A Natural Toolkit for Coping with Depression, Anxiety, & Stress

180215-blg-toolbag.JPG

Life is full of ups and downs. To reduce how steep I let the downs affect me, I always fall back on asking myself: “Did I prime my body and mind today?” If not, I assume that whatever I’m experiencing may not be as bad as it feels.

I hope the following tactics help you as much as they’ve helped me to cope with anxiety, depression, and stress.

3 Miles on the Treadmill (22 mins)

When you’re down, the best way to change how you feel in my experience is cardio.

The routine consists of running on the treadmill in intervals. One minute at half speed, and then another at full speed. 

For quick runs, I recommend the treadmill over running out for consistency. When running outside, there are some days where I get more agitated than others. So if I were running outside, I might slow down. But not on the treadmill. 

Anyhow the goal is to break a sweat. Three-mile of intervals on the treadmill helps me get there in ~22 minutes.

Adjust the number of miles and speed per session as needed. Listen to your body.

Cold Showers (5 mins)

There is nothing better than getting an adrenaline rush in the morning. And a shower with the coldest water brings it on. 

It takes around a week before cold showers stop feeling like a crazy idea. I love cold water because it's refreshing after a workout. It also works great as an antidepressant when I’m feeling down or groggy because it wakes you up.

The trick to finding calm during a cold shower is to regulate your breathing. The temperature change will make you breathe faster and more heavy than usual. But try to breathe as if you were calm and felt relaxed instead. 

The reward is after the cold shower. You’ll feel full of energy, in a better mood, and ready to conquer the day.

Wim Hof Breathing Method (5 mins) 

I use the Wim Hof breathing method [1] as a primer to deepen my meditations. It’s like getting high on oxygen.

The method consists of 30 repetitions of heavy breathing and holding the last one for as long as you can. 

To get started lay down flat on the ground or a couch. Then inhale air as fast as you can from your mouth, and exhale back as hard as if you were inflating a balloon. Repeat 30 times, and on the last rep hold your breath after exhaling until you gasp. 

10-Min Meditation

Practice meditation to become better at letting negative feelings or emotions go. At first, it may seem like an exercise of doing nothing. But it’s really a journey of making the brain more agile at decluttering the mind. 

It took me a while to get meditation to stick until I ended up investing in an annual subscription of Headspace [2]. They’ve done a great job in making their app addictive for the right reasons. 

To get started you can download HeadSpace for free and use their 10 sample sessions on repeat. 

Kava Products 

Kava is great for stress relief and promotes relaxation. You can get Kava products over the counter in the natural wellness section of most stores. My two favorites are the liquid Kava extract [3], and the Kava tea [4]. 

Anyhow the goal in the long term is not to need anything to deal with stress and anxiety other than your mind. That's why sticking to daily meditation practice in the only way to reap that ability.

Use Your Phone Less

One last thing I recommend is using your phone less. If you own a smartphone, there is a big chance that you spend more time in front of it that you'd like.

The pocket supercomputer full of apps can lead to depression and anxiety. Allow yourself to enjoy the real world by using your phone only when necessary. If you own an iPhone, read my post on six tactics to turn your iPhone into a distraction-free device [5].

Try the recommendations above to honor your body and mind every day with proper stimulation. It’s a great way to prevent or overcome negative feelings and emotions. 

Remember, you can handle anything. And now you have a new set of tools to change (or at least relief) how you feel on-demand. 

References

  1. Wim Hof Breathing Exercise
  2. HeadSpace Meditation App
  3. Herb Pharm, Kava Root Extract
  4. Yogi Tea, Kava Stress Relief
  5. 6 Tactics to Turn Your iPhone into a Distraction-Free Device