As a Functional Medicine Health Coach, I help people make nutritional changes and also to make lifestyle changes in ways that will help them feel better physically and emotionally.
There are frequently biological reasons that anxiety and depression occur which may be addressed through supplementation and dietary reasons. We had addressed those last week in my weekly blog, “10 Ways to Manage Anxiety – Part I.” But as my mentor likes to say, “Address the mind and the body will follow.”
This week, we are going to give you 5 tips to help address these issues through lifestyle choices.
- Being persistently unhappy or suffering from a lack of fulfillment are almost always a cause of these issues. Take a look at the “Wheel of Life” exercise. This exercise breaks your life into 8 components including career, relationships, fun, health, money, personal growth, and physical environment. Take the time to rate each of these areas from 1 – 10, 10 being the absolute best it can be. Doing this exercise allows you to zone in on the areas of your life that need improvement and give you a guide on what to focus on. Things will shift in your life and I recommend that my clients take a look at this at least every 3 months.
- Gratitude journaling offers us relief from negative thinking. Every night, write in your journal three items that you are grateful for. Not a writer? That’s okay. Keep a jar and strips of paper next to your bed. Just jot down a word or two that will remind you of what you are grateful for. It might be something simple like, “the sunrise” or more complicated such as, “my son cleaned his room today.” (Okay – that would NEVER happen in my house!) Put the slips of paper in the jar. On days that you are struggling to find something positive, read back in your journal or pull slips of paper out of your gratitude jar.
- Your co-workers may be great but are they REALLY your friends? Are they people that you would tell your deepest, darkest secrets too and know that they have your back? Maybe they are. Or maybe you need to create bonds outside of the workplace. Join a bookclub, a meet-up group with people who have similar interests to you, or volunteer. Connect with someone that you can truly build a meaningful relationship with.
- Get at least 15 minutes of light exercise daily. Doing heavy exercise like going for a run or lifting heavy weights may put your body into a “fight or flight” response which most of us live in chronically anyway. Your body does not recognize the difference between running for pleasure or running away from a wild animal. This is not the time to stress out your body further but do get some movement in every day. Go for a walk – especially in the morning and outside to get some sunlight. Maybe do some yoga or light stretching or practice qi gong. In the process, you might just meet that person that you will develop a meaningful relationship with. 😊
- Practice some self-care every day. This might be journaling, exercise, some kind of ritual that you connect with, meditation, or something completely different. Taking a break from the world and doing something every day for YOU can ease anxiety and depression. Many of us don’t take the time out of our busy days to celebrate who we are and that is one of the leading causes of anxiety and depression.
Note that some of these things do overlap which makes it easier to incorporate them into our busy lives. Yoga for self-care and yoga for exercise help you check off two things on this list but still let you approach dealing with the anxiety and depression from a holistic viewpoint.
NOTE: If you are suicidal, please call the Suicide Helpline at 1-800-suicide!
Missy Cohen, MPH, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner has been working in Functional Medicine over the past decade.