10 Ways to Stay in Control of Your Mind

Go Bananas
Eating a banana every day facilitates both cross talk among your brain cells and the effect of certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin and its precursors.

These two effects may mean that eating a banana a day helps keep the therapist away by preventing recurring minor depression.

Plus, besides coffee, bananas are our largest dietary source of antioxidants.

Sweat It Out
If you haven't exercised in a while, the thought of slipping into a pair of tight pants and a sports bra might seem depressing in itself. Exercise, however, has been shown to be more effective than many antidepressants in reducing major depression.

Part of that may be attributed to the endorphin effect of exercise. We feel that the sense of purpose and accomplishment that comes with regular exercise also helps. Sometimes action has to come before motivation, and depressed folks need to act to prime their motivational engine.

Yoga, in fact, is specifically associated with decreased depressive symptoms and increased mood—perhaps partly because of the deep breathing that's done during the practice. In a similar way, spirituality is also associated with less depression.

Rub Alcohol from the Scene
While some people medicate their emotions with something from the freezer, others do it with something from the bottle. Make sure you or someone you love doesn't have an alcohol problem that's masking a depression problem (or is an addiction in and of itself ). You can do so by asking these questions. Answering yes to any of them is a red flag.
  • Have you tried to cut down on drinking but failed?
  • Have you ever been annoyed by someone criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt guilty about drinking?
  • Have you ever taken a morning eye-opener (tailgating parties excluded)?
  • Have you ever had a problem with drinking?

Use Guided Imagery
Guided imagery isn't the screen of your car's GPS. It's actually a way of making you feel better. The technique has been shown to improve the ability to cope with depression, improve mood and decrease stress.

How do you do it? First, go to a quiet place. The bathroom often works well, since privacy is usually respected there. Start by relaxing and breathing deeply, then visualize yourself in different scenarios. Some variations include visualizing yourself in a pleasant place (the beach), fighting disease (seeing your good immune cells fighting off bad germs) or practicing for a big performance (doing well in your job).

How can this cure aches and pains? If you're in pain, visualize the spot of pain. Follow the nerve from that spot to the center of your mind. Ask your body if you can take control of that pain, and visualize the way that would happen.

See the Light
People who get seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, have been shown to feel better when they're exposed to specially rated UV lights for the home for 20 minutes a day. Any bright light will serve the purpose, and halogen lights emit the same frequency as those made to treat SAD.

Another option? Go to sports events or arenas where there are a lot of bright lights. Anecdotally, these lights seem to have the same effect.

Give Yourself Time
Docs are taught that the normal time period to grieve for the loss of a loved one is six months to a year after the death. So it may be natural to experience depressive symptoms during that time. But we also want to make it clear that you should never feel pressure to shake the pain after a certain time period. Illusions are also a part of normal grief. An illusion is a misperception of an actual external stimulus. Delusions or hallucinations are never normal. The key is getting to the point where you can weather the discomfort enough to carry on with other aspects of your life.

Test Yourself
You say he's got a problem; he says there's nothing wrong with brushing every tooth individually 24 times a day. How do you know the difference between nuance and annoyance? These criteria will help you judge whether someone has a personality disorder.

They likely do if their behavior:
  • Is inflexible, no matter what situation the person is in.
  • Leads to problems in their work or social life.
  • Is not part of some other mental disorder.
  • Is not a direct effect of a medical condition, drug or medication.

Get a Community and a Buddy
Whether on the Internet or in person, talking to someone helps. In fact, talking and walking 30 minutes a day are the most effective strategies for treating and preventing depression.

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Write at Bedtime
Approach every day with an attitude of thankfulness. Impossible expectations lead to sadness. Try to write a gratitude journal daily—writing three thank-you notes a day really does make it less likely you will suffer depression.

While you're at it, put some music on in the background: research suggests that music can improve moderately depressed moods (one study also showed improved heart rate and blood pressure).

Don't Say "Don't"
You'd think that repeatedly telling someone not to drink or smoke would be enough. But your brain can do very funny things. Your brain—specifically the part of the brain that influences cravings, your insula— hears "don't smoke" and reacts as if it hears "smoke." And that stimulates the craving for smoking.

A much better approach when you want to help someone get rid of an addiction is to flip the message. Instead of saying "Don't smoke," say, "Breathe free." Instead of "Don't eat doughnuts," say, "Have a handful of nuts."

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