Why are some people happy and some are miserable? Why do some people who struggle with depression find ways to pull themselves out of if they implement some proven tools? A key is that those people are willing to take action and try whatever it takes, while others feel hopeless and helpless, and do not try proven methods that could make a world of difference. So what are some proven scientific ways that an individual can become happier?
1. Exercise naturally boosts chemicals called endorphins, and had been shown to have positive effects on depression. No one is asking you to train for a marathon, or run daily, just walk a few times a week, and you will be surprised by the results.
2. While there is no "depression diet," there is also no denying that we feel better when we eat well. Choosing foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, lean protein, and healthy fruits and vegetable, is going to make you feel much better than carb loaded or sugary foods.
3. Sleep is essential to mood and overall wellness. You want to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, whether you need to be up for something or not. This helps put the body into a normal and restful routine. Your body needs to get to its deepest level of sleep to improve mood, and restore immunities. Don't drink caffeine after 2pm to prevent any effects this might have.
4. Make sure that you remove distractions from your bedroom, this includes watching TV right before bed, using the screen on your phone to read articles or play games, or any other distractor. These things stimulate the brain and prevent sleep. The bedroom is for sleep and sex, by removing these distractions, your mind and body will start to realize this.
5. Therapy can help you to challenge negative thoughts, which are a classic symptom of depression. When we are depressed, we think the worst will happen. A Therapist can help you to challenge the reality of those thoughts, and can also help you replace them with more positive and realistic thoughts. When you are depressed you feel hopeless, like no one likes you, like you do not have a support system, or like what can go wrong will.
A therapist can instill hope with small victories, can show you that you do have a support network that not only likes you, but has been reaching out to you, and also that many times, things do not go as you fear they will. Consistently challenging thinking, and learning to have a more accurate outlook, can have a positive impact on mood. Research actually shows that individuals with mild depression actually benefit more from talk therapy, than they do from anti-depressants. Individuals with moderate to major depression benefit most from a combination of therapy and anti-depressants
6. Trying something new can actually change the chemicals in the brain. New activities activate chemicals related to mood. So, there is no better time to try something that you have never done before, even if your depression is telling you not too! Depression often makes us feel that things that we once enjoyed are not fun anymore, but that is just the depression speaking. If you get out there and engage in things that you loved, you will be surprised that you might actually find yourself enjoying things part way through. Is that a smile I see? It is like teaching yourself to have fun again, but it can be taught if you put in the effort.
7. Light therapy boxes have been shown to be effective with the increased depression most of us experience during the winter and lightless months, as they simulate natural light. Coming from Chicago, this occurrence impacts many. Light therapy boxes have not only become more accepted, the Mayo clinic writes about their effectiveness, but they have come down tremendously in price to make them attainable for the average person. You can get them through home medical companies, or even online through outlets like Amazon. Making a little light therapy part of your morning routine, can have a great impact on your day. Use it while you have your coffee, read your paper and check your e-mails!
8. While there are very promising studies and research that shows that supplements can help to naturally improve depression, you should always make a point to speak with your doctor before starting them. There is a misconception that supplements are natural, and therefore cannot cause you harm, but they can interfere with current medications, and we all react differently to substances. You are also encouraged to do your own research on supplements before leaping head first into taking them. The most promising supplements are fish oil, SAMe, St. John's Wort, and Folic Acid.
9. Research also shows that saffron is effective for mild depression, so if you love the spice, pile it on!
10. Another natural alternative, acupuncture! While there is not a ton of research on this, that which is out there, does show positive results. I cannot think of a better reason to go get a treatment that is relaxing and effective!