When you suffer from depression it can be difficult to muster up the motivation to do much of anything. Getting out of bed, eating, working: the most basic things in life are difficult to do. But the problem with doing nothing is that it worsens depression. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle that makes people feel trapped. Sometimes you just need a small foothold to help claw your way out. It can feel like you are walking on a tightrope when you have depression, but you just have to put one foot in front of the other. So we’ve researched a few science-backed activities that help with depression.
Physical activity triggers a response in the brain that can improve our cognitive function. One study examined 30 people split into 3 different controlled groups. The exercise intervention group who walked for 20-40 minutes 3 times per week had the best results for alleviating depression symptoms. Exercise in general has a long lasting positive effect on depression, but walking is a start!
Play Some Video Games
Bring out the inner child in you and try playing casual video games to improve your mood. A study was done at ECU with over 60 participants who were diagnosed with clinical depression. Researchers found there was a 57% reduction of depressive symptoms in the experimental group after playing casual video games. Their severe symptoms actually decreased to more mild manifestations of depression. Better yet, combine the depression-fighting effects of video games and exercise with Pokemon Go.
Own A Pet
A lot of people believe that animals are a human’s best friend. They offer unconditional love, support, and comfort in our greatest times of need. Research suggests that pets can even ease feelings of stress and loneliness in our lives. In a study surveying 177 individuals with a mental disorder, pets were shown to improve self-esteem, empathy, and social interactions. This just goes to show how much of a positive effect that pets can have on our health! On a fun note, check out our list of the 10 Fittest Dog Breeds you can own!
Go For A Massage
Maybe it’s the relaxing music, or the soothing touch that helps, but massages have been shown to help with depression. Take one University of Miami study, for 5 weeks, 37 breast cancer patients received massage therapy and the participants reported feeling more energized, less angry, and less depressed. Other research shows that messages help alleviate depression symptoms by producing feel-good transmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
Eat A Nutrient Rich Diet
Don’t overlook the link between depression and nutrition. Many nutrients, vitamins and minerals abundant in certain foods can play an important role in our mood. Carbs, for example, promote feel-good sensations through the chemical tryptophan, which also produces serotonin. Foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on our mood and energy. Protein is essential to our mental health since amino acids are abundant in our brain’s neurotransmitters, so a protein rich diet nourishes brain functioning. Also, It has also been said that omega 3 fatty acids can help prevent depression.
An article from Harvard Health Publications suggest that yoga can have a variety of positive benefits on one’s mental health. It has been shown that yoga helps reduce the stress response, improve mood, and promote relaxation. For example, a study had 24 women take two yoga classes per week for three months and at the end of the trial, depression scores improved by 50%! But this research article is just one of many that suggests yoga as a tool in fighting depression.
Journey Through Nature
It’s been said that urbanization is associated with increased mental illness, but nature can help with that. Rumination, which is prominent in many mental health issues like depression and anxiety, can be reduced through spending time in nature. In a recent study, those who walked for 90 minutes in nature experienced less rumination and slower brain activity associated with mental illness.