Self-Help for depression
When you’re dealing with depression, it isn’t a matter of simply flipping a switch and “snapping out of it,” yet there is something we can do about it. We now have proof through MRI scans that significant, measurable changes in brain chemistry and functioning can result from altering our thinking and behavior. At Hope for Healing we have a program to help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety; and to help build feelings of confidence and self esteem. A transformation won’t happen overnight, but these tips can help put you on the pathway to happiness.
The “Catch 22” of dealing with depression
Depression diminishes hope and motivation; it attacks your very soul by replacing your thoughts, feelings, and desires with apathy and despair. Without hope and motivation, there is little desire to fight depression because your mind tells you that nothing works anyway, so why try? This is not just on an emotional level, it occurs on a neurological and molecular level.
I know how this feels. When I was struggling with depression, my motivation dried up and disappeared along with my hope and happiness. I thought the best I could do with this new reality was to endure each miserable day. My thoughts cautioned me that there was no hope of escape, and that nothing I could do would make any difference.
These thoughts and feelings made it so difficult to do those things that could help me feel better. But fortunately there’s a difference between difficult and impossible. I learned that we have more power over depression than you might think. I learned that there is hope for healing.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
While healing from depression isn’t quick or easy, you do have more control that you realize. The secret is to start small and take a single step, followed by another step and another step. Taking the first step is usually the hardest, but one simple step can significantly boost your mood and energy for several hours, which can put you in a good place to take a second step. It is a process of following small positive steps day by day that lifts the heavy fog of depression to reveal the sunshine of hope and happiness. This process really works. It worked for me and it can work for you too.
Here are a few tips to begin taking those small simple steps:
Self help for depression Tip #1 – Take a good quality B complex supplement each day
A deficiency in B vitamins has been shown to be linked to depression. Some people have seen a noticeable improvement in the way they feel mentally and emotionally, just by including a vitamin B supplement to their daily routine. Their brains just needed the right nutritional tools to work with.
There are eight B complex vitamins, but they’re not all called “Vitamin B” they have other names including:
- pantothenic acid
- vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- folate (called folic acid when included in supplements)
- vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin).
I don’t know why they name them that way, and I don’t know why there’s a vitamin B12 when there are only eight B vitamins, but I do know that vitamin B can make a difference. Deficiencies in vitamin B, particularly vitamins B6 and B12, have been shown in multiple studies to be linked to symptoms of depression.
As a word of caution, we need to recognize that not all supplements are the same quality. Low quality supplements aren’t very effective. There is a website called multivitamin guide that compares the effectiveness of 100 different vitamin brands which may be a useful guide in selecting a good quality supplement.
Self help for depression Tip #2 Listen to positive upbeat music
Listening to positive upbeat music is a simple, yet effective way to boost mood and motivation. According to neurologists, listening to music affects our emotions and “brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.”
Research shows that different kinds of music can actually produce different kinds of emotions. Sad music can help offer a release of pent up negative emotions, while positive upbeat music helps move the brain into a more active state as brain waves actually synchronize somewhat to the pace of the music you’re listening to.
When we’re trying to invigorate brain function and activity, there’s nothing more powerful than music. Scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function.
Self help for depression Tip #3 Sing a song
While listening to music is an amazingly effective tool on its own, singing along with the music adds a whole new dimension and bumps up the power of healing exponentially.
Singing has been scientifically proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety, and elevate endorphins which make you feel uplifted and happy. It helps relax muscle tension and decreases the levels of the stress hormones in the blood stream and can help take your mind off the day’s troubles to boost your mood.
One possible reason for the incredible effectiveness of singing is a scientific discovery of a tiny organ in the ear called the sacculus, which responds to the frequencies created by singing. The response creates an immediate sense of pleasure, regardless of what the singing sounds like so you don’t have to have an amazing voice to feel the positive effects of singing.
So if you find yourself in a rough spot, sing along to an upbeat, positive song. Sing through one song three times or sing three different positive upbeat songs once. Allow the music to wash through you and feel the healing and invigorating effects immediately lifting mood and bringing relief. From my own experience, I can say that it really works.
Print out the lyrics so you can sing all the words and choose songs that have lyrics that have meaning to you personally. Here are a few suggested songs to help you create your own list: Roar by Katy Perry, Try Everything by Shakira, Waka Waka by Shakira, Brave by Sara Bareilles, Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield, Fight Song by Rachel Platten, Happy by Pharrel Williams, Better When I’m Dancin’ by Meghan Trainor, Me Too by Meghan Trainor, On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons, Believer by Imagine Dragons, You Are Loved by Stars Go Dim, and This is Me by Justin Paul & Benj Pasek sung by Keala Settle.
