holistic Tools for depression support & recovery (PART 1): Nutrition basics, reducing depletors & supporting sleep
In many countries around the world, 20–25% of people will experience a mental health problem. This is one in every four to five people. Depression is one of the most commonly experienced mental health problems. While the causes of depression can be different for different people, there are often common contributors such as excessive stress or ongoing stress, trauma (past or recent) and emotional pain.
I’m going to share some tools for managing and recovering from depression that you can start to action in your life. This article will be in two parts. First, we'll focus on some basics of supporting your physical health - nutrition, reducing caffeine and alcohol, and supporting sleep. Part two will then look at ways to support your emotional health.
Welcome to The OCD series. I’m Francesca, a Nutritionist who has lived with OCD since I was 10. In my teens and late 20s, I hit rock bottom with OCD – it was so distressing and debilitating that it almost killed me. Now, after investing time, money and effort in creating a mental health tool box, I'm living 90% symptom-free. And I offer support to people suffering from OCD who want to get their lives back.
If you've landed on this page and would like to go to the beginning of The OCD Series, where I'm discussing nutrition for OCD, click here.
A client recently asked about my experience of relapse, and our conversation reminded me I’ve been meaning to write about this.
The first article in this series, The Art + Importance of Relaxation part 1, looked at the many forms of stress we experience - physical, emotional and environmental. It also looked at the consequences for our physical and mental health when we experience too much stress for too long - when we begin to live in the stress response, aka fight or flight.
Because stress contributes to many physical, mental and emotional health problems, we need to practise the art of relaxation if we wish to support our health and thrive. We must practise the art of being a human being, rather than a human doing.
This means making relaxation a priority, to activate the opposite of the stress response - the rest, repair and digest state. This is where our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) division takes the driver's seat and the metaphorical foot has been taken off the gas pedal. It is the state we are designed to live in most of the time, and one conducive to relaxation, digestion, healthy immune function, heart health, healing, sleep and mental and physical and wellness. Regular relaxation and self care are just as important as eating nourishing food, and one doesn't tend to give us the maximum benefits without the other also being part of our lives.
We live in an increasingly frantic world. We are overloaded with information online and increasingly disconnected from each other as we communicate electronically more than face to face. We juggle work, study, family, care-giving and household tasks. Most of us worry about money to varying degrees. We worry about the future, and replay events from the past that distressed us and feel unresolved.
Many of us have a habit of speaking harshly to ourselves....a savage inner critic. Many of us are constantly rushing from one thing to the next. We feel exhausted so we reach for coffee to give us a 'lift', then alcohol in the evenings to 'wind down'. Then there's email. Social media. The doom and gloom of the news. Worrying social and environmental issues. Commuting. Finding time to exercise. Realizing you haven't seen your best friends in months.
And in addition to all this, many of us are living with health issues that affect us physically and emotionally, which may be present most days or may come and go every few weeks or months. For example, PMS, endometriosis, depression, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, skin problems, digestive distress, recurrent respiratory infections, insomnia, panic attacks.