Canada is at the top of the list when it comes to the world’s most depressed and anxious countries. More than one in four Canadians regularly feel anxious and sad, which has been going on even before the pandemic. While depression and anxiety are serious matters, dealing with them requires very simple measures.
Get Some Sunshine
There’s plenty of sun in Canada; you have to make use of it. Taking a walk in the early morning sun can lift your mood by stimulating your body’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that balances your mood and makes you feel both calm and alert. Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure also prompts your body to synthesize vitamin D from the cholesterol in skin cells.
Vitamin D strengthens your bones, reinforces your immune system, regulates your blood pressure, and reduces your risk of developing Type II diabetes. Several research studies have shown that Vitamin D acts as a natural mood enhancer, reducing anxiety and depression in test subjects. Individuals suffering from acute anxiety and depression also had fewer and milder episodes after receiving doses of vitamin D.
Physical activity is a great way to battle anxiety and depression. Moderate to intense physical activity prompts the release of endorphins in your body, giving you feelings of euphoria, more commonly described as a runner’s high. Endorphins lift your mood by giving you a sense of accomplishment and boosting of energy. Negative emotions such as fear, anger, or sadness can also be linked to your body’s fight-or-flight instinct.
Physical activity gives you a way to channel negative emotions and put your body back into a state of relaxation. Exercise also induces deep breathing or breathing through your diaphragm. The technique is often taught in meditation, but it comes naturally with moderate to intense physical activity. Deep breathing reduces the production of cortisol, a hormone that increases your heart rate and blood pressure and triggers a flight or fight response in your body.
Insomnia may be a symptom of anxiety and depression; however, lack of sleep also exacerbates the two conditions. Sleep is when the body switches from the catabolic to the anabolic phase. The switch allows the body to recover and repair itself by producing synthesizing hormones and utilizing protein. Lack of sleep can prevent your body and brain from recovering to their fullest, causing feelings of lethargy. Most individuals with anxiety and depression have disrupted circadian rhythms.
A few morning walks should reset your body’s internal clock; make sure to stay away from artificial lights (including your phone or laptop) a few hours before bedtime. Don’t forget to check for bedbugs, as these critters are enough to cause anxiety and depression in the toughest of people.
Start a Hobby
Keeping yourself busy isn’t enough to ward off anxiety and depression; you’ll also need to enjoy what you’re doing. Take up a hobby or a project. It can be anything from baking to creating mini dioramas. Joining a group is preferable, as it connects you with like-minded people and gives you a venue to share your accomplishments. Creating something also gives you a sense of accomplishment, whether it’s a box of cupcakes or an ornate coffee table.
If you’re up to it, why not learn a new language? Learning a language stimulates your brain to form new neural connections. You also get to add an interesting facet to your personality and get to communicate with other people. Accomplishments, no matter how small, increase your self-worth. High self-esteem will reduce the amount of cortisol in your body, significantly reducing chemically-induced anxiety and stress.
Connect with Family
Social connections can keep you centered and calm. Physical contact or just being in the presence of someone you love and trust prompts the production of oxytocin in your body. Oxytocin is commonly referred to as the “love hormone,” as it is linked to feelings of warmth, trust, and acceptance or belonging.
Connecting with people can be difficult in sparsely populated Alberta, where even Calgary has only 1,500 people per square kilometer. Connecting with family becomes even more important, even if you have to go through family counseling services to resolve your issues. Have constant meet-ups or visits and express whatever feelings you may have. Sometimes, just having an outlet can be a powerful thing, especially if you share your innermost feelings with a loved one.
Anxiety and depression can be easily managed or cured. Of course, you’ll have to make a bit of effort, so get off bed and take charge of your life and happiness.