Depression is a common mental health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. It can make you feel sad, hopeless, and empty, and can interfere with your daily life. Coping with depression can be challenging, but it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that there are strategies you can use to help manage your symptoms.
In this blog post, we’ll share six expert tips for beating the blues and coping with depression. Whether you’re experiencing mild or severe depression, these tips can help you feel better and improve your mental health. So, let’s dive in and explore how to cope with depression and find relief.
6 Tips for Coping with Depression, Naturally
Everyone is prone to feeling the blues once in a while. The problem isn’t that we experience times of depression, the problem is when we allow ourselves to stay there.
Depression, anxiety, happiness, and joy are just some of the states we are blessed to experience as humans.
Did I just say you are blessed to feel anxiety and depression?
Yes, I did. Without anxiety, we would do some pretty stupid stuff, like drive too fast, or not get our work done on time. Without depression, we would not know when we aren’t feeling happiness or joy.
Emotions are nothing more than how you are currently experiencing your world. They are feedback from your body and thoughts on how you are experiencing the world at this moment in time. The good news is you can choose what emotions you wish to feel because you have complete control over them.
Research in psychology and neuroscience is proving more and more each day that our emotions are a result of the three following components:
- Cognitive Experience
- Overt Expression
How these three combine, creates your current emotional state. Because each one of these three affects the other, the secret then to controlling how you feel lies in mastering not all three of these components, but in mastering just one. And the good news is this means you can take immediate control of your emotions any time you desire
For me, smiling is the fastest way to affect how I feel. Any time I am in need of a quick pick-me-up, I simply take a moment to smile while taking in a few deep relaxing breaths of fresh air.
Yes, we smile because we are happy, but it also works the other way. We are happy because we smile.
Sound too simple?
Well maybe it is, but it works.
Set a timer on your phone to go off every thirty minutes that reminds you to smile. Even if you don’t feel like it, do it. Show your teeth and smile from ear to ear while pushing your cheeks toward your eyes. The bigger the better. Before you know it, you will be smiling more and feeling better.
For more on the effects of smiling, read my article, “The Life-Changing Power of Smiling.”
2. Be Grateful
When you are smiling, think about what you are thankful for in your life.
If your immediate answer is “Nothing” then I suggest you reevaluate. If truth be told, you have plenty to be thankful for, the problem is you may be downplaying the significance of all the wonderful things in your life.
For example, you have air to breathe.
Don’t think that is enough? Then imagine how you would feel about air if you were suffocating. I know that may sound extreme, but the truth is air, water, and food are needed for basic survival. We take them for granted when we have enough and become very grateful for them when they are in low supply.
To experience more gratitude in your life, ask yourself the following questions.
- What do I have in my life right now that if I were to lose tomorrow would cause me heartbreak and pain?
- What about that am I grateful for?
Stop taking the good things in your life for granted, the truth is you have tons to be happy for every day.
3. Put a smile in your pocket
Who or what is something you cherish in your life?
For me, it is my family. I have a picture of my beautiful wife on my phone that pops up every time I open it. It makes me smile and I am reminded of how much I have to be thankful for in my life.
While the smile in your pocket can be a picture of someone you love, it can also be something you are looking forward to obtaining or doing in the future. It may even just be a picture of a playful puppy. Choose something that makes you feel good and reach for it when you need a lift throughout your day.
4. Drink more water
Most people don’t reach for a glass of water until they are already dehydrated. In fact, your body doesn’t even send you a thirst signal until you are 1 to 2 percent dehydrated. This is all it takes for your body to begin suffering the consequences of not having enough fluid in it.
Amino acids are vital for the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Because an adequate amount of water is needed to transport essential amino acids such as tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier, when we are dehydrated we begin to quickly experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Dehydration is also a major contributor to low energy levels, which are a major contributor to depression.
When your brain is functioning normally and you are feeling up to life’s challenges, MRI scans show it has a balanced amount of activity. When you are feeling depressed, though, it is quite the opposite.
A depressed brain shows very little activity, suggesting a lack of energy. It is believed that water is needed for your brain to produce the electrical energy needed for optimal energy.
5. Eliminate caffeine from your diet
Most people scoff at me when I suggest this one. Some even get angry. And almost every one of them tries to tell me how they actually need their caffeine to function.
If you are addicted to caffeine, then this is true. You need your coffee or pop just like a heroin or cigarette addict needs their drug of choice too. You need it because you are addicted and in most cases quitting would lead to withdrawals.
I used to be addicted to caffeine also. When I didn’t have enough in my system, I would start feeling sluggish or get a headache. Basically, my day was a roller coaster caused by the caffeine rush I would receive from drinking it to the crash caused by the lack of it in my body.
Now that I have totally eliminated caffeine from my diet, I recognize how much better the quality of my life is. My energy levels are more stable, my anxiety has dropped and I just feel healthier all around.
I challenge you, instead of accepting my claim that life without caffeine is better or rejecting it, put it to the test.
What do you have to lose?
Just be prepared. The first week or two can be quite challenging. Once you have cleansed your body of one of the most abused drugs in society, I believe you will then start to feel like you have been born again.
6. Take vitamin D3
Low levels of vitamin D3 have been linked to depression. In fact, Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD which is seen more in the winter and places that receive small amounts of sunlight during the day is often treated with vitamin D therapy with strong results.
The skin produces vitamin D3 naturally when it is exposed to sunlight. But in today’s world where most people aren’t exposed to enough direct sunlight, taking a vitamin D3 supplement can be very beneficial.
Your doctor can check your vitamin D3 levels with a simple blood test to see if your levels are low and instruct you on how much you should take. If you choose not to have the tests, start taking the supplement at its lowest dosage for about a week and slowly increase until you start to reap its benefits.
Please keep in mind that depression has many different factors that contribute to its causes. While one idea might work for some people, it doesn’t work for everyone. That is why I provide many different ideas throughout my blog on how to combat it in your life.
Just like a good artist knows, every color has a place on their canvas, every strategy to fight the blues has a place in your life. There is hardly ever one solution to a problem. Mix and match these ideas, using as many as you can until you find the combination for a happy life.
In future articles, I will share with you other ways to cope with depression and beat the blues naturally. For now, though, set a happiness reminder on your phone and start practicing these six steps. Before you know it, happiness will be your normal way of feeling.