When depression sets in it has the ability to take over and affect just about every aspect of our lives; Our relationships, sleep, productivity at work, libido, social life and diet. It can seem that nothing is working in our lives and we have overwhelming feelings of hopelessness. This negative cycle of hopelessness and despair is like being on a runaway train. You can, however, pull the emergency chain to halt the train of depression and take specific steps to feel better. Depression can be so debilitating that we just don’t have the energy to do the simplest things; Everything takes so much effort. Depression then becomes a verb – it is something that we do as opposed to how we feel. If we are to pull the emergency chain to halt the train of depression then we need to stop doing what we have always done (it didn’t work!) and to do something different. The first step to beat depression is to restore mind/body balance. All those negative thoughts have an effect on our body. This is because the body doesn’t know the difference between what is real or imagined. Instantaneously our bodies react to whatever we are thinking and saying to ourselves. It floods our whole system with stress hormones (cortisol) which in turn:- • Affects our sleep Throughout the night we all naturally have cycles of dream sleep (which is light) and deep recuperative sleep. It has been found that people with high levels of stress, anxiety and depression have more dream (light) sleep than deep recuperative sleep. This leaves us waking up exhausted with no energy for the day. Sleep deprivation is also known to increase cortisol. We might also have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. • Affects our Eating And Digestion The way we act and subsequently the way we feel is influenced greatly by the food we eat. Because stress stimulates and impairs the functioning of the Vagus nerve (a sub-system of the Autonomic Nervous System) our digestion and appetite are affected. We may experience bloating, cramps, nausea and diarrhoea. If we eat junk food including caffeine and alcohol or skip meals it can increase cortisol. Read Dr. Mark Sircus’ article about the function of the Vagus nerve here Ways to restore mind/body balance:- • Regular Exercise When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life. Regular exercise has been proven to:- Reduce stress Ward off anxiety and feelings of depression Boost self-esteem Improve sleep • Eat Well There are certain foods that increase cortisol; Read more about Diet and Depression and what foods can help you to beat depression. Getting into the habit of eating little and often promotes feelings of wellbeing which gives us less chance of grabbing anything that is unhealthy. • Mindfulness Meditation Consistent daily practice promotes the development of stability, inner calmness, and non-reactivity of the mind. In turn, this allows us to face and embrace even the unpleasant or painful aspects of daily life. By developing a simple and pure awareness, we learn to disentangle ourselves from our habitual thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. Daily meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in just 6 weeks. Read more about Mindfulness for stress, anxiety and depression here • Yoga The combination of meditation and physical movement provide two important elements for relieving depression. Meditation helps bring a person into the present moment and allows them to clear their minds. Controlled, focused movements also help strengthen the body-mind connection. Read more about yoga here Taking daily deliberate action – eat little and often, go for a 15 minute walk daily, spend 5 minutes practicing mindfulness, join a yoga class – will restore mind/body balance. This will improve the quality of your sleep, reduce stress and anxiety and leave you starting the day with the energy to make further changes to halt the train of depression. The next step to beating depression involves assessing whether all your other primal needs are being met and making appropriate changes to meet those needs. Visit my website page Alleviating Depression for further information or contact me today to book a session so that we can together pull the emergency chain to halt the train of depression.