A lot of people think that depression is trivial and that those suffering from it can simply just ‘get over it’. They’re wrong. Depression is a lot more serious than simply going through spells of feeling down and is a health condition that affects more than 121 million people around the world but the good news is that 80-90% of those who go through it will overcome it. There is no way to actually guarantee that you’ll be able to avoid it entirely but there are ways to decrease your chances of suffering from depression. And contrary to popular belief,  antidepressants doesn’t have to mean popping pills!

1) Exercise

Exercising doesn’t only bring physical benefits. As well as keeping you healthy and helping you to tone up your muscles, exercise has been proven to boost the happy hormone (Serotonin) which enhances your mood and creates a sense of well-being, helping you to feel more cheerful and energized.

2) Have A Balanced Routine

If you have a bad habit of biting off more than you can chew, it’s time to start limiting how much you take on. If you feel like you are trying to be in three different places at once, sticking to just a couple of activities will be more manageable and will make you feel more productive. That way you will be able to take out some time for yourself as it is also important to have fun once in a while or life will  eventually get you down.

3) Take Care Of Your Mind

If your glass is always half empty, it’s time to change your attitude! Thinking happy thoughts and being positive can be difficult to do if you’ve been stuck in a negative mindset for a long time. A good place to start is by keeping a gratitude journal and writing down a list of things you are grateful for before you go to bed. If ever you feel like there is nothing in your life to be grateful about, turn to this journal to remind you of the good things that you already have.

4) Get Enough Sleep

Tossing and turning all night is enough to make anyone cranky. Your sleeping patterns have a huge impact on your mental health. Researchers have found a link between insomnia and depression and claim that people with disrupted circadian rhythms are in a different time zone to the rest of the world as their body clock is no longer functioning properly. To resynchronize your circadian rhythm and ensure a night of restful sleep, switch off the screens earlier than you normally would, avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee and do something that will help you to unwind (like meditating or reading a book!).

5) Eat Healthy Fats

Are you getting enough Omega-3? Next time you go grocery shopping, add salmon to the shopping list. Nutritionists recommend polyunsaturated fatty acids that are high in Omega-3, like those that are found in fish, walnuts and flaxseeds, that help significantly to fight depression.

6) Regulate Your Blood Sugar

Time to pull out that sweet tooth and start snaking healthily. Having a sugary snack can often give you a boost of energy but will leave you feeling miserable a few hours later. Avoid this sugar-induced crash and swap your chocolate  bars with fruit or something savoury instead. Eat regularly and make sure that you have a good source of protein with every meal.

7) Join A Support Group Or See A Therapist

If you have previously suffered from depression, it is advisable to join a support group. Meeting others who are going through the same difficulties as you will make you feel better and that way you don’t have to feel like you are struggling alone. Experts have also proved that seeing a therapist is just as effective as taking antidepressant pills and getting the right cure is vital when you are suffering from an illness. Don’t ignore depression. Getting the right guidance and talking to someone about your concerns can help you to recover or prevent a relapse if you have already been through it.

8) Avoid Drugs and Excessive Intake of Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant that can lead to long term depression as it changes your mood without you realizing it. If you don’t want to give up your weekly glass of red wine, monitor your alcohol intake in order to prevent alcoholism which will inevitably also lead to depression.

9) Surround Yourself With Friends and Family

Keep the blues away by keeping your loved ones close. Living in isolation, without friends or family, will push anyone into a downward spiral. When you feel like shutting yourself away, force yourself to get out and see others. Socializing and having a network of people you can rely on will help take your mind off your problems and will provide a sense of security and happiness.

10) Have A Sense of Purpose

Exercising and eating well will no doubt improve your mood but nothing works as well as having a sense of purpose in life. Working on your passions or keeping busy doing activities you love will fill you with enthusiasm and motivation which will reduce the risk of depression. It will also give you a way to de-stress and make you feel good about yourself while mastering a skill. According to Richard Leider, the author of The Power of Purpose, those with a sense of purpose live up to seven times longer than those who don’t. So discover your passions and chase your dreams!

Words: Yashi Banymadhub

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