5 Instant Mood-Boosters
If depression has you down in the dumps, here’s a cost-free solution: give a compliment. Why? Depressed people are missing positive emotion in their lives, and according to recent research, makingsomeone else happy can add it back in.
Of course, when it comes to the 100 million plus people who suffer from the disease, professional treatment is important—so we’re not saying to stop seeing your doc. But doing small things that make you happy can also make a big difference in helping you feel better, too.
“[These actions] seem like, what’s the big deal, you feel good for 10 minutes,” Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., who co-authored a recent paper on the topic published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, told HealthDay News. “But for a depressed person, they aren’t trivial at all. Depressed individuals need to increase positive emotions in their life, even a minute here and there.”
Random Acts of Kindness
Helping your neighbor carry groceries or picking up a coffee for a coworker may seem like trivial acts, but they can be mood boosters, Lyubomirsky toldMen’s Health. When participants were asked to engage in three good things a day, 94 percent showed decreases in depressive symptoms. Why? Random acts of kindness evoke positive thoughts, and are an easy solution to alleviate negative feelings, Lyubomirsky writes in her book The How of Happiness.
Live in the Moment
“The present is all that we have,” Lyubomirsky told us, “but a lot of us are so consumed with yesterday, last year or the future that we let the moment pass us by.” Go out to dinner to celebrate her promotion the night she gets it—instead of postponing happiness, thinking, we’ll celebrate this weekend. Ask her about what happened and how she feels—sharing accomplishments with loved ones helps them and us feel better, Lyubomirsky says.
Support Others Dreams
Your girlfriend won’t shut up about learning how to ski—so instead of letting her blab about it every time someone mentions snow, plan a weekend to hit the slopes. Supporting someone else’s dreams—and knowing they support yours—deepens intimacy in a relationship. If you’re depressed, you tend to feel alone, this re-establishes the idea that you’re not. You’re part of a team, says Lyubomirsky.
Don’t Keep a Secret
Sharing your depression with loved ones may be difficult, but it will allow them to help, says Michelle Riba, associate director of the Depression Center at the University of Michigan. Bring your loved one to your next doctor’s appointment—it’ll give them an opportunity to understand more. Depression affects an entire family, so family has to be part of the solution, too, says Riba. One particular study found that the partners of depressed patients who attended therapy were significantly more likely to notice emotional health improvements in their partner faster than those who did not.
Consider Light Therapy
If you have seasonal affective disorder—characterized by the onset of winter months and lack of sunlight—a light box can provide needed therapy for a one-time cost. Light therapy—sitting in front of a light box (usually about $200) of full-spectrum bulbs for 15 to 30 minutes a day has been shown to help reset the body’s daily rhythms, which can be affected by the change in seasons.