1. 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.

    Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mytudut/5180386049

  2. How to Beat Depression… with Diet

    August 24, 2013

    beat depression

    Depression is a common problem though its severity and symptoms do vary. Unlike occasional sadness that we all feel from time to time, depression is a chronic issue that claims around 850,000 lives each year. There are different types of depression including:

    Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – A disorder that only affects people at certain times of he year, most notably around the winter months with a kind of ‘cabin fever,’ where you may find yourself feeling more sad than normal.


    Postpartum Depression – A type of depression that occurs within women that have recently given birth. This form of depression can be a result of powerful emotions that can lead to psychotic episodes.


    Bipolar Disorder – This affects 3 out of every 100 adults and can occur when the chemicals in your brain are not balanced.


    How to spot the signs of depression?


    There are ways to spot if you or a loved one are depressed, here are a few of the telltale signs:


    • Constantly feeling sad, irritable or tense
    • Lack of interest in the usual hobbies
    • A lack of energy
    • Changes in appetite, with either weight loss or gain
    • A change in sleeping patterns
    • A lack of concentration
    • Feelings of worthlessness
    • Thoughts of suicide and death


    If you experience any of these thoughts for an extended period of time then it is important that you  talk to clinical psychologist or psychotherapist, if left untreated depression gets much worse. Remember that depression is not always just a state of mind, often there are other factors too including hormone or chemical imbalances. I know that there is a social stigma surrounding depression and that it may feel easier to bottle up your feelings but this will not help in the long run.


    Could your diet help?


    Although depression is not always caused by one issue your diet can help you to take a step in the right direction. A lack of certain vitamins, nutrients and fatty acids can contribute to depression so it is important that you try to eat a healthy balanced diet, while avoiding any unnatural and processed food choices.

    Here are a few food options that could help to improve your mood:


    An omelet

    Eggs contain important B vitamins that have been shown to help lessen the severity of depression. Vitamins B-6 and B-12 are particularly important as they can improve neural function, meaning your moods can be improved.

    Eggs also contain protein so can help keep you full for longer and can stabilize blood sugar levels meaning you wont experience those sugar highs and lows associated with high sugar foods.


    Nuts and seeds

    Both nuts and seeds contain magnesium that can naturally increase your production of serotonin, a chemical that helps you to feel good. They are the perfect alternative to traditional snacks as long as you stick to the unsalted and unsweetened versions.


    Cold water fish

    Cold water fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel are full of omega-3 fatty acids that can help increase the amount of grey matter in your brain. These fatty acids are an essential material for our brain. Those with severe depression have been noted as having less grey matter than others. Again fish is a good source of protein, so the usual benefits of protein can be experienced. It is unlikely that you can enough enough fish to get sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, you will likely need to take supplements as well. In case of depression you need supplements with high EPA-to-DHA ratio.


    Ancient grains

    Grains such as quinoa and barley are less likely to be processed and refined with sugar so will not be digested as quickly as those refined with wheat flour and sugar. This will stop any blood sugar spikes and subsequent drop that can result in fatigue, food cravings and mood swings.


    Green tea

    In most green tea varieties you will find the amino acid L-theanine that has been shown in EEG tests to stimulate alpha brain waves, which can help to improve your focus and have a calming effect on your body.


    In conclusion


    Depression is a serious condition and if you suffer from it then you should speak to a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist. A healthy diet can help, but it can only supplement psychotherapy.


    Author Bio: Jac Jenkins is a stay at home Mom passionate about health and fitness. She writes about diets such as the Fasting Diet at her own blog.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abstrato/418493178