Combat depression with physical activity and laughter therapy, expert advises

Posted on 10 October 2011

People with depression who are choosing a care home may want to attempt some physical activity in order to lift their mood.

Michelle Clemons, a mindfulness based master practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, said that people with depression should make a list of whichever physical activities they enjoy.

However, as the word "exercise" can put up a psychological barrier for many people, they should avoid thinking of it in this way.

"Walking the dog, playing with the kids, pottering about in the garden, going dancing - all of these will help to reduce stress and lift one's mood," she advised.

For those who would find such physical activity too taxing, there are other activities that can help to lift mood.

Watching funny films or comedy TV series DVDs or reading humorous books can constitute "laugher therapy", she said, which is "something that we all enjoy".

This follows a study led by Virginia Commonwealth University which found that life experiences shape us as individuals and influence our emotional set point as adults.

Participants completed questionnaires regarding their own symptoms of anxiety and depression during a five to six year period.

Authors found that in addition to genes, life experiences are important influences on our levels of anxiety and depression.

Principal investigator Kenneth Kendler commented: "When I was growing up, in talking about the importance of a good diet, we used to say 'You are what you eat'. What this study shows is that to a substantial degree, 'you are what you have experienced'. That is, your life history stays with you in impacting on your background book, for good or for ill."

Meanwhile, the Mental Health Foundation has released literature encouraging people in their 60s approaching retirement or recently retired to take care of their mental health.

Ten steps in the booklet advise older adults how best to look after their mental health as they go through the transition from working life to retirement.

Posted by Nigel Murphy



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