Advertising
Advertising

7 Steps to Help Fight Depression

7 Steps to Help Fight Depression

Depression is a serious condition that affects many people at some point in their lives. You do not have to feel guilty or embarrassed about being depressed. There are many healthy ways to fight depression. These seven easy steps can also be performed as a preventive measure once you have recovered from depression

1. Spend Time With a Friend

You do not need to unload your problems onto your friend like you would with a counselor, but you can seek out the companionship that your friends provide. Even something as simple as meeting a friend for coffee can lift your spirits. A strong social support network is a proven way to help fight depression.

Advertising

2. Get Out in Nature

Getting outside, feeling the sunshine on your skin and breathing the fresh air are known to improve the mood. Your body uses sunlight to make vitamin D, which also helps to fight depression. Go for a walk in your neighborhood, go to a local park and swing or just find a bench with a scenic view and take in the scenery.

3. Spend Time With Animals

If you do not have your own pet, consider volunteering at a local shelter. Brushing the cats or taking dogs for a walk can help to lower your stress. Volunteering at a rescue shelter can also help you to feel like you are doing something for the greater good. Blow bubbles and watch the dog try to catch them. You might also consider adopting a companion animal. Caring for a pet will give you something to focus on, and pets provide their owners with unconditional love.

Advertising

4. Eating Healthy

Part of fighting depression is nourishing yourself from within. In addition to caring for your mind and spirit, you also need to nourish your body. A lot of people don’t realize that certain things they eat are changing their mood.

Many recent studies point towards gluten causing depression. If you don’t have time to prepare healthy, or particularly gluten-free meal, there are new services like Ion Nutrition that will deliver them straight to your door. Make sure your meals include plenty of vitamins B, C and D. Some  good options include roasted root vegetables with a lean protein and some fresh fruit for dessert. Be sure that you are staying hydrated, focusing on water and avoiding caffeine and alcohol.

Advertising

5. Get Active

Regular exercise helps your body to produce endorphins. These neurochemicals are a natural mood lifter. You do not have to become a fitness guru in order to get more physical activity in your life. Choose something that you enjoyed in the past, such as bicycling or doing yoga.

Swimming, adult dance classes and rock climbing are all great year-round activities. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity every day of the week. Getting active can also help you to maintain a healthy body weight and build muscle strength, which may give you a boost in self-confidence.

Advertising

6. Engage in Hobbies

Even if you do not feel like working on any of your past hobbies, you may find that those activities that once brought you pleasure can be satisfying to do again. If you used to read novels, consider joining a book club. You will get to read a new book and socialize with others, these bring even more benefits to fighting depression.

If you used to whip up a pair of knit socks every week, visit your local yarn shop, select a beautiful hank of yarn, wind it into a cake and get your needles clicking. The tangible aspects of a hobby and creating a finished product can remind you of the skills and talents that you have.

7. Bring Humor Into Your Life

Watching something silly is another healthy way to fight depression. You may find yourself laughing at one of your favorite comedies or the weekly episode of Saturday Night Live once again.

Laughter is good for your body and your spirit, and you may forget what was on your mind, at least for a little while.

More by this author

3 Ways to Monitor Your Health From Home Go The Extra Mile… Literally 5 Tips to Handle the “Heat” of the Kitchen depression Six Ways To Alleviate Depression 5 Things To Do To Prepare Your House To Sell

Trending in Brain

1 Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts 2 What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good) 3 What is Cognitive Dissonance (And How to Dodge it) 4 How Do Memory Vitamins Work? (And the Best Brain Supplements) 5 How Not to Let Cognitive Bias Control Us When Dealing with COVID-19

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on July 7, 2020

Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

Exercise isn’t just for your body. Just as important is keeping your mind strong by training your brain with fun mental workouts.

Think of your mental and physical fitness the same way: you don’t need to be an Olympian, but you do need to stay in shape if you want to live well. A few cognitive workouts per week can make a major difference in your life.

The Skinny on Mental Workouts

Physical fitness boosts your stamina and increases your muscular strength. The benefits of working up a mental sweat and brain training, however, might not be so obvious.

Research suggests that cognitive training has short- and long-term benefits, including:

1. Improved Memory

After eight weeks of cognitive training, 19 arithmetic students showed a larger and more active hippocampus than their peers.[1] The hippocampus is associated with learning and memory.

2. Reduced Stress Levels

Mastering new tasks more quickly makes the work of learning less stressful. A stronger memory can call information to mind with less effort.

3. Improved Work Performance

Learning quickly and remembering key details can lead to a better career. Employers are increasingly hiring for soft skills, such as trainability and attention to detail.

4. Delayed Cognitive Decline

As we age, we experience cognitive decline. A study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 10 one-hour sessions of cognitive training boosted reasoning and information processing speed in adults between the ages of 65 and 94.[2]

Advertising

Just like in physical exercise, what’s important isn’t the specific workout. To be sustainable, cognitive workouts need to be easy and fun. Otherwise, it’s too easy to throw in the towel.

Fun Brain Training Exercises for Everyone

The best about fun mental workouts? There’s no need to head to a gym. Feel free to mix and match the following activities for daily brain training:

1. Brainstorming

One of the simplest, easiest ways to engage your brain? Coming up with solutions to a challenge you’re facing.

