This page is about the best proven ways to overcome a mild to moderate depressive mood. It is not about dealing with a severe depression, although some tips might help even in such cases. I have read a lot about depression, seen a lot of patients with brain injury getting into a depression, helped quite a few people with a moderate depressive mood. Here I want to give you the best practical and mostly proven ways to not only prevent a depression but also to get over it. Without using any medication.
What is my opinion about anti-depressant medication? Well, to be more scientific: the latest unbiased studies do show that anti-depressants do not help much in fighting against light to moderate depression. The research shows that there is quite a lot (up to 60%) placebo effect when using an anti-depressant. However, this is not what farmaceutical companies want to hear so research into this large placebo effect in pills that are a multi-billion dollar industry is often hindered and still rarely done. However, in the more severe (real) depressions there is evidence that anti-depressants can help, although it is not a guarantee! There are ample stories, to be read on the Internet on fora, of people suffering from severe depression who got rid of their anti-depressants and did manage to overcome their depressive mood. In psychiatry, depression being a sickness, this should hardly be possible. But hundreds of thousands of people have done it, so can you! Using the right techniques. And I want to summarize these very clearly. Of course, you can find many, many websites about how to overcome your depressive mood. But I haven’t found many that really talk about the specifics of how and especially why their tips and trics work to overcome the depression. Not only I want to give you the most fundamental tips in overcoming a depressive mood, I do want to try to explain WHY it helps. Using neuroscience and what I’ve learned from my patients as well. Perhaps not 100% scientific in the formal way, but at least interesting and worth of studying more deeply.
Contrary to what most farmaceutical companies and psychiatry (and psychology) want you to believe, I do not think that depression is a disease in the strict sense of a disease like influenza or a stomach ulcer. Unfortunately, history has it that psychiatry considers many mental disorders as a disease, in the same way of saying that a stomach ulcer or cancer is a disease. I specifically focus on the implicit suggestion that you can not do anything about this disease called depression, or ADHD, or Panic Disorder (for that matter). Such psychiatric diseases can not be compared so easily with other physical diseases. In most psychiatric disorders you have some sort of causal role in really developing the disease. Let me be very clear on this matter (before everyone starts jumping on me): in most cases most psychiatric disorders do not emerge automatically, as if you are struck by a terrible disease. Of course, in the case of schizophrenia (a brain disorder), severe developmental disorders (i.e. autism spectrum disorders), and severe obsessive-compulsive disorders, there seems to be something wrong in your brain from the start (birth). I am talking about depression, a lot of anxiety disorders like phobias, panic disorders, and most personality disorders. These are usually ‘learned’ diseases, built up in a combination of ineffective coping styles and usually more difficult life circumstances. When NOT using your brain or thinking patterns in the right way, combined with unhealthy life styles like not eating much or eating very unhealthy and not moving much, well, then you can wait for any kind of psychiatric disease to develop. And I think depression or a depressive mood is of this same (learned) sort of ‘disease’. However, there are also case histories of people who do get a very severe depression without seemingly no triggers at all. Although when looking at such cases I still do not see clear evidence that such a severe depressive mood came overnight without any causal factors in the person’s coping style or environment.
