When you’re depressed, it seems that nothing will ever get you out of the rut that you are in. You may have the odd good day, but most of the time, you feel down. You may cry a lot. It feels as though there’s a weight on your chest that makes it difficult to breathe and to move.
This constant feeling of heaviness makes it hard to do anything. Sometimes, it’s hard to even get out of bed. But if you force yourself, you’ll be glad you did because you’ll reap the benefits.
Below is a list of five things you can do to help yourself feel better.
1. Do some exercise. Any type of exercise will do. Exercise causes the generation of new neurons (brain cells), increases the number of connections between neurons, and releases endorphins, which make you feel good by blocking pain impulse transmission to the brain. Exercise is the best natural antidepressant because it makes you feel empowered and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy; it can be anything, such as walking or yoga or swimming, and schedule a time to do it at least several times a week. If you can, get outside during the day to exercise, even in winter. Being in sunlight and feeling its warmth will make you feel better.
2. Maintain a regular schedule. Having a routine helps to stave off depression because it gives structure to your days, weeks, and months. Having structure and planned activities means that you have less time and opportunity to be inside your own head. Be gentle with yourself and maintain a balance between rest and activity.
3. Eat a healthy diet. Eating complex carbohydrates and avoiding simple sugars can go a long way toward improving your depressive symptoms. Maintaining a good balance of carbohydrate and protein at each meal is also very important. Eating carbohydrates increases the release of serotonin, a hormone that gives us a feeling of well-being. Plasma tryptophan (the precursor of serotonin) levels are significantly higher after a meal high in carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates (sugary foods such as donuts), than after a meal high in protein and fat. The more simple sugars you eat, however, the sooner the serotonin high will wear off. So, make sure you’re eating complex carbohydrates (i.e., vegetables, fruits, and whole grains) combined with a protein source. Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and gives you a longer feeling of full, so you’ll be running to the fridge less often.
4. Identify and change your negative thought patterns. When you’re stuck in your own brain, your negative thought patterns create a vortex that makes your mood spiral lower and lower. One way of breaking out of the vortex is to use your rational thinking abilities to challenge the negative thoughts that make you feel depressed. For example, if thinking that you’re not good at anything is making you depressed, start thinking of some things that you’re good at and write them down. You can even ask your friends or family to help you. Changing your thought patterns takes effort and will not come naturally at first, but over time, it will become habitual and you won’t recognize yourself!
5. Maintain social connections. Human beings are social animals, even those of us who are depressed. Whether we like it or not, we need other people to help us feel connected and part of the human race. When you’re feeling depressed, the hardest thing to do is to reach out to other people. It’s easier to be alone when it’s hard to move, and it also feels safe, which is why depression is so isolating. The times when it’s hardest to reach out to others, when you’re feeling at your lowest, are the times when you most need to reach out. If you’re unable to reach out at these times when you need to the most, ask people who are close to you to reach out to you by scheduling phone calls or coffee dates in advance. Picking up the phone or going out will make you feel better. You may have to force yourself, even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing. Do it anyway. You’ll be glad you did and so will your friends.
Remember that you’re not alone. Depression affects 8% of adults. Chances are someone in your circle of friends is also affected.
There is help available. Don’t suffer in silence. Ask for help. Medical doctors prescribe antidepressants, which work very well for some people. If you have misgivings about taking prescription medication, you can try the natural approach first. I can support your needs in a natural way to help lift your mood. Send me an email, and connect with someone who has been there and has overcome it! You can do it too.
Please forward this newsletter to anyone you know who suffers from depression and would benefit from this information.
Supporting your health and happiness the natural way,
Lina Mockus, ND
Would you like more information or help dealing with depression? Send me a message or request an appointment below.