A lot of men suffer with depression.
Low mood, anxiety, stress, low self worth and letting ourselves go physically are all symptoms.
1 in 4 men will suffer with depression, but how do you handle it?
With the recent news that £600 million worth of funding will be spent on Mental Health within the UK health system yesterday I wanted to highlight 12 simple and effective ways to boost your mood and relieve depression.
Everyone has bad days…
Bad months, years, even decades.
But how do you pick yourself up?
In America alone, more than 6 million men have depression each year. A shocking figure, but that’s also only the ones who’ve admitted it and sought help.
Men are also more likely to have an alcohol or drug problem compared to our female counterparts.
80% of those ‘dependent’ on alcohol are men, showing that this is just one of damaging ways men typically deal with low mood and depression.
Depression isn’t nice.
The faster you fall the harder it is to get out of depression, so it’s important to do something today.
‘It’s like falling down a black hole with no escape’ is a good way to put it…
It’s time to stop yourself from falling, and make positive steps towards a brighter future.
Before I show you 12 ways to boost your mood and relieve depression, I want to give my two cents on anti-depressants.
Personally, in some cases they do more harm than good.
From experience, in the UK they’re handed out as a solution without addressing any other mental factors behind the depression.
Sure they work for a lot of people but they’re a long term solution rather than a short term fix.
Side effects of certain anti-depressants can be fatigue, loss of concentration and even suicidal thoughts.
They release strong chemicals which will either have a positive or negative effect on you, so be aware of the potential side effects.
Don’t take them and expect a ‘magic pill’ to solve your depression.
I’d suggest trying the 12 methods below first, and using them as ‘last resort’.
St Johns Wort is a more natural, safer medication you can buy off the counter, and again from personal experience has a positive effect on improving mood and relieving depression. Again if you decide to try it make sure you take it in moderation, and also combine with the following…
You don’t have to run a marathon, just get moving. Raise your heart rate and you’ll start to see a change in your mood.
When you exercise your body releases chemicals called endorphins, otherwise known as ‘good feeling’ hormones. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. They trigger a positive feeling throughout your body and you’ll be left feeling energised, positive and create more self worth.
Ever experienced this? You complete a workout and you feel so much better. Exercise is a good treatment for depression but it’s underused in my opinion.
The hardest thing is getting yourself to work out, so start small. Stand up now, and jog on the spot with high knees for 2 minutes. Throw in a few burpees, a few squats, and end with a fast sprint on the spot. It’s taken you 5 – 10 minutes and you’re going to start to reap the benefits…
Exercising is a habit, start small but be consistent. As time goes on start to increase your workout time along with the intensity.
2. Cold Shower/Hot Shower
I know I know… cold showers don’t seem ideal but they’re worth it.
Not only can they increase testosterone levels (which is hugely important for us men) they also stimulate noradrenaline serection in the brain, which is linked with relieving depression and improving a bad mood.
Start with your typical warm shower, soap up as you would, apply your shampoo and then turn to cold. Wash off with the cold water and stay in it for about 1 – 3 minutes.
Just remember, it will soon become easier.
The first shock of a cold shower won’t be a nice feeling but you’ll soon get used to it within 15-30 seconds.
Count, listen to music, distract yourself as much as possible and then relax into it. You’ll reap the rewards after…
3. Look At Your Diet
Looking back, I wasn’t in a great headspace 18 months ago.
Work was going well, I had good relationships and family but I felt sluggish, struggled with motivation and didn’t feel inspired.
I was suffering with minor depression.
Another case was 6 years ago, after I lost my Dad to suicide I fell into a deep depression.
Looking back, on both occasions my diet was terrible.
High sugar intakes through sodas and chocolate, fast food, ready meals… anything I could get my hands on.
What goes in comes out, and what we eat plays a huge part in our overall mood.
Natural food is full of nutrients and vitamins which help your mental and physical health. An intake of Vitamin D can also help boost your mood, and you can typically find this in Fish (especially Salmon and Tuna) alongside Egg Yolks and more.
Look at the ingredients of what you’re eating. If you don’t understand an ingredient… neither will your body.
Eat real, natural food and stay away from anything processed.
Reduce your sugar intake as well, and stick with natural sugars such as Fruit.
It isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. Eat well 80% – 90% of the time and you’ll see huge benefits. Treat yourself every once and a while to reduce cravings and to stop the typical restriction of a so called diet.
Drinking more water will also have an effect on your mood.
4. Speak To Someone
As a man it’s hard to open up, as I recently explained in the post ‘Men Have Feelings Too… Right?’
But speaking about what you’re dealing with will release a lot of stress, fear and anxiety… putting you on the path to a depression free life.
This is more of a long term solution, it’s going to take time to feel positive but it’s the most important thing you can do.
Don’t let your negative thoughts, your worries and your depression marinate deflecting yourself away from it with short term fulfilment.
Speak to someone, open up, tell them how you feel and start to deal with it.
Even though it’s a long term solution, as soon as you let go and open up you’ll relieve a lot of fear and stress.
5. Celebrate Your Wins
We don’t reward ourselves enough…
When you’re suffering with depression it’s easy to pinpoint the negative things about you but often hard to realise the positives.
