Nationally and even worldwide, Depression is the most common mental health problem we deal with in our lives. Depression can range from feeling sad and unmotivated to being more severe where symptoms are debilitating. Almost everyone has or will experience at least some mild symptoms of Depression in their lifetime, including sad feelings, difficulty concentrating, wanting to spend a day in bed and avoid the world, or becoming overly tearful. We want to highlight some of the easier ways to prevent and manage depression.  For example, for mild depressive symptoms, regular exercise might completely offset these problems and regulate a person’s mood. But there are even more fairly easy ways to improve overall mental wellness. I recommend to my own clients that they take matters into their own hands by maintaining the following eight areas. This is my secret to a healthy, happy life with much less depression!

  1. Regular exercise – As I mentioned above, being physically engaged in some sort of physical activity can regulate a person’s sleep, appetite, mood levels, and stress. If you are looking for a place to start, this is it.  Even incorporating walking three days a week is very helpful for depressive feelings.
  2. Healthy eating – There is more and more information showing maintaining a healthy diet can lead to longer lives, cancer reduction, and improved brain function. Balancing food and alcohol, while foregoing other substances, can hugely impact and improve a person’s mental health.  Remember, (almost) everything in moderation!
  3. Sleep – Sleep can help prevent and manage depression.  The key is making sure to focus on a regular, consistent sleep schedule, and obtaining between seven and nine hours of rest a night.  This can vastly improve mental health including concentration, stress tolerance, and depression.
  4. Work – For some people, working leads to feelings of productivity and accomplishment.   Work can be a satisfying outlet and a place to engage with other people. It can also help us avoid other stressors and triggers. As long as work is not overly stressful or time-consuming, it is shown to lead to better self-care and depression management.
  5. Education and ongoing learning – When people stop feeding their brains with new learning, it can lead to feelings of regret and dissatisfaction.  People may regret not pursuing what they were truly interested in doing for their careers, or want to learn about something new at this stage of their lives. Either way, being able to stimulate our brains through formal or informal education can highly impact our feelings about ourselves and improve depression.
  6. Family relationships – These includes positive and healthy partners, extended family, and children. If this area is causing stress or is less satisfying than it could be, please focus making changes by having direct conversations, solving problems, and engaging with these people. Family members can be supportive when you are feeling low, and excited for you when you are feeling well.
  7. Social interactions – Outside of family members, partners, and our own children, it is Important for us to have social outlets and other relationships that are supportive, rejuvenating, and interesting. Even if a person feels more introverted in general, a few social engagements each week can do well to help a person‘s perspective and mental health.
  8. Physical and mental health – This article is almost entirely about what to do to improve mental health and depression.  However, maintaining physical health through proper medical care and addressing whatever problems that might arise in a timely manner is good for us, physically as well as mentally.  Additionally, starting or maintaining a mental health care regimen continues to lead to improved moods, less depression, and a healthy, happy life.

So why not start now?  Sign up for a class, set up a coffee date with a friend, or go for a hike.  Notice how you feel. My guess is that your mood will start to lift just making a new plan!