Stress and depression are no alien terms. In fact, almost all human beings experience these negative phenomenons in their lives, sometime or the other. Although medication brings solutions to improve or empower these conditions, drugs can have adverse effect on one’s health and create dependence.
There are ways to overcome stress and depression without taking any medication or drugs. Many of these do not cost anything, while others are cheap and affordable. Most of the ways can be learnt and self implemented, eliminating the need for any external help.
To deal with stress, first we need to understand it. Stress is a natural human response to a situation that we deem challenging or dangerous. It is our mind and body’s reaction to pressure due to external factors or even internal factors like worries.
Stress is not always bad. It is good when it helps us to be more energized, alert, and resourceful in facing the challenges. However, if the stress continues for a long period and overwhelms our ability to cope, it starts negatively affecting all factors of our life. Chronic stress may lead to depression in susceptible people. Depression is a state of low or sad feeling, and is in fact a mood disorder.
The first step towards overcoming stress and depression is to identify their sources or the causes, which isn’t an easy task. Secondly, people need to make sure that they are following healthy ways to cope with the stress, and not adopting ways like smoking, drinking too much, procrastinating, sleeping too much, withdrawing or taking it out on others. Such ways only cause more damage in the long run.
The effective and healthier ways to overcome and manage stress and depression without drugs start with changes in your lifestyle related to physical, mental, and daily routine aspects of your life.
1. Start exercising: Simple activities like walking, cycling, and swimming are sufficient to stimulate the body to produce chemical hormones and neurotransmitters like endorphins that boost the mood and reduce stress. Also aerobic exercise, yoga, martial arts and others are good because they help release the pent-up stress and tension.
2. Eat a healthy diet: A balanced and nutritious diet does not consist of large amount of sugar and caffeine. Try to have breakfast and healthy meals throughout the day but avoid excess soft drinks, coffee, and chocolate. Consult your dietician to include food that help alleviate your mood states and do not have adverse impact on your overall health.
3. Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep makes one feel tired, which in turn increases the chances of being stressed as your logic, reason, and emotions work best when you’re fresh. Therefore, having adequate sleep of at least eight hours is essential for a stress free mind and body. Avoid working overtime and if continuous night sleep isn’t possible, make sure to take naps at other times during the day to complete the sleep quota.
4. Take a break: Avoid getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. Find ways to relax and recharge by going for a walk, spending time with nature, socializing and connecting with others, playing with your pet, listening to good music, or taking a long vacation. It is important to do something every day that you enjoy like working in the garden, reading a book, working with your bike, or pursuing any other hobby, and also keep your sense of humor.
5. Avoid multitasking: Conducting many tasks at the same time do save you time and money, but they do also pile up pressure and increase your stress. Doing one thing at a time keeps you more focused and brings out quality in your work. Do not have distractions like phones, emails, or urges to do other things while you’re at a task. Practice doing one thing at a time to happily complete the task and reduce your stress.
6. Simplify routine: This might not be easy but it is a fact that a hectic schedule can be a cause of stress. Having a time for everything, setting priorities, and lessening the number of commitment helps to better plan the day and life with scope of time for relaxation activities like meditation. Do not hesitate to learn and to say no to things and tasks that you’re either not comfortable with, or are not beneficial to you.
7. Accept things: If some stressors are unavoidable and not possible to change, then it is wise to accept them, for example death or recession. Do not try to control that which is uncontrollable, be realistic, avoid obsession with being a perfectionist, and don’t expect others to be perfect. Accept that change is a part of life, take stress in your stride, and embrace challenges.
8. Have a positive mental outlook: Be confident about yourself and your abilities, have an optimistic attitude, and always look for the upside in everything. Count your blessings, appreciate the things in your life, and stay focused on the positives. Know and believe that this phase too shall pass; you just need to maintain your composure and keep believing in yourself.
9. Change yourself: Discard any bad habits and develop good habits. It could be anything like including veggies for food and snacks, quitting smoking, drinking water instead of soda, thinking before reacting, and not having negative thoughts about yourself. Learn to forgive, look at the big picture, adjust your standards if need be, be willing to compromise, change your perspective, and express your feelings.
10. Set things right: Take control of and simplify your finances, de-clutter your mind and room or house, take steps to build your resilience, and avoid wasting time. Learn to deal with your emotions, gain knowledge and be better prepared to face a stressful situation. Learn to manage stress by taking charge of yourself and your thoughts, and controlling the way you behave and respond. Your choices will either overcome stress or lead it to depression.
Last but not the least, do have a health check-up with your general practitioner or health care professional and follow the advice to strengthen your body and mind to beat the stress.