• Eat Healthfully – you will feel much better overall if you eat a well-balanced diet, but your heart and your mental health will also thank you. That doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself from time to time, it means that the majority of the time you need to make the right decisions. That means eating plenty of whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
• Get Regular Exercise – as discussed above, exercise has been found to be effective in managing depression and heart conditions, so ensure you’re getting at least 2.5 hours of it each week. If you do have a heart condition you may want to speak to your doctor about what routine is right for you.
• Monitor Your Alcohol Consumption – alcohol is a depressant, so drinking too much of it is only going to exacerbate your depression. It reduces your brain’s serotonin levels, which makes it difficult to regulate your mood. It also leaves you at risk of high blood pressure, which is another risk factor for heart problems. If you drink alcohol, limit your intake, for women it’s one drink per day and for men it’s two. That doesn’t mean you can skip a bunch of days and drink all your drinks at once. There should also be a day or two during the week where you go alcohol-free.
• Ditch Cigarettes – smoking is common among depressed people; they see it as a way of relieving stress. It does provide you with a moment of relief; the problem is that it is just that – temporary. Once the relief fades, your body starts craving, which only serves to increase your stress until you get another hit. When it comes to heart disease, smoking is the leading preventable risk. Therefore, if you’re serious about reducing your risk of heart disease you can start by quitting smoking.
There is more than one way you can manage your stress levels to help treat (or prevent) depression. Some of the more common options include getting plenty of sleep (at least seven hours each night), journaling to get your feelings out, or speaking to a therapist, deep breathing exercises, meditation, and visualization.