7 Natural and Easy Ways to Help Yourself Through Depression
A dark cloud hangs over you and refuses to leave no matter how much time has passed or what you do? If so, you may be dealing with depression. Maybe it is because your current living situation isn't stable or fulfilling in any way, or perhaps it is something else entirely.
Depression is a widespread issue that reaches every area of our lives -- from relationships, social interactions, work, finances, and more. But what is more important, the impact it has can be devastating if left untreated for too long.
There are many people who suffer from depression, and while it is treatable, it should not be ignored or swept under the carpet. It is imperative to take steps to manage our emotional well-being to live fuller, more fulfilling lives. We don't have to succumb to feelings of dejection -- we can overcome them!
We all know that exercise provides a whole host of health benefits. But did you know that it is also an effective method to cope with despondency and anxiety?
A study done by McMaster University in Canada showed that they had reduced the chances of depression among those who exercised for just 3 hours a week. It has also been found that physically active people have better mental health outcomes than sedentary adults.
Physical activity can help you achieve a sense of purpose, making you feel less stressed and happier. It is essential to do moderate exercise every day to help control your mood, sleep pattern, and physical health.
Whether it is preventing the development of depressive thoughts, feeling better by releasing endorphins, increasing resiliency against other factors that may contribute to the attack of a depressive episode, or helping sufferers find a healthy balance in life, exercise has proven benefits for everyone involved in dealing with this issue.
Plus, the effects of physical activity are not just limited to mental health. It is also known that regular exercise can increase your life expectancy by up to seven years.
There is no shortage of options when it comes to finding an exercise that works best for you. Some people like running or swimming, while others might prefer dancing, weightlifting, or team sports such as football or basketball if they are more social in nature.
So next time you are feeling down, try to put on your sneakers and get your body in motion!
Get Enough Sleep
Even though sleep is vital to maintaining mental and physical wellness, people are still neglecting its importance and not getting enough of it.
If someone is constantly exhausted, their body functions will slow down in order to conserve themselves to recover from the day's events. Their overall mood will suffer as a result of all this exhaustion as well -- which is why many people who struggle with depression turn to harmful substances such as alcohol and drugs.
We humans cannot function properly without getting proper rest. Our brains need time to recover and take in information from the world around us. Sleeping is like eating for the brain, because it releases neurotransmitters that help us feel more relaxed and happy.
The fact is that most depressed people do not have the energy or motivation needed to fight the condition head-on, and if they don't get enough rest, they might not get better despite how hard they try.
Ok, but how much sleep do we actually need?
There is no single answer, as it varies from person to person. It depends on your age, health, and general well-being. However, a good rule of thumb is to aim to get 7-9 hours a night.
So, if you are feeling low, try to get enough sleep on a consistent basis so your brain can have a chance to heal itself and do its job more effectively.
Keep a Journal of Your Feelings
As someone who suffers from depression, you may want to "put on a brave face" and hide your feelings in front of others. And while it is totally understandable, you shouldn't bottle up your emotions forever. In the long run, though, it will do much more harm than good.
However, journaling is a great way to release pent-up emotions and gain insight into how you feel without having to worry about what others might think.
Keeping a journal helps with many things in life. For example, it allows people to process their emotions and thoughts, provides a creative outlet, keeps track of memories, and gives insight into what is going on in your life.
In some ways, it is a form of self-monitoring that helps you analyze and understand potential causes of the depressive episode.
To get started, just write down things that are making you feel sad, such as a loss or grief over a loved one. As you continue through your day, keep writing about everything on your mind or things that bother you. Eventually, when you start feeling better, you can come back and review the thoughts and feelings that fueled your depression in the first place.
When you notice yourself getting stuck, go look at your notes and see if there is something you can expand on. While it may not make the pain go away, it does help you cope with it as best as possible and gain a more profound understanding of yourself.
Journal writing can be a cathartic process that encourages people to overcome this difficult time in their lives when everything seems hopeless or there is nothing left they can do.
Also, it is important to remember that taking notes is only effective if it becomes a habit and not just something you do for a short period of time. If this doesn't happen, journaling may not provide the relief you are looking for.