If you aren’t good at solo ideation, ask a partner to join you. When I’m struggling to come up with topics to write about, I call up my editors to bat ideas around. Friends or co-workers are usually happy to help.

2. Dancing

Isn’t dancing a physical workout? Yes, but the coordination it requires is also great for training your brain. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

Studies suggest that dance boosts multiple cognitive skills.[3] Planning, memorizing, organizing, and creativity all seem to benefit from a few fancy steps.

3. Learning a New Language

Learning a new language takes time. But if you split it up into small, daily lessons, it’s easier than you might think.

With language learning, every lesson builds on the last. When I was learning Spanish, I used a tool called Guru for knowledge management.[4] Every time I’d learn a verb tense, I’d create a new card to give me a quick refresh before moving on.

Advertising

4. Developing a Hobby

Like languages, hobbies take time to develop. But that’s the fun of them: you get a little better—both at the hobby and in terms of brain function—each time you do them.

If you’re trying to train your brain and improve a certain cognitive skill, choose a hobby that aligns with it.

For example:

  • Attention to detail: Pick a hobby that requires you to work patiently with small features. Woodworking, model-building, sketching, and painting are all good choices.
  • Learning and memory: Choose an activity that requires you to remember lots of details. Your best bets are hobbies that require lots of categorization, such as collecting stamps or coins.
  • Motor function: For this brain function, physical activities can double as fun mental workouts. Sports like soccer and basketball build gross motor functions. Fine motor functions are better trained through activities like table tennis or even playing video games.
  • Problem-solving: Most hobbies require you to problem-solve in one way or another. The ones that test your problem-solving skills the most, however, take some investigation.

Geocaching is a good example: Using a combination of clues and GPS readings, geocaching involves finding and re-hiding containers. Typically done in a wooded area, geocaching is a fun way to put your problem-solving skills to the test.

5. Board Games

Playing a board game might not be much of a physical workout, but it does make for a fun mental workout. With that said, not all board games work equally well for cognitive training.

Avoid “no brainer” board games, like Candy Land. Opt for strategy-focused ones, such as Risk or Settlers of Catan. Remember to ask other players for their input.

6. Card Games

Card games build cognitive skills in much the same way board games do. They have a few extra advantages, though, that make them worthy of special attention.

A deck of cards is inexpensive and can be played anywhere, from a kitchen to an airplane. More importantly, a deck of cards opens the door to dozens of different games. Challenge yourself to learn a few in an afternoon.

Advertising

7. Puzzles

Puzzles are great tools for building a specific cognitive skill: visuospatial function. Visuospatial function is important to train because it’s one of the first abilities to slip in people struggling with cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.[5]

Choose a puzzle you’ll stick with. There’s no shame in starting with a 500-piece puzzle or choosing one that makes a childish image.

8. Playing Music

Listening to music is a great way to unwind. But playing music goes one step further. On top of entertaining you, it makes for a fun mental workout.

Again, choose an instrument you know you’ll stick with. If you’ve always wanted to learn the violin, don’t get a guitar because it’s less expensive or easier to pick up.

What if you can’t afford an instrument? Sing. Learning to control your voice is every bit as challenging as making a set of keys or strings sound good.

9. Meditating

Not all cognitive exercises are loud, in-your-face activities. Some of the most fun mental workouts, in fact, are quiet, solo activities. Meditating can help you focus, especially if you have pre-existing attention issues.

Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never meditated before. It’s easy:

  • Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes, or for however long you have to meditate.
  • Close your eyes or turn off the lights.
  • Focus on your breathing. Do not try to control it.
  • If your thoughts wander, gently bring them back to your breath.
  • When the timer goes off, wiggle your fingers and toes for a minute. Slowly bring yourself back to reality. Remember the sense of serenity you found.

10. Deep Conversation

There’s nothing more mentally stimulating than a good, long conversation. The key is depth: surface-level chatter doesn’t get the mind’s wheels spinning like a thoughtful, authentic conversation. This type of conversation helps in training your brain to think more deeply and reflect.

Advertising

Choose your partner carefully. You’re looking for someone who’ll challenge your ideas without being confrontational. Stress isn’t good for brain health, but there’s value in coming up with creative arguments.

11. Cooking

When you think about it, cooking requires an impressive array of cognitive skills. Developing a cook’s intuition requires a good memory. Making sure flavors are balanced takes attention to detail. When something goes wrong in the kitchen, problem-solving skills come into play. Motor control is required to stir, flip, and whisk.

If you’re going to cook, you might as well make enough for everyone. Invite them into the kitchen as well: coordinating with other chefs adds an extra layer of challenge to this fun mental workout.

12. Mentorship

Whether you’re the mentee or the mentor, mentorship is an incredible mental workout. Learning from someone you look up to combines the benefits of deep conversation with skill-building. Teaching someone else forces you to put yourself in their shoes, which requires empathy and problem-solving skills.

Put yourself in both situations. Being a student makes you a better teacher, and teaching others gives you insight into how you, yourself, learn.

Final Thoughts

Your mind is your most important possession, and training your brain is needed to maintain its health. Don’t let it get soft.

To keep those neurons firing at full speed, add a few fun mental workouts to your schedule. And if you’re still struggling to get your brain in gear, remember: there’s an app for that.

More Tips for Training Your Brain

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next