Thirteen Keys to Reduce Anxiety and Depression

Hello LDS Women,

It's hard to be a LDS woman today! Even though many men help more around the house and with the children, women still work, on average, twenty hours more a week! You, more than men, are considered the care-givers, not only of your own families, but, increasingly, of your aged parents. With working at home (and many times outside the home, nurturing your children according to Gospel principles, serving others as well as in your church callings, frequently comments indicate that there just isn't any time for you. Frequently, I hear indications that you realize “something” has to go and you need to simplify your lives, but you don't know how. You feel stuck.

When you experience anxiety/depression (and they usually go together), you probably feel imprisoned, locked into a huge list of "must do's" that can seem to chain rather than bless you. When you experience anxiety/depression, you are often engulfed by “big” emotions such as anxiety, anger and guilt. Second, you have “busy” minds that whirl with thoughts that include what to have for dinner, when to find the time to prepare your Sunday School lesson or talk, when to talk to your daughter about the importance of modesty and... There are keys that can unlock those chains, and they are all found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


  1. Connect with Heavenly Father. Take time every day to connect with Heavenly Father through prayer everyday. That may consist of singing/listening to a hymn, reading a scripture verse(s), reading an Ensign talk...there are many resources on LDS. org.  Take advantage of them. When you take the time to “draw in” and connect to Heavenly Father, you see things as they are. You ground yourself in his love and are able to be open-minded, flexible and “tuned-in” to yourselves and others.

  2. Sleep. Lack of proper sleep results in crabbiness, grumpiness, and reactivity. Your bodies don't run on batteries! Prepare for a restful sleep by turning off all technology at least 30 minutes before going to bed. There are very few (and this applies to children, teens and adults) who can do without at least 8 hours sleep!

  3. Word of Wisdom. Eat fresh veggies and fruits, fish, beans, nuts and grains. Fast-food, packaged foods and a lot of canned foods are packed with sugars, chemicals and food by-products. As for what you drink, eliminate soft drinks, energy drinks and caffeinated drinks. Water is the best drink. Committing to good eating and drinking habits rids your body of unhealthy toxins. You will feel energetic and alert rather than hyper and lethargic.

  4. Live in the Present Moment. Fussing incessantly about past events (what you should have done better, for instance) results in depression and and worrying excessively about future events results in anxiety. Living in the past or the future robs you of living fully in the present.

  5. Take Breaks and Move. Many women work non-stop, rarely taking breaks. And the result is usually frustration with yourself and others. Your mind is in your body, and it is the best indicator when you need to stop and take a break. You'll find you work more efficiently and get the task done sooner when you take breaks. Move and change your mood. The mere act of moving clears busy minds and often brings solutions to mind.

  6. Be Thankful. Rather than wishing for more, gratefully acknowledging what you do have keeps life in a positive and healthy perspective. Count at least 3 blessings before you go to bed at night. 

  7. Play. Smile! Let your fun side show. See the humor in situations, even the negative ones.

  8. Stay Positive. Every situation has a positive somewhere! At the end of the day, count the many “small” positives of the day. Positivity breeds positivity!

  9. Exercise. No need for an expensive gym membership! The least expensive exercise is walking, and you can walk anytime, anywhere (well almost!). And the added bonus is fresh air and the beauty of nature.

  10. Appreciate Yourself. It's great to receive external support, but, sometimes, it isn't forthcoming. However, you can always appreciate yourself and celebrate your successes. Appreciating yourself for positive changes and growth cultivates an attitude of compassion and kindness towards yourself and others.

  11. Nature Heals. Heavenly Father created this wonderful world for us! Take frequent breaks from technology and enjoy nature. Focus all your senses to truly value the beauty of nature. Smell the flowers, touch the bark of a tree, see the moon, listen to the rustlings of the wind through the trees, and taste the raindrops that fall on your face. And deeply breathe in the air! Live green! We live in a “chemical” world. Use herbs, flowers, food, oils in their various forms for cleaning, medicinal purposes, for beauty. Less expensive and better for your health.

  12. Service. All of us were given talents and strengths to help not only ourselves, but others.  Writing your thoughts and feelings in a journal can be therapeutic.  Music, drama and art are all used now as therapy.  Serving others, in church and in other environments helps lighten your load as well as that of others.  
  13. Family-of-Origin Issues. When you find yourself reacting (knee-jerk responses) angrily and negatively rather than responding calmly, it's a sure bet that there is a family-of-origin issue(s) lurking underneath. For instance, if you find yourself angry and can't figure out why... saying, “I know this sounds dumb”...I don't know why I say/do this” children/my partner/my friend(s) are pushing my buttons”.. or living your life with “shoulds”'s time to investigate what beliefs, expectations, and feelings are informing your behavior and ways of communicating, especially under stress.

 Earth-life means constant change and challenges. If you are “racing” through life, thinking that life is more than you can or want to handle, wishing you had time time to “smell the roses,” trying to meet everyone's needs, I invite you to keep reading this blog, check out my web-site (my new newsletter will be up next week) and check out my Facebook page (it's accessible through my web-site (and, no, you don't need to be on Facebook to access it).

Comments welcome!



Judith Barnard, B.Ed., MSW, RSW



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