How to Stay Healthy and Fit While Feeling Depressed

Lately I’ve been feeling sad and depressed, and I’m worried about it taking a toll on my body. So here’s what I’m doing to keep up my health and fitness while dealing with the blues.

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How to stay healty fit while depressed

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This is not the first time I’ve gone through difficult times in my life.

When my sister lost her battle to leukemia, I felt like I had been slapped in the face, and I couldn’t stop crying for days.

And then, life just took a general wrong turn: my husband fell ill, our business took a nosedive, and we got kicked out of the house we had living in. I started feeling sad all the time, and nothing could make me feel better.

To make matters worse, my eating habits spiraled out of control. I tend to be an emotional eater, so you can imagine what my depressed state did to my body. I ended up gaining almost 10 pounds!

I spent a year trying to get rid of those pounds, and I’m proud to say I succeeded.

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But this year started off badly. My father’s illness got worse, and he recently passed away.

Again, I felt like I had been slapped in the face. I mean, I had just started feeling better about life, and suddenly my dad is gone. His absence makes me feel terribly lost and alone.

At first I was just numb, but now I’m definitely falling back into the sadness mode. I have days when I’m feeling positive and upbeat, and days when I have trouble just getting out of bed.

I’m doing my best to keep up my chin up but it’s hard. And I’m also worried I’ll gain 10 pounds again. However, I’m determined not to let that happen.

So now I have a plan.

How to Stay Healthy and Fit While Feeling Depressed

Dealing with depression or grief can take its toll, physically and emotionally.

This is why I have come up with a plan which I hope will help me get through this difficult time while remaining as healthy, fit, and sane as possible.

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Eat a Healthy Diet

I know this is easier said than done, but it helps to have a set of guidelines I can more or less stick to.

1. Get enough nutrients

The first thing is to keep my body properly nourished in order to stay healthy.

Serotonin is the body’s natural “feel good” chemical, so it improves mood and helps fight anxiety and depression. Folate, vitamin B, and healthy fats like omega 3 are all helpful in stimulating serotonin production.

These nutrients are found in fish oil, nuts, flaxseed, green leafy veggies, meat, milk, fish, and eggs.

This is great news because I eat most of these on a regular basis (except milk), so I should just try to stick to my regular diet and that’s it.

2. Avoid stimulants

Alcohol, sugar, and caffeine produce highs and lows which can make depression symptoms worse.

Therefore, I plan on avoiding my regular glass of wine and replacing it with a cup of chai tea.

Sugar is going to be more difficult because of the emotional eating, but I’m going to try to keep sweet stuff out of the house, or at least most of it. It’s hard to do with the kids around.

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3. Eat at regular intervals

Eating regularly keeps glucose levels in check and this helps avoid the highs and lows.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly down, I tend to eat unhealthy food because I don’t feel like cooking.

But it helps to do meal planning and prepping when I’m in a high mood, so I’ll have healthy food ready to eat when I’m feeling down. 

4. Keep junk food out of the house

I don’t want to be tempted to start eating junk out of a bag. It fuels my emotional eating, and it’s a surefire way to add inches to my waist.

This won’t be easy to do when there are two kids and a teenager in the house. Just like with sugar, avoiding junk is going to be the hard part.

5. Do intermittent fasting

This one is controversial, but I’ve been doing this for a while now and it definitely works for me. I stop eating at 7 or 8 pm and have breakfast at 9 the next morning. It’s really not difficult.

Intermittent fasting helps me because on days when I do eat junk, my body feels better after going without food for a while. And even on days when I don’t eat junk, fasting helps settle my upset stomach from anxiety.

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Do exercise

This isn’t so difficult for me. I have learned to love exercise and my workouts are something I always look forward to.

Exercise is key for treating depression because it releases endorphins, which are your body’s “feel good” hormones. It also increases energy levels and improves sleep. And stimulates serotonin production.

However, there days when I feel I can hardly move, so I have to find ways to keep myself on a workout schedule.

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1. Do short but intense workouts

I really don’t have the mindset to spend an hour or more doing exercise, so short HIIT workouts are better.

It’s easier to work out if I tell myself I have to get up and move for only 15 minutes instead of an hour.

2. Go outside

My kids are strict about their playground time, so it’s a good idea to schedule a workout during that time.

It’s a lot more motivating to work out outside and get some sunshine and fresh air than to stay cooped up at home.

3. Don’t sit around

This is also going to be tricky. It’s one thing to do a workout, but it’s another to keep myself active the rest of the day.

The good news is there are many things which count as physical activity: housework, gardening, walking, yoga.

