Dealing with depression and low moods can sometimes seem insurmountable, but you may be able to take some simple steps to naturally improve your mood. The way we feel is intricately tied to both our actions and our bodies. By improving factors such as sleep, exercise, and diet, you can improve your mood and help to prevent depression.
Please note that a doctor or professional psychologist is the best person to advise you about your health, particularly if you are suffering from serious depression. These tips, however, should help most everyone to boost their mood and find some extra happiness.
If you’re going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill
9 Ways to Naturally Prevent Depression:
1. Sleep Well Every Night
Sleep affects everything we do. It not only gives us energy for the day but is tied to the chemicals in our body. Multiple studies prove that disturbed sleep or reduced sleep results in impaired function and mood. In the short term, a lack of sleep can create stress, irritability, and short-temperedness. Difficulty sleeping has also been linked to long-term psychiatric and psychological problems. According to a study published in Biological Psychiatry, between 15% and 20% of people diagnosed with insomnia go on to develop major depression. This means that getting a solid 7-9 hours of sleep every night is extremely important to your mental health and emotional well-being.
It’s important to establish a regular cycle of sleeping, which is linked to something called circadian rhythms in the body. You can sleep better when you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, and this will help your body to produce more regular amounts of melatonin and serotonin, two important mood regulators. For more tips to help you find more restful sleep, check out our article on getting peaceful sleep no matter how stressed you are.
2. Surround Yourself with Positive Outlets Throughout the Day
Surrounding yourself with positivity will go a long way towards improving your mood. When we spend a lot of time focusing on our worries and stress, our mood is bound to go down. It’s important to dedicate some time every day to being around things we enjoy, that makes us happy. There are many ways to do this. Spend time with people who make you smile and who help you to look on the bright side of life. Visit your favorite places, or include pictures of them around your working and living space. Give yourself some time to enjoy your favorite habits.
You can even surround your social media activity with positivity. You can follow profiles and pages that regularly post positive information, such as the Power of Positivity page.
3. Stay Active and Exercise
Exercise is strongly linked to mood. In an article for the American Psychological Association, James Blumenthal, a clinical psychologist at Duke University, stated, “There’s good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people.” Exercise helps to relieve stress and anxiety in both the short and long term and in multiple studies has been linked to improved long-term mood and reduced risk for psychological problems. Exercise will also help to give you energy and stay focused. Particularly if you are working at a desk all day, it’s important to take some time for exercise. If you make exercise a regular part of your schedule, you’re likely to notice a positive change in mood.
4. Follow Your Passions
One of the best things you can do to make yourself happy is to follow your passions. Whether it’s a career or a hobby, give yourself the time and freedom to engage in it. Doing something that you care about will be extremely rewarding and will help you to feel happier and more fulfilled.
Engaging in a passion will fill your life with time spent doing something you enjoy and feel positive about doing. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, take some time to try some new things. Look for classes in art, dancing, cooking, playing an instrument, martial arts, or anything else that sparks your interest.
Learning something new is also a great way to create excitement and boost your mood.
5. Get at Least 15 Minutes of Sunshine per Day
Sunshine is important to provide you with vitamin D. Recent studies link vitamin D deficiency with depression. Getting outside for at least 15 minutes every day will deliver some important vitamin D to your body. If you’re inside working for most of the day, take a short break to go for a walk outside. If you can take more time to exercise or relax outside, that’s even better. Spending time outside will also help you to feel more energetic and refocused.
If you live in an area without a lot of sunshine or have a difficult working schedule, you can try taking a supplement to get some extra vitamin D.
6. Help Others
A number of surveys have shown that helping others results in feeling happier and more positive. This is the most effective when getting personally involved, rather than simply giving money. Try volunteering for a cause that matters to you, whether it’s a non-profit organization or simply an activity that helps other people. You may also be able to do something to help your friends or family. Simply lending a hand or giving a compliment can make both you and the others around you feel happier.
7. Eat Enough of the Right Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids have long been known to be important for heart health, but they may also be important for emotional health and mood disorders. A number of recent studies have suggested that omega-3s may help to treat a number of disorders, including depression, postpartum depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. This is because omega-3s are important to the central nervous system and help to transmit signals to the brain, and they may function as antidepressants.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found naturally in salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies, flax, and hazelnuts. You can also take in omega-3s through supplements such as fish oil, krill oils, and flaxseed (also known as linseed) oil.
8. Smile More Often
Sometimes showing outward signs of happiness will help you to feel genuinely happier. Expressions are linked to actual mood, and research has shown that smiling frequently can result in a lower heart rate and less stress. If you make a habit of smiling, you may find that you’re feeling happier and don’t have to make an effort to smile anymore.
9. Replace Negative Thoughts
Often, negative thoughts creep into our minds before we can stop them. Negative emotions such as anger and sadness are natural and often automatic. However, becoming aware of them and working to replace them with positive thoughts can greatly enhance your mood. Sometimes you need to let yourself feel a negative emotion; allow yourself to become aware of it and process it. That way, you can work towards resolving its cause and feel happier in the long-term.
For small annoyances and unfounded negative thoughts, you can replace negative feelings with positive ones. If you notice something negative about yourself, someone else, or about a situation, take a second to focus on something positive instead.
Final Thoughts on How to Prevent Depression
This may feel forced at first, but eventually, you’ll get in the habit of thinking more positively. This can make you feel happier every day.