Fact: Over 264 million people across the world suffer from depression and anxiety.
Did you know that depression and anxiety are actually a global leading cause of disability?
Also fact: Women are disproportionately affected by depression and anxiety.
The good news, however, is that depression and anxiety are absolutely treatable conditions.
Here’s the thing: I have had my own intense, personal struggles with depression and anxiety over the years – including falling into depression and beating it twice.
Since I first wrote this article, I also developed a panic disorder – and was able to overcome it.
So, from my personal experience as well as the expertise of some clinical psychologists, I made this list of 19 proven ways to beat depression and anxiety for good.
They’ve worked for me, and I hope they can work for you, too!
Sound good? Keep reading to learn 19 ways you can get on your way to beat depression and anxiety.
Note: While I have a B.S. in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience from The University of Michigan, am currently working on my PhD in Clinical Neurosciences at Oxford University, and have fielded this advice from trained clinical psychologists, the advice here is in no way meant to replace a professional medical opinion from your own doctor, therapist, or psychologist.
Consult a trained medical professional if your situation is particularly severe, especially if you feel you are at risk of harming yourself or others.
As always, in the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1 if you’re in the US or your country’s equivalent.
1. Create and stick to a routine
It’s a fact: our bodies and minds crave routine.
I get it – sometimes routine can feel monotonous.
However, when we’re having a tough time trying to beat depression and anxiety, establishing a routine and sticking to it is one of the most effective ways to heal.
So make a schedule with some variation in it day-to-day. Your schedule should include:
- When you’ll wake up (same time every day)
- Defined time to work
- Defined time to practice self-care and relax
- Which actions in this blog post you’ll take and when
- When you’ll go to bed (same time every day)
The importance of consistency
A super important part of this schedule is waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day.
Ever since I committed to waking up at 7 am every day and going to sleep by 11 pm every night, my mood has drastically improved.
We can’t function and deal with our depression and anxiety when we’re sleep-deprived without a routine anchoring us. Start this step now and you’ll thank yourself later.
2. Move around every day for at least 30 minutes
Preferably, you’ll go outside when you move around every day.
And I hear you. Sometimes you just feel so depressed that you can’t even get out of bed.
I want you to realize right now that that’s okay. It happens, and you’ll try again tomorrow.
(Don’t beat yourself up for not getting out on days like these. I’ve been there before – you’ll reverse more progress by berating yourself than just not moving around that day. Trust me.)
On the days that you do feel good enough to get out of bed, commit to moving around for at least 30 minutes.
There’s a reason they say exercise is “nature’s anti-depressant.” Even just going for a walk in the fresh air will release mood-boosting endorphins that will help you beat depression and anxiety!
Exercise is also preventative for anxiety because it helps your body process excess adrenaline built up from stress.
3. Talk to others every day for at least 30 minutes
Especially if you’re feeling isolated (like during a pandemic), staying connected with friends and family is essential to beat depression and anxiety.
Schedule time to connect in-person or through a video or phone call with a family member or friend for at least a half hour every day.
And if you’re cringing at the thought, remember that true connection and belonging is at the root of real happiness (and that’s a scientific fact).
4. Stay hydrated and eat well
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again: taking care of yourself by nourishing your body is a sure-fire way to get on your way to beat depression and anxiety.
This means drinking plenty of water (at least 8 8-oz. glasses or 2 liters) every day.
Also, you need to make sure you’re eating lots of living foods like raw fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
My favorite, easy way to eat healthier to beat depression and anxiety
My favorite easy way to get lots of good vitamins and nutrients in my diet is having a big fruit smoothie for breakfast. All you have to do is throw it all in the blender!
HERE’S MY FAVORITE RECIPE:
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 cup plant-based milk
- 1 tsp. Your Super Forever Beautiful powder
- 1 tsp. Your Super Energy Bomb powder
I don’t usually like to plug things like this, but I highly suggest you try the superfood powders from Your Super, especially if you’re struggling with having enough energy every day.
I used to struggle with finding enough energy just to get through the workday, let alone the whole day!
Adding these smoothies to my diet every day has produced the single biggest change in my energy levels and productivity that I have ever experienced in my life!
And that energy and boost in nutrition is sure to help you beat depression and anxiety for good.
5. Make a DIY Self-Care Kit
Making your own self-care kit is another great way to proactively beat depression and anxiety.
By collecting all of the best things you need to take care of yourself, all in one place, self-care has never been easier!
My favorite self-care kit items to beat depression and anxiety
My favorite items in my DIY self-care kit are travel-inspired, like my Korean beauty sheet face masks and this super moisturizing coconut body lotion that makes you think about those beautiful tropical destinations we’re always dreaming about.
You can also get really creative and make a whole bunch of your own essentials to beat depression and anxiety, like your own body scrub or conditioning nail oil!
I find that this creative outlet really helps me get out of a funk when I’m feeling depressed and anxious.
Interested in learning how to make your own travel-inspired DIY self-care kit? Check out my blog post on it here!
