Lifestyle modifications for depression and anxiety
Good nutrition is essential for a positive mood. It’s important to eat a diet that contains as many nutrients as possible while eliminating as many toxins as possible. The best way to do this is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds while eliminating processed food, sweetened drinks, fried foods and junk foods. The B vitamins, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and tryptophan are natural nutrients that are necessary for healthy mood. Here are some foods containing these nutrients:
Selected Nutrients Essential for Mental Health and their Food Sources
|Vitamin B6||Beans, nuts, lentils,
Eggs, meats, fish
Whole grains, and fortified breads and cereals
|Folate||Beans and other legumes
Citrus fruits and juices
Wheat bran and other whole grains
Dark green leafy vegetables
Poultry, pork, shellfish
|Vitamin D||Fish, fish oils, oysters
Fortified foods such as cow milk, soy milk, rice milk, and some cereals
|Calcium||Milk, yogurt, buttermilk, cheese
Calcium-fortified orange juice
Green leafy vegetables (broccoli, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and bok choy or cabbage)
Canned salmon and sardines canned with their soft bones, shellfish
Almonds, Brazil nuts
|Zinc||Beef, pork, lamb, oysters; dark meat of poultry
Peanuts, peanut butter, nuts, and legumes (beans and lentils)
|Essential fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acids)||Fish (tuna, salmon, and mackerel oil) fish oil, flax seeds, flax oil, canola oil, walnut oil, dark green leafy vegetables|
|Tryptophan||Turkey, chicken, fish
Tree nuts, peanuts, peanut butter
Eating breakfast and eating at least 3 to 4 meals a day is also essential for good mood and good health.
Exercise is an important factor in elevating mood. Because sunlight elevates mood it is best if exercise is done in natural daylight. Studies show that just 10 minutes of vigorous exercise a day can significantly elevate mood. 20 minutes or more delivers even more benefit. It is better to exercise daily, even if you only have ten minutes to workout, than it is to exercise a lot only a couple times a week. Adding a short brisk daily walk to what you already do is ideal. Do more exercise on days you have time. Your energy will improve once you start exercising regularly.
Insomnia (Trouble sleeping) is a common symptom of depression and anxiety. Depressed and anxious people can have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Sleep deprivation can make depression worse. Many teenagers don’t get sufficient sleep. (Teens and young adults need 9 to 9.5 hours a night.) Here are some natural ways to improve your sleep:
- Remove the TV, cell phones and computer from your bedroom
- Keep the bedroom dark and cool at night
- Use the bed only for sleep, not for doing homework, reading, watching TV etc.
- Try not to sleep during the day. If you do, limit naps to 20 minutes. Don’t nap after 3pm.
- Take a hot bath or shower one hour before going to bed
- Read positive or inspiring books or affirmations
- Get a brief back, foot, or hand rub from a friend or family member
- Write in a journal before bed. Leave unpleasant thoughts on the paper rather than in your head.
Meditation and yoga can improve symptoms of depression by making you feel less stressed. Meditation is the nonjudgmental awareness of your moment to moment sensations and feelings. It can be learned and practiced by anyone anywhere. Walking meditation is particularly good for those who are depressed or anxious. To learn more about meditation go to http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/meditation
Massage, whether professional (too expensive for most people) or by a trusted friend or family member, can improve mood if done regularly. Studies suggest that massage (even a hand massage) done 5 times a week can have significant impact on mood.