can be important to reduce the effects of stress. Eating different and varied foods can do a lot to improve one’s physical and mental state. Drinking enough and staying hydrated is also important.

  • Exercise

Even a little bit of physical exercise can make a difference, especially if your job involves a lot of sitting down. If you can dedicate some time to exercise, like jogging or yoga, it’s great, but just taking time to walk or do a physical activity you enjoy can work as well. Physical exercise can boost our mood and reduce our emotional distress.

  • Talking

Many people feel off-put by the idea of telling their friends or family members about their difficulties. However, talking to someone who will support you can help you process the situation. If you are struggling to know what’s going on with you, you might benefit from talking about it with someone supportive.

  • Expressing

Sometimes, we don’t feel we can talk to anyone about what we are going through. Still, it can be useful to express it. You can express it by writing letters or journaling, drawing or sculpting, singing or shouting. Any strategy that works for you can work well.

  • Resting

A good way to prevent stress from building up is being mindful of our need to rest. We often tend to push it back and work hard while we can, but taking time to rest and actually resting is very important in dealing with stress.

  • Nature

For people who live in the city, going out to a green area might require more of an effort. However, it can be relaxing to be in a quiet green place. Nature can help deal with stress, especially if you don’t get much contact with nature every day. Getting enough sunlight, especially during the winter months, can also have a significant effect on our moods.

  • Planning

It’s easy to get caught up in the routine and put off things like walks or self-care habits till later. It helps to include them in your daily planning and reserve a space just for yourself. Planning it in advance helps ensure you get it done.

  • Reframing

Sometimes, a lot of our stress is internal. Rather than coming from the event itself, it comes from our interpretation of that event. Recent research would also suggest that the damage stress does to us is mediated by our view of stress. For instance, if we try to view being stressed as a way our body has of dealing with the situation, it can help us cope with the stress.

  • Going to the doctor

Sometimes, stress and depression can improve with medical treatment. Getting antidepressants or planning a treatment with the help of a professional can help improve your state.

  • Counseling and therapy

Counseling can be another good option to deal with stress and depression. It can help you develop new and improved skills for dealing with difficult situations and work with the root of the symptoms rather than just the symptoms. Counseling is definitely an option to consider in cases where the symptoms persist or do not seem to change much with the use of other strategies.