A recent study, which you can read more about here, has revealed that while medication is an effective treatment method with many who are battling depression, coupling medication with behavioral therapy, where patients develop skills and techniques to cope with problems, will greatly improve the chances of a person overcoming depression.
This means that in addition to medication, many with depression can stand to benefit from developing natural methods for fighting depression as well.
While of course it’s important to seek the help of a professional when it comes to practicing depression-fighting skills and techniques, there are several things you can do on your own to help fight depression.
If you or a loved one is struggling with this mental illness, here are some simply natural ways to boost happiness levels. Some of them may sound familiar to you, but there are likely some here that will surprise you.
Create A Routine
Depression has a way of taking structure out of our lives, causing one day to blend into the next. Creating a routine that includes ample amounts of sleep—and making it a habit to stick to it—can keep you on track and give meaning to each and every day.
While on the subject of creating a routine, it’s a good idea to build some exercise into that routine, even if it’s just a little exercise to get that heart rate up a few times a week. Exercise temporarily raises endorphin levels in the body, making it an instant mood booster.
And because of the way that your body and its hormones respond to stress during exercise, regular exercise over time can actually increase your body’s overall resistance to stress. And as if that weren’t enough, exercise, of course, has the added benefit of improving and strengthening your overall physique, which is a sure way to build self-confidence.
Eat A Healthy Diet
A healthy diet doesn’t just offer benefits for your physical health—it can help you psychologically, as well. No diet can cure depression, but according to ongoing research, certain foods can help ease depression symptoms.
Many scientists believe, for example, that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and tuna can improve brain health. The complex carbohydrates found in whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat pasta, meanwhile, help the body release serotonin. And dark chocolate has been lauded for years for its ability to help the body release serotonin and relax the blood vessels.
Eating regularly and never skipping meals will also help you to keep blood sugar levels stable, preventing mood swings. Like exercise, a healthy diet has the added benefit of improving your physique and therefore boosting self-confidence.
Spend Time With Animals
Even if you don’t feel ready to have a pet of your own, you can spend time with a friend or family member’s pet, or visit your local animal shelter, for a natural boost in mood. Animals have a way of showing pure, unconditional love, which could be exactly what a person with depression needs. In addition, a pet can give a person something to wake up for, something to build a routine around, and a companion to depend on. Pets are actually proven scientifically to relieve tension and improve mood.
Plan A Vacation
Even if you don’t have the resources to take time off of work and go out of town for a vacation (which, by the way, could offer just the break you need to relieve stress), simply planning a vacation will raise your spirits significantly.
According to a study published the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life back in 2010, the largest boost in happiness surrounding vacations actually comes from the simple act of planning the vacation.
So grab a friend and plan an imaginary trip together. And if it seems doable in the near future, go ahead and make it a financial goal to save up for that vacation. Setting goals, after all, is in itself another way to give yourself something to look forward to and naturally fight depression.
Get Some Sunlight
It’s true—spending time in the sun actually aids in serotonin production and leads to a better mood. Make it a point to spend some time each day in the sun, especially during the winter months when serotonin levels are especially low. In addition, you might consider letting more sunshine stream in through your windows so that you can enjoy the benefits of sunlight even while indoors.
This is much easier said than done, but there is something about getting in touch with your authentic self that builds your self-confidence and boosts mood levels. Instead of hiding behind the mask of depression, try to confide in friends and family members on a regular basis, or try writing in a journal regularly to get your thoughts out on paper. You might also try meditating, which can help you to track your thought patterns and spend much-needed time clearing your mind of all the everyday stress it is exposed to.