I plan on having my kids help me with this. They agreed to be in charge of nagging me to do the chores and the yardwork so I won’t sit around all day.

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Maintain a healthy lifestyle

It’s difficult to keep up with everything when dealing with emotional issues, but I have to try. It’s not a good idea to let things fall apart because that’s only going to make me feel worse.

1. Keep up with my regular routine

Having kids helps with this becuase I still have to take them to school, pick them up, make meals, do chores, and help with homework. I drag my feet through the daily routine sometimes, but everything’s fine as long as I get most of it done somehow.

But I also have my writing and work-at-home schedule to maintain, which might be hard.

I have decided not to be so hard on myself if I don’t keep up with my blogging schedule. I consider it a win that I’m not giving up on the writing altogether.

Besides, I love writing. It might even be therapeutic for me.

The important thing here is to avoid punishing myself for not keeping up with everything. Self-love, please!

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2. Get enough sleep

Some nights, I just can’t sleep. Some mornings, I just can’t open my eyes.

My sleep schedule is completely out of whack, but what I can do is go to bed and get up every day at fixed times to get my body on schedule again.

I’ve found reading a book before bedtime and having a cup of chai tea are very good remedies for insomnia. No pills, please!

3. Get enough sunshine

Going out to the playground with the kids helps me get some much-needed sunshine.

Sunshine is essential for wellness. It improves mood and energy levels because it stimulates serotonin production.

So I’ll just let my kids drag me outside for a little while every day.

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4. Meditate

After my mother-in-law died, my father-in-law pulled himself out of depression by meditating.

Although I haven’t tried it, I honestly believe in the power of meditation. I’m willing to try it if my mood doesn’t improve in a few weeks.

5. Get support

The last time I was depressed, I closed myself off from from other people, and it wasn’t a good idea.

Sometimes, you just have to accept you can’t deal with things on your own.

Like most people, I tend to avoid doing anything that might make others feel uncomfortable.  However, it’s easier to deal with grief and sorrow if you’re willing to rely on other people for support. That’s what BFFs are for.

Besides, the rest of my family is grieving too, so we should all support each other. My kids also have emotions to process. 

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Dealing with grief in a healthy way

I know this isn’t going to be easy.

I’m not sure if it’s going to work, but having a plan reassures me I can deal with the grief and sorrow in a healthy way.

Make no mistake. It’s not easy to stop feeling sad. It requires time, patience, and acceptance.

If you’re feeling depressed, the first thing you should know is you’re not alone. And also know it’s valid to feel better one day and then feel bad again the next day.

Accept the fact you’re feeling sad. It’s a natural, human response to tragic situations. You don’t have to be happy all the time.

Sometimes, bad things happen, but it’s not your fault.

Seek professional help if you don’t think you have the strength to deal with grief, anxiety, or depression on your own.

As for me, I know this too shall pass. In the end, it’s not about bouncig back, but crawling forward, one little inch at a time.

Have you ever felt depressed? How did you deal with it?

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28 thoughts on “How to Stay Healthy and Fit While Feeling Depressed

  1. I needed to see this today. I’m so sorry about your loses. I actually lost my dad yesterday afternoon, I’m still dumbfounded; I have no idea how to feel or become ok with it. I’m pinning this post because I’m going to need help & inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello I loved your post but, from my own experience, I have found caffeine to be beneficial at helping me manage my depression. Although you are right to say that these substances can bring highs and lows, I found caffeine, or coffee/tea to give me that bit of energy that helps me get into the flow and out of my funk. Scientists have actually done experience with severely depressed patients in which they physically shock sections of the brain in order to get them moving faster. When they do this, the patients report feeling happy and energetic. They do this because when a brain is depressed, it’s running slower than normal. So, I believe that a little extra boost can really help those suffering from depression, I know it’s helped me! Alcohol, on the other hand, is not good at all. It is a depressive, so it makes drinkers more depressed over time. I hope you’re ok with my 2 cents, lol. -Rita

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot for your 2 cents! I’ve heard other people say coffee has helped, but personally I’m too sensitive to caffeine and coffee makes my insomnia worse. But green tea is okay for me. The amount of caffeine in tea is just enough to give me energy without keeping me up. It’s about finding what works for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like you’ve had a lot to deal with recently 🙂 For me the best thing to do is connect to what i’m actually feeling. Depression is usually because i’m resisting feeling something so it’s weighing heavy on me. I often find there is some anger there & I feel SO much better after a scream into a pillow & a good cry

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    1. It’s true most of the time you can deal with bad stuff by screaming into a pillow and crying. However, dealing with grief and loss is more complicated because you must learn to live without someone who was a huge part of your life, and there are not enough pillow screams or tears that will make you feel better. It just takes time, nothing else.

