Everyday Ways to Ease Depression and Feel More Positive
We all have days that are better than others. Some of us tend to have negative or depressing feelings more often than we would like. The healthy approach is to always accept the feelings we have and not deny them. Although it is often difficult to change our feelings, we can more readily change our patterns of behavior that influence our perspective and alters our feelings. Although this can be a complicated subject, allow me to offer some simple considerations. Review and focus on several that seem to be relevant to you and your situation.
Work Out to Change How You’re Feeling
Exercise works almost as well as antidepressants for some people. You don’t have to run a marathon. Begin with just taking a walk with a friend. As time goes on, move more until you exercise for 30-60 minutes on most days of the week. You’ll feel better physically, sleep better at night, and boost your mood. A coordinated exercise routine enhances bodily function on multiple levels. Movement tends to become easier with exercise that facilitates a more active life-style that positively impacts metabolism, energy, and mood. The programs at Elite Fitness Plus provide outstanding encouragement and support.
Be Sure You Get Enough Sunlight
Exposure to light, especially sunlight and when possible sunlight outdoors tends to lift our mood and we feel less depressed.
Make Time for Mindful Relaxation
Learn to relax, and you can help restore a sense of calm and control to your focus. Some find benefit from a yoga or meditation class. You could simply listen to soothing music while you take a long, warm bath or enjoy a walk outdoors enjoying Nature. The goal is to find a way to be present in the moment, while ignoring everything else. Reflect on your many blessings in life and allow yourself to feel truly thankful. This approach can help reduce stress and lower serum cortisol that contributes to low mood.
Expressions of Gratitude Enhance Our Mood
Learn the discipline of taking note of the many blessings of life. Even on “bad days”, pause to reflect on the “good things” in life. Not only feel grateful, but make a conscious effort to express gratitude to others and you will feel less sadness.
Explore Your Creativity
Painting, photography, music, knitting, or writing in a journal are all ways you can explore your feelings and express what’s on your mind. The goal isn’t to create a masterpiece. Do something that gives you pleasure. It may help you better understand who you are and how you feel.
Keep Friends and Family in Your Life
The people who love you want to support you. If you shut them out, they can’t. If you let them in, you’ll feel a lot better. Call a friend and go for a walk. Share a cup of coffee. You may find it helps to talk about your feelings of depression. It feels good to have someone listen.
Get the Sleep You Need
Depression makes it hard to get good rest. Some people sleep too much. Others can’t fall asleep easily. As you recover, relearn good nighttime habits. Start by going to bed and getting up the same times each day. Use relaxation techniques to help you drift off. Quality shut-eye makes your mind and body feel better.
Get Involved in Your Community
When you spend time with people or causes you care about, you can regain a sense of purpose. And it doesn’t take much to get started. You can volunteer with a charity. Or join a discussion group at the library or at church. You’ll feel good about yourself when you meet new people and do new things.
Eat Smart to Lift Mind and Body
No specific foods treat depression, but a nutritious diet can be part of an overall treatment plan. Build your meals and snacks around plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Some studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids may play a role with brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions.
Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
They can slow your recovery from depression or stop it in its tracks. They can also make the condition worse and keep antidepressants from working well. If you have a problem with substance abuse, ask for help now. You’ll have a far better chance of getting past depression.
Spirituality is our life focus. Take steps to clarify your unique purpose in life that brings meaning for you and helps you feel valued. Reflect on your heritage and good or bad, use your experiences to empower your journey forward.
Make an effort to enjoy some fun activities. To really be healthy, your inner self needs some serious outer fun. It can’t all be meditation and fine art or hard work. Schedule “enjoyment” into your day.
Stick to Your Treatment
Exercise, a healthy diet, and other good habits may help you feel positive about your life. But they won’t replace medical treatment or talk therapy. Depression is a serious illness, and it carries a risk of suicide. If you are thinking about harming yourself, get help right away. And never stop or change your treatment without discussing it with your doctor.
Paul R. Block, MD, FACP, FCCP