Depression has a way of taking hold of a person and completely consuming him. Medication is one way of combatting depression. However, it can come with many side effects and it’s tough finding the right combination. Here are ten natural ways to cope with depression which you can either try in place of medication, or in severe cases in conjunction with medication.
1. Light therapy. If you find yourself feeling moody and with less energy during the fall & winter months, you might be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Light therapy can help. It mimics natural outdoor light and is reported to improve your mood.
2. Talk it out. Talk to someone close to you about how you are feeling. Talking it out can sometimes give you a new perspective on things. Seek the advice of a professional, be it your regular physician or a therapist. They can help you work through any issues causing the depression and offer advice on lifestyle changes that may improve your overall well-being.
3. Writing therapy. Write about what’s on your mind. This is for your personal viewing only unless you choose to share it with others. Be brutally honest with yourself when writing as it can relieve pent up emotions. Write about your thoughts, feelings, and concerns for a week or two and see how you feel. If it helps, keep writing.
4. Have Self-Compassion. As humans, we are our own worst enemy. When others are suffering, experience failure and are imperfect, you show compassion. So do the same for yourself. Be kind and understanding to yourself. Stop criticizing your perceived shortcomings and inadequacies. The more you accept your personal failures, the less they will affect you. Nobody is perfect!
5. Maintain a schedule. When you’re plagued with depression just getting out of bed can be a challenge. But not getting up, can make the depressive feelings worse. Create a daily schedule that you can follow. Include activities that must be done, and also those that you enjoy and that will help take your mind off of your worries. A schedule forces you to work through things even if you don’t want to. And as you mark things off your list, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment which will help boost your mood.
6. Be social even when you don’t want to. When you’re feeling down, oftentimes your social life takes a hit. You don’t feel like going out or talking to others. Muster enough energy to go out and do things with friends and family. It can have a positive impact on your depressive symptoms & lift your spirits.
7. Make sleep a priority. Lack of sleep can make your depression worse. Set and maintain a healthy bedtime routine & schedule. Even if you’re not feeling tired, stick with the schedule. Once you’ve been in bed for a while, if you cannot fall asleep, then get up and do something relaxing before trying to sleep again.
8. Exercise has many healing powers. Not only is exercise important for the body, but it’s great for the mind as well. It will give you more energy and will make you feel better about yourself because you’ll look and feel better.
9. Make diet and nutrition a priority. Increasing your Omega 3 fatty acids intake can improve your mood. Eat cold-water fish, salmon & wild game several times a week. Take an Omega-3 fatty acid or flaxseed supplement. Eating a healthy diet will make you feel healthy & physically attractive both of which is a mood booster.
10. Just say no to drugs and alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant so “drinking away” your stress and depression is not going to happen. In fact, it can actually increase the symptoms. Instead, talk to your doctor about treatment options available to you. Whether it’s medication, therapy or an alternative approach, there’s sure to be a better option than alcohol.
Coping with depression can be a difficult task. But managed correctly and with a healthy and active lifestyle like outlined here you can really begin to feel human again.