How to Do Things When Anxiety or Depression Get in Your Way

Depression and anxiety can really get in the way of life. For different reasons, both can prevent you from doing things you want or need to do. Whether depression has robbed you of energy and motivation (your very zest for life), or anxiety keeps you trapped in worries and worst-case scenarios, it can be extremely difficult to do anything. If you need to go places or dive into projects or tasks for work or school, but depression or anxiety are interfering, keep reading to discover tips for doing what you need to do in spite of these bothersome mental health challenges

It's Hard to Do Things with Anxiety, Depression, and It's Not Your Fault

Depression and anxiety want to control you and bring your life to a screeching halt. If you're tempted to give in and shut down or avoid unpleasant situations because of awful symptoms, know that this feeling is part of these mental health experiences. You aren't weak, lazy, trying to get out of something unpleasant, making excuses, or whatever else anyone might have hinted at. Anxiety and depression can make life difficult to the point of seeming impossible. 

Truthfully, you aren't weak, lazy, or incapable. You have many character strengths that you can draw on to live your life on your terms. You can hone and develop them to soar past any challenge. However, doing so is an ongoing process when you live with depression and anxiety. Sometimes, you are faced with a situation that you must deal with even when you don't feel like the strong and capable person you are. 

5 Practical Hacks for Doing Things When Depression, Anxiety Say You Can't

When you are facing any difficult task or situation and, courtesy of the nature of depression or anxiety, you find it very difficult, there are things you can do to help. You can do what you need (or maybe even, deep down inside, want) to do even though you are dealing with nasty symptoms of anxiety or depression. Try these five hacks:

  1. Give yourself a time limit. Completing a task or attending a long event (even if that event is, in theory, fun) can be incredibly daunting when you think that you have to do it for a long period of time. Consider committing to it for just a short period of time, perhaps for just five minutes. You might set a timer to let you know when your time is up, and you can stop or leave. Your situation doesn't have to be all-or-nothing, and giving it a try for just a bit does count. 
  2. Re-evaluate at the end of your time limit. Can you extend your time by a minute? Do this again and again in small steps until you really can't extend your time any longer, and then allow yourself to stop or leave.
  3. Give yourself an out. If you must attend an event, knowing that you have an easy out can make getting there and enduring your time less intimidating. Have an exit excuse ready, so you don't have to try to come up with one on the spot. Also, position yourself so you can reach the door (or otherwise duck out) with minimal effort. 
  4. Have support with you. Ask a trusted friend to accompany you or to sit with you and encourage you while you work. Having extra support can make things more bearable and help you stick it out. 
  5. Celebrate. Once you've made it through your set time limit or beyond, congratulate yourself and immediately do something small to celebrate. Treat yourself to something healthy you enjoy, do a little dance, listen to a favorite song, or write about it in a journal, for example.  

Even with these hacks, it can still be incredibly difficult to even endure your short time limit. Next time, we'll how to explore just how to get through those first few minutes and even extend them before using your planned exit. 

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2021, July 21). How to Do Things When Anxiety or Depression Get in Your Way, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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