The number of depression diagnoses in the United States continues to climb. While many individuals with the diagnosis have suffered trauma or have physiological reasons for their mood, others might be surprised to learn there are non-pharmaceutical ways to improve your mood. Got the blues? Try these things.
Physical activity has been shown by scientific and neurological studies to increase the endorphins in your brain. Endorphins are the neurotransmitters in your brain that make you feel good. So go for a jog, take a yoga class, play some tennis, go dancing, or head to the gym. The more regular your exercise routine, the less likely you are to suffer with the symptoms of depression. (Bonus: exercise also reduces stress and improves your overall health.)
Soak Up Some Sun
The sun has gotten a bad rap because of all the ultraviolet rays, but the sun also provides an ample supply of the body’s required vitamin-D. Lather on the sunscreen and go to the park, sit on your porch, take a walk (exercise plus vitamin-D equals a mood improving double whammy), or lay by the pool. Just don’t overdo it.
When’s the last time you played just for fun? Whether it’s a game or a prank or some toys, play leads to laughter, and laughter is the best medicine. Adults tend to only do “productive” things and over time it weighs you down. Find a way to play every week. Fly a kite, play kickball, build a blanket fort, bust out a game of Monopoly, sing karaoke, or head to the amusement park.
Listen to music, play music, sing, mix music, or write your own music. Music expresses otherwise unspoken emotions. It triggers parts of your brain untouched by everyday activities. Make yourself a happy day playlist and listen to it when you’re feeling down. Proceed with caution, though. Some songs can serve as Debbie Downers and fuel your bad mood. Choose songs that are energizing and uplifting. You know, songs like “Happy”. (You saw that coming, didn’t you?)
There is perhaps no better way to forget about your bad day than to focus on serving somebody else. It changes your perspective, takes your mind off of your challenges, and gives you a sense of purpose. Find somewhere in your community to give back, and do so regularly. It may take sheer will power to get there, but once you’re there, you’ll be glad you made the effort.
If you are what you eat, then you will feel like junk when you eat junk. Foods that slow you down or don’t give you adequate nutrition will make you feel lethargic. When you feel lethargic, you’re less likely to exercise or do anything to break out of the bad mood. When you stay in the bad mood, you’re more likely to want to “medicate” it with sweets or alcohol. When you self medicate, you’re feeding a cycle you actually want to break free from. Eat an apple instead of a cookie. Drink some water instead of a beer. Over time, you’ll notice an improvement in your mood.