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  4. Oooh you’re totally on my wavelength! I too am doing something similar, that is, getting some new good habits to improve my mind and also body. Love your tips … it’s amazing how it actually does work. I’m sorry you’ve had some tough times but with all your plans, there’s no doubt that you’ll be on the mend in no time. Have. Lovely weekend and I look forward to your next post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So sorry for the circumstances that caused your sadness and depression. Your tips are informative and definitely work. Last year at this time I realized I was in seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression (got a big dose of anxiety with it that hadn’t completely gone away). Amazing how eating a balanced diet (vitamins) and taking a walk outdoors and lot’s of sunshine can transform those feelings.

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  6. I am sorry for everyone’s loss. My mom died 2 years ago. She lived with Bob and me for 8 mos. he is an emt, ski patroller and worked at a homeless shelter as the exec director, and i have been in many jobs in hospitals and we were the best place to be. She loved Bob. He would cook her breakfast (he is an earlier riser than me and loved to cook for her). He would come in from work and immediately go sit with her and aske how she was doing and did she need her bandages on her feet changed. We would go to yard sales and she loved to go shopping. My best friend, Jeanne she called her daughter and when Jeanne started working said, Jeanne needs to stop working so much! I want to go to the christmas store. I would say, i can take you, No jeanne had to. She had a great sense of humor ad a twinkle in her eye. As her time was getting closer she would hallucinate. One day she said, tell me how am i watching tv when i don’t have one in here. I had no idea what to say. I gave a stupid answer and hurried out of the room. One the last times we laughed was when she was yawning and stretching. Her little mouth went into a wierd position then she looked at me and we cracked up laughing. On her last day, Jeanne came by and we went into her room. I said ma, she answered, What! I am sleeping! I said Jeanne is here, she turned her head quick toward Jeanne and in a happy voice said HI JEANNE! Lol She passed 15 days after she turning 96. I didn’t cry for about 6 mos and then the dam broke. I cried every night and during the day. I thought of all the things i didn’t do or find out about her life. Anyway, i really was thinking i needed help, then i got a booklet from hospice saying we all mourn in our own way and time. Ok that helped but the tears were still pouring out. I called my sisters and each one was going through the exact same thing. That helped. As time passed the daily tears stopped and nightly tears slowly stopped. I did start to get teary when i first started to write this, so i went and made a cup of coffee. Distraction!! It worked.
    I hope for those going through a loss feel better soon and find someone to help whether a family member or friend. Remember the good times and talk about those when you are ready.
    I don’t remeber my eating at that time so can’t give any advice from back then all i can say now is if you blow the challenge for awhile just go back to it as soon as you can’t. Bless you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ay Fabi, I know the heartache you are going through and I also know that only your heart knows how much time it needs to feel what it is feeling. My thoughts and condolences are with you as you navigate this struggle. I commend you for working hard to avoid the weight gain. It’s hard when you are an emotional eater to handle such a stressful moment in your life. I’m rooting for you amiga. Un beso.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s so hard! But the last few days I’ve been thinking about changing my plan a bit so I can manage the emotional eating better. I think I’m going to write a post about that later. Writing has definitely been therapeutic.

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  8. So sorry for you’re loss! I have dealt with definitely dealt with freaking sadness on a regular basis in the past. I’ve had therapy and it definitely helped. I agree with all your tips though I find sunshine always makes me happy and listening to music. Dance!!! It always helps. Especially if no one is looking. Keep strong Fabi.

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    1. I don’t know why but I just can’t dance. However, I do like to do short, one-song workouts and those always improve my mood. Going out and getting some sunshine is also great for me. Thanks, Tabitha!

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  9. Wow. Thank you for sharing this. I’m very sorry for your loss.
    I’m a very emotional eater myself, and when I’m not feeling the greatest and maybe depressed at sometimes, I will eat so that I can feel something inside and be happy for a moment. The result? after I finish my junk food, I feel even more depressed and mad with my self that I couldn’t control my self. Thank you for giving us all these advice. I never know how to try to maintain a healthy lifestyle or what I’m supposed to eat and when… I’m going to try to get more vitamins and good nutriments to stay happy and healthy! Also, It very intrigued me the idea of meditating!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If you have trouble maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially when you feel depressed, then just do one thing that makes you feel better. For me, it’s exercise. For you, maybe it’s healthy food. Just concentrate on that one thing, and it will make you feel a lot better.

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