Before becoming too specific or philosophical I just want to make clear that all evidence available, and I do mean ALL available evidence (including anecdotes, case reports, controlled and lesser controlled studies), strongly suggest that depression (just like anxiety disorders) is NOT a disease easily to be dismissed as any other physical disease caused by just one simple agent. One psychologist who agrees with me on this is Stephen Diamond, a forensic and clinical psychologist who is not afraid to tackle the interesting question: “is depression a disease?”. See his interesting blog here:
Go to Blog of Stephen Diamond, clinical psychologist
Why making such a fuss about this? Because, it opens the way to deal or overcome a depressive mood yourself, without having to use medication. And a lot of controlled studies do indeed show that specific therapies like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) work as well or even better in the long run to overcome and prevent a depressive mood than just taking medication. That’s why usually a therapy for a depression is both using an anti-depressant ánd talking therapy (mostly CBT). In the United States, the affordable care act (ACA) is helping thousands suffering from mental illnesses (including depression) by including treatment options under its coverage. I strongly think that most evidence shows that you can overcome a light to moderate depression without even using any anti-depressant at all. An anti-depressant will NOT bring any change in your situation other than just soothing the intensely felt emotions like sadness or anger. And yes, sometimes you just need to feel less in order to think more clearly. That’s why anti-depressants sometimes seem to work. But they can also have serious side-effects: sexual problems, stomach problems, weight gain, and even getting more instead of less suicidal ideas. Especially in youngsters, anti-depressants are not recommendend due to the high suicidal rate in young people under 18 when they were on anti-depressants. For a clear overview and explanation about the controversy in using anti-depressants see this informational site:
Go to Real Risks Antidepressants Article
Two other very informative websites about Depression and the truth about the effectiveness of anti-depressants and other therapies can be found with these two links below. They only support my ideas about depression NOT being a disease as any other physical disease. Although a sketchy model called the Depression Cycle is a bit too simplistic (too less sleep does not necessarily cause more worrying), most information on the UK website about depression is true and very valuable. Furthermore, they offer many practical tips to overcome your depression as well, without medication! The links are:
Both on the Internet and in many books you can find a lot about overcoming a depression. One of the best books about depression and its treatment is Depression: causes and treatment from Aaron Beck and Brad Alford, updated in 2009. It clearly focuses on cognitive behavior therapy but does not become unrealistic and discusses the pros and cons of medication and Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT). I have tried to summarize the key ingredients of an effective therapy for overcoming a mild to moderate depression or depressive mood. But first of all I have to be clear about what exactly is a ‘depressed mood’?.
First of all, there is an astonishing lack of gratification in doing normally satisfying and pleasurable things. Like eating a nice meal, having sex, doing your hobby. As if the motivational system in the brain does not work properly anymore. Secondly, a depressive mood is really felt. Normally, patients report things like ‘being sad, bored or lonely’. Or ‘begin unhappy, feeling miserable, hopeless’. Whatever terms are being used, it is quite clear that a patient does not have any joy or pleasure anymore. Thirdly, usually there are negative feelings about the Self: “being worthless”, “I am no good”, or “I dislike myself”. A fourth and strong indicator that there is something wrong with your mood is having regular crying spells: periods in which you easily start crying and can’t stop it. A trigger may be a sad television story or news item. More women than men cry though, most likely culturally learned.
So now, finally, the most fundamental technique you can use to overcome your depressive mood. I will try to explain WHY this technique seems to work. However, I do not own all wisdom in the world, in case you haven’t noticed yet. So, my explanations should be explored further, but I will try to back them up by some research.
Do things that can motivate yourself again
In a (chronic) depressive mood you have unlearned how to get your motivational clock going. Not only have you been trapped into doing less and less (because you don’t ‘feel like it’), but you have come to talk to yourself in a negative and deconstructive way. No wonder you feel depressed! The rather simple mechanism behind becoming depressed seems to be a continuing lack of motivational input to the brain regions that regulate lust and pleasure. When such a lack of motivation lingers on for days and days, the neurotransmitter balance will be changed. Science still does not know exactly how this all works, but a fact is that your chemical balance in the brain changes due to your own thinking and behaving differently. What you have to realize is that the brain is the only ‘computer’ that can change its own hardware by changing its software and…the other way around!
Motivation and being able to feel joy (or lust, pleasure) is an essential ingredient for living your life. It does NOT come naturally, unlike some people think. Feeling joy, pleasure, has to be trained so that this process continues and does not stop automatically. Evolution has equipped us, a ‘higher’ kind of animal, with ‘lower-level’ mechanisms to feel such joy or pleasure: especially having sex and eating food. Such activities are highly connected to the pleasure centers in our brain. It is completely understandable why we have so much people hooked on sex or food: our brain has been made for lust, sex and eating food. Luckily for us, there are also some safeguards built in to prevent that we are having sex or eat food all day. We also have some thing as ‘having had too much’, or ‘being bored relatively easy’. In a certain way you could also describe our brain as an addict to ever new experiences, leading to ever new behavior and constantly looking for something new. Routines are fine, secure and easy, but they also make us bored and can easily lead to a depressive mood.
