Depression is a multi-faceted illness that affects all of us in different ways. That’s something that we can all agree on. What’s not as obvious is the fact that all of our lifestyle choices and circumstances are interconnected. While depression, especially clinical depression, requires psychiatric treatment, you need to follow a holistic approach for sustainable positive change. When we talk about holistic treatment of depression, we aren’t referring to the use of herbal remedies or alternative medications. We’re simply addressing the elephant in the room. So, in addition to medication, your treatment also needs to address all of those other factors that influence your mental health and well-being. Here’s what you need to consider if you are looking to deal with depression holistically.
Holistic Treatment of Depression
This is something that we often overlook, but it can have a significant impact on your mental health. Physical activity is great for your mood as it causes the body to release endorphins that make you feel good. Research suggests that indulging in just half an hour of moderate intensity exercise a day can help to relive symptoms of depression. If “gyming” just isn’t your thing, you can simply go for daily walks, swims, or take up a sport.
Depression can make it hard to make healthy food choices, which is why ‘comfort foods’ are so popular and so unhealthy. Unfortunately, this leads to a vicious cycle. Fast foods that tend to be loaded with trans fats are closely linked with a higher risk of depression. In many cases, undiagnosed nutritional deficiencies and gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome can also give rise to depression. Track your eating patterns and make it a point to opt for fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. These foods will provide you with balanced nutrition that includes healthy omega-3 fats that promote healthy brain function.
Stress is pretty much unavoidable for most of us. Just accept that there will always be circumstances that stress you out, but it’s up to you to cope with stress in a healthy manner. That’s easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. Start by recognizing your emotions and identifying stress triggers. Try to avoid exposure to triggers that are avoidable and take steps to relax when your stress levels start to rise. If you can’t take a vacation, at least give yourself a break every now and then. Use proven stress reduction techniques like breathing exercises and meditation to relax. As you regain control, you’ll find that you don’t get stressed out as easily.
Get Some Shut Eye
It’s no surprise that both sleep disorders and depression are on the rise. Sleep and depression are closely connected. Depression and anxiety can make it harder to sleep and to get quality sleep. At the same time, getting inadequate and irregular sleep increases the risk of depressive symptoms. Getting adequate sleep can be challenging at first, which is why it’s important to create a sleep routine. Try to maintain regular sleep timings and use sleep conditioning techniques to get into the habit. Start by eating your last meal at least 2-3 hours before bedtime, turning off all those digital screens, relaxing, and setting the mood for sleep.
Spit It Out
Social isolation and emotional disconnect are not just symptomatic of depression, but are also factors that can cause depression. Try to connect with others to express your emotions rather than keeping them trapped within. You can also try to start exploring your emotions and learning to express them by writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. When you feel like you’re ready, you can start to share those feelings with loved ones or a therapist.
Order through Routine
A big problem for those of us who suffer from depression is that feeling of life spiraling out of control. Depression makes you feel like life is chaotic, with no structure and order. It’s like you’re just moving from one bad situation to another and in between you’re worrying about the next one! This is precisely why establishing a disciplined daily routine can be a game changer. Start your day by writing out a time line, keeping it realistic and flexible. Being able to tick off just a few of the things that you’ve put down can be incredibly satisfying and motivating. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it can make.
Think Outside the Box
Depression can make you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. You lose interest in things and seem to find little pleasure in activities that you once loved. The truth is that passion is still there buried deep within. Force yourself to get moving and doing things and in time, you won’t have to push yourself much. You’ll start to enjoy them again. Try to do something new, whether picking up a book, attending a concert, or volunteering. Trying out something new doesn’t necessarily just involve activities. It also pertains to strategies that specifically help with depression. Take up yoga, meditation, and other natural remedies for depression.
The most important thing that you can do when you have depression is to challenge and confront your thoughts. Depression can lead your mind down a dark road. When you find yourself spiraling out of control, recognize and challenge those negative thoughts. If anyone says that this is easy to do they’d be lying, but nothing good ever comes easy. Just remember that it’s most important to try, not that you succeed with your first or second attempt. Besides, if you need help, counselors, therapists, and support groups can make the journey a lot easier. Just reach out for help – you don’t have to carry this load alone.
About the Author: Anita Fernandes is a journalist and has been writing extensively on health and wellness for over a decade. She loves basketball and hiking in her free time to fuel her spirits. “Health is wealth” is a motto she lives by and advocates to every reader in her blogs.