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8 Effective Ways That Can Help Fight Depression (Without Drugs)

8 Effective Ways That Can Help Fight Depression (Without Drugs)

When you look around our societies today, almost everyone is on antidepressants or knows someone who is. People who are depressed suffer from dominating sadness, a blue mood, emotional numbness, empty feelings, anxiety, hopelessness, loss of self-worth, indecision, or some combination of these. When you’re depressed, it often feels like nothing in the world can make you feel better.

Antidepressant medications help to manage depression, but these drugs often only treat the symptoms of depression and not necessarily the causes. Sometimes you may need to do more than take a pill to lift your mood and beat depression to feel good about yourself again.

Here are eight ways that may help fight depression (without medications) so you can enjoy life again.

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1. Share what you’re going through with people you love and trust.

Don’t feel embarrassed confiding in a friend or voicing your struggles. Talking about your problems or worries is not a self-centered or self-pitying endeavor; it’s an act of courage. It can be the best thing you do for yourself to lighten the burden and begin the process of regaining your happiness. The people you talk to don’t have to be able to fix you, they just need to be good listeners. Sometimes all we need is a listening ear.

2. Keep a “thought log.”

Whenever you experience negative thoughts or sudden burst of sadness, jot down the thoughts and what triggered them as clearly and succinctly as possible. The act of writing down your worries is calming and therapeutic. Review your log when you are up to it. Read it with an open mind. Consider if the negative feelings were truly warranted. Question if there’s another way to view the situation. Worries and doubts oftentimes dissolve under scrutiny. If that happens, that’s great. However, if the worries are based on genuine risks, take additional measures to manage them.

3. Redirect your focus to the positive.

Of course, this is easier said than done when you have depression. That said, studies show that when people pay more attention to the positive it leads to improved moods due to a corresponding increase in their serotonin levels. An imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression. One technique that can help to redirect attention to the positive is meditation. Meditation has been shown to increase dopamine levels, serotonin levels, and boost feelings of happiness. Use meditation to “turn on” a state of happiness that can replace sadness. You can also try Heart Math training, which has been shown to strengthen the part of the brain responsible for turning on the “happy state.”

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4. Go outside more.

The importance of regulated sunshine and light exposure for lifting moods (as well as energy levels) is huge. Light increases your productivity and happiness. Studies show bright light exposure may also help increase serotonin levels in the brain and alleviate depression symptoms. Aim for at least 15 minutes of sunlight a day to lift your mood. If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine, think about installing some halogen bulbs in your work area or getting a wakeup light.

5. Practice relaxation techniques.

As already hinted, daily relaxation practices bring real benefits to people with depression. They increase dopamine levels, which reduces stress and increases feelings of happiness and well-being. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression. Apart from meditation, try relaxation practices like yoga or tai chi to calm your mind and increase your energy. You may add a motivational element to some practices by repeating a mantra or a word or phrase of self-affirmation as you move.

6. Get the right kinds of exercise.

A review of many of the available studies concluded that exercise is extremely effective for improving both mood and depressive symptoms. So much so, some government agencies are prescribing exercise instead of antidepressants, explaining that “the risk–benefit ratio is poor for antidepressant use in patients with mild depression.” So get exercising. Aim for about 30 minutes of exercise per day. You don’t have to sweat strenuously. You’re not training for the Boston Marathon. Exercises that are continuous and rhythmic (rather than intermittent) are good choices. This gives you lots of options like walking, swimming and stationery biking.

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7. Change the types and amounts of food you eat.

This is possibly the most effective way to fight depression and improve mood. Studies show that consuming a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, clean saturated fats, and moderate amounts of animal protein can give your body what it needs to improve mood. Some of the proteins in whey or milk serum can actually improve mood after just a few hours. In cases of light to moderate depression, tryptophan can also help to improve mood. Even in healthy individuals who are slightly more irritable than usual, small amounts of tryptophan can make them less irritable and more agreeable.

8. Adopt a pet.

Nothing can replace the joy and pleasure of human-to-human connection, but pets can bring a lot of joy and companionship into life. They help you feel less lonely and isolated. Caring for a pet can also take your mind off your own troubles, forcing you to get up and about more. Let’s face it, if you get a dog you’ll have to walk them sooner or later. All of these examples are powerful antidotes to depression.

Bottom line:

If you find your depression is getting worse, seek help from a physician as soon as possible. If you know someone who seems to be showing symptoms of depression, encourage them to see a doctor.

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Depression is an illness (not just a mood) that can be treated. You can feel better!

Featured photo credit: Sad and depressed young woman via shutterstock.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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