This is a guest post by Anne Smethurst. All opinions voiced belong to the author. While there are many cases where anti-depressants can be vital and a life saver, this post seeks to explore natural ways of reducing anxiety and depression.
One in ten Americans take antidepressants – powerful medication that is only meant for people with severe mental illness due to its side-effects. Aside from making patients feel sick, they can actually make people want to commit suicide, as several SSRI court hearings have found.
They are also notoriously difficult to wean from once the patient decides they no longer need them, to the dismay of consumers who find themselves addicted.
If you’re feeling down but you’ve heard the SSRI horror stories and would rather not be the one in ten to take medication for your feelings, there are lots of natural ways to give yourself the boost you need and get back your sparkle.
1) Try Life Coaching
Life coaching is so much more than just plain ‘talk’ therapy. If you’d like more than just paying someone to listen and you want actual direction to help you make the changes you need, life coaching is absolutely the psychological therapy you need.
Ordinary ‘talk’ therapy like person-centered counseling can be effective, particularly for the acutely suicidal who are in desperate need for someone to be with them in the moment, listen to them and feel their pain, but for those who are just stressed or moderately depressed, it may backfire as the person is required to focus on the negatives.
Life coaching is different because once the problem has been identified, the client will focus on what they need to do to feel better and receive motivation, suggestions and a plan of action to help them achieve their goals.
This type of motivational therapy is suited to people who are task orientated or who would like to find practical solutions to their issues instead of just talking about them.
Life coaching can help you get things done and feel empowered and uplifted.
2) Check Your Diet
If you’re feeling blue and it isn’t reactive to a circumstance that you are going through, you should check your diet. Inflammation – a response from your immune system – can be triggered by foods that aren’t good for you and inflammation can cause depression. Studies on rats with induced inflammation found that it caused anxious behavior.
The American College of Cardiology says that a diet high in refined sugar, starch and trans fats and lower in fruit and vegetables can activate the innate immune response and cause inflammation.
During the process of the inflammatory response, proteins called cytokines are released. These cytokines can act directly on neurotransmitter metabolism and neuroendocrine function and are involved in the pathogenesis of depression.
To reduce your inflammation and raise your mood, you should cut out refined sugars, refined starch (white bread, pasta and rice), processed meats,high fat dairy products and ‘junk’ TV dinners.
You can replace these items with fruit, vegetables, fish, whole grains and nuts (if not allergic) and linseeds. These contain antioxidants that fight inflammation as well as omega 3 fatty acids and other ‘good’ brain boosting fats.
While it is slightly more time consuming not to rely on convenience foods, you should find the lift to your mood entirely more convenient.
3) Get Off the Couch
It can be tempting to just stay on the sofa watching TV when you feel bad but if you get off the couch and make a commitment to going for a walk for 20 to 30 minutes each day, it will bring many benefits.
Not only will it help keep excess weight off, it will also elevate your mood. Gentle or moderate activity like walking, cycling or swimming stimulates the production of endorphin – the body’s natural painkiller that is so effective it is 30 times more powerful than morphine.
This can reduce discomfort from any medical conditions you have and give you a ‘feel good’ buzz. Exercise also helps by improving the circulation to your brain so it can better direct all your other body processes.
It impacts your pituitary gland and so reduces your negative reactivity to stress.
4) Get Some Black Out Blinds
Don’t put your night light on! Get some black out blinds for your bedroom so you can sleep in complete darkness. This is important because your body produces melatonin in darkness and cannot produce as much in artificial light.
Melatonin mops up free radicals to slow down your aging process and prevent damage, as well as having an antioxidant effect to improve your health and mood.
For this reason you should also institute a sensible sleep routine including regular waking and sleeping times, not staying up very late, avoiding electrical equipment like TV’s and computers near to going to sleep and avoiding caffeine.
Sleep deprivation is a major factor in feeling irritable and anxious.
5) Try Mindfulness Meditation
Triumphing over depression isn’t just about looking after yourself physically. you also need to do it mentally. The connection between the mind and body is well known. The body is open to suggestion and will react to your own thoughts.
If you think negative thoughts frequently, you may have a lower immune response and be more susceptible to infection. That’s one of the reasons why happy people live longer.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of emptying your mind of all distracting and negative thoughts and allowing yourself to be ‘in the moment’, while using controlled breathing to keep you focused on that moment.
This can help you break patterns of negative thinking and bring more positivity into your life.
About the author: Anne Smethurst is a freelance writer and mother. She has always had a passion for literature, despite a long career in business management, so following parenthood she decided to follow that passion and turn to writing. Anne loves to help and inform others through her written work.
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