5 Ways To Connect Out of DepressionJul 19, 2022
Through the power of connection, over time we can shift our mindset, well-being and health and move away from depression.
When people use the word ‘exhausted’ when really they mean ‘lonely’, it is easy to miss the need for connection around us. When connected, people feel an improved sense of well-being, better attendance and performance at work, as well as nourishing deeper relationships that survive life’s challenges. These are the ways we can connect out of depression.
There is a rising concern that the connected world of technology makes us more disconnected from the present moment and what surrounds us. That we humans are not ‘made’ for this fast-paced life of technology and that to evolve we must become conscious. However, disconnection occurs regardless of technology because the disconnection happens in the mind. Each of us must find what aspect of connection is needed at that moment to reconnect to the present joys of life.
Originally the feeling of disconnection was labelled as ‘intrinsic’ or ‘extrinsic’ causes of depression i.e. either a chemical imbalance or life event that triggers depression, but the overall root is the same. The mind and its negative thought cycle disconnect the individual from connecting fully to the experience of life.
An initial stage is to manage the depression. I said to myself “I have a chemical imbalance and it’s not my fault I am like this. I can’t do anything about it. I accept that this is how I live and all I will have from life.” This was not acceptance. I was so disconnected from a fulfilled life that this was the amount of effort I perceived required to ‘manage’ my mood. I dared not see further to potential joy.
I meet many people at this stage. It’s a great place to get to - from feeling isolated to being functional and managing the lows. It’s a relatively safe place to exist. It is hard to accept that there is more beyond this stage of managing a health situation and to become aware of the remaining disconnection even during ‘management’.
The degree of shift needed to heal and connect could be from massive life changes, but always require small and simple daily activities to build a stronger ability to connect often with ease. My disconnects were (a) my physical environment and (b) poor emotional resilience. I began building tools to develop my emotional resilience in daily life, and eventually dealt with relocating to a sunnier climate. Of course, this sounds easier than it was to do.
Utilise the following 5 ways to bring daily tools into your life as important steps to start building connections.
Living in cities can cause us to become very disconnected from nature. Living in the city I dreamt of whale songs and the sounds of the ocean waves lapping the sandy beach. It is a full sensory experience to be in nature - the sounds, smells, air and sight.
Traditional Chinese doctors, Ayurveda and Shamanic practitioners advise that being in nature every day contains healing powers. It reminds us of the immense power of nature - the timeless duration of evolution, sounds and rhythms that enliven the natural senses and ability to see the abundance of all living things being provided by Mother Earth. It is also the connection to being made of the same materials as in nature and its cycles of life.
IDEAS TO TRY:
- Stand on grass, earth or sand for at least 10 minutes a day.
- Watch the movement of leaves in the wind.
- Observe birds and bugs - those creatures that just seem to get everywhere!
- Notice the changing seasons and write notes on how they impact your moods, energy, food cravings etc.
Psychology studies worldwide show that connections through peer support, social contribution and engagement are required to reduce the symptoms of depression. Charities and medical services often provide peer support groups because of their proven effectiveness in permitting those with similar challenges to share in a safe space.
The idea is that through connecting with others, we get to see that despite their suffering and woes they have discovered an appreciation for what already exists in life. This in turn should help lift one’s own suffering. The mood and mindset we’re surrounded by impacts ourselves and everyone around us…so perhaps review who you connect with and why! Help those less fortunate to humble and surround yourself with happier and more connected people to inspire.
IDEAS TO TRY:
- Find a peer support group, whether online, in person or on a holiday, that presents an opportunity to connect with people
- Volunteer for a charity or group that is something you would want to receive. Giving is the best way to receive.
- Offer help to a stranger - can be as simple as taking 3 minutes to talk to a homeless person or giving a lost tourist some directions.
Nutritionists and functional medicine practitioners believe that depression may be due to a disconnection in the gut-brain relationship creating digestion issues. Imbalances in gut bacteria can lead to mood changes this is due to the neural pathways and vagus nerve relationship. In the simplest terms, when the gut is under stress it creates chronic inflammation within the body that affects the brain as well.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, social behaviour, appetite, digestion, sleep, sexual desire and memory. Ninety percent of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut, and that level decreases when gut bacteria is altered. Poor gut health dysregulates the mood and contributes to low moods. Often there is a correlation between Irritable Bowel Syndrome and depression scores, and that specific bacteria treatment can reduce depression scores as seen in this study.
