A teenager uses tips to deal with existential dread.

6 Tips for How to Deal With Existential Dread

These practical tips can help you cope with existential dread.

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In the quiet moments of life, when the distractions fade, and we are left alone with our thoughts, a profound sense of unease can sometimes creep in. This feeling, known as existential dread, is a universal yet deeply personal experience, touching every corner of our lives with its silent, unsettling questions. Why are we here? What is the meaning of our existence? 

As daunting as these questions may seem, addressing them head-on can lead to a more fulfilling and purpose-driven life. Below, we will explore the nature of an existential crisis and the associated dread, its impact on our mental health, and practical strategies to transform this overwhelming anxiety into a powerful catalyst for personal growth and deeper understanding.

6 tips for how to deal with existential dread

Coping with existential dread looks different for everyone, but these tips are a practical place to start. 

1. Acknowledge and understand your feelings

Recognize the dread you are feeling as existential dread, a profound sense of unease about life’s meaning. This can manifest in many different ways, including the following symptoms: 

  • Anxiety and fear
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Obsessive or intrusive thoughts about existence and death
  • Regular fatigue and sleep disturbances
  • Physical tension and discomfort throughout daily life

2. Challenge negative thoughts

Notice when you’re having depressive symptoms or negative thoughts and question these thoughts. Ask yourself if these thoughts are based on facts or assumptions. If possible, try replacing the negative thoughts with positive and realistic affirmations that enhance the overall human experience.

For example, if you find yourself thinking, “Life is meaningless, and everything is pointless,” ask yourself if this thought is based on facts or assumptions. Consider the evidence: Are there moments in your life that have felt meaningful or fulfilling? By challenging the negative thought, you might realize it stems from a temporary emotional state rather than an objective truth. Replace it with a positive and realistic affirmation, such as, “While I’m feeling lost right now, there have been times when I found joy and purpose in small moments.” This practice can help alleviate the distress associated with existential dread and promote a more balanced perspective.

If the negative thoughts ever go beyond existential angst and become suicidal thoughts, this is a mental health emergency. Contact The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 24/7 by calling or texting 988.

3. Practice mindfulness and grounding techniques

This could include a mindfulness meditation, where you spend a few minutes each day focusing on your breath and staying present. Another grounding technique is grounding exercises. These exercises use techniques such as focusing on the physical sensations in your body or describing your environment to anchor yourself in the present moment.

4. Create and maintain healthy habits

Incorporate physical activities like walking, running, or yoga into your daily routine. Choose exercises that you enjoy to make it a sustainable habit that creates an enriching and meaningful life. Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Lastly, establish a regular sleep schedule and create a restful environment.

5. Build and nurture support systems

Spend time with a loved one, like family and friends, who provides support and understanding. You may also try to find groups or communities where you can share your experiences and learn from others. 

6. Seek professional help

If existential dread is taking a toll on your mental health, consult with a mental health professional specializing in existential issues or anxiety disorder if needed. They can help you connect with needed support and build skills to cope with existential dread.

How Charlie Health can help

If existential dread is taking a toll on your mental health, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health’s virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides mental health treatment for dealing with serious mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and more. Our expert clinicians incorporate evidence-based therapies into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic online therapy, managing your mental health is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

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