MoHow Posted By Dr. MO One of the sad realities of living in the western world today is the scourge of depression. It’s a growing epidemic that affects over 100 million people. Among it’s primary causes are our couch potato lifestyle, our isolation, and having too much time on our hands. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability, missed work, and broken relationships. Chances are you or someone you know will suffer from it in your lifetime.
It is truly one of the most devastating of diseases in that it robs you of the ability to simply enjoy life. Activities that you used to enjoy leave you feeling empty. Interacting with friends, family and coworkers can be overwhelming.
So what can we do break it’s hold and become more resilient?
Traditional routes of therapy and even medication are effective and should definitely be considered if depression is disrupting your life.
However there are other, natural steps to take that can, over time, be very effective. In fact, some studies have shown these to be as effective (or more so) than traditional therapies.
As an added bonus these are good lifestyle changes that will enhance anyone’s life, depressed or not, most don’t cost a thing, and there are no negative side-effects!
Studies have shown that people in many of the so called “less developed” parts of the world get much more exposure to an active lifestyle than we do and they have no, or very little, depression. Attempts to study depression in primitive tribes found nothing to study. The same attempts to study depression in the Amish found very little. Changing your lifestyle to be more like them can work wonders in battling the blues.
Here are 5 things to do, or to do more often to help you, or anyone you know feel much better. Pick one of them and do it for a week. Add a new one each following week until you’re doing all of them. Keep doing them. They compliment one another. Doing one will help you do another which will help you feel better.
Turn them in to a routine like brushing your teeth, so that they become a part of your daily life. You will develop healthy habits that will inoculate you against depression.
1. Let the sunshine in. Get up at sunrise and go to sleep at sunset. Exposure to bright sunlight for 30 minutes a day either through sunlight or a light made for this, helps keep your internal clock set. This circadian rhythm helps to regulate our sleep/wake cycle and insures a good night’s sleep which in turn, helps our physical and mental health. Don’t wear sunglasses though; the exposure must come through your eyes!
2. Aerobic Exercise. 30 minutes at least 3 times a week means those ‘runner’s high’ endorphins get released regularly. It’s also a good way to work through and release stress. You don’t have to run a marathon, just get your heart rate up to your target range, around 120 to 160 beats per minute depending on your age and condition. Walking works wonders. Get your doctor’s approval first!
3. Revitalizing rest. Change your sleep routine so that it’s more conducive to a good night’s rest. Turn your lights down and go to bed at the same time every night. Turn the t.v. , computer and phone off. Engage in calming, quiet activities like reading, taking a warm bath, etc. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Don’t work late or do other stressful activities that cause your mind to race. Remember a tired body and quiet mind are the requirements for quality sleep.
4. Connect. Involve yourself with close friends and family. You don’t have to engage in heavy conversations about your plight, just have fun. Keep it simple and go to a movie, visit an art gallery or museum, go to a ball game, grab a cup of coffee or have a meal together. Just be with other people and your feelings of isolation will fade. Do this face to face and do it regularly.
5. Listen to your thinking. A constructive thinking strategy is vital to breaking out of depression and other emotional ruts. Become aware of those times you dwell on the negatives in your life, both real or imagined, and learn to dispute and replace automatic negative thoughts. It takes work and persistence but if you constantly ask yourself “What am I thinking?”’ when you start to go over and over the negatives, then you are building a positive habit that will change your life for the better. Whether it’s the jerk who cut you off in traffic or something a little closer to home, don’t practice negative thinking.
If you found this post useful consider subscribing to this blog, and if you want more help and support, including the MOmentum Mind thinking training course, personalized training and coaching, and a wide range of specific motivational tools and resources and a morning boost in the form of my morning email AmMo to help you get going every day, consider joining www.maintainmomentum.com.