5 Simple Preventative Steps to Avoid Depression

There are many reasons people are vulnerable to depression. Many women in our society are working and raising children. There are unrealistic visuals on every media outlet telling us we are not enough or not doing enough. Men experience the same pressures to be physically perfect and can be struggling to provide for their families in a rough economy. Self-image and self-esteem can be negatively impacted by these pressures and can lead to feelings of depression or despair.

In order to enjoy our lives, mental health has to be a top priority.

Let’s talk about tools for managing depression. One of the most powerful tools you can use against depression and negative thinking is understanding and harnessing the power of your mind and your thoughts.  Limiting beliefs and negative self-talk affect the way you feel about yourself and your life. What do you say to yourself, internally? Are you kind? Are you punitive? Are you negative or positive? If you are not sure, take some time in the next week to get dialed into the language you use when talking to yourself or about yourself and write it down. The power of affirmative self-talk to recalibrate your subconscious mind is amazing. Look at your subconscious mind as an excellent executive assistant in your life; ready to help you achieve the goals your conscious mind (the boss) has set.

An affirmation is a statement that is declared to be true.  It can be positive or negative in nature. Some examples of affirmations:

I am smart
I am fat
I am healthy
I can’t do this
I will do this

What statements are you establishing as your truth? What you are telling yourself is what you are declaring and affirming in your life. Once you decide on specific positive affirmations, your executive assistant will seek out every opportunity to reinforce them. For affirmations to have the desired effect, the negative self-talk must be replaced with positive. The statements that are repeated most in your mind are the ones that stick. You can use affirmations in every situation in your life. Start and end your day with positive statements about you, your life, and GRATITUDE for what is right, RIGHT NOW. Expressing gratitude creates an energetic vibration that draws more positive experiences to you as the law of attraction states. If that is too out there for you, rock gratitude because it feels good and makes others feel good, too.

The power of your intention is mind blowing, so don’t underestimate what will change when you change your language and your mind. Once you have taken a week to be aware of and journal your current self-talk state, take the next week to try to speak only positively about yourself and express gratitude for all the blessings you have. You will see more and more good come to you.

Here are some other tips to keep depression at bay. What you put in your body and how much you move it, impact the levels of feel good hormones released in your brain. Scientists have long come to the conclusion that poor diet and lack of exercise are major causation factors of all illnesses, including depression. This is not news, but I find that many clients “know” this but fail to implement small changes that can yield big benefits.

Exercise

Do any sort of physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. It does not have to be 30 solid minutes. Take the stairs and walk whenever you can. Do some crunches and pushups while watching television. If you are not sure what to do, don’t stress about it! Whatever you enjoy doing that ups your heart rate is perfect.

Hydrate

One of the easiest changes to make in your dietary life is to add more water. Our bodies are made up of 70% water and need at least 6, 8 oz. glasses a day to function at an optimal state. Foods high in water content also count – so load up on the fruits and veggies. When your body does not get enough water, it starts to conserve and prioritize allocation, meaning certain body processes suffer. Increasing water intake flushes toxins and other depression contributing elements from your system at a faster rate and keeps your brain, digestive, and circulatory systems working efficiently.

Dump Processed Foods

All of the preservatives and sugar in processed foods have a negative effect on body and mind functions. They steal your energy, slow your metabolism, and disrupt hormonal balance.

Veggies to the Rescue

Try a 70/30 ratio of veggies to other food on your plate. How you prepare the veggies is important. Lightly blanching, steaming, and baking help retain nutritional value. Raw veggies are the best bang for your nutrition buck, so load up on salads.

Avoid Alcohol and Coffee

Alcohol is a depressant as it depresses (aka slows down) the nervous system. Coffee, on the other hand, can over-stimulate and make your thoughts and mind feel chaotic. Coffee, like sugar and soft drinks, is also a diuretic draining your system of the moisture – hydration – it needs.

I hope you take the time to implement some of these suggestions. You are worth the effort. If your depression is debilitating to the point of interfering with daily functioning, please seek treatment from a licensed professional. Therapy is a gift you can give yourself even if you are not suffering from clinical depression. Consider it one hour a week that you do not have to take care anyone but you!

As always I am interested in your thoughts, so start a dialogue and share your wisdom and questions. Being generous with your experience may just help another in our community.

Have an uplifting week and as always, take care of you.

Love Love Love

Terri

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  • Christine

    this is a really great post. I just was writing about the prevalence of depression in the latino communities. It truly helps to have some starter points to help beat the blues. Thanks for this one Terri!

  • terri cole

    Christine-
    Thank you for your comment! I am interested in your finding about depression in Latino communities as well so please keep us in the loop. It is amazing to me how much diet impacts emotions and can either fuel depression or minimize it in many cases. Definitely a long term conversation as Dr. Lipman illustrates in his work. <3

  • Carrie

    Oh I love this! As someone who has struggled with depression and has a family history of depression, little things like staying hydrated, focusing on what you are grateful for and hitting the gym (even though they seem so simple and easy) do make a really big difference. Thanks for this Terri! What a great reminder.

  • terri cole

    Carrie-
    I am so glad the post resonated with you. Family history is such an important factor in how we view and handle depression. Good for you for being proactive and understanding that a predisposition does not mean you have to suffer with the condition. Thank you for your comment <3

  • Dr. Archie

    I’m glad that common-sense, good health info like this is getting out there, and I wholeheartedly believe in every one of these points. Not only do I believe, I practice them. But I also believe it’s important to preface all depression discussions with a clarification about who is the target audience. There are many different types of depression and most articles like this are aimed at sufferers of mild to moderate depression. Severe clinical depression is a whole other animal and giving the impression that the sufferer can cure herself is facile at best and destructive at worst.

    To give a personal anecdote, I’m genetically predisposed to depression. Yet I reached middle age without ever suffering more than the occasional blues. I exercise regularly, have been slim all my life (BMI of 20), have never drunk alcohol, haven’t eaten processed food in over 15 years, have been a vegetarian for 35 years and do not take any medications. Furthermore, I’m a long-time yoga practitioner and I also meditate regularly. I am basically in “perfect health.” Yet 2 years ago I became severely clinically depressed. And articles like this one made me feel even worse because I was doing everything they suggested and more, and to my mind, because the methods weren’t working, I myself was the failure. Finally, a year ago I was suicidal and as a last resort, agreed to try a prescription antidepressant, which formerly I had resisted. The medication, and the accompanying psychotherapy helped me to rebalance myself when all other measures failed. One i was rebalanced, I was then able to rededicate myself to all the above practices that have sustained me for so many years.

    My point is, everybody should be doing what you recommend. And because we know that is not the case, it’s valuable to give the whole population these tools. But let’s also make clear they are meant to ward off mild and moderate depression, but that there’s another kind of depression that might need outside intervention. If you are suffering from that kind of depression, you aren’t to blame when advice like the above doesn’t do the whole trick. To leave this caveat out of the equation does a disservice to the severely depressed, who are already so vulnerable.