Mental Health

Self-management skills for anxiety, depression, and insomnia

Self-management Skills for Anxiety and Depression

When anxious, people worry excessively and expect dangerous or bad things to happen. Feelings of anxiety can be related to various things in everyday life, such as excessive worry about work, family safety, finances, and diseases. Anxiety can be difficult to control and can easily permeate our lives. 

A moderate degree of anxiety could help us avoid danger and help cope with stress and challenges. However, excessive, and long-term anxiety can cause significant distress and damage to daily life, leading to susceptibility to fatigue, restlessness, inability to concentrate, irritability, or insomnia. 

When people are depressed, they tend to be upset, and lose interest or motivation in the things they usually love. They may also feel negative, pessimistic, sluggish, guilty, loss of self-worth, easily tired, and unable to concentrate. These symptoms can affect daily life, and in severe cases can lead to increased risk of suicide.

When you are feeling anxious or depressed, you can

  • Exercise: such as participating in sports classes, fitness walking, Tai Chi, social dancing, etc.
  • Have a balanced and healthy diet: Eat three meals a day at regular intervals and always have healthy snacks on hand.
  • Maintain quality sleep.
  • Reduce alcohol intake.
  • Rest/relax: practice mindfulness, yoga, listening to music, massage, or learning relaxation techniques. Try breathing exercises, slowly inhale through the nose, and then exhale through the mouth, maintaining a slow and regular rhythm.
  • Accept yourself: tell yourself “I have done my best”, do not pursue perfection, and be proud of what you can do.
  • Try to divert your attention: observe a flower or plant, or something you find interesting or peaceful.
  • Humour: laughing can bring about a good mood.
  • Know what triggers your anxiety: when you feel stressed or anxious, try to write it down to find the pattern that triggers anxiety.
  • Practice positive psychology and maintain a positive attitude: try to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Record three happy little things every day, increase positive emotions, develop personal strengths (seeking direction, meaning and participation in daily life). Pay attention to, be grateful and cherish the things and relationships in life, and appreciate the strengths of yourself and others. 
  • Learn or discover a new hobby: find and participate in activities or interest classes that you like, such as writing a diary, drawing, gardening, learning a new musical instrument, a new language, participating in a new game or sport.
  • Participate in artistic activities: such as music appreciation, singing, playing, or learning musical instruments.
  • Travel/get close to nature: Use your free time to enjoy walking, outing, fishing, or camping in nature.
  • Community participation and establishment of a support network: Participate in community activities, religious gatherings, or do volunteer work. This will help you make good use of and impart your skills and experience to others and establish a support network.
  • Talk to others: keep in touch with your loved ones, tell your trusted friends and family about your situation, whether face-to-face, phone calls, letters, emails, or social media. Let them know your current situation and how they can help you.
  • Seek professional help: If you feel anxious or depressed most of the time in the past two weeks, you should promptly consult a doctor or therapist for professional help.

Self-management Skills to Promote Quality Sleep

Studies have shown that improving sleep quality can effectively reduce negative emotions and depression symptoms in older adults.

  • Maintain your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle: Going to bed and waking up in the morning at around the same time every day can help set your biological clock and improve the quality of your sleep.
  • Avoid daytime naps.
  • Exercise during the day: People who exercise regularly will sleep better at night and feel more energetic during the day. Regular exercise can also improve symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea.
  • Reduce eating stimulating foods: It is recommended to limit the intake of caffeine and nicotine; avoid overeating and drinking at night and avoid drinking alcohol before going to bed.
  • Avoid watching TV, using a computer, or reading a book in bed.
  • Have a quiet and comfortable sleep environment: a dark, quiet, and cool environment is conducive to sleeping comfortably.
  • If sleep problems bother you, please promptly consult a doctor or therapist for professional help.