I’m not ashamed to admit that I suffer from depression and PTSD. In fact, no one should EVER view these unfortunate ailments as reasons to warrant any shame. We all have our problems in life and it’s the way we choose to deal with them that is most important. While I firmly believe that there are lifestyle choices that can greatly impact the severity of these afflictions on a daily basis, there is no remedy or cure for these maladies. Always seek professional help with these matters along with supplemental lifestyle changes.
Below are 5 ways that I keep my head screwed on straight.
1. I don’t medicate with alcohol
Thinking that alcohol or drugs can help you “get over” the way you’re feeling is nothing short of a recipe for disaster! Alcohol and many drugs (yes, even marijuana) act as depressants and can greatly worsen depression and PTSD. People who suffer from depression and drink a lot have more frequent, severe episodes of depression, and are more likely to contemplate suicide.
2. I don’t medicate with food
Like drowning our sorrows in alcohol, it’s also common to sooth our frayed feelings with unhealthy food and drink. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a comforting cupcake or piece of pizza in moderation while we are feeling down. The problem begins when we start to use food as a “substance” to get us through and help regulate our moods. When we start relying on outside sources to soothe ourselves, we become dependent on those outside sources. Sugar can be detremintal for everyone, especially those who suffer from depression. Also, knowing what foods that can actually help your mood is priceless.
3. I don’t medicate with fear
Stress and fear of the unknown can be just the trigger(s) someone needs to step into a deeper hole. Learning some coping mechanisms that can be used at the onset of these feelings is crucial in dampening their effect. Incorporating breathing techniques and meditation have been lifesavers for me. Exercise, reaching out to a friend to talk, not expecting perfection and the simple realization that life is often messy can help greatly.
4. I don’t medicate with self
Always worrying about our social identity, accomplishments, failures, etc. will wreak havoc on our perception of ourselves. This can easily turn into a cycle where we don’t feel smart enough, successful enough, thin enough… and so on. Realizing that we control very little in our lives and that more often than not, the cards will fall where they want is an incredibly freeing way to live life. Many find meditation or prayer fantastic tools to put these things into perspective.
5. I don’t medicate by isolating and staying inside
When depressed nothing sounds better than staying inside and not answering the phone. There’s no better way to dwell on those thoughts in your head than to isolate yourself and be alone with your misery. By simply going outside and getting moving, you open yourself to different perspectives and to a broader horizon. Getting out in the weather, soaking up some vitamin D and seeing the world is a simple tool to soften the blow of what can be a crippling day. Physical activity has been consistently shown to improve psychological well-being.
If you need some suggestions or supplemental support along with your mental health professional, please reach out and let’s talk.
Christopher Hostetler is an Integrative Health & Nutrition Coach, proud father, gunshot survivor, musician, writer and Muay Thai enthusiast residing in Los Angeles. He has made self evolution through nutrition, lifestyle, and mental and physical wellness his life’s work.
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