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Ultimate Guide: Self-Help Tips To Deal With Depression

Ultimate Guide: Self-Help Tips To Deal With Depression

It’s been estimated that nearly 350 million people in the world suffer from depression and almost 80% don’t receive any treatment – that’s a lot of people dealing with depression on their own. It’s a belittling misconception that people who suffer from depression are just feeling sad or are mentally weak. New research has found that depression is actually a kind of brain damage which backs up the fact that it’s not something people can just cure or ‘get over’. Dealing with depression means dealing with a constant cycle of sadness and hopelessness and it can feel never-ending. It can leave you with a lack of drive and energy to take the necessary larger steps you need to make yourself feel better.

There are smaller and more manageable steps you can do on a daily basis that can help you self-manage your depression – they are by no means an attempt at a cure but they can help alleviate the feelings of despair and darkness that seem to take over so easily. It’s important to acknowledge that you may be suffering from depression and taking some steps towards a lighter path will help with your overall outlook on life.

Acknowledging Your Depression

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    The first step is to recognise that you are suffering from depression. Admitting that you’re suffering from depression does not make you a weak person; in fact it’s the opposite. Acknowledging that you may have depression will allow you to attempt ways to deal with it whether with professional help or through self-management.

    • Accept The Depression In Your Life

    Accepting that you have depression will allow you to be able to do something about it. Hiding it away or putting it down to a bad phase in your life will only allow it to spiral out of control. Having depression is not something to be ashamed of and the sooner you realise this and admit that you may have it, the sooner you can deal with it.

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    • Understand That You Can Help Yourself

    It’s important to establish that your actions will help you with your depression. You don’t have to allow things to happen to you – you have the power to control what happens to you. Although this can feel hard to imagine at times, there’s great power in your steps to help yourself.

    • Every Little Step Helps

    Depression can leave you feeling helpless and worthless. Thinking of actions to help yourself can seem overwhelming but it’s not big, grand actions that you need to make happen. Breaking actions down into small daily steps can seem less less daunting and greatly relieve symptoms of depression plus they don’t always need a lot of time or effort to achieve. Keep that belief that every little step is helping you in a positive way.

    Establishing An Exercise Routine To Deal With Depression

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      When you suffer from depression you can find it hard to motivate yourself to get out of bed let alone think about exercising but exercise is crucial for helping you deal with depression. Exercise has been found to be as effective as antidepressant medication as it increases energy levels and decreases tiredness. Studies have shown that exercise protects the brain from depression so it can help prevent further depression from developing. It doesn’t have to be a hard, sweaty workout but just getting out and moving will really help with your mindset and perspective. Releasing those endorphins can do much more than we realise – they reduce stress and tension so have an all-round positive effect on depression.

      • Go For A Walk

      A really simple and effective way to deal with depression is to take a walk. If you find it difficult to find motivation for an exercise routine then walking is a great way to fit this into your daily life. Getting out in nature can have a healing affect and breathing the fresh air will have a big impact on our brain’s oxygen levels allowing you to have clearer thoughts. If you have a dog or can borrow a dog from someone else this will be a great incentive to walk and for longer.

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      • Cardiovascular Exercise

      This is something you can build up to. Establishing a walking routine is a great place to start and once you think you’re feeling the benefits you can decide if doing more cardiovascular exercises is something you want to pursue. Running, cycling and swimming are great exercises to get into but it’s important to find one that you enjoy and will want to stick with. Establishing a routine and setting goals will help with motivation and train your brain to see hope and achievement.

      • Small Movements

      If walking and running seem too much of a step for you then just finding moments to move around are beneficial. Park your car further away so you have to walk for a little bit, take the stairs instead of the elevator – anything that prevents you from being still for too often. Getting your body moving, no matter how small, is good for your mind and you will find that it will help you to feel a little less low.

