One of the curses of our fast paced lives, multi tasking, unhealthy habits and Yes genetics is depression. This is the leading health issue in corporate India. I am sure most of you are surprised to hear this but i was not especially when i read a cover story regarding this in one of the leading newspapers of India for which I also write regularly.
I see a drastic change in people’s lifestyle now compared to a decade ago when I was climbing the steps of Corporate India. It has not become any easier but I feel people are to be blamed for indiscipline and a bad lifestyle. What has one’s lifestyle do to with depression some ask me when I touch upon this topic? In my experience I have seen quite a lot of people with absolute no reason to be depressed succumbing to it due to a lack of awareness. World over depression strikes millions across race, creed and caste. The sorry part is that so many of them do not fight but succumb to it, sometimes with catastrophic consequences. I remember Sir Winston Churchill words who said “Depression is one of the leading causes of disability, missed work, broken relationships and more”.
Chances are that you or someone close to you will suffer from it at some time during your lifetime. It is truly one of the most devastating of diseases in that it robs you of the ability to simply enjoy life. Activities that you used to enjoy leave you feeling empty. Interacting with friends, family and co-workers can be overwhelming.
It’s hard to imagine that to get out of the bed will become a chore and facing life will be a drag.
So what can one do? Traditional routes of therapy and even medication are effective. They should definitely be considered if depression is disrupting your life.
However there are other, natural steps to take that can over time be very effective. In fact some studies have shown these to be as effective (or more) than traditional therapies.
As an added bonus these are good lifestyle changes that will enhance anyone’s life, depressed or not and most don’t cost a thing!
Studies have shown that primitive people get much more exposure to an active & healthy lifestyle than we do and hence they have no or very little, depression. Attempts to study depression in primitive tribes found nothing to study. Changing your lifestyle can work wonders in battling the blues. I have seen too many people succumb to depression over the years and silently suffer in loneliness. I happen to work with clients of who had early signs of depression but put off going to a physiatrist with the social stigma attached to it. I realised that with a change in their lifestyle there was an amazing transformation in most of them. I have put this article from my own experience and focusing on how changing your lifestyle can help you overcome one of the world’s worst demons. As like always taking action is the first step in nipping things in the bud. See what suits you and choose what works for you. For some all might work and for others only a couple of them might make sense. Some of them which would help you or people close to you would be
Exercise: One of the biggest lifestyle changes I would advocate if not anything would be to get into a habit of daily exercise. I would recommend high intensity cardio exercise to begin with. Some of these would be running, swimming or even cycling. I believe cardiovascular exercise makes you breathe in a lot more oxygen and flushes your brain with a rich source of feel good chemicals along with more blood supply. I always feel a tremendous high in my head when I do a good round of swimming or running. For example I drove through 90 minutes of traffic(bumper to bumper) day before yesterday thanks to cyclone Nilams effects in Bangalore in order to get to the pool and swim for 30 minutes. At the end of 30 minutes the feeling was of absolute bliss and euphoria. Now imagine if you could manage to get into this state everyday and how your life would change for the good. It’s priceless if you ask me. For those of you who would also like to tone up I would recommend 2-3 sessions of lifting weights in the gym. Lifting weights helps because when you work towards failure and use your inner strength you will inadvertently strengthen your mental conditioning which will definitely go a long way in overcoming depression. I agree that all this looks like it is too big a challenge but it is nothing compared to suffering from hopelessness and frustration if you ask me.
Change your diet: Work towards eating a diet rich in source of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Now if you can aim close to the recommended intake of 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables it would be great. Nothing would bring in a positive change of feelings as when you eat a serving of freshly cut fruits and vegetables. Eating 4-5 small meals a day helps in a big way in increasing your metabolism and also ensures that you do not succumb to hunger pangs. I have covered this topic in my earlier Blog article. I personally feel that it is important for people to be working towards nipping depression in the bud by changing their eating habits in terms of time, quality and quantity.There is a strong connection in what and when goes into the mouth and feeling depressed.
Snooze time: According to me insomnia either precedes depression or goes hand in hand. If some of you have problem in getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep then it is time to do whatever it does take to ensure you get this in place. It is important to work on a regular sleep pattern i.e. sleeping and getting up at the same time and this includes the weekend. There is a huge benefit of sleeping for 7-8 hours in a day. I have not even mentioned about the work one can do in the sub-conscious level when one brings in a sense of discipline with regular sleep patterns.
Spend more time outside and socialise: With technology being so advanced it has become very easy to socialize virtually. What I am talking about is to go outside the house/work and meet with like minded people and interact physically. I know that it is not possible to do this every day but figure out ways and means to meet new people at least 3-4 times a week. It might be at a social club, gathering or even a religious sermon but it is important to meet people and develop a social bond. Human beings are social animals and everybody knows the saying No Man/Women is an Island.
Get a pet or develop a new hobby: I might have to write a separate Blog article on having a dog as a pet. I am personally not averse to other animals but dogs are genuinely affectionate animals which always give you undivided attention and Love. I have come across stories about Dogs playing a vital role in depressed people and their well being. Having a dog as a pet, I know what difference it can do to the well being of a person. If one cannot maintain a pet for practical reasons then get into some kind of gardening. Even couple of pots in the balcony can do wonders to the well being of an individual. Tending to it and taking care of its needs will bring in a feel good factor which I guarantee.
Work on your thinking: Now this is as important as anything I have mentioned above. End of the day what matters is how we interpret things within ourselves. Become aware of those times you dwell on the negatives in your life – both real and imagined – and stop them. It takes work and persistence but if you constantly tell yourself to ‘stop it’ when you start to go over the negatives, then you are building a positive habit that will change your life for the better. Whether it’s the jerk that cut you off in traffic or something a little closer to home, don’t give yourself the luxury of a negative thought. I recommend replacing one negative thought with two positive one to ensure that all negativity is suppressed at any cost.
I do know there is lot of stuff in this article but I sincerely feel that way too many people who suffer from this more than anything else. The sad part is that most of them are not even aware. Their priorities are different and just go about their life like a drift wood. I would want some of you to take this up, head on and turn around your life or the person you do care. Each one of us has been blessed to be here at this time. We should make the maximum use of it. Would love to hear about your challenges on either facing depression by you or someone close to you on my Facebook Fan Page or email@example.com