Depression is the most predominant mental health illness followed by anxiety with 1 in 4 people suffering from a mental illness at some point of their lives and 615 million people suffering from depression and/or anxiety. (World Health Organisation, 2016) In the UK 70 million workdays are lost every year due to mental illness which includes depression and anxiety. (Mental Health Foundation) A person suffering from depression may experience depressed mood, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, sleeping problems, loss of interest or pleasure, low energy, disturbed appetite, and poor focus and concentration. While medications can be effective in helping you feel better, there are other things you can do to ease Depression. 1) Do not sleep too often.

There’s this saying: “Get up, Dress up and Show up!’ - even if it is for nothing other than walking your pet. Staying in bed or napping worsens your depression and makes it harder to cope. Thus, wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Routine is what will make things easier for you.

2) Exercise This is so important because exercise release endorphins, or ‘happy hormones”, which elevates your mood. You can also work it in to your daily routine. If you are going to a class or gym, it will help you socialise with others and it will make you feel good about yourself for being healthy. 3) Eat Well A healthy and balanced diet will not only help the way you feel, but will also improve your thought patterns. Eating healthy is feeding your mind and body with good nutrition and is imperative for optimum brain function.

4) Stress Reducers When someone is feeling depressed it may also cause you to feel anxious as perhaps you feel your life is going nowhere or you can't do anything or no-one likes you. As anxiety creeps in, its important to learn how to calm your mind. Thus, take up a Mindfulness course, learn to Meditate or do self hypnosis, or do something that relaxes you, like a long lovely bath or reading. Mindfulness will teach you how to be in the moment - it's ok to feel depressed, if you want to cry, do so, but become aware of your feelings, your thoughts and where in your body you can feel it. Or focus on the moment of now and notice what is around you. This will get you out of your negative thoughts in your head. Practicing meditation or self hypnosis or any other calming techniques will help reduce stress and anxiety, calm your breathing, calming your mind. Take a few minutes to write down at least five ways that you can reduce symptoms of stress and depression on a regular basis.

5) #100HappyDays challenge. Google this challenge and do enroll. It has made a huge impact for me and I am sure it will for you too as it lightens your mood and makes you thankful and happy for life! 6) Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself to things that are calming and improve your mood. Here’s a list of things that may help: - scented candles - bubble baths - tranquil environment - writing a journal - relaxing activities that may help you unwind. - listening to music - reading - being creative - such as colouring, writing, crafts, cooking, puzzles - doing some gardening or - get a pet as a companion

The above are only but a few examples. Allowing yourself even just 15 minutes of downtime can make all the difference. Write down things that work for you and try to do at least one thing from your list each day.

7) Keep a gratitude jar Oprah Winfrey said years ago to write down 7 things each morning that you are grateful for. It doesn't have to be 7. It can be 1 or 3 or 20! Write down something special you are grateful for each day and place It in your gratitude jar. At first, you may struggle but you'll soon realise how much there is in this world to be grateful for. Even if it is the sun shining or that you have teeth! Whenever you are feeling really down, pick a few notes from your jar and read it, but best of all, share it with someone as there is real power in gratitude and sharing.

8) Practice self-acceptance.

Do not let others define you. Accept yourself for who you are; not who others would like you to be. There is not a single person in this world that is perfect, everyone possesses good qualities as well as bad qualities. Many different qualities, including personality, background, character and sexuality make us who we are. Everyone in this world has something to offer, and everyone is entitled to be their true selves. 9) Positive affirmations There are thousands of affirmations online, so write your own or search online for your perfect affirmation. Write it down on your phone and post-it notes and place it everywhere - your fridge, mirror, computer etc and read it out loud every time you see it. Fake it until you make it! And soon you will begin to believe it!

10) 5-4-3-2-1 trick

If you keep focusing on the same things, going around in cycles, then try this trick to get out of your head! Look around you…. 5 - What are five things you see that you never noticed before? 4 - Four things you can touch, and how

do they feel? 3 - Three things you can hear. 2 - Two things you can smell. 1 - And lastly, one positive thought you

can tell yourself. Its almost the same as deep breathing, but it gives you something else to focus on and think of, breaking the cycle in your head.

11) Create a coping box. Fill it with things that helps you cope and makes you feel good. E.g. :- - Tea or hot chocolate, - bubble bath, - play dough or stress ball, - a positive affirmation, - chocolate or protein bar, - your favourite feel-good music, - a note to tell you to reach out for support, - a reminder to go for a walk, - a phone number of the person closest to you, - taking a shower, - a list of decisions you normally won't make when you are feeling down and depressed, - photos that makes me feel good, - a good book, movie, puzzles or games to occupy yourself with - a cuddly toy for comfort, - a journal to jot down your thoughts, - comfy pj's or blanket, - or anything else you can think of that will help you get through an episode.

12) Last but not least... If all else fails or you feel you can't do it alone, seek professional help. The most recognised therapy for depression is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Other talking therapies like Psychotherapy, Hypnotherapy or Counselling can also be hugely beneficial. I am personally a 'hypno-junky'. I love the feeling of going in to a wonderful state of relaxation and the benefits of working with the subconscious mind is surprisingly amazing and long lasting.

If you have already had success with any of these 12 Activities or can recommend something that works for you, then please share it with us!

Next blog coming soon!

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