Depression affects more of us than we'd like to admit and, while there's still some social stigma surrounding this mental health issue, research has uncovered ways of combating the condition. While medication can help, there are natural ways to overcome depressive episodes and help you feel more like yourself.
In fact, food plays a more important role in mental health than we realized in the past. Recent research has found that skipping meals, eating foods high in added sugar, or eating too many refined carbs can leave you feeling tired and lethargic. You may experience a quick rush of energy, but that will last only a short time. Instead, eat well-balanced meals and be sure you're ingesting high quantities of B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are especially helpful in regulating mood.
Another way to battle depression is to engage in physical activity, but you should do more than simply work out. Set goals for yourself or join a team that enables you to compete with others. The sense of achievement you derive from meeting new challenges will cause your brain to release endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that stimulate the pleasure center of the brain. this process will encourage you to continue participating in the activity, while also helping you feel good about yourself.
There's a reason wilderness therapy is gaining in popularity. That's because recent research has found that being outdoors does wonders for mental health. We know that limiting our exposure to natural sunlight leaves us feeling overly tired, inhibits our appetite, and affects our moods. The opposite is also true. Getting back to nature, where you're exposed to sunlight and breathing in fresh air can help you feel energized and happier. Try taking a walk along the beach or through the woods at a nearby park, when you feel a depressive episode coming on. You may be surprised to discover that just a 20 minute walk clears your head and leaves you feeling more optimistic.
Socializing with others has been shown to directly improve our mental health. In the elderly, socializing can even help fight off cognitive decline. Several studies have found that engaging in simple conversation with others in a social setting elevates the mood and eliminates depressive feelings. When people spend the majority of their time alone, they feel isolated and that can lead to depression and anxiety. If you do feel isolated, try attending social events where you can meet people who share your interests.
Getting enough quality sleep may be easier said than done, because insomnia is often a symptom of depression. If you are having trouble getting to sleep, try limiting your caffeine intake, shutting down electronic devices one hour before bed, and listening to soothing music. It can also be relaxing to practice yoga and light aromatherapy candles. Another way to promote healthy sleep habits is to ensure your sleep environment is conducive to relaxation. If your sleeping area is near a noisy street, consider wearing earplugs to bed. Similarly, wearing a sleep mask can help block ambient light that's keeping you awake. If you're still having trouble getting enough sleep, discuss your sleep disorder with your doctor.
Whether you participate in a sport, start playing a new game, or take a college course that interests you, look for ways to stimulate your brain. Using your brain regularly and forcing it to work will help by improving your overall brain health. A healthier brain will be less likely to experience depressive episodes. You may also reduce stress in this way, which is a contributory cause of depression.
In general, people who live sedentary and solitary lifestyles are more likely to experience depression. By changing your daily routine and including more physical activity in your life, you'll help reduce the instances of depressive episodes. You may even discover new interests that will stimulate your brain and strengthen cognitive functioning. All of this will help you battle depression and live a happier way of life.