The gut microbiome also produces GABA which is another neurotransmitter that helps control feelings of fear and anxiety. There have been studies to suggest that certain probiotics can decrease anxious and depressive behaviour by increasing the production of GABA. An eight-week study on patients with a Major Depressive Disorder found that probiotic supplements had beneficial effects on symptoms.
There are studies that suggest gluten can lead to leaky gut or intestinal permeability, which can cause an immune reaction in the body. Intestinal permeability is when the tight junctions in the small intestine become damaged and loose. This leads to bacteria and toxins leaking into the bloodstream and creating a chain reaction with inflammation being an unfortunate outcome. Persistent inflammation is also linked to chronic diseases of the brain so could be impacting mental health.
If you are diagnosed with a leaky gut, it’s likely you will then be advised to avoid gluten entirely in order to allow the gut to heal. Gluten-containing foods: crackers, bread, cookies, cereals, granola, certain condiments UNLESS STATED OTHERWISE. You can find gluten-free versions of most foods however they are usually full of fillers, corn products and sugars.
IDEAS TO TRY:
- Reduce gluten for inflammation in the gut.
- Eat foods high in fibre and probiotic-rich in order to repopulate the gut bacteria as well as feed the good bacteria that are already there.
- Try these probiotic rich foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt
- Include some high fibre foods in your diet: any vegetables, especially onion, garlic, broccoli stems and asparagus stems, low glycemic fruit: berries
- Eating foods like chia seeds, flax, aloe vera, marshmallow root tea, slippery elm tea, glutamine and collagen supplements, and bone broth is great for soothing and healing the gut lining.
Written by Megan Mieta
Studies on gratitude have shown that it switches the brain to a more positive perspective. This is about seeing the good things in life rather than the woes. To feel the true benefits of gratitude we need to have a practice that expresses it!
If gratitude feels too cliche, try appreciation techniques instead. There is an abundance of tools and methods you can use to increase your connection with gratitude and abundance!
- Take the time to stop and consider 3-5 things to be grateful for.
- Write them down in a list.
- Tell the person(s) involved how grateful you are and why.
- Make a daily social media habit of sharing your gratitude.
Metaphysically, depression is a lack of connection to the universal oneness - the spiritual and Divine. It can be translated to living without a sense of purpose and passion. This sense of purpose is not as an individual legacy, however, but the sense of separation from the unity of all life.
Training as a yoga teacher I studied the Patanjali sutras, which include the yama and niyamas. I created a worksheet to map my progress of healing from depression and identified what I was missing in my progress to healing: spirituality.
HOW TO CONNECT WITH SPIRITUALITY?
“Mindfulness will lead you to spirituality” my friend Neil Seligman told me. I followed this with mindfulness in body, breath, being present, and all the above steps. But I hadn’t fallen into spirituality as I thought might happen. As with all these things, it took discipline and practice.
Every morning I moved and meditated, then I opened a book by a spiritual writer at a random page and read - just a page or so. I made notes and interpreted their lessons. Throughout the day I reflected back on that reading and how it resonated in daily life.
This practice drew out spiritual teachings in daily life for me. It was practical, efficient and connected to my life. In time, a deeply spiritual connection had been formed. A spiritual connection is a practice, not an exam. It’s something to tap into daily with the conscious application of full mind, body and energy.
- Dedicate time to mindfulness to open yourself to spirituality
- Find a spiritual writer that you can connect with, and spend time reading their teachings
- Take time to journal your thoughts and insights
Everyone has a different connection that resonates with their needs and at different times, no one size fits all. Sometimes it can help to have a person who is impartial to discuss the options and how to make them happen. Support of another that mirrors your vulnerabilities and asks compassionately why you are avoiding something.
- Try the above connections over time and see how they can support at different times.
- Check out some of my services online to help you to connect deeper.
Try my suggestions and make up your own. Comment and share your suggestions with us.
To allow you to begin deepening your connections, I invite you to join my weekly breath class. Take the time to connect with your body, mind and emotions to allow them to be witnessed with compassion and set free.
First published by Omegamovement.co.uk in APRIL 2018
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