Self help for depression Tip #4 Go for a walk
It sounds like a paradox to ask a person who may struggle finding the motivation to get out of bed to add walking to their daily routine, but studies show that exercise actually helps you feel more energized and less fatigued.
If we want to have more energy, then we have to move more.
Virtually any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever. It does wonderful things to help our emotional well-being and is one of the most powerful tools in your recovery arsenal. Exercise increases the production of endorphins, which are the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters.
Any type of exercise, including walking, helping us calm down and distracts us from our problems. It improves mood, helps us relax and improves quality of sleep. So if you’re feeling depressed or discouraged, it might be a good idea to pause and go for a walk.
Self help for depression Tip # 5 Boost mood and confidence with a hero pose
You can increase confidence and boost mood in just 90 seconds by doing this one simple trick. Put your chin up, smile (even if you don’t feel like it). Pull your shoulders back, stand straight and tall with your hands relaxed at your sides or on your hips. Keep both feel pointing forward and keep weight even on both legs. Hold this position for 90 seconds.
Science shows that doing these things will not only make you appear more confident and happy; it actually makes you feel more confident and happy. Charles Darwin was actually the first to hypothesize that there is a connection between body language and our emotion that goes both ways. We smile when we feel good, but we also feel good when we smile.
Today that theory is called the facial feedback hypothesis and it has been verified in study after study after study. The physical expressions of our body language influence our emotional experience.
Even if you don’t feel like it, doing the actions will help increase those feelings. If we want to feel happy then we need to smile more. If we want to feel confident then we stand tall and pull our shoulders back. Holding this pose for just 90 seconds boosts confidence, increases happiness, and lowers stress.
Self help for depression Tip #6 Make healthy food choices
There is a strong correlation between the way we eat and the way we feel. If we want to feel good, it’s important to become aware of the way we eat and drink.
Your brain functions best when you’re eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress.
Diets high in refined sugars, on the other hand, are harmful to the brain. Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.
Many people have seen tremendous physical, emotional and mental improvements simply by altering their diets from sugary and nutritionally deficient processed foods to a diet rich with whole grains, organic fruits and vegetables, and quality protein.
Self help for depression Tip #7 Drink more water
Drinking water is a simple, effective, but often overlooked tool to improve mental and emotional health. Studies show that even mild dehydration has been shown to negatively affect brain structure and function, negatively impact mood, and trigger fatigue.
A healthy brain is made up of about 73 percent water, so adequate hydration is a big deal. Even a little dehydration, as little as one percent, begins to have negative effects on mood and brain function.
Improve mental and emotional health by including 8 glasses of water in your daily diet, and by water I mean actual water, not soda, diet soda, coffee, or tea. Studies have shown that caffeine consumption can lead to increased depression and also increases the need for anxiety medication.
Self help for depression Tip #8 Just add chocolate
J.K. Rowling was right on track when she used chocolate to help Harry Potter overcome the unpleasant effects of an encounter with dementors. It turns out that extra dark chocolate really does improve your mood and is great for brain health. While pure cocoa is best, this may be too bitter for anyone with a sweet tooth, so a good rule of thumb is to go for chocolate that is 85% cocoa or more. Basically, the darker the chocolate, the better it is for your brain.
Cocoa is high in flavanols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and reduce blood pressure. Typically, the darker the chocolate, the more flavanols it contains.
So, the bottom line is that eating dark chocolate is good for your memory, blood pressure, and your mood. It helps alleviate depression and also acts as an anti-inflammatory, which means that it is good for your brain.
Self help for depression Tip #9 Connect with nature
Spending time outside in nature is good for the body and the mind. It helps distract us from problems and just helps us feel good.
Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.
In a 2015 study, researchers compared brain activity between a group who spent 90 minutes in nature and a control group. They found that a group who did a nature walk had significantly lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a region or the brain that is active during rumination. (Rumination is when people experience a continuous loop of negative thoughts.)
Calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of stress hormones.
So go outside and make a connection with nature. If the weather permits, take off your shoes and feel the grass or sand under your feet. Feel the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the breeze and feel your body moving as you walk. Hear the birds, or the waves, or the rustle of the grass in the wind. Smell the flowers and the trees and see the beauty of nature around you. Enjoy a sensory experience in nature and feel its healing effects.
