Most of us have been there, and sometimes without warning. Depression typically attacks those who have suffered a loss, physical and mental abuse, have low self-esteem or are experiencing a lack of fulfillment. The degrees in the severity of depression vary from bouts of mild depression extending to more severe, medical conditions such as bi-polar disorder.
For the milder bouts of depression, it is much simpler to find higher ground than it is for a person who is suffering from a more serious condition. Although triggered by our own thought processes, depression often throws us into an emotional vacuum that affects our ability to reason and therefore can be very debilitating. The common approach to treating depression is therapy and prescribed drugs such as anti-depressants. Having suffered bouts of depression in my younger years, which ranged in severity, I am speaking from experience when I say that taking medication to manage depression is equivalent to having surgery to lose weight. The root of the problem is not being addressed, and most likely will return with a vengeance. If we do not take action by seeking to educate ourselves about how to gain control of our thoughts and change our thought processes, the effects of depression will continue to repeatedly present themselves, along with the undesirable side-effects of taking medications.
Below are six natural methods that can be used to relieve the symptoms of depression. Understanding that there is a lot of difficulty in taking action while in a depressed state, it is important to incorporate these actions into daily life as more of a preventative measure rather than waiting until depression strikes. Either way, always seek higher ground, beginning with the next highest thought and move from that point to the next. Do not try to reach the top of the mountain in a single jump because it will usually result in frustration, leading to a deeper depression. Just take it one step, one thought, one day, at a time.
1. Read, listen to and/or watch empowering material such as personal development books, audios and videos. Make this a daily habit. It is important to explore and learn about yourself and how you process thoughts and why. Once you discover how to become conscious of your own thoughts, you can then begin to learn how to recognize and control them. This won’t happen overnight, but like everything else there has to be a starting point so why wait? Start today.
2. A healthy diet and exercise play a key role in not only your physical wellness, but your mental wellness. No new news here. Natural foods are full of nutrients and vitamins that promote both physical and mental health, thus warding off depression. Stay clear of foods that are high in sugar. Not only do they have negative effects on the body, but high doses of sugar contribute to mood swings and disorders. Remember the Twinkie defense?
3. Action is life’s keyword, both mentally and physically. When we exercise, our body produces hormones and other chemicals that relieve pain, reduce stress, enhance the immune system and relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety. There are several other benefits to exercise and if you are one of my regular readers, you know that I promote exercise in nearly every article. Why? Because I am a huge advocate of healthy mind, healthy body – and visa versa. Even a brisk walk can change your entire outlook.
4. It’s short and simple - get out of your head and start a project. Write a poem, paint a picture, build a house – do anything positive or productive that will shift your focus from you...to it.
5. Find a reason to laugh. I personally love to watch comedy clips. You can also read comics, make faces in the mirror – whatever tickles your funny bone. Have you ever experienced one of those hysterically funny moments that when you thought about it at a later date it made you laugh again as if it had just happened? Collect as many of those moments as you can so you can pull from the memory file when needed. Laugh often - it’s life’s miracle cure. Seriously.
6. Meditation is a mandatory part of my life and I strongly recommend it to my clients and others. I’ve had many people tell me that they don’t have the time or patience to meditate or they wouldn’t know where to begin. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be a spiritual guru to understand and learn meditation. There are several beginners guides, online and otherwise, that will guide you through the process. It’s very simple and as you continue to practice meditation, you will wonder how you ever got along without it. You can start with ten minutes or less (I recommend five minutes for newbies) and then gradually work your way up from there. My own meditations last approximately 30 minutes. Surely, you can afford to spend 30 minutes a day toward your own well-being. We typically spend way more time than that reviewing things over and over in our minds that cause us stress. Meditation not will not only prevent bouts of depression, but will enhance your well-being on every level.
Life isn’t always easy and I’m not sure it was meant to be. What I do know is we don’t have to live it in a place of misery, struggle and despair. We have the ability and the power to transform our lives both physically and mentally. We are not helpless victims. It really is just a matter of taking action and you can start by taking the first step. What is the first step? Begin educating yourself, about yourself. Only you hold the power to change and heal your best friend - you.