How to Stay Afloat in the Depths of Depression: Part 3

woman playing in sun

 

{This week, I bring you my battle plan. Living the depressed life can be demoralizing; I know all too well the debilitating drain. But we must not give up the fight–there is hope for us, sisters. It’s all about scrupulous self-care. Read on, and be well. XOXO, Leslie}

Sleep

In addition to Sabbath observance, we women prone to depression must embrace rest’s most restorative form–sleep–for all its rejuvenating power. We don’t have to exhaustedly sputter through our days on fumes. We’re better when we’re rested.

Everyone’s different, but God knows I need my 8 hours…8.5, ideally. Getting my 8 hours truly makes or breaks my day—mood, energy, everything (ask my dear husband—God bless him). So when that magical time of night approaches for me, I religiously shut it all down and head up the stairs. Call me a sleep nazi. I LOVE BED.

However if you aren’t able to get your 8 hours due to the many variables this thing called LIFE throws at us, all is not lost. I’m a huge believer in the potency of the power nap–it’s a game changer. Amazing what 15 minutes of closed-eyes, slow breathing can do to recharge you. An instant refresh.

Exercise

Ideally, at a frequency of everyday…but realistically, just as often as you can manage it. Endorphins are our friends. Everyone needs them. But the depressed person, perhaps, the most. It’s a stress-buster. A mood cure. The National Institute of Mental Health goes so far as to say the efficacy of exercise compares to that of an antidepressant. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/media/2010/positive-measures-to-fight-depression.shtml

If you’re like me–NOT an accomplished athlete/marathoner–just slip into some cute workout gear (yes, looking good equates to feeling good in my book–an instant confidence-builder), grab an audio book or some great tunes, and hit the gym/elliptical machine/treadmill/pavement! You’ll be glad you did! Sweat=sweet.

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is of paramount importance for us all; however we afflicted with depression must take extra care to eat foods that will help us feel our best. A well-balanced, protein-rich diet will give our minds and bodies the best chance at optimal health and performance. We’re talking whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and minimally processed foods here–the good stuff.

Often, when I’m down, God brings to mind a conversation I had years ago with a family friend who suffers similarly. Her words of advice were simple, yet profound: “EAT SOMETHING.” Seriously, this tactic works wonders.

Sometimes our bodies pitch a fit, simply craving some good calories. I find I’m often cranky and blurry-minded before a meal, and afterwards, I feel worlds better. A word to the wise: choose something healthy. Empty calories bode badly for the depressed woman, especially if it’s snack time. (Think filling your gas tank with soda—no bueno.) If it’s in between mealtimes, combine protein with a carbohydrate for a power-packed reviver.

“My Heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food.” Psalm 102:4 (NIV)

 (Word!)

Quality vitamins are part and parcel of a healthy diet. People that suffer from depression need, at the least, a good multi vitamin and a hearty daily dose of fish oil. A former psychiatrist of mine recommended his patients take over 1000 mg a day. Do your research and find a high-grade fish oil that doesn’t “burp up” an offensive fishy taste.

girl on swing over ocean

 

Sunshine is Good Medicine

Get outside, girl! For your daily dose of vitamin D. For the good fresh air does us. For the love of God’s creation—instant joy-source!

Not only are we drawn to the outdoors for its rejuvenating qualities, but sunshine is actually a mood-booster, according to Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201307/vitamin-d-deficiency-and-depression

Exercising outdoors is one way to kill two proverbial birds with one stone—and bonus: double mood boost! God made us to need it. So slather on your spf and don’t dare skimp on sunshine time!

Recreation and ”Me Time”

We must make time for fun. As a recovering perfectionistic control freak with a propensity toward workaholism (God bless me), I KNOW this to be true. There’s no surer joy-zapper than crowding the fun out of your schedule. Back to the great balancing act—recreation is an integral element.

Whatever you love to do, whatever makes you tick—by all means, DO IT. Regularly. (YOURS TRULY IS WORKING ON THIS. HARD.)

Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a career woman with or without children, “me time” is essential, and an important part of the aforementioned illustrious ideal, balance. We all need a break. Preferably without our little shadows occupying our airspace. It will make us better, healthier moms.

Listen to me, fellow mamas and stressed out ladies: Get a sitter. Give yourself a break. You are worth it.

Community is Curative

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.” Proverbs 27:9 (NIV)

Introvert or not, everyone needs time with friends. I’m the former, by God’s design, and spent many years using my temperament as an excuse for not prioritizing this refreshment. But I’ve learned that I absolutely require the fresh air of girlfriend time. For the joy-swell it affords me.

Join a Bible study at your church. Meet some women and hang with them. You’ll bloom…God created us for community.

Get Outside Yourself and Serve

On the same token, getting outside our heads and shifting our focus to others, specifically in service to them, is GOOD medicine.

 “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:18-19

Yes, truly. This is a game-changer. Shifting our focus from ourselves to others works wonders to distract our ruminating minds, and secure ourselves a much-needed fresh breath. Not to mention a healthy dose of perspective. Who knows; your experience, your story may even minister to someone in the process…

Again, the church is a great place to plug in, rich in serving opportunities. Go, serve, and grow.

{Join me tomorrow for the conclusion; How to Stay Afloat in the Depths of Depression: Part 4.}


Depression Series{Navigating Depression: What Every Woman Needs to Know} is a month-long blog series devoted to the disorder. Read stories of women who have traversed its stormy seas. Receive encouragement and be equipped for your own battle against the darkness. Garner understanding, bleeding empathy for afflicted loved ones.

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