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I have mixed feelings about the holiday season. I am fortunate to have family around me…my son, parents, sister and her clan as well as a small but close group of friends that I spend time with over the holidays.  I am grateful for each moment I spend with them all while inside I fight the desire to run away.

I haven’t always been this way, in fact there was a time I loved the holidays and the magic that they can bring. Something changed for me many years ago and although I make the best of it, I just can’t seem to find that specialness of the season. So I get through it, often booking a vacation or burying myself in work with those still wanting to train through the busy (and indulgent season) Awaiting the return to biz as usual with baited breathe.

Aside from the usual ups and downs of life, I rarely get depressed for more than a day or so except around this time of year. I consider myself lucky and accredit family genetics and a commitment to a healthy diet and exercise regime.

On the Rise

I’m not sure whether anxiety and depression are more prevalent in our society today (I’ve only been here 46 years so far) but it seems to be. It could be that we are just talking about it more and removing the shame around it. Perhaps we are better at diagnosing it. Or maybe we experience higher levels of stress that contribute to it than years past.

We do know that our foods have changed (more processed and artificial ingredients) and our movement has declined via the introduction of many modern conveniences such as cars, remote controls and such. We connect to devices that disconnect us from one another.

What I know for sure is we are talking about it more which is a step in the right direction. There is also some great research out there that indicates the healing power of movement and nutrition in aiding anxiety and depression. (and many other benefits of course)  I have a number of clients and friends that experience varying levels of this and the following tips are tops for helping to manage.

3 Tips to Help you Through 

  • Make movement a priority. Every day if possible. 30 minutes. This doesn’t mean intense exercise (although it can be) a walk, yoga, whatever. Just DO something physical to kick-start the feel good hormones. I recommend choosing an activity that you enjoy (as you’re more apt to do it) and getting outdoors when possible (as nature is healing as well) I also suggest a workout buddy or hiring a trainer. The accountability of a friend or paying for sessions will help get you going on those days where you REALLY don’t want to. Choose someone that understands that you may have bad days and is compassionate to your struggles but will also nudge you out the door knowing you’ll feel better afterwards.
  • Follow a low inflammatory diet. You’re bodymind has enough to worry about without adding the stress and inflammation that comes with a poor diet. Focus on lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables and minimal grains. (one serving a day is a good general rule) Limit alcohol (a known depressant) and remove any allergens/intolerances from your diet (if you don’t know what they are, find out! They can be diagnosed with an easy blood test and covered by most insurance (in Canada) If you’re not sure what an anti-inflammatory diet looks like or where to begin, reach out to a qualified professional in your area and get on a plan designed for you. A visit with a naturopath can also help to address appropriate supplements that may be suitable for you.
  • Quiet time/Meditation Carve out 10 minutes a day (or more) for meditation, journaling, or just counting your breath. There are plenty of great apps that will help guide you through and keep you accountable. Learning to quite the mind can go a long way in helping you to deal with well, life.

Another tip that I have purposely left out is connection. Albeit important, many of us may not have many resources in this area and I wanted to share things that only require your actions to help you feel better. However, time with positive friends, family, networking groups or volunteering can also be helpful in beating the blues.

Special Note

This article is in no way meant to replace any existing medications you may be on however these 3 things have been proven to help manage both anxiety and depression. Doing them consistently (you KNOW this is my favorite term around wellness) will reap the benefits and in some cases negate the need for prescription medications.  Please be transparent with your ‘team’ (doctors, trainers, therapists, friends etc) and ask for help. You don’t have to go through it alone.

So the next time you’re struggling (or someone you know is) help yourself or them along and start implementing some of these tips. If you are in crisis PLEASE reach out to someone!  These are meant to be great management tools but not to replace any medications you are currently on or the advice of your physician.