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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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