NOTE: This list is in no way comprehensive and will not work for everyone. This article is not a substitute for sound medical advice. Please consult your medical care provider for a plan of action.
In this day and age, we are presented with real life versus an ideal of what happiness should look like (whether it be self-imposed or what have you). Depression is a very real epidemic in the U.S. today, with approximately 10 percent of all Americans battling some form of depression.
Whatever the cause, if you are dealing with depression, grief or other traumatic events, take heart. If you are like me (somewhat averse to taking meds), you want to know the best natural course of action that will help you deal without the side effects of psychoactive drugs. These drugs do work, but the side effects may be irreversible. I have a list of 11 natural ways to deal with depression. As noted above, this list is in no way comprehensive, but it should serve as a good baseline to help deal with “the blues”, “the winter blahs” or whatever it may be.
1) Practice “good sleep hygiene.” In other words, get more sleep. Sleep and mood go hand-in-hand. Science has proved this beyond a shadow of a doubt. Establish a consistent bedtime routine that will work (e.g. ceasing all social media activities a half-hour before bedtime), buying blackout curtains for those of you who work nights, and keeping consistent bedtimes.
2) Cut back on caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant. I know we as a people don’t like to think of it that way, but it is what it is. Cutting back on caffeine will help enhance your mood and provide for better sleep.
3) Embrace “Nattyism”. There’s a lot to be said for being a “natty.” Battling depression does not mean you have to potentially become an addict. Here are three great alternatives to prescription drugs and their side effects: 1) SAMe 2) Saint John’s Wort 3) 5-HTP. As with any OTC medication, listen to your body and see your primary care provider for more.
4) Get more Vitamin D. For those of you in warmer, sunnier climates, this is as easy as stepping outside. For those of you who live in places like the Pacific Northwest, taking vitamin D tabs and drinking milk will help.
5) Become more spiritual. Science has proven that people of faith have a better overall degree of happiness compared to others. This does not mean run to your local synagogue, mosque or church. What it does mean is do not neglect the aspect of the spirit in this regard. Simple things like meditation and being grateful can work wonders.
6) Hit the gym. Now for some, the gym is a sanctuary. Do this, you can work out a lot of frustration. Take it from me, this one works. A lot.
7) Be positive. As Pollyanna-ish as that may sound, positive thinking does work. For a primer, read some books; maybe even watch videos online about it. Train your brain to think and act that way- you will see results.
8) Get on the wagon. I’m not talking about bandwagon-jumping like when it comes to sports and entertainment. What I do mean is cessation from alcohol, since alcohol is a depressant anyway.
9) Eat comfort food. We all know that what you put in your mouth does have an effect on your mood. Think of your favorite foods, perhaps a list of comfort foods. Consult a nutritionist or a dietitian for a nutrient-rich, low saturated-fat, low calorie diet.
10) Get active! Studies also prove that having an active social life is a depression-killer as well. Also, workrate and activity levels will get your mind off your problems. You never know—you just might find a purpose or a person waiting for you.
11) Get a handle on stress. Stress is a major contributor of depression. The reason is a chemical called cortisol. A few strategies to lessen the stress are meditation, biofeedback therapy and time management. Also don’t forget friends and family.Interpersonal communication and interaction also works wonders as well.
As stated before, this is not a “be-all end-all” list. These are simple strategies that a person can implement themselves and quite frankly, see quantum leaps in not only your mental health but in your overall health as well.
Knowledge, execution and study are three basics that get it done.
THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!!