Top 10 Ways To Escape Depression

This morning (Thanksgiving day) I was woken up by a text from a client reaching out to me because she was feeling depressed. It was 7am my time–10am hers.

“Linda, I’m feeling depressed. On this Thanksgiving day. I wish I felt happy and up beat. When I feel like this I don’t tend to do things.” “Maybe I need a hobby. I feel better when I read chicken soup for the soul. Maybe I need to do better self care–maybe I need a ritual of self care. Maybe some yoga too…”

This was the beginning of a long text exchange. What I shared with her were a few of my top, most effective, ways to escape the gravitational pull of DEPRESSION.

She’s in that fragile place of wanting to change her body, weight, and health, but her old thought and feeling habits have not had time to change yet. Thoughts and feelings are habits, just like anything else. Her desire for different body is strong, but she has not yet developed the ‘muscle’ of being able to take hold of her “state”. Yet. Just like anything else, it takes practice.

The objective here is to change your “STATE”–changing both your focus and physicality at the same time. To go from a depressive state to a happy, upbeat, empowered one.

  1. The fastest way to change your state is to change your PHYSICALITY. This means:

2. Change your POSTURE. If you were in an acting class and wanted to act depressed, or sad, how would you stand (or sit)? Do it now. Come on, even sadder! Overact the part! Now act happy and upbeat. Come on, even happier!! Be convincing! Over act this part too! How does that change your posture? Your facial expression? Now smile and stand up tall (in your happy posture) and see how hard it is to think sad thoughts. Mood and posture is a two way street. Mood may effect posture, but posture can also effect mood. So sit tall, open your chest, and balance your head over your shoulders.

3. Guess what else changes when you adopt a happy posture? BREATHING! When you slump your lungs cannot take in a full breath–your breathing is shallow and breaths are small. When you stand/sit tall, your chest expands giving your lungs more room to expand and take in a full deep breath. In addition to getting more oxygen in your body, it also stimulates your Vagus nerve. Not sure what that means? That’s why the link is there.

4. Part of why you feel depressed in the first place has to do with FOCUS. Thinking about things that make you sad, disappointments, unfulfilled expectations, insults, shortcomings…is depressing. The antidote is to get hyper focused on things that make you happy. It’s easier to focus on sad things than happy ones. Maybe there’s some evolutionary advantage to it–like learning and finding solutions to problems rather than easily being able to forget…? Still, sometimes it is more productive to just move on than dwell in a disempowered state.

5. It’s the STORIES you tell yourself that make you either happy or sad. It’s not whether something is true or not true that makes you happy or sad, but rather what you believe that matters. So you may as well tell yourself a story that makes you feel the way you want to feel. Doing v. Not Doing. Which wolf will you feed?

6. Changing your SURROUNDINGS helps change focus. Getting away from the triggers and trappings of your daily life and the things that reinforce your thinking patterns makes a huge difference. Ultimately you will be able to surmount your environment, but while learning how to escape the pull of depression, make it easy for yourself and get out of your fishbowl. Getting out in nature can be the best medicine.

7. Your thoughts (and your physicality) effect BRAIN CHEMISTRY. Conversely your brain chemistry effects your thoughts and your (default) physicality. Guess what else affects brain chemistry…? FOOD! And water. Your diet has a HUGE impact on your brain. Between blood sugar, neurotransmitters, hormonal balance, your gut biome, and your nutritional health, your brain isn’t necessarily running the show. Not to mention FOOD INTOLERANCE. One of the under appreciated symptoms of food intolerance is depression. More on this in another blog.

Exactly what to eat for the best mood varies a bit from person to person, but a good rule of thumb is to eat super nutritious, light, easy to digest, fiber rich foods, like soups, with plenty of leafy green vegetables (which have an uplifting effect on mood), and stay away from sugar and processed foods as much as possible.

8. Once you address the physical and biological reasons you might be stuck in a depressive rut, it’s time to explore the mind. One reason you might be feeling low is because of unmet EXPECTATIONS. Without conscious planning we expect certain things. When we do something nice for someone we might expect a “thank you,” or some reciprocation. One of the reasons why the holidays are so emotionally challenging for some people is that there is a sort of unwritten, cultural expectation that holidays are a time for coming together, for love, happiness…and then their expectations go unmet and there are feelings of disappointment. One way avoid this is to re examine and adjust expectations.

