Simple Trick To Help Combat Depression Naturally
Written by: Justin Cowart
Whenever I have felt depressed in my life, I have found that it is hard to do anything productive. Going to work, spending time with family and friends and engaging in hobbies start to seem more like chores that no longer bring the joy that they once did.
If you are anything like me, you know that sometimes you get down and when you are in that low space, all you want is to bounce back as quickly and as painlessly as possible. I have been down enough in my life to know that in order to get back up, I often have to turn inward and focus on self-care.
Taking a bubble bath, getting a massage, eating healthy and spending time in the sunlight are just a few of the things that help cheer me up while I’m on my quest to rebalance. On top of these wonderful tools, however, I have found a simple trick that I can do to start giving my body a boost of natural chemicals that can make all the difference in my health.
That trick is EXERCISE!
Exercise releases chemicals that boost mental health. There have been many studies that have been conducted to help show that people who choose to exercise on a regular basis can gain a huge positive boost in their mood and even lower their levels of depression.
Exercise Releases Endorphins
Were you aware that when you exercise, your body releases a certain chemical called endorphins? Endorphins tend to interact with certain receptors contained in your brain that help to reduce your perception of pain.
Endorphins can also trigger a highly positive feeling in the body, which is very similar to that of morphine. For example, you know that feeling that comes after a good workout or run, often times described as “euphoric?” This feeling, also known as a “runner’s high,” can be strongly accompanied by a positive and even energizing outlook on life in general.
Regular exercise has been proven not only to reduce stress, but to also keep away depression and anxiety and boost your self-esteem and improve your sleep cycles, which are all very important ingredients to a happy mind and body.
In our modern society, you see some types of programs like p90x where you sit back and view these individuals working really hard. While that may be great for some people, exercise doesn’t have to be that hard. You do not always have to work out to have a ripped, lean or even cut body. It can be as simple as going for a little walk every day, playing with your xbox Kinect or Wii Fit, or even doing some yoga.
As you gradually get into the swing of things, your body becomes conditioned enough to attempt harder, more vigorous exercises. Just remember though, it isn’t always about being ripped, it is about keeping your body healthy and yourself feeling great.
Vigorous Exercise Helps Keep The Brain Healthy
Once you are feeling a bit better, trying more vigorous exercise can help protect your brain while also keeping your mind healthy moving forward.
If you are anything like me, then prevention is the best medicine. Once I am feeling better, I want to make sure that I reduce my chances of getting down again. Though realistically you know that life has its ups and downs, it is important to do what you can to make sure they aren’t as dramatic as they were before.
A new imaging study from the researchers at UC Davis Health System shows why people who tend to exercise seem to have increased mental fitness. When you put your body through an intense exercise, it then increases two of the most common neurotransmitters called gamma-aminobutyric acid and glutamate, or GABA. These two transmitters are completely responsible for your brain’s chemical messaging.
According to lead author, Richard Maddock,
“Major depressive disorder is often characterized by depleted glutamate and GABA, which return to normal when mental health is restored.”
One of the most striking changes in how your brain utilizes fuel during any exercise has been largely overlooked in the field of brain health research. While the new findings from this research can account for a very small part of the brain’s energy consumption during an exercise period, the researchers were able to make a hugely important step towards understanding the complexity of brain metabolism.
The results of this study also help hint at the negative impact that sedentary lifestyles tend to have on normal brain function, alongside the general concept about the role in which the brain may play in athletic endurance.
In regards to how regular physical exercise helps to keep your brain healthy, have you ever stopped and thought about how you felt after laying in bed for too long, or how slow your brain seems to react when you are not being active?
You may find that you have less energy to do even the smallest of tasks or yourself getting a little “stir crazy.” That feeling may very likely be your brain telling you that it needs physical motion to keep it in shape.
How Can I Stay Active Every Day?
There are plenty of things that you can do to keep your body in enough motion so that your brain can function properly that don’t take too much effort. Simply doing exercises like lifting weights, push ups, going for a walk or a jog, etc. are great places to start. You can even walk around your home when you are talking on the phone. You just need to be sure that you are getting some type of physical stimulation.
I understand how hard it can be to find time to work out every day. One idea that I have implemented into my own life to help with this is when I am watching a TV show, every time a commercial comes on, I get up and do jumping jacks, crunches or pushups until my show comes back on. Even doing yoga for about 10-20 minutes a day can have a huge impact on how you feel.
What are your thoughts on being able to help combat depression with exercise? We would love to hear all about them in the comments below!
Justin Cowart is a writer and researcher that loves to learn more about health, life, consciousness and making the world a better place. He loves music, traveling, meditation, video games and spending time with family and friends. He believes in baby steps and lifestyle changes in order to live a full life. In 2014, he lost around 40lbs from baby steps and emotional detoxing.
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