There’s not much that’s worse than depression, the grey feeling of worthlessness, the crying, the poetry. It’s rough. Fortunately there are ways of escaping the cycle of depression without using pharmaceutical drugs. Certain activities and strategies can be used to mitigate that feeling of the blues which can seem so inescapable. Here’s how you should spend your day engaging in these activities if you want to make a big difference in your mood:
1. As soon as you wake up, have a large, protein and fat heavy, low carbohydrate breakfast.
A couple of fried eggs would be perfect, for example. If you are going to eat carbohydrates, ensure that they’re slow-release low glycemic index carbohydrates. Avoid sugars at all costs. Eating sugar and/or simple carbohydrates in the morning will result in an energy and attention crash later in your day. If you feel low-energy, drink tea or coffee. If you’re drinking coffee don’t go beyond three cups however, as this is where the health benefits provided by this beverage are maximized. Take cream if you’d like; don’t add sugar.
2. To improve things quickly, do some exercise.
Not only will this get you out of the psychological loop running through your head, but it’ll also flush your body with endorphins, those feel-good hormones which provide a body-buzz which can be compared to the effects of certain drugs. There’s a reason that people refer to a ‘runner’s high’ which results from intense physical activity. If possible try to focus on cardiovascular work, as this will result in a greater hormonal release. The effects of exercise have been shown to rival the effects of antidepressants.
3. Take a cold shower.
I know this sounds painful, but trust me. Don’t make the shower so cold that your muscles seize up after the exercise, and stretch before you hop under the water. Once you’re out of the shower you’ll be more awake than ever. Cold showers increase noradrenaline production. Noradrenaline is another of those feel-good endorphins we addressed above, and the quick spike you receive here is exactly what you need to shock your system into action.
4. Avoid down time.
If you’re feeling bored at any point, that’s when the negative emotions will strike. Depression thrives in a bored mind because when you’re bored you’ll begin to ruminate on all the things going on around you. This will lead to you ruminating on more negative things because you’re already programmed to think that way. If you keep busy you won’t have time to get stuck thinking sad thoughts, you’ll be too busy striking things off the to-do list.
5. Spend time reading and writing.
Reading will get you wrapped up in the psyche of the book, which will allow you to escape your own head for a bit. Writing can be used as psychological training. If you spend time focusing on all the things that make you happy then you’re more likely to notice these things in future, because you’ve reinforced positive mental circuits.
6. Develop a schedule.
I’d love to give you one here, but I don’t know what it is you’re working on and how you want to split your time up. Take a moment to plan out your ideal week. Not the week you want to have so that everything remains easy and comfortable. You won’t be able to grow in an easy and comfortable environment, and stagnation leads to sadness. Instead plan out how you’re going to challenge yourself daily. Meeting and exceeding these challenges will provide far more positivity than a day spent watching cartoons.
7. Talk with a friend.
Many of us spend our time browsing online looking at what people post and not actually engaging with friends properly. Don’t spend your time on social networks being antisocial. Instead, reach out to someone to see how they’re doing. Making this first move can be difficult at first, but with time becomes easier. It’s best to talk with someone you trust about emotional moments before allowing them to reach a tipping point, and just the act of talking will help to make you happier.
8. Remain motivated.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of depression is a feeling of apathy, and lack of purpose. It’s important to move past this and realize that in many instances working is it’s own reward. The simple sensation of feeling as if you are working and must continue to do so will simultaneously distract you from despondent thoughts, and provide you with a strong reason to be. Try to make it feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day; stay busy. This way by the time you make it to bed in the evening you’ll be tired enough to drop off immediately. No need to lay there in the dark, talking with your demons.
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Written by Marcomms Intern, Jack Seaberry.