Depression is an experience of depletion. You’re worn down, hollowed out, devoid of enthusiasm or vitality. Your senses are dull, perhaps to the point of taking in very little around you. When I find my depression beginning to worsen, my go-to getaway is to feed my 5 senses. Take a look and see if any of these can help you when depression hits.
· Sight: The very first thing I go for is light. The data on sun and natural light holding powerful holistic benefits for depression is vast. Light is responsible for turning on the brain and the body through the retina and the pineal gland. Things to do: Open the shades, take a walk in the sun, consider Bright Light therapy, and don’t forget to bring color into your environment. Healthy goal: Once you feel as if you can move from your listless state of depression, start to re-teach yourself to truly see, not just look at things.
· Smell: Smell is the most nostalgic of all our senses. A certain aroma, scent or fragrance can immediately remind you of an experience in your distant past. This is because smell takes a direct route to the limbic brain, where emotional memories are processed. Things to do: Use aromatherapy candles in uplifting scents like lavender and peppermint or incense with sandalwood, cedar or lemon tones. Air filters and ionizers are helpful too as is good old Fresh Air. Healthy goal: Teach yourself to deep breathe, taking in a long breath of fresh air and then slowly release it. The kind of breathing helps lower the stress hormone cortisol.
· Taste: Research shows that comfort foods and healthy foods can help ease depression. Things to do: Stock up on lean protein, Foods/Supplements with Vitamin D, Omega-3 DHA, Vitamin B 12, Complex Carbohydrates, and Ancient Grains. Don’t forget to indulge in your favorite comfort food. Mine is homemade chicken soup or freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Healthy goal: Once you have lifted the heaviness of depressive symptoms, see if you can use your sense of taste to call forth positive feelings. Studies show that even small moments of flavor sensations can lift mood. So, nurse a delicious cup of coffee or swirl a piece of candy slow and long in your mouth. Whatever foods or beverages you enjoy, take delight and savor the experience.
· Touch: There are volumes of data showing how being touched and moving your body help reduce depression, lower cortisol and increase the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Things to do: Exercise, Massage, Reiki, Reflexology, Tai Chi, Meditation. A Hug and a Shower help improve mood and cognition too. For me, Yoga is the real deal. It just does wonders for my depression. Healthy goal: Depression often prompts feelings of isolation, so invite touch in as many ways as possible to help heal your mind body and soul. Learn to feel the softness of a warm blanket, to appreciate the steam from a lathering shower and how great it feels when someone who loves you gives you a great big bear hug.
· Hear: Just as research has shown a blunting of other senses, hearing can be affected by depression too. For some, noises can seem loud and sharp, while for others the sense of hearing is dimmed, almost muffled. Studies show that using meaningful sounds will produce theta waves, the deep relaxing brain waves one attains when meditating. Things to do: Music, Audiobooks, Soundscapes, Loved One’s Voices. Healthy goal: As your depression lifts, learn how to become a conscious listener. Focus on the deep tones of voices, the sweet song of the birds in the trees, the sparkling rhythm of a child’s laugh. Invite music or soundscapes into your environment. And if silence is the sound that soothes you, dive on in and enjoy the solitude.
Dr. Deborah Serani is author of the award-winning book “Living with Depression”.
I am so glad you dropped by today!
Join me again at ‘Depression Getaway’ and together we will…
…live, care, laugh, share, learn, discover, forgive and recover.
Don’t give up, I’m praying for you!