10 Tips On How To Heal From Depression
I was at a function last week and the discussion turned to the emotional well being of today’s teenagers. Someone in the group mentioned that they knew of 5 teenagers that had taken their lives in the last year. Adding to that I mentioned how I was also invited to assist with a high school in northern NSW that had 10 students take their lives in the last 2 years.
The sad news is this isn’t confined to teenagers. Its seeping across the whole of society. We have more affluence than we have ever had access to in the history of humankind and yet we have such unbelievable levels of depression and suicide rates. I know that statement means carries little weight though. I know what its like to be deeply depressed and contemplating if life was worth living, and having access to affluence didn’t mean a thing to me. I recall being curled up in a ball on my bed, in a dark misery and self loathing, thinking of the option of not living through this. At one point I was trying to think of all the reasons why I should be happy to help get me out of this state. I had a multiple 6 figure salary, a secure job, a beautiful home, a stable family upbringing, good relationships and on paper an ideal lifestyle. Yet I was miserable. I was deeply depressed. I contemplated not living.
Depression can hit anyone. Young, old, rich, poor. You name it. And yeh, it’s brutal when it comes knocking. There are many factors that contribute to depression as presented here from the Lifeline web site:
* Relationship problems or conflict – e.g. separation/divorce, difficult/abusive relationship
* Job loss, especially long-term unemployment
* Loneliness or feeling isolated
* Excessive drug or alcohol use
* Having another family member who has depression
* Having a serious physical illness
* Changes in how the brain functions
* Personality factors – e.g. anxiety, low self-esteem
Ultimately the end result is that there are low levels of oxytocin and serotonin in the body which leads to a feeling of sadness, depression, emptiness and disconnectedness. The good news there is a way out of that dark abyss. Admittedly there is no magic pill (some doctors may think otherwise) but with a holistic approach there is every possibility that one could come out depression and live a lighter, happier existence. Here are some steps that I took that helped me find my way out of depression:
Daily meditation. This plays a huge part in me feeling happier again. When you are stressed and anxious your body doesn’t produce the happy biochemicals of serotonin and oxytocin. It will produce cortisol, and adrenaline which cuts off your happy chemicals. So the first step is to start finding ways to remove the stress response in the body and meditation will help enormously with that. You can use an app, online programs or ideally, find a qualified meditation teacher who will take you through the steps of learning to meditate.
Regular exercise. This has been scientifically proven to change your biochemicals and increase your happy chemicals in your body. (Black Dog trial ) Not only is exercise good for the increase in happy biochemicals it also is a great release of stress which leads to calmer healthier body and better sleep.
Yoga and stretching. Sitting in a chair most of the day and being stressed will tighten up the body and block the flow of energy through the body. Yoga and stretching will open up the body, calm the mind and realign the body back into a healthier space
Avoid negative media and dark depressing movies and books. Where you attention goes it grows. So if we put our mind on negative depressing content, our mind and body will start to align with the energy of that.
Get off technology and get into nature. Shutting down our phones, iPads, laptops and nature bathing is a powerful way to elevate your energy. When we are in forests, oceans, meadows…anywhere in fresh air and in the simplicity of nature, we start to sync into that local environment which will leave you elevated and enlivened.
Get some natural supplements into you. The American Agriculture Association admitted that there is 60% less minerals and nutrients in our fruit and vegetables than in the 1960’s due to the amount of over farming in the last few decades. Not only that, society in general is eating less fruit and vegetables and more processed food. Boosting your food with supplements with vitamins, minerals and herbs can make a big difference to your moods. For professional advice on this seek out a naturopath in your local village or even try online.
Speaking of foods, stick with more locally grown fruit and vegetables from your growers market, and eat plenty of clean organic live food possible. Avoid greasy fatty foods, processed foods, gluten, caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars where possible.
Sleep! Sounds sensible however we are now sleeping on average less than we ever have. Sleep plays such an important role in healing your mind and body from the stress response and increasing your feeling of wellbeing. I’m all for the afternoon nap just for 20 mins also if you can fit one in.
- Open Up To Family and Friends. You may feel like withdrawing from the world, but it’s those precious relationships that make all the difference. When you share your vulnerability and connect, it deepens the bond with them and builds love. There are people in your life that care unconditionally for you. Reach out and let them in. (By the way, it’s been proven that hugs increasing serotonin and oxytocin)
- Be active. Sitting in a dark room or curling under your doona all day is what you might feel like doing but it’s not going to help you. Get up and get active. Start doing things. Buy some plants and plant them around your suburb. Volunteer at a local charity. Walk someone’s dog. Go to the zoo. Join your local library and read a book. Find a meetup group and join it. Mow someone’s lawn. There are plenty of things we can do each day that will help you lift out of that dark night and move forward.
Depression can not only take control of your life, but it can also affect many people around you. We can heal from depression, but it will require some action. Doing the same thing over and over again won’t bring about a different result. Keep trying new things, see what works for you. If you are suffering depression, it is recommended that you seek professional help. Have someone to talk with. There are many support facilities around the world that are there to help you through this. You don’t need to do this on your own so please reach out to someone for help.
Tom is a meditation teacher, author, corporate speaker and personal coach. He provides one on one coaching as well as group coaching in his Zen Academy for Transformational Leadership. To contact Tom about receiving his guidance or booking him to speak at your company click here.