Galloway: Best habits for reducing depression


Columnist Noah Galloway reviews some of his favorite tips for fighting low-grade depression or sadness, including healthy sleeping and eating habits. 

Noah Galloway

Everyone at some point in their lives has dealt with the occasional bout of depression. Depression is obviously on a spectrum of length in time and the intensity at which the person experiences the illness. This illness is hereditary and can be passed on through the family tree. Environment and life events also play a big role in how depression can affect a human being. We have all experienced at least some form of low-grade depression in our lives and I would like to explain some of my favorite ways of maintaining a healthy state of mind.

Sleep is the most important thing to do for your mental health. Without quality sleep, the rest of these habits for decreasing depression will become much more difficult to attain. Food is energy, and being sleep deprived will only increase your desire to let your guard down and eat too much. Sleep allows your heart to function at full capacity, giving you the energy to work out and complete all the tasks an ordinary adult must do on a regular basis. Another benefit of sleep is an improved immune system and the ability to fight germs.

Regardless of whether the term “food coma” is pseudoscience or real, we all have experienced the inevitable crash after eating low-quality food. This is very common in the typical American diet that consists of calorie-rich and greasy food, or foods high in sugar that produce a short amount of energy before the come-down. Consistent energy is derived from eating a non-processed diet full of natural foods that would be found in groceries stores like Whole Foods. Junk food is an easy way to feel depressed due to the lack of nutrients that would increase energy. Eating healthy and being aware of caloric intake will enhance physical attraction, which increases self-esteem tremendously.

Exercise is one of the best things you can do to have stability with mental health. And even better, playing a sport with friends can meet social and physical needs. Sports can be entertaining to the point where it doesn’t feel like exercise. Solo activities can be just as effective if you are constantly overwhelmed by an intensely social environment. Going for a jog to clear your mind is a great way to hit the reset button. These types of activities are a great form of mediation.

We are social creatures, and we need interaction with other human beings. We have a sense of safety and acceptance around other people. When around others in a community, we feel security knowing we have people who are appreciative of who we are. It gives people the chance to bounce problems off one another, and others can help offer solutions or empathy while suggesting these issues are universal, and we can all commiserate to the struggle of being human. Doing things that are difficult and require suffering really brings people together.

Journaling is a great way to get things off your chest and analyze problems. This habit helps people look at their lives more objectively. Sometimes it’s easier to solve the issue on paper rather than in scattered thoughts. Journaling helps you figure out what is important in life, and writing down what you want to do helps cultivate a sense of purpose every day. Having a purpose gives someone a reason to get up every morning and attack the day. A purpose makes it easy to make sacrifices for goals, knowing every rejection of temptation will be worth it.

As I mentioned at the beginning, we all have experienced what it means to feel depressed. These are just a few of my favorite ways to decompress and hit the reset button. I hope one if not all of these ideas will make life a bit easier.