With our hectic pace of life, depression is becoming more and more common. And not all of us are happy about the prospect of medication—many of which can come with undesirable side effects. Luckily there are some things you can do to deal with depression in a natural way. The good news is that even small changes to your daily behavior can have a huge impact. While it goes without saying that not all of us can deal with depression without the help of a doctor, here are a few tips to help put you on the right track.
A healthy diet can go a long way to reducing the symptoms of depression. Many anti-depressant medications work by boosting the serotonin levels in the brain. However, not many know that some food types can increase serotonin levels naturally. These include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as sardines, herring, anchovies, and salmon. Some other foods that can increase serotonin levels are healthy fats such as coconut oil and high-protein foods, including poultry, dairy, meat and seafood.
Runner’s high is not a myth. Many people experience a feeling of euphoria and a reduction in stress after aerobic exercise. This is because bouts of physical activity promote the release of endorphins, or natural feel-good chemicals.
A study conducted at Duke University found that exercising three times per week was on par with antidepressant medication at alleviating depression in the short term. Regular exercise sessions also encourages the brain to rewire itself to look at the world in a more positive way. “Exercising outdoors can have a host of additional benefits, including fresh air and loading up on vitamin D, which is a mood-booster. Some countries, such as Australia, are blessed with vitamin-D producing sunshine, others are not, in which case you may wish to invest in a vitamin D supplement,” says health expert William Dixon from supplementnation.com.au.
Get Your Zzzs
Sleep is crucial to our wellbeing. As such, it is little wonder that we are usually irritable if we do not get enough rest at night. The same goes for depression. The better you sleep at night, the more likely you are to feel better during the day.
Since depression can make sleeping difficult, it is important to get into a routine that will help you get some much-needed shut-eye. Firstly, it is important to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day and try not to nap. It is also crucial not to work on your laptop or watch TV before going to sleep as this can affect your body’s internal clock—why not read a book instead.
Try Something New
While having a daily routine is good, doing something new—no matter how small—each day can be great for mental well-being. This can be particularly important if you have fallen into a rut. Studies have shown that learning a new skill can be a great mood and confidence-booster. Not only does it give you a new sense of purpose, but also can connect you with others. So why not try picking up some language classes, or enrolling in meditation or yoga sessions.