Some simple tried and true activities you can try out right away.
Moving your body in any-which-way stimulates ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins which help to relieve anxiety and depression. It often helps to improve sleep too. Start out with a walk or something you enjoy. Try juggling – that’s a real mood booster.
- Eat well
Ditching sugar and carbs helps to stabilise moods. Fresh food like fruit and salads are instant- no cooking required! Mood boosting foods are: Salmon, tuna, chilli (releases endorphins), yoghurt with fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies (there are heaps of recipes on the Net).
Every nervous system needs B vitamins to function properly. If whole grain foods, dark leafy greens, seafood, bananas, chicken, eggs, almonds and avocados aren’t your thing, take a multivitamin and mineral supplement.
- Try gardening
Planting herbs, flowers, succulents or other plants that you love, is known to have a mood boosting effect. If you don’t have anywhere to start a garden, using milk cartons as containers on your kitchen window sill is a great way to start. You can get gardening boxes from a hardware store, or find a community community garden. Your neighbours might have some extra plants to offer – most gardeners do.
- Write about it
Writing things down may not change the problems, but helps to relieve the emotional pain. Doctor James Pennebaker, author of Opening Up and Write to Heal recommends writing down your deepest feelings for 15 or 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days. He says that this helps to improve mental health and improve performance in life. Research has shown that short-term focused writing can have a beneficial effect on people dealing with serious abuse, illness and stress.
Pennebaker’s basic writing assignment is:
Over the next four days, write about your deepest emotions and thoughts about the emotional upheaval that has been influencing your life the most. In your writing, really let go and explore the event and how it has affected you. You might tie this experience to your childhood, your relationship with your parents, people you have loved or love now, or even your career. Write continuously for 20 minutes.
That’s it – instant, free, requiring just pen and paper. See www.utexas.edu/features/2005/writing/
- Go Online
Keeping emotional pain to yourself usually magnifies the problem and does not help it to go away. Websites are instant and private.
MoodGYM https://moodgym.anu.edu.au/welcome is a scientifically proven, university based online help site that is open to the public and free. It teaches skills 24/7 and is ideal for those not wanting to confide in anyone, who live in remote areas and are unable to afford professional help.
The British Medical Journal evaluated MoodGYM and showed that users who accessed the programme weekly ended up with markedly reduced depressive symptoms. MoodGYM offers similar benefits to face-to-face treatment.
More online support is available at:
Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre www.youngandwellcrc.org.au Designed for teenagers with depression and other mental health problems.
These sites are Australian, but offer help to anyone, anywhere. If you want online help in your own country, ask online through one of these sites, or at your local community health centre, doctor or social services.