Many people are sensitive to lack of sunlight and may become more depressed during the winter months. If you spend most of your life indoors in artificial light, you are also at risk. Try to spend an hour a day outdoors in natural sunlight � walking, gardening, playing sports, or just soaking up the sun. If this is impossible, consider treatment with a special light box (available by prescription).
Mood may be affected by what, how much and how often you eat. Try to eat AT LEAST 3 times a day, 5 times is better. Eat more healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat bread). Eat plenty of protein (meat, fish, eggs, dairy, beans or nuts). Avoid foods high in sugar. You may want to consult a dietitian for additional advice on finding foods you will enjoy that will also help you manage weight and improve your mood.
Alcohol is a depressant drug. Caffeine increases anxiety. Cut back on both! Instead drink plenty of water and herbal teas. Fruit juices and milk are also good, though because of calorie content, should be taken in moderation.
Studies have found that 3 half-hour sessions of exercise per week worked just as well as antidepressants to improve moderate depression. Exercise also can help manage stress or anxiety. Find an activity you enjoy so you’ll stick with it, and JUST DO IT!
It’s been found that people who have good social support recover faster from depression, grief, trauma, and all kinds of stress. If you have supportive friends or family, reach out to them. If that’s not enough, try a support group. Look in your local telephone directory under self-help groups, or ask your doctor or therapist.
For many people, creative writing, art, or music can help lift the spirits. Try keeping a journal or sketch pad. Play an instrument, hum a tune, or just dance to the radio!
Reach out to someone less fortunate, and you may find that you receive even more than you give. Look for volunteer job opportunities, help feed the homeless at a shelter, or visit a sick friend or relative. Doing this on a regular basis can be transformative.
The benefits of prayer, worship, or quiet meditation are well known. Attend your own place of worship, or visit one you haven’t tried before. Or, take a meditation or yoga class. To experiment with meditation on your own, try sitting still for just 5 or 10 minutes once a day. Close your eyes, and try to follow your breath as you breathe in and out. When your mind wanders (as it naturally will), just notice that, and bring your mind gently back to the breath.