Depression is a serious condition, and anyone affected by it will know that you can’t simply “snap out of it”. However, if you’re living with depression, you can learn about the best ways to manage it, which will help you to cope with the challenges it presents.
Cultivating healthy daily habits will help to keep your mood and your mental wellbeing in balance. The “Big Three” of these habits are: food, sleep, and exercise.
Feel-Good Foods for a Healthy Mind
There is a powerful link between nutrition and mental health. Low vitamin D levels or B-complex vitamin deficiency can affect your mood and trigger depression.
Some of the best foods for combating depression are:
- Leafy greens and dark green vegetables (source of iron, calcium and multiple vitamins)
- Citrus fruits (source of vitamin C)
- Nuts and seeds (source of protein and vitamin E)
- Whole grains (source of fibre and complex carbohydrates)
- Lean meat (source of protein and omega fatty acids)
- Beans and legumes (source of selenium and protein)
You can also add a multivitamin supplement to your diet, to make sure you’re getting enough of all the nutrients you need. Vitamin D is especially important to supplement, because your body can’t produce it without regular exposure to sunshine, and it can be hard to get enough vitamin D daily.
Reaching for a junk food snack when you’re feeling low is tempting. But these are some of the worst foods for depression, and should be avoided, especially when you’re feeling vulnerable:
- Refined sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
- Processed foods
- Hydrogenated oils
- High-sodium snacks
Sensible Sleep Habits to Decrease Depression
Getting enough sleep is important for physical and mental health, as it helps your body and brain to recharge. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, to get your body into a rhythm. Put a relaxing bedtime routine in place, to encourage your brain to slow down before sleep. Drinking herbal tea or adding some lavender oil to your bath will relax you and help you fall asleep.
If you struggle with insomnia, look into a natural remedy or even a sleeping pill recommended by your healthcare professional.
Exercise for a Happy Body and Mind
Regular exercise improves the mood, and of course it has great benefits for your physical fitness too. If you struggle to motivate yourself, join a class or appoint a friend as a “fitness buddy” to ensure you’ll be accountable to others as well.
Extra Support from the Professionals
To kick-start your journey out of depression, you may need to seek professional help. This could mean talking to a counsellor or psychologist, or even starting a course of anti-depressant medication prescribed by a GP or psychiatrist.
Don’t feel guilty or ashamed about needing this type of help. Many people who have suffered from depression find that the right medication gave them the energy to start taking the next steps towards wellness (like exercising, sleeping well, and preparing healthy meals).
It’s also important to reach out to the people that love you. Tell them what you’re going through, and lean on their support, even if it’s just for a little while.
Managing depression can be a big challenge, but by seeking help and focusing on healthy habits, you can start the journey towards a happier, healthier frame of mind.
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Dimartini, J. Gratitude – the key to loving each day and growing from every experience that occurs. Retrieved from: https://drdemartini.com/blog/gratitude-key-loving-day-growing-every-experience-occurs/
Griffin, R.M. Ten natural depression treatments. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/natural-treatments#1
Mhlungu, G. 2016. The arts in a traumatised nation. Retrieved from: http://city-press.news24.com/Trending/the-arts-in-a-traumatised-nation-20160516