You have a unique story, a set of skills, passions and a purpose that no other person can compete with.
You’re completely unique and you have the opportunity to offer a lot to the people around you.
But low self worth is holding you back, so it’s time to increase that by celebrating you… and celebrating what you’ve done well.
Think about your 3 proudest moments in your life…
Was it your degree? The job role you were given? The sports win? Becoming a father?
Write them down and celebrate them.
Strike a power pose and congratulate yourself for those moments.
What do people naturally do when they win a race?
Don’t believe me? Search Google Images for ‘winning race’.
It’s a natural response to celebrate in this pose, and it’s time for you to use it more daily.
Strike this power pose and celebrate your proudest moments.
Amy Cuddy, a researcher at Harvard University studies body language and recently did a TED Talk explaining the benefits of the ‘Power Pose’.
Adjusting your body language and focusing on high power poses increases testosterone and reduces cortisol within just 2 minutes of doing them.
Her studies found that they increased testosterone levels by 20% leading to a boost in confidence and also decreased cortisol levels by 25%, reducing anxiety.
Don’t stop at just highlighting your proudest moments…
Every day write down what went well for the day. Highlight at least 3 things. They could be minor, but what did you do well and what made you feel good?
Self reflection is a big healer.
But it’s time to self reflect on positives rather than your negatives.
6. Cut Back The Beer (Alcohol)
Sounds obvious, but alcohol has damaging effects on your physical and mental health.
In moderation it’s fine, but avoid drinking alcohol daily.
Alcohol is a depressant.
Even if a few pints with your mates every night boosts your mood, it’s going to have a strong impact on your mood in the morning.
You’ll feel sluggish, tired and lack inspiration.
Cut back, treat yourself to a few at the weekend and remember it could be a huge factor behind your depression.
Find it hard to cut back? It’s time to seek help, open up to deal with the underlying issues behind why you’re reliant on alcohol and replace the bad habit of drinking with some I’ve shared in this article.
7. Be Grateful
A quick simple exercise which has a huge impact on your mood is to be grateful for what you’ve got.
Depression and worrying typically comes from a mindset of ‘what you lack’ and fear.
Shift your attention away from what you don’t have and focus on what you do have.
You can find gratitude in the smallest of things…
Your health, your family, food, nature, friends, even the country you live in and the opportunities you have.
Shifting to gratitude releases positivity, so when you find yourself worrying or thinking negatively shift to thinking of what you’re truly grateful for.
8. Know You’re In Control
There’s only one person that can solve the situation you’re in right now…
Now that might seem daunting at first but think about it…
There’s no one or no thing that can have an impact on how you recover from this. You’re in complete control.
You control your thoughts and your actions, so it’s down to you to take responsibility and make positive choices.
Don’t let your thoughts control you, be consciously aware of them and be in charge.
People can guide you, help you and advise you but you’re in complete control of the outcome.
Take responsibility and make change.
9. Do A Good Deed
We all want to help others, and helping others boosts our mood.
Whatever situation or mind state you’re in right now, do something for someone else.
Buy someone a coffee, feed a homeless person, do someone a favour or help carry someones shopping… these small deeds for other people will increase your self worth and improve your mood.
Help someone and someone will help you.
10. Seek Silence
In the modern world we’re bombarded with information and noise.
Your phone will vibrate, you’ll receive emails, watch TV, hear traffic, get on public transport…
There’s so much noise it’s hard to seek silence.
Spend at least 10 minutes a day sitting in silence. You can meditate, just focus on your breathing, do Yoga, read… whatever it is just do it in silence.
This silence will help clear your thoughts, and will connect you spiritually to your purpose.
Personally I thought meditating was for hippies.
It’s something I never thought I’d do and something I never thought I’d advise.
But meditating daily (even just 5 minutes) has been one of the best things I’ve done. It helps create clarity, allows me to be in control of my thoughts and helps relieve stress and anxiety.
I’m writing this post at 5:30am, it’s dark outside, the family are asleep and it’s completely silent. There’s no excuses not to seek silence throughout your day.
Seek silence, and you’ll create a clearer headspace.
Laughing relaxes your body, and it’s contagious too.
Try laughing and feel sh*t at the same time.
It’s pretty hard right?
Again laughing releases endorphins (that feel good hormone I spoke about earlier) so it can help with anxiety, stress and low mood.
Watch a funny film, ring up the friend who makes you laugh, go to some stand up comedy and laugh.
Create more fun in your life.
12. Tidy Up
Last but not least, and something I’m guilty of not doing as well as I should is tidying up.
What do you think that messy bedroom with clothes all over the floor is doing to your mood?
What happens to your mood when you walk into the kitchen and a weeks worth of dishes are there ready to be cleaned up?
Tim Ferris said making his bed every morning helped his productivity and daily motivation throughout the day.
Tidy your office, your house, your bedroom and create a mess free environment around you.
Cluttered life equals cluttered thoughts.
So there we have it, 12 ways to boost your mood and relieve depression.
Start now, choose a few and take action on them.
(ACT) – Action changes things.
Let me know what you think in the comments below and don’t forget to share this article if it helped.