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Ten Simple Mood-Lifting Tips

Depression is one of the most common health conditions in the world. It ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent depression. Doctors say that for most forms of depression, symptoms improve with psychological counseling, antidepressant medications, or a combination of the two. While these are important and reliable resources to treat depression, you can also lift your mood by taking matters into your own hands.

Try these Ten  Simple Mood-Lifting Tips:

1. Exercise. For some people, exercise works as well or even better than antidepressants. Endorphins, otherwise known as the body's natural feel-good chemicals, are released when you exercise. Exercise will also help you build energy. Start with just a few minutes of exercise a day. As time goes on, increase the length of your activity. "Doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day, for three to five days a week can significantly improve depression symptoms," says staff at the Mayo Clinic.

2. Reduce your sugar intake. Reducing sugar intake and eating higher quality foods have been reported to increase energy levels and lift depression. According to some research, a diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and healthy fats and oils may lower the risk of depression by almost one-third.

3. Cut back on caffeine. Cutting back on soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate can make a big difference in your mood. Anxiety is a common symptom of depression. Too much caffeine can make you nervous, jittery, or anxious-and also make it hard to sleep at night-adding to depression.

4. Get some sunshine. If you feel more depressed during the darker winter months, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is often treated with light therapy or exposure to artificial sunlight. Ask your doctor if light therapy is right for you. Otherwise, make sure to spend at least 10 minutes in the sun each day to lift your mood.

5. Play with a pet. Playing with a pet can help lift your mood. When you play with your pet, you take your mind off your own problems. According to some studies, caring for others can be very therapeutic.

6. Be creative. Doing something creative that gives you pleasure-such as singing, painting, photography, playing an instrument, or writing in a journal-can lift your mood. The goal isn't to create a masterpiece, but to do something that makes you feel good inside.

7. Read a book. Curling up with a good book can take you into another world and lift your mood. You can let go of your own troubles as you focus on the storyline.

8. Take a yoga or meditation class. Stress and anxiety can increase your depression symptoms and make it harder to recover. Learning to relax your mind and body through yoga and meditation can give you a feeling of peace and calm and help improve your mood.

9. Stay connected with people. Call a friend to go for a walk, join a volunteer group, or take a class about something you've been longing to learn. Research has shown that people with more social support have better-functioning immune systems. Being involved with others can also help take you outside of your own problems and lift your mood.

10. Get adequate sleep. Too little sleep can have a considerable influence on your mood. To lift your mood, make the quality and quantity of your sleep a priority. Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time. Research suggests that most adults need between seven and nine hours each night.

These ten simple mood-lifting tips can help lift your mood, but by themselves, they may not be enough. Depression is a serious illness, and it carries a risk of suicide. If you are thinking about suicide, seek help from your doctor immediately.