Natural Ways to Deal with Depression
Clinical depression is recognized as a medical disorder and therapists routinely prescribe anti-depressants to help you beat the gloom. But did you know that you can deal with depression naturally as well? Making positive and deliberate changes in your lifestyle can help you overcome depression and anxiety, and prevent it from recurring in the long term. Unless you are suffering from severe depression and have suicidal thoughts, a few behavioral changes could make all the difference in your life.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to help manage depression, anxiety, and pain. It focuses on developing self-awareness and peace by regulating one’s thought patterns. Meditating with a group is better than meditating alone when you’re trying to deal with depression. Find wellness organizations in your area that conduct meditation classes.
2. Expose yourself to sunlight:
Spend some time outdoors every day where you are exposed to the sunlight. The morning sunlight is very effective in reducing depression. This helps your body make more of vitamin D and boosts your mood. When you wake up in the morning, leave the curtains or the blinds open so that your bedroom is bright. This helps you stay happy throughout the day.
If you live in a place where there is little sunlight available, invest in compact fluorescent bulbs and place them in areas that are often frequented such as the kitchen or the living room. Fluorescent bulbs mimic sunlight better than incandescent ones.
3. Exercise daily:
Exercising causes the release of chemicals called endorphins in the body, which make one feel good and act like natural anti-depressants. Regular exercise has shown to improve the symptoms of depression. The brain is coaxed to rewire itself to think positive thoughts. You can go swimming, jogging, cycling, walking, or even do yoga. If you can convert exercising into a group activity, you will benefit from the social interaction as well.
4. Eat serotonin-enhancing foods:
The serotonin levels in the brain can be increased by eating foods that enhance it naturally. Nutrients that help fight depression are a high-protein diet, especially tryptophan which is found in free range turkey; healthy fats such as those found in coconut oil and avocados; foods that are rich in omega-3-fatty acids like anchovies, walnuts, mackerel, sardines, herring, tuna and wild salmon; and foods rich in folic acid such as spinach and avocado.
5. Eliminate alcohol from your diet:
Drinking alcohol may seem to help lift your mood in the short-term, but it does more harm than good. It is best to stop drinking alcohol completely. This is because alcohol acts as a depressant and reinforces negative feelings, even when you’re drinking it for pleasure.
6. Do not skip meals:
However depressed you may feel, try not to skip any meals. Not eating at proper times can cause an imbalance in the blood sugar levels, leading to crazy mood swings.
7. Reduce the intake of caffeine:
Do not depend on the caffeine in your daily tea or coffee to improve your energy levels because it decreases the levels of serotonin in your body. This compounds the symptoms of depression. Instead, it is better to take an L-Tyrosine supplement (500-1000 mg).
8. Get adequate sleep:
Depression causes sleeplessness and sleep deprivation worsens depression. See the vicious cycle here? You can build a routine in your daily life; waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day to break this cycle. Do not take naps during the day. Remove distractions like the television or the computer from your bedroom. With time, the quality of your sleep as well as the duration will improve.
9. Play with pets:
Playing with dogs or cats for just 15 minutes has shown to stimulate the release of hormones called serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin that improve one’s mood. It also lowers the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. If you are fond of pets, spend time with them and watch your wellness levels increase.
10. Eat more chocolate:
Chocolate contains tryptophan that increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. This acts as a mood-elevator. No wonder we crave for chocolate when we’re upset! It has been shown that the smell, taste, and texture of chocolate also play a role in making us happy.