Feeling sad is a normal part of life, but feeling bad about your sadness can signify depression. Here we look at lifestyle changes and depression.
Depression is a mood disorder that makes you feel sad, isolated, empty, and hopeless. It affects your daily activities, work, relationships, and life in general. It even makes you lose interest in things you once enjoyed.
The treatment plan for depression includes medication, therapy, and positive lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes are simple tools but powerful in treating depression. They equip you with good life habits that help tackle depression.
In some cases, these lifestyle changes alone help treat depression. But if you are suffering from moderate to mild depression, seek professional help right away.
Lifestyle Changes and Depression
Below are positive lifestyle changes to help complement your depression treatment.
There is a correlation between what you eat and how you feel. If you want to feel good, check on what you eat and drink. The brain functions well when eating healthy foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These ingredients nourish the brain and prevent oxidative stress.
On the other hand, foods high in refined sugars are harmful to the brain. They worsen the regulation of insulin promote oxidative stress and inflammation.
Studies have found a strong correlation between impaired brain function and diets high in refined sugars. They even worsen symptoms of depression and mood disorders.
Healthy foods to incorporate into your diet include;
- Fatty acids – omega-6s and omega-3s are the two types of healthy fatty acids. They are found in fish, nuts, olive oil, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
- Amino acids – the messengers in your brain, called neurotransmitters, are made of amino acids. They are essential to good mental health. They are found in dairy products, meat, and certain fruits and vegetables.
- Complex carbohydrates – help in the production of serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter. They also help synthesize proteins by allowing the body to absorb amino acids more effectively. Complex carbohydrates are found in legumes, whole grains, vegetables like broccoli and spinach, and fruits such as pears and orange.
Exercise can help boost your mood, whether you’re experiencing moderate depression or severe depression.
Regular exercise helps stimulate brain parts that are unresponsive when you feel depressed. It also helps release feel-good chemicals that distract you from feeling depressed and improve your confidence.
Exercise helps the body release endorphins, a chemical messenger that helps release stress and pain.
Exercise also stimulates the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. These brain chemicals help in regulating your mood.
Exercise boosts serotonin levels in the brain. High serotonin levels boost your mood and bring a positive sense of well-being. It also helps improve sleeping cycles and appetite, often affected by depression.
Regular exercises also balance your stress hormones, such as adrenaline.
While any amount of exercise helps minimize symptoms of depression, regular exercise is the best. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
Also, some exercises may be more beneficial than others. For instance, aerobics are more associated with positive results in depression treatment. Aerobics increases your heart rate, which improves blood circulation in the brain. This helps maintain balanced brain chemistry and healthy brain function.
Singing And Listening to Music
Scientifically, singing has been proven to lower stress and relieve anxiety. It promotes the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that help release tension and pain.
Singing relaxes muscle tension and reduces the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream. This helps boost your mood and keeps you happy.
Some participants showed a significant decrease in depression levels after incorporating singing into their routine in one study.
The possible reason for the effectiveness of singing in treating depression is the discovery of sacculus, a tiny organ in the ear, which response to frequencies made by singing. The answer rings a sense of pleasure.
So if you find yourself feeling sad and depressed, sing a cheerful song several times. Allow the music to wash out the negative feelings and bring positivity that will lift your mood.
Aside from singing, listening to music is another simple yet effective way to boost your mood and motivation. According to neurologists, listening to music brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.
Research shows that music is a powerful tool when stimulating brain activity and function. Scientists also say that music stimulates more brain parts than other human functions.
We cannot avoid stress altogether, but severe long-term stress can be devastating, especially for those with depression.
Stress management strategies are essential in coping with depression. Relieving stress also prevents depressive symptoms from occurring.
Helpful stress management strategies include:
- Eating healthy diets
- Regular exercise
- Good sleeping behavior
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
- Taking breaks or occasional vacations from work
It’s also advisable to have reliable friends and family to help you with stress management.
Talking to a therapist, counselor, or mental health professional can also effectively deal with stress and depression.
In short, to effectively manage stress, avoid the stressors within your control. For instance, you may leave a stressful job or walk away from toxic friends. It would help if you also tried accepting stressors out of your control with actions like meditation, exercise, or drinking less caffeine and alcohol.
Meditation is a mental exercise, with activities like deep breathing repeating a phrase or mantra to achieve some benefit.
It can help you relax and relieve the anxiety that accompanies depression. For instance, if depression disrupts your sleeping habits, a deep breathing strategy calms your mind and enables you to sleep better.
Here are some forms of meditation techniques:
- Guided imagery – is a type of meditation that uses the power of positive thinking to help achieve something specific, like happiness.
- Music therapy – this technique has improved the moods of people with depression. You may listen to music that promotes positivity and relaxation. At times it involves singing as a form of meditation.
Wrapping Up Lifestyle Changes and Depression
That’s it. We hope that these lifestyle changes will help with depression and improve your overall life.