If you are one of the millions who suffer with the blues or fear you are on the brink of depression, you are not alone, even if it feels like it. This article is a call to action for anyone struggling with feelings of depression, feelings of hopelessness and feelings of emotional isolation.
In this article we are going to cover seven strategic steps that will help fight against the spiral of depression. Although it won’t always be easy to implement them, you will find that after a short time, the pay off will be worth it.
1) Fight Isolation – Do a quick friend and family inventory and see who makes you feel better. Make deliberate plans to surround yourself with people that encourage and lift you up. If you can’t think of anyone in your family or social circles, there are always online communities/forums that create fantastic opportunities to connect.
2) Get Moving – Yes I know that everything in you wants to pull the covers over your head or watch Two and a Half Men reruns, but taking even 10 minutes to get up and run stairs, walk around the block or dance like a maniac will give you a more immediate hit of feel good chemicals than any anti-depressant on the market.
3) Watch Your ZZZs – The blues can be made worse by not getting enough sleep, or by getting too much. Getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night is a great goal. If you are having a hard time getting to sleep, try a natural supplement like melatonin or valerian root, to support your body’s ability to relax and ease into slumber. If you are getting too much sleep than set goals and cut back on it. Don’t take naps and commit to a wake up time every morning.
4) Get to the Root of the Problem – The fact that I am a counsellor may make me a little biased, but I have seen amazing results when individuals have taken responsibility for their feelings and taken action towards finding the cause of their feelings. This is a very empowering process and I have seen individuals stop depression in its tracks and transform their experience of life.
5) Nutrition – I know eat more vegetables…blah, blah, blah. This is how I felt too and then one day I started keeping a food journal for a course I was taking. I was shocked to notice that if I had a lot of sugar for more than three days in a row, I would begin to feel blue and lethargic. Food impact how we feel and there is a ton of scientific research to back it up, so make sure you are getting the nutrients you need. Also, be aware of how different foods impact you and consider allergy testing.
6) Natural Supplements – Before you hit the prescription anti-depressants, which can have a number of side effects, try a natural mood enhancer. Both GABA and L-5-HTP have been shown to be effective in supporting emotional health. There are also a number of herbal blends that are a combination of natural herbs proven to help mild depression and anxiety, such as Vitabase’s Mood Support or Dr. Weil’s Mood Support Formula.
7) Feed Your Spirit – This will look different for different people, but it is imperative to know what feeds your spirit. I have seen a number of people fall into depression by replacing a connection to their spirit with the business of life. I have also seen amazing leaps out of depression by individuals learning to establish a connection with their core. For some this is done in nature, through art or music, through developing a relationship with a higher power or by practicing living in the present. The list is endless, so grab a pen and paper and start writing down what makes you feel the most alive or grounded. What fills your cup?
None of the 7 strategies are quick fixes or solutions on their own, however using them, in the early stages of depression or in combination with the care of a physician, can be very effective. Depression does not have to be hopeless. For some, it can be an invitation to changes that will lead to a better, more fulfilling life.