How to Overcome Anxiety and Depression Naturally: 5 Strategies for Sustainable Wellness | Shan Carballo | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

How to Overcome Anxiety and Depression Naturally: 5 Strategies for Sustainable Wellness

teacher avatar Shan Carballo, Business Owner at

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. My Story

    • 3. The Methods Introduction

    • 4. Mindfulness

    • 5. Play

    • 6. Community

    • 7. Nature

    • 8. Gratitude

    • 9. Conclusion

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Have you ever had panic attacks, felt anxiety, depression, overwhelming stress, or the feeling that you are loosing your appetite for life in general? Are you currently struggling with challenges in your personal or professional life? Then this class is for you. In this class, we'll tackle 5 strategies to help you manage anxiety and depression and work towards wellness. You will explore the following methods:

  • Mindfulness Meditation

  • Play

  • Building Community

  • Being in Nature

  • Gratitude

By the end of this class, you'll have a toolkit of methods you can use to overcome anxiety and depression and build sustainable wellness. This is a holistic approach, so not every strategy will work for everyone, but my aim is that you find a strategy that works for you.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Shan Carballo

Business Owner at


Hi friends,

My name is Shan. I grew up in Los Angeles and worked in the technology sector for most of my adult life. The most recent position I held was Director of Online Education at the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California.

Seven years ago I reached a turning point which marked a new chapter for me.   I started traveling the world, focusing on self-care, self discovery, and entrepreneurship.  

Coming from a professional background related to online education, I thought it would make sense to share the most important lessons I learned along the way with the rest of the world.

Thanks so much for joining me on this journey :)


