Everybody feels a little down every now and then, especially when experiencing loss or when life’s struggles become overwhelming. However, when this turns into feelings of intense sadness that lasts for days and weeks, it can be classified as depression.
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Unlike what many people believe, depression is not just something that a person can “snap” out of at will. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and being worthless can be debilitating and prevent the person from functioning normally.
While suffering from depression, it is easy to feel as if there is no way out, but with some effort it is possible to cope with this condition and eventually overcome it. However, it is important to make use of offers of help and support and to reach out to friends and family instead of trying to deal with depression all alone.
1. Get The Proper Amount Of Sleep
Depression can often result in sleep problems, whether it is sleeping too much or too little, neither of which is good for your health. Not getting the proper amount of sleep can have a big impact on your mood and make the symptoms of depression even worse. Studies have shown that there is a direct link between sleep disturbances, such as insomnia, and the onset of major depression.
It is important not to fall into poor sleep patterns, but to try to stick to a regular sleeping schedule. Go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time in the morning so that your body can get used to the routine.
It also helps to keep away from your bed when not sleeping. Getting the proper amount of sleep is vital for rejuvenating the body as well as brain while also keeping your immune system strong.
2. Change Your Scenery
Although it might not work for everyone, travelling can be a beneficial way to deal with depression. Going somewhere new and experiencing a fresh setting can be beneficial to people who are stressed out about their surroundings.
If you are able to get away and travel, it also means that there is less pressure on you, and stressors can be dramatically reduced. While traveling isn’t a cure for depression, it can be therapeutic and relaxing as well as a stimulating experience. Taking a break and traveling will also enable you to focus on other things that can help with depression.
3. Ensure That You Get Enough Sunlight
One of the things that can make depression even worse is a lack of sunlight, so when feeling down it is important to spend enough time outdoors. Studies have shown that there is a link between low exposure to sunlight and cognitive impairment for people who suffer from depression.
At the very least you should try to enjoy at least 15 minutes of sunlight per day to give your mood a boost. Simple things, like enjoying a refreshing drink outside or going for a short walk, or even simply sitting in the garden can help you to feel better provided there is enough sunlight.
Because the way in which technology has changed our lives and work, resulting in people spending more time indoors than ever before, it is vital to spend enough time outside to prevent vitamin D deficiency.
4. Practice Daily Relaxation Techniques
Reducing stress and boosting your feelings of well-being can help a lot when trying to cope with depression. An effective way to do so is by practicing daily relaxation techniques. Anything from deep breathing and yoga to meditation can improve your mood and help bring relief from the symptoms of depression.
A study performed on participants suffering from lower back pain revealed that those who participated in yoga experienced a reduction in depression. This indicates that relaxation techniques, such as yoga, can be particularly effective for people who suffer from depression due to pain.
5. Spend Time with Friends
Although it is tempting to withdraw from social life when feeling depressed, doing so will only make the situation worse. Instead, spend time with friends and family, as socializing can drastically improve your mood. For this to work, the time spent socializing should ideally be face to face and not via social media or email.
Studies have found that this is even more important for older adults, as they are less likely to report symptoms of depression after regularly meeting in person with friends or family.
Because technology has made it so easy to communicate with other people without meeting them in person it has changed the ways in which we interact with those around us, and this isn’t always for the better. In fact, using social media too much can even leave people feeling dissatisfied about their own lives, according to studies, so they are more likely to become depressed.
6. Be More Active
A great way to deal with depression is by working out and being more active. Aerobic exercises in particular will result in the body releasing endorphins and producing serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can provide relief from depression. In addition, exercising also helps to block stress hormones.
One of the best exercises for coping with depression is swimming, as it offers a full body workout. Swimming is also very effective because it offers a combination of breathing and repetitiveness that can work almost like meditation.
Getting started is usually the hardest part of exercising when feeling depressed, but can make a huge difference, so it is definitely worth the effort. If you are not used to exercising you can start off gently at first. Just increasing the amount of physical activities during your day, such as taking stairs instead of an elevator or going for a short walk can already make a difference.
7. Eat Healthy
What you eat can make a big difference to how you feel, so when trying to cope with depression stick to foods that are healthy as well as mood-boosting. Avoid caffeine as well as alcohol as these can adversely affect your mood and brain. Trans fats and food that contains high levels of hormones or chemical preservatives should also be avoided.
Opt for foods that can boost serotonin, such as anchovies, mackerel, herring, sardines and wild salmon, all of which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Protein-rich foods, such as free range turkey and healthy fats, like coconut oil, can also help boost serotonin.
So, while it might be tempting to try to find solace in junk food when feeling depressed, it is much better to eat something healthy instead. Snacks that are high in sugar can also cause further crashes in your mood and energy.
8. Seek Out Professional Help
Sometimes depression can get worse even after making all these positive lifestyle changes. When this happens, it is important to seek out professional help. Depression that is left untreated for too long can have a serious negative impact on your life and health, so don’t try to deal with it all on your own if you are overwhelmed.