OVERCOMING ANXIETY & DEPRESSION • Kristin Dahl
Culturally, we inherit a lot of ideas about how or who we are supposed to be. We get so far away from ourselves & filled with stress in a constant state of striving. We are all busy working to express our unique talents and individual representations of our creative gifts. Often times, this places us in a belief that we are separate from one another. Believing we are separate creates so much unneeded suffering which eventually can express itself as anxiety and depression.
Most of us struggle (including myself) with accepting the darkness within us, feeling like, when we are less than perfect, we are simply not enough. This also creates separateness as we fantasize that no other being experiences the darkness or suffering that we do. Pushing away our darkness inevitably causes more internal stress and manifests as depression or anxiety. When we are not at peace with all the complex layers of ourselves, it’s impossible to be at peace in the world. Trust me, I’ve struggled with this a thousand times over.
Identifying and connecting to our inner truth and guidance system and fully accepting ourselves is key to pacifying our struggles. Connect to the purity of your heart, your inner child that has been untainted by the confusion of modern life, and let go of the striving that makes you feel constantly incomplete. Stop waiting for that person you will one day become and love who you are whole-heartedly here & now. Embrace every aspect of yourself and your life and this will lead you on the path to creating a more whole-istic sense of self, leading to a peaceful existence.
There are several tools we can use to support us when we are moving through difficult feelings. Tailor these suggestions to your lifestyle and see what feels best for you. Remember, these tips are best for mild cases, not clinical disorders. If you feel you’re suffering from something more serious, contact a health professional.
CONNECT WITH NATURE
We’ve developed deep attachments to being constantly ON. Give yourself time to unplug & restore yourself with mother earth’s energy. Connecting to nature eases stress and tension in the mind & body & soothes our primal need to feel connected to our environment. Earthing (walking barefoot in the dirt or sand) is also incredibly grounding and re-mineralizes the body.
Move your body everyday! Don’t get hung up on a specific routine. Just make moving your body a priority, even if you can only squeeze in a short walk. Exercise increases feel-good hormones like serotonin. It also creates more natural energy, staves off anxiety, and lowers depression. Exercise increases blood flow, moves stagnant Qi & provides the blood with more oxygen, leaving you feeling and looking your very best.
90% of serotonin (the feel good hormone) is produced in the gut, not in the brain. Therefore, proper digestion is crucial to the production and function of serotonin and plays a vital role in everything from our mental health to our ability to get a good night's sleep. Keep your microbiome in balance by reducing the amount of sugar and alcohol in your diet, avoiding the overuse of antibiotics, and by eating plenty of gut healthy foods such as ferments, sauerkraut, coconut yogurt, and kefir.
CREATE A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT
Create a nourishing home & work environment by filling the space with plants, non-toxic candles, crystals, and salt lamps. Eliminate clutter as it can suffocate your energy and cause anxiety. Use gentle lighting and listen to relaxing music when your soul needs soothing.
Surround yourself with those who lift you up, support you, and nourish your life. Release toxic relationships because they inhibit your ability to grow and consciously create the life you want for yourself. Build a community with those who share your vision. Create feel good routines and rituals with your friends. We are social beings and connection is a crucial part crucial of our mental health and well-being.
REDUCE FOODS THAT TRIGGER ANXIETY
There are three main culprits that can trigger anxiety. Caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. Excess caffeine can play a huge role in panic and anxiety disorders and affect your ability to get a good night sleep. Sugar and alcohol can also have similar effects, so watch your intake. By reducing your consumption of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, you will find that your blood sugar & hormones are more stable and your moods less prone to radical shifts.
FOCUS ON WHATS WORKING
Energy flows where attention goes. Focus on the aspects of your life that feel fluid and peaceful. Our thoughts carry a powerful weight, so shifting our attention creates and attracts more harmonious experiences. You can eat all the kale in the world, but if your thoughts are toxic, your life will be too. Our mind & body are intricately intertwined and can have a profound impact on one another. Use writing to move through troublesome thoughts or read an uplifting passage to regain perspective.
PRACTICE SELF-LOVE & SELF CARE
Set aside time every day to have a little down time. Practice yoga, listen to healing music, meditate, get a massage, or engage in activities that make you feel grounded and calm. Unplug & daydream for a while. Take a detoxifying Epsom salt bath with lavender essential oil. Lavender oil triggers brain reactions that promote a sense of calm & relaxation.
It’s ok to ask for help. Talk to your close friends, your partner, or your family when you feel stuck or like you need love and understanding. It can also be helpful to seek advice from a therapist or holistic practitioner. It’s important to feel like someone is holding space for you.
DRINK CALMING TEAS AND HERBS
Drinking herbal tea is often recommended for relaxation, but research confirms that it can also reduce anxiety levels and promote feelings of calmness. Just make sure to choose teas that are caffeine-free.
Here are my favorite options for stress release
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
When you are feeling low, it is important to give your body additional support. Sleep is when your body restores, repairs, and rejuvenates. It’s crucial in balancing our hormones and keeping our moods stable. Create a ritual around bedtime to prepare you for deep, restful, and restorative sleep. Start to wind down from your day by turning off all screens at least an hour before bed. Make chamomile tea. Get cozy with a book or listen to a guided meditation. Try your best to get to bed before midnight. That way, your body will go through a full REM sleep cycle and you will wake feeling fully rested.
TRY ESSENTIAL OILS
There are several ways to use essential oils for anxiety or depression. For example, to relieve stress while improving sleep, you can put a diffuser by your bed and diffuse oils while you sleep at night. You can also rub topically on your temples, behind your ears, on the back of the neck, your tummy, and bottoms of the feet. Add a few drops of essential oil to a warm bath for a relaxing, therapeutic experience.
Here are some of my top oils for combating depression and anxiety
Bergamot: Great antidepressant as it creates feelings of joy, freshness, and energy by improving circulation of the blood.
Lavender: Benefits mood, calms the mind, and can help alleviate anxiety and depression.
Chamomile: Fights stress and promotes relaxation.
Ylang Ylang: Helps stave off depression and negative emotions associated with depression. Inhaling ylang ylang can have immediate, positive effect on your mood and act like a mild, instant-remedy for depression.