There are ways to fight depression no matter who you are. First and foremost, it’s extremely important to talk to your healthcare provider or a mental health professional as soon as possible. If you know someone who thinks or talks about harming themselves, take it very seriously and do not hesitate to call a suicide hotline immediately. Call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433); 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255); or, the hotline for the hearing impaired at 800-799-4889.
There are many ways to naturally relieve depression. Integrating some of these practices into your life can make huge differences in how you feel mentally and physically.
Get Enough Sleep
It cannot be stressed enough how important sleep is to good mental health and well-being. The right amount of sleep helps your brain work properly, improves learning, helps mental acuity, creativity, and even social behaviors. On the physical side, your body repairs and heals during sleep. Ongoing sleep deficiencies have been linked to increased risks of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. They also increase the risks of obesity—sleep helps maintain hormone balances that control hunger, blood sugar levels, and healthy growth and development.
Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. Exercise can be an effective way to fight depression because it promotes changes in the brain including new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, energizing chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Exercise is also a great time to practice a form of mindful meditation, a way to replace any negative thoughts with kind attention to what you’re doing and what is around you.
As a matter of fact, meditation has been shown to manage the stress and anxiety that can trigger depression. Anyone, regardless of age or ability, can incorporate daily meditation into their routines—even as little as 15 minutes a day. With time and practice, many people learn to control how they react to the triggers that lead to depression.
According to Medical News Today, a healthful diet may “significantly reduce” symptoms of depression. Just making simple dietary changes can be beneficial to mental health:
- Eat more high-fiber foods and vegetables
- Cut back on, or eliminate fast foods
- Avoid refined sugars
- Increase selenium intake—whole grains, Brazil nuts, some seafood, organ meats,
Vitamin D—oily fish, fortified dairy products, beef liver, eggs
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids—salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts
- Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, and E—berries and other fresh fruits, vegetables, soy, and other plant products.
- B Vitamins—Eggs, meat, poultry, fish, oysters, milk, whole grains, fortified cereals, dark leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, fruits and fruit juices, seafood, eggs
- Zinc—Whole grains, beef, chicken, pork, beans, nuts and pumpkin seeds
- Protein—tryptophan creates serotonin, that feel good hormone, and can be found in tuna, turkey, and chickpeas.
- Probiotics—Yogurt, kefir
It is important to make time for things you enjoy, even if nothing seems fun anymore. That’s just the depression talking. How can you do that? The saying “fake it until you make it” definitely applies here. You might have to work at having fun, which seems to defeat the purpose. Do things you once liked to do, even if you don’t feel like it. Eventually, the spark will re-ignite, but if nothing else, you’ll keep yourself from giving in to your depression.
Mind Your Surroundings
Some of the key ways to work on your mental health are knowing your triggers and boundaries. This could mean staying organized, watching and reading only uplifting materials, staying off social media, and avoiding overly stimulating environments.
It could also mean being more selective about who you let into your life. Avoiding, or limiting your exposure to, toxic individuals—emotional vampires who may be envious, judgmental, and competitive.
Stay connected, surrounded with people who make you feel good. Plan time with loved ones and friends, connect with like-minded people in support groups, volunteer opportunities, and online social media sites.
Keep your home tidy and clean, open the curtains to let in the sun, and use scent to minimize stress and improve sleep, listen to music. Perhaps consider the mood-boosting power of a pet.