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How to Fight Depression with Food, Fun, and Yoga

Bay Mehl is a yoga teacher and writer from Provo, UT. Her passions are healing others, beautiful words, and little black cats.

If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, or any other mood-centered mental disorder, I’m sure you’ve heard all the general phrases that just make your skill crawl.

“Snap out of it!”
“Just be happy!”
“It’s all in your head!”
“There are people who are in worse situations than you!”

It’s the worst, right? I’ve totally been there. Well meaning family members and friends would often give me this “advice” without telling me how to do it. It was just “do it” or “count your blessings.” I had already tried that.  As I’m sure you have. I was even told to “meditate,” which is one of the things that actually has helped me, but again, I was never told actually how to do anything.

Even though in my case this was untrue, I felt brushed off, as though I wasn’t worth being educated in self-care.

But, because YOU, dear reader, are definitely worth educating in the ways of self-care and the ways to fight through mental illness, here are some simple but effective ways to help you fight.

Eating good and healthy food.

I understand the desire to consume comfort food. Perhaps green bean casserole is something your grandmother used to make. While this is delicious and fine to eat on occasion, you need to fill your home and your fridge with the healthier stuff. And it doesn’t have to be too expensive. Bananas are always cheap, and apples are a sweet treat without the nasty come down of sugar or caffeine. Even a simple baked potato, a comforting food within itself, can be turned into something healthy and nutritious. Try to stay away from too much cheese and sour cream, add salt and pepper, a sprinkle of cheese, and try some steamed broccoli on the side. You can buy this frozen, or opt for fresh. Whatever you can handle.

Do your best to keep only healthy snacks in the home, so when you’re being beaten down, you can reach for a healthier option. If you really have a sweet tooth, I find some really dark chocolate always helps me feel a little better.

If you have no idea how to cook healthy meals, I suggest you speak to a nutritionist, your doctor, or even your best friend. There are so many people who want to help you feel better. I promise.

Fun

When you’re depressed, you feel no joy or interest in the things you used to love. Everything feels gray, dull. Not boring, just devoid of life and light.

It’s frustrating to see your friends and coworkers enjoying what used to be yours. Perhaps you loved to garden, but you’ve barely been able to get out of the house, so now your beautiful garden is overgrown with weeds. Or you’re a yogi who has a hard time getting back to the mat.

There are a few things that you could do in this situation. 1. Keep trying to do the things you used to enjoy. Get into the garden, get on the mat. Maybe you’ll be able to break through the wall. 2. However, if you can’t get through the wall, try doing something new, or mixing up your usual routine. That may be the kick start you need to get back on track.

Yoga

As cheesy as it sounds, yoga has saved my life more than once. Yoga is the practice of breathing and focusing on where you are in the moment. It gets you into your body while taking your mind off of your troubles. Each movement is associated with the breath-an inhale or exhale-and so you are moving with your life’s energy. It’s a simple exercise that people of all ages can enjoy. The only thing you really need is a mat, some space, and some time.

There are a TON of beginner yoga videos online, and several yoga studios will often have beginner’s workshops so you can see if yoga, or that particular studio, is right for you before you sign up for a membership.

If yoga is not your thing, getting your body moving is crucial for depression recovery or stabilization. Even just a quick walk around the block can do wonders for your mood. If it’s hard to get yourself up, try to find someone you can rely on to help you. A spouse, a best friend, family member, even getting a dog that needs to be taken on a walk can help you get the motivation, or even the push and pull you need.

I’ve been in many depressive slumps, many of which almost took my life. I know how it is to have your mind lie to you, tell you that you’re not worthy of being here. Remember that you have every right to be on Earth, and even more importantly, there are others who would be broken without you. Your family, friends, neighborhood, and society as a whole needs your unique touch.

The best thing about this system is that they feed into each other. If you find something that you enjoy doing, you’ll start moving your body more, your body will want more nutritious food.  While these things aren’t a permenant fix, these steps support a healthy lifestyle that can get you on the right track to recovery.

For those of you who are fighting through darkness, I hope you find the light.

Thank you for sharing your energy with me today, Namaste.

Bay Mehl: www.theminimeditatingdragon.com