Depression is one of the most common mental health challenges faced in our modern world. If you experience mild or clinical depression, you are not alone and there are many things that may help you begin to feel better. It’s really all about how to heal the brain.
1. Mental Health Activities
These include anything you can do to create conscious positive improvement in your mental state. You can do these alone or in a group. If you work in an office or with other people, invite them to join you! You’ll have the added benefit of creating community while you all feel better.
Tidy up your personal space. Seeing clutter in your environment, especially piles of things to do like paperwork, laundry or dishes contributes to feelings of depression. While it might not seem like much, taking the time to clear your space may have a profound effect on your mental health.
Contribute to a gratitude journal. Have you heard the saying “misery loves company”? Well, the inverse is true, too. Unfortunately, our brains are wired to look out for danger which can lead to mental health struggles. The act of consciously being grateful for something in your life can actively change your brain so that it becomes easier to feel positive about your life and environment. Can you find one thing, no matter how small to be grateful for?
Play Games. Do you love games? Great! They’re a good tool to pull you out of your depression and train your brain to think differently. Try classic Tetris, which has been shown to improve depression and brain health. Or, try a new games based apps that can target specific skills.
2. Cognitive Training Class
Did you know that learning new information can help heal your brain and change your mindset? Try taking a class in something new! Research shows that you can learn how to heal the brain and symptoms of depression can be reduced by up to a third. What are you interested in learning about? Many community colleges have classes that can be taken cheaply, or for free! Many universities even offer completely free online courses. Or, you can head down to your library and pick up a book on something as simple as learning to speak Spanish, a new instrument or Yo-Yo tricks! Anything you’re interested in learning will work to help heal your brain from depression.
3. Care for your body.
Our bodies and minds are intricately linked. While we may think of our thoughts, moods and feelings as coming from our brain, we can’t forget that our brains are connected to the rest of our bodies by thousands of neurons. So, take care of all of you! It can be difficult to find the motivation to care for your needs when depressed. Try making a check list to tick off daily. Here are some suggested things to add to your list. Make sure to drink enough water (experts recommend about half of your body weight in ounces (150lbs=75oz water). Eating regular healthy meals signals to your brain that you can be calm and satiated. When we don’t eat enough, often enough or the right things our brains are wired to make us “hunt and gather” for more nutrients. This can often lead to mood disorders. Get enough movement! While you don’t have to hit the gym for hours a day unless you enjoy it, walking for 20 minutes a day or 10 minutes twice a day can have tremendous benefit. Go for a walk around your neighborhood or walk up and down the stairs at work.
4. Acupuncture and Massage
Traditional systems of healing have been working with mood disorders for thousands of years. In fact, Traditional Chinese Medicine prescribes many mood disorders not to the brain, but to the liver! Treatments like acupuncture and massage can reduce pain, improve sleep, regulate digestion and help you feel better all around. Look for a well-trained, licensed acupuncturist who will take the time to answer all of your questions.
5. Get out in Nature
When all else fails, nature is there for you! Take off your shoes and walk through the grass, or try “forest bathing,” a healing technique that has been used successfully in Japan.