The winter blues, the January blahs, depression. We’ve heard about them, but how do they happen?
On a conscious level, people don’t choose these things. No one wakes up one day saying, “I think I’d like to have the winter blues this year, or I’d like to be in a clinical depression for the next five years”. Our conscious minds never choose symptoms. Consciously, we all choose health, wholeness, joy and vitality. But there is something else at work in us that manifests symptoms and causes us various problems. And that something else is our subconscious mind.
There are times when change cannot be effected through conscious effort. No matter how hard we’ve tried or how many times we’ve tried to beat our subconscious mind into submission we remain stuck in the same place.
The subconscious mind is fear-based and quite infantile in its judgement. It is the subconscious mind that chooses faulty coping strategies and self-sabotage in all kinds of creative varieties. This is the part of us that presents our symptoms.
Symptoms that can indicate the presence of a depression include things like the following:
- Diminished interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable
- Weight loss or weight gain along with decreased or increased appetite
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Feelings of worthlessness, emptiness, hopelessness, excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate
When the symptoms are minor to moderate, activities like exercise, yoga, massage therapy, meditation and acupuncture can be effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms.
However, if the symptoms are moderate to severe, a more rigorous approach is needed.
Unfortunately, most of the traditional therapeutic tools do not access the subconscious mind and medications have little impact on the workings of the subconscious mind.
Typical antidepressants known as SSRIs – Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors- are prescribed to correct an imbalance of serotonin levels, believed to contribute to depression, poor mood, anxiety, stress, and OCD.
SSRI antidepressants are believed to help increase serotonin levels by limiting the reabsorption rate of serotonin in the brain.
A recent study completed at McMaster University ranks Canadians among the most prolific users of antidepressants. Lead study author and university professor, Paul Andrews said there are alternatives to taking antidepressants such as psychotherapies that don’t have negative physiological effects and work just as well.
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that psychotherapies and psychosensory therapies, such as Havening Techniques, that combine specific intention with sensory input produce a number of beneficial physical results such as increased production of serotonin, opioids, and GABA, regulation of cortisol, pain reduction, slowed heart rate, decreased anxiety, and an increased sense of calm.
It’s these beneficial physical results that effect lasting change in the subconscious mind.
If you find yourself struggling a bit or a lot this winter, take steps to remedy the situation as soon as you can, because help is available. Whether its exercise or a massage, or psychotherapy and psychosensory therapy, there is hope and a way back to mental vitality.
Originally Published: December 30, 2017
With winter comes some amazing times, such as first snowfall, Christmas spirit in the air, and family and friends gathering
together. It really is the most wonderful time of year. Unfortunately, with these events come stressful moments and our anxiety levels often heighten. As much as we love the holidays and all that comes with them, we can sometimes forget to really fully enjoy them due to the stress we place on ourselves to make it the best holiday ever. So, this holiday season, don’t let the stress that creeps in supress your mental and physical health.
Here are my easy-to-do activities that will help you get through the holidays stress-free!
1. Deep Breaths – Deep breaths are the easiest way to calm your mind and body. Tricks to doing this properly are making sure to fully expand your lungs and breathe from the very bottom of your lungs with each inhale and exhale. Often, we breathe shallow in our lungs throughout our days and this depletes oxygen to our cells. Also, make sure to slow your inhales and exhales down to a slow count of five each time. This is an easy de-stressing tool you can use no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
2. Make time for yourself – With lots of gatherings, hosting, shopping, and the many lists that don’t stop, make sure you are taking time for yourself. When we forget about ourselves this is when our stress levels climb. This time can be anywhere from just 15 minutes to one hour a day. Schedule this time in and make sure this becomes non- negotiable time for you. During this time, you can do anything you wish that brings happiness to you. Make sure you do something you love such as being creative, walking, reading, taking a bath, yoga or meditation. Which brings me to my last tip...
3. Meditate – Even if you’ve never tried it before, the effects are always great for the body. Meditation calms the mind and the physical body. Just following a guided meditation for even two minutes will have a relaxing effect. Anywhere from two minutes to 20 minutes is a typical mediation time. This allows your mind to wash away the stress of the day, forget about everything that has to get done and focus on yourself and be in the moment. You will leave feeling calm, relaxed and energized. For easy guided meditations visit danagoodfellow.ca.
Most of all have fun! Make sure you’re enjoying the holidays; after all, that’s why we celebrate them. Keep up with these three easy steps and you will be able to combat those stressful moments that are inevitable. