Nearly seven percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from clinical depression. That’s about 16 million people who are persistently plagued by pervasive feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low self-worth. Many people who suffer from depression can benefit from prescription medication and counseling. However, there are steps you can take to help manage and reduce your symptoms naturally. The best part is, these steps can help improve your overall health as well. Here’s a list of the top 10 ways to manage and reduce the symptoms of depression:
Studies have shown the way you think, positively or negatively, can have a big effect on your mood. Thinking positive takes work and practice, but by learning to focus on the good things in your life, you can help fight off the negative moods and thoughts that can make you feel hopeless and worthless.
Being involved in activities, especially activities that involve other people or help charitable causes, can go a long way toward taking the focus off your own feelings and promoting greater feelings of self worth.
Get plenty of sleep.
Sleep has amazing restorative powers, but a recent study from the CDC shows most Americans don’t get nearly enough. Make sure you get enough by establishing sleep and bedtime routines and sticking with them.
Increase your physical activity.
Exercise is the body’s natural anti-depressant by releasing “feel good” chemicals called serotonin which plays a major role in depression and other mood disorders. Decades of medical studies have shown the amazing benefits regular exercise can offer for those who battle depression, and the best part is, you don’t need to be a super athlete to experience those benefits, as a regular program of moderate activity is all you need to tap into the body’s natural power to beat the blues.
Keep a journal.
Writing down your feelings can be a great way to release them and gain greater insight into your own emotions so you can take greater control of them.
Your body and your brain need balanced nutrition for optimal function. Making sure you eat a healthy diet is the best way to keep body and mind in top shape and avoid nutritional deficiencies that can cause mood problems, including depression.
Focus on your own expectations.
Too often, we get caught up in trying to please others. By identifying what’s important to you and focusing on that instead, you’ll find yourself living a much more fulfilling and satisfying life.
Stay in touch.
Connecting to friends and loved ones helps avoid feelings of loneliness and isolation. Just be sure the people with whom you stay in touch are a positive influence and don’t leave you with feelings of inadequacy.
Set goals, and make them achievable.
Goals help you measure progress and feel accomplished and productive. Just be sure your goals are realistic, and remember that even small setbacks can be positive learning opportunities.
Set a routine, but be willing to try new things.
Routines help keep the mind calm, but you shouldn’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Try a new hobby or even taking a walk in a new neighborhood. New activities are distracting, and sometimes a little distraction and change in focus is all it takes to short circuit your depression.