6. ditch your birth control
This one might surprise you, but hear me out –
Did you know there is now an established link between hormonal contraception (like the Pill, the patch, the ring, the shot, the implant, or hormonal IUD) and an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide (up to 3x increased risk)?
In fact, studies investigating this link have found a direct causative effect – meaning scientists observed a significant increase in the number of women diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or both within 3 months of going on birth control when they didn’t have symptoms beforehand.
After I developed a panic disorder in 2021, I had to go on medication in order to manage it. I was also taking the Pill for contraception.
When I finally ditched the Pill in favor of my non-hormonal copper IUD in 2022, I was able to get off these anti-depressants for the first time in years.
Depression and anxiety no longer rule my life since I ditched my birth control, no matter how hard life gets.
(And trust me, a PhD in the rainy, cold UK when none of my experiments are working can get pretty dang depressing and anxiety-inducing at times.)
If you’re curious to learn more about this, I encourage you to check out Beyond the Pill by Dr. Jolene Brighten. This one book got me started on a huge journey of healing and getting back in touch with my body. And, as a lovely side effect, it cured my depression and anxiety!
7. Lower expectations and practice radical self-acceptance
When starting the journey to beat depresson and anxiety, it’s important that we first lower our expectations and then practice radical self-acceptance.
Lowering our expectations for now can allow us (especially us perfectionists!) to feel better about the baby steps we’re taking and the progress that we’re making, one day at a time.
Also, it will then make it easier to practice radical self-acceptance.
What’s radical self-acceptance?
Radical self-acceptance is accepting everything about ourselves, the good and the bad, and loving ourselves for exactly who we are right now.
And I hear you: I know when you’re depressed and anxious, clearly you don’t love that about yourself, and accepting it seems almost counterintuitive.
But get this: often, the more we resist our situation, the worse we make it.
By accepting our current state and practicing loving ourselves in spite of it, this can make a world of a difference when working to beat depression and anxiety!
8. Limit social media and exposure to negative news
Unfortunately, the world is just full of negative news with access right at your fingertips.
Usually, this news is all over our social media feeds. This is why it’s also important to limit your social media exposure when you’re trying to beat depression and anxiety.
And yes, it’s important to stay informed, but only about the most important stuff.
So resist the temptation to constantly be checking the news for the next little update on how the world is all going to hell in a handbasket.
How to limit negative exposure while still staying informed
These reputable publications send you a great digestible version of the day’s news you need to know, right to your inbox.
No need to do anything else!
I found that once I controlled my exposure to negative news (and social media too), my mission to beat depression and anxiety got way easier!
It also made me more productive and efficient – sometimes we waste way more time checking the news and social media than we realize!
9. Help others
There is something about helping others that can really help you beat depression and anxiety.
When you’re able to help others that you care about, it empowers you and helps you believe that you can help yourself, too.
Take this time to reach out to others when you feel up to it and ask if you can help them with anything.
Even just sending a short text or email to a friend or family member telling them you love them and that you’re thinking about them can be helpful.
Just imagine how you’d feel if someone reached out to you to let you know how important you are to them!
You’d feel pretty great, huh?
Try giving someone else this gift of feeling valuable and loved and see how it makes you feel.
I’ll bet it will get you well on your way to beat depression and anxiety! I know it did for me.
10. Recognize the good in the world through a gratitude practice
This is probably another one you’ve heard before, but I’ll say it again because I know it works:
Establish a daily gratitude practice.
For me, part of my morning routine includes writing down 5 things I’m grateful for.
Every. Single. Day.
It might sound small, but over time, it adds up to a big difference.
And I can personally say from experience that establishing this practice easily helps you:
- Recognize the good in the world
- Feel more optimistic more of the time
- Beat depression and anxiety
Add it to your schedule from #1 and start today!
And check out my FREE weekly self-care journal below with these gratitude practices built-in!
11. Recognize what you can control, and then control it
When it feels like the world is crumbling around us and so are our minds, it can easily feel like you’re losing control.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a “control freak,” we all like to have a sense of control. It feels safe and secure.
And when you’re struggling with trying to beat depression and anxiety, you often feel anything but safe and secure.
So in your corner of the world, right here, right now, figure out what you can control.
And then control the sh*t out of it.
It may be the next project you take on at work. Or setting a self-care routine that works for you. Or maybe it’s as simple as what you choose to eat for breakfast (have you tried that smoothie yet?).
Whatever it is, control what you can and practice letting the rest of it go.
12. Find a long-term project to dive into
This one is particularly relevant when you’re stuck at home feeling like you have nothing to do.
Because when you’re stuck at home feeling like you have nothing to do, it can be much easier for those feelings of depression and anxiety to creep in.
Be active and combat these feelings by finding a long-term project and diving deep into it.
To be honest, for me that project is my blog and engaging with my community of readers, subscribers, and followers.
