Beating the Blues: Natural Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

November 1, 2013

Natural Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

by Lisa Coleman

Depression is a serious illness, but even those with relatively happy lives can still come down with the blues once in a while. Everyone feels this at some point, and often throughout their lives. However, there are natural steps and remedies that a person can take to help aid in beating the blues without turning to prescription medications. If this sounds like something you’re currently going through, you might be interested in following natural ways to lift your spirits.

1. Eat Right

Eating and maintaining a healthy diet that includes all the appropriate nutrients that a body requires is very important to a person’s health and mood. Deficiencies of nutrients in a diet such as omega-3 fatty acids, the B vitamins folic acid and B12, chromium, selenium, vitamin D, and zinc can all be contributing factors of depressive symptoms. Eating a well-balanced diet is a vital key to increasing your mood and to experiencing less of the blues. Including more fish and flaxseed in your diet can help with their mood boosting properties and health benefits. Taking an organic multi-vitamin may help ensure you are getting some of these deficiencies back into your diet.

2. Get into Exercise

You’ve likely heard this before, but exercise can work wonders when it comes to easing depression. Studies have shown that getting regular exercise can lift your mood, create a better outlook on life, help you achieve deeper sleep and give you higher self-esteem. It helps ease the beginning signs of depression and anxiety by improving blood flow to the brain. Of course, these are only the mental effects of exercise. The many positive physical effects, such as weight loss and increased immunity, will help you better deal with the stress of your everyday life. Michael Babyak, professor of medical psychology at the Duke University Medical Center, performed a study with a team of researchers that revealed doing a mild aerobic physical activity three times a week was equivalent to a standard treatment of antidepressant medications.

Studies have shown that participating in yoga can help encourage relaxation, and remove stress and anxiety for your daily life. Studies have also revealed that the breathing exercises that accompany yoga can help lower levels of cortisol, an adrenal hormone linked to stress.

3. Spend Time with Friends

One of the best cures for the blues is to spend time around people who you have fun with. Often, people suffering from depression begin to isolate themselves from the world, but this only makes the problem worse in the long run. Even if you’re feeling bummed, try to force yourself out the door for that coffee date with a friend. Once you get there and begin chatting, you’re likely to feel a lift in your mood.

If talking with someone is not an option, try keeping a journal. This is a way to “talk” without involving others, whether it is due to shyness or privacy. Jotting things down and releasing your feelings is a great way to gain perspective on how to let go of negative emotions.

Another option is to reach out to your mother. From birth, the bond between a child and their mother is one of wholeness and purity of love. If you have a solid relationship with your mother, just hearing her soothing voice, and her words of support and wisdom can help.

4. Revamp your Appearance

Changing up your appearance can do a lot to help your emotions. Even if you like your appearance, there is something exciting about looking in the mirror and seeing a new version of yourself. Consider dying your hair, exploring some different outfits or even getting that tattoo you always dreamed of. If you’re a little phobic of needles, don’t worry: There are many online tattoo distributors who sell customizable and cool temporary tattoos in a variety of designs. Getting dolled up like a rock star and going out dancing for the evening might be the ticket to pulling yourself out of your slump.

5. Try Herbal Remedies

The extract, hypericum perforatum, from the herb found in St. John’s wort has been used for many years to treat mild to moderate depression. However, this natural herb can interfere with some anti-depressant medications so it is vital not to use without consulting with a doctor first. It is always wise to consult with a doctor or medical professional before using any nutritional supplement.

6. Take Time for Yourself

Sometimes, a change of scenery is all that is required to lift your mood. If it’s been a while since you got away and had some fun, now is the time to do so. Go camping with family, spend the weekend at the beach with your girlfriends or visit an amusement park with your kids. If lack of time is an issue, try a trip to a local day spa for a few hours. Get rejuvenated by a professional masseuse. This is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety currently apart of your life. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that you need a lot of money or vacation time to take a nice trip. Much can be accomplished in a weekend, or in a few hours, and by the time you get back home, you will likely feel refreshed and ready to face your problems.

Life can be tough, and it’s natural to get depressed from time to time. However, if you find yourself unable to enjoy activities that you previously loved, you experience your mood getting worse over time or you begin having dark thoughts about hurting yourself, you should consider talking to your doctor. Sometimes, depression can be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain and not anything in your lifestyle. If that’s the case, a doctor can help you figure out a proper treatment plan.

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