9. As a human being one of our most essential needs is for that of CONNECTION. It has a dramatic effect on long-term health because it plays such an important roll in emotional well being. Those who are part of a community live longer and are happier than those who aren’t. The culture here in the USA tends to be very insular with a high premium put on independence and little thought given to interdependence (which is not the same thing as codependency). Finding ways to fulfill your need for real and meaningful connection is a huge boost to happiness and a good antidote for depression.

10. And not to be underestimated in the big picture is ALIGNMENT WITH PURPOSE. We all have something we feel like we were put here on this earth to do, consciously, or subconsciously. When you feel like you are fulfilling your purpose; when your actions align with your values and your mission, and you are actively contributing to the world around you–being an artist, a teacher, a parent, a leader, a healer, or whatever, everything will fall into place. There is no antidote for depression quite as powerful as doing something for someone else–really contributing to their happiness and well being for no other reason than to see them thrive. Because humans are interdependent beings and when one thrives, we all thrive.

Better Than Candy – The Halloween Candy Antidote

Halloween candy is the slippery slope that leads many into an out of control, sugar driven, holiday season.

It can be nearly impossible to resist; it’s cheap, legal, tastes good, lights your brain up, and makes you feel energized all at the same time. It is literally more addictive than cocaine. But, it has a wicked backlash effect on energy, brain chemistry, health and weight. I could go on and on about how bad it is, but really I just want to give you a simple little recipe for a better option to reach for when you are feeling tempted. It’s satisfying and has all of the nutrients and fiber that are supposed to be in that amount of calories–unlike candy. In case you think this is a recipe for trail-mix you are partially right. It’s similar–but way better.  🙂

 

Halloween Candy Antidote Recipe

Makes 4 cups

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup raw walnuts

1 cup seedless raisins (organic)

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 – 1/2  cup raw cacao nibs

Other options: Dried apricots, dried blueberries, dried unsweetened cranberries, pecans, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, mango, papaya, goji berries… Go for your favorites.

Directions:

Toast coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat until it is just starts to turn brown. Keep a close eye on it since this does not take long.

Mix in a bowl with all of the other ingredients.

Enjoy in moderation. (It is not calorie free.)

Pareto’s Law For Better Health And Easy Weight Loss

You may be familiar with Pareto’s law which states that 20% of the effort yields 80% of the results. This is applies to health and weight loss too.

Let’s face it, everyone wants to be healthier, and for many that includes losing weight. But not everyone makes it a priority and takes action. Maybe because of the time and energy it may require, which are at a premium in this busy bustling world, when being stretched too thin (no pun intended) is half the problem in the first place.Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 9.39.03 PM

When you get right down to it, failure to act on improving your health is based on only two things; fear of the pain you believe will come with your efforts, and the disassociation to the pleasure you will gain. In other words, the fear that it will be “hard and no fun” eclipses the vision of the desired result.

But if we consider Pareto’s principle, we can transform this belief almost instantly. If 20% of the effort yields 80% of the results, we can just focus on a few high yield items and call it a win.

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No matter where you are in the health spectrum I’ll bet you could think of at least 20 things you could do to be healthier and lose weight. If you pick 3-4 items off the list to focus on, you will likely get almost as good of a result as if you did them all. Drinking more water may seem like too easy of a way to get out of going to the gym 5 days a week, but if you are not drinking enough, it may give you more benefit than the exercise. Walking for 30 minutes per day may seem like a copout compared to running a marathon, but the benefits to your overall health may be pretty comparable.

Just for fun make a list of 20 different things you could do to achieve your health and weight ideal. Then divide a piece of paper into 4 quadrants. Label the upper left quadrant “Difficult/high yield” and the quadrant below “Difficult /low yield”. Label the upper right “Easy high yield” and below that “Easy/low yield”.  For example, going for a relaxing evening walk may be easy, but it is high yield. Starving yourself is certainly difficult–and it is ultimately low yield.

