When we are in the depths of depression we will cry out for any help we can get. Yet some of the things that make us feel better in the short term actually make us more depressed. How can we feel better now and stay better?
Last week I reviewed some of the ways a disabling illness can make you depressed. Now let’s look at some ways to get out of depression. The biggest thing you can do is change your diet. This will take time to have a benefit. So let’s review the short term fixes first.
There are several things you can do immediately to feel less depressed.
- Make your bed. Hint: it is easier if you get out of it first.
- Stay out of bed: hint: letting your porcupine sleep on it will help. Don’t worry porcupines are nocturnal so they will prowl the house, keeping you in bed when you should be there.
- Get up and get dressed. That means set a time to get started and follow thru with it. You will feel good that you at least could do this much. It might have taken major effort but now you have a start on the day. After all, it is your porcupine’s turn.
- Capture the day: Getting outside into the sunlight will help your body orient itself. The natural rhythm of light and dark we experience each day triggers changes in our brains. At night our brains release Melatonin. When we lack the light and dark cycles this release stops.
I found that bedtime supplements helped patients in the ICU where the lights were always on and they were disturbed by the care routines day and night. Melatonin is not without side effects, so I don’t recommend it for depression.
- Get moving: Exercise has long been known to relieve depression. This should not be maximal exertion. Exercise that causes pain and soreness, means that muscles or joints have been injured. Remember that the healing process of injury contributed to depression.
- Seek Joy: Things that make us smile help our brains feel better. It can be simple things like watching children play, or listening to music.
- Be social: Humans are social animals. An infant left without parental contact will die, even if food and other needs are met.
- Help others: When we see the benefit we can have in the lives of others we find purpose in our own lives. Holding a door and carrying packages are simple yet appreciated acts of kindness.
- Relax: Tension and anxiety often accompany depression. The hormone Adrenalin released in times of stress reduces blood flow to the gut and some other organs. This leads to a leaky gut and toxins getting into our bodies. The various forms of relaxing will reduce your adrenalin levels.
By relaxing and meditating on life we can get in touch with what is important. Remember many things outside your control are making you feel depressed. You might not be able to change the world we live in but we can change how we respond to it. Old ways of thinking no longer serve you. That is why a disability will make you a new person. Choose who you want to become.
- Avoid “comfort Foods:” Research now shows that a diet high in fats and sugars actually contribute to making us depressed. There are foods you can enjoy that will make you less depressed. I will write about the antidepressant diet next week.
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As All Ways, Seek Joy,
Coach Dr. Dave