And the other thing that really alarmed we was the fact that when I google natural depression remedies, the first choices give some pretty bland advice. I see things like "set a schedule, eat right, get enough sleep, etc." And although these are not necessarily bad things to suggest, they are not real suggestions and they don't get into what might be really happening in the body. And they don't give specifics! This is my body and I know that God created it to work just they way he intended. There has to be something better than this random list and popping a not so happy pill.
I am not a doctor. And I am not pretending to be one here either. Let's just be clear on that. This is all my opinion. But to me all these medications for anxiety and depression are just bandaids. They are not helping to fix what is causing the problems. And from those lists of side effects and the things my friends were posting, it sounds like these pills create even more problems.
I have been in a bit of a slump lately. Stress and some of the directions life has me headed really had me all out of sorts. Depression, anxiety, these are very real things in my life. But I have noticed that there are some things out there that work and don't involve any side effects. Here are the things I do when I start to feel myself taking a slide into Debby Downer territory. And really, I try to do these all the time because they just make a healthy, happier me.
1. Sunlight and Vitamin D
That beautiful sun that we were all taught to hide from is actually healing. There is tons of research that shows that low levels of Vitamin D are linked to depression and sadly even dementia. And you can get some sun exposure in a smart way. Just because you are outside, that doesn't mean you have to fry yourself. In the winter I do take a liquid form of Vitamin D and a K2 vitamin to help keep my levels up
2. Magnesium oil
I would have to say that magnesium oil is my best friend. All the many things that I could write as symptoms go away or at least as less when I am using magnesium oil. It doesn't take much and you can make it yourself. This one is really, really worth trying. I think the oil form is the best because your skin soaks it in much better that if you take it in pill form. And don't worry if you are itchy when you first start using it. That does get better. And I have noticed that when my diet does not consist of ingredients that bother my stomach, I am not so itchy. So when I do get itchy it is a reminder to stop sneaking those things that bother me.... like gluten (unfortunately.... cause I really love fresh bread...) And this leads me to number 3.
3. Repair your leaky gut.
If you are eating a typical American diet, chances are your guts are a mess. And even if you are not, if you have a food intolerance your guts could still be a mess. And there a bunch of other reasons your guts could be a mess too. Maybe you don't show other symptoms besides the depression, that you have noticed, but it definitely could be all starting in your guts. Some researched and doctors are saying that depression is considered an inflammatory disorder. Yes, it all comes down to inflammation. I seem to be reading this all over the place. Inflammation, inflammation, inflammation....) So the key here is to get rid of the foods or somehow fix the other issues that might be causing the leaky gut and then heal those guts. I know that is easier said than done as I am still trying to do it!
The importance of sleep really needs its own post or series of posts. But seriously, sleep is important. And I am not talking about 5 - 6 hours. I am talking about not watching that TV show at night and getting your butt in bed for 8+ hours. We really love to talk about how little sleep we got. I know I was the queen of it. I was proud that I could work until 3 am and get back up at 5 am and do it all over again. And I did that for WAY TOO LONG. And now I am here. Broken. And trying to fix the awful things I did to my body. I have a long way to go on this one, but I am working on it. And you really should too. It doesn't cost a thing. And the magnesium oil mentioned in #2 will make easier for you to calm your mind and get restful sleep.
Just be sure to put yourself in a good position to get good sleep. It might not be as easy as just hoping in bed at first. There are lots of tips out there for getting better sleep. Here are some that I like.
5. Eating Fat
Yep, I said. I LOVE FAT. Now, don't start going crazy on me. I am not sitting here eating a Big Mac and smiling. I am talking about good fat, like coconut oil, grassfed butter, avocado..... There are lots of people looking to eating healthy fats to make happy brains and happy people. You might want to check that you are getting enough Omega 3 Fats as well. I try to get mine through cod liver oil but have been looking into maybe using krill oil.
6. Good Exercise
Sadly, I really hurt my body in my over exercising days. Constant cardio for hours and hours a day was killing me, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't exercise at all. There is a lot of research out there showing that exercise works better than the typical anti-depressant pill handed out at the doctors office. In fact, there are studies showing that Zoloft worked about as well as a brisk 30 minute walk, but the people taking Zoloft were more likely to have recurring depression, where the people walking were not.
For my exercise, I am now concentrating on HIIT and yoga or Pilates to help clear my mind and give me that little pep in my step again. I love the HIIT because it takes such a little amount of time to make a big impact and I love the others because they relax me. I also love to walk in beautiful places, soaking in sun and fresh air. This really helps clear my mind and help me feel like me.
7. Stress Management
This one is still something I am working on. I am very very very far from perfect. Did I mention that I am not perfect. Nope. I make so many mistakes it is almost comical. And staying stressed out when I know I should trust in the Lord is one of them.
And I don't know about you, but I feel like these are all really connected. If I do some of them better, others get better too. If I exercise, sleep well and eat well, my stress is way down. I feel like I can handle the day. However, I know that I need to keep growing and bettering myself.
One of the things I would like to do more that I think would help is journaling. Because I am choosing to sleep instead, I have been writing down three things that I am thankful for each day when I wake up. It takes less time and helps me focus on the good right as I am starting my day. And as I pray at night I also like to thank the good Lord for specific and general things as well. I think it is important to sometimes be specific to really open our eyes to all that is good in our lives. I have also been working on deep breathing. More on that and stress management to come.
Do you suffer from depression or anxiety? What are you doing to help feel like yourself again?