Danny Baker lists the 5 things a person should work into their daily routine for better physical, and mental health.
Last week, I wrote a post on my own blog titled Are Your Simple Daily Actions Leading You To Freedom From Depression Or Forever Keeping You a Prisoner?, in which I spoke of the Slight Edge Principle. The Slight Edge Principle begins with the premise that every day, we’re all faced with relatively simple decisions to make. Then, it goes on to say that successful people make good simple daily decisions, because they realize that in the long run, doing so will result in them prospering. On the other hand, it states that unsuccessful people don’t make good simple daily decisions, because at the point of making them, they either don’t believe they matter, or they make excuses not to make them. As such, the crux of the Slight Edge Principle is that these simple daily decisions do matter, because compounded over time, they either lead you to success or they lead you to failure.
I think it’s particularly important to pay heed to the Slight Edge Principle when we’re trying to recover from depression. It’s critical that we build healthy daily habits into our lives—habits that in the short run may not yield spectacular results, but in the long run can be the difference between recovering from depression and forever being plagued by it. So without further ado, here is a list of five essential things that everyone with depression should do each day.
Exercise for 30 minutes
I know feeling tired and unmotivated are common symptoms of depression, but this is something that’s relatively doable if you just give yourself a push. Now exercising for one day may not make a huge difference, but research suggests that regular exercise can increase the level of brain serotonin and brain endorphins, both of which have “mood-lifting” properties. It’s also important to note that exercise doesn’t even have to be that rigorous to be effective, with studies suggesting that even a brisk walk each day can make a noticeable difference.
Read 10 pages of a quality self-help book
Again, this is doable, isn’t it? It doesn’t take very long, and you can even do it in bed. Now, will reading 10 pages one day make a big difference to how well you can handle your depression? Probably not. But if you read 10 pages every day for a year, that’s 3,650 pages—which is 10-15 books. Do you think reading 10-15 self-help books will arm you with some valuable skills to help you combat your depression? Undoubtedly. To start with, I’d recommend Feeling Good by Dr David D. Burns, Authentic Happiness by Dr Martion E. P. Seligman, and The Mindful Way Through Depression by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and John Kabat-Zinn.
This is vital to good health—including mental health—but it’s something a lot of us don’t adhere to. When you’re trying to recover from depression, it’s critical that you eat a balanced diet, and—I can’t stress this highly enough—lay off the drugs and alcohol. When it comes to substance abuse, the Slight Edge Principle is perhaps at its most applicable—if you drown your sorrows in alcohol or drugs once, then it’s not the end of the world. But if you’re always doing it, then it’s going to have a significantly negative impact on your mental health over time. It’s one of those awful habits that will forever keep you trapped in depression.
Get a good, regular, 7-8 hours of sleep
If you don’t think getting a good night’s sleep will help your mental well being, then just try it for a few months. It’s amazing how much of a difference it can make.
Do half an hour of online therapy
Given that many people with depression can’t afford therapy, the availability of free online therapy is something that isn’t publicized anywhere near enough. There are some great programs out there run by some of the best universities in the world, and building it into your day is likely to do wonders over time. The one I recommend using is MoodGYM, which is run by the prestigious Australian National University. Additionally, The Depression Centre 4.0 runs a free self-guided treatment program based on the most current research in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. They also have a large community that you can interact with for support.
Like I said, you may not see a huge difference early on, but if you work these five healthy habits into your daily routine, you’ll be streets ahead of where you would’ve been if you hadn’t.
Photo: Renaud Camus/Flickr
If you enjoyed reading my post, I encourage you to visit my website and download a FREE copy of The Danny Baker Story – How I came to write “I will not kill myself, Olivia” and found the Depression Is Not Destiny Campaign – which is my memoir recounting my struggle and eventual triumph over depression. I wrote it so that sufferers of the illness could realise they are not alone – that there are other people out there who have gone through the same excruciating misery, and who have made it through to the other side. I also wrote it so that I could impart the lessons I learned on the long, rocky, winding road that eventually led to recovery – so that people could learn from my mistakes as well as my victories – particularly with regards to relationships; substance abuse; choosing a fulfilling career path; seeking professional help; and perhaps most importantly, having a healthy and positive attitude towards depression that enables recovery. Multiple-bestselling author Nick Bleszynski has described it as “beautifully written, powerful, heartfelt, insightful and inspiring … a testament to hope.”