Despite the nonchalant way some people use the term, depression is a serious, long-lasting condition that can’t easily be fixed by one happy day or a good night’s rest. Identifying symptoms of depression and discussing your options with a healthcare professional or licensed therapist is a good idea. But in the meantime, there are some lifestyle choices that can go a long way in reducing your moderate feelings of depression and changing your life for the better. Through a combination of routine adjustments, lifestyle changes, and mental health exercises, you can begin to combat depression and get on the road to recovery for good.

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Changes You Can Make Today

Depression can be hard to challenge because of the way it affects our thoughts and behaviors. No matter the underlying reason for your depressive thoughts, the condition often manifests in your daily life by reducing your energy levels and motivation to take care of yourself. This can trap you in a downward spiral of poor health and more unhappy thoughts about your new situation.

Even when you know how depression is taking hold of you and changing your behaviors, breaking out of the cycle can be challenging. However, this is ultimately the best way to address your depression. Try to involve friends or family who will work with you to help you achieve your new goals.

The first changes in routine you should prioritize are the basics – food, water, and rest. These are essential aspects of everyone’s day, no matter their state of mind.

Getting adequate amounts of sleep each day allows your brain to perform its duties to the best of its ability. Not only will resting for the recommended 8 hours a night help your overall mood, it has tangible benefits on your energy levels, allowing you to take on the rest of these daily challenges. Electronics often play a large part in preventing regular sleep patterns from forming, as exposure to screens late at night disrupts melatonin levels in the body. By powering down devices and spending late nights relaxing or talking with family, you have a better chance of falling asleep and staying sound asleep until morning.

Hydration and nutrition are vital to an active lifestyle, but depression can severely hamper your decision-making and willpower. Drinking sugary drinks and coffee, along with eating junk food and desserts, does not give the body enough strength and energy to do what it needs to do. Even if you can overcome some of your depressing thoughts and are motivated to do enriching activities, your body might not allow it. This feeds into a cycle where staying put and festering with your depression is the path of least resistance. Your best course of action is to find healthy comfort foods that you can use for cravings to replace unhealthy options. Good options include fruits, nuts, teas – food you can snack on and drinks that still taste distinct from plain water.

If you can consistently get adequate sleep and achieve a healthy food lifestyle, your next step should be to find ways to fill your routine with fulfilling activities. Exercise has been proven to help lessen depression in two distinct ways. Not only does exercise reduce and combat depression in patients in clinical studies, but it can also provide confidence and self-assurance to people who feel ugly, unwanted, or overweight. It eliminates potential avenues that your depression can use to make you feel dejected or upset with your life.

Are You Ready to Combat Depression Once and For All?

Ultimately, the best way to combat depression in your daily life is to take care of your body and give it the best chance possible to fight off depressive thoughts naturally through self-improvement and healthy living. Still, many people need additional help. A mental health counselor can help you to identify triggers and root causes, walk through the dark days and genuinely heal from depression.

Denise Schonwald is a nationally certified mental health counselor and coach.

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