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5 Great Ways To Prevent Depression Naturally

5 Great Ways To Prevent Depression Naturally

In a large-scale survey called The National College Health Survey, year after year, roughly 45% of college students report being depressed to the point that it’s difficult to function and 80% say they’re overwhelmed.

Depression does not discriminate between the young and the old. In the 1960s the average age for the onset of depression was 29. Today the average age for the onset of depression is 14.

Depression is a problem that needs to be solved. Luckily there’s more and more research to suggest that it can be, and without the use of psychiatric medication.

Below I’ve listed the top five ways to prevent depression naturally according to scientific research.

1. Sleep

Losing out on sleep can lead to a downward spiral of depression. According to the National Sleep Foundation:

The relationship between sleep and depressive illness is complex–depression may cause sleep problems and sleep problems may cause or contribute to depressive disorders.”

When you lose out on sleep, you become more depressed and when you become more depressed, your sleep can be disrupted. It’s a vicious cycle that can culminate gradually over weeks and months.

The correct amount of sleep a person requires varies depending on lifestyle and age, but a general rule of thumb is to aim for 7 to 8 hours every night. If you don’t manage to get this amount of sleep, make sure to sleep longer the next day. Always pay your sleep debts.

2. Exercise

Over the last few decades there has been an explosion of research in the area of physical exercise and well-being.  Psychologists are realising how important it is to think about the body when trying to prevent depression.

Michael Babyak and his colleagues at Duke Medical School conducted a study on the effectiveness of exercise as an intervention for depression.

He took a group of 156 patients with major depression. Many had insomnia, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts. He randomly divided them into three groups and administered the following treatments:

  1. First group: 30 minutes of low intensity exercise three times per week.
  2. Second group: standard psychiatric medication.
  3. Third group: both exercise and medication.

The results of this experiment were shocking in two ways. After four months of treatment, 60% of the patients showed improvement. However, there were no significant differences in the recovery rates between the groups. Exercise worked just as well as medication.

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If that wasn’t enough, another six months after the study Babyak did a follow-up to see the relapse rates. Out of the 60% of recovered patients, this is what they found:

  1. 38% of the medication only group relapsed.
  2. 31% of the medication and exercise group relapsed.
  3. Only 9% of the exercise only group relapsed back into depression.

Not only did exercise work as well as medication, it worked for longer. There are thousands of studies showing the effects of exercise to be extremely beneficial for our physical and psychological health. It could be the most important, yet undervalued, treatment to prevent depression.

3. Meditation

Meditation has been around for thousands of years, but for most of that time it was practiced mainly by monks in spiritual settings. Over the last few decades, however, scientists have started to discover that meditation is one of the most powerful natural interventions for anxiety and depression.

Thanks to modern technology such as the EEG and MRI scanners, scientists were able to take an in-depth analysis of the brains of people who have been meditating for decades. In one such study, they took the right hand men of the Dalai Lama and examined the ratio of their prefrontal cortex activity.

People who have more activation on the left side of their prefrontal cortex tend to be happier, while those with more activation on their right side tend to be more broody and depressed. If you look at a bell curve, most people fall somewhere in the middle. When they looked at the meditators, they were off the chart.

The monks had an extremely high ratio between their left and right prefrontal cortex. They had extreme susceptibility to positive emotions and extreme resilience in the face of negative emotions.

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We don’t need to study for eight hours a day to get the benefits of meditation like the monks. Studies have shown that 15 minutes a day can produce incredible results with just eight weeks of practice. Meditation works.

4. Find your passion

People adapt very quickly to life’s pleasures and pains. If we win a lot of money, we feel a high and then we get used to having lots of money. If we get fired, we feel low and then eventually bounce back.

There are some things, however, that we don’t adapt to: passion. I would wager that the best actors in the world would continue to act even if they became the richest people on Earth. I would also wager that the richest CEOs in the world use only money as a measurement of their success, not as a means to live extravagantly.

You must find your passion. It is a happiness well that never dries out. It could be writing, creating, helping people, self-improvement, sport, or anything that engages you and provides the right amount of challenge and stimulation.

To live with passion, you must first find your passion.

5. Regulate your blood sugar

Can regulating your blood sugar really help to prevent depression?

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It might surprise you to know that there have been numerous murderers and thieves exonerated for their crimes because they were suffering from hyperglycaemia, otherwise known as low blood sugar. The body and mind are deeply connected. If one goes wrong, so does the other.

A sugar crash comes after a sugar high. So the best way to avoid low blood sugar is to avoid high blood sugar. Doing this is easy, all you need to do is spread you carbohydrates throughout the day (don’t have loads in one sitting), eat plenty of fiber (at least 12g for every 1,000 calories you consume) and try to get some protein and fat in your diet so that it isn’t predominantly carbs.

If you follow these 5 steps, not only will you be able to prevent depression naturally, you’ll also be even happier than people who aren’t depressed.

Featured photo credit: My body is a cage / My mind holds the key/ Johanna H via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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