Thursday, May 9, 2019

My Top 5 Favorite Coping Mechanisms for Depression & Anxiety


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Carrying out this list of coping mechanisms does not come naturally to me. It takes effort for me to devote time and energy into something positive. My default nature is to allow my thoughts to control my actions, usually leading to just sitting around feeling defeated and sorry for myself.

If you can relate, let me encourage you that it really is worth the effort.

My Negative Coping Mechanism

If I must be honest, my go-to mechanism for coping with any unwanted feelings is TV. Getting lost in a screen of make-believe provides an immediate distraction from envy, jealousy, self-pity, loneliness and the plethora of other negative thoughts that enter my mind on a daily basis. 

Watching TV isn't a bad thing in and of itself. But it certainly isn't an adequate coping mechanism, and often times it causes even more unwanted thoughts (because even what is considered "clean TV" today stills contains a number of innuendos and indications that make it easy for the imagination to fill in the blanks and fantasize).

As God is slowly transforming me to become more like Him, He is helping me to discover better coping mechanisms for feelings of depression and anxiety. Here are my top 5 favorites:

1. Declaring Scriptures

If you only ever read one thing on my blog, let it be this point. There is so much spiritual and psychological power in declaring God's Word OUT LOUD. When you spend time in God's Word daily, you'll come across so many Scriptures that counteract the anxious and depressing thoughts that hold your mind captive. 

BUT, I have to admit that one of my favorite ways to discover Scriptures to speak out loud is to use Google. Ideas for things to google are: 
  • Bible verses for depression
  • Bible verses for anxiety
  • Scriptures for loneliness
  • Scriptures for rejection
  • Bible verses for overcoming bitterness
It may feel strange to randomly say a Bible verse out loud, but I encourage you to power through the awkwardness of it. When you do, it starts to become more and more natural, and you'll notice a slow yet impressive change in how your mind operates.



FREE Resources to Help You Use Scriptures to Cope with Depression

Click on the image right over there → 
to receive 3 simple, easy-to-read resources to help you draw near to God through feelings of depression:

   1. Printable of 5 Biblical Truths to Declare Daily
   2. Embracing Brokenness Worksheet to help you identify the negative thoughts that hold your mind captive
   3. The Ultimate Guide to Establishing the Habit of Daily Quiet Times E-book 


2. Drinking Tea

Despite the United States being a 1st world country, so many people struggle with addictions and substance abuse. It wasn't until I lost my son to neonatal death that I discovered my own temptation to use alcohol to escape undesirable feelings. Fortunately, God was graceful enough to put hedges in my way and He directed me in another direction - tea! 

I believe depression and anxiety often precede substance abuse.  I think there's a natural tendency in people to seek out something to physically ingest or inhale to cope with life's trials. Some people go to substance abuse or overeating. But others seek out healthy things to consume, such as tea!

For budget reasons, I usually buy my local store's generic brand of tea. Unfortunately, generic tea brands tend to have a very limited selection, so I try to keep at least one "special" tea in my cabinet. Some of my favorite special tea's are:

Even though my go-to is tea, yours may be totally different. Tea is not for everybody (my hubby HATES tea with a passion). I threw out a poll on Facebook for alternative healthy consumption options, and these were the top results:

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Healthy fats (such as avocados) 
  • Sugar-free hard candies (to suck on)

3. Working Puzzles

I like to work on puzzles because it's relaxing. It works my brain without challenging me to think or process anything. When I finish a puzzle, I glue it together so I can bask in the triumph of my finished work whenever I want. 😜 Working the puzzle seems to be more therapeutic than actually finishing it. For some reason, I don't feel satisfied when I fit the last piece in. But stroking the glue on the puzzle gives more a little more oomph to the finale.

Because puzzles have become a favorite pastime of mine, I don't have the budget to get a fancy picture puzzle all the time. I have found many decent 500 and 1000 piece puzzle at dollar stores, and I sometimes splurge for something nicer at Half Price Books. Just for kicks, I included a wishlist of Amazon puzzles I want to do one day:

4. Creating Art

Okay, I'm sure I'm going to look a little crazy on this one because by no means am I a super talented artist. But I really do enjoy my own artistic creations. And you know what? It's okay if no one else does!

What I really love to do is take a messy drawing or fingerpainting made by my children and print Scriptures on them. I've also dabbled in creating simple Bible Verse graphics on Canva. Check out some of my creations at my Etsy Shop.

A good friend of mine suggested coloring books, which also have a reputation for being therapeutic.

I encourage you to find something creative to do. Appreciate the beauty you create. It's okay if it's silly or childish. It's still great quality time between you and God, and tapping into your inner child helps with child-like faith. 

5. Listening to Music

This item may seem like a no-brainer, but even this one takes effort for me to implement. Unlike the first 4 items, it's not really possible to listen to music while watching TV. It requires sacrificing that visual stimulus.

Instead of trying to psych myself up for listening to worship music for an extended period of time, I pick one song that really draws me to God in whatever season of life I'm in. I call it my "Season Anthem Song." I try to listen to that song during my daily quiet time and when I'm feeling particularly low. My current anthem song is Jesus I Come by Elevation Worship.

Below is a YouTube playlist of my past anthem songs. One really cool aspect of this playlist is that I can remember the difficult season each song represents, and the hope God illuminated into my life using music.




If you know someone who could benefit from this post, please share! And don't hesitate to reach out to me at sarah@brokencontritehearts.com, on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.



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