Starting Off 2024 Strong: Coping With Anxiety and Depression

by | Dec 29, 2023

Starting Off 2024 Strong: Coping With Anxiety and Depression

The new year is here, and that can bring a mix of emotions. On the one hand, a fresh start means new opportunities and the chance to set positive goals. But for many of you dealing with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, the changing of the calendar can also trigger feelings of being overwhelmed or inadequate. You may be worried that you won’t achieve what you want or that the struggles of last year will continue.

The good news is that there are effective strategies you can use to start 2024 off strong despite these challenges. The key is not to be too hard on yourself but instead to focus on self-care, maintaining a routine, spending time with supportive people, and making your mental health a priority. This year can be different if you go into it with the right mindset and tools. There are always people who want to see you succeed and be happy.

I would like to share some valuable tips that I gathered during my interview with Teacher Neil on my podcast, MindEd on Mental Health: A CBT Podcast.

Recognizing Signs of Anxiety and Depression

Feeling down or worried is normal from time to time. But if these feelings persist or intensify, it could indicate an anxiety disorder or depression. Some common symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable most of the time. Struggling to enjoy activities you used to find pleasurable. These could be signs of depression.
  • Excessive worrying and tension. Difficulty controlling feelings of worry that disrupt your day-to-day life. This may point to an anxiety disorder like generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder.
  • Changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, or motivation. Sleeping or eating too much or too little, feeling restless or fatigued, having difficulty focusing—these changes can accompany either anxiety or depression.
  • Physical problems like stomach issues, headaches, or pain. Anxiety and depression can manifest in unexplained physical symptoms as well as psychological ones.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide. This is extremely serious and requires immediate medical help.

The good news is that anxiety and depression are treatable. Speaking to a doctor or mental health professional is the first step. They can determine if you meet the criteria for an anxiety or depressive disorder and recommend an effective treatment plan. Options include therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination.

With the right treatment and support, you can overcome anxiety and depression. The start of a new year is the perfect time to prioritize your mental health and make positive changes. There are always people here to help you through the journey.


Setting Achievable Goals for the New Year

Set small, realistic goals and start making progress one step at a time. When facing depression and anxiety, even minor milestones can feel overwhelming, so be gentle with yourself. Focus on self-care, connect with your support network, and try the following:

Start by choosing one small habit to work on each week.

For example, aim for exercising 3 times, limiting screen time to 30 minutes before bed, or eating one healthy meal each day. Don’t punish yourself if you slip up; just get back to it and build from there.

Connect with others.

Call a friend or family member, join an online support group, or see a therapist. Let people who care about you help lift you up. Make plans to socialize in person if you feel up to it, even if it’s just taking a walk together.

Reflect on your values and priorities.

Think about what really matters to you and gives your life meaning. Set a concrete goal to engage in one small act each day that aligns with your values. It could be volunteering, pursuing a hobby, or practicing self-care. Focusing on purpose can help motivate you.

Celebrate wins, no matter how small.

Reward yourself for achieving your goals to stay motivated for continued progress. Do something kind for yourself, like taking a bubble bath, watching a movie, or cooking a nice meal. You deserve to feel good about how far you’ve come.

With compassion for yourself, support from others, and small steps toward a healthier and more purposeful life, you can start the New Year in a good place. But go easy—real change happens gradually. You’ve got this! Focus on your progress and be proud of all you accomplish.

Establishing a Self-Care Routine

Establishing a self-care routine is one of the best ways to start the new year off strong when coping with anxiety and depression. A good routine can help reduce stress and negative thoughts, boost your mood, and make you feel more in control of your mental health.

Start simple and build from there.

Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything at once. Pick one or two habits to focus on each week, like going for a 20-minute walk 3 times a week or journaling for 10 minutes a day. As these become second nature, add in another practice. Some easy self-care habits include:

  • Exercising: Go for walks, do yoga, strength train. Exercise releases feel-good hormones that improve your mood.
  • Practicing mindfulness: Spend a few minutes each day focused on your breathing and the present moment. Meditate, do deep breathing, and journal.
  • Getting enough sleep: Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep exacerbates symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Eating healthy: Focus on whole, nutritious foods that boost mood and reduce inflammation. Stay hydrated and limit excess sugar or caffeine.
  • Connecting with others: Call a friend or family member; join an online support group. Social interaction and support from others can help motivate you and lift your mood.
  • Limiting alcohol and avoiding recreational drugs: These substances negatively impact your mental and physical health, disrupt your self-care routine, and worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Taking medication as directed: Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions if you’re taking medication for anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.

