How I Destroyed My Anxiety & Depression
15 Steps I used to Eliminate Anxiety, Depression, Stress & Addiction
I’m going to take you through all the steps I used to help me overcome my unhappy life and put it back on track. The following steps help you create good habits and rid yourself of bad ones. First though, we must understand why we have anxiety and depression.
Your Subconscious Mind Controls You
After much research I came to one main conclusion. The subconscious mind is the part of the mind which controls the reality of the individual. It is where all of your emotion comes from. When you don’t like hearing something someone has said, it is because your conscious mind has impressed a belief onto your subconscious mind, therefore creating your own truth. So it’s simple. Change your subconscious mind and you will change your perception of reality. Worry and anxiety are types of fear. We want to turn your fears into faith, because faith is the emotion that leads us to having a happy life.
The use of Auto-Suggestion
You may notice that a lot of the ideas outlined below include a technique called auto-suggestion. Auto-suggestion is the usage of constant repetition of an action in your conscious mind until the subconscious mind accepts it as fact. It takes your current conditioning and replaces it with new conditioning – bad habits into new, good habits. To explain this we could use a simple metaphor. Let’s take a glass of cola as your current conditioning, and then we take a jug of water as the new conditioning. We slowly start to pour them together. At first the colour will still be a very dark brown, but eventually the water would take over and the mixture will soon be clear. The more you apply the new habits, the less the old habits will have an effect. Let’s replace your old conditioning by using auto-suggestion to create NEW conditioning!
Emotion and Visualisation
The subconscious mind reacts best to emotion and visualisation. By simply seeing yourself smiling everyday in the mirror or thinking about happy events will improve your life – you will change for the better and you will become happier. Your subconscious mind also does not recognise the words “not” or “no”. For example, if you stood in the mirror and said to yourself I will not think about a tennis ball, you will automatically think about a tennis ball.
Let us delve into the steps toward happiness and faith. All the steps are generally very easy, but as humans we often believe if something is easy it doesn’t work. This is not true. Try these steps, have faith that they will work.
The 15 Steps:
Step 1 – The smile.
When you are in the open world, the smile can be one of the biggest tools to help you overcome anxiety and depression. I smile constantly now. When I’m crossing the road, walking to the shop, driving in my car, whatever I’m doing… I’m smiling.
Smiling is an act we can all execute. We may do it towards other people as we pass them in the street or as we serve someone at work. The smile is the greatest asset to show your appreciation, gratitude, or happiness in a certain situation. Smiling at yourself in the mirror can have a great effect on your mental wellbeing.
When I wake up and get out of bed in the morning, I usually make my way to the toilet, stand and urinate whilst looking in the mirror to the left smiling at myself whilst affirming that today will be a great day. If I saw a mirror throughout the day, I would use that opportunity to give myself a cheesy grin. When I was a bit less positive and smiling in the mirror had less of an impact, I would think about a time in my life which made me happy – such as seeing my son for the first time. Then I’d try to smile some more. Smiling, and laughing, are the greatest forms of medicine for the negative thinker. Smile wide, use all the muscles you possibly can. This is important. This confuses your mind to think you are actually happy even when you are not.
Smiling has many health benefits! It lowers heart rate and relaxes the body. This in turn means the person who smiles more often is less likely to develop heart disease. Blood pressure is also temporarily lowered. Stress is also reduced because of smiling due to the fact that smiling releases endorphins which counteract stress hormones. This in turn lifts your mood, and the endorphins can also lessen pain.
What’s the best part about smiling? It’s completely free.
Step 2 – CBD Oil
CBD oil is a completely legal supplement in the EU and most of the US that contains CBD. CBD (cannabinol) is a compound found in hemp that has significant health benefits. There is a lot of taboo around this supplement because of the relation to cannabis, but it is 100% safe. It is not psycho-active and therefore does not make people feel “stoned”. It can actually counteract the psycho-activity of THC. It is sold a dietary supplement within the EU and the US.
If you feel uneasy about this supplement, maybe this will help you – cannabis is the main category. The sub-categories are Marijuana and Hemp. Hemp is used to make clothing, hemp plastic, hemp concrete, paper… and, you guessed it, CBD. When growing hemp, there is a legal maximum allowance of 0.2% THC in the EU and 0.3% in the US within the plant. Therefore, that is the maximum you will find in any legal dietary supplement.
I cannot make any medicinal claims about CBD because of the political propaganda surrounding cannabis.
I can, however tell you that it helped me… in some way. There are lots of peer-reviewed scientific papers online about the ailments and conditions CBD can help with which you can find here. Do your research and see if it’s your cup of tea.
In the US, McHudson supply organic, non-GMO, vegan CBD extracts.
Are you ready to try CBD?
