It may seem early to start talking about seasonal depression when we have all these beautiful changing leaves and pumpkin spice going around, but now is the time to be proactive. When it comes to self-care, it is about being proactive vs. reactive.
Daily practice is the key to achieving optimal wellness. What do you do daily to ensure that you maintain or improve your physical and mental health? Things that I make sure that I do daily include: take my daily supplements, eat fresh and healthy (local & in-season, when possible) meals, get 8 hours of sleep per night, practice yoga, and keep a daily journal.
"Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting about 121 million people (World Health Organization [WHO], 2008). In the United States, 14.8 million (or about 6.7%) adults have depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans between the ages of 15 and 44 (National Institutes of Mental Health [NIMH], 2008). Currently, the WHO has determined that depression is ranked fourth on the global burden of disease list. The rates of depression continue to increase and the WHO predicts that it will be the second most common global burden of disease by the year 2020. Depression costs $36.6 billion and 225 million lost workdays each year in the United States (NIMH, 2006)." - Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine?
4 Ways to Keep It Together!
1. Vitamin D:
Because the average American spends most of their days indoors, our bodies do not produce enough Vitamin D. According to The National Institutes of Health "It has been suggested by some vitamin D researchers, for example, that approximately 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen usually lead to sufficient vitamin D synthesis and that the moderate use of commercial tanning beds that emit 2%–6% UVB radiation is also effective [6,20]. Individuals with limited sun exposure need to include good sources of vitamin D in their diet or take a supplement to achieve recommended levels of intake." The darker the skin, the more time a person has to spend in order to get the correct amount of UV exposure. Want to get your daily dose of Vitamin D!?! Go and take a walk outside. You are killing two birds with one stone, because now you are also getting a workout, which also helps battle depression. *Contact your physician before starting any new supplement or exercise program.
2. Mindfulness Practice:
Chronic stress and trauma, paired with the cold and limited sunshine can cause us to get overwhelmed and shut down, bringing us into a depressive state. Studies show that meditation and yoga help to heal the brain and body from the effects of trauma and stress. Not only that, but it equips us with a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with uncomfortable situations.
Commit to spending just 10 minutes per day doing simple yoga postures, deep breathing, and meditation. Add it to your calendar, set a timer, and try to do it at the same time and place. The cool thing about mindful breathing is that you can do it anywhere!
3. Get A Full Night's Rest:
The body uses bedtime as an opportunity to rejuvenate and heal itself. We are creatures of habit. Create a bedtime ritual that gets you in the mindset of going to sleep. Take a warm shower, disconnect from the internet, and read a good book. Avoid reading or watching stressful and stimulating things, like the news or violent television shows. They can cause us to have nightmares or stay up later than we planned. Road Rules: Whenever I am on the road traveling for work, I make sure that I get a good night's sleep, so that am at the top of my game. Being on the move (and changing time zones), can be taxing. Listen to your bodies ques. Sleep does a body good!
4. Soups & Stories:
Soups are a comfort food. Hearty soups warm and nourish us. A good book will stimulate the brain, and spark our imaginations. What type of books do you like to read? I enjoy non-fiction, biographies, and educational books on philosophy and wellness.
Wild Rice Soup: Wild Side Story:
Right now I am reading "Ida From Abroad: The timeless writings of Ida B. Wells from England in 1894," Compiled and written by her great-granddaughter Michelle Duster. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the grand opening of Ida B's Table. It is the restaurant beneath The Living Well Studio, where I work. She gave and amazing lecture on Ms. Wells' role in the civil rights of African-Americans in the United States. Ida B. Wells was a mother, teacher, activist, and journalist. Her unapologetic fire and wit really resonated with me.
"I'd rather go down in history as the one lone Negro who dared to tell the government that it a done a dastardly thing than to save my skin by taking back what i said." - Ida B. Wells
The soup that I chose is "Creamy Vegan Wild Rice Soup." Ida B. Wells was a women who had to be both bold and comforting. She made no apologies for using her power as a journalist to stand up for what she believed in. I can imagine that in the midst of it all, she was a loving mother to her four children. This soup was just perfect. It was my first time making it. My friend's and family loved it!
Self-Care For Mental Health
All-in-all, it is not what you do sometimes that makes a difference, but the rituals that we choose to follow. When we eat healthy foods, our bodies function better. Getting a good night's sleep recharges our batteries. Taking the time to consciously breathe and move, brings us peace and balance. Reading books enriches our minds. When we take care of ourselves we are better parents, friends, and lovers. We feel good about ourselves, and we have the clarity to deal with whatever challenges come our way!
Photos by: Fluffy Pop Postcards and Divayogi