Depression is a serious mental health condition, and if you think you may be suffering, it is always wise to see a medical professional. That being said, many people suffering from the condition have found that there are numerous things that can help them keep the condition under control, and in the case of mild depressions, even help them beat the blues completely.
No matter how you’re suffering, it is always worth trying as many things as you can to find relief. To get you started, here are some tried and tested techniques for beating down the blues and getting your life back on track again:
Have a Routine
When you’re depressed, the things you used to enjoy doing, or even those you didn’t exactly enjoy, but did willingly, like work, can seem pointless. You don’t get anything out of doing them, and you end up doing nothing at all because, well why bother? Although this is totally understandable, it isn’t exactly helpful to your condition. If you can, it’s always better to keep doing things, so that your brain remains active. Setting up a regular weekly schedule will help you with this. Don’t worry if you don’t complete all your scheduled tasks, but do make an effort to do as many of them as possible.
Please don’t stop reading! I know that when you’re feeling even a little bit down, not to mention clinically depressed, it can be difficult enough to get out of bed and brush your teeth in the morning, let alone think about exercising. However, numerous studies have shown that moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes each week can help to alleviate the symptoms of mild depression in many people. This isn’t particularly surprising because exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins into the body. It might be that the improvements in physical health also give a boost.
A Healthy Diet
Again, when you’re depressed, it’s quite often the case that the last thing you want to do is prepare healthy homemade meals. In fact, for a lot of people, eating salty, fatty and sugary junk foods is exactly what you want to do. But, cutting out high calorie, high sugar, high sodium foods and replacing them with healthy whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes could see an improvement in your symptoms, and it will certainly make it less likely for you to experience depression in the future.
Get More sleep
Not getting enough sleep can cause a number of health issues, depression being a big one. You see, our bodies, and especially our brains, need sleep to repair themselves after the trials and tribulations of life. If you find it difficult to get enough shut-eye, there are a number of sleep hygiene practices you can employ to improve your situation. Things like turning off screens an hour before bed, heating or cooling your room to the optimum temperature and taking herbs like chamomile or hops could help. If they don’t work and you’re dealing with a condition like insomnia, seeing your GP, or even a sleep specialist is probably a good idea.
Get Enough Vitamins
Getting enough vitamins, especially vitamin D is a good way to boost your mood, especially if you think you might be deficient. You see, vitamin D is known to protect the brain from vascular injuries as we age, and it boosts overall cardiovascular functioning too. The better your body and brain are working, the easier it will be for you to beat the blues.
Take Some Time Out
Sometimes, we just need to get away from it all – work, family life, commitments- and spend time looking after ourselves, working towards better mental health., There are numerous retreats and rehabs that can provide you with this space, and you can learn more about funding them here. If that doesn’t appeal, taking a long vacation where you have no obligations and all the time you need to work through your issues could help you to start beating the blues.
Improve Your Relationships
When you’re suffering from depression, it can be tempting to lock yourself away and avoid those friends and family members who once brought you joy. This is the last thing you should do because the isolation will eventually get to you and the lack of support is likely to make the situation worse.
What you should do is strengthen your relationship by making a real effort to connect with your loved ones. You should probably also reassess any ‘toxic’ relationships that drag you down rather than lift you up and be unafraid to part company with those who are contributing to your problems.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
It might sound like hippie-dippy mumbo jumbo, but studies have found interesting evidence to suggest that taking the time each day to note down a few things you’re grateful for can help to encourage a more positive mindset and fight the blues of depression. On its own, it isn’t going to cure your depression, but it could make you happier and, combined with other measures, beat down your blues somewhat. You can buy some pretty gratitude journals at Amazon, but really all you need is a pen and paper. Some willingness to make it a regular habit wouldn’t go amiss either.
CBT is a form of therapy that encourages you to analyze your negative thoughts, take them to task and replace them with more realistic, more positive ones, you can learn more about it here. CBT is something you can do with a therapist, but it is also possible to take free online courses or learn the technique from one of the many excellent books on the subject, and if your depression is mild to moderate in severity, there is a very good chance it will help.
A number of studies have shown that mindfulness meditation – a technique whereby you are tasked with focusing on the present moment; the feelings, and sensations you’re currently experiencing, can help you get out of your head more and start to feel more positive about the world. Wherever you live, it is likely that there is at least one regular meditation class you could join, but if you’d prefer to practice solo, The Mindful Way Through Depression – a great book by Jon Kabat-Zinn is a great place to start. Don’t worry if you don’t notice results straight away – it can take some time for mindfulness to have a meaningful effect.
St. John’s Wort
St John’s Wort is a popular natural supplement for treating depression and is even described by doctors in some countries, most notably Germany. If, for whatever reason, you don’t feel like taking antidepressants is the right course of action for you, this could be a good alternative because it works in much the same ways as SSRI’s like sertraline. Just make sure that you speak to your doctor first.
If you try all of the above and they don’t work for you, don’t worry or blame yourself. These suggestions are primarily aimed at people suffering from mild to moderate depression, and if you have severe depression, that is a much more serious issue. Some of these ideas may help you to feel a little better, but it is highly likely that you’ll need professional support to see you through. Just remember that depression is treatable and most people who suffer do eventually find a solution that works for them and helps them to beat down the blues with gusto.