If you have ever suffered from depression then you will know how it feels to be at the bottom of a big, dark, deep pit. The sides are tall and slimy. But you know that if you can climb up and out then there is sunlight and hope at the top.
I have been in this pit a few times in my life. I am happy to say that I have always managed to get back out, but it hasn’t always been easy.
Depression is on both sides of my family. Does that mean that it’s in my genes, or in my children’s? Probably. Does it mean that my children will all suffer from depression? I sincerely hope not.
I recently had the pleasure of listening to a talk by Cherie Burton, a psychologist and specialist in mental illness. Cherie spoke of epigenetics, a topic that fascinates me. The theory behind epigenetics is this:
Your genes do not have to define you. The deliberate lifestyle choices that you make can reduce the risk of a particular gene being expressed.
It reminds me of a phrase that I once heard: ‘Your genes load the gun, your lifestyle pulls the trigger’.
Put simply, your genes may increase your risk of a certain illness, but your lifestyle choices can, often dramatically, reduce that risk.
The healthy choices that we make every day are all about reducing the risk.
Maybe the jury is still out about the health risk of a particular additive or chemical. However, if there is a risk then I would rather avoid that chemical than be part of the experiment.
I have heard oftentimes recently that our children are like ‘canaries in a cage’. Having worked in underground mines in my former life as a geologist, using carbide lamps to help detect poisonous gasses (rather than canaries!), I can relate to this. So I now chose for myself and for my kids, not to be the canary.
When it comes to medication, again it’s important to consider the risks. Psychotropic medication is sometimes necessary, but can be toxic and have side effects. Complementary medication is important to cleanse and restore, can also help with mood management, and typically doesn’t have side effects.
If you are currently taking medication then you can enorporate the suggestions below while on your current dose. As you start to feel a difference, you might want to talk to your doctor about reducing your medication, as many have specific requirements for coming off them. Also be aware that you may need to go back on you previous dose and reduce or increase a few times while you body and mind adjust. Some people are able to come of their medication completely, while others are able to significantly reduce the amount that they are taking.
So what lifestyle choices can we make to avoid depression? I am going to share some simple tools that you can do to improve your mood, and that have worked for me and many others.
I do want to reiterate that this is an integrative approach. If you are currently on medication for mood management (or any prescribed medication), then incorporating natural therapies could be truly beneficial. However if you would like to to reduce your prescribed medication then please talk this through with your doctor first. This is a journey, and you need to listen to your body and tune in to what is best for you, and use medical supervision if and when required.
The top 5 things that you can do to improve your mood are:
Eating right has a direct impact on the way that we feel and can be the most important thing that we can do to improve our mood. Never underestimate the power of the green smoothie!
Apparently our gut is our second brain and can ‘feel’ our emotions. Have you ever had butterflies in your stomach, or felt sick from stress? That is the direct response of a thought that we have. In fact, our thoughts can have a massive impact on our health (both good AND bad). So we need to look after our gut and have happy thoughts!
Eating a variety of organic wholefoods is key. Adding green smoothies to my diet made not only a massive difference to my digestive issues, but also to my mood.
Drinking a lot of water is also very important. We need to be hydrated to stay healthy and happy!
Supplementing your diet with a good quality, wholefood supplement can also have a profound impact on your mood. Here are a few that I use and recommend:
- Microplex VMz, a wholefood and essential oil based supplement (Scientific research)
- ALPHA CRS: a cellular vitality complex (Scientific research)
- xEOmega: a combination of land and sea omegas plus essential oils (Scientific research). There is a link between low mood and low omegas. Our brain is 55% fat and our diets are lacking in good fats so our brains are starving. Omegas are vitally important for brain health. Fish and land oil are the best combination.
- Terrazyme, a digestive enzyme complex which supports the body’s enzyme production. Digestive enzymes are important as a lot of the food that we eat, especially processed foods, can’t easily be broken down.
PB Assist is a probiotic, which is important to maintain a natural balance within the digestive track. Probiotics are vital in reducing the growth of harmful bacteria, aiding the immune system, digestion, and the absorption of nutrients.
Exercise can be very important to emotional health and can help to release feel-good brain chemicals such as endorphins. Studies undertaken by the Mayo clinic have show that exercise can actually be more effective than anti-depressants.
Exercise can also be beneficial for reducing stress, improving sleep, strengthening your heart, increasing energy levels, lowering blood pressure and improving self esteem.
3. Rest & Stress Management
What happens if we don’t get enough sleep? Typically, we experience rapid mood decline. Adequate sleep is vital to our mood. I know, I have two young children and was sleep deprived for many years. As a consequence my diet was poor due to lack of motivation, and yes I was grumpy and sometimes depressed.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 7-8 hours of sleep every night is the recommended amount for most of us, ideally from around 10pm to 6am.
Another key aspect of stress management is our perception. If there is an event that triggers you, your thoughts are based on that perception. Perception can trigger stress, which can then lead to inflammation, stomach ulcers, headaches, depression and more.
So what can we do to prevent this thought process? How can we change our perception? For me, the most important aspect was realising that my thoughts can actually have an impact on my health.
Put simply, bad thoughts can be unhealthy, good thoughts can help us heal.
So what else can we do? Focus on what is important. How many times do we stress about things that really, at the end of the day, aren’t that important in the big scheme of things? ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ is a great book to help us put things back in perspective.
Meditation is also very important. Try to take some time everyday for focused calm and relaxing.
Essential oils can also have a profound effect on our mood and helping us to manage stress. They are now part of my everyday life and I’m not sure how I ever managed without them. Some of my favourites include frankincense, wild orange, lavender and doTERRAs balance blend.
Massage or an Aroma Touch technique can also be really beneficial for helping with stress.
4. Reduce toxic load
We are bombarded everyday with a variety of chemical toxins. Some are easy to avoid (such as potentially harmful substances in cleaning or personal care products), but others are not (such as environmental pollution from cars, industry or even in our homes from flame retardants and paint).
We can chose to use natural products in our homes, and avoid processed foods, but we still need to cleanse our bodies. Detoxing every now and then can be very beneficial and some of my favourite products for this include GX Assist for cleansing the gut and Zendocrine detoxification complex which supports healthy cleansing and filtering functions of the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs and skin.
Citrus oils are very cleansing and can help to dissolve and eliminate toxins.
5. Healthy Relationships
The most important relationship that we have is the internal one that we have with ourselves. How we see ourselves governs our mood, attitude, behaviour and beliefs.
Research has shown that our health is improved in a good relationship. Bad, negative or toxic relationships can have an adverse health affect on our health.
So, there you have it. Five simple steps, that you can do, right now, to either help you climb out of that pit, or make sure that you never end up in it!
A couple of other things that can help improve our mood include sunlight (in moderate amounts), deep breathing, and following our passion and purpose. I certainly feel much happier now that I am doing something that I truly love and is making a difference to others.
And last, but by no means least, don’t forget to use your own intuition for helping you to figure out whats right for you. Ask yourself some questions, what can I do to improve my mood, my health or my relationships? Then follow your heart. Always follow your heart!
The key to being well is knowing what is stressing you out and knowing what to do about it, then doing it.
If you have any comments to share that you think could be beneficial for helping with depression then please post your comments below.
Health and Happiness!
The information in this blog is intended for education purposes only, the statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration (FDA) or Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone suffering from any disease, illness or injury should consult with a medical practitioner. These suggested uses apply only to certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) Doterra Essential Oils.