The whole fundamental idea of preventing a depression is keep going on, keeping our motivation just high enough not to relapse into a bored or depressed mood. For that we need to have two kinds of fuel for our ‘motivation engine’: 1. constructive thoughts and 2. constructive behavior. From a cognitive behavior theory perspective the ‘thoughts part’ is the most important one. Because you can motivate yourself with thoughts. Yes, that’s certainly true. However, nothing is accomplished when you only have positive thoughts but no actions at all. Motivating yourself, keeping your pleasures at a specific high-enough level to keep you going in life, requires constant training and practice. However, being in a routine sort of living where you are constantly challenged to keep all things going, can give you enough pleasures for quite some time. However, such people tend to become depressed as well, sooner or later. Most likely because of their changing thoughts. In that sense, I agree completely with cognitive behavior theory: we can think ourselves into a depression.
Motivation is a difficult concept, certainly in human beings. It can mean seeking for sex or food or physical warmth, but in humans it also means seeking for love, understanding and being valued. Due to our ability to attach meaning to almost everything we do, we can either be motivated for everything easily or be NOT motivated. Depending on our mind-set. This mind-set: a whole value system that determines how we see things, is extremely important for keeping up our motivation. In more spiritual ways: we need to have a purpose, a goal in life. We simply can not be happy with just the realization that we work all day, eat, have sex and go to sleep, every day, every week, every month, every year. Well, of course, there are a lot of people who are very happy with such kind of life. Obviously, their motivational system can keep running on the same input, day in, day out: going to their work, raising their children, working more, doing some hobbies every weekend, and that’s it. Fine. Just like my house cat: very satisfied day in and day out with sitting on my lap, lying on the couch all day, and walking around in the evening and probably having sex as well. I have rarely seen a depressed cat (in fact, I only know of those cases where a cat had lost his caretaker due to a disease).
To cite a famous Star Trek philosophy: boldly go where no man has gone before. In other words: seek out life and its many wonderful experiences. When you have an exploring mind-set, you will always keep out looking for something new. You will then always be rewarded optimally. Whenever you live your life as a true explorer, always keeping an open and investigating mind, then you will likely not be bored ever again, well, at least not for a long time. So train yourself in looking at things in a constantly refreshing and new way, in order to prevent too much routine and therefore boredom. Whenever I go shopping for example, I always find it interesting to see what I will encounter this time in the shop. Sometimes, I do get to meet some people I know and such brief encounters make my whole day enjoyable. More specifically, I do not expect anything in particular, I just wait and see. I am like a real scientist: curious of what is coming and ready to accept everything that is coming towards my path. So: always be an explorer!
The brain philosophy behind this tip is that our brain dies without new input. Studies have consistently shown that whenever our brain is confronted with the exact same input, it gradually disappears out of our attention. Because we become habituated to it, or more simply put: we get bored.
This is not to say that we should strive to constantly change our jobs or our partners, although some would welcome such a scenario. Our brain (our emotions) do like a certain kind of routine as well, it gives us peace of mind, does not keep us sharp constantly. It reduces stress to have some sort of routines around. But my main idea is: please be careful not to stick too long into the same routines. You will not grow or challenge your brain, and finally you will become depressed, for seemingly no obvious reason at all.
Develop yourself. Don’t ever think you have learned enough about the world, about yourself. Please keep growing and learn more and more about yourself and how you can change into a person using his or her full potential. The reason ‘personal development’ is extremely popular on the Internet is that it is one of the best techniques to keep going and having pleasure most of the time. That’s why Steve Pavlina got so successful with his site (and book) Personal Development for Smart People. This craving for more personal growth is largely due to our almost limitless growth potential, our ability to think and experience things in many different ways. And there is another ‘secret’ in striving for more personal growth: it gives you a very satisfying deep sense of connection with other living beings, and a deep sense of calmness, of a state of anxiety-free that you will never reach automatically. In literature and ancient (religious) writings this state has been called Nirwana, a state of enlightenment. In psychology, it has been called ‘ecstacy’, the top of self-actualisation. Some spiritual leaders think that such a state, even briefly attained, will connect you to the so-called Universal Consciousness. I don’t know about that, evidence for such a state is usually very anecdotal and it depends on how elaborate you would like to go to explain the universe as we know it.