(If you didn’t know, creating and maintaining a blog is an endless task filled with lots of complicated work, so it’s definitely a great way to keep yourself busy 😉 )
Ideas for long-term projects to beat depression and anxiety
- Start a blog
- Plan your next vacation
- Join a 30-day fitness challenge
- Cook recipes from a new healthy cookbook
- Start training for a goal: a marathon, deadlifting competition, or summitting a mountain peak
- Start a yoga practice (The Yoga Collective is my favorite online resource for this)
- Go back to school and start taking online courses to support your career development
- Take up a side hustle to earn some extra cash
- Learn to knit
- Start writing that book you’ve always wanted to write
- Learn more about photography
- Take up painting
13. Practice repetitive and Left-right motions to self-soothe
This one connects back with some of the long-term project ideas I listed above to beat depression and anxiety.
Repetitive motions like those moving left to right have been scientifically proven to be soothing.
Activities like knitting, crocheting, painting, and baking can be filled with these soothing repetitive motions.
So consider taking up one of these hobbies while you’re working to beat depression and anxiety.
14. Find your creative outlet and express the heck out of yourself
This also connects with some of those long-term projects you can get into to beat depression and anxiety!
Having a creative outlet is a great way to express your emotions – both conscious and unconscious.
There’s a reason many of the most famous “mentally ill” people are also some of the most well-respected artists in history – like Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Edvard Munch.
Their creative activities allowed them to express how they were feeling in a way that words couldn’t.
So take a cue from Mr. Picasso and pick up a paintbrush, play some music, sing your heart out, or dance.
Playing music and dancing really helped me to beat depression and anxiety!
15. Laughter is the best medicine
Especially when we’re struggling with depression and anxiety, finding every way possible to laugh and find the humor in things can be so, so helpful.
If you’re having trouble finding a source of humor yourself, ask your best friend or one of your family members to send along any funny content or memes they find.
My older sister does this for me when I’m feeling particularly lonely or down, and I can tell you that it makes such a difference when trying to beat depression and anxiety!
16. Know when to ask for help
Here’s the thing: we can’t always do it alone – nor do we have to.
In fact, the older I get and the more I learn about achieving mental wellness, the more apparent it is to me that it’s important to ask for help.
Personally, I struggle with this. I’ve always desired to be completely independent and show that I can get things done on my own without relying on anyone else.
But I think this is also a mechanism for limiting our vulnerability and chances of being let down by someone we depend on.
But if we limit our chances of being vulnerable, we also limit our chances of true connection with others.
And without true connection, we will never truly be happy.
So if you’re struggling to beat depression and anxiety, reach out to a trusted friend or family member and let them know.
Sometimes just even putting it out there that you’re having a tough time can be a relief, because more often than not, we’re met with compassion and understanding from the person we’re telling.
Getting professional help
And if you feel like you’ve tried every intervention possible, don’t be afraid to reach out for help from a professional.
Depression and anxiety are rooted in actual, physical changes in the brain that we can identify and observe.
And sometimes, we need help from a professional along with medication to start slowly bringing things back to “normal” for us. And that’s okay!
For example, for a year or two in my early twenties, I needed to be on antidepressants. And eventually, I did get to a point where I no longer needed them.
I’ve seen a few clinical psychologists over the years, both at home and abroad. As long as you find someone whose style works for you, these professional sessions can be immensely helpful in working to beat depression and anxiety.
17. Approach your journey one moment & one day at a time
Yes, battling depression and anxiety is often more like a marathon than a sprint.
But don’t let that intimidate you.
Don’t start overwhelming yourself with spiraling thoughts wondering how you’re ever going to get out of this “rut.”
You don’t have to start overwhelming yourself because I am here to tell you something really important:
I promise that you will not feel like this forever. With hard work and patience, I promise that the depression and anxiety will go away.
I remember that feeling of absolute dread wondering if I was going to “be like this” forever when I was depressed or anxious. So I found it helpful hearing from family and friends who had been there before that this too shall pass.
So take one moment and one day at a time. Be gentle with yourself.
And be present in the moment while trusting in the journey you’re on to become the best you you’ve ever been.
18. Identify the Lesson
For survivors of trauma, learning how to find the lesson and what can be learned from a traumatic experience has been shown to be very effective in recovery.
And the same goes for trying to beat depression and anxiety.
I know how difficult it is to look at things in a positive light some days when you’re struggling with depression and anxiety. Again, I’ve been there.
But in those moments where you’re feeling just a little better, and just a little more positive, work to identify what you can learn from this experience.
For me, realizing that going through the struggles of depression and anxiety myself would make me only more equipped to help other people struggling with these things in the future really spoke to my purpose of truly helping people.
What’s your purpose? Why do you set out to do the things you do? Consider how your own personal experience with trying to beat depression and anxiety will help you achieve your purpose in the future.
19. Know that this is all temporary
I said it before, and I’ll say it again:
I promise that these feelings are not forever. With hard work and patience, your depression and anxiety will go away.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe in the thick of it, but I’m here as a survivor of depression and anxiety to tell you that it is true.
Trust in this process and remind yourself that you are exactly where you need to be in your life right now to learn what you must learn so that you can become the person you need to be to create the life you truly want.
These feelings are just temporary. But the lessons you can learn from them will follow you for the rest of your life.