7 Yogic Methods To Treat Depression, Backed By Science
Depression is a common ailment that many people suffer from. So common, in fact, it’s estimated 350 million people suffer from it worldwide, and it’s considered to be a major contributor to worldwide diseases (after all, depression lowers the immune system). But many people are afraid to admit they’re depressed, afraid to tell others about it (fearing what others think), or don’t want to go the route of medication.
But none of those are really legitimate reasons for avoiding the reality that everyone deserves to live a happy and fulfilling life! So the question is how do we live that fulfilling life, even when we might feel terrible? In the ancient science of yoga, there are ways to combat this inner turmoil, completely backed by science. These activities have helped many people, from all points in history, to find that deeper level of fulfillment and happiness. Even if you incorporate just a few of them, you can be on your way to feeling much better!
Exercise is one of the greatest ways to boost the body’s endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals our bodies release when we do challenging physical activities. Of course, there are many forms of exercise, but nothing is quite like yoga. Yoga (asana) is especially good at building up these feel-good chemicals because it incorporates deep breathing and encourages a deeper connection to “Self”- the hidden ‘you’ behind the veil of your ego. Deep breathing is a powerful way to calm both the mind and body, which is probably why yogis often seem so relaxed.
When it comes to combating your own mind, there’s nothing quite like dealing with the problem head-on. Meditation does exactly that. Meditation is all about bypassing the restless thoughts and accessing deeper levels of consciousness; this creates a big shift overtime, literally rewiring the brain to think and operate differently. More importantly, staying in that elevated state of consciousness can keep you from falling back into that negative place. I can honestly say that without meditation, I would have had a much more challenging struggle with depression and stress in my life.
There isn’t a magic diet that makes stress and depression go away, but it can definitely help. If stress and depression cause you to overeat or make unhealthy decisions, taking control of your diet can help you feel better. Also, things like folic acid (found in spinach and avocado) have been shown to have beneficial effects on negative mindsets. Ayurvedic diets also have a positive effect on mood and happiness, as they are geared towards an individual’s specific constitution. If you’d like to know more about Ayurveda, we have a wonderful book in our store.
Research has proven that when we help people, we feel better. We can visibly see that we have a positive impact on others, and this makes us feel wanted. Do yourself (and others) a favor and volunteer. Help yourself by helping those in need- and over time you’ll feel so uplifted that you may find yourself forgetting all about what was causing that anxiety or depression…and you’ll build up some god karma to boot.
Get Enough Sleep
In Hinduism, embracing the natural cycles of the earth and our bodies is very important. There is a huge part of us that longs for that connection, and returning to it gives sense relief. Try your best- even if it’s incredibly challenging- to reconnect to a natural sleep cycle. Getting enough sleep has a huge impact on brain chemistry. I myself notice a tremendous difference in my mood and energy when I get enough sleep versus when I don’t, and the positive impact it has on my life can’t be overstated.
Journal and Introspection
Introspection is the cornerstone of spiritual living. We may find ourselves repeating the same old mistakes, without even knowing it; and all of those mistakes are created by wrong thoughts. In eastern philosophy, everything begins and ends with the mind.
Therefore, to change your outside life you have to first change the inside. One thing follows the other, right? Journaling is a just a tool to help you realize where you have the opportunity to change those negative thoughts, and become a healthier and happier person because of it.
CHECK IT OUT: We Have An Awesome Selection of Journals in Our Store!
There’s nothing wrong with talking to a counselor. In ancient India, many families had a guru or spiritual counselor that would help them through such difficulties, often giving advice and listening closely. We don’t necessarily have that privilege in the west. It can be very healing to talk to someone like a psychologist about what you’re going through, so don’t discount the idea! Even if it’s a close friend, it’s important to let out the emotion.
Remember: lots of people have personal trainers, pilates teachers, and yoga instructors to take care of their physical health- so why not do the same for your mental health too?
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