I do know from my own experience however, that personal development is very rewarding in that I am feeling more powerful today than say 10 years ago. I know myself much more than 10 years ago, I know my weaknesses and my strengths. Therefore I recognize them much quicker than I used to, giving me the chance to correct them much sooner than in the past. Nowadays, I still have ‘negative’ feelings like sadness and anxiety, however, I manage to change them much easier and quicker. My strength has grown much more, even having experienced the most severe stressors in the last 5 years (my mother died, much too soon, being divorced, my work managers kept bullying me). That’s all because of my constant desire to understand the things happening around me, to put them into some sort of meaningful perspective. Heavily influenced by the work of Kevin Wilber I have come to an interesting conclusion that all things happen for a reason…and…we are here for a reason. Life has a purpose. After all. It took me a while to see it clearly, but now I do. And this wisdom makes me even stronger, more devoted to life and more enjoying life. In fact, I am planning to write an E-book about it so that more people can see why life has indeed a purpose.
A third major way to prevent a depressive mood, to motivate yourself in this life, is to train yourself in thinking realistically. There are many books written about ‘positive thinking’, which is NOT what I am talking about. It is not the art of positive thinking that makes you strong. It is the art of realistic thinking. I truly feel that Steve Pavlina has it right when he talks about finding the Truth. Truth meaning: reality. Be real about yourself and your environment. Do not be biased and rule out all evidence there is. Please be a true scientist: consider ALL evidence, seek towards Truth. Unfortunately, most ‘wise’ scientists are brainwashed nowadays into thinking that the scientific method with its heavy emphasis on randomized controlled studies is about the only way to unveil the Truth. It’s not! This method only exists for about 200 years. In the past, ancient cultures of the Muslims, the Greek, the Egyptians, the Chinese did have a lot of knowledge as well. Of course, we do know more today about nature than in ancient times. Due to our ever advancing technologies. But in one area we still haven’t matured yet: in our personal and emotional development. When focusing on thinking realistically we have to incorporate our emotions and feelings and facts about our ability for compassion and love. Only when we come to think more realistically, when we really are striving to find the Truth, then we can become more powerful and more connected to each other. Exactly like Steve Pavlina explains in his model about developing our Intelligence. It is the tri-unity of Love, Truth and Power that will bring us true Wisdom (what he calls Intelligence, although I would think that ‘Wisdom’ would be the more appropriate word).
In summary, I told you that a depressive mood can be prevented or overcome by finding ways to improve or stabilize your motivation engine. I gave three main tips to do this: 1. constantly seek out new experiences in life: be prepared to learn constantly. 2. Seek personal development, strongly related to the first tip. 3. Learn to think realistically. Below I will give more daily life examples so that you can understand more clearly what I mean with every tip.
You have to realize that to keep your good mood you have to keep a steady schedule of rewards and yes…punishments. You need rewards to biochemically stimulate your reward centers in the brain, in order to stimulate the adrenaline and dopamine levels. Just as with muscles you keep these kind of neurotransmitter balances in good health when you stimulate them regularly. In the same way that your blood glucose regulation system should be regularly stimulated, sort of. With joy and experiencing pleasure, it’s the same story: keep it fresh. So sometimes you also need relaxation and rest to calm down your reward system. That’s also why you need punishments…sometimes. I mean that all can not be well every single time, you’ll need disappointments, anti-joy, so to speak. Both emotionally and biochemically there has to be a balance. I fully realize that this does not sound too scientific but I have no other way right now to put this more simply. Some activities you can do: put up your favorite music and either select very happy music bringing you joy or very sad music on which you can cry as hard as you can. As already said: you’ll need to cry sometimes to feel your sorrows and pain.
In real life you have to maintain a regular rhythm of doing nice things, things you like and know they are giving you pleasure. So please spend some time doing your hobbies, be it sports or gardening or whatever it is you like. And alternate between these joyful things and things you do not like much, things you normally have to do. In my case those are: ironing my shirts, doing the laundry, house cleaning and washing my car. Luckily I found Roomba, an automatic robot vacuum cleaner, and I bring my car sometimes to a wash street. But more seriously: keep every day as structured as you can. Rise at roughly the same times, go to bed at the same time each day, in order to have enough rest and sleep. Do regular things like morning exercises at the same time each day. This kind of structure helps you to remain calm and lessen your anxiety, your brain can depend on such structure. Furthermore, it keeps you disciplined. The importance of this is always underestimated. By adhering to a certain day structure you constantly train and focus yourself to certain goals. As if you are having a constant appointment with yourself. In such a way you motivate your brain to 'be there at the right time' for a couple of times each day.
