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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 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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