Take Up Meditating
Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. In today's fast-paced world, it is slowly becoming the go-to treatment for many mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia. It is an effective method to tune into our inner self instead of our daily thoughts that are constantly bombarding us on a daily basis.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that mindfulness meditation -- in which you focus on your breathing cycles, awareness of thoughts and feelings, and relaxing physical muscles -- can reduce symptoms of depression by as much as 54%. Moreover, they also discovered a positive correlation between these improvements and overall improvement in general quality of life scores.
The practice is simple: stop everything for 20 minutes, turn off all the lights, sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Keep breathing deeply as you relax. Your goal is to achieve a state of deep relaxation while keeping your thoughts at bay.
Furthermore, meditation doesn't require any specific setup or equipment -- you can do it anywhere you are and at any time of day. So, next time you feel like life has no meaning, set aside a few minutes each day to meditate, and see how much better you feel!
If you are depressed, the chances are that your diet has become unhealthy as well. Feeling sad can lead you to choose easy-to-prepare, processed foods that don't have much nutritional value at all. Not only will they not provide the nutrients necessary for good mental health, but they will also raise your risk of developing chronic diseases in the future.
A balanced diet consists of high fiber foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, along with protein-rich foods such as beans and poultry. In 2015, the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey came out with a report about a connection between vegetables and fruits intake and mental health. The study used data from over 4300 subjects. It was found that the depression rate among participants significantly decreased as vegetable and fruit intake increased.
Also, let's not forget about staying hydrated. As we all know, water is vital for so many things in our body, our brain included. Drinking enough water helps lower your blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, strengthens your immune system, and stabilizes mood swings.
How much water do you need? Well, there is no one answer to this question as the amounts vary from person to person. But in general, it is recommended that you drink about eight glasses of water a day.
Knowing what to eat can be the difference between surviving depression and sliding into its deadly depths. Eating healthy might not be easy, but it is worth the effort if you want a better quality of life!
Talk to Someone
It can be challenging to try and talk to someone about depression, especially when it is hard to put your feelings into words. However, you might be surprised by how many people will listen and offer their help.
Some people find it helpful to talk with a family member or a friend, while others prefer going for professional help. In either case, it is important to find the right person who can lend an ear and help you through these tough times.
Instead of suffering in silence, open up about your emotions and talk with someone who will listen. Even a little conversation can help lift your spirits sufficiently to function in the day-to-day grind.
If you are struggling with depression, don't be afraid to talk about it with others -- if they don't know you need help, they can't help you!
Remember, asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and self-care. There is nothing wrong with seeking help if it is wanted and received. Sometimes just knowing that someone cares about you can make a world of difference and eventually help you feel better.
Find a New Hobby
If you are feeling sad and heavy, it is time to think about what will make you happy and start searching for the answer. It can be absolutely anything -- from joining a new club to playing a game on your phone or even volunteering at a local animal shelter.
Many people often turn to their hobbies as a way to deal with depression. You may think like you are just wasting your time doing something unproductive, yet you will find that hobbies are a powerful stress-reliever and can make you feel happier. You will also have more fun as time goes by and experience different things that you would have never done otherwise.
Perhaps one of the most notable things about hobbies is that they help us switch from the doldrums to something else. This can be especially helpful when dealing with sadness, as we often want to forget about the worries that are weighing down on our shoulders and focus on something fun instead, even for a while. Plus, it allows you to get to know new and interesting people and spend time with someone who shares similar interests with you.
It is important to remember that there is no one way to enjoy your hobby, and just because one person has found something enjoyable doesn't mean that it will work for everyone. Keep trying different things until you find out what works for you!
The Bottom Line
Depression can be one of the most challenging experiences to go through. It is more than just feeling a bit down. It is not about having a short temper or getting overworked as well. In fact, depression is a serious mental disorder that makes it difficult to cope with your feelings and deal with life in general. We can feel like we can't stand up for ourselves, or that there is no point trying. However, don't give up!
There is no magic bullet that solves gloom in the blink of an eye, but there are numerous steps you can take to turn your life around. Take the approach of taking action -- making a change, no matter how small, is always worth trying. Keep in mind that just one more push can set you free and get your life back on track!
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health symptoms, we would love to hear from you and see how we may be able to help! Please call us at 719-505-4404.