Light And Motion: How To Fight Depression With Two Simple Living Changes
Do you struggle with feeling blue on a daily basis? Even though there are many helps for depression, including medication and psychotherapy, there are things in your home and daily life that you can change in order to help your mood to improve. By making a few changes, you may start to see a change in yourself.
One of the easiest ways to improve your lifestyle is by increasing the amount of time you spend in the sunlight. If you live in a basement, or if your house doesn't have many windows, it's time to look for ways to increase the amount of natural light in your home.
One study showed that 58% of elderly patients who struggle with major depression disorder showed improvement after exposure to bright light. Increasing the light in your life is also effective for treating SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
So, how can you partake of the goodness of the light?
- Bring more light into your home. You can do this by removing window treatments, like blinds or drapes, and simply allow the light to flood in. If you can afford it, you can replace your windows with larger ones. One of the best ways to improve light in the home is to replace kitchen or dining room windows with French doors. French patio doors have clear panels that make them larger than a standard window, therefore letting in more light.
- Spend more time in rooms on the south side of your home. The sun rises in the east, tracks along the south, and then sets in the west. A south-facing room, therefore, enjoys full sunlight for the majority of the day. You could even build a sunroom on the south side of your house just to maximize the light potential.
- Talk to your doctor about enrolling in light therapy. You can even rent or purchase a light box for your home, and spend 10-15 minutes a day in front of the light, especially during dark winter months.
- Get a dawn stimulator. Instead of waking up to an alarm clock, you can purchase special lamps that emit broad-spectrum light, mimicking dawn. You set them just like an alarm clock, and they slowly imitate the rising sun in order to help you wake up naturally. This means that you're getting more restful sleep, and are greeted with bright light in the morning.
It's almost common knowledge that exercise can help improve your mood, but it has other benefits for your body that can help improve depression. The exercise-induced endorphins aside, the reason exercise is so important is because it puts your body into a state of stress-- releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline in order to help your body meet the increased physical demand. These hormones are useful once in a while, but over time they can be harmful to the body, leading to premature breakdown of body systems and giving you an overall feeling of not being well.
So then, why should you exercise, if these hormones are so damaging? Because, as you continue to work out, your body will start to have increased threshold for stress-- both mental and physical. Basically, that means that it will take more effort to trigger stress hormones, so that eventually, those who exercise have lower levels of stress overall, both when exercising and at rest.
Anxiety and depression put your body into full stress mode, meaning that your body is flooded with cortisol and other hormones way more often than it should be, leaving you feeling run down. If you work out consistently, you may start feeling better because you will actually raise your own ability to deal with stress caused by depression.
By increasing the light in your life, and by making sure you get active, you can see some improvement. Make sure you talk to your doctor about treatment options to find out if they are right for you.