If you have ever been depressed in any form, you will know that it’s pretty easy to feel as though there’s nothing you can do about it. Helplessness is a big part of depression, so it’s easy to fall into a cycle of what feels like increasing depressive tendencies without having the capability to do anything about it. But, as it ti
There are some things you can do–many of which fall into the realm of “self care,” and, as such, are relatively easy–that have been scientifically proven to improve depression. Obviously, most of these tips will only be able to work up to a certain point, and are not meant to trivialize or undermine any psychological conditions that someone might have. If you are depressed, anxious, or have depressive and/or anxious tendencies of any sort, drinking herbal tea and reading some inspirational literature won’t be nearly as effective as, say, therapy and medication. Still, it can be useful to know these techniques if you’re looking to improve or start off a self care routine. So, check out these little things you had no idea can help with depression:
1. Standing up straight:
If your mom always badgers you about standing up straighter, you might have some motivation to actually do it–according to a study done recently in New Zealand, adopting an upright posture helps alleviate feelings of depression. Now, this is a new study that was done on a small group of people, so it’s a theory that requires more research, and, as such, needs to be taken with a (large) grain of salt. But if you’re feeling down, sitting up a little straighter certainly can’t hurt.
2. Eating foods that increase serotonin:
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Many anti-depressants work by increasing the body’s production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. But certain foods with healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and/or protein (like coconut oil, salmon, and turkey) can also increase serotonin, which might help with minor depression.
3. Avoiding caffeine:
Sorry. But, apparently, caffeine inhibits your body’s production of serotonin, which could lead to depression in some people. So, if you’re feeling depressed, try to limit your caffeine intake. You don’t have to cut it out entirely, but you might be surprised by how you feel by reducing your caffeine.
4. Sleeping in:
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If you want to feel better, you have to get a good amount of sleep. Obviously, this isn’t always possible–if you’re in school, there are some weeks when getting any sleep at all feels impossible–and you might have other issues that inhibit your sleep, like insomnia or depression itself. But if you can prioritize sleep, try to do it–according to research done at Stanford University, having a regular sleep schedule can help improve depression.
5. Getting some sun:
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Seasonal affective disorder–a type of depression that’s linked to change in seasons–is a real, powerful thing. One thing that can help with that? Getting some sunlight, or, more specifically, getting some vitamin D, which is a vitamin you can get from being exposed to sunlight and can help boost your mood. Some studies have shown that vitamin D can improve depression that’s unrelated to seasonal affective disorder, too, so getting some supplements or vitamin D-enhancing lamp probably can’t hurt either way.
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If you’re feeling blue, the last thing you want to do, probably, is hit the gym. But if you can, you should, since exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. The links aren’t totally clear, but this is most likely due to a combination of feel-good chemicals (like endorphins) that are released during exercise and the fact that the body warms up during exercise, which can have a calming effect. Also, exercising doesn’t have to be done at the gym or a class if you’re nervous about being around other people. You can go for a walk around the block, swim at your local pool, or do a workout video on your laptop. Basically, anything that gets you up and moving should make you feel at least a little bit better.
7. Writing down things that make you feel good:
This tip might make you…roll your eyes. At the very least. But, apparently, it works–some mental health advocates recommend writing down things that you might consider a “joy” in your life when you’re feeling depressed. Even if you don’t have, like, a ton at the moment, thinking about them will likely make you feel better, and the act of writing them down serves to make them feel more real.
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If you are feeling physically incapable of doing anything but laying in your bed, that’s fine. Just do something that’ll make you feel good when you do this–this could mean putting on 30 Rock, or reading a David Sedaris book, or putting on your favorite podcast. Basically, anything that can make you laugh–even for a moment–will make you feel a little better.
9. Try meditating:
Meditation has a lot of health benefits. One of them is reducing depression and anxiety. So, if you’re feeling up to it, try and hit up a meditation studio, download a meditation app or try a guided meditation practice on YouTube. (There are a ton, and they’re all free, so you have nothing to lose.)
10. Seeing if your hormones are in balance:
Something that a lot of people don’t know is that if your hormones are out of whack, you’ll feel out of whack, too. Visiting a doctor and making sure everything is in order can be a good first step to a self care regimen.
11. Recognizing self-destructive thoughts:
We all get random, intrusive thoughts from time to time that, though small, have the power to ruin a day if you let them. So, uh, try not to let them do that. You don’t have to censor yourself–this won’t work and will most likely make you feel worse after a while. Instead, try to understand why these thoughts are popping into your head, and if there’s anything you can do yourself to deal with them.
12. Try to set a schedule for yourself:
If you find comfort in routine, you’re not alone. Some psychologists say that having some sort of schedule is one of the most important things for staving off depression, since a lack of structure can increase depressive thoughts. So, try and figure out a routine that works for you–this doesn’t mean that you have to start a new lifestyle as, like, a bullet journal blogger or something, but it can be useful to set up some sort of structure.
13. Talk to someone:
Preferably a therapist of some sort, but not necessarily–talking about how you feel can instantly make you feel better, since you won’t be internalizing your problems as much. Plus, you can get some advice out of it, which depending on its source, could be helpful.
14. Drink tea:
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Sorry. I know this tip is annoying because, like, it’s everywhere. But it does work–hot things tend to be calming, and if it’s green or white tea, the antioxidants can help alleviate depression, too.
What do you think of these tips? Do you have any other ones to share? Let us know in the comments!
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