Happier Day By Day: A Daily Guide For Fending Off Depression

Feeling anxious? Depressed? This day-by-day guide can help you make sure your body is getting what it needs to build better moods.

Six Ways to Build Better Moods

3. Exercise every day

A daily workout does more than produce the natural mood-boosting compounds known as endorphins. It makes it easier to fall asleep at night, and more sleep means better moods. And if you go outside to exercise, you'll be getting exposure to sunlight. For a triple benefit, try taking a daily 30-minute walk in a natural setting.

4. Reduce your intake of carbohydrates

Adults often turn to high-carb treats when they're feeling down - a candy bar in the afternoon, chips or crackers during the day, ice cream after dinner. These foods can make you feel a bit better in the short term. But eventually, they lead to weight gain and fatigue. Better to stick with a low-carb, protein-rich breakfast and to snack on fruits and nuts instead of sugar and starch.

Consume protein with every meal of the day. This doesn't necessarily mean meat — eggs, peanut butter, and cheese are all good sources of protein.

5. Don't be too quick to accept stress

Sometimes we're so caught up in our daily routines that we fail to step back and analyze sources of stress. Whenever it starts to affect your moods, get out paper and pen and list the biggest stresses in your day. Then look for ways to reduce or eliminate them.

6. Chart your progress

Even if you believe that the strategies outlined above will help you feel better, you may have trouble making the move from "knowing" to "doing." Charting your progress can help. Create a monthly chart — 31 days across the top, with categories for sleep, exercise, sunshine, green time, nutrition, and stress along the left-hand margin. Each day, rate your anxiety or depression on a scale from one to 10, and give yourself a check for each category in which you succeed:

  • at least seven hours of sleep
  • daily walk or other exercise
  • 30 minutes of sunshine
  • 30 minutes of green time
  • low-carb diet
  • lower-stress day

The first month you try this, set a goal of earning at least three checks every day. In the second month, aim for four daily checks. Your ultimate goal, of course, is to make all of these mood-boosting habits a regular part of your daily routine.


This article comes from the December 2005 / January 2006 issue of ADDitude.

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