One out of every four Americans will suffer from anxiety or depressive illness during some point in their lives. Despite this fact, many of us have walked through the aisles of the grocery store, through the doors of our workplaces and even into our yoga classes feeling like no one else shares these struggles. Perhaps you have maybe even afraid to ask for help or talk to anyone about the way we feel. If you struggle with depression or anxiety, you are not alone.
Here are some helpful ways to deal with anxiety and depression:
1. Do Yoga
Did you know that backbends and chest expanding poses can help to lift you out of a depressed state? Conversely, forward bends and poses that cause the body to turn inward (such as child's pose) can soothe anxiety. Even if you aren't feeling up to an intense practice, a few gentle poses, or even a restorative posture that tends to your needs can have tremendous benefits.
If you struggle with anxiety or depression, try these Pranayama practices: In times of depression: Inhale through the nose for a slow, even count of 6. At the top of your inhalation, retain the breath for 2-4 seconds. Then breathe out for a count of 5. Practice 5-10 breaths. Lengthening your inhalation, and taking a slight pause at the top can lift your mood. In times of anxiety: Inhale through the nose for a slow, even count of 5. Then breathe out for a count of 6. At the bottom of your exhalation, retain the breath for 2-4 seconds. Practice 5-10 breaths. Lengthening your exhalation, and taking a slight pause at the end of each breath, will calm your mind.
3. Mindfulness Meditation
Next time an anxious thought comes to mind, instead of getting wrapped up in it, just watch. Do not try to change the situation that is causing you anxiety, or even your own feelings about it. Simply watch your thoughts and emotions with awareness, stepping back and observing your own mind. Try to be very matter-of-fact and non-judgmental as you "witness" your mind state. You can even gently assure yourself, "My mind is racing. Right now, that makes me feel very uncomfortable, but I know that the feelings I am experiencing will pass." During times of panic, worry or anxiety, accept that the way that you feel in the moment instead of fighting so hard to change it, knowing that every feeling will eventually pass if you wait and watch.
4. Practice Self Care
In these days of 60 hour work weeks, shuttling kids from one activity to the next and juggling schedules, many of us might have a tough time remembering what self care feels like! In times of depression, you may not even feel like leaving the house. An uplifting book, a candlelit bubblebath or a quiet walk can feed the soul during these times of trial. Be easy on yourself and get lots of rest, setting as much of your stress aside until you feel better, and knowing that it is ok to take it easy when you aren't feeling well. In the times that you do feel up to it, make sure you practice "preventative self-care," regularly doing activities like massage, reiki and physical exercise to nurture and nourish your body, mind and spirit.
5. Use Essential Oils
Therapuetic essential oils have been shown to relieve depression, anxiety and other mental illness. They contain molecules which cross the blood/brain barrier, and protect the central nervous system. To ease depression, try Bergamot, Lemon, Orange or Frankincense To calm anxiety, use Lavender, Frankincense, Vetiver or Geranium
For those who want to learn more about essential oils for mental illness and mood management, come to the workshop at 7 PM this Saturday, August 3rd!
I hope that those who struggle with times of depression, anxiety or even every-day stress will try a few of these natural supports this month, and that everyone has an abundance of peace and joy throughout the rest of the summer season.
See you at om!