Exercise Helped Me Defeat Depression – It Can Help You Too!

designWhen I decided to take an active role in defeating depression, I did hundreds of hours of reading and researching. I knew I had to make big changes in my life, create new habits and create new thoughts. I came across two books that ‘spoke’ to me: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. The Miracle Morning is based on creating a morning routine that includes Silence, Affirmations, Visualizations, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing (SAVERS). I knew that starting the day differently would help me start the day with a more positive mindset, a different mindset. So this is where I started. I will get into the SAVRS in another post. This post is about the E.

But, I have to admit that exercise is of one of the hardest habits I started on my journey to take control of my life and defeat depression. It was also the most profound in helping me. This wasn’t about losing weight. This was about making healthy decisions for my body and mind that would be empowering, boost my self-confidence, and positively impact all areas of your life. It was much easier said than done. Motivation runs out and excuses get easier. I knew I had to just do it now matter how I felt. What I found was working out in the morning is energizing! It is also mentally satisfying, because it’s something BIG accomplished early and it give me the feeling that I can do anything that day! This was HUGE for me!

The problem I had when I started was that I knew I wanted to exercise at home. I didn’t want to drive to a gym in the morning. I don’t like working out at the gym. I know this because my husband is in the gym 4-5 days a week. I would go with him sometimes and I just find it intimidating. Having always been filled with self-doubt, I felt like I was doing things wrong, or I was self-conscious that didn’t look as good as the other ladies. It just added my more anxiety to my life instead of making me feel better. So, I started using YouTube videos and it worked fine; but it was still lots of work to find the days workout.

I was fortunate to stumble across a health and fitness coach who uses Beachbody programs, and said yes to that online workout program (hundreds of workouts), yes to proper nutrition, and yes to myself. The workouts are easy to stream on my TV or laptop, there are so many options, there are schedules (which I need) within each program, there are modifications in the workouts for beginners (like me), meal plans, recipes and lots of motivation. I needed EASY because I am really good at excuses. Having to only hit play and follow made it much harder to come up with excuses that I could live with.

What I also got was an amazing group of women on their fitness and wellness journey, too. I became part of an online community that supports each other, cheers each other on, and we even workout together online sometimes. I have made some wonderful friends along the way. I have learned that I am stronger than I believed I was (depression does that). I have learned that almost everyone has something they struggle with. I wasn’t alone in struggling with depression and self-doubt. I’ve been part of this group for one year now and not sure if I could have stayed committed without them.

I feel so strongly about how much this has helped me, that I have said YES to being a wellness coach with this fitness company. I am empowered by how it helped me defeat depression and I have to share it with everyone who is on a journey to feel better and stronger (mentally and physically), who are looking for a stepping stone for an overall happy, healthy life.

 

 

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Meditating Your Way to Happiness

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When your brain works right, you work right. When your brain is troubled, you are most likely having trouble in life. Simple. It takes a healthy brain to be happy and to make better decisions. But, how do we get it healthy?

We get our brain healthy just like we do the rest of our body – with nutrition, exercise and healthy habits. Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. I don’t claim to be. I’m just a woman who has been struggling with depression for over 10 years and I’ve decided to do everything I can in my power to feel better. This blog is sharing what I’ve discovered, what is working for me and hopefully inspiring others to share.

One of the healthy habits I’ve started is meditation. It has become a part of my morning routine (thanks to Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning, you can get the first 2 chapters free on Hal’s website: http://halelrod.com/books/).  Studies have shown that meditation boosts blood flow to the prefrontal cortex.

The prefrontal cortex is involved in a wide variety of functions, including:

– Coordinating and adjusting complex behavior
– Impulse control and control and organization of emotional reactions
– Personality
– Focusing and organizing attention
– Complex planning
– Considering and prioritizing competing and simultaneous information; the ability to ignore external distractions is partially influenced by the prefrontal cortex

After 8 weeks of daily meditation, the increased blood flow created a stronger prefrontal cortex at and also helped increase memories of those being studied.

It makes sense, when you think about your heart and blood flow. When blood flow is decrease the heart doesn’t work very well. When the blood flow is optimal (no restrictions, no blockages, no cholesterol build up) the heart is very healthy, the person is healthy. The same blood flow applies to the brain and every other organ in our body.

