- Mental Health»
Natural Ways to Prevent and Cure Depression
Millions of people suffer from depression and millions are on prescription medication to control it. If that works for you, that’s o.k. but if you have side effects or other concerns with the meds, there are alternatives.
All of these deterrents for depression are things I have tried. In fact, they are a way of life for me. They may not all work for you, but my guess is that at least a couple of them will work very well. Give them a try!
#1 Sunlight – Expose yourself to sunlight on a daily basis. If you don’t have sunlight where you live, natural light works also. When you get up in the morning, pull all the shades and curtains in your house to maximize the light inside. If you live in a warm climate, you may have to pull them closed when the sun starts to heat up the house, but keep the house as bright as possible with natural light.
#2 Music - When you get up in the morning turn on some music in your house. Preferably something uplifting. Mix up the types of music so you don’t get tired of hearing the same thing, or just find a radio station that plays what you like. Personally, I like all kinds of music, but I tire of hearing things over and over. Public Radio is classical music that I don’t get tired of.
#3 Exercise - Vigorous exercise works best, but any exercise helps. If you are exercising for depression, moderate to vigorous exercise for 15-20 minutes a couple of times a day will help tremendously. Several shorter segments of exercise each day will help to keep the endorphins in your brain moving and give you a feeling of well being or happiness.
#4 Singing - Serious singing, such as in a choir or lessons works best, but if that’s not practical, sing in the shower, or sing along with the radio. Buy a songbook with classic songs that you enjoy and start belting them out. Again, it stirs up those endorphins in your brain. It’s amazing how well it works!
#5 Diet - The important thing with trying to control depression is to keep your blood sugar stabilized. That means, eat small meals, more often. Avoid eating empty calories such as candy or cookies. Load up on fruits and vegetables throughout the day and add some lean protein at meals to keep your brain alert. Don’t forget about whole grains. Certain foods, such as beans, work really well to keep your blood sugar stable without the highs and lows that refined sugar and over processed foods can do to your body. Try eating nuts or low fat yogurt for snacks. A piece of whole fruit is low in calories and the fiber will help you feel full. Eating oatmeal and other whole grains will raise the amount of serotonin in your brain, which helps to prevent anxiety.
#6 Therapy - Psychotherapy with a licensed therapist can help tremendously. Unfortunately it is expensive and the positive effects are usually temporary, so it may not be practical for everyone. If you are on a budget, use your friends and family for therapy. A few minutes such as a short phone call several times a day works wonders. Don’t forget to return the favor for your “therapist”! If you are on the job, show some kindness to a co-worker by stopping to chat for a few minutes. It will help both of you feel better!
#7 Social Interaction – You might think this is the same as #6, but I am suggesting that you take it a step further. Try calling a friend or relative that you haven’t contacted in a long time. You will be amazed at how this will lift your spirits. I try to make a point of calling someone I haven’t contacted recently, almost every day. They will love it and you’ll feel great. Take the time to listen to their problems, instead of just talking about your own. In time, you will have a much wider circle of friends and it does wonders for your mood.
#8 Charity – This can be as small as giving a little money to someone standing on a street corner who is hungry, or writing a small check for a worthwhile charity. Or you can try volunteering to help out at a church function or some other charity, which appeals to you. Just a little effort on your part will pay you back with huge dividends in how you feel.
#9 Spiritual Life – For me, knowing there is a higher power who is in control, is a big part of controlling anxiety. Nothing is as calming as prayer. Nothing is as reassuring as strong belief in God.
#10 Pet Therapy – Having a pet helps you to feel loved and needed, especially if you don’t have a close family network, or even if you do. Pets love you unconditionally and almost always brighten your mood.
#11 Laugh or Cry – Having a good laugh every day works well to dispel feelings of sadness. Try watching something funny on TV or check out the funny pet videos on YouTube. Tell a joke to a friend. A little laughter goes a long way to help you stay “up”. Amazingly, a good cry can work almost as well. It’s all about those little endorphins in your brain.
#12 Balance – A happy life and avoiding depression has to do with balance. Take little steps to rearrange your schedule so that you have time each day to do some of these things. Do something social, something kind, and take care of yourself. If you are extremely busy with kids and family, get them to do something with you, such as exercise or charity. You’ll set a good example for them as well as helping yourself and possibly someone else.