See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hello, friends. My name is Sean Carballo. I've been a working professional for most of my adult life and struggled with panic attacks as well as massive bouts of anxiety and depression. Eventually, though, I learned how to manage my anxiety and depression healthily and naturally, without the use of drugs and have been panic attack free. Now for over eight years. It took me years of self reflection, therapy, trial and error, and my own personal research to find methods that work for me and based on empirical studies, have worked for many others as well. I decided to distill the most impactful methods into a sustainable system of daily living as a result of my life, radically changed for the better and made me a much more peaceful content and happier person in this online course. I share these methods with you in hopes that it'll save you time and efforts in finding effective ways to manage your anxiety and depression naturally and allow you to live in more balance, tranquil and productive life 2. My Story: I locked myself into a bathroom solid work. I felt like I could hardly breathe more gasps for air, the worse it got. I had a tightness in my chest like I was suffocating. There was total and utter fear. About eight years or so ago, I suddenly started getting panic attacks. I didn't know what they were at first. I had just taken a directorship position at a major research university and had moved close to downtown Los Angeles. Both my office in my apartment shared a wall with a major freeway, and at first I thought my shortness of breath was a result of the high smog levels. On one particular day, I was sitting at my desk at work when suddenly I felt like I could barely breathe. The sensation made me gasp for air even more, which, ironically, made the sensation worse. I went to the bathroom and locked myself in one of the stalls in hopes that the sensation would pass before my co workers noticed. Eventually, though, the sensation became so bad that I thought I might need an ambulance. My anxiety level was so high at that point that a scene caused by an ambulance and all of my co workers and a ruckus would have been way too much for me to handle. At the time, I feared losing consciousness. And then I decided to call my brother and asked him to take me to the emergency room. Upon arriving in the emergency room, the nurses checked my lung capacity. To my surprise, it was 100%. They told me that I was most likely having a panic attack and offered an injectable sedative. The thought of an injection increased my anxiety even more, so I declined. At the time, I could not fully accept what was happening to me. I rationalized a possible misdiagnosis, still believing that the bad air was causing my breathing problems and perhaps too much coffee was causing my anxiousness. I had never had anxiety issues in the past, let alone a panic attack. I thought myself to be rational, level headed and overall put together, I viewed panic attacks and anxiety issues as disorders of people with mental emotional problems. I had no real idea what was happening to me at the time, and my only coping mechanism whenever I felt shortness of breath coming on was to drive to the beach, look at the ocean and deeply taken the fresh air. I thought that clean air, in contrast to the small grand lived and worked, was causing me to feel better. Little did I know that was only one small factor. As crazy as it sounds to me now, I got used to the constant shortness of breath. Eventually, however, things began to fall apart at work, and I became increasingly disillusioned with life in general. Even the one thing I did for myself play guitar became a chore. I wanted no other work opportunities because none of them sounded appealing to me. There was nothing I wanted to dio. The one vision that kept replaying in my mind was a fantasy of traveling the world, living in different countries for long periods of time and learning the local language and culture. This'd been replaying in my mind for years, but I thought it was too late in my life for me to make such a drastic move. My life had already taken a specific trajectory, and I thought I needed to stick to it. To make matters worse, I got a new boss at work who was charged with making some radical changes to our department . I could no longer at least settle into the comfortable boredom I had on my stress levels soared to an all time high. A same time. I was experiencing tension in the relationship with my ex girlfriend. She had her life aspirations completely mapped out and was happy and successful that her job is a pediatrician. I, on the other hand, was completely lost. I found it increasingly difficult to communicate deeply with her, and we grew apart. I was also resentful of her for not understanding the issues I was having with my breathing . She suggested they were all psychosomatic, which upset me. In hindsight, however, I believe she was right number mess. My anxiety was very riel on. I knew I needed to get professional help, eventually reached a boiling point and knew that if I didn't leave my life situation, I would mentally crack. I told my ex girlfriend I was quitting my job. She didn't receive this news well and found it completely contradictory to the plans we made together of eventually buying a house and starting a family. She thought I was going crazy and figured it would be better off if we parted ways deep down inside. I knew this was the right decision, but I had difficulty facing, and I sent in my resignation notice at work and began to focus on self care. I started surfing daily because I found this to be immensely therapeutic. I also started seeing a therapist so I could have the opportunity to talk about my issues and organize my thoughts and decisions. One of the last things my ex girlfriend asked me right after we broke up was, What are you going to do now? I responded. I'm going to Bali. In two years that followed, I traveled to five different countries Indonesia, Singapore, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. It has been the most amazing period of my life so far, one of unparalleled personal growth who I had the opportunity to witness indescribable beauty and experience, enjoyment and bliss like I'd never experienced Before recently I saw a psychologist is part of my regular talk therapy sessions I find so helpful in my life. I asked him what would have happened if I didn't go away when I felt like I was going to crack. What does it exactly mean to crack? He told me. I probably would have had a nervous breakdown, which leads some people to be put in an institution on psychiatric hold for a few days. Objective of such institutions is simply to withdraw an individual from all of the stressors in their lives. Stressors that cause a sort of system overload, psychologist said. I basically withdrew myself voluntarily, escaping toe a much more fun and pleasing environment to allow myself time to heal. Personally, I choose a tropical surf town over a padded cell any day of the week. I haven't had a panic attack in about eight years since the days described at the beginning of this story. Nor has a shortness of breath ever returned. I attribute my overall, comparatively more common mental emotional state to my conscious effort of placing myself in environments that are therapeutic. Natural environments reckoned, feel reconnected and a piece for me. It's the ocean. For some, it's the forests or mountains. In all circumstances, though, it's an environment where the mind can rest and the individual and once again feel reconnected at a deeper level. 