Can Healthy Habits Help Manage Depression?
While it's completely normal to have a few down days from time to time, there is a tipping point when those low, lethargic or sad feelings can take hold and depression sets in.
Suffering from depression is a lot more common than most people realize, and it’s become a widespread affliction that many of us have unfortunately danced with before.
Increased mental health awareness has really shone a light on the growing issue of depression in recent years, and this has been a great catalyst for so many of us to step out of the shadows and finally know that we are not alone.
While medical treatment can be necessary in some cases to address acute depression, there’s also a shining beacon of hope for lifting the fog on the front end:
Through nurturing our minds with some healthy natural habits that elevate our mindset and prevent depression symptoms from taking the wheel.
Though the debilitating effects of depression can impact each of our lives very differently, there are some accessible lifestyle habits that really help boost your overall wellbeing and mood.
So, to help fend off the shadows of depression and keep the sun shining on your happiness, start with these easy daily habits that are proven to naturally manage depression:
Exercise is a Ray of Sunshine for Happiness
Exercise is one of the best ways to help stave off some of the effects of depression and progressively improve your mood.
Getting the blood moving with regular exercise stimulates your body’s production of endorphins and serotonin. Both of these are "feel-good" chemicals that directly counteract the low feelings that are common with depression.
Plus, exercise can help you burn away stress and anxiety, which all too often goes hand-in-hand with depression.
The good news? Studies have shown that you don’t even need to run a marathon or grind away at the gym to get these endorphin-releasing effects either: A simple, gentle stroll is enough to boost your mood and alleviate some of the bodily tension we all accumulate over the day.
You Get Out What You Put In
Your dietary habits can also play a big role in combating depression, so switching them up to become healthier works wonders at elevating your overall wellbeing.
For a healthy mind, ensuring that you’re getting adequate nutrition is paramount. After all, your brain is incredibly metabolically active, and it requires a steady stream of vitamins and nutrients to function properly.
Make sure that you eat plenty of vegetables and other healthy foods like whole grains and lean proteins. All of these can guarantee that you enjoy a well-rounded diet without any big vitamin deficiencies that could be making your symptoms worse.
You might also consider taking supplements or probiotics to help with your gut microbiome and the mind/gut connection.
Have you heard of recent studies suggesting that the stomach is actually like a second brain?
Researchers have uncovered a powerful relation between a thriving digestive system and a clear, happy mind. This is thanks to the helpful bacteria that assist with our digestive process, also affecting our thought patterns and mood.
If your nutrition is scoring straight A’s yet you’re still feeling the fog of depression, it might also be a good idea to consider eliminating certain beverages or foods to lift the clouds.
The usual suspects that exacerbate general unhealthiness (such as alcohol or excessive sugary sweets) can put a dampener on your efforts, so try to limit these to occasional treats!
Catch Those Zzzz’s for a Bright Tomorrow
Lastly, don’t forget that your sleep habits can also help manage depression by honoring your body’s rest requirements. Adults need between six and eight hours of sleep every night, so be sure you’re getting your “z’s” as consistently as possible.
Sleep is when our bodies and brains go into repair mode, hitting the reset switch on cortisol that ramps up our stress responses. So what’s the best way to ensure you’re not skipping this critical step for your mind’s regeneration? Start by getting intentional with winding down for the day.
The burden of deadlines at work can keep many of us from clocking off for the day and taking some important relaxation time, but the payoff is rarely worth it.
Sure, you’ll get some tasks wrapped up before logging off, but it’s not worth the strain on your mental health to stay late at work if it means you’ll feel exhausted and beaten down the next day.
Try going to bed at the same time every night to train your brain to settle into sleep as a routine.
For the most restful sleep, avoid looking at your phone or computer screens for at least an hour before bed, as blue light can trick your brain into thinking sunlight is returning and you should be alert.
Depression can be tough to kick, but maintaining these healthy habits encourages our natural wellbeing and helps us come back to our natural center, which is resilient, happy and strong.
Working toward a healthy, thriving body can be just the boost many need to counteract some of the worst effects of depression, providing the first step on the ladder to climb out of a rut that’s lasted for some time.
If you, or somebody you know is struggling with depression, now is the time to reach out for help. There are many resources and options for treatment available to assist us in our darkest hours, so please reach out and you’ll always be greeted with a warm hand to help pull you out of the shadows.
Always remember: You are strong, you are worthy, you are lovable, and loved. And above all else: You are not alone.
Fefe | Greens Steel Wellness Contributor
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