When the blues strike, that pilot light that keeps your motivation flowing and your energy abundant, becomes dim. A state of hopelessness ensues and nothing seems worth a dam. Giving up seems like a good choice. Fuck it, whats the point anyway.
As long as you go along with this narrative, your world may remain blue. Unless you take action to break free of the shit that is weighing you down, you remain a prisoner of the familiar cycles of depression.
There are rare glimpses of a life without the ball and chain, these are short-lived and before long the same song and dance ensues. Its all too familiar that jukebox in your head, its on repeat, the song is the blues.
Depression afflicts many of us and its pathology can be different for everyone. Depression can be identified chemically, manifesting as an affliction of imbalanced biochemistry. It can also be an affliction of the mind, weighing down your thoughts, your emotions and your beliefs about yourself.
Taken alone or combined, the various modalities of depression mess with the way life can be perceived. The world, your world can be viewed through a set of filters. These filters are largely determined by our mindsets and our biochemistry. The state of these determines how we view the world. Just like a trip to the opticians, different lenses are applied to give a changed distortion of what we see in front of us.
What do you do when you are feeling blue? What can you do to avoid wallowing is a state of self pity when feeling down? What can you do to avoid masking the pain with food, alcohol and cigarettes?
You can change your filters. You can get your mind right. You can change your biochemistry to lift the blue veil. You CAN experience the world without darkness.
The following tips are by no means a silver bullet answer to depression, nor should they be considered the be all end all of beating depression. They are however, a useful collection of tools to add to your blues busting arsenal. With a well stocked arsenal, you can build strength to fight your way from depression.
You are doing it right now, but are you aware of it? Breathing, one of the mechanisms of physiology essential for our survival is a unique one. It is unique because its function can be controlled both consciously and unconsciously.
When you go about your day, you are breathing unconsciously. So, what happens when you breathe consciously? You purposefully turn your attention to your Breath.
So what, what difference does that make?
A big one. The way in which you breathe has a significant impact on your physiology. Oxygen is our number one nutrient, and we often forget that. It is used in a myriad of pathways and reactions in our bodies and is the very thing that sustains us.
By altering the way you breath to a deep, diaphragmatic, slow sequence of breathing, you are sending a message to your body and mind. You are telling them to chill, lighten the fuck up and RELAX.
During deep breathing you shift the activity of your nervous system from a state of fright or flight to a state of rest and digest, the relaxation state. Restoring the balance of an under active Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest + digest) is associated with improvements in mood, stress and social interactions.
Shout out to all the desk jockeys out there, this ones for you. The 21st century, this great age we live in, has most of us sitting on our arses for hours on end. Day in day out, whether it be the car, the office or the couch, our arses are securely parked.
Unfortunately, prolonged sitting can really mess with ones posture. You may not notice it, but overtime your posture can drop out of alignment. A body that is out of alignment sends the wrong message to the brain.
The mind and body are one and the same. They are a mirror of one another and are intricately related. What goes on with one of them will pass on to the other. Poor posture, or what we know as body language, speaks loudly about what may also be going on in the brain. What is affecting the brain, affects the body and vice versa.
In order to get your mind right, get your body right. Carry yourself tall, walk upright, keep your head up – get some length! Turn your attention to your seated position, sit up straight. Take frequent breaks throughout the day to avoid prolonged sitting to dodge the slouch.
Do a day of this and see how you feel when you are walking tall on your way home.
Check In With Yourself
When was the last time you asked yourself how YOU were doing? Have you taken a moment to step outside of the hustle to evaluate whats going on with you? Have you evaluated whats going well for you, or maybe not so well?
Too often what is really going on in our minds is going on behind the scenes. Our true thoughts and feelings become clouded with the bullshit one has to face on a day to day basis. This can become a superficial mask which disconnects us from being aware of ourselves and how we feel.
From time to time it can be useful to take some time to yourself, in a quiet comfortable space, free of distraction. Light a candle, put on some music……..this is starting to sound like a night of romance – thats good for blues busting too – anyway. Set a relaxing space, get comfy and start to explore how you feel:
- Whats going well for you?
