How to Help Someone with Depression through Exercising Regularly
Depression is a serious problem, and if left unattended will require medical help and medication. In some cases, it can even result in something infinitely worse. The takeaway here is simple: Depression must be dealt with immediately, decisively, and should never be underestimated.
One natural way to deal with depression is exercising regularly. Psychology professor Michael Otto explains that exercise has both short- and long-term implications, with mood enhancement the most notable short-term benefit, and depression alleviation as the main long-term benefit. One would, in fact, start experiencing this mood boost just five minutes into a moderate exercise program, like an afternoon run, for instance, or a HITT session. As for the long-term effects of exercise on depression, epidemiological data suggest that active individuals are less depressed than inactive people, and those who were previously active but became sedentary later on.
It should be noted, though, that exercise is not the cure-all for depression. Instead, it is a natural alternative that should be explored by those suffering from depression and those determined to help them.
Top Things to Do to Counter Depression Through Exercise
• Exercise with people suffering from depression. As mentioned, regular exercise enhances wellbeing and is a great coping mechanism against stress. By exercising with people suffering from depression, they will not only get the healthy benefits of exercise, but also the positive impact of face-to-face interaction which “acts like a vitamin for depression,” says researchers from Oregon Health & Science University.
• Be involved in setting goals. Help them set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) targets.
• Don’t just help in setting goals, of course. Help them attain each goal, too. This is especially important as achieving goals builds confidence and self-esteem. The more confident they get, the better they will feel about themselves, and this good feeling will put them in a good place mentally, too.
• Help them find an exercise or any physical activity they like as they will be more likely to stick with it. Patient.info points out the best exercise will vary depending on the person in question, and finding one that suits their taste or preferences will help them feel more positive about getting started. So, guide them every step of the way until they find the one (or more, if possible). Also, don’t limit yourselves to traditional exercises, as there is a bevy of things to do like biking, Yoga, Pilates, trekking, and sports.
• Throw in a curveball from time to time by suggesting other exercises or activities. This break in routine, while seemingly mundane, is actually rejuvenating as it gives life an added wrinkle.
• Engage in breathing exercises. Rhythmic breathing is quite therapeutic as it is both relaxing and uplifting, thus lessening stress and anxiety.
• Remind them to get some sleep. Exercise helps improve sleep quality, and getting adequate sleep is crucial in keeping the brain healthy so that cognitive functions such as thinking and emotional regulation won’t be impaired.
What Can I Do to Prevent Depression?
There is still a lot of debate on whether or not depression can truly be prevented, especially since WebMD claim that people may have no control over factors that may cause depression. Some of these factors include genes, the chemicals in a person’s brain, and their environment. You can, however, do the following:
• Learn all about depression. Knowledge of this mental health issue will help you understand it better, and thus prevent you from making uninformed and oftentimes hurtful judgments that will only exacerbate the situation.
• Take good care of yourself, and of your loved ones. This means eating healthy, sleeping adequately, and yes, exercising regularly.
• Consider trying a mood-friendly diet which includes plenty of food rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Like any diet, a mood-friendly one will necessitate a few sacrifices, like keeping simple sugars, alcohol, and caffeine to a minimum.
• Provide constant support and encouragement. Be available whenever necessary, preferably physically. There is nothing better than an actual shoulder to lean or cry on. Remember, everyone needs a strong support system, and you can create one by forging strong relationships built on openness and trust.
• Reduce stress. Healthline suggests that chronic stress is one of the common causes of depression, which is why it is imperative to find various ways to manage and cope with it. Get help when necessary, ideally from a professional.
• Never trivialize one’s sadness, frustrations, and anger. There is no problem too small, no concern too little, and no situation too minor to play down.
• Stay off alcohol, drugs, and nicotine. The fleeting “highs” they provide cannot, and will not, counter the lows of depression.
• Stay off social media as too much of it has been linked to depression and lowered self-esteem per a study conducted by Dr. Igor Pantic. There is nothing inherently wrong with using Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, but it should be kept to a minimum.
• A UCLA study recommends staying away from toxic people as interacting with them increases cytokine production. The overproduction of cytokines has been linked to inflammation and depression.
• Take note of depression triggers, and avoid. If the trigger is unavoidable, as in the death anniversary of a loved one, coping mechanisms must be in place days before.
Depression can be crippling, and that is why it is imperative that those who suffer from it are given as much help as possible. You can do your part, and you can most certainly use the information here as your guide.