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My top 5 Tips to battle Depression

We all have our ups and downs.  When we get down it can feel pretty overwhelming and it can be a long battle to overcome what got you there.  Life beats us down, we neglect our health, we get tired...and depressed.  Here are a few tips to battle the blues:

1.  Probiotics-  Did you know that there is a connection between poor gut health and depression?  There are many ways to add probiotics to your diet; yogurt, Kefir (fermented yogurt drink), supplements.  Make sure your brand is high quality.  Not all brands are the same quality, you could be throwing your money out the window with no good health benefit.   For example, low fat yogurts with artificial sweeteners and cheap fillers (corn starch) are bad for you although appealing on the shelf.  Go for organic brands.  

2. Healthy smoothies-  You don't need a fancy and expensive smoothie maker or juicer to make this work.  I use a regular blender.  Just check your teeth before heading back out to hang out with your friends.  Pour milk, or water, with a splash of cranberry or orange juice (or other juice, or not), add ground flax seed, organic fruit (I buy the big organic frozen bags at Costco), add organic mixed greens, or parsley, cilantro or other potent green to your smoothy. Blend and enjoy!  Any variation will work.  Add yogurt or any of your favorite fruits.  Your body will say thank you!  

3.  Exercise- Regular exercise is proven to be effective in depression treatment (mild to moderate depression) with fewer side effects (sore legs, blisters). However, you have to commit to serious cardio workouts several times a week.  A little walk here and there is better than nothing but it is not going to stave off the blues.   Remember start with a gradual increase.  If you push too hard too fast you will give up.  Pace yourself and applaud yourself for every effort in the right direction!  Try to get up to 20 minutes of jogging without stopping to walk.  Again, work up to this gradually if you haven't exercised in a while. Don't quit taking anti-depressants suddenly if they are helping you...sometimes a combination of interventions is what is needed. 

4. Chocolate- Women probably relate to this the most, but go ahead and indulge in some comfort food.  Chocolate does cause your brain to release "feel good neurotransmitters."  If it is a high quality brand, with few fillers, and lots of cocoa then it has minerals and antioxidant properties as well.  I am not talking about cheap candy bars at the checkout.  Find where the fair trade, and high quality chocolates exist in the grocery, and purchase those instead.  It's worth the extra cost!  Go ahead, indulge a little. 

5. Connection with friends-  Touch and (live) conversation (not texting or facebooking) increase the neurotransmitter Oxytocin in your brain which helps calm the nerves and soothe anxieties and stress.  Drop the phone and schedule a time and place to meet up with friends.  It will do your soul some good.

Of course there are more possibilities for keeping the blues at bay, but these are a good top 5 to start with.  Go for it and be healthy! 

To your health!  Gretchen

"Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up."  1 Thessalonians 5:11a

by Gretchen Flores