Following a consistent self-care routine can make a world of difference in how you feel. Be gentle with yourself and make adjustments as needed. With time and practice, caring for your mental health will become second nature. Focus on progress, not perfection. You’ve got this!

Seeking Professional Help for Ongoing Issues

When ongoing feelings of anxiety and depression persist, seeking professional help can be critical. Speaking with a licensed therapist or counselor can help you develop effective strategies for coping and find the right treatment plan.

Find the Right Therapist for You

Do some research to find mental health professionals in your area who specialize in anxiety, depression, or both. Check their credentials, experience, availability, and whether they take your insurance. Meet with a few to find one you connect with, who you feel comfortable opening up to, and who uses an approach you prefer, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or mindfulness-based therapy.

Be Open and Honest

For therapy to be effective, you need to be willing to openly discuss your symptoms, experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Your therapist can only help you as much as you let them in. Despite the fact that confidentiality is a requirement for therapists, this can be challenging. Being transparent about your struggles will allow them to accurately assess your needs and the best course of treatment.

Commit to the Process

Therapy and counseling can require time and work. Don’t expect a quick fix. Be patient through the process, commit to attending your sessions, and follow any recommendations around lifestyle changes, coping strategies, or other homework. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. If you don’t feel you’re making progress after a few months, talk to your therapist. You may need to try a different approach or find a new therapist.

Consider Medication

For some people, therapy alone is not enough. Medication, often antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, can be used in combination with therapy. Medication helps balance chemicals in your brain, while therapy helps you learn coping mechanisms. Discuss medication options with a psychiatrist or your general practitioner. It can take trial and error to find the right medication or combination, so patience and open communication with your doctor are important.

The path to wellness isn’t always straightforward, but with professional support, you can find the strength and strategies within yourself to cope with your anxiety and depression in a healthy way. Staying committed to your mental health may be challenging, but you deserve to feel better, and help is out there.

Joining a Support Community for Anxiety and Depression

Joining an online support group is one of the best ways to start off the new year strong while coping with anxiety and depression. Support communities allow you to connect with others facing similar challenges so you can share experiences, insights, and advice.

Find the Right Community

There are many options out there, so look for one that focuses specifically on anxiety, depression, or both. Some are hosted on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok. Others are found on non-profit or mental health organization websites. Do some searching to find a community that looks active, supportive, and aligns with what you need.

Once you join a group, take time to get familiar with how it works. See what kinds of discussions happen and look for pinned posts or an “about” section to learn the rules. When you’re ready, introduce yourself! Share a bit about your situation and what you hope to gain from the community. Let people know you’re there to listen and support them as well.

CBT Rise is here to guide you on this noble journey (

        For Mental Health Responders: Elevate your expertise with our comprehensive mentoring program. Learn cutting-edge Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques, gain real-world insights, and join a community of dedicated professionals.

       For Compassionate Individuals: Understand mental health like never before. Our program demystifies the complexities of mental health issues, equipping you with the knowledge and tools to be a pillar of support for those you care about.

Check-In Regularly

Aim to check in on the group a few times a week or whenever you’re feeling particularly anxious or low. Read through new posts and comments, replying to others when you have advice or can relate to their experiences. Start your own discussion threads too, sharing how you’re feeling or asking for coping strategies. The more you engage, the more you’ll benefit.

Over time, you may build connections with certain members and even take conversations private. But the beauty of an online support group is that it’s there whenever you need it. Make a habit of frequenting your community in 2024 and beyond. Together, you can gain motivation, feel less alone, and pick up useful tips for easing symptoms – helping ensure this year starts strong and stays that way.


The new year is here, and while the changing of the calendar won’t magically cure your depression or anxiety, you now have the tools and motivation to start building better habits and coping strategies. Focus on progress, not perfection. Celebrate small wins and be kind to yourself if you stumble. You have so much wonderful potential, and there are people here to help you. Make self-care a priority this year. Connecting to others who understand what you’re going through can help combat feelings of isolation. You have the power to shape your mental health journey. Stay positive! Here’s to a happy, healthy 2024. The future is yours. Now go out there and start creating it!


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