wellness

natural ways to improve mental health + combat depression

As I said in one of my last posts, one thing I am super passionate about that I want to start incorporating into my blog more is mental health + overall wellness. I want to focus more on creating content that can  help + inspire people. This is kind of like a part 2 of my self-care post.

It’s been raining in Charleston for the past few weeks or so and I have been feeling quite under the weather (physically + emotionally) so that’s where the inspiration for this post came from. Quick disclaimer, obviously I am not claiming to be a health professional or promising all of these will work or anything even close hahaha. I am also not saying that you can just do these and simply cure depression or that depression can just go away etc etc. BUT I’m just sharing what I’ve found works for me (keep in mind your body and mind may be different!!!) to improve my mental health in hope it may help you out!

D I E T

First off – your diet. Your brain health is linked to your gut health – if something is off physically, it could be contributing to you feeling off mentally. Obvious ways to fix this are to refine your diet + find what foods your body feels the best eating. Other ways to improve gut health:

Kombucha – Your mind is linked directly to your gut health and Kombucha provides probiotics to your body – shown to improve mental clarity and boost your mood. It contains B1, B6, + B12 – which are known to help the body fight depression and stabilize mood.  It also contains vitamin C, which helps suppress cortisol – a stress hormone. My favorite is the Brew Dr. Kombucha in the flavor Clear Mind – I could immediately feel the difference in my mental clarity and stress level after drinking one of these. It was actually crazy.

Cut out substances – Some people use alcohol to self-medicate but in the end, it’s having the opposite effect. Alcohol may make you feel good in the moment but in the end alcohol is a depressant. Drinking an excessive amount can cause an imbalance in nutrients and chemicals in your brain – which is why increased depression and anxiety are actually hangover symptoms. Heavy drinking over a long period of time also can change your brain cells and affect your mood long-term.

 

V I T A M I N S + S U P P L E M E N T S 

Even those who eat a normal diet (as opposed to vegetarian/vegan/plant based/etc) – are not getting all of the nutrients that your body needs – which can be a major factor of your mental health feeling off. Back when I went vegan, I didn’t pay attention to replacing all the nutrients I was missing, and mixed with how stressed I was at the time, it ended up giving me insane brain fog ….. literally I felt beyond hungover all the time and could not think straight. Idk. It was weird. BUT I learned how to give my body everything it needs! A few supplement recommendations:

Fish Oil — The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are critical for neurotransmitter function, which is a key component for emotional and physiological brain balance.

Vitamin D — Vitamin D deficiency is a cause of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), especially in people who don’t get enough natural sunlight. Vitamin D can be found in foods like fish and dairy and eggs but if you don’t eat those, there are supplements available.

B-Complex — As I mentioned with Kombucha, B vitamins are so good to improve mental health. B vitamins help neurotransmitter function. About 40% of people (regardless of your diet) are B12 deficient! Vegans and vegetarians, as well as people with major depression, are found to have low levels of folate and vitamin B12! I like these Hum Nutrition capsules or just generic grocery store ones.

Probiotics – This is another case of gut + brain connection – it’s important to work on our physical health to help with mental health. Taking probiotics can actually change your behavior and brain chemistry. Hum Nutrition was kind enough to send me their Gut Instinct  probiotics + I’ve been loving them! If you don’t want to take pills, you can also get your probitics from Kombucha, as well as eating foods rich in probiotics (like yogurt). I also try and take an apple cider vinegar shot every morning.

Tumeric – Tumeric is a natural mood-booster as well as an anti-inflamatory… win-win. I love adding Tumeric Boost to smoothies, vegetables, and tea.

 

L I F E S T Y L E

Exercise – Probably one of the last things anyone feels like doing when they’re depressed – and that’s why it’s a good thing. Going to the gym or going on a run is directly linked with having a clearer mind and release of those feel-good brain chemicals(neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids) that aid in combatting depression. I love yoga classes (specifically hot) because it helps my body and my mind at the same time. It really challenges you to be present and relax – not anxious about something in the future or the past. Even getting outside for a quick walk increases the dopamine production in the brain and if it’s nice out, can provide your body with the vitamin D it needs! This is probably my favorite thing to do when I’m feeling down.

Travel – Obviously this one is time and budget restricted but it can be so good to change up your surroundings when you can. It’s so easy to get stuck in the same routine with the same people at the same places which can get you in a weird place in your head.

Journaling – This isn’t something I typically do, but I know a ton of people who are super into it. It is so important to get your feelings out of your head so that you can process them better, and if you don’t want to share your feelings with someone out loud, journaling is a great outlet to do so. No one will ever read it, which takes away the anxiety of being judged, and it allows you to get out everything that you’re bottling up in your head. Write a poem, write a song, whatever you want.

Meditation – I recently discovered the Mindfulness app and LOVE it. It guides you through super quick meditations each day that help you clear your mind and focus on the now. Super good for those dealing with anxiety. 

Do things that make you happy – This may seem like a given but sometimes we get stuck in ruts or routines and don’t devote time to do things we love. Take a break and set some time apart and pick up your guitar or your pens or whatever your passion is and just create something. Set apart time to skate or surf or whatever hobby you enjoy.

REACH OUT – I cannot stress how important it is to speak about your feelings! If you are uncomfortable talking to friends or family, there are several organizations and resources out there (like Hope For The Day). Most schools and colleges have a counseling office where you can go in and speak to a counselor or another student.

This was kind of long BUT hopefully you learned something  + got some good tips.

One last reminder and disclaimer: If you have been feeling depressed for a while and nothing seems to help, I encourage you to seek help. Some people need prescription medicine to combat the chemical imbalance happening in their brains and that’s okay! It is nothing to be scared or ashamed of!!! Although antidepressants are never a 100% guaranteed solution, they can be a step in the right direction – especially along with making the necessary lifestyle changes. You can visit your general practitioner, psychiatrist, or school’s counseling services for more information on the steps to take.

Hope you all have a happy rest of the week!

8 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing. Mental health and well-being is so critical, and these are great tips. I haven’t gotten on the kombucha train yet but I just might have to. Exercise has been the biggest game-changer for me!

  2. Fish oil helps so much not just for your mood but for your skin and overall health! It tastes pretty bad afterwards but so worth it haha thanks for the tips! These are all pretty simple too, except exercising and maybe travel lol

  3. Thank you for sharing this! I love the variety of tips you give… having multiple ways to to take care of mental health is life changing! Really eager to try the HUM vitamins, I have heard a lot of good things about them. Will be keeping this post tagged and referring back to it as needed 🙂

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