Sort your list into the four different Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 10.17.07 PMcategories. The first place to look for your “to-do” items, as I’m sure you realize, is the easy with high yield results list.

Now take it one tiny little step further. Look at your whole list, and with a highlighter if you have one, or maybe just underline if you don’t, select the items that you find the most FUN. With the filter of easy and fun, select the 3-4 items that will do the most to give you the body, energy, and life you want. I would call that a win.

 

 

 

 

Japanese Vegetable Seafood Hot Pot – Nabemono

This dish is more of a method than a recipe. Basically it involves preparing an assortment of meats, seafood, vegetables, noodles, tofu, etc, and cooking them in broth. The actual cooking time is very short and aside from selecting and cutting the ingredients, it almost makes itself.

Nabemono

The first step is to make the broth. The basic broth takes minimal effort and is made by steeping seaweed and fish flakes in water. I guess I should mention that you should begin this endeavor with a trip to an Asian market where you can get the necessary but not-always-easy-to-find-in-regular-grocery-store ingredients which are as follows:

  • Benito flakes (fish flakes)
  • Kombu / kelp (seaweed)
  • Sake (rice wine)
  • Seasoned rice vinegar
  • Mirin (sweet cooking sake)
  • Shiritaki noodles (zero calorie) or mung bean threads (cellophane noodles)
  • Some nice mushrooms like shitake, enoki, or oyster. (Figure a 2-3 mushrooms per person plus some enoki)
  • Napa cabbage
  • Organic tofu
  • Other items you will need are fish and seafood (see below), green onion, carrot, and sweet onion but these can be found anywhere.

This is an easy broth to make. It’s more like making tea than like making chicken or beef stock.

How to make the broth:Kombu & Benito flakes

  1. Rinse 3 oz Kombu in cold water.
  2. Place kombu in a pot with 5-6 cups of water.
  3. Simmer over a low to medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  4. Just before the water comes to a boil remove the kombu.
  5. Add 1/2 cup benito flakes and let steep for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Strain out bonito flakes.

Then add:

  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • a few drops of soy sauce for saltiness (to taste)

While your broth is steeping, you’ll have time to cut up all of the other ingredients. There are no exact measurements here, but I will give approximate amounts that you can adjust according to your preferences. This will serve 4 people.

  • 1/2 pound  fresh fish such as cod, rock fish, salmon, halibut, or whatever you prefer, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned, but not peeled
  • 1 pound clam or mussels, washed
  • 8 oz tofu (1/2 package), cut into 1/2 slices
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1/2 inch moons
  • 1 package shiritaki noodles, blanched and rinsed (these are the zero calorie noodles)
  • 8-12 shitaki mushrooms, stems removed (mushrooms can be left whole unless they are very large)
  • 1 package enoki mushrooms rinsed, root ends removed
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage cut into large pieces
  • 1 carrot, slices into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1-2 bunches green onions, cleaned and cut into 3 inch lengths, thick pieces cut in half the long way

Nabemono, arrangedArrange all of the ingredients neatly in a shallow pot large enough to hold everything. Pour the broth gently over the arrangement so as not to disturb the items, reserving 1/2 cup for ponzu sauce. Place pot on stove and bring to a boil. boil gently for 5-10 minutes until the clams are just opening up. Do not stir.

Bring the pot to the table. Serve with rice and Ponzu sauce for dipping.

 

Ponzu Sauce:

  • Juice of one lemon and one lime, more to tastePonzu sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons  cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good-quality soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Sake
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup dashi broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • dash of cayenne

 

“What Should I Eat?”

Here’s the answer to the #1 nutrition question I get asked all the time.

What you should eat depends on your own body. Unless you know what your body really needs, you are just making best guesses. Junk food aside, foods that are super healthy for one person might be the worst for another. I am a strong believer in using testing to take the guess work out of what to put on your plate–and what to keep off it. Find out more…

Knowing–really knowing what to eat and what to stay away from can get you feeling better, get you out of pain, help you lose weight faster, dramatically increase energy and productivity, and promote healing at the deepest level.

Kale, chicken, apples, lettuce, and lemons are good food, but not for everyone!