Manage anxious or depressive thoughts

A collection of activities to help you manage anxious or depressive thoughts through self-regulation techniques. The activities include audio clips, fillable forms or written instructions.

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You can’t choose when you will experience symptoms related to mental illness, and these symptoms may occur when you are at work. These activities were created to help you when experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety or depression. The goal is to take a break from a stressful situation and develop self-regulation techniques to observe and learn from negative or stressful thoughts.

The activity selection below includes audio clips that will walk you through various exercises, a guided writing activity, and a hands-on activity created to boost positivity. All of the activities were created using evidence-based practices and have been reviewed by a clinical expert.


Build self-compassion

These activities can help you to build or work on your self-compassion. They can help you overcome feelings of anxiety, negative thoughts, or negative feelings towards yourself by practicing confidence-boosting poses, working on creating more kind and supportive self-talk, and positive visualizations. See Build self-compassion to learn more.

Learn from challenging thoughts

This is a guided writing activity taking you through the process of exploring and learning from a challenging thought. This can help to avoid being overwhelmed by negative thoughts and feelings. See Learn from challenging thoughts to learn more.  

Separate you from your thoughts 

This activity will walk you through an example of how to practice viewing a thought through positive, negative, and objective lenses. Objective observation when experiencing a negative thought or self-talk can help to create some safe emotional distance between you and your thoughts. See Separate you from your thoughts to learn more.  

Calming techniques

These activities are designed to help you find a moment of calm during a busy day. The hope is that you will leave the exercises feeling more relaxed and in the present moment, and ready to approach whatever you do next with a calmer mind. See Calming techniques to learn more. 

Movement to help reduce anxiety 

These activities will help you be attentive in the moment while you are doing physical activity. This can help reduce feelings of anxiety by taking your attention away from stressful thoughts. See Movement to help reduce anxiety to learn more.

Bring kindness to your day

This activity will focus on choosing to perform – and then reflect on – acts of kindness. Doing and reflecting on positive acts can elicit positive emotions such as joy and gratitude, which play protective roles in mental health. See Bring kindness to your day to learn more. 


These activities are designed to help reduce feelings of depression and/or anxiety. If, after trying one or more of the self-help activities for a while, you find yourself still struggling with feelings of anxiety or depression, or you feel the activities won’t be helpful for your situation, please reach out to your physician, health care provider, or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services.

This Mental Health Commission of Canada guide addresses key questions to help you navigate the public and private mental health options that are available in Canada.

Contributors include.articlesAndréa HillEmily ClarkMary Ann BayntonWorkplace Strategies team 2022 to present

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