When it comes to our health, we often lump everything into one of two categories: things that can be taken care of with diet and things that can be taken care of with exercise. This is largely correct, but it fails to take into account mental health. Mental health is certainly affected by diet and exercise, but the biggest factors in mental illness are exposure to stress and neurological problems. Therefore, while diet and exercise can help mental illness in a number of cases, it’s not the end all be all that it is when talking about most other health concerns. Another problem somewhat unique to mental illness is that it’s hard to get treatment simply because of society’s misunderstanding of mental health. For example, mental illness is often demonized, as you might have noticed by the frequency of the terms “psycho” and “crazy” to refer to people we don’t like or that wrong us in some way. These terms are, of course, relics of mental health care that are no longer in use today because they have become pejorative terms. So, having a mental illness can mean suffering in silence, because you may not know you have a mental illness, or you may be too afraid to seek help out of fear of persecution. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you alleviate the symptoms of depression if seeing a doctor isn’t an option for you.
First and foremost, let’s talk about relaxation. Avoiding stress is the single biggest help to people suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, as mentally ill people have a harder time dealing with stress. The problem is, of course, that stress is unavoidable in many cases. So, you can stop hanging out with your drama queen friend, if you like, but you still have to go to work. However, treating yourself to relaxing activities at home is tremendously helpful in offsetting the unavoidable stresses of daily life. Consider a nice, long, hot bath or a short nap after work to ease your mind and rest your body. However, an extrovert might have a different idea of relaxation and might be more comfortable grabbing some tickets from Fandango and taking some friends out to the movies. The important take away here is that you need to find what works for you and your unique needs. As mentioned above, diet and exercise play a role in mental health, as well, so be sure to take walks every so often to change up your scenery and get some much needed exercise, and don’t forget to eat right, as well.