Step 3 – Feeling comfortable in uncomfortable situations
The only way we can really progress is by understanding that in any given field we have to get through the uncomfortable parts before they become comfortable. When you first ride a bike you don’t feel steady and a lot of the time you fall… but eventually this gets easier until you become comfortable with the action.
This step helped me realise that being in situations we don’t like at first actually helps us overcome a lot of problems we face in life. Skipping a meal to keep myself hungry, taking a freezing cold shower, starting a conversation with someone I’d never met were just 3 situations some of I found uncomfortable, at first (however I’ve never got used to the freezing cold shower but it does help me wake up in the morning!).
What situations do you feel most uncomfortable with? Even if the thought makes you anxious to do this, try it out (as long as it’s not illegal or life threatening). Your mind will realise that even if the situation is uncomfortable at first, it’s really not that bad after a while. The more uncomfortable situations you put yourself in, the more your mind will progress. Anxieties will deteriorate because you will understand that you can be comfortable in nearly any situation eventually.
Step 4 – Think you are already the person you want to become
Have you ever heard the term “dress for the job you want, not the job you have“. Well, this is probably the hardest step of them all, but it can help you tenfold at getting over your illness.
Write down on a piece of paper the person you believe yourself to currently be. Now write down on a different sheet of paper the person you want to be. This could be from happiness, to the thoughts you wish you had, to the career, to wealth, to confidence, to relationships etc. Write down EXACTLY the person you want to be. Now, where you have written “I want to be…” change this to “I am…”
Take the first piece of paper, find a fire and watch it burn; put it in the shredder, or something of that nature. Smile whilst watching.
Take the second piece of paper, I want you to read this to yourself when you get up in the morning and just before bed. In the morning we are still waking up, therefore our subconscious mind is more easily accessed and late at night just before we sleep, again our subconscious will remember more easily what has been said. If possible read it as many times as you can throughout the day. I want you to read it with the emotion and feeling that you BELIEVE you are already that person. Try to visualise yourself as the person in the paragraph.
The above paragraph includes auto-suggestion to trick your subconscious into believing you are that person. Your subconscious works in visuals and emotion. Simply reading without emotion and/or visualisation will not work. Do this for at least two weeks every day. You WILL feel a difference if you do this right.
Step 5 – Healthy body = Healthy mind
This is so true. Once I had to stop training BJJ due to my injury, I went on a downward spiral of unhealthy eating which included numerous chocolate biscuits daily. I felt horrible. You can research your own healthy diets; I am not one to convey the best diet for anyone because everyone’s body reacts differently to different foods. For instance, I feel a lot worse when I eat dairy, and find that raw fruits and vegetables give me more energy and promote a positive mindset. Find the diet for you.
Step 6 – Exercise
You might think “I can’t be bothered” but exercise, especially in the fresh air and not in a gym, is a big way to improve the levels of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is in charge of pleasure.
A lot of people seem to hate exercising, some people just aren’t active people and I get that. But exercise doesn’t just have to be running, cycling, or anything the usual person would find boring. There are lots of activities from soccer, to climbing, to martial arts that are fun but also count as exercise. I wrote an article called “The Exercise Dilemma” which you can find at this link. I talk you through the main problems with people who can’t seem to get motivated enough to exercise and how to overcome them.
Regular exercise has been proven to be good for sleep, memory, depression, anxiety, stress, and boosting overall mood. Exercise also helps improve energy throughout the day. Studies have shown that exercise is just as effective at treating depression as anti-depressants without any side effects.
Exercise is excellent for the brain as it helps nerve growth, it reduces brain inflammation, it releases endorphins which counteract stress, and it increases calming brain patterns. Exercise is also a good distraction from the stresses in your life.
Step 7 – Help yourself before helping others
On the surface this seems selfish, but how are you supposed to continuously help others in the world if you can’t even help yourself? You are just as important as everyone else in the world! Give to yourself before you give to other people!
That is not to say don’t help anyone, just that you should realise that you also need some TLC. I went in a loop of helping others thinking it would make me feel better, but trust me, until you feel better yourself you cannot help others effectively.
Step 8 – Give yourself a purpose
Depression makes you feel worthless. It makes you feel so small in this vast universe. People have brought themselves to the top of the hierarchy from nothing because they believed in themselves. They had FAITH in themselves. You can be the person you want to be, as long as you learn to LOVE yourself and focus on good habits. You can do anything if you put your mind to it. Set yourself daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, yearly goals and lifetime goals. Once you start thinking you can achieve your goals, your subconscious mind will get to work and make you act upon them.
Feeling achievement helps you progress. The more you progress, the happier you feel. When you feel a sense of achievement in your life, you truly feel good about YOURSELF.