There is a simple but very effective rule to alternate between joyful activities and things that have to be done:always start with the most boring and less pleasurable things! The reason is that the reward you’ll get after having done something you don’t like much, is bound to be greater than when you start doing very joyful things. In this way, you train to motivate yourself in the most optimal way. Start your homework with the most difficult things and promise yourself that the reward will be greater at the end. And it will be! Furthermore, you can last much longer whenever you know that later on it only becomes more pleasurable. In fact, you keep the motivation engine rolling.
Whenever you have done things that were less enjoyable, please talk to yourself in a proud and self-stimulating way. Like: “that was very good what I have done! I’m a really glad I did this.” It sounds a bit childish but the effect is very real. Self-talk, how you look at yourself is a very important element of keeping up your good mood. It keeps away negative thoughts. Your mindset will be focused on doing the right things for you, on fully realizing that you have accomplished some difficult things. So: please use positive self-talk everytime you have succeeded in doing less enjoyable or difficult things.
When doing your things in life train yourself to always keep an open and wondering mind. Be like a true scientist or an unbiased observer who doesn’t stop wondering about the events happening before him. Be like a wondering child and keep enjoying what’s happening. In personal development terminology: look at what’s happening with wonder and delight. It’s a mindset you’ll find in Zen-Buddhism as well. Keep looking and searching for the Truth, be as realistic as you can. Don’t be brainwashed or fooled by any sort of religious, political, scientific model. Just observe and realize what is Reality. I know, this sounds a bit weird. But the simple message is: keep an open mind.
This all belongs to personal development, to the continuing drive to grow consciously. Just as Steve Pavlina suggests. And there are a lot of people out there who want that. Steve’s success can be attributed to this growth hunger. Essentially, it has to do with exploring yourself, knowing yourself as this is as old as humanity. Man has also been curious about himself and his place on this planet, in this life. It is a very fundamental longing for a basic kind of meaning to all life. The question “Why or what are we living for?” is found in every human culture for as long as man has consciousness. One of the answers can be found only whenever we grow consciously. When we get to know ourselves, our weaknesses and strengths. Probably, because knowing yourself is the only way to feel very comfortable, very at ease, very without fear, almost enlightened. I will come back to this later when I will talk about our need, our brain’s need to give meaning to everything. To construct a sort of a reference model in which we can place all things happening around us. Such a model, such a mindset can give us peace. More importantly, it prevents us from becoming depressed!
Other tips you always read on the Internet have more to do with your health: eat healthy, do some exercise, sleep well. And my humble advice: have regular normal sex with your partner.
Just recently I found a wonderful website that is offering astonishing meditation music. One of the things I haven't discussed yet is meditation using relaxing music.
Why bring this up? Well, both in my practice and in the comments I get from this page, there are a lot of readers saying that they could not stop their distressing thoughts just by trying to think realistically. Although having read several books, even been in psychotherapy, those readers just could not stop their distracting and depressing thoughts. They noticed that only when doing some physical work (sports or doing your laundry!) their minds 'took some time off'. And...another group started to listen to relaxation music, often triggered by the mindfulness lessons they took. This strategy, doing physical exercises or just listening to relaxation music, helped them to calm down, to reduce their distressing thoughts. Only after this, they could really learn to think realistically. In a certain sense, their brain had to 'shut down' a bit, before they could think 'straight' or more realistically.
I began thinking about this and started reading about mindfulness and what music does with our brain. It was never in my study, nor is there much scientific literature about music and its healing effects. However, I do know one thing that everyone has experienced in his or her life: music can really change your mood. Each and every patient I have had, even with severe brain damage, could improve his mood by listening to his favorite music. But...it usually had to be a special kind of music, music that could create slow waves in the brain. Music that could create a restlike state of mind with more alpha waves. In neurofeedback training, which works only for about 50% in brain damaged patients (just like anti-depressants), it is essential to let the brain get to rest and focus. One is trained to focus on one thing only and not to have many (disturbing) automatic thoughts floating around. Exactly the same as meditation does: focusing on one thing only in order to create a state of a resting mind, without erratic random thoughts.
Nowadays, scientists finally start to find positive effects of meditation after having ignored practical (anecdotal) evidence for over several centuries now. That's unfortunately the arrogance of western science. But the good news is: meditation really has several positive advantages: you'll learn to focus better, it creates a more restful mind, and...your mood starts to change in a positive way. You'll tend to be more mindful, you are able to better let go of those distressing thoughts. And meditation is much more easy to learn with soothing music. I still haven't found a real scientific explanation for this positive effect of music. So I have to speculate here a bit.
