Speaking candidly about Depression is something that I think is very important. That's why I choose to share some of my experiences and emotions here. I've come a long way from my deepest experiences of melancholy and have found myself having the easiest winter in a very long time. It felt like a good time to share 5 natural ways to battle Depression that have helped me.
The first time I realized I was Depressed was when I was 16 or 17. Disenchanted by high school and not knowing how to cope was a very dismal and dark experience. I took anti-depressants for the first time and slept so much. So much. It was my first experience with being medicated; and not only did they put me on anti-depressants but they went ahead and threw in Adderall, too. Super exciting time guys.
For years I worked on finding the right combination of drugs to make myself feel better, normal, stronger, and happier. At one point I was 105 pounds and couldn't remember to eat, sleep, or accomplish anything worthwhile.
Eventually, I gave up. Thankfully not on life, as so many who have dealt with the darkness that comes with mental illness have, but on using drugs to solve my problem. This is not me saying that drugs aren't the answer because sometimes, even for me, they are necessary and work wonders. I'm just saying that they aren't something I need all the time to battle my Depression.
That doesn't mean I just woke up one day and was happy. If only life worked that way. I've created my own personal cocktail of living that has helped me work towards beating my Depression naturally when I can. As a note, this is not medical advice, and you should seek out help from a doctor if you are feeling Depressed. You're not alone. Below are things that have helped me fight my own personal battle and I'm hoping they may help you.
5 Ways I am Beating Depression Naturally
Super original, right? If you've ever heard advice on treating Depression you've heard that exercising is important. Well, I'm here to say it again, get up, start moving, sweat a bit.
It's science that exercising is known to increase serotonin and dopamine in your brain. Science. I had a scary experience with liquid Percocet after getting my tonsils removed as an adult that left me in a puddle on the floor crying. Getting on a stationary bike for 10 minutes did more for my state of mind than anything could have.
Now I try to move and sweat around 3 days a week for an hour and at the very least 20 minutes of walking each day.
2. Gratitude Meditation
So many people would put yoga here. But I think that would be simplifying it too much. To me, yoga is the combination of exercise and meditation. Here I want to stress the importance of certain meditations in my daily life.
The best meditations for Depression that I've found are gratitude meditations. I try to start each day with a recap of the things I'm grateful for in my life. If you've never sat down and meditated, this is an easy way to start. While brushing your teeth, preparing breakfast, or walking to work consciously thank the universe (God, life, mother earth, whatever you believe) for all of the things you have in your life.
I'll admit sometimes this is hard and I have to dig deep, but it can be as easy as saying "Thank you for running water" or "I'm so grateful to have a roof over my head" or as hilariously personal and vain as "I love being able to wear my favorite leopard print hat and how it looks so good when my hair is down."
Seriously you guys. Finding the time to reflect on gratitude can be harder than you think, but really, there are things all around us that can bring more light to our lives. Focusing and meditating on things that bring us gratitude and joy is something that has made it easier for me to keep my mood lifted.
3. Happy Light
I live in the Pacific Northwest, where we're known for our grey, dark, and wet winters. Over the years a pattern began to emerge that made it obvious that the lack of actual physical light was having a large effect on my mood.
I worked in a basement at the time and was not seeing the light of day for very often. Getting a happy light for my cubicle was game-changing. It brought the light and that warm fuzzy feeling you get from sitting in the sun on a lazy spring day back into my life in the dead of winter.
No, a happy light is not a sun lamp. A happy light is a super-powered lamp that uses special natural spectrum lighting to mimic sunlight. And it's bright, yo!
I have one happy light for my office and one for my home. Though I don't need to use them all the time when I feel the need for a pick me up in the darkest of times this magical light does a great job of putting a little pep in my step.
4. Vitamins & Herbs
Personally, I take Vitamin D3 all the time, B12 sometimes, and a special herbal concoction called Deproloft-HF when I'm deep in the throes of depression and medication is becoming an option, but I don't feel the need quite yet.
None of these were decided on by myself. I go to a Naturopath that I adore and she ran blood panels and counseled me on my options before recommending each of these as a part of my routine. I used to be on Iron supplements too, but then I stopped when my blood panels had become stable without them.
I think the most important part of vitamins and supplements is finding someone to help you figure out what your individual body needs. Each of us is as unique as a snowflake, y'all. The same dose of Vitamin D, B12, and Deproloft for me in the throes of Depression are different for when I'm feeling good. And I'm sure someone living in Miami would need different vitamin support than me.
In fact, having a medical professional to help you with your physical and mental health is super important.
I know this one might be the most controversial, but for me, finding a Naturopath that could advise me on the vitamins and herbs that are right for me has helped support the functioning of my body and mind which in turn has helped me fight Depression. Perhaps for you, it's a psychiatrist or therapist that can help you the most. There have been times that's what I needed. But for me, my naturopath and her guidance on herbs and vitamins have been really helpful for my state of mind.
5. Hot Baths
Yo, you guys, lounging in a warm luxurious bath filled with essential oils and candles lit around you is pretty magical. I would even venture to say that baths can melt into your soul. This one is so good for depression, but also great for anxiety, stress, or insomnia.
When we were babies we took baths all the time, and they were fun! But as adults, we've learned to make bathing a very utilitarian and rushed event. The type of bath I'm talking about is unnecessary but vital. A bath that is just for your soul, your mind, your heart.
Running the water, turning the lights off, sitting in the silence with yourself, letting your body melt away, and your mind becomes quiet, breathing in the hot steam that is laced with lavender and rose. Seriously, I just got more relaxed and happy writing that sentence.
Take a bath and just let go.
I feel lucky to be able to share these natural ways to battle Depression with you because I have worked so hard to find ways to cope and persevere. If you are Depressed, please be kind to yourself and know that you are not alone. Try some of the yummy suggestions I've listed above. Please reach out to a professional or a loved one if you need support. I'll say it again, you are not alone.
If someone you love is depressed, feel free to pass this along, but please don't push it on them. Actually, don't push anything on them. Be loving, kind, and accepting. Show up. Be present. Show them you care by telling them you care, and be okay with that being all you can do sometimes.
If you or someone you love is Depressed and having suicidal thoughts, you can go here to find someone to chat with online now.