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Natural Ways to Fight Depression

Natural Ways to Fight Depression

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 350 million people suffer from depression all over the world, making it a problem of truly global proportions.  Depression comes with an array of difficult signs and symptoms, including feelings of hopelessness or despair, physical pain, fatigue, problems with eating and sleeping and sometimes even thoughts or attempts at suicide.

The good news is, however, that along with medication and counselling, there are a lot of natural lifestyle choices you can make to help support your journey back to good mental health. Most of them are so simple that they might surprise you!

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    Regular Exercise

    This can be a difficult lifestyle choice to make because of the fatigue that depression can bring with it, but if you can manage it, regular and gentle exercise can support your emotional health. This is because physical activity release endorphins, natural “feel good” hormones that can help raise your mood levels naturally. Regular exercise can also combat stress, with frequently goes along with depression.

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      Stress Management

      Stress — and in the inability to cope with stress — is often an underlying cause of depression or can at least make the problem worse.  So taking up a stress-busting exercise like yoga or tai chi or learning how to meditate can help to deal with these feelings of anxiety and make them easier to cope with in healthy ways.

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        A Healthy Diet

        Many people with depression will tend to either over- or under-eat, leading to problems with weight.  However, a healthy, balanced diet with good portions of foods throughout the day can help you cope with depression by keeping your blood sugars balanced and your energy level steady; it will also help you to get the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your nervous system (including your brain) healthy.

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          Natural Supplements

          There are also plenty of herbs and supplements out there that can also help you conquer your depression.  One of them is fish oil supplements; it has been found that the omega-3 fatty acids in the oil support the health and balance of the nervous system. Another one is St. John’s Wort, which is thought to help depression by increasing levels of serotonin, a “feel good” hormone in the brain. However, you should talk to your doctor before beginning any supplement to make sure it will not react with medications you are already taking.

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            Social Time

            One of the hardest parts of depression is how lonely and isolated it can make you feel. So even if you don’t always feel like it, get out and socialize and allow the support and love of your friends and family to get you through the tough times.  Support groups, friends, people from your church or other place of worship can all play a role in giving you the emotional strength you need as you work to get well.

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              Sleep

              If you are fighting a battle with depression, the importance of getting a good night’s sleep (ideally between 7 and 8 hours a night) cannot be over-emphasized. Sleep deprivation can make feelings of depression — as well as stress and anxiety — much worse and can put a strain on your nervous system and brain. However, make sure not to oversleep, which can be a struggle for some people who suffer from depression.

              The takeaway here is that if you are battling depression, you are not alone — and you can also be empowered to make the lifestyle changes that will help you overcome with problem.  A healthy, balanced diet, sleep, stress management, supplements and the support of friends and loved ones can all combine to make your journey more successful and to complement your medications and counselling.

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              Brian Wu

              Health Writer, Author

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              Last Updated on September 20, 2018

              How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

              How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

              Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

              If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

              1. Breathe

              The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

              • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
              • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
              • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

              Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

              2. Loosen up

              After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

              Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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              3. Chew slowly

              Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

              Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

              Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

              4. Let go

              Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

              The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

              It’s not. Promise.

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              Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

              Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

              21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

              5. Enjoy the journey

              Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

              Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

              6. Look at the big picture

              The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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              Will this matter to me…

              • Next week?
              • Next month?
              • Next year?
              • In 10 years?

              Hint: No, it won’t.

              I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

              Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

              7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

              You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

              Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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              8. Practice patience every day

              Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

              • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
              • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
              • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

              Final thoughts

              Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

              Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

              Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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