Be physically active
Many individuals report and studies confirm that physical activity is a stress reliever.
A study found that when measured objectively, greater physical activity was
associated with the prevention of depression. Effects began when in a 24-hour
period a person replaces sedentary behavior with 15 minutes of vigorous activity
such as running; or more than 1 hour of moderate physical activity (e.g., fast walking);
or some combination of light activity (e.g., standing, stretching, easy chores)
and more vigorous activity.
A meta-analysis of 33 clinical trials, published in JAMA Psychiatry, found that resistance
exercise training was associated with a significant reduction in depressive
symptoms. Long-term studies show that the more physically active people are,
the less likely they are to be depressed, and if they start to exercise, their risk of
depression declines. Measuring this relationship is complicated by the fact that
depressed individuals are less likely to exercise. Although exercise has been documented
to provide a modest improvement in stress-induced mood disorders, such
as depression, the studies show that it is less effective than psychotherapy and drug
Try relaxation techniques
Many people find that guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, tai chi,
meditation, and biofeedback are good antidotes to stress. These and other mindfulness
techniques can be learned from a variety of sources, including mental health
professionals. Herbert Benson has studied the physical effects of meditation and
documented that a variety of techniques have the same calming effect, including the
lowering of blood pressure. Dean Ornish advocates yoga for the relief of stress as
a feature of his program for healthy living.
Get enough sleep
Studies of interventions to treat insomnia have led to reductions in depression.
Sleep is important not only to reduce stress and avoid depression but also for overall
health, avoiding accidents, and being productive at work. Lack of sleep makes you
“dumb and dangerous.”
Connect socially and share your feelings
You can get social-support help with stress-induced mood disorders by avoiding
isolation, spending time with other people, and staying connected to your familial
roots and culture. Getting support from your community, friends, family, a counselor,
a doctor, or a clergyperson and sharing your problems can lighten your mental
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.