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Is depression something you feel you can take control of?
Did you know that what you eat, how much you move and whether you get enough sleep can all affect your mood? In these three posts I’ll show you how making simple changes in these three areas can really help you feel better.
If you’ve been taking medication and believe that depression is a physical illness with an external cause, then you may find it hard to believe that your well-being is actually in your hands.
Thinking about moods, feelings and emotions as natural, rather than abnormal, may help you get treatment and feel better. That treatment may be self-sought and self-applied. That treatment might be to do more exercise and enjoy a better diet, include more social occasions and increase connectedness, get enough sleep and pursue more meaningful life. Get out of your head and into your body.
But you won’t do those things if you believe your moods are caused by something you can’t control.
What would be the point? You can’t make yourself produce more insulin if you’re diabetic no matter how hard you try. Same with an underactive thyroid. You can’t force your body produce more thyroxine. You have to take this in artificially.
The fact that some activities make you feel less down shows that you can produce, by setting your mind to it, the kinds of neurotransmitters which are involved in good feelings. This you cannot do with diabetes or thyroid malfunction. But you can with low mood.
This should be empowering. This means your health is in your hands. And in your body.
It does not mean, however, that your chronic low mood is your fault.
No, because we all do the best we can with the resources, knowledge and information we have at the time.
So what if your decision wasn’t the best one you could have made? You did your best at the time. You can change and choose to do better next time. Be kind to yourself.
Isn’t that empowering? Does that make you feel different about depression? That you could grow and learn to react differently and improve your knowledge and information and responses?
I guess if there is a ‘gift’ in depression it’s the opportunity for self-growth.
This post covers the first of the most important things you need to lift your mood and think more positively about the future: Sleep.
Nobody operates well on less than the optimal amount of sleep. It’s the worst feeling, being sleep deprived. Many people experience poor sleep, insufficient sleep and move through their days in less than ideal form. The longer we go without adequate sleep, the worse we feel and it quickly becomes a downward cycle of misery.
Not getting good sleep is a characteristic of depression.
One of the things which interferes most with a good night’s sleep is rumination.
Rumination is thinking things over and over and over, without reaching any conclusions or solutions. When we are depressed we often ruminate over our lives, our depressive symptoms, our hopeless future. We also go over conversations or incidents that occurred that day.
It’s very hard to go to sleep and stay asleep when our mind is churning over like a never ending factory machine.
2. Now that you have your list, note down one or two things you can do to solve each problem. For example:
Try not to be so nervous in meetings – just take a few breaths before the meeting starts and go into the room with a smile on my face.
3. Now you have listed your main worries and provided a simple course of action. Close the notebook and put it away.
4. When you are lying in the dark, if your mind starts up with all your worries, say to yourself,
“I’ve thought about that problem and I’ve already come up with a solution. I’ve written down everything I need to do. I won’t forget. I don’t need to think about that problem any more. If I need to, I can think about it more tomorrow. Giving myself permission to switch off and go to sleep now”.
Like any new habit, this will take some practice. Don’t be hard on yourself if you find your mind going around and around. It probably will!
Just return to the thoughts above, “I don’t need to think about this now. I’ve already come up with the solution. Giving myself permission to switch off and go to sleep now”.
5. If you continue to worry and think about a particular problem, sit up in bed, or better yet, leave your bedroom and do a couple of EFT tapping rounds on that problem. Tapping on your body distracts your mind from thoughts. Don’t turn the main, bright light on! Use a torch or dim light. Then take a deep breath, go back to bed, relax and let yourself drift off to sleep.
When you wake in the morning, reset your body clock by getting early morning sunshine. Within an hour of waking, step outside and stand in the sunlight for 15 minutes. Don’t wear sunglasses and don’t look at the sun. The corners of your eyes have very sensitive light conductors that connect with your brain. These tell your body it’s time to wake up and will assist with the production of melatonin when the sun goes down and it’s time to rest. It’s important to reset your body clock to ensure regular circadian rhythms.
The next post discusses how getting enough exercise will help you get enough sleep and eliminate depression from your life.
If you'd asked her 15 years ago if she believed life could be a wonderful as it is today, Vickie would have answered, 'I just don't know, but it doesn't seem likely.' Now she knows that if she can turn her life around, it's possible for you too. Ask Vickie how she can help you design the life you'd really love to live and say goodbye to depression forever.