3. The Methods Introduction: over the years, and with the help of my therapists, I've been able to develop a wellness 13 that allows me to manage my mood and help me live a much more peaceful and balance life. The routine consists of five components. Mindfulness, play, community being in nature and gratitude. I'll describe each of these components and how I use them to promote overall wellness and prevent anxiety and depression. 4. Mindfulness: Hello, everybody, huh? Before I get into the discussion of mindfulness, I wanted to talk a little bit about meditation and how meditation became such an important part of my life. I think it's fair to say that meditation changed my life, and it's quite possible that actually saved my life is Well, um, early on in my childhood, I experienced some trauma, a lot of trauma that went on for years, actually, and it really affected who I became is a person, and I became very angry and just kind of carried a lot of latent anger with me. And I wasn't really in touch with the source of all of that anger. Necessarily. Um, when I was when I went to therapy years later, I had realized that I was actually repressing a lot of that anger just wasn't really in touch with it. And so what happened is that I started just acting out on all of this anger. I was. I was very kind of aggressive, and even with my friends, even in play fighting, I'd be very aggressive, and I also ended up getting into a lot of fights. And even when all that was happening. I always kind of just blamed it on the outside world. So if I was too rough with my friends friends since I was set up said, I'm just playing like, What's the big deal? Or if I would get into fights, it would always be the fault of the other person. And it went on for years like this, Um, and eventually, because of all that anger, it became really difficult for people to deal with me on. I ended up actually losing a lot of my close friends in the process, and even when that happened, I blamed it on them. I said, Look at them like why would they leave me? You know, the the the world is just filled with people that will just leave you. So again, I just blamed it on the outside world and was really never able to see my role in all of that on eventually, as I got older and a matured, I began to realize that pay Perhaps it's me. It's not all of them. And I ended up reading a book as a recommendation of a friend called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and that really left a huge impact on me. Even from the first few sentences, I was just blown away and I began to meditate A lot more, Aziz. Well, um, in fact, around that time, when I was reading the book, I started meditating for sometimes hours a day, hours in the morning. It was just really changing my life. And one day I had this pretty amazing experience. Um, so prior to that, I was getting kind of wrapped up in the wrong crowd. I was kind of dabbling in drugs and the night before, this amazing experience, I was kind of messing with drugs with some of the people I probably shouldn't be hanging out with. And the next morning, I felt just absolutely terrible about myself. And something kind of flashed in my mind that I read in the book, and that was a concept of acceptance. And basically, the book says to accept your present moment the way that it is fully and wholeheartedly because it already is. And that's exactly what I did. Just kind of opened my heart and accepted. And in that instant, I kind of had this flash where I saw my life as if I was watching it like a movie. I actually was seeing it from the outside and seeing the timeline of my life linearly like this. But my awareness was outside of all of that, was kind of transcending that, and that awareness was just always an ever present, almost like it was eternal. And that flash of insight was a game changer for me. I had I had never experienced anything like it before, and it completely changed the way that I viewed my life in the world. And I think that was my first real insight into a different dimension of awareness on that awareness is basically just pure awareness, even aware of your own thoughts and your own emotions, I believe from that day forward I was no longer completely possessed by my thoughts and emotions. In other words, I could see my thoughts and emotions playing out. Sometimes I would get caught up in it, and the Momenta would be too strong. But rather than being the thoughts and emotions, I could actually watch the thoughts and emotions so was no longer a slave to it in the way that I waas before and I think that's what's really important about meditation. Um, meditation allows you to experience a different dimension of self awareness. It allows you to see your thoughts and see your emotions and not be the thoughts and be the emotions. And that's an important distinction because when you are when you are the thoughts and you are the emotions and you're a slave to whatever your thoughts and emotions want to do when you see your thoughts and you see your emotions and your actually the watcher of your thoughts and emotions, then you have a choice. Mindfulness mindfulness is defined as a mental state, achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while commoli acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. Used as a therapeutic technique, Mindfulness meditation is the practice of sitting for a period of time and focusing attention on one's breath. When the mind begins to wander, focuses simply and gently returned back to the breath. Practicing mindfulness meditation each day is excellent at reducing stress, anxiety and improving overall mood. It's like hitting the reset button on a computer. It flushes out all the excess junk so that one's minds can function optimally Additionally , mindfulness meditation is a practice of self awareness. It makes us much more conscious of the thoughts and emotions that might otherwise be playing out subconsciously in our minds, we can therefore see how these subconscious thoughts and emotions might be affecting our actions and possibly undermining our growth. A common misconception is that what needs to be good