*Remember on airplane flights when the flight attendant shows everyone how to use the mask in case of an emergency? It hit me that in order to help those around you- your children for example - that you have to put on your mask first.
I view these simple health practices in the same way*
#1 EXERCISE: regular exercise can greatly help serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is our feel good chemical in the brain can be significantly less in people with depression. So I've learned to view exercise as a need each day for myself. When I was first married I didn't take time to exercise thinking I was being selfish and taking away from my new husband. But I quickly learned how it impacted my mood and if I wan't as happy, neither was my husband. So I began to exercise again. And with my increased energy and better mood I felt more capable to take care of my new duties as a wife. And now, years later I still exercise regularly so I can take care of my wonderful children and family.
It also helps for sure to find an exercise you love. Since I love many sports and running that is what I do. I play tennis or basketball with my sons, bike, run or hike with my husband or boys. Since my family is my best friends, I always prefer to do whatever exercise I am doing with them. It doesn't always work out to do it together, but when it does it is a joy. But in different times of the year and different seasons I adapt to our families schedule- sometimes running at 4:30 a.m. since that was my only time. I don't recommend that! But I knew if I wanted exercise time that was my only time them, and knowing how it greatly helps me I woke up at 4:00 to go running at 4:30.
I know there are many different answers and ways to do this, and I also know it really can help depression. It has greatly helped mine. And days I feel the depression come on harder, I allow myself more exercise time to help balance things out.
#2 NUTRITION: I heard from somewhere that "you can't control much, but you can control what you eat". With that I wanted to share just a little of what i've learned about nutrition and depression.
Man this was a hard one! Sugar robs the brain of serotonin. It really does. I found this out the hard way on Halloween years ago. I kept popping in little candy after little candy. At the end of the night I didn't just feel yucky or sick, I felt my depression coming on. I wondered why, but as I thought about it and prayed to know I started researching about sugar. Lo and behold, it was the culprit that night! I brought on a depression strictly through too much sugar! After that realization, I began to watch more when I have sugar (treats etc. but also including juice, and even fresh fruit sources of sugar). I tracked what made me feel different ways and found little things like a cup of orange juice (even 100%) made me feel worse than a small treat right after dinner. I just watch what I have, and when I have foods- and always try to eat a balance of healthy foods.
I have found that whole, fresh foods like fruits and vegetables have the natural sources of vitamins and minerals our body needs. I try to eat as many whole foods each day as I can. I know it's not always realistic, but as I've tried to eat more fresh my body and mind have felt better.
I have a wonderful doctor who I work with that has helped me know what specific things can help me with depression. Talk with your doctor about the amount or what is right for you.
These are some of his suggestions and others I have researched:
All in all nutrition I feel is a constant learning process to find what my body really needs. And since my body is changing all the time, those needs also change.
#3 MEDICINE: Medicine is such a tricky issue to confront with depression or anxiety- but I think it needs to be confronted.
I do believe that medicine can help you if you are struggling with depression or anxiety. I know it can. But I also believe, as with anything, you have to be careful you are doing what is right for you. I don't think there is a miracle pill out there that will solve all problems, nor do I think with illnesses that you should try to tough it out and "hang in there" if you've been really struggling. I do believe this though, that if you are using medicine to help you with depression or anxiety, and not doing other things- therapy, nutrition, exercise etc. that I really just think you are bandaging a wound. But I believe that wound can heal and in order to heal it needs all aspects of health- nutrition, therapy, exercise, vitamins, medicine, really anything that you need during that time. There were times I needed medicine to help me feel well enough to even function and do other things like nutrition or exercise, other times I felt well enough to be off the medication.
Overall, I have learned to pray and act on what I feel I need to do for myself and my health so I can be all the Lord wants me to be in this life.