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Natural Ways to Fight Depression

Natural Ways to Fight Depression

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 350 million people suffer from depression all over the world, making it a problem of truly global proportions.  Depression comes with an array of difficult signs and symptoms, including feelings of hopelessness or despair, physical pain, fatigue, problems with eating and sleeping and sometimes even thoughts or attempts at suicide.

The good news is, however, that along with medication and counselling, there are a lot of natural lifestyle choices you can make to help support your journey back to good mental health. Most of them are so simple that they might surprise you!

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    Regular Exercise

    This can be a difficult lifestyle choice to make because of the fatigue that depression can bring with it, but if you can manage it, regular and gentle exercise can support your emotional health. This is because physical activity release endorphins, natural “feel good” hormones that can help raise your mood levels naturally. Regular exercise can also combat stress, with frequently goes along with depression.

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      Stress Management

      Stress — and in the inability to cope with stress — is often an underlying cause of depression or can at least make the problem worse.  So taking up a stress-busting exercise like yoga or tai chi or learning how to meditate can help to deal with these feelings of anxiety and make them easier to cope with in healthy ways.

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        A Healthy Diet

        Many people with depression will tend to either over- or under-eat, leading to problems with weight.  However, a healthy, balanced diet with good portions of foods throughout the day can help you cope with depression by keeping your blood sugars balanced and your energy level steady; it will also help you to get the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your nervous system (including your brain) healthy.

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          Natural Supplements

          There are also plenty of herbs and supplements out there that can also help you conquer your depression.  One of them is fish oil supplements; it has been found that the omega-3 fatty acids in the oil support the health and balance of the nervous system. Another one is St. John’s Wort, which is thought to help depression by increasing levels of serotonin, a “feel good” hormone in the brain. However, you should talk to your doctor before beginning any supplement to make sure it will not react with medications you are already taking.

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            Social Time

            One of the hardest parts of depression is how lonely and isolated it can make you feel. So even if you don’t always feel like it, get out and socialize and allow the support and love of your friends and family to get you through the tough times.  Support groups, friends, people from your church or other place of worship can all play a role in giving you the emotional strength you need as you work to get well.

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              Sleep

              If you are fighting a battle with depression, the importance of getting a good night’s sleep (ideally between 7 and 8 hours a night) cannot be over-emphasized. Sleep deprivation can make feelings of depression — as well as stress and anxiety — much worse and can put a strain on your nervous system and brain. However, make sure not to oversleep, which can be a struggle for some people who suffer from depression.

              The takeaway here is that if you are battling depression, you are not alone — and you can also be empowered to make the lifestyle changes that will help you overcome with problem.  A healthy, balanced diet, sleep, stress management, supplements and the support of friends and loved ones can all combine to make your journey more successful and to complement your medications and counselling.

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              Brian Wu

              Health Writer, Author

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              Last Updated on June 20, 2019

              Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

              Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

              There’s nothing quite like picking up a guitar and strumming out some chords. Listening to someone playing the guitar can be mesmerising, it can evoke emotion and a good guitar riff can bring out the best of a song. Many guitar players find a soothing, meditative quality to playing, along with the essence of creating music or busting out an acoustic version of their favourite song. But how does playing the guitar affect the brain?

              More and more scientific studies have been looking into how people who play the guitar have different brain functions compared to those who don’t. What they found was quite astonishing and backed up what many guitarists may instinctively know deep down.

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              Guitar Players’ Brains Can Synchronise

              You didn’t read that wrong! Yes, a 2012 study[1] was conducted in Berlin that looked at the brains of guitar players. The researchers took 12 pairs of players and got them to play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned.

              During the experiment, they found something extraordinary happening to each pair of participants – their brains were synchronising with each other. So what does this mean? Well, the neural networks found in the areas of the brain associated with social cognition and music production were most activated when the participants were playing their instruments. In other words, their ability to connect with each other while playing music was exceptionally strong.

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              Guitar Players Have a Higher Intuition

              Intuition is described as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” and this is exactly what’s happening when two people are playing the guitar together.

              The ability to synchronise their brains with each other, stems from this developed intuitive talent indicating that guitar players have a definite spiritual dexterity to them. Not only do their brains synchronise with another player, but they can also even anticipate what is to come before and after a set of chords without consciously knowing. This explains witnessing a certain ‘chemistry’ between players in a band and why many bands include brothers who may have an even stronger connection.

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              This phenomenon is actually thought to be down to the way guitarists learn how to play – while many musicians learn through reading sheet music, guitar players learn more from listening to others play and feeling their way through the chords. This also shows guitarists have exceptional improvisational skills[2] and quick thinking.

              Guitar Players Use More of Their Creative, Unconscious Brain

              The same study carried out a different experiment, this time while solo guitarists were shredding. They found that experienced guitar players were found to deactivate the conscious part of their brain extremely easily meaning they were able to activate the unconscious, creative and less practical way of thinking more efficiently.

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              This particular area of the brain – the right temporoparietal junction – typically deactivates with ‘long term goal orientation’ in order to stop distractions to get goals accomplished. This was in contrast to the non-guitarists who were unable to shut off the conscious part of their brain which meant they were consciously thinking more about what they were playing.

              This isn’t to say that this unconscious way of playing can’t be learnt. Since the brain’s plasticity allows new connections to be made depending on repeated practice, the guitar player’s brain can be developed over time but it’s something about playing the guitar in particular that allows this magic to happen.

              Conclusion

              While we all know musicians have very quick and creative brains, it seems guitar players have that extra special something. Call it heightened intuition or even a spiritual element – either way, it’s proven that guitarists are an exceptional breed unto themselves!

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              Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

              Reference

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