      Establishing A Healthy Diet To Deal With Depression

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        What you eat has a big effect on how you feel. Establishing a healthy diet can help relieve symptoms of depression and together with exercise can combat your depression greatly. Eating the right foods can boost your mood and help you feel less tired and depleted. When you have no motivation it can be easy to reach for the convenient, junk-filled foods but these can be a hinderance to your depression as it has little nutritional value and causes further unnecessary fatigue.

        • Cut Back On Sugar And Carbohydrates

        Sugar and carbohydrates are common foods to reach for when we need comfort. Cakes, biscuits and breads are full of refined sugar and carbohydrates which can leave us feeling lethargic which can add to other symptoms of depression. It can also lead to a crash in mood as our blood-sugar levels drop dramatically.

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        • Superfoods And Vitamins

        There are certain foods that help with boosting our mood including bananas, nuts, omega-rich fish, brown rice and spinach as well as many more. Complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain foods can boost serotonin levels without the crash that we get with simple carbohydrates. Considering taking extra vitamins and supplements including complex B-vitamins and folic acid will be beneficial. Vitamin B deficiency in particular can trigger depression or alternatively you can eat foods rich in vitamin B like eggs, green leafy vegetables and chicken.

        • Eat At Regular Intervals

        It’s really important that you keep fuelling your body. Going for too long without food can cause irritability and low blood sugar levels which can cause mood swings. Make sure you try to eat a healthy meal or snack every 3-4 hours. It can be tempting to reach for the junk food but try to make a conscious decision to pick something healthy and beneficial.

        Managing Your Negative Thinking

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          Depression ultimately changes the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. It can darken thoughts about the past, present situations and the future. The key to managing negative thoughts is not to just think positively and they’ll go away but rather to gradually introduce a different way of thinking that will encourage a slightly different mindset.

          • Recognising Negative Thinking

          The first important thing to do is recognise your negative thoughts. There are different types of negative thoughts that can foster depression and recognising them is a great first step in starting to combat them. Thoughts such as emotional reasoning where you believe your negative thoughts are reality, for example believing you’re worthless. Overgeneralising is something that people with depression often do – holding on to a negative experience and believing it will continue to be like that. Self-blaming, jumping to negative conclusions by false assumption and ignoring positive events are all different types of thinking prone to someone with depression.

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          • Avoiding Isolation

          When we’re depressed we have a tendency to want to withdraw and be alone but isolation from others is more likely to create negative thinking because we are further separating ourselves from reality. Connection with others is a basic human need and studies have shown just how important social interaction is when it comes to our happiness. Even if you don’t feel like it, it’s important to cultivate relationships with family and friends – they will be your support network. Just finding someone to trust and talk to every now and then will help stop the tendency to withdraw.

          • Shifting Your Perspective

          Shifting your perspective is not changing your thoughts from sad to happy, it’s allowing yourself to see something in a different light. It’s about thinking outside of yourself. When we’re hard on ourselves it becomes a way of thinking but try asking yourself would I say something so harsh to someone else? Changing your perspective is about learning a different way to see things and getting your mind to realise that there are other sides to a problem. It’s about cultivating gratitude for the small things that we have whether that’s food, hot water etc. There are many ways to change our perspective that can help fight off those negative thoughts. Trying to gently shift your mindset will help you on your journey to managing your depression.

          Featured photo credit: De Visu via shutterstock.com

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          Jenny Marchal

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          Published on March 8, 2019

          How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

          How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

          When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

          Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

          Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

          How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

          How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

          Think about your current workouts:

          If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

          In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

          A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

            A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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            Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

            Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

            Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

            Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

            This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

            Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

            Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

            The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

            Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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            Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

            Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

            The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

            The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

            Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

            Meet Strong Stan

            Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

            While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

            While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

            Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

            Meet Flexible Fiona

            Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

            Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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            To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

            Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

            It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

            Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

            Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

            What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

            In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

            In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

            So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

            You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

            If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

            If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

            Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

              Final Thoughts

              If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

              Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

              Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

              With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

              More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

              Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

              Reference

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