Tips to overcome depression
Depression can feel like a looming cloud of darkness that follows us everywhere we go. We may loose interest in activities we once enjoyed, our sex drive may dive, we may feel hopeless, lost or uninterested in life.
When the nervous system for a variety of reasons like excess stress, trauma, grief goes into hypo mode. We end up feeling depression, sadness, shame, rejection and it can cause us to curl up deeper into our shell.
However, there are effective strategies to turn the tide and get back to feeling bright, light and balanced again.
1. Sunlight/Vitamin D
This is no surprise. Sunlight helps to give us energy and it enlivens our mood. Vitamin D helps with hormone + mood regulation, bone and immune system health, helps to manage blood sugar levels (which helps with healthy mood regulation), helps with concentration and memory and much much more.
The best sunlight to get is before midday. Watching the sunrise or getting morning sun is amazing way to naturally wake you up and boost your mood. It aligns your internal clock and helps to set you up for having energy for the day.
20 minutes is ideal and you do want your skin exposed and your eyes without sunglasses. The sun in the morning is not as strong and doesn’t have the harmful UV rays. At noon, the sun is at its peak and it is not advised to suntan at this time. After 3pm is also a better time to get some rays.
If its winter and sun is hard to come by, you can take Vitamin D or get a sun lamp that helps with SAD (seasonal Affective Disorder).
The sun nourishes your inner sun.
2. Aerobic Exercise
Get moving! Dance, run, jump, bike, hike. Do what you need to do to get your blood pumping and you’re sweating pouring. Exercise moves stagnant liver chi which can be the root cause of depression. It helps to flush toxins both physically and emotionally. Exercise gets healthy chi/energy moving through the body and as western science says it gets endorphins going. Those feel good chemicals.
3. Breath work
Our breath is directly connected with our vagus nerve and helps to reduce stress and regulate emotions. If you are feeling wired or tired, you can change your state by doing different breath practices.
If you are feeling depressed, energetic breathing exercises can help. For example, breath of fire, which is a rapid breath or spinal breathing. Kundalini yoga breath practices are excellent for activating the nervous system and bringing more light and optimism into the body. Find a yoga or breath work teacher to show you these activating breaths. Then practice them, because it is only by doing the practices that we will experience the benefits.
If you are feeling anxious, then calming, slow breathing practices are advised. Such as breathing to a 1:2 ratio. For example, inhale 5 counts, exhale to 10 counts.
4. St. Johns Wort
There is many herbs that can help with depression. Essential oils also are very effective. Especially citrus based oils which help to move stagnant energy and uplift the spirit (Bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, blood orange, neroli). However, St. Johns Wort is amazing for bringing in more light to the being. It helps to dissipate the darkness that can cause depression. St. Johns Wort blooms on summer solstice when the sun is at its peak. It is no surprise that is amazing to use during the opposite time of year, winter solstice when the days are long, dark and cold.
St. Johns is powerful and if you are on ant SSRI’s or depression medication, you have to speak with your doctor because they can counteract. St. Johns Wort can be taken in capsule or tincture form.
5. Gratitude Practice
When we feel depressed it can be very hard to see the good in the world. However, there is always good and beauty present. It is important to re-train the mind to focus on the good, to feed good feelings like love, compassion and gratitude. The practice: fake it till you make. It does work. At first you may not feel anything, but over time as you do the other practice with the gratitude practice you will feel the good feelings again. Focus on these, multiply these good feelings. There is always something we can find to be grateful for; the roof over our heads, the food in front of us, family, friends, a safe country, a butterfly flying by. There is always something.
When negative thoughts do roll in. Be the observer, watch them but don’t feed them. Let them say what they want to say and just watch. You can also redirect them. When the negative thought comes in, choose to focus on the opposite or redirect your attention to something that is positive or lifts you up.
6. Healing work
Depression can arise when anger or other intense emotions are turned inward. When instead of letting the emotion flow, it gets damned up inside. Grief, especially when it is prolonged or not released can turn into major depression.
It is important to seek help/support with someone that is trained that can help you navigate these emotional waters. Having support from someone else can help us to open up and get to the root of the issues we may not have felt safe doing alone.
Healing work can help us release what needs to be released, find closure and move on.
We can do all of the ‘right’ things but if we have do not address the emotional root, or mental patterns causing the depression it will keep coming back again.
There are various healing practices that can help- EFT, Shamanic coaching, Art therapy, CBT therapy etc.
What we put into our bodies directly effects how we think and feel. If we eat junk, we will feel like junk.
In Ayurveda, usually if someone is struggling with depression there can be an imbalance in the kapha dosha. Which means the person is usually indulging in excess sugar, dairy, wheat, meats , over eating etc. The remedy is to instead eat warm- light foods, soups, fresh veggies lightly cooked, light meals etc. However, it is important to not self diagnose as there are different types of depression.
A good tip is to reduce process foods, excess sugar, alcohol (which greatly effects mood and causes depression), over consumption of meat. Instead eat healthy, whole – home cooked meals that are in season. Avoid over eating as much as possible.
8. Reduce Consumption of Media
There is so much happening in the world today. A couple decades ago we wouldn’t have known anything about. Now you know what each one of your friends are thinking and also friends you aren’t even friends with anymore. Add on top, every countries affairs. We get the news but then we get the opinions about the news.
Social media also mostly only highlights peoples successes or what they want to show the world. It can be self punishment if we do not feel successful, loved in comparison to your flashier friend.
It is easy to feel hopeless when watching the news. However, the medias job is to keep you engaged and to keep you watching. So they produce sensationalist and emotional invoking stories that keep you glued in fear.
Take a media cleanse for a couple days, a week or better yet a month! See how you feel and what happens to your emotional state.
9. Reach out to Friends and Family
When our nervous system goes into hypo, we feel the sadness, the loneliness and a feeling of shame. We want to hide and isolate ourselves. But this only further sends us deeper into depression.
The solution – reach out to people you know. Call them, see how they are doing. Checking their profile online will not give you the connection and joy you are yearning for. Speak to them in person or on the phone. It will help to elevate your nervous system and remind you that there is loving, caring people out there.
If you are feeling like you do not have friends. Join a club, a group, or a course to meet new ones. To get that connection going again.
10. Take action
Don’t just read this blog and pass through this post and not do anything about it. Take at least 1 tip from this article that you felt was doable for you and integrate it into your life. Nothing is going to change, if you do not make the changes. No one is going to save you, you have to save yourself. (sorry for the tough love, but sometimes its needed).
Take a step at a time, do one thing at a time. Just like a mountain is climbed step by step. We have to deal with our challenges step by step and eventually we will conquer them.