Depression can cause feelings of sadness, anxiety, fatigue, loneliness, and difficulty concentrating. Although we all feel depressed at some point in our lives, many people deal with depression on a daily basis. Some people use medication to feel better, but there are ways to treat mild or moderate depression without drugs.
1. Be Optimistic
Our thoughts can have a tremendous impact on the way we feel. Rather than focus on what’s going wrong in your life, focus on what’s going right. And if you experience disappointment, consider the hidden benefits. For example, maybe you were overlooked for a promotion at work. But at the same time, you might appreciate not moving into a high-stress position.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is important to your mental health. Get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Develop a sleep routine to help you sleep better. For example, avoid caffeine before bedtime. Don’t watch TV or use electronic devices in bed, and create a comfortable sleep environment. Eliminate any noise, make sure your room is as dark as possible and maintain a comfortable room temperature.
Regular physical activity increases the production of endorphins, brain chemicals that affect mood and emotions. You might not feel like working out, but activity can improve your mental outlook. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity at least three days a week.
4. Let the Sun In
Open your blinds or shades and allow sunlight into your home or office. Sitting in a dark room can worsen depression. However, sunlight can boost serotonin, which is a brain chemical that regulates your mood.
5. Volunteer and Help Others
Wallowing in self-pity isn’t going to help you feel better. Helping others can take your mind off your problems. You can volunteer at a local organization, or help serve food at the local union mission or another homeless shelter.
6. Smile Therapy
Smiling has a tremendous impact on mood. According to Psychology Today, “Research has reported that smiling releases endorphins, which are natural pain relievers, along with serotonin, which is also associated with feel good properties.”
7. Reduce Stress
Learning how to reduce stress also improves depression. Understand your stress triggers. You might have to change jobs if this is the source of depression. And if you have too much on your plate, learn how to say ‘no’ and eliminate some of your personal commitments.
8. Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
Some people turn to illegal drugs and alcohol to numb painful feelings and fix depression, but drugs and alcohol only provide temporary pleasure. In actuality, illegal drugs and alcohol can worsen depression and make it harder to treat, according to the Mayo Clinic.
9. Ask Your Doctor About Alternative Therapies
If you don’t want to take medication, ask your doctor about herbal supplements or therapies to boost negative feelings. Individual, group or family therapy might be helpful. Supplements for depression include St. John’s wort, omega-3 fish oil, and SAMe.
10. Be Content
If you constantly complain about the things you don’t have or if you always compare your life to others, you may start to feel depressed. Learn how to be content with what you have, and stop thinking that material things will make you happy. Make the best of your situation and accept things you cannot change.
Everyone feels down from time to time, but if your depression is ongoing and doesn’t improve with time, talk with your doctor and discuss options for improving your mental outlook.