Depression is a topic that is extremely popular but not a lot of people are talking about the number of things you can do to decrease depression.
Depression affects almost every aspect of life and fills you with the inability to pursue meaningful goals, robs you of your natural energy, and zaps the joy out of being alive.
Currently, depression rates continue to climb, but that's the only headline anyone sees.
So, today I'm going to focus on three ways you can start to decrease your depression today.
There are no gimmicks and no shortcuts, and it will take time and effort, but these strategies are effective and scientifically proven to decrease depression.
I know depression makes even the simplest task seem like a monumental chore, but some of these strategies may surprise you and they may have a quicker positive effect than you think.
The key to decreasing depression is to put forth the effort and give yourself a chance.
You have the power to reduce symptoms and overcome depression, the ability is there.
You've already started by opening up this blog.
So, without further ado, here are three ways to decrease depression today.
The first strategy to decrease depression is to create a routine for yourself.
There's nothing flashy about this, it's just tried and true wisdom.
Not sure where to start? How about sleep?
One of the effects of depression is that it throws off your entire sleep schedule; some people sleep a lot more, and others sleep a lot less.
Either way, this disrupts your circadian rhythm making it harder to get solid sleep.
The worse your sleep is, the worse your depression is.
You can reverse this by going to bed and waking up at the same time every single day.
For those of you who can't seem to fall or stay asleep, trust me, start by getting up at the same time no matter how tired you are and don't nap during the day.
Here are some extra tips to improve your sleep:
These strategies will take a week or two before your body starts to adjust, but it will adjust so stick with it.
I'm not a huge fan of sleep supplements but if you really need to use something to help you fall asleep use ashwagandha root as directed.
Ashwagandha is all-natural, it doesn't ruin your melatonin production, and it's been proven to improve the quality of sleep throughout the night.
Once your sleep is set, you can start to integrate other pieces into your routine, one at a time, to create a daily schedule that contributes to a healthy lifestyle- the results are amazing.
The second tool I want to talk about is drum roll please…walking.
Yup, that's right, walking; not running, not sprinting, not the Tour de France, just walking.
Studies show that individuals who incorporated a 10-minute walk into their daily routine (our buzzword from earlier) demonstrated the ability to successfully decrease depression, and anxiety, and lower their blood pressure.
This works extremely well when used in combination with our first tool of creating a routine.
Remember the sleep tips from above?
The very first one was to get 10 minutes of direct sunlight in your eyes in the morning.
What better way to achieve that than a nice morning walk for exactly that amount of time?
You don't have to commit to a gym membership or weight training program; there's no 2-week, 30-day, or 90-day, transformation challenge.
It's just a simple, small, 10-minute walk.
Not only does the walk itself decrease depression, but the sheer act of making a daily walk a goal also contributed to reducing depression.
And, guess what, by achieving that daily goal, you're decreasing depression!
So, the walk itself, making the walk a goal, and accomplishing that goal, all decrease depression individually and reinforce each other.
The catch is, if you make it a goal, you have to make yourself do it.
This is why setting goals needs to start small.
Prioritize sleep first.
Then integrate a 10-minute walk (or vice versa if you need to).
But don't try and make a lifestyle overhaul at once, you'll burn out and become even more depressed than you were; it's good to start small, with the task you'll actually do.
The third strategy to decrease depression is social connection.
Again, fairly simple and straightforward.
The magic formula for depression is to get a routine, get moving, and get social.
This does not mean going to the bar and getting drunk with friends, family, or strangers.
Alcohol is a depressant which means it DEPRESSES you.
I should add that THC from marijuana is also disrupting your sleep, not helping it.
Alcohol and THC have a sedative effect that inhibits REM (dream) sleep which is where your energy and dopamine levels get restored during the night.
What I mean by getting social is to find a community, a sober community, that actually cares about your well-being.
This may take some effort, especially depending on what age group you're in.
But it's an effort that is essential to decrease depression.
Reach out to old friends and family members who care about you, and tell them what you're struggling with and how they can help.
If you're not sure how they can help, then just let them know you're having a hard time and it would be nice to hang out; make it a part of your routine (that buzzword again).
Make it a weekly call, or a bi-weekly coffee.
The point is to put yourself in an environment where you can be around positive people that you enjoy being around.
The social connection may be the single greatest aid in decreasing depression.
If you are truly isolated, then start by talking to a therapist and ask about group therapy.
We all need to start somewhere, and therapy is a good place to begin.
There you have it.
Three ways to decrease depression.
Create for yourself a quality routine, starting with your sleep schedule.
Get on your feet, and go for a 10-minute walk every single day.
And, connect with other humans!
I know depression can make things so much more difficult than they should be.
So start off slow- only take on those things that you know you'll do.
If the only thing you can do is a 5-minute walk every day, then do a 5-minute walk and work your way, slowly, up to a 10-minute walk.
If there is no one in your life you can spend time with (or even if there is but it's too hard), then reach out to a mental health practitioner.
Therapy is a great way to get support and direction, and it can connect you to group opportunities outside of individual counseling.
You have the power to decrease depression, now you have a place to start, and the rest is up to you.
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It is my primary goal as a counselor to create a space for every individual to explore their lives and find the opportunities that may be lurking where it is most difficult to look. Through a unique therapeutic approach that combines Jungian symbology/dream-work with Narrative and Existential explorations, I will help you re-discover who you are. It is my mission to help you navigate life transitions, depression, anxiety, faith-based and spiritual concerns, as well as how to re-establish a connection with what is most important to you.
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