Step 9 – Meditation
Meditation has helped me control my worries. Eventually it helped me realise that worries and anxieties are just a figment of everyone’s own imagination/subconscious mind and that really they can be transmuted into hope and faith. Meditation helps your mind take charge of your body, not the other way round. This, however, takes a lot of practise and commitment.
The way I love to meditate is to sit on a chair with a straight back without slouching. I do not recommend lying down as you are prone to falling asleep. I load up a binaural beats video in the background. I put my hands on my thighs, palms down. I then close my eyes.
Whenever you feel an itch or a need to move just let it pass. Unless it’s something you truly can’t stop, like a twitch or cough. Mind over matter – here body is the matter. Whilst meditating, try to calm yourself until you come to a total state of relaxation, where you are awake in the mind but feel asleep in the body – this may take weeks of daily meditation before you can do this.
Worries may come into your mind, but remember – you are in control as to what thoughts STAY in your mind. Every thought that creeps in cannot be controlled, but you can keep them in or send them away by focusing on the same thought or a completely new one. Instead of keeping these worries or fears within your mind, replace them with positive thoughts. Think of things that you wish to happen in the future, visualise them so much that you believe that they will come true. All these negative thoughts that creep inside your head are yours to control. You are the observer of your own thoughts. That means you do not have to focus on a thought just because it crops up. The subconscious mind is a weird place. Play with it; you’ll be surprised as to how you can change your life.
I meditate every morning for AT LEAST 15 minutes.
For more information about how meditation helped me, check out an article I have written here.
Step 10 – Daily Journal
Journal writing not only helps me tremendously at the time, but it helps me look at all the progress I have made, or if I seem to be stuck in one place. It is also a sort of autobiography for the future. I write in my journal every day. I used to write down all my worries and fears. For me it mainly contained the stresses of my addiction, and the anxiety of my health. Looking back on it now I can look and smile knowing I have conquered my subconscious fears.
Writing in a journal helps your mind talk to itself. By putting pen to paper about your thoughts you allow yourself to tap into your creative, problem solving part of your mind. You physically see your thoughts on paper, and a lot of the time realise how ridiculous they are. By seeing the thoughts written down it also means you can make a plan of action as to what you’re going to do to overcome them.
If you wish, you can buy a journal that comes in a box and has a lock, just in case you think someone would read it. I have the red version of this one.
Step 11 – Help other people
There is a step above where I mentioned helping yourself before helping others – that is crucial. Once you feel ready, helping other people will also help you. I used to get a coffee every morning at a bakery chain that would give you a loyalty card and a stamp for every coffee bought. They would give you your 10th coffee free. I used to save these cards and give them to homeless people in the city centre every now and then. Even a small act such as this will give you an immediate sense of pleasure. You have helped someone and it didn’t really cost you anything. You could do many other things to help people such as help someone move house, or give them a lift somewhere.
Step 12 – Realise every action is neutral
For some people, this concept is quite a weird concept. “How can every action be neutral? Actions are either positive or negative.” This step is a part of the stoic philosophy. Consider the fly caught in the web of a spider. The spider will be happy that he has his meal, but it is chaos for the fly whom is about to be killed and eaten. It is the PERCEPTION of the individual which makes it a situation either positive or negative. Truly, all actions are neutral; it is only the way we perceive these actions which makes a difference on our emotional output and the way we think.
Some people find this step hard to grasp, but think about every action you or someone else performs and how you perceive that action. You may also want to look into the stoic philosophy.
Step 13 – Be at one with nature
Breathing in the countryside fresh air or the gorgeous sea air is one way to really feed your body some healthy energy. Go for a stroll or play a sport with your friends in the park. Camping with friends can really help you connect with each other. The salty, sea air at the beach is also really good for the lungs and therefore your life-force (your breath). I actually overcame most of my anxiety in the summer due the sun. It helped me immensely.
Step 14 – Stop over-analysing
This is a hard step, but with persistence, it can be completed – JUST BE PERSISTENT. Once you realise you’ve started overanalysing something, focus your thoughts away from that. I take an affirmation which i say daily these days: “Why worry it will probably never happen”. The more you worry about something, the more your brain already has the emotion that it has ALREADY happened (even though it hasn’t). This is how our brain works – fears create the emotion of already having happened, just as faith does. So instead of focusing on the fears of what could happen, why not focus on the faith? Overanalysis comes from our lack of hope.
Step 15 – Gratitude
Do you have food on the table? Do you have shelter? Do you have friends, or family? Do you have your health? Do you have freedom? Do you have money coming in? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you’re better off than most of the people in the world. Show your gratitude; thank yourself as YOU are the one who has put yourself in any current situation due to your mindset.
Gratitude is one of the best steps towards positive thinking. It makes you feel like you are ALREADY happy and therefore puts you in a positive frame of mind. Do not underestimate gratitude. This is why religious people who pray live happier lives – they say thank you for what they have therefore feeling grateful.