- Whats not going so well? If not, why? What can you do about it?
- Are you moving towards your goals? Have you set goals?
- How balanced is your lifestyle? Do you spend enough time with friends and family?
- Are you exercising enough? Are you eating right? Connecting with nature?
- Are you satisfied with your work? Do you have faith in something bigger than yourself?
Are you living harmoniously with the world around you? If not, why not? What can you do to change that?
You’ve heard the old adage ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. The same goes for an act of kindness a day, keeping the blues at bay.
When you think about someone other than yourself and do good by them, it feels good, no? In a time where we have become disconnected from one another, such a simple act can reinforce the bonds that we once shared between each other.
Promising preliminary evidence suggests a positive affect of Loving Kindness Meditation. Groups of 6-8 participants met once a week for 12 weeks and focused on projecting positive feelings towards:
- To people that have helped them before
- To a person they deeply care about (non-spousal)
- To themselves, a neutral individual, a difficult person and all living beings.
Benefits seen from this practice included greater emotional regulation, an improved sense of self and others, and a greater general acceptance and emotional tolerance.
Have A Hot Chocolate
This one you’re going to like. This isn’t just any hot chocolate, this is freshly made Cacao hot chocolate; or RAW chocolate as I like to call it.
This warming bevy blows cadburys out the water for several reasons. First and foremost, it is the least refined form of chocolate which you can get. Still chock full of the spread of plentiful nutrients, Cacao supplies a vast array of essential minerals, vitamins, and has one of the highest antioxidant contents of all foods. In addition, it contains a cocktail of building blocks for healthy brain chemistry:
- Tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin – Happy, safe, stress defence Neurotransmitter.
- Tryptamine, a precursor to DMT – the ‘spirit molecule’ which provides a sense of connectedness to oneself and others.
- Cacao Polyphenols – Strong antioxidant phytonutrients which show promise in ameliorating symptoms of Depression.
- Contains Anandamide, a cannabinoid endorphin – Anandamide is an endocannabinoid which regulates the tone of our endocannabinoid system. It is also known as the ‘bliss molecule’ as it enables us to enter a state of flow. Endocannabinoid dysregulation has been associated with anxiety and depression. The actions of Anandamide are of interest due to the regulatory role that it plays within the endocannabinoid system. The ECS is a powerful modulator of neurotransmission pathways and inflammatory processes. These processes are of key focus when considering depression.
Make it HERE
I hear a lot of health practitioners say that Turmeric is at the top of their list of allies that they couldn’t do without. For good reason. Amongst other things, Turmeric, or Curcumin – its principal ingredient, has medicinal uses across the board.
Its efficacy as a medicine is so profound that it has been compared to the effectiveness of up to 14 different pharmaceutical drugs, without the side effects.
Curcumin is especially interesting in relation to depression due to its influence on several biological mechanisms associated with depression. These include Monoamine neurotransmission (the communication in the brain via neurotransmitters like Serotonin and Dopamine), immune modulated inflammation and oxidative stress
Turmeric is an interesting one. Although in animal studies it is presented to be a promising stand alone natural antidepressant; clinical trials in humans of up to 8 weeks found no significant results when compared to placebo.
This doesn’t take Turmeric out of the equation completely, though. Curcumin’s bioavailability is notoriously poor when taken alone. It could be that the clinical trials conducted thus far lacked the right co-ingredients to increase its absorption.
Longer term studies more than 8 weeks are also required to investigate potential extended actions of Curcumin, such as its effects on gut permeability (the integrity of the gut wall). A compromised intestinal lining has been implicated with depression. There could be a therapeutic effect of Turmeric long term in alleviating depression through better intestinal health.
If not for a significant effect on pathways associated with depression; the benefits that Turmeric provides across the board could be enough to contribute to a greater feeling of wellness.
Enjoy turmeric in an absorption boosting formula. With black pepper – Piperine. With Fats such as Coconut Oil/Cacao Butter.