Ok so what can we do to avoid depression? The best approach to managing your mental health is to take a holistic view by encouraging good physical, mental and spiritual health. Simply looking after your physical health in isolation from your mental and emotion health will not guarantee protection against depression, anxiety or stress. Having a spiritual view of life, one that gives you a purpose and a sense of meaning to life is also very important for good mental health. Here are five top tips:
(1) Cultivate a good support system of family and friends – who can be there for you when life gets difficult or throws a challenge your way. We all need support from time to time and we should all trust ourselves enough to ask for support in times of difficulty.
(2) Eat healthily – a healthy diet doesn’t just help to keep your weight manageable, it also helps to prevent against a number of diseases, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis and a number of diet-related cancers such as: colon, breast, cervix, gall bladder, ovary, thyroid, kidney, prostate and esophagus. The added benefit of ensuring that you are eating a nutritional diet is that your body will function at its optimal best which means that you will naturally feel better too.
(3) Exercise – encourage those feel good endorphins by being active: Brisk walking, swimming, running, cycling, playing sports, going to the gym, running around with your children – even mowing the lawn or cutting the hedge count. Research shows that exercise results in: up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke; up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes; up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer; up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer; a 30% lower risk of early death and, a 30% lower risk of depression.
(4) Go with the flow – people are at their happiest when they are fully engaged in a task that is interesting, challenging, and intrinsically rewarding to them. This is the experience of “losing yourself in the moment” or, as sports players say, “being in the zone.” Pitch the task correctly by choosing something that is challenging but achievable and then lose yourself in it. Immersing yourself in this way allows you to “switch off” from all your everyday concerns and experience a greater enjoyment of life.
(5) Practice mindfulness, yoga and/or meditation – All or any of these practices will promote a deeper self-understanding which results in your being better able to appreciate and look after your Self. When we are more self aware we are naturally better able to make choices that are good for us deep down without being so affected by external influences. Self-awareness builds trust in our own judgement and facilitates a happier level of being.
Look after yourself and your Self will look after you!
If you would like more information or some informal advice about depression or any other concern relating to thoughts, behaviours or feelings, please feel free to use the Contact Sarah page and I will get back to you.