Ever feel depressed? Blue? Sad and bummed out for no apparent reason? Do you look around to blame the heavy, dark cloud of feelings on something and can’t figure out for sure what it is? Then become more depressed because identifying the reason seems like the only way to come to a solution? Or do you know why you feel so low and the solution to the problem seems insurmountable? Unapproachable? Totally beyond your control?
You are not alone. I am not alone. I lost my mum and then my god father within 6 months of each other, both very suddenly. Their gunshot-like deaths rocked my world and each day has been my own personal mix of tears, pain and joy. Joy from my support network of friends, family and activities I give myself. But some days, none of those things do any good. Pain and tears come far more easily now that I feel I have lost my personal support system, my mother; and work and financial problems drag me down way more than they used to.
It’s been a particularly dark week for me, and the best I could do was lose myself in the warm nest of comfort eating, Netflix and sleeping for far too long. But today, day 4 of this deep slump, I heard my mum’s voice as a lay, pretending to feel too tired to get out of bed at 1:30 pm… in her firm, yet teasing tone, “Come on! Up you get! You know exactly what to do, you lazy so-and-so!” I did have to pee, so I rolled slowly up and started to mentally plan my day: pee. make tea. watch more of the series I’m into on Netflix. eat something. make more tea. watch more Netflix…
It was just as I was opening the Safari browser that a photo of my mum I keep on my desktop caught my eye. She is posing with a tub of Greek Gods honey flavoured yogurt with a huge spoon and pulling a silly face. It made me smile. And I immediately remembered all the things that I can do, without much effort, that will chemically alter my brain and body state so that I do not feel as depressed. I chose my top 3 for this article based on price (free!) and ease of making them happen.
Giggling, laughing and smiling engage specific muscles in the head, neck and core which combine with sharp inhalations and exhalations. These movements and breaths cause the brain to release endorphins – the happy hormone. Recent studies now show that laughing improves mood for this reason, and it has been shown to increase pain tolerance. (www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/science/14laughter.html?_r=0)
So watch some funny youtube videos, read some silly jokes or comics or look at some ridiculous pictures to get yourself laughing. Here are some to get you started – bear in mind, these are my personal favourites!
Eating lemon baby faces http://youtu.be/luOU5gLeA4A
Eddie Izzard – Cake or Death? http://youtu.be/rMMHUzm22oE
Funny Talking Animals – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaPepCVepCg&list=FLtISih3v30iRGx3oSWWo8Gw&feature=share&index=39
Exercise is another endorphin releasing activity, but there’s more to it than just that. Exercise also releases dopamine – the pleasure chemical. Dopamine is also released when we eat, which is a big reason why comfort eating is so popular as a way to feel better. However, regular exercise releases dopamine without the negative side effect of packing on the extra weight! Serotonin is another chemical that is responsible for feelings of happiness, restful sleep and healthy appetite. You want to keep consistent and high levels of serotonin in the body so sleeping is easy and feeling happy is easy, and regular exercise achieves this. (http://www.fitsugar.com/Hormones-Released-After-Working-Out-19252431)
Dancing is my go-to happy place!
Nia – a dancer’s Interval Training workout: http://youtu.be/AQBYXuCo6A8
This is excellent for boosting metabolism and pushing yourself to your personal edge.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) hard core: http://youtu.be/-dthjOzzS84
I love Pilates for targeting trouble spots, but also getting the heart rate up and sweating!
Pilates: butt blaster: http://youtu.be/7Q7L673i8OY
This gorgeous outdoor video is the prefect balance of challenge and peacefulness for me.
Sweat your turtle off! Yoga: http://youtu.be/jxLXPj84ILk
Orgasms release a whole host of other chemicals in addition to serotonin and endorphins that promote the ass-kicking of depression! HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is released, and this helps with renewing and repairing cells throughout the body. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands and is linked to various anti-aging effects as well as rebuilding and nourishing effects on cells. DHEA is released before orgasm and during as well. Also, oxytocin is released during orgasm. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone and it causes people to feel increased feelings of bonding and intimacy. Orgasms are a simple and easy way to elevate these hormone levels and bring back a chemical balance to the body. This allows for either relaxation and rest, or a surge in energy and creativity. I shall not share any of my personal options for reaching orgasm, because that would be weird! But I will say that orgasm does NOT need to be reached through partner sex. (http://www.billysundaymars.com/news/nourishing-neurochemicals-hormones-released-during-sex)
3 simple tools to help you get rid of the blues. You’ve got this! ;-)