Every once in a while, you may hit a spell of depression and sadness. It's time to gear up and be ready each time you're weighed down with a bunch of blues. Try these super-easy ways to fight away depression the next time it hits you, and bounce back with a smile.
1. Cook: Believe it or not, cooking actually releases stress hormones and lightens up your mood in a matter of minutes. It engages all the senses and brings about an almost miraculous effect in changing your mood. Dr Andrew Weil, practitioner of Integrative medicine, advises his patients to use this method, coupled with yoga and meditation to achieve a relaxed state. Spend a good 20 minutes cooking your favorite dish-right from chopping to stirring. Relish the joy of creating something truly wonderful, and let others consume something you've painstakingly made.
Advertisement2. Flip through old photos: Old family pictures have their way of reviving good times by activating that part of the brain which stores positive memories. Studies show that viewing family pictures can combat depression upto 11%, as compared to chocolate and alcohol that can achieve a mere 3%. Keep a rotating screensaver of your happy moments with your family on your computer.
3. Clear the clutter: Vastu (the ancient Indian science of construction and architecture) experts bet on this fact-a clutter filled and disorganized room is bound to attract negative energies. There's a simple rule; if you de-clutter your desk, it de-clutters your mind. Pending bills and work left strewn on the desk signify your pending works; clearing them up causes your brain to think you are clearing the confusion.
4. Keep a pet: Alternative medicine practitioners around the world are serious worshippers of pet therapy. Keeping a pet has many benefits. Firstly, there's unconditional love-you know your pet loves you no matter what. Taking your dog for a walk, playing with a dog or a cat, or just lazing around home with your kitten can boost your spirits, studies say.
5. Grab those headphones: Music seems to be the first line of defense when it comes to beating depression. Listening to some upbeat music for 5-10 minutes can instantly take you to the happier side and even have you bouncing with joy.
6. Get into your sanctuary: Your sanctuary is that personal space you love getting into; it may be a simple walk at the beach, or a nice hour in the bathtub reading a good book. Whatever it is, go ahead and indulge.
7. Stay connected: Socializing with like-minded people and friends lifts up your happiness quotient, studies show. Be it Facebook, Twitter, or a simple lunch with your friends, it can help you catch up with some 'healthy' gossip. Socializing is thought to remove negative feelings and release the feel-good hormones.
8. Cue up you-tube: You-tube is oozing with videos that can help you combat depression in a matter of minutes. Funny videos, animal acts, affirmational hypnosis videos and law of attraction documentaries—take your pick. A hearty laugh produces a chemical reaction that instantly boosts mood, relieves stress, perks up your immunity and more. Make it a point to remind yourself to giggle the next time you fall into the deep blue recesses of sadness.
9. Do a good deed: When you're down with sadness, get up and try to bring a smile on someone else's face. Studies show that people who volunteer tend to be happier than those who don't. Life isn't that cruel. Try to spread happiness by starting with small things. Thank the waiter for serving you your lunch at the restaurant, smile at the cleaning lady in your house, or give away some small personal things you really like—such as your favorite tee or your funky shades.
10. Re-think your retail therapy: Yes, shopping is a great stress buster, but when it empties your pocket, it brings even more stress. So, before you rush to the mall with your credit card, the next blue-spell, think of a wiser way to spend money. Shop only and only for stuff you'll really use, look for bargains and discounts, or even better, buy movie tickets. Researchers say that people spending money on movies, outings and dinners are more likely to be happy than those who spoil themselves with luxury shopping.
11. Walk around: It may sound strange, but merely the act of walking around in a public place can lift your mood. Observing the surroundings can take your mind off the negativity and sadness, instantly uplifting your mood. Before you know it, you'll be smiling to yourself, watching children playing or a romantic couple holding hands.
12. Munch on nuts: Loaded with the 'good fats' like omega 3 fatty acids, nuts and fishes are your best 'diet-way' to combat depression. Studies show that 106 healthy adults who consumed nuts or fishes on a daily basis scored upto 58% better on psychological tests than those who did not.
Prevention magazine-December 2012