Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Eating healthily, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and avoiding harmful levels of alcohol and other drugs can help you manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as improving your overall wellbeing.
Tips for eating well
Experiencing anxiety or depression can make it difficult to eat well, but keeping things simple can help. Here are some tips:
- Keep a daily timetable and include food-related activities such as shopping, cooking and eating.
- Learn to make simple meals that don't take too much time or energy to prepare. If you live on your own and aren't eating proper meals, consider using frozen or home-delivered dishes.
- Make use of the times when you feel good to prepare meals ahead of time (e.g. if you've got energy in the morning, make dinner then) or cook large quantities of food and freeze it.
Tips for getting active
Physical exercise such as walking, swimming, dancing, playing golf or going to the gym can help relieve the tension in your muscles, relax your mind and distract you from negative thoughts and worries. Try to do some physical exercise every day, even if it's just going for a walk. Keep it simple and enjoyable. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Increase your activity levels gradually. Start by planning simple daily activities such as shopping, driving, gardening, writing emails or completing simple household tasks. Starting small can increase your self-confidence and build the motivation needed to take on more energetic activities.
- Activities that are enjoyable, interesting, relaxing or satisfying can help you overcome depression and anxiety. At first, you might not get as much enjoyment as you used to, but keep trying! Think about what makes you happy and focus on doing that.
- Spend time with family members and close friends, and accept social invitations, even though it might be the last thing you feel like doing. Keeping connected with people helps to boost your wellbeing and confidence.
- Planning a routine can help you to become more active. Make sure some form of exercise is scheduled in for each day. Try to stick to the plan as closely as possible, but be flexible.
Tips for getting a good night's sleep
Depression and anxiety can disrupt your sleep patterns. It's essential to try to restore a regular sleep pattern to make a full recovery, so here are some tips:
- Try to get up at about the same time each morning.
- If you're worrying about things during the night, set aside some time for problem-solving during the day.
- Avoid drinking caffeine after 4pm and try not to drink more than two cups of caffeine-heavy drinks (e.g. coffee, strong tea, cola or energy drinks) each day.
- Avoid using alcohol to help you sleep. As the alcohol is broken down in your body, it causes you to sleep less deeply and to wake more frequently.
- Allow yourself time to wind down before going to bed. If you're working or studying, stop at least 30 minutes before bedtime and do something relaxing.
Tips for reducing alcohol and other drugs
It's a good move to try to reduce the use of alcohol and other drugs, as they can cause long-term problems and make it much harder to recover. It's also a good idea to avoid stimulants, in particular excessive amounts of caffeine and any kind of amphetamine (speed, ecstasy, ice), as these can worsen the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Find out more by downloading our Drugs, alcohol and mental health fact sheet.