Self-Care for Depression

Depression is not all in your head. There is nothing wrong with you. Doctors say depression is a result of a chemical imbalance in your brain. Ok, but what is causing the imbalance?   What are thoughts made of? Wait… isn’t it… brain chemicals? And is it not true that our thoughts are hugely impacted by our social conditioning, environment, and relationships? To overlook the influence of the energetic input (all the stimuli we are receiving whether we are conscious of it or not) on the phenomenon of depression is to leave significant factors out of the causative inquiry. Maybe you feel like crap because there is negativity raining on you. Maybe there is nothing wrong with your brain chemicals that an energetic umbrella wouldn’t fix. It’s possible that your unconscious beliefs and agreements make you available for a particular rain cloud. It’s also possible to become aware of your system’s settings, change your mind, break those agreements, and create a better reality for yourself. Just an idea. At least as valid an idea as doctors explaining depression as being “caused” by a genetic predisposition or an imbalance in brain chemicals. That’s like saying a wet street caused the rain. Sure, wet streets are a part of the hydrologic cycle of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration, and runoff, but the street is wet because it rained. Your brain chemicals are imbalanced because that is the physical symptom of lack of homeostasis.

Homeostasis is what keeps us humans healthy. Homeostasis is your ability to maintain a condition of equilibrium within your internal environment regardless of the outside changing conditions. If you are very cold, your body will attempt to achieve homeostasis by moving your blood away from your hands and feet where heat is quickly lost, and into your trunk to preserve warmth. What if depression operated just like that? Caused by a condition in the surrounding environment, a raincloud that hangs out over your head and travels with you wherever you go.

Ever watch a dog ripple and shake to get the water out of its fur?  That’s what you have to  do: clear off the negativity that is weighing you down.  Shake it off, because chances are, that wet blanket didn’t even come from you.

WAYS TO SHAKE IT OFF

Exercise.  It’s been proven repeatedly in medical research studies that exercise is at least as effective, if not more so, in treating depression than pharmaceutical anti-depressants. So get your heart rate up, hike, run (not on pavement! no! that’s bad for your joints, find a trail!), swim, bike, walk briskly, jump rope…. 30 minutes a day. It can be broken up into segments and still be effective.

Salt Therapy.  Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. Ions are molecules that have gained or lost an electrical charge. They are created in nature as air molecules break apart due to sunlight, radiation, and moving air and water. Grounded electric devices such as computer monitors emit more positive ions. Ocean waves pounding the beach emit negative ions. In general, negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain, resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy. So, my recommendations are to inhale as many negative ions as you can, and if you can’t make it to a waterfall or a beach, try a salt bath. Another option is “floating” in a sensory deprivation tank, such as at the Float Shoppe.  Imagine floating on the dead sea—there is a lot of salt in the water so your body is buoyant—except the dead sea is in a ginormous bathtub with a lid on it (which you can leave open if you want to)—and you have yourself the salt float tank experience. Spending 60-90 minutes marinating in magnesium sulfate and inhaling negative ions will at the very least guarantee you a good night’s sleep.

Cuddles & Hugs.  Humans are meant to be touched, with love, every day. The need doesn’t stop once you become an adult. If you’re lonely and don’t have anyone to cuddle with, dogs and cats are a great oxytocin fix.

Question your thoughts.  Don’t believe everything you think! If every thought in your mind were absolutely true, you would be enlightened or omniscient, right? It’s safe to say that many, if not the majority of your thoughts are not conveying an accurate assessment of life. I have a rule: “If it makes you feel like $%!# then there is a lie involved.  (See the recommended reading section of this website for the books on this subject, Taming Your Gremlin and Loving What Is.)

Get out in nature.  Nature is profoundly healing. We have some great parks within city limits, all accessible via public transit, such as Forest Park, Tryon Creek Park, and Marquam Nature Park. Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, and the Oregon coast are also great places to visit.

Zero in on Guilt.  Guilt and punishment go hand in hand. What could be a worse punishment than losing your ability to enjoy anything? That is the definition of depression, losing your ability to experience the joy of being alive. Guilt is one of the 5 Boogeymen. Anger, Fear, Anxiety, Lack of Self-Worth, and Guilt are all infection based emotions non-native to the human system. Victimization does not belong within the human realm. Guilt results from going against the part of you that knows better. And what could make a human being go against their very own true self? An infection. Like an auto-immune disease within your morality tissues. The part of you that knows better is what is native and natural to the human realm. The aspect of you that demands You follow its lead then turns around and judges you for screwing up is an impostor impersonating You. Don’t confuse guilt with having a conscience—your conscience echoes the truth of your heart, guiding you to integrity without judgment. Guilt implies you are bad! Very bad! And you deserve to be punished!  Break your guilt spell by making a stand that you are worthy of unconditional love no matter what—this is your divine rightful heritage.  If you want to feel good to be alive, believe with all your heart that you deserve to. You deserve to feel good, no matter what you have done or not done.

Stabilize the body.  You can do positive affirmations all day long, but if your body isn’t getting what it needs in terms of food, water, and rest, how are your brain chemicals supposed to stay balanced? Medical studies have proven there is a link between vitamin B deficiency and depression. Feed your body high quality nutrients. We’re talking brain food. Vegetables, fish, smoothies with that weird green superfood stuff in it. Hydrate (8 glasses a day, right?)

Do something that scares you.  Do something you have always wanted to do but were too afraid to. What do you have to lose at this point? If you are depressed to the point of believing nothing matters anymore, you are free to take some risks—the kind of risks that expand your life. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” –Anais Nin.

Replace pity with power.  Pity is harmful because it comes from a position of viewing yourself and others as victims of circumstance. A victim state implies that you are powerless to respond to what life confronts you with. Such a state is a total distortion of reality, as we each have free will to choose how we will respond to life in any given moment. When misfortune strikes, two choices arise. You can marinate in the problem and get stuck on how it never should have happened, or accept that it did happen and ask yourself, “What am I going to do about it?” Remember, depression is a distorted reality which causes you to see all the cons in life but not the pros.

Laugh.  Watch a comedy or better yet, go to a live comedy show.

Volunteer.  We each have a fundamental human need to contribute and serve a cause greater than ourselves. Without that, life can be a whole lot less meaningful. If you really believe you don’t have anything (time, energy, resources) to contribute to your community, I would recommend challenging this depressing thought. “But I don’t have time!” Challenge it. How would your life change if you made time for it?

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