We have all heard the cliche “fake it til you make it”… but have you ever thought about where that cliche came from? Who said it first, and why? Does it work? The short answer is “yes” and i am going to show you why! Depression affects at least 5% of the worldwide population, and at least 10-15% of women will experience depression after having children. It’s a big problem that looks like it’s going to get bigger in the near future, however there is PLENTY we can do about this illness in it’s first stages, before medicating*.
Now, we are not suggesting that you avoid seeing a doctor if you’re clinically depressed. What we are saying is that when you’re feeling down, try to perform the following 4 things, even if you don’t feel like it! Most of the time, when we are depressed, we want to hide, lie around, and eat junk food; however these habits can actually contribute to your depressive state.
Which brings me to the 4 things you should force yourself to do when you’re depressed:
- Smile – you read right! Even if you do not feel like it, force a smile. You’d notice that depressed people have a very blank look on their faces; the very act of forcing a smile can reverse the hormones involved in depression by releasing the happy ones! Your body does not know the difference between a fake smile and a real one… smile away!
- See your friends – just your friends, because if you’re forcing point #1 then they’re the only ones that won’t run a mile when your smile-slash-grimace comes walking their way! There’s plenty of research, including this one, that supports getting out and being social with friends and family as a complimentary treatment for depression, and even as a preventative! This rule doesn’t encompass meeting new people, because for some of us those situations can be stressful, however being in a safe place with someone who loves you and your fake smile can do wonders for your metal health.
- Move – as opposed to exercise, because we don’t want you going out there and flogging yourself in Crossfit in a misguided attempt to treat your depression! Take your fake smile, and your friend, and go for a walk. Moderate, regular, and OUTSIDE exercise has been shown to boost those happy hormones, as well as assist you to sleep better.
- Eat healthy – we know that you’re going to tell us that you “enjoy your treats”, like those treats are making you feel better, but we know that is not true. 95% of your serotonin (happy hormone) is made in your gastrointestinal tract by billions of specific bacteria, that compete with other bacteria that love your treats… in other words, you have to eat to support the happy bacteria if you want to start feeling better. Harvard are leaders in positive psychology and you can read more on diet and depression here.
So even if you don’t feel like it, force these four things and you may find your depression improves. Like anything, consistency is key!
*on this note, many health concerns of the modern era like diabetes, high blood pressure, and others can also be prevented, managed, or complemented with changes to diet, movement, and lifestyle. It’d be great if we looked at causes, instead of just treating symptoms of illness… but that’s another story!