7 Natural Ways to Overcome Depression

Posted by on September 24, 2017 in Conscious Living, Inspirational, Thrive with 0 Comments
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By Jordan Gray | Jordan Gray Consulting

For a good chunk of this past year, I was suffering with depression.

Life felt thick and heavy. My motivation was at an all time low. I cried all the time. My parents were worried about me.


One of my best friends passed away, I went through a challenging breakup, and I’m more genetically prone to depression than a lot of people. I was in a multi-month funk and I could feel my brain’s reward centre being totally shut down. The things that used to make me happy didn’t make me happy anymore.

When I finally acknowledged that I was likely struggling with some ongoing situational depression, I went into research mode (as I do).

The data didn’t look good…

Apparently, treated (aka medicated) depressive episodes averaged 3-6 months in length, and untreated (non-medicated) depressive episodes lasted an average of 6-9 months.

Being as stubborn as I always am, I thought to myself, “I wasn’t included in this study. Those statistics don’t apply to me.”

For me, medication is always a last resort. I wanted to do whatever I could to cure my depression naturally, without drugs.

The following seven science-backed things are the highest leverage tools that I used to overcome my depression naturally in under a month. In fact, many of the following tips have been proven to be just as effective (if not MORE effective) than medication for depression.

(Side note: I’m not a doctor. Do your own research. Consult a doctor if you’re really worried. Some depressed people will need drugs to get out of their depressive episodes and that’s just fine).

7 Things You Can Do To Cure Your Depression Naturally

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Spoiler alert: rubbing dandelions on your face is not one of the seven tips.

When you’re depressed, your motivation is at an all time low. It can be difficult to make yourself breakfast, or even get out of bed when you’re really in it.

Because of this, I’ve included a ‘seed habit’ tip in each section. The seed habit in each section is the easiest and most immediately actionable way to get yourself to engage in the behaviour, without having to overcome a major hurdle each time you lean into it. Think of it like your quick-start, easier-to-implement action step that you can take on today in order to get yourself on the fast track to feeling better.

1. Exercise

You’ve heard me harp on this point in at least a dozen other articles for a reason.

Exercise rewires/heals your brain, it boosts your self-esteem, and it releases endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine (happy chemicals) that play an important part in regulating your brain’s functioning and your mood.

During my depression, I thought of exercising as my medication. I told myself that exercising at least three times per week was my non-negotiable, had-to-be-done thing. If I wasn’t going to try any drugs, then exercise would be my medicine.

Related Article: Moderate Exercise Not Only Treats, But Prevents Depression

Even if it feels absolutely ridiculous or pointless, just try it. Work up a sweat… you’ll feel better.

Exercise – seed habit: Enlist the help of a friend and go outside/to the gym/play sports a few times per week and you’ll feel slightly more human. By asking someone else to keep you accountable you’ll be that much more likely to actually do it. Make the exercise that you engage in something that you find moderately enjoyable and it’ll be that much more compelling.

depression, effects of exercise on depression
Having just hiked a mountain with my dad.

2. Eat the right foods

If you eat nutrient-stripped, overly processed foods, you’re going to feel like shit. Garbage in, garbage out.

To the best of your ability, eat a diet loaded with vegetables, lean proteins, and fruit. Too much sugar, caffeine, alcohol/drugs, and (for some people) dairy and grains will lead to a lot of inflammation and bad/erratic moods. If you can’t muster up the energy to make your own nutrient-dense, home made meals, then ask a friend, family member, or significant other to make your meals for you.

The three biggest things that I would recommend supplementing are a quality B vitamin complex, vitamin D, and fish oil (make sure it’s one with an especially high quality omega-3 fatty acid).

I can’t stress this point enough…

I felt a noticeable turning point in my cognitive functioning, mood, and ease of getting to sleep, when I started taking vitamin d, omega 3’s, and a B vitamin complex. It was a night and day difference and it largely happened within the first week of taking them on a daily basis. I wish I had done it sooner.

Omega 3’s especially have shown to be an extremely promising antidepressant replacement, with zero side effects.

Stephen Ilardi, the author of The Depression Cure, writes:

“Because the brain needs a steady supply of omega-3s to function properly, people who don’t eat enough of these fats are at increased risk for many forms of mental illness, including depression. Across the globe, countries with the highest level of omega-3 consumption typically have the lowest rates of depression.

Clinical researchers have even started using omega-3 supplements to treat depression, and the results so far have been highly encouraging. For example, British researchers recently studied a group of depressed patients who had failed to recover after taking antidepressant medication for eight weeks. All study patients stayed on their meds as prescribed, but some also took an omega-3 supplement. About 70 percent of those who received the supplement went on to recover, compared with only 25 percent of patients who kept taking only the medication. This study–along with a handful of others like it–suggests that omega-3s may be among the most effective antidepressant substances ever discovered.”