One of the things we do know about music that the brain is heavily influenced by rhythm and sounds. And this influence runs very deep. Probably because, just as with smells and sex, music is heavily related to our most basic emotions like pleasure, fear and sadness. What's one of the most simple things to do when you want to cry? Just put up some piece of music that touches you deeply. Music can reach your soul, touch upon hidden layers in your mind, unconscious thoughts, much more than words can. It is even stronger as a trigger for emotions than an image. Have you ever thought about WHY there is so much (pop) music around? Why so many people over the whole world spend significant amounts of their earned money on music? Why music is the second best searched for item on the Internet? Of course, the number one is sexually content. Because our brain is built upon emotions during centuries of evolution. Just as with sex and food (the other very well searched topic on the Internet), music is deeply wired into our brain. Every brain region is being influenced by music. And it just might be that soothing music can relax the 'default mode network' in your brain (as it is called scientifically. Because, although your brain never stops thinking, its thinking can be influenced and regulated. Perhaps much better with relaxing music.
So why not take advantage of this fact? To fight your depressive or distressing thoughts I urged you to take an active attitude. But let nature help you with that: start moving more (literally) and start listening to relaxing music. Learn to meditate with music and...then start learning how to think realistically. Let mindfulness start and then let cognitive therapy do the rest.
In order to help you do that I have come across a fellow SBI-er (SBI being Site Build It, a web building course) who has developed amazing relaxation meditation music that can help you to meditate and relax. However, you will need structure: to listen to this music at a highly regular basis, preferably each day. It can help you to relax and to learn to think more realistically. If you have become interested then you should try out this link to the meditation music website I've found:
- Alternate between joyful and sad moments, for example by using your music. Cry your heart and sorrow out, laugh heartily when watching your favorite comedy.
- Keep a balance between things you have to do and things you really like
- Maintain a strict structure during each day: rise and go to bed at the same times, do your exercises at regular steady intervals, eat at the same 6 times a day.
- Always start the most boring or difficult activities and work your way towards the less difficult ones.
- Be proud of what you have finished every time you feel it was difficult. Talk positively and proudly to and of yourself each time!
- Always, and I mean Always, keep an open mind: just observe the things that are happening to and around you. Do not condemn, interpret or ridicule things. Just watch and learn.
- Please see everything that happens to you as have some kind of purpose. Try always to find this purpose. There is purpose to everything!
I will try to show you a schema of how things that you can do to prevent and/or overcome a depressive mood are related.
Below you’ll find a schema in which the above tips are displayed. From left to right you see the more simple activities you can do to prevent a depressive mood and the more difficult ones. Especially thinking realistically is easily said but very difficult to do. Most people do not realize that such kind of ‘down-to-earth’-thinking requires quite some training. But it is very essential to prevent a depression. However, the most essential thing to have and to train is a fundamental philosophy of life by which you can understand everything that is happening around you. In this ‘great scheme of things’ you can understand your place and your being here in this life, on this planet. This helps you to overcome every sort of trauma or terrible accidents that can happen in your life. Having a religious scheme or mindset is a form of such a philosophy of life. Please let me state clearly here that I am not fond of such a religious scheme because it usually tends to be fairly narrow-minded and not really universally applicable. A truly helpful and powerful philosophy of life must be at least universally valid, for every man, woman, child, for every culture on earth, and ideally for every sentient living being on earth. For example, Buddhism is such a powerful basic philosophy of life. A classic TV-series in the seventies that shows various aspects of Buddhism in a very open and easily understandable way is Kung Fu with the iconic David Carradine as Caine. Every show has some lessons to learn for your daily life. Although by modern standards the show is relatively slow (some would say boring) and the action scenes are a bit childish (amateuristic), it is very powerful in focusing on fundamental themes and lessons in life. Living like Caine is a sure way of not having a depressive mood ever! Very much worth viewing!
Perhaps you found some of the suggested solutions helpful for your situation. Please take your time to tell about it and share it with others.
And maybe you have even more suggestions that you have found helpful in your situation. Please share these with others so that you can help them! In this way we can help each other just by sharing daily life solutions.