There are many reasons people are vulnerable to depression. Many women in our society are working and raising children. There are unrealistic visuals spewing from nearly every media outlet telling us we are not enough, or not doing enough. Men experience the same pressures to be physically perfect, and can be struggling to provide for their families in a rough economy. Self-image and self-esteem can be impacted by these pressures and can lead to feelings of depression or despair.
In order to enjoy our lives, mental health has to be a top priority.
Let’s talk about tools for managing depression. First and foremost, you must connect how the power of your mind and your thoughts affect the way you feel and experience things in your life. What do you say to yourself, internally? Are you kind? Are you punitive? Are you negative or positive? If you are not sure, take some time in the next week to be dialed into the language you use when talking to yourself or about yourself and write it down. The power of affirmative self-talk to recalibrate your subconscious mind is amazing. Look at your subconscious mind as an excellent executive assistant in your life; ready to help you achieve the goals your conscious mind (the boss) has set.
An affirmation is a statement that is declared to be true. It can be positive or negative in nature. Some examples of affirmations:
I am smart
I am fat
I am healthy
I can’t do this
I will do this
Which do you want to be telling yourself and establishing as truth? What you are telling yourself is what you are declaring in your life. Once you decide on specific positive affirmations, your executive assistant will seek out every opportunity to reinforce them. For affirmations to have the desired effect, the negative self-talk must be replaced with positive. The statements that are repeated most in your mind are the ones that stick. You can use affirmations in every situation in your life. Start and end your day with positive statements about you, your life, and GRATITUDE for what is right, RIGHT NOW. Expressing gratitude draws even more positive experiences to you.
The power of your intention is mind blowing, so don’t underestimate what will change when you change your language. Once you have taken a week to be aware of and journal your current self-talk state, take the next week to try to speak only positively about yourself and express gratitude for all the blessings you have. You will see more and more good come to you.
Here are some other tips to keep depression at bay. What you put in your body, and how much you move it, impacts the levels of “feel good” hormones released in your brain. Scientists have long come to the conclusion that poor diet and lack of exercise are major causation factors of all illnesses—including depression. This is not news, but I find that many clients “know” this but fail to implement small changes that can yield big benefits.
Do any sort of physical activity for a minimum of thirty minutes a day. It does not have to be thirty solid minutes. Take the stairs and walk whenever you can. Do some crunches and pushups while watching television. If you are not sure what to do—don’t stress about it—whatever you enjoy doing that ups your heart rate is perfect.
One of the easiest changes to make in your dietary life is to add more water. Our bodies are made up of 70% water and need at least six eight-ounce glasses a day to function at an optimal state. Foods high in water content also count—so load up on the fruits and veggies. When your body does not get enough water, it starts to conserve and prioritize allocation, meaning certain body processes suffer. Increasing water intake flushes toxins and other depression-contributing elements from your system at a faster rate and keeps your brain, digestive, and circulatory systems in their prime.
Dump Processed Foods
All of the preservatives and sugar in processed foods have a negative effect on body and mind functions. They steal your energy, slow your metabolism, and disrupt hormonal balance.
Veggies to the Rescue
Try a 70/30 ratio of veggies to other food on your plate. How you prepare the veggies is important. Lightly blanching, steaming, and baking help retain nutritional value. Raw veggies are the best bang for your nutrition buck, so load up on salads.
Avoid Alcohol and Coffee
Alcohol is a depressant, as it depresses (read: slows down) the nervous system. Coffee, on the other hand, can over-stimulate and make your thoughts and mind feel chaotic. Coffee, like sugar and soft drinks, is also a diuretic, draining your system of the moisture—the hydration—it needs.
If your depression is debilitating to the point of interfering with daily functioning, please seek treatment from a licensed professional. Therapy is a gift you can give yourself even if you are not suffering from clinical depression. Consider it one hour a week that you do not have to take care anyone but yourself. I hope you take the time to implement some of these suggestions. You are worth the effort.
Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. For almost two decades, Terri has empowered companies, celebrities, professional athletes, and individuals to Live Fearless and Free. Currently, Terri is wrapping up her first solo book project, “Flip Over and Float—8 Steps to Sustainable Change,” filming “The Conversation” for the Lifetime Network, executive produced by Demi Moore, set to launch February 2012. Terri can also be seen as the guest transformation expert on A&E’s Monster In-Laws. In addition to her website, Terri can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.