If you want to read more on this, I deep dive further into eating for anxiety and depression in tip #2 of this article.

Eating right – seed habit: pick up an omega 3/fish oil supplement, vitamin D, and B vitamin complex and take them all daily. Also, if you can, drink a green smoothie every morning.

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3. Prioritize quality sleep

If you’re slamming coffee, isolating yourself indoors, and only sleeping for an hour a night, it is absolutely inevitable that you’ll feel terrible within a week (whether you classify yourself as depressed or not).

Sleep is when we recharge at the deepest level. This is when we regenerate and rest.

Do whatever you need to to prioritize high quality sleep. It can be challenging to do when your mind is racing, but there are steps that you can take to overcome this.

Do as many of the following as possible/as you feel called to do:

– Cut off your interactions with all tech/blue screens at least two hours before you go to sleep. The blue light messes with your sleep patterns.

– Keep your bedroom at a cooler temperature. People have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep when the room is a few degrees below normal room temperature.

– If you do have to look at screens before bedtime (maybe watching TV/Netflix relaxes you) then make sure that you wear blue light blocking glasses.

– Hang blackout curtains in your room to block out all excess light. The darker the room, the more likely it is you’ll fall asleep with ease and stay asleep until your body wants you to wake up (as opposed to just waking up when the sun rises).

– Read a part of a fiction book before bed or anything that engages your mind away from ruminative thinking.

Journal out your thoughts before you go to bed. If you write them down on paper, it will feel like you’ve somewhat let go of them and allowed the book to hold your thoughts so that you don’t have to.

– Cuddle someone and/or have sex. Physical touch releases happy brain chemicals that relax you. If you don’t have access to someone to touch, then give yourself a massage (you can use lavender essential oil or magnesium oil for added benefit) or cuddle with a stuffed animal or pet.

– As much as is possible, try to go to bed at a consistent time. You train your body how to sleep. If you always go to bed around 10pm, it will come to expect it from you and falling asleep will become easier over time.

– If you lie down in your bed and can’t fall asleep within twenty minutes, get up and do something else for a while. Massage yourself, read fiction, meditate, breathe deeply, etc.  Then come back after a while and try again. If you lie in bed growing increasingly frustrated with your lack of ability to sleep, then your mind will begin to associate your bed with frustration as opposed to associating it with rest.

– A guaranteed way to slow your heart rate down and feel more calm is to breathe in the following specific pattern. Breathe in through your nose for a slow count of four seconds, suspend your breath for four seconds, exhale through your nose for eight sounds, and suspend at the end of the exhale for four seconds. Four in, pause four, exhale eight, pause four. Repeat. Put your fingers on your pulse and watch it slooooowww right down.

Quality sleep – seed habit: make your room darker with blackout curtains. Don’t want to go to the store? Get them on Amazon. Journal out your thoughts. Breathe deeply and slowly.

4. Get sunlight during the day

Sunlight is a natural antidepressant that has been proven to balance your immune system, improve cognitive function, improve hormonal regulation, and stabilize and improve your mood. So if you’re working in a cubicle all day, staying indoors all the time, or wearing sunglasses 24/7, then you might be missing out on a natural and effective cure for depression.

If you live in a part of the world that doesn’t get much sunlight, you can supplement with light therapy and a high quality liquid vitamin d3 supplement.

Getting sunlight – seed habit: go outside for thirty minutes a day. While you’re at it, walk around. Ideally walk around outside with a friend. If there’s no sun where you are this time of year, supplement with liquid vitamin D and pick up a light therapy kit and use it daily.

Related Article: Light Therapy is More Effective than Prozac in Major Depression

happiness, happy, depression, sunlight effect on depression

5. Socialize

One thing that depression would often have you do is stay inside by yourself and not connect with anyone. While being left to your own devices, you will inevitably ruminate on all of the things that feel awful about your life and you will downward spiral further. The solution? Socialize. Especially if you don’t feel like socializing.

Meet up with friends or family members. Meet up with anyone who cares about you. Meet up with anyone who makes you laugh.

One of the best things that you can do for your mental health is to frequently surround yourself with people who make you feel seen, supported, and loved.

Go for walks with them. Go to movies and/or stand-up comedy shows with them. Anything that gets you out of the house and socializing is a huge win. It will also help you to have more structure in your life by having set plans in your calendar.

Socializing – seed habit: enlist the help of a few close friends and let them know that you’re suffering. Tell them that you need to see them semi-regularly in order to have a break from being in your own head all day.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE…

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