at meditation, there's no sense in trying to be good at meditation. That's not the point. The point is to practice and watch your thoughts. And when you see your thoughts come, you simply return awareness. Back to the breath. An excellent free tool to help with your mindfulness meditation practice is called Insight Timer. It's available for both IOS and Android devices. You can use the timer to set a specific meditation duration and includes specific background music and sounds. To help you relax. I recommend at least 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation each morning to help start off your day. On a great note, I always meditate with my morning coffee in my hands like this and take a sip periodically . I feel that it's an additional mood booster and helps me to reinforce my daily meditation, have it 5. Play: early on, when I was a teenager, I felt really lost, and because of that, I kind of dabbled with hallucinogenic drugs and did it periodically. I was kind of trying to find some answers, and I thought that maybe I could find them like the shamans did in some alternate reality. And one day I had taken LSD and I had taken actually a pretty large dose of LSD, and I had a really horrible trip, which I'm sure I'll talk about in a future block post. But in any case, the result was a terrible accident, and I ended up in the emergency room and I was quite badly hurt, and thankfully, there was no no serious injuries. But I had just a huge gash in my head and I had scrapes all over my body. So I was just a complete mess and my my when my mother found out the next day because she came to the hospital and the doctors told her that I had been on hallucinogens. She was extremely, extremely upset on, so she basically said I needed to get my act together, and from now on I would have to be responsible for paying my way through college. It was kind of Ah ah, tough love policy. And so I was. I was heartbroken, obviously on dumb. Also at that same time, my friends were kind of fed up with me as well. A zai mentioned in the previous section. I just had a lot of anger issues and this incident with the emergency room thing. They just thought I was such I was just too volatile of a person, so they actually also cut me off as well. So I was just in such a bad state, and I was really worried that I was alone in the world and I really just had myself to rely on, and I was afraid that end up homeless on the streets. So I made a vow that day that I was going to get my life together, get my shit in order, and I ended up putting myself through school and doing really, really well. But I also became, ah, really disciplined person. I didn't go out, I didn't have any extra curricular activities. I had school, and I remember seeing my friends going snowboarding and being like, Wow, that's not even in my realm right now, Good for them. But, you know, right now, my world is my studies on, um So I paid a pretty big price for it because basically, I needed to prove myself that I could actually that I could be something on that carried on even in my professional life. And eventually when I was at my first job but intel, I discovered snowboarding, and when I went up to the slopes, I was like, Wow, you know, my mind is so quiet. It's amazing. And I thought it was being in the mountains and the fresh air, and I'm sure had a lot to do with that and being in nature. But also a lot of it had to do was just doing something for the fun of it, which I hadn't done in years. Andi. Years later, when I kind of had a near breakdown, as I describe in my story, I eventually discovered surfing and surfing for me was all about play and all about being in nature. I was actually doing something just for the fun of it. So I wasn't worried about how this is going. Teoh contribute to me being a wealthy person or me being successful. How this is just a stepping stone towards this or that. I was just surfing just to serve play play something that most adults have forgotten how to dio. But it's a potential cure for much of what ails us mentally and emotionally. Play is an excellent, healthy mood booster and can get us outdoors and interacting with other people in a fun, life affirming way. Try to choose an activity you enjoy greatly that involves interaction with other people, especially people you love. Outdoor sports is an excellent option, such as Frisbee, catch, volleyball, etcetera. However, indoor activities such as board games can work well as well. Make sure it's something you enjoy doing intrinsically and are doing it just for the fun and nothing else. So much of what drives our actions today is related to money or success, and it's an absolute liberation to actually do something just for fun. Personally, surfing is my playtime activity of choice. It's an exercise, its social activity. It's meditation and it's being in nature all rolled into one. However, I have friends that find hiking and bicycling equally is rewarding. Tried to make play a part of your weekly routine in order to add a dimension of healthy fun into your life. 6. Community: I saw this Ted talk a while ago, and I'll provide a link to it in the online course. But basically the premise of the Ted talk was that a lot of what we know about addiction is wrong on that. The antidote to addiction is connection with other people. On kind of. A 32nd summary is that there used to be all of these experiments with lab rats back in the day where they would place two bottles of water. One water had cocaine in it, and the other water had nothing. And they placed a rat alone in the cage. And inevitably, the rat would drink too much of the cocaine water and overdose in and die. And so the conclusion was, Look, cocaine is extremely addictive. The rats always drink too much of it and die. And so it's got to be something about the addictiveness of the cocaine. But another scientist saw this experiments and was like, Hey, wait a minute. The rats always alone in the cages, probably miserable. Why don't we try another experiment? And in the second experiment, they created what they called, uh, Rats Park and Rep Park was this Look it was a cage, but it was like a park where they had all of these things to play with. They had a bunch of other rats that they could hang out with and have sex with on basically have a community with So in Rat Park they were no longer isolated. They actually had a community of other rats that they could have a good time with and hang out with. And in those experiments, none of the rats got addicted to cocaine. None of them would use it compulsively, and, um, they would generally just prefer the regular water. So what this really kind of sunk into my mind is that community is extremely important in just overall wellness. And, um, a situation in my life personally, is when I was at my old job, in fact, the job where I began to experience panic attacks at I didn't