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5 Small Steps for Climbing Out of Depression

by My Well-Being Presented by Humana on June 19, 2012

Depression is an increasingly common problem in the Western world. While some people can identify the cause of their depression, others struggle to understand why they are experiencing such distressing symptoms. Whatever the cause of your depression, it can feel like a never-ending struggle just to perform the simplest of tasks. Taking small, manageable steps can help you to climb out of your depression, without taking too much of your energy.

1. Eat Well

Depression takes its toll on your body, as well as your mind. It is important to provide your body with the right nutrients while you are battling with depression, as this will help your body cope with the extra strain. Lack of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals can worsen the symptoms associated with depression and, in some cases, even be the cause of depressive illness. Avoid strict diet plans and excessively low calorie diets, as these can also have a negative affect on your state of mind. Instead, aim to eat a balance of complex carbohydrates, whole grains, high-quality protein, fresh fruit and vegetables.

2. Move Your Body

Exercise has long been known to help combat depression, especially when combined with a healthy diet. However, if you are experiencing a deep depression, you may find it almost impossible to consider going to the gym or taking a long walk. Small steps, such as walking to the corner shop or even just doing a few stretching exercises while sitting in your armchair, can make a big difference. Do something each day to push your body a little bit further than the day before. If you would usually sit in a chair watching television all day, try getting up and walking around the block before you settle down in front of your favorite shows.

3. Learn to Relax

Relaxation does not come naturally to most people. It is a skill that needs to be learned, practiced and developed. There are many different ways to relax, such as meditation, progressive relaxation exercises, yoga, massage and so on. The important thing is to choose the method that is right for you. Make a list of the things that you enjoy, or used to enjoy, and the things that make you feel relaxed and calm. If you like the open air, try spending some time at a park or on the beach. If you prefer to stimulate your mind, try visiting a museum or exhibition.

4. Get Outdoors

Fresh air and a change of scenery make a huge difference to your state of mind. Additionally, direct sunlight stimulates production of vitamin D. The human body is unable to gain adequate levels of vitamin D from food alone, which makes sensible exposure to sunlight an essential part of a healthy body and mind. If you don't have much energy to go out for long walks, try a trip to a local field or park. If you prefer to stay close to home, try working in the garden or cleaning the car. Even just sitting in a chair outside of your house will help to improve your mood and increase your vitamin D levels. Remember to take sensible precautions, such as wearing sun protection cream and sunglasses, to protect yourself when the sun is at its strongest.

5. Talk to Someone

Talking helps us to feel connected to other human beings. You don't need to pay for expensive counselling or psychotherapy sessions to benefit from talking. You don't even need to talk about yourself or your problems. Just chatting to a neighbor, the postman or a local shop keeper about the weather can improve your mood and increase your sense of connection to other people. Next time you venture out to the shop, try striking up a casual conversation with someone. If you would like to talk about your problems, there are many good counsellors, psychotherapists and other listening professionals available. There are also many websites, forums and even charities dedicated to helping you find the help you need.

While depression can make it difficult to see a way forward, there are small steps you can take in order to help yourself. These steps have a cumulative effect, and will improve your condition over time.

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Calvin Nokes

I'm working on my depression today.