For years, many people have believed that depression requires medication. Most people who take anti-depressants resign themselves to years, or maybe even a lifetime, of medication dependence. While standard medication has its undeniable place in stabilizing moods, we know that there are many natural ways of reducing and sometimes completely alleviating depression.
Some of them might seem too simple and others might feel outside your comfort zone. But we encourage you to adopt these lifestyle adjustments for a week to see how your health improves.
1. Get good sleep
Depression is tiring for your body. Recharging it through plenty of rest – at least eight hours of sleep a night – will let you reconnect with yourself and the world.
Light stimuli like phones, laptops, and TVs can greatly reduce your sleep quality, so turn off electronics 30 minutes prior to going to sleep and opt to keep your phone outside your bedroom.
3. Try cold exposure
When you expose your body to thermal stress, your brain releases beta-endorphin and noradrenaline. It improves your mood, lowers stress, and give you more energy and pain relief without the side-effects of medication. Try taking cold showers for a week and watch your depression improve.
If you want to know more about cold exposure, check out the work of Wim Hof here and here.
4. Give up sugar & gluten for a week
Gluten and sugar are two primary sources of inflammation in the body which worsen depression and create brain fog. Eliminate processed sugar and gluten from your diet and experience a clear mind, body re-balancing, better moods, and more energy.
5. Start your day with a “mental health smoothie”
The brain is made up of 60% fat. It needs healthy fats, such as butter, eggs, avocados, walnuts, and coconut oil, to function properly. Start your day with a smoothie created by Dr. Kelly Brogan, full of healthy organic fats, and feel your brain re-energize while depressive symptoms disappear.
6. Declutter & redesign your space
Have you noticed how your surroundings impact the way you think and process emotion? It’s hard to think clearly in a chaotic space and your surroundings may become boring over time. Decluttering your area removes excess mental pressure and redesigning your space brings in fresh energy.
Our bodies, much like our minds, love space. Moreover, we store unprocessed emotion in our bodies, which creates psychical tension and, over time, disease. Practices like yoga help you create space in your body, engage in healthy movement of energy, and release pent-up emotions.
8. Move your body
Exercise not only builds muscle, but it also promotes brain growth, especially in the prefrontal cortex – the brain region responsible for the sense of self and mood control. Whether dancing or weight lifting, exercise improves your mood and thinking quickly.
When we imagine something pleasant to us, we get in touch with our deepest desires and goals. Try daydreaming to some good music for 10 minutes daily to practice positive thinking. Imagine a goal, a desired outcome, or a possession you would like to have, and visualize it for 10 minutes a day. By the end of the week, you might forget what depression felt like.
When we go for a swim, the cold water causes our surface blood vessels to tighten up, making blood move from the body’s surface to the core. It also bathes our brain and our organs in fresh blood, detoxifying them while nourishing them with nutrition and oxygen. Swimming boosts your mood and regulates body functions.
11. Breathe & Exercise Your Core
Much of our depression is stored in our core, and when we pump oxygen and energy through the core muscles and connect to our diaphragm, we allow those stored emotions to be released out of the body. It lifts your mood and gives you a sense of ease and deep personal strength, while depression fades away.
Journaling is a phenomenal outlet to purge unpleasant emotions and gain deep personal insight. Try journaling about your life and feelings for a week, and experience your head and chest lightening, lifting depression and taking you off of the emotional edge.
13. Move Your Eyes (EMDR)
Using rhythmic eye movements can help release negative emotions that we hold in our bodies and improve our ability to process trauma. Do EMDR exercises for seven days, and notice how optimism takes the place of your depression.
14. Reprogram Your Mind
When people are depressed for a while, negative thinking can become an unconscious mindset. You can easily flip the negative script in your head by using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), affirmations, and by adopting a gratitude practice.
15. Fuel Your Consciousness
Have you ever heard the phrase, “You are what you eat?” The same applies to our thought patterns. What goes into your mind profoundly affects what comes out of it. If you read or watch negative content, spend time with people who complain, or get stuck in unhealthy work or living situations, your mind will absorb and reflect your surroundings. But as soon as you start putting in the good fuel – listening to inspiring speeches, surrounding yourself with positive people, and consuming content that spark creativity – your mind will start producing positive thoughts and the way you feel in your day-to-day life will change.
If you choose to incorporate these 15 simple lifestyle modifications, you will enjoy more mental clarity, fewer emotional swings, and more positive thought patterns. We encourage you to stick with some or all of them for only seven days and let us know about the difference in the way you feel by the end of the week in the comments below.
Wishing you a fun energizing week.
If you would like to know more about how you can improve your health with integrated holistic psychiatry, you can see one of our providers in Brentwood, TN. You can request your appointment here or give us a call at 866-951-4325.