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Eleven Ways To Fight Back in the Battle with Depression and Anxiety: Part Two

Last month, we discussed the first six of the Mental Health All-Stars. In this post, we'll continue exploring these areas of self-care that give us the armor to stand up against depression and anxiety.

7. Healthy Diet

Nutrition plays SUCH an important role in mental health and wellness. In many ways, the food you eat influences the function of your brain and mood. There is lots of research showing that a healthy diet is just as important to mental health as it is to physical health. A low-quality diet that's high in refined sugars can really impact depression and anxiety. To reap the most benefits of nutrition for mental health, focus on a balanced diet that is nutrient-dense. Research shows that diets high in these vitamins pack the biggest mental health punch: B Vitamins, Iron, Zinc, and Omega-3s. If you feel you may be nutrient deficient, be sure to have a chat with your primary care doctor! It's helpful to approach mental health care from all angles. Don't underestimate the importance of nutrition and a healthy diet when considering your mental health care.

8. Love

I love love! Love literally creates a chemical reaction in our brain that releases oxytocin, which is a feel-good hormone that lifts our mood and creates a feeling of attachment. Loving and stable relationships can create a strong emotional support system for those suffering with depression and anxiety. Love comes in all forms. We have love for our family, our friends, our partners, and our pets. Making it a point to create love in your life, in any form, is essential to emotional well-being. Spending time with people with whom we have quality, loving relationships can help us feel more secure and not so alone. However, depression and anxiety have a way of making us isolate. It's important to take things little by little--cuddle a pet, text a friend, or listen to a song that reminds you of your partner. Nurturing those healthy relationships and bonds reminds us of the loving supports that we have in our lives, and sets our brains up for mood elevations.

9. Sun and Air

It's amazing what a little time in nature can do for our mental health! Walking has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and depression. Evidence also points to nature being an added benefit to those results! Being in the sun and getting fresh air helps to calm our minds, leading to psychical changes in blood pressure and heart rate. You don't have to go hiking or mountain biking to get these health benefits. Just spend some time outdoors for a few minutes each day to reap the benefits. Bonus points if you can add a little meditation into your nature time.

10. Humor

Laughter helps. When you can share a good joke with a friend, watch a funny movie, or find a hilarious meme, life feels just a little lighter, if only for a moment. Laughter releases endorphins in our brains and eases distressing emotions. One of my favorite self-care activities is to watch funny YouTube videos. It helps me relax and makes me laugh! Find something that makes you smile and adds a little humor to your life. It won't make you "un-depressed," but it will help to lighten your day, just a little bit. 

11. Therapy

If you're struggling with mental health concerns--be it depression, anxiety, issues with past trauma, relationship concerns, insecurities, low self-esteem, addiction, etc, therapy helps. It's so powerful to share your story with a trained, trusted professional. In therapy, you'll be given a safe space to explore your thoughts and feelings, and will be given the tools you need to be successful in reaching your goals for your mental health. Therapy can be one of the most powerful tools at your disposal to overcome challenges and grow from your experiences. It's important to make sure you have a good fit with the therapist you're working with. Research shows that one of the biggest factors in determining the success of therapy is the therapeutic relationship. How will you know if you've found a good fit? You'll know if you feel comfortable and safe with your therapist, and feel that you can trust them to give you open and honest feedback regarding your concerns. You'll feel understood and validated. You might not always like what they say (sometimes therapists say things that are not easy for us to hear), but you'll always feel respected and like your goals and needs are at the heart of the session. If you have questions about what therapy is like, visit my FAQ page: FAQ.

I hope this list has been helpful in exploring some tools to care for yourself as you bravely do great things despite your depression and anxiety. It's important to remember that none of these things will be a complete and total answer all by themselves. Your mental health concerns are real and valid, and deserve ongoing treatment and care. However, these tools are absolutely necessary to help you in your fight to win the battle. You've got this. And you're strong. 

Take good care of yourself. 


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