THE BLOG
08/30/2016 04:47 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2017

Bad Habits We Can Break That Are Linked To Depression And Anxiety

We often wonder if there are things that we are doing in our daily routine that actually increase our feelings of depression and anxiety. We also wonder if there are simple changes that we can make in our lives to decrease these feelings and provide us some relief. There are indeed things that we don't think twice about during our day that add to our feelings of depression and anxiety, as well as unassuming changes that we can make in our lives, without much effort, to help reduce these feelings. We will discuss both below. We will talk over the things that increase depressive and anxious feelings while discussing what we can do about them. The changes will likely be far simpler than you have ever thought.

Lacking exercise and taking on the role of "couch potato" can serve as an increase in feelings of depression. Getting up and getting moving, even starting just a little at a time can have a great impact on mood. Eating unhealthy food makes us feel down on many levels. It makes us feel depressed, lethargic, and like we are not running in all cylinders. Eating a healthy and balanced diet makes us feel good from the inside out and makes us feel like we are operating at maximum functioning. If you live in the Midwest like me, you are all too aware that lack of natural light during those long winter months can make you feel more depressed. Getting a light machine, supplementing vitamin C, and doing anything that helps produce natural light around you helps counter this issue.

In continuing with the previous theme, not getting enough Vitamin D can cause feelings of depression. The winter months are just one of the factors that can cause low Vitamin D levels, and is a problem that is usually easily resolved with a daily vitamin F supplement. If you are feeling down and are not sure why, getting a vitamin panel from your doctor, and instructions for how much to take can make a huge difference. Another issue that should surprise no one is that poor sleep habits have a major impact on depression and anxiety. If we are not getting enough sleep, we are irritable, foggy, and do not let our brains reproduce enough of the chemicals that are responsible for mood. Many people do not realize that during the night we replenish these, as well as our immunities while we sleep. So poor sleep can leave our mood fluctuating, and us unwell. Simply remove electronics from the bedroom, as they stimulate us and prevent sleep, and make sure that you are going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day.

Being around the right people and avoiding the wrong people can help a great deal with our levels of depression and anxiety. Negative people bring up negative thoughts and feelings. If there are people who are toxic to you, and make you feel bad or anxious about being around them, they are people you might want to consider getting some distance from. If they are supportive and build you up, they are the type of people that are good to have around you when you are not feeling your best. While our instincts might be to isolate and not see others, this is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing to feel better. Positive people produce positive thoughts and mood. It is contagious, and it is just the prescription you need. This leads into the important concept of replacing negative self-talk with positive and realistic thoughts. We do not even realize how powerful self-talk is, and how much more often we are likely to say negative things about ourselves, and our situations. Learning to replace these thoughts, and to see things in a positive light can change our lives and outcomes dramatically.

Being around other people who are depressed and anxious leads to like feelings in us. We feed off each other as humans, and we feed off of moods especially. As a therapist, I can tell you that even I pick up on other people's emotions if I see several anxious or depressed people in a row. We are living souls that pick up on what is going on around us. It is why depression and anxiety are so common in families Yes there is a genetic factor, but an equal cause is observing depressed and anxious behavior as a means of dealing with things. The child learns that this is how people deal with their problems, and picks up and repeats this pattern of behavior. Make sure that you balance out who you are around, and how much. If you start to feel a certain way, ask yourself why. The insight of feeding off of others is often enough to change your behavior and feelings.

A diet high in sugar, carbs, and fried food can have a serious impact on your mood. While we touched in this before, it is worth expanding on. A diet that looks like the former leaves us with low energy and mood. It does not help us be at our best in most any situation. On the other hand, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 is shown to have mood boosting properties. Our system is running and functioning at its best, and this includes our emotional systems. Saffron is also shown to be a natural mood enhancer, so if you love the herb, cook away! Always consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your life. However, I imagine making these healthy changes to your lifestyle will be smiled upon.

The last issue are those who do not seek out help when they need it. We can all use therapy. It is an unbiased third party to help support us, and give us the tools to help us be successful and able to achieve improved mood, and a more successful life. Many people think that people need to be struggling with profound mental health issues to seek the help of a professional, but nothing can be further from the truth. Sometimes they have a life stressor, or a situation that needs talking through. A therapist can work this through with them, as well as provide them the tools they need to carry though life that help them solve similar issues, or deal with the depression and anxiety that might come their way at different point during their lives.

Hopefully now you can see how easy if it to create feelings of depression and anxiety, as well as how to counteract these feelings. It can be very empowering to realize that we possess the tools and the strength to help improve our mood, which can only improve our lives. Trying just a few of the items that have been discussed is a great way to test the waters, and to see that there is merit to making these lifestyle changes to make mood changes. They seem well worth it to live life to the fullest.