Beyond Medication: Exploring Holistic Approaches to Managing Depression

Caring for others, while admirable, is often an overwhelming job. Over time, the demands of your role may lead to the development of mental health issues. Depression, in particular, affects a significant portion of the carer industry, with as many as 29% diagnosed with the disease.

Fortunately, there are several strategies you can take to cope with depression, and they don’t have to involve pills. This isn’t to say medication doesn’t work, as it can be beneficial for many individuals. Holistic approaches are simply there for those who prefer all-natural alternatives. In this article, we’ve put together seven tips to cope with depression, helping you pave the way to a happier life.

7 Holistic Ways to Cope With Depression

In your role as a caregiver, it’s crucial to acknowledge that you deserve to show yourself the same compassion that you extend to others. If you’re struggling with depression, here are a few holistic approaches you can try today:

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1. Eat Right

Research is still ongoing, but there is evidence to suggest that one’s diet may reduce depression. The rationale behind this is that the brain needs specific nutrients to support its functions. That includes its ability to regulate stress responses. 

Out of all the diets you can follow, a Mediterranean diet has the most potential to ease depressive symptoms. It involves incorporating your diet with more plant-based foods, whole grains, and good-for-you fats.

2. Get A Good Night’s Rest

Poor sleep can contribute to mood-related issues. This can eventually escalate into depression. However, mental issues can actually make you more likely to experience insomnia. This means you may struggle to get the shut-eye needed to ease depressive symptoms.

To escape the sleep-depression cycle, try training yourself to get quality sleep.  For instance, slowing down toward the end of the day can keep your circadian rhythm in check. Strictly following a sleep schedule can also help you fall asleep faster.

3. Join Wellness Retreats

Coping with depression when you’re surrounded by your daily stressors can prove challenging. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your current environment, you may want to consider empowerment retreats.

These getaways allow you to fully immerse yourself in experiences, all designed to strengthen your mind. Furthermore, they offer a safe, supportive space with professionals who are ready to guide you through a variety of holistic treatments.

4. Build Strong Social Connections

Individuals grappling with depression often find themselves isolated from the world. However, social withdrawal can lead to loneliness, which will only exacerbate one’s condition.

Caregiving can be lonely, but that doesn’t mean you have to be deprived of social interaction. Socialization can effectively help you cope with depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Furthermore, it can ease stress while potentially delaying the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Consider connecting with people who can understand your situation, such as fellow caregivers. Additionally, proactively making plans to meet up with friends will give you something to look forward to.

5. Exercise

Most people struggling with depression immediately turn to pills. However, research has discovered that exercise is as effective as antidepressants. This is because your body releases mood-boosting chemicals when you work out. Additionally, exercise lowers your cortisol levels, resulting in less stress—a common contributor to mental problems.

If you lack energy due to depression, consider easing into it through simple exercises like walking. Partnering up with a friend is also a great way to feel supported, while fulfilling your need for social interaction.

It’s important to note that while exercise works wonders, it shouldn’t be a substitute for treatment, especially in severe cases.

6. Break Out of Your Routine

Depression tends to make you feel unmotivated to pursue your interests, let alone try new activities. However, maintaining the same daily routine can make you feel like you’re stuck in a cycle.

One way to manage depression is to do something new once in a while, whether it’s painting, gardening, etc. By doing so, you can stimulate your mind and trigger the release of dopamine. As the body’s natural “happy pill”, it can promote a sense of pleasure, which will ultimately improve your outlook on life.

7. Shift Your Perspective

Studies have shown that cognitive reframing may help ease symptoms of depression. It is when you actively challenge your perspective whenever you have bad thoughts, allowing you to break free of self-destructive patterns.

For example, imagine seeing your friends spending time together without you. Instead of assuming that they don’t like you, ask yourself if there’s any proof to support that idea. Most likely, you’ll find that there’s none.

By challenging your immediate beliefs, you’ll come to see that they may not always be facts. This will ease your stress while helping you develop a more positive mindset.

Your Mental Health Matters, Too

As a caregiver, you devote most of your time to people who may be confronting issues of their own. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that your mental health matters as much as theirs.

If you haven’t been feeling your best lately, try practicing these tips. In that way,  you can treat yourself with kindness and slowly beat the battle of depression. You’ll be able to keep bringing your best self to work, while creating a positive environment for both you and your patients.

For more tips on taking care of yourself as a caregiver, don’t forget to check out our other articles.

Thank you Austin Page for contributing this article.

Guest Articles Written for Caregiverology

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