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The idea of exercising when you’re depressed seems unreal. You often feel much more like staying in bed away from the world. As bad as you feel, however, the only way to treat your depression and improve your mood is to get active about your health and wellness.
Making changes to your diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle will help to restore chemical and hormonal balances and improve your physical health. Creating a routine will essentially help you accomplish your goals to fight depression more efficiently.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Your body is fighting depression both physically and mentally and requires the necessary strength to win. This is done by first ensuring that you’re eating a well-balanced diet. Reducing your intake of processed, salty, and sweet foods and increasing your fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and dairy can help to reduce physical symptoms of depression.
For optimum health, you should be eating at least 3-5 times a day with a snack or two in between. Here are some tips on how to make healthy eating fit into your lifestyle:
- Plan your meals a week in advance. Creating a detailed and itemized list of what you need for each meal keeps you on track at the grocery store.
- Prep your meals on the weekends. To reduce cook times during the week, prepping your meals on the weekends is advised. Clean, season, and divide all your meats and veggies, make any sauces, soups or stews, and store everything in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to use.
Exercise is beneficial for both your mind and body. If you’re having a hard time motivating yourself consider looking for an affordable gym membership. Finding classes and other health services for support like a personal trainer can be beneficial in helping you stay motivated. As you workout, you’ll start to reduce stress hormones and boost endorphins which improve your mood. Not to mention, the physical changes will result in a more confident stride.
When suffering from depression or new to exercising, you may need to work your way up to exercising at least 5 days a week for 30 minutes to an hour. You can start by taking one gym class per week, then perhaps increasing it as you start to feel mentally and physically stronger.
If you’re under a lot of stress, this will only add to your depression symptoms. For your health and wellness, it is imperative that you start looking at your lifestyle and making changes that reduce stress. Here are some suggestions:
- Meditate. Meditation has been widely used as a form of stress-relief. Learning how to take your mind off of everything going on around you and concentrating only on slow, gentle breaths can help ease anxiety and stress, therefore, boosting your mood. Try meditating at least 5-10 minutes a day.
- Journaling. Venting is therapeutic and can help to reduce your stress and depression. Write daily on things like your mood, your experiences, your goals, and even what you’re thankful for. Not only does it feel good to release those thoughts, but it can be great to look back and see how far you’ve come as your negatives turn into positives.
- Cut back on responsibilities. Everyone leads a hectic lifestyle, but if you’re struggling with depression, having too many responsibilities can heighten your stress levels. Learn how to say no and ask for help whether it’s at home or in the office.
Finding the Motivation
It goes without saying that sticking to a health and fitness regimen won’t be easy – especially when you’re trying to fight depression. Sometimes, having a little motivation can go a long way. Here are a few quick suggestions on how to stay motivated to hang in there:
- Buy yourself something. For every week or two weeks that you accomplish a health and fitness goal, buy yourself something. Whether it’s that plus size little black dress you’ve been eyeing for a while or a nice night out with family (or both), it’s a great way to give yourself a pat on the back.
- Track your progress. Another form of motivation is progress. Being able to see the physical and psychological changes from your health and fitness regimen will encourage you to keep pressing forward. Use health and wellness apps to track your activity, food, and more. You can also review your journal or talk with your therapists about improvements in your mental health diagnosis.
Fighting depression is tough, but not impossible. The key to boosting your mood and beating your mental illness is improving your mental and physical well-being. Create a health and fitness regimen that includes eating 3-5 times a day, working out 3-5 times a week, and reducing stress on a daily basis and you’ll give your mind and body the strength it needs to heal.