Moving through the Blues

how do I treat my depression without medicationMoving through the blues. Are these cold, short days getting into your body and making you feel a little slower than usual, a little more down than usual, or a little less motivated?

Weather and sunlight can have a profound impact on your physical body as well as your mind. So, what can we do about it?

Well, the first thing to do is to remind yourself that emotions are fluid and fluctuating, so you won’t always feel this way. Also, remind yourself that maybe right now you just need to feel how you are feeling, even though it’s painful (and it may not even make any sense!). That said, there are some things you can do to counter the winter blues. Following, are a few suggestions…and you may notice…many of them have to do with changing your body in order to change your mind. There’s science behind this stuff!

1) Fold: Stand up and fold forward, hinging at your hips. Let go of any “holding” or tensing in your neck, jaw, and face. Maybe grasp opposite elbows with your hands and sway side-to-side. Inversions that place your head below your heart increase blood flow to your brain, which is proven to decrease anxiety and depression.

2) Move: Take a walk or get some form exercise. If you find it hard to motivate yourself, find a friend to join you and make a plan that stands each week.

3) Smile: This may seem counter-intuitive, but even a fake smile changes the chemicals in your brain to increase those feel-good hormones. If you can’t force those lips to turn up, try placing a pen between your teeth horizontally, which gently lifts your lips into a smile-like expression. Sound crazy? Try it.

4) Absorb: Get as much sunlight as you can. Aim for a minimum of 15 minutes per day, but ideally more. If that’s not possible, consider buying a “sunlight lamp.” An easy way to sneak in the light is to buy a sunlight lamp visor, which is essentially a hat with the special light built in. You can wear it while you’re getting ready for your day. It’s easy, convenient and definitely worth it if you find that you are being negatively affected by lack of sunlight.

5) Connect: Surround yourself with positive people that you like. You may not be in the mood to be social or feel like going out, but try to push yourself to get out once in a while and connect with the people who you enjoy. It’ll likely improve your mood and if not, getting out usually helps to at least halt the spiraling nature of depression.

6) Commit: Set up a schedule of doing something that you enjoy and that gets you out of the house at least once per week. Maybe it’s going to the movies, getting a manicure, taking a walk in the park, visiting a museum, joining a meetup group or something else. It’s not so important what it is, as long as it’s something you like. Make it a priority for your mental health and stick to it!

7) Share: Talking about how you’re feeling can be helpful. Try to choose someone who you know will listen and who will not try to talk you out of feeling how you are feeling. Having space to experience and verbalize our feelings without trying to change them can be excellent medicine.

8) Care: Sometimes the best thing we can do for our self-care is to be aware when things just aren’t working. If you have been in a funk for a while and it’s not shifting, then maybe it’s time to set up an appointment with a therapist (or sign up for a yoga therapy session — or some other therapeutic modality that suits you). Investing your time and money into your mental health doesn’t mean you are crazy…it means you love yourself enough to take care of yourself — and what could be better than that?!

What do you like to do to move through the blues……..? I’d love to hear from you!