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Clear Your Mind by Using Your Feet – Finding Peace in the Great Outdoors
sweet newborn calf at my cousin’s Ranch in Blanco, TX
We’ve all been there – feeling sad, un-motivated, hopeless, worthless, down on your luck – just plain old depressed. One thing I would really like to emphasize is that these feelings are NATURAL. Sometimes life just isn’t as exciting, easy, or fun and well, that’s just life. The older I get the more I have come to realize that life is just that, life. It comes with it’s ups and downs, highs and lows and ultimately that’s what makes life so fantastic. One cannot fully appreciate the warmth of spring if not for enduring a long, cold winter.
Sometimes life is hard and that’s just the way it is. Instead of beating ourselves up about it, how about finding some very easy and practical ways to help us beat the blues?
One of the fastest ways I’ve found to lift my spirits is to head outdoors. Some people refer to this as Ecotherapy. I typically hit the trails and take my dog for a walk. Another favorite is to head out to the country. (I’ve always lived in the city but I sweat I am a total country girl at heart!) There, I can get outside, walk, breathe in the fresh air, and take in all of the gorgeous scenery. Sound too simplistic?
“A 2007 study by researchers at the University of Essex in England found that a daily dose of walking outside could be as effective as taking antidepressant drugs for treating mild to moderate depression.” (source)
my cousin’s sweet little boy and his pup enjoy a stroll through the Texas wildflowers
I recently spent the day in the Texas Hill Country where I got to visit with family, walk in the warm sun, breathe in the fresh air, and stare in awe at the beauty of nature. Sometimes all we need is to take a step back and find pleasure in the simple things.
It’s like time stands still in the Hill Country, the noise clears, and the worries melt away. I always leave there feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. How can I continue to feel bad when surrounded by such beauty and splendor?
and sweet little munchkins with cheeks just begging to be kissed?
“Recently Cure Together did a survey of almost 5,000 people suffering from depression, and their findings were very supportive of natural, holistic remedies. I thought I’d share the findings with you. If you suffer from depression, these are some things worth trying.
The top 3 remedies were: Exercise, sleep and talking to others.
Other high-ranking remedies were the following:
- Music therapy
- Art therapy
- Mindful meditation
- Massage therapy
- Diet changes
- Group sports
- Light therapy
- Personal growth workshops
- Support groups
Important to note: most natural remedies included were ranked HIGHER than the pharmaceutical drugs that were included. Among some of the drugs that were included: Zoloft, Celexa, Wellbutrin, Lexapro, Xanax, Cymbalta, Prozac.
Also important to note: alcohol was the one thing included that was rated to make depression worse.
See graph here of the results.”
These findings are stunning. Natural remedies beat out the pharmaceutical drugs – not what most people would have predicted!
Getting Through it Naturally
I have experienced depression first hand, suffering through it for several years during college. I was a competitive athlete and by my junior year I was completely fried (that little bit about alcohol making depression worse is true, btw). I requested to red shirt/take the season off that year. We had a very long competitive season that lasted from October – April. I knew I was an absolute mess mentally and wasn’t going to be able to handle the long season, a tough class load, and the pressure that came along with all of it. My request to red shirt was not received very well and in turn, somehow I ended up on antidepressants.
My personal experience with antidepressants was that they made me numb. I didn’t really care one way or another about anything. And I ended up paying the price for it in the long run both physically and emotionally.
I worked with a sports psychologist for about 2 years and decided to wean myself off of the antidepressants on my own (I do NOT recommend that anyone else do this. Please see the disclaimer at the end of this article). The experience of coming off the antidepressants was horrible, to say the least, and amplified how drastically the drugs had been affecting me. I literally felt like the ground was spinning and I could not stand up straight. After researching online, I found that most people have a very hard time coming off of these powerful drugs.
It was a rocky road but I got thought it naturally. Working with my sports psychologist helped tremendously as did exercise, cleaning up my diet, removing myself from toxic people and environments, and the support of my close friends.
And you know what? Even though I am 1,000% happier and healthier than I was in those days, I still sometimes get the blues. We ALL do and I think this is very important to note. Just because you have a bad day, bad month or even a bad year doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. That’s life. Sometimes things get rough; tragedy, breakup, finances, stress, poor diet etc. and I think it’s a great disservice to expect yourself and others to be happy all the time. It’s not realistic and encourages people to hide behind a mask instead of fully expressing and dealing with where they’re at. Now, if you or someone you love is suicidal or has been in a bad spot for years and is not getting better, that’s another story and I would seek the help of a professional. However, I would still recommend that person spend a lot of time outside and start engaging in some of the natural practices listed above like ecotherapy, diet changes, walking in nature, personal growth workshops, and mindful meditation.
For me, diet and exercise outdoors (walking & hiking) play the biggest role in helping me through the tough times. There is something so magically therapeutic about a nice long walk. You never know what you’ll find…you just may end up finding yourself!
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. ~John Muir
My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-three today and we don’t know where the hell she is. ~Ellen DeGeneres
Get outside, go for a walk, talk to your friends & family, and try to eat a healthier diet. Often times people who are struggling with depression have significant vitamin deficiencies, namely B Vitamins. Start adding in Green Smoothies and lots of salads and veggies to boost your minerals. I noticed such a HUGE difference in my mood when I changed my diet. It is one of the biggest factors that led me into the field of Nutrition and Health Coaching and has kept me the path so long.
it’s hard to feel depressed in the presence of such sweet little ones 🙂
Often, the hardest times teach us the greatest lessons. They show us our true strength and help us appreciate what’s really important in life. I know that without the hardships I’ve endured I would not have the passion, strength, or determination to do the things that I am doing today. I am so grateful for all of those tough lessons and look forward to any new challenges that the future holds.
“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains it’s own seed, it’s own lesson on how to improve next time.” – Malcolm X
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this blog are based on my own personal life experiences and is intended for educational purposes only. I am not a licensed doctor or therapist. Nothing can replace the one on one contact between a patient and his or her health professional. If you have any doubt, consult your doctor or other health care provider before attempting treatment.