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15 Natural Ways to Stop Feeling Depressed

15 Natural Ways to Stop Feeling Depressed

For many people, there are days where it’s a challenge just to get out of bed in the morning. They’re overcome with feelings of sadness and helplessness. Most of the time, these feelings stem from depression. Sadly, depression has become all too common in recent years. A survey from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that 11% of Americans 12-years-old and older take antidepressants. With more people turning to medication, some are looking toward more natural means to fight mild cases of depression. Here are some natural ways that can help you stop feeling depressed.

1. Remember the good times.

Thinking back on some of your past successes and happy moments can actually help you out of that funk. Positive thinking can alter your mood for the better and increase your serotonin levels. While thinking positive may be difficult while in the grips of depression, it’s an important first step to getting back on your feet.

2. Set a new routine.

If what you’re doing now for your daily routine isn’t working, try something different. The feeling of monotony from daily tasks can sometimes lead to depression, so changing things up is a must. That doesn’t mean you have to throw out your entire routine. Setting a schedule is still important to maintain structure in your life and help you get on track with what you need to do.

3. Be thankful.

Showing gratitude while depressed can be very difficult, but it’s one way to get out of that mindset. Being thankful will help you focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have or what’s going wrong in life. That change of attitude can help pull you from too many despondent thoughts.

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4. Change your surroundings.

If your surroundings are getting you down, it’s time to change them up. Rearrange the furniture in your room, open up the curtains to let in more sunlight, or repaint your room. Do what you can to make your surroundings look new and exciting.

5. Get enough sleep.

Lack of sleep can lead to depression. Depression can lead to lack of sleep. It’s a vicious cycle that’s tough to break. You can maintain a more structured sleep schedule by making sure to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Don’t take naps and get rid of any distractions that may prevent you from getting the sleep you need.

6. Get exercise.

Getting up and moving can have some major positive effects on your mental state. Exercising releases endorphins into the body, which help to relax you and improve your mood. Getting some exercise can be as simple as going for a fifteen minute walk or adopting a more rigorous exercise regimen like Nu Skin’s TR90 program.

7. Know the cycle of depression.

Having the right knowledge to fight depression is key. Depression tends to follow a cycle involving the causes of stress, physical symptoms, behavior, and thoughts and feelings. One negative aspect in the cycle can lead to depression, so finding those things that are within your control can help you avoid depression before it hits.

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8. Do something new.

If what you’re doing every day still leaves you in a depressed state, go out and do something new. Take a class to learn a new skill, read that book you’ve always meant to pick up, volunteer in the community, or go to an art festival. Anything that breaks you out of the normal pattern of your life can do wonders for your mood.

9. Go outside.

Nature has a profound effect in creating a positive mood. Simply being exposed to sunlight can increase productivity, health, and happiness. Taking in the fresh air and enjoying a nice clear day makes it easier to overcome feelings of sadness.

10. Think beyond today.

It’s easy to focus on what today is going to bring, but looking beyond that to the big picture can help you keep things in perspective. It can help you understand that the sadness and depression you’re feeling will only last for a moment, while you still have big dreams to live for in the future.

11. Do something fun.

You know what activities bring you joy. If you’re feeling down, go do those fun things. Often life gets complicated and congested, but if you make the time to do something you enjoy, you’ll feel a lot better.

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12. Eat a healthy diet.

People in the grips of depression tend to eat junk food or overeat in general. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can do much to improve your mood. It doesn’t just have to be fruits and vegetables either. Chocolate has been shown to make people happy. You should also focus on fish, walnuts, spinach, and avocado since they have nutrients that can help lift you when you’re feeling down.

13. Spend time with friends & family.

Get out and socialize. Many times, depression leaves us with the desire to stay isolated, cutting ourselves off from the rest of the world, but that’s all the more reason to reconnect with friends and family. Those closest to you can provide loving support during your toughest times. Simply talking to them can help alleviate many of the symptoms you feel when depressed.

14. Set goals.

When you’re at your lowest point, you need something to work toward. That’s why goals can be very valuable in overcoming depression. The goals you set don’t have to be overly elaborate or complicated either. They can be as simple as going outside at least once a day or doing the dishes. Simple goals can also help you get into a new routine.

15. Avoid drugs & alcohol.

Drinking alcohol or doing drugs only make depression worse, yet many people turn to these options thinking they’ll provide relief. If you’re depressed, you need to stay as far from drugs and alcohol as possible.

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These are just a few of the many natural ways you can help yourself beat depression. As always, in the most serious of cases, you should seek professional help, but for mild depression, these suggestions could prove beneficial for making you feel happier and more content.

Featured photo credit: Depression via upload.wikimedia.org

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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