Ditch the doldrums with this easy brain hack

When you're feeling low, your couch is prime real estate. It's got everything you're looking for to escape, no matter what's distressing you.

It's not only comfortable -- it's comforting!

But according to the latest research, the "couch potato" approach to dealing with the blues may actually be making it worse.

When you're feeling depressed, it's usually because you have low levels of the brain chemical serotonin. But curling up is the exact OPPOSITE of what you should be doing to lift your spirits -- because the BEST way to boost levels of this "feel-good" neurotransmitter is by getting a little exercise!

The new study, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, found that while being sedentary is associated with depression, physical activity -- even just light exercise -- can really turn things around.

In the study, researchers compared the self-reported feelings of wellbeing and depression of 419 middle-aged adults with their physical movements over the course of four days.

Those who were the MOST sedentary were the LEAST happy, compared to those who engaged in some light or moderate physical activity.

But the good news is that people who had been sedentary but began some light or moderate exercise during the study showed the GREATEST improvement in psychological well-being.

So, if you're struggling with depression or feeling even a little bit down, don't reach for that remote -- or for an antidepressant drug that comes with a list of side effects longer than the line at the DMV.

Instead, get moving!

And it doesn't take a lot of "get-up-and-go" to lift your spirits.

The most effective exercise for raising serotonin levels is aerobic activity -- the stuff that gets your heart pumping -- so if you're more ambitious with your exercise, by all means keep it up.

But according to these latest findings, it's enough just to move around without any sweating, panting for breath, or heart pounding -- the equivalent of taking a leisurely stroll around the mall!

That means you'll get a brain boost even from low-intensity activities like gardening, walking the dog, or window shopping.

You don't even need "workout" gear, and you'll still get enough physical activity to put a smile on your face again.

You might actually get the most bang for your buck from trying a gentle senior yoga class -- because the ancient practice not only gets you moving, but it also incorporates breathing and meditation, a combination that's been shown in studies to ease major depression.

Taking a walk outside in the sun is also a great bet -- because studies show that feasting your eyes on trees, birds, and greenery reduces depression, as does getting enough vitamin D, the "sunshine" vitamin your body produces when the rays hit your skin.