Staying On Top – 20 Ways to Alleviate Depression
Roughly 1 in 4 adults will suffer from depression in their lifetime, with women twice as likely to suffer than men, and 350 million people worldwide will suffer with it at some time. With those statistics on the table, it’s essential for us to not only have a better understanding of this mental health disorder, but to have techniques under your belt that alleviate it. Here are 20 ways to help banish depression and stay on top of your mental health game.
#1 Jamming Out
Recent research from the Durham University (UK) and the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) have shown that listening to both sad and upbeat music can actually boost your mood. It’s been recognised as a key part of the human experience, so in times of need it becomes even more important to engage with your emotions.
#2 Sit in the Sun
If you’ve ever heard of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) you’ll already know how much the sun affects your mood. Sunlight regulates your circadian rhythm, so it really is rooted in your physicality. The sun provides us with vitamin D, an essential serotonin, which is basically the ‘happy drug’!
#3 Socialise with Positive People
Surround yourself with positive, happy people if you feel down or depressed. It can be so hard to drag yourself out of the house, let alone interact much with other people, but the worst thing you can do if you feel depressed is isolate yourself.
#4 Exercise for Energy
Exercise is one of the leading factors in alleviating depression, in any form you choose. Swimming engages the entire body without putting any strain on it, so it’s a brilliant option for anyone who wants to start off slowly and build up.
#5 Praise Be to Pets
Our four-legged friends really are our best friends. Studies have shown that interacting with a cat or dog can lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormones. It also boosts the feel good hormones! The physical activity, routine, companionship and physical contact such as petting are reasons why those of us dealing with depression find them so comforting!
#6 Virtual Reality Breaks
This is basically a modern avenue of escapism that recent studies (British Journal Of Psychiatry Open) have shown can really give sufferers a break from their depression. Being able to think out social scenarios with less self-criticism is one of the biggest benefits of the digital enterprise.
Photo: Nerd’s Magazine
#7 Be a Sleeping Beauty
If you’re lacking in sleep, you simply don’t have the energy to tackle your depression. Getting a minimum of 6-8 hours is like giving yourself the tools to banish depressive thoughts and feelings.
#8 Fish Oil Supplements
Mild to moderate depression can be treated with Omega-3 fatty acids, which is found in fish oil! If you don’t eat fish, taking a fish oil supplement is a really easy way to get the benefits on a daily basis.
Photo: Lean It Up
#9 Folic Acid is Your Friend
Folic acid AKA Vitamin B9 affects chemicals in the brain and produces neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which are what we refer to as the ‘happy drugs’ in our system whenever we feel a surge of happiness.
Photo: SQ Online
#10 Healthy Diet Daily
If you’re lacking in certain nutrients, your body cannot cope and therefore you can’t naturally boost your mood. Make sure you are eating enough greens, veggies and protein, as well as fibre and vitamins.
#11 Give More Time to Hobbies
No matter how busy you are with work, you should always donate a certain amount of time to personal hobbies. They alleviate stress and remind you that your personal needs come first, which then in turn makes you more capable of fulfilling the needs of others.
#12 Avoid Caffeine Crazes
Firstly, if you’re a big coffee, breakfast tea or soft drink addict, don’t cut them out cold turkey as this can actually worsen your depression. The reason caffeine can cause tempestuous mood swings is because it can cause insomnia and anxiety as it quickens the heart rate.
#13 Meditate for Mindfulness
Many reading this will shrug off the idea that meditation can make a real difference to depression, or think they don’t have time for it. Yet even five minutes in the morning or evening can make a monumental difference. If you are unsure what to do and find it hard to just stay calm and collected on your own, YouTube has many a useful tutorial!
#14 Avoid Refined Sugar
Without realising it, many sufferers from depression actually have a sugar intolerance and can’t process it properly! Therefore cutting back on refined sugar will help change your mood as your brain won’t be in a state of panic due to a substance your body is technically allergic to.
#15 Use a Sun Lamp
If you don’t have access to natural light, whether you have to spend a certain amount of time indoors for work or because of little or no sunlight, a great alternative is a sun lamp. These lamps are specifically designed to be safe, having very low exposure UV light.
#16 Try Acupuncture and Traditional Routes
In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture pinpoints specific organs and parts of the brain with minimal disturbance to the skin. It’s known as a natural painkiller as it’s supposed to correct imbalances in the body.
Photo: Dr Lisa Lewis
#17 Be Mindful Not to Speak Negatively
Retrain the brain to cut out all the nonsense you say to yourself about your self worth and capabilities on a daily basis. Over time we learn to believe what we’re telling ourselves, so if you’re constantly being negative then you’ll seriously feel the effects mentally.
#18 Write a Diary
Regularly writing down your feelings and experiences can help you get a hold on your emotions. It also helps in the sense that over time you can look back and see how far you’ve come.
#19 Yoga Love
The breathing techniques, meditation, posing and physical exertion that yoga requires makes it a brilliant healer for those with depression. The control of your body and physical expression gives the power back to you, rather than the depression.
#20 St John’s Wort Supplement
The effectiveness of St John’s Wort, a yellow flower, as an aid for depression is still being determined by science as various studies show it has beneficial results, while others say it’s just a placebo. The herbal substance comes in capsule or liquid form. You should check with your doctor before trying it though, as it can interact with other medicines. Be healthy, be happy!
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