Give it a try, even for just 5 minutes a day. You have nothing to lose, it’s free! The worse thing that can happen is that you spent 5 minutes in silence with yourself. 🙂

Here are few places I started:

https://www.artofliving.org/us-en/8-tips-get-started-meditation

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-42/Meditation-Techniques-for-Beginners-5-Easy-Tips.html

http://www.chopra.com/articles/start-here-5-meditation-styles-for-beginners#sm.00016hcarl38ye3qy3n14ae6bqswe

Would love to hear from you after you try meditation and also from those that already practice this. I’m still very much a beginner; but I feel the benefits! It has been a key part of my overcoming my depression.

Blue skies and sunshine,

Dawn xo

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind?

I just don’t want to feel depressed anymore! What can I do?

Found out that I can do A LOT!

The light bulb went off in my head after trying a new medication. The medication helped me focus at first, but the side effects of feeling drugged and feeling nothing weren’t worth it. I hated it. Then it hit me! Why was I looking to medication first to fix my mind?

I think of it applied to, say, my car. When it runs out of gas, I don’t take it to the shop and ask for a new engine or a major repair. I instead, give it the proper fuel it needs and the car runs fine again. Or at an oil change, I request the high mileage oil because it helps the engine in my car run better than the low mile, low quality oil. I want the car to run well, so I put the best fuel in it and take care of it with regular maintenance.

I am doing some things to try to manage depression, like my morning routine, SAVERS, which I will share more on in another post. When I have bad days, though, my first thoughts are that my medication may need to be adjusted, or maybe try another one.

WHY did I not think to change my fuel?

WHY did I  not think I needed more “maintenance” aka exercise?

Maybe because I wanted an easy solution. Maybe because I just didn’t connect the dots.

In any case, I wasn’t doing that with my body which fuels my mind. I was eating kind of healthy and exercising kind of regular; which gave me kind of an OK result. I don’t want to feel OK. I want to feel good….. GREAT! So, when I realized I wasn’t giving my body all of the nutrients it needs to operate at its best, I set out to change it. I spent hours researching food nutrients, what my body needs, what helps boost the brain; and I created a list of foods I need everyday. It’s a process and I am spending 30 minutes everyday learning more and creating meal plans that fuel my body and mind (I will post this information in future posts).

I have also added at least 30 minutes of exercise a day into my schedule. This is a priority and cannot be skipped. I know that doing this daily will make me feel better mentally, and also make my body stronger and healthier. It’s just like taking my medication daily. I don’t skip that, so why would I skip exercise?

I guess its about taking responsibility for my mental health and doing everything I can to ward off depression. Instead of being passive and just letting life happen, letting depression happen; I am becoming an active participant in how I feel.  I have the power! I know I can’t just delete depression from my life; but I sure as hell can put up a better fight!

 

Depression: Struggling in Silence

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Why do we hide that we have depression? I can only answer for myself and it’s because I didn’t want people to look at me and see weakness. I didn’t want to be judged. I wanted people to think I had it all together. I wanted to believe I had it all together.

I had the best job in the world: I was a stay-at-home mom with 5 children, all active in sports, in 3 different schools, and managing our large suburban home. I, self-admittedly, was doing a really good job at it. People often complimented me on how well I ran the household. I loved my job. I loved being home with my children. As they started growing up, though, and becoming more independent and getting ready to leave the “nest”; they didn’t need  me as much. My role was changing. Then other life stressors happened, and over time I realized I was struggling with depression. But, I wanted to continue to live up to the image of a mom who had it all together, so admitting that I was depressed, wasn’t an option.

In my  mind, if I said it out loud – “I have depression and need help” – then it would be real.

The truth is, it is real. I have depression. Pretending that I didn’t, and then staying silent that I did, only created more darkness and anxiety. As the saying goes, you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.

After struggling with depression for more than 10 years, I started talking about it in 2016. I actually started my blog in 2016; but I wasn’t ready. But, after a year of contemplating “coming out”, 2017 is my year. My year to be honest with myself about living with depression. My year to put my passion to work to bring awareness to depression and end the stigma. We, those of us living with depression, can  be open and honest and live with our heads held high. With the support, we can learn to  navigate this life – the only one we will ever have – and experience the joy we deserve.

It’s my life’s mission: I sharing the story of depression in order to help other women share their stories so they don’t have to struggle or suffer alone in silence. I do this because life is too short to not experience joy and happiness. We’ve been placed  on this earth for a purpose, and it’s not depression. Let’s take this journey together.

Please share your story, if you’re ready. Please comment or ask questions. Let me know what you need to hear that will help you.

Blue Skies & Hugs,

Dawn xoxo