Self help for depression Tip #10 Pet the dog
If you’re feeling anxious, stressed, depressed or lonely, one thing that might help is to spend some time petting a dog or cat.
Science shows that playing with or petting an animal can reduce stress and can also help us reduce feelings of isolation and help us feel more connected.
Petting a dog or cat increases the activity in the “reward center” of the brain which lowers stress and increases feelings of happiness. It also decreases production of stress hormones, so it works in multiple ways to help you calm down and feel better.
Self help for depression Tip #11 Serve someone else
Depression and anxiety tend to make a person retreat inward. Helping other people can help bring us outside ourselves. It can also help distract us from our own problems and think about something else.
Studies have shown that people who help others have lowered levels of depression and anxiety. In fact, in the research study, service was more effective in making a positive difference in the way participants felt about themselves than making an effort to pamper themselves or creating self-esteem goals.
Self help for depression Tip #12 Connect with friends
We live in a digital age where we can be tempted to replace person to person contact with phones and computers, especially if we’re feeling vulnerable. But humans are social creatures, we crave feeling supported, valued and connected. Studies show that being socially connected increases happiness and leads to better health and a longer life. It helps overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Make a list of the people you can turn to. These are people that you trust to support you and make an effort to contact them regularly. Reach out to them and ask for specific kinds of help. Remember, your friends can’t read your mind and it’s not fair to expect them to. And if you’re working on a goal, such as trying to overcome anxiety and depression, having a friend to report to and keep you accountable can make all the difference in the world. The likelihood of getting new habits to stick, of following through on your assignments and reaching goals is remarkably higher when someone else is aware or your goal or assignment and you set a time to report back to someone on your progress.
Triumph over depression Tip #13 Seek professional help when needed
If your depression is getting worse despite making positive lifestyle changes by using these self-help tips, seek professional help. Calling a professional isn’t a sign of weakness or failure, it’s just utilizing the right resource for the job.
Even if you enlist the aid of professional help, using these tips can be part of your treatment plan so don’t give up. Making positive lifestyle changes can help speed up your recovery and prevent depression from returning. Depression can be treated and you can feel better!
You can do this!
While healing from depression isn’t quick or easy, you do have more control that you realize. The secret is to start small and take a single step, followed by another step and another step. This process really works. It worked for me and it can work for you too.
Are you ready to “choose out” of depression?
No one “chooses into” depression. Nobody wants to enter into the world of depression and anxiety; it is thrust upon them against their will. However, no one is able to get out of the world of depression and anxiety without choosing to do something about it.
That doesn’t mean that depression is somehow your fault, it just means that it requires effort to overcome it. Whether that effort comes in the form of seeking professional help, consistently taking medication, following the principles and resources outlined in the Hope for Healing program or a combination of techniques is up to you. What matters is that a person has a desire to heal and takes steps to accomplish that goal.
Are you ready to “choose out” of depression? If so, we’d love to be a part of your healing team. Please begin today by taking advantage of the following resources.
Hope for Healing Program
The Hope for Healing program is a simple, easy-to-follow system that can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety; relieve stress; build confidence and self-esteem; and heal relationships. You have more power than you may realize. Click here to learn more…
Emotional First Aid Kit
An emotional first aid kit is simply a list of emotional wellness tools that can provide an immediate, although temporary, positive effect on the way we think and feel. Having an emotional first aid kit readily available can help people who are struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self esteem, or other mental and emotional issues. Learn more…
An inspiring true story of triumph over despair so relatable and unflinchingly honest that you’ll wonder if you’re reading your own story and will start believing in your own happy ending. This captivating narrative empowers the reader with tools to revive hope and facilitate healing… Read more
30 Days to Alleviate Depression
You have more power over depression than you might think. 30 Days to Alleviate Depression is a simple step by step coaching plan created by someone with experience overcoming depression. Backed by science. Verified by experience… Read more
Pathway to Happiness
“Pathway to Happiness” is a FREE guide book with a flexible outline where you create your own wellness goals and choose from a wide selection of wellness tools to suit your particular needs. It is a simple step-by-step action plan to awaken the answers that are already inside of you. Learn more…
Help for depression
Depression is a pervasive and complicated issue, but you have more power than you might think.
Hope for Healing offers tools, information, resources, and a plan to help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety; relieve stress; build confidence and self esteem; and heal relationships. Learn more…
We can all use a little more peace and happiness in our lives. Please help us spread the word by liking our facebook page and sharing links and articles on social media. Click here for the facebook page.
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