30 Min of Sunlight Every Day:
Being out in the sun does wonders for your health. Exposure to sunlight increases the release of serotonin, the happiness hormone. Sunlight also provides: vitamin D which plays a preventative role in a vast number of ailments and illnesses (including depression), UV light also stimulates the release of epidermal cells known as keratinocytes to make beta-endorphins, which have a mood-boosting effect, and UVA which helps stimulate blood flow and ward off infections in your blood. Sunlight is a natural upper, and it’s free! It’s the easiest task to add into your day, especially living in sunny San Diego. You can spend 30 minutes outside reading a book, meditating, drawing, going for a walk, or just looking at what’s around you
30 Min of Exercise Every Day:
This doesn’t mean lifting heavy weights or running – though it can – going on a walk is perfectly fine. The most important part is to get moving, just make it a habit so you are giving your body what it needs. You can combine the 30 minutes of sunshine and exercise and go for a walk on the beach or through Balboa Park (or add the two together and go for an hour long walk!). It may be tough to get this habit started, but you’ll feel the mood boosting benefits immediately as well as continual benefits over time, like reduced anxiety and depression.
30 Min of Social Exposure:
It is crucial to emotionally sync with happier people when you’re feeling depressed. Even if it’s going to a coffee shop or a mall and making small talk with the cashier. The first step in this might to just be going to these locations and not interacting with others. But you cannot isolate yourself. You can combine all three of these and join in on an outdoor yoga class or join a cycling group. For some people, socializing can be exhausting, even when you’re not depressed. So it’s important to monitor how you’re feeling after each social interaction. For some, going to a get together and talking to people for 4 hours might be energizing, while for others leaving the party after an hour is ideal. No matter what, having a friend to be able to reach out to for emotional support and compassion is immensely beneficial.
There are many other ways you can care for yourself during depression. During this time it is especially important that you validate your emotions. You can implement self-care through meditation, gardening, drawing, creative writing, playing an instrument, doing crossword puzzles… the list goes on. Try out several things to find what appeals the most to you.
Article by Sarah O’Leary, AMFT#123449 (supervised by Jennine Estes, LMFT#47653)