Published May 22, 2013
Stress and depression can take a toll on our bodies and our lives. An estimated 19 million Americans suffer from depressive disorders and stress can translate into disease by altering the sympathetic nervous system through elevated adrenaline and cortisol.
Taking some time to practice these self-care tips can drastically reduce your stress levels and promote health and happiness.
Release the pain. Life can be painful. We suffer disease, heartbreak and tragedy. At any moment there is someone facing a struggle. Our pain and experiences are part of our evolution and can help us become stronger. The trouble comes when we bring our pain into our future and let it define who we are. Find ways to learn from it, let go and move on, no matter what it takes. While not the same, we all experience tragedy, the difference is how we choose to carry it. Positive emotions will bring us far greater joy than pain ever could and eventually the pain will pass; it always does.
Disregard others opinions of you. People will always have opinions, and chances are, you’ll have moments when someone’s words will hurt you. The good news is that you don’t have to take what others say as your truth. Recognize and embrace your uniqueness, the only person who has to be happy with your decisions is you, so be true to yourself. Ultimately, what people say is a reflection of them, not you. How you react to those words is completely up to you.
Lift weights. Exercise has been proven time and time again to be a useful tool in treating depression. It helps release endorphins, feel-good hormones that can brighten your mood. Regular exercise can reduce stress, help ward off depression, improve sleep, increase self-esteem and boost energy levels. Choosing to incorporate weights will have further benefits. Lifting weights will increase your lean muscle mass and lower body fat. It can also help fight inflammation and stress within the body which will help keep you healthy.
Find a diet you can live with. Many of us live in a constant battle with our weight, watching what we eat and feeling guilt after an indulgence. Getting off this rollercoaster is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You don’t have to be vegan, low-fat, low-carb, Paleo or gluten-free to be healthy; you have to find what works for your body and stick with it. Following a plan that’s too rigid will ultimately lead to failure and feelings of low self-worth. Finding a diet that works for your body and your lifestyle will help you feel vibrant and energetic.
Love yourself. Being truly happy begins with learning to love yourself. Be gentle with yourself and find all the things you love about yourself that make you unique. Make time to do the things you love, don’t let yourself get so wrapped up in work and the frustrations of life that you forget what makes you happy. When we exercise self-love, oxytocin is released which increases our feelings of happiness. While on the contrary, being self critical releases cortisol which will lead to elevated stress levels. Focus on the positive, and practice a weekly tradition of writing down three good things that happened to you.