I’ve written a book, 52 Ways to Beat Depression Naturally, on how to overcome depression and anxiety without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Recently, I went to a psychopharmacology course and the research is in – there are a few things that can significantly improve mood in people who are depressed.
Here are three things you can do that research has shown to help boost your mood and impact depression.
We’ve all heard that exercise has benefits beyond physical fitness and weight loss. The research on exercise and depression is particularly interesting because it advises that exercise has to be a part of the treatment plan for depression. Some of the research on this topic shows that exercise can boost your mood as much as an antidepressant!
Regular exercise might be a lifestyle change for you if you lead a sedentary lifestyle or only participate in physical activity from time to time. But know that if you do commit to regular exercise as part of a treatment plan for depression, the effects of this lifestyle change will impact your biochemistry and elevate endorphins, which directly affect your mood. Research shows you need at least 20 minutes of moderate to intense exercise daily (it has to raise your heart rate and you should be sweating!) for you to reap the benefits.
Even if you don’t want to hit the gym every day, I suggest buying a Fitbit or something like it to monitor your activity. Fitness gadgets like this can help to remind you to get up and take deep breaths, move and stretch or take a brisk walk if you need a little push to get moving.
We need sleep, but REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is especially important to our overall wellbeing. A lot of people who have depression and anxiety take sleeping pills, which is problematic because they actually impact REM sleep. When you take sleeping pills, you will fall asleep and stay asleep easier, but you won’t get the REM sleep and all the benefits that come with it. The loss of REM sleep when taking sleeping pills means that you won’t buy xanax bars feel as rested as you would if you learned techniques to help you sleep on your own. REM is the most restorative sleep, so just know that if you take sleeping pills, you’re missing out on this.
For many people, lack of sleep is a depressant. I see this in new moms, whose sleep is disrupted frequently throughout the night. When we aren’t getting the sleep we need, negative thinking creeps in, we become more on edge and more likely to worry.
REM sleep is 30 minutes long, and it occurs in cycles during sleep. REM is the deepest sleep stage, when we dream. This is why we feel a lot less rested when we wake up in the middle of a dream. If you nap, you want to nap for 30 minutes only so that you don’t break the next REM cycle.
Research also shows that the body metabolizes the highest when we sleep. It’s hard at work deeply replenishing itself, so make sure you get some sleep.
Did you know that we have more serotonin in our gut than we do in our brain? About 90 percent of serotonin in the body lives in the gut, so the food you eat makes a difference in your body’s ability to access that serotonin. We all want to eat better, and even though it’s not easy, simple things like cutting out caffeine will make a difference if you are depressed or anxious.
When it comes to diet and mental health, there is a lot of conversation out there about food as medicine. Food can be medicine in the sense that simple changes in your diet can make a difference in how you feel. For example, try to get B vitamins and omega 3 fats in your food or in a supplement. This can help improve your mood when it comes to depression.
Whether you pick one of these things or all three of these things to help beat depression, you’re going to notice a difference and feel better. Try at least one of these tips and notice the shift in how you feel.