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It's time to get unstuck - 11 helpful tips to recover from depression

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goatYou don’t know when it it happened and likely it was not all at once.  Gradually and subtly stress and depression has built up in your life.  Draining you of energy and optimism.  It’s decreased your interest in activities that used to excite you.  Some people close to you have noticed.  You wanted to get off this treadmill and feel more like yourself again.  But, how? Research into stress and depression has identified some key components that can help you rebalance your life.  This step-by-step guide is a jumping off point for your recalibration. You can use this outline to brainstorm a plan for our return to a better mood. You don’t have to go fast, you just have to go.  If you are having suicidal thoughts skip this list and call 911 or get yourself safely to an emergency room.
  1. Check out the physical: Before you tackle any plan of psychological change or self-improvement, make an appointment with your healthcare professional, especially if it has been several years. Depressive symptoms can sometimes mimic conditions with organic origins.  Speak with a doctor for your best plan of care for your age.
  2. Align with motion:  Physical exercise in a longitudinal studies has demonstrated as much effectiveness as an antidepressant. The American Heart Association recommends 10k or 60 minutes of moderate movement. Start with 20 minutes 2-3 days a week and work up to an amount of exercise that works for you. Strength training is very important to aging muscles.
  3. Investigate the well researched modalities to stress reduction: Yoga, meditation, and acupuncture all have scientific research to support their effectiveness in reducing stress and supporting mood. Start with youtube for yoga before you venture out to a studio. Look for professional produced videos by credentialed instructors. There are tons or meditation apps to help you learn the skill. I like Insight Meditation Timer, Headspace and Calm. You can choose guided meditations, progressive muscle relaxation or breath meditation, to name a few. Acupuncture is an Eastern Practice that is based in restoring health by working with the energy of your body’s meridians. When looking for a practitioner, looked for board certified practitioners http://www.nccaom.org/
  4. How wired is your network?  I don’t mean your social media network.  How connected are you to friends and family.  Do you spend in person time with people important to you or with whom you have common interests? When you are feeling down it is difficult to reach out to friends and feel social, but often it one of the most beneficial things to do.  Reconnect with friends from social and past employment. Invite a neighbor to tea. Check out http://www.meetup.com/ for an event that is interesting to you.
  5. Is technology, substances or stuff replacing your mojo? Are you getting addicted to or sucked into any potential vice in your life.  Has netflix replaced your nightly walk to the park or do you pour just one more to make sleep come a little more easily at night? From shopping to gambling, humans are hardwired to seek comfort in activities that excite our neurons, if only for the temporary buzz.  It is normal to help us feel better especially if it is replacing uncomfortable feelings or moods.
  6. Spirituality & Creativity: Humans are complex creatures. Our social nature and quest for purpose drives us to existential contemplation. Whether that is found in an organized relation or in nature, we all seek the best in ourselves to seek moments of awe and wonder.  We cannot reject our creative side even if we have not met it. In the busy world of work and commitments, it’s important to determine if we are spending enough time playing.   One of the questions I often ask clients is what they used to enjoy  when they when 10 years-old. Often we have moved far afield from activities or pursuits of basic and simple.
  7. You are what you eat and drink:  Physicians and psychiatrists have not come to a complete agreement on the best diet for health; but many providers have seen great results and balance with diets that include enough fresh fruits and veggies and consider adequate protein needs. Something akin to the Mediterranean Diet has some substantial research to back it’s effectiveness to support health and mood. Limiting refined sugar, processed food, caffeine and alcohol are also power moves for improved well being.
  8. Sleep.  If you aren’t getting enough you are working on a deficit.  Sleep experts believe that about 7.5 is about the number of hours needed for sufficient rest.  Some people naturally need more or less and this does vary in the lifespan.  See the next article if you are struggling with insomnia. Check out the CBTi App for iphone and Android for a well research tool to improve your sleep.
  9. Habits are healers: You don’t have to do everything at once, but “neurons that fire together wire together”. Teach your brain new tricks. Wake up at the same time every day. Play music on a playlist that you enjoy listening too.  Establish a nighttime routine that involves some dedication to self-care. Boil a pot of tea on the stove and enjoy it as a ritual. Be proud of each small change that you make that if reflective of supporting yourself during difficult times.
  10. When in doubt; talk it out. Find a good therapist. http;//www.psychologytoday.com  or a referral from a friend or medical professional. Don’t be afraid to visit more than one to find someone you can truly feel comfortable. Talk therapy is a great modality for mood improvement particularly Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.
  11. Medication works. Taking Antidepressants have saved  lives and continue to do so,  Like any other physical condition, depression is biologically based and greatly benefits from using medication in conjunction with lifestyle adjustments and perhaps talk therapy.
If you have any specific questions about these recommendations above, please email me joslyn@chicagohumanpotential.com.  I would be happy to share additional research on the efficacy of the suggestions.  The above guideline is not meant to replace in-person psychotherapy or medical treatment.

Categories: depression
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