Depression is one of the most common mental health problems, but unfortunately, it’s still widely misunderstood in today’s society. People who experience depression are frequently told that they should snap out of it or try harder to be happy, but this isn’t the right approach to take. If you’re feeling like you can’t overcome your depression, the following 10 ways to boost your mental health and overcome depression may help you find peace of mind.
1) Exercise Therapy For Mental Health
It’s no secret that exercise can improve your mood. But did you know that regular workouts can also help treat anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses? If you struggle with a mood disorder, try adding a few short high-intensity cardio sessions per week.
If it’s not something you want to do on your own, consider going for runs or joining an aerobics class with a friend. If that doesn’t work for you either—or if you just need an extra nudge—it might be time to consult a therapist about other options. You should also try out Exerpy, which means exercise therapy for mental health.
It may be tempting to turn straight toward antidepressants as soon as symptoms start presenting themselves but prescription drugs aren’t always necessary. Exercise is one of the best tools for relieving the symptoms of depression.
2) Eating Healthy Foods
Don’t let a mental illness control your life. If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or panic attacks, eating a healthy diet is important for overall mental health. It’s okay to indulge occasionally—indeed, maintaining a balanced diet will prevent an imbalance of mood-influencing neurotransmitters in your brain.
Keep in mind that consuming sugary foods can have long-term effects on both mood and energy levels; try replacing sugar with fruits or low-calorie sweeteners such as stevia extract. Also be aware that while some kinds of food may make you feel better in short term (such as chocolate), they might actually contribute to feelings of depression over time.
3) Sleep At Least 7 Hours A Night
As counterintuitive as it may seem, sleep deprivation is a major contributor to depression symptoms. After just one week of fewer than seven hours of sleep a night, your risk for depression goes up by 10 percent; after two weeks, it jumps 60 percent.
If you’re feeling blue, make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye. And if sleeping well is an issue in your life because of anxiety symptoms or another condition like restless leg syndrome, there are ways to fight back without medication. If insomnia continues to be a problem despite efforts to get more sleep at night, it may be time to turn toward natural solutions that promote relaxation during the day (like yoga).
4) Practice Mindfulness Techniques
If you’re experiencing depression, chances are that you feel overwhelmed by your emotions. Practicing mindfulness techniques can help you take control of your thoughts and feel more in control of your life.
Take a few minutes each day to slow down, breathe deeply, and focus on what’s going on around you—from feeling sunlight on your face while sitting at your desk or watching a storm roll in outside. If a particular task feels too much to handle right now, don’t push yourself; be mindful that there will be time for it later.
Remember: You may not feel better today, but if you give yourself space for healing, things will get better.
5) Avoid Toxins in Your Environment
One way that toxins affect your mood is by weakening your immune system. Many of us aren’t careful about what we put on our skin or in our mouths. If you can’t quit smoking, take it up only outside—or choose a brand that hasn’t been treated with pesticides.
And for goodness sake, wear sunscreen! Every day! Protecting yourself from environmental toxins is important for overall health, as well as mental health. A few small steps could help you prevent toxins from interfering with your ability to think clearly and stay happy every day.
6) Meet New People
Not only can socializing boost your mood, but research suggests it’s one of the keys to maintaining good mental health. Make an effort to get out of your comfort zone on a regular basis.
Join a club, take up a new sport or hobby, or sign up for volunteer work where you’ll meet people with different backgrounds and interests. Spending time around others who are active can motivate you to stay fit, too.
Just make sure you don’t overdo it—avoid sitting in front of computers or televisions all day by limiting your time online; instead, spend time in face-to-face conversation with others. You’ll be surprised at how much fun being social can be!
7) Take Time Off From Work
Chronic stress at work can be detrimental to your health, not just emotionally but physically. When you’re overwhelmed at work, it affects how you think, how you make decisions, and how you react to everyday situations. To maintain your mental health, limit how much time you spend working; for example, take a walk around lunchtime or head home early one day each week.
8) Spend Time in Nature Every Day
Surrounding yourself with nature can be a great way to improve your mood. Think about it: When you’re in nature, there are fewer distractions, so you’re able to relax more easily.
Plus, you also get all of those additional health benefits that come from being outdoors like increased exercise, stress relief, better sleep habits, cleaner air (which is especially important for folks who live in cities), less mental fatigue (hello vitamin D!), and even healthier eating habits.
You don’t need a huge chunk of time or travel money to go on mini-hikes near where you live—even taking 20 minutes out of your day each day can make a big difference!
9) Meditate Every Day
Research has found that meditation can help improve depressive symptoms. In one randomized controlled trial, for example, patients with depression reported a significant decrease in depression symptoms after participating in an 8-week meditation program.
In another study of 34 participants, doctors found a similar effect: Patients with major depressive disorder showed reduced depressive symptoms after just eight 20-minute sessions of mindfulness-based stress reduction. The participants learned simple meditative practices like focusing on their breath or using mindful movements like gentle yoga poses.
10) Find an Activity You Enjoy
If you’re depressed, one of your biggest challenges is likely feeling unmotivated. Often people feel guilty about taking time for themselves, says Dr. Michele Koopman Cornette, a licensed psychologist in Atlanta who specializes in anxiety disorders.
And they worry that other people might think they don’t have enough work to do or don’t care about their job as much as others do. But it’s important to remember that when you are struggling with depression, you really aren’t functioning at 100%. You need breaks—you deserve them!
So take a walk around your neighborhood; grab a cup of coffee with a friend; go see a movie.
If you’ve never tried out exercise as a therapy for mental health before, there’s no better time than to start now. Exerpy is a company that is focused especially on that, and they even offer a free trial to help you get started on the right track.