Learn how to fight depression during the dark, cold winter months.
In a nation that tends to overuse and abuse prescription drugs it’s no surprise that 1 in 10 American adults are being medically treated for depression. There are many mental and emotional disorders that rely heavily on medication, and some cases that intervention is very necessary. However, there are also many natural ways to add positivity to your life to help with seasonal affective disorder, or the Monday blues.
Here are a few nutrition, exercise, and wellness tips to help you on your way to a positive, and healthy winter season:
Unfortunately our culture does not readily utilize one of the best ways to combat depression, and that is with nutrition and exercise. In fact, there are a plethora of nutritious foods that purposefully boost endorphins to promote a positive vibe in our bodies. Here are my top picks to get you started.
- Turkey: is probably the best food for combating depression because of its high tryptophan content; this chemical stimulates serotonin production, which is a natural feel-good chemical our body produces.
- Walnuts: get the edge when it comes to lessening the symptoms of depression because they are among the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3s in walnuts support overall brain health.
- Dark chocolate: helps to release serotonin and relaxes the blood vessels of the cardiovascular system, making this a guilt-free treat.
Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress, ward off anxiety and depression, boost self-esteem, improve sleep, and help with weight management and overall cardiovascular health.
- According to a 2013 study, you can shoot for the following schedule when using exercise to fight depression:
Set aside three to five times a week for aerobic exercise, and make sure you’re sweating for about 45 to 60 minutes a session. You want to maintain your heart rate at about 50 to 85 percent of it's max.
- Spending time with a pet is one of the best ways to increase endorphins and decrease depression. If you can combine yoga, which has breathing exercises and body movements shown to decrease depression, and include your furry friend, you are getting a 2 for 1 boost.
- Swimming is one of the best exercises to increase endorphins, especially if you can get a little sun and serotonin at the same time. There are lots of different pool workouts, to add variety to your workout regimen. These water exercises are great for all ages because they are low-impact and easy on your joints and bones.
- Lifting weights is one of the best ways to lose body fat and tone up. When combined with high-intensity intervals, it is a great way to to get in shape and boost those mood enhancing hormones as well.
- Set goals for your exercise regime and work up until you meet those goals. Some of these goals may include a half marathon, triathlon, or Spartan race.
- Sniff lavender or vanilla: Certain aromas can lift your mood by influencing the production of endorphins – the brain's "feel-good" chemicals.
- Laugh: It's been observed that children laugh about 300 times a day, whereas adults laugh, on average, only about five times each day. The more we laugh, the better our perspective.
- Kiss, hug, and other stuff: According to Stanford University, studies show that being touched reduces stress – as well as alleviates pain and helps to heal injuries. Taking time for intimate moments soothes us, uplifts us (due to the release of those mood-enhancing endorphins), and gives us a sense of belonging and security.
Read more about how love can improve your mental health
[Editor's Note: If you want help making healthier choices, click here to sign up for a Naturally Savvy Get Healthy Challenge.]