have community early on, and in fact, I thought the job was going to be temporary, so I kind of just isolated myself. An additional aspect of that was that I was working with people that were much older than me, and so it was really difficult for me to relate and to build connections with and eventually as a was at the job. For a while, I began to make community outside of work on build relationships there, and when I finally decided to leave the job, I went to a website called Meet up dot com and meet up dot com is a website for people who are interested in similar activities, so it could be mountain biking or outdoor activities or even meditation. So I was really kind of desperate for community because I had just broken up with my ex girlfriend. I had just left a job that I had been at for six years, so I just instinctively really knew that I needed to be with people who I had something in common with something healthy just just so that I could heal. And I discovered a surfing group and through that surfing group I made some really great friends who have been friends who are still friends up until this day, and I've experienced just wonderful experiences with, and we've travelled to different places in the world together and had some really amazing experiences together. So I just wanted to emphasize community is being really important aspect in overall wellness community. There are studies that have shown community to be the single most important factor in preventing addiction to drugs and alcohol. While other studies have shown community to be the most important factor in living long happy lives. Finding community can be a bit difficult as a working professional if your job is not particularly conducive to it. In my last job, I worked with people primarily 20 to 30 years older than I was, so it was quite difficult to build community with individuals. I could relate Teoh. I eventually found community outside of work, first in a salsa dancing group and then in a surfing group. The experiences I had with my community have been some of the most fun and rewarding I've ever experienced in my entire life. 7. Nature: when I was at my old job and I began experiencing panic attacks for the first time, and I still didn't know what they were. I just thought that they were related to the shitty air in downtown Los Angeles. But again, when I went to the emergency room, they checked my lung capacity and that capacity was 100%. They were like, There's nothing wrong with your lungs like your breathing. Totally fine. You're probably just having a panic attack. Um, and I couldn't even believe it at the time because I thought her That's crazy. You know, I don't have any mental problems. Um, so that can't be so. Whenever I felt that kind of shortness of breath, I would just hop in the car and then drive to the ocean and because I thought, Well, if I go to the ocean, there's nice fresh breeze Aiken. Breathe deeply and clean and and that would just call me down like that would alleviate it . And that was like my go to for a while. And eventually I realized that being in nature's is so important for just my overall mood, and that's why surfing is so important. to me because surfing combines so many aspects of what I feel is important for just overall wellness. When I surf, I'm moving my body and exercising. I'm playing. I'm doing something just for fun. I'm also in nature. I'm also socializing with people that I love that are my friends. So its community, it's nature. It's like a meditation because your mind is very clear. It's play. It's so many things all rolled up into one. Being in nature. There's a certain connectedness to the natural environment that we lose when we live in the city for too long. I believe this can manifest itself in a sensation that something is missing. A certain void is felt in one's life, the cause of which seems undefinable. Nature can have a deep calming effect and can inspire a feeling of oneness with something much greater than yourself. When I instinctively escaped to the ocean when I first began experiencing panic attacks, I believe it was the calming aspect of the natural environment, which eased my anxiety. No, I'm a connecting with nature, A regular part of my wellness routine 8. Gratitude: One thing I try to remind myself constantly, actually, is to be grateful for what I have, because whatever we focus on becomes our reality. And I think that's so important because we could look at one situation and interpret it completely differently. So at any given point in my life, I can focus in all of the negative aspects and be miserable about it. Or I can realize all of the wonderful aspects and be completely happy about it and grateful about it. And so I think the exercise of being grateful reminds me that Wow, I have so much on and I have so much abundance in my life, and I think that really just changes my perspective. Gratitude the mind is a survival machine. As a result, it constantly anticipates worst case scenarios and broods over potential threats and problems. Even if there is no immediate hazard to one's health, this constant hypervigilance can put the body in a perpetual state of fight or flight response with elevated stress hormone levels. The long term effects of this kind of wear and tear on the system can be disease. Focusing on gratitude can be a way to counter act when submit Jewel obsessive negative thoughts. If you notice your mind playing out a negative thought pattern, take a deep breath. Count down from 5 to 1. 543 21 I didn't think about something you are exceptionally grateful for. It could be something as simple as your health. The wonderful feeling of taking a deep, satisfying breath, the comfort of having food to eat and a roof over your head. Or perhaps family and friends concentrate on the feeling of how wonderful these things make you feel. Eventually, gratitude will become a habit. It could be very beneficial is well to make gratitude a part of your daily meditation routine. I personally take about 10 minutes during my morning meditation to feel grateful for the wonderful blessings in my life. 9. Conclusion: my life radically changed when I began to incorporate the five elements above into my weekly wellness routine. I haven't had a panic attack in over eight years. Moreover, I feel like I'm able to deal with life's challenges in a more constructive manner and set myself on a trajectory of city personal growth. My daily routine looks more or less something like this. I do my morning meditation. Then I go up for a surf in the ocean. Then I go to work that I spent time with friends and or I have dinner with my girlfriend. Whenever I'm away from the coast, I try to replace the surfing with a walk or a run in the forest or in the hills. I hope you two will find a routine that incorporates the five elements above and add more balance and tranquility to your life. Thank you