Depression is a highly common, but very treatable disorder, that affects over 17 million American adults annually. Women are affected nearly twice as much as men, with either depression or dysthmia (Research Agenda for Psychosocial and Behavioral Factors in Women’s Health, 1996). And depression has been called the most significant mental health risk for women, especially those during childbearing and childrearing age (Glied & Kofman, 1995). However, once identified, depression can almost always be successfully treated utilizing a balance of psychotherapy, medication (if indicated), and mindful lifestyle practices.
Let’s consider five activities that are often forgotten, but you can use to empower yourself, and improve symptoms of depression.
1.Don’t underestimate the power of your “diet”. More and more people are becoming aware of the intrinsic link disease development and impaired brain function to the health of our gut. With 90% of the mood stabilizing neurotransmitter serotonin produced in our intestine, it proves to keep an inti-inflammatory diet, that is full of whole, organic foods. But remember that we have five senses, and they all have a diet to consider and maintain. Take a moment and consider what you are feeding yourself…
Everything is food for our body, mind and spirit.
Taste- How much caffeine, chocolate, sugars, processed foods, heavy foods do you take in daily? Are you prone to “grazing”, and therefore overwhelming your digestive organs before they’re done with your last meal? Do you tend to (over-)eat while otherwise occupied (watching tv, working, reading, screen gazing)?
Touch – Try some massage, either given yourself or received, with aromatic and nourishing oils. Make sure you have cozy contact and give and get hugs, cuddles, cozy time with your pets.
Hearing – Make a habit of listening to soothing music, sounds of nature, water, vibrations/tones, mantra, and use gentle, soothing speech.
Smell – Take in fresh air daily, keep clean surroundings, and diffuse or inhale delicious essential oils, or flowers.
Sight – Surround yourself with pleasing imagery and pictures, art, nature, and colors that are soothing. Take regular breaks from screens to relieve the eyes from constant bombardment of stimulation.
2. Breathe like a baby. The majority of us typically breathe in our upper 1/3rd of our lungs as we race around from activity to activity. Relax your belly, let it go, and breathe there. When you drop down into the lower body, it grounds us, and allows us to take it more life giving prana and oxygen.
3. Remember the medicine in endorphins. Exercise and aerobic activity naturally releases pain relieving, euphoria producing endorphins. So take a brisk walk, swim some aps, take a dance class or jump on a trampoline. It doesn’t matter, as long you do something daily. You know what else releases endorphins? Laughter. ?
4. Just sit there. And meditate. Meditation has been proven to improve depression, anxiety, test scores, levels of concentration, attention and many chronic health conditions.
5. Don’t forget to nurture the most important relationship- a spiritual one. Whatever your beliefs may be, finding a connection to a Source of Divinity of your own understanding reminds you that you’re not in this alone, you’re not responsible for it all, and there’s so much out there, so many other people out there, who struggle and come together all over this world. Even if it’s simply a practice of giving thanks every night before you go to bed, connects and remind you how precious you are to have been chosen to live this day.
Joy Herbst, MSN, APRN. www.JoyHerbst.com Purnima Women’s Health, LLC. 2017