Did you know that, across the period of a year, up to 1 million Australians will face depression?
Depression can be experienced in many different ways. It can manifest as a combination of symptoms including loss of interest in activities, persistent sadness, feelings of hopelessness or pessimism, fatigue, restlessness and many more.
Equally, recovery from depression can take many forms. While treatment sometimes involves antidepressant drugs, there are also many simple, natural things you can do that can help you feel better and contribute to overcoming depression.
So if you’re looking for natural ways to build your defences against depression, research shows that these three simple actions can have a significant impact:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Dedicate 20 minutes of your day to exercise
- Regulate your sleep
How does it work?
A healthy diet is a good thing for your overall health – physical and mental. According to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, subjects who had a diet which contained a lot of processed foods had a 58% increased risk for depression, whereas those whose diet could be described as containing more whole foods had a 26% reduced risk for depression. Experts recommend trying to include omega-3 fats, B vitamins and amino acids, and aiming to maintain a balanced blood sugar.
Exercise stimulates the release of feel-good chemical neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids. Reports suggest that exercise can contribute to boosting self-esteem, improving sleep and, importantly, reducing feelings of stress. So it’s a good idea to think about what kind of exercise might suit you. Going for a walk, joining a gym or doing exercise videos at home are all great ways to start. Or perhaps there’s a team sport you used to play that you’d like to get back to?
Sleep deprivation can exacerbate symptoms of depression, so managing your sleep pattern can be an important factor in managing your mental health. Experts recommend going to bed at the same time each night and undertaking some sort of relaxation technique (such as meditation) before bed. This goes hand in hand with avoiding screens (including phones) for at least half an hour before your planned bedtime.
So what’s next?
Once your sleeping, eating and exercising routine is underway, there are lots of other simple and natural things you can implement to help combat depression. For example:
Find a local class or course and learn to meditate – it can be a fantastic tool to help you in your recovery. Some studies have found that, when undertaken properly, regular meditation can halve the risk of future clinical depression and that its effects are just as powerful as antidepressant drugs.
Find something you’re passionate about
This is a great way to regain your focus. You could try volunteering for an organisation you care about, gardening, or developing a new skill. Maybe there’s a language or a musical instrument you’d like to learn, or a set of recipes you haven’t mastered yet. Think about some simple things that might provide you with something that you enjoy doing on a regular basis.
Celebrate the little things
Recognising your daily achievements can help to rebuild your sense of self-worth and contribute to a more optimistic outlook. They don’t have to be big things – perhaps you got outside and felt the sunshine on your face, perhaps you had a nice interaction with a neighbour. Reflecting on these small but significant things can bring positivity into your day.
Seeking professional support
Professional support is often an integral component of recovery. If you feel that you need help, organisations such as The Brain Wellness Spa can offer services across Australia. To connect with their consultants visit brainwellnessspa.com.au. Their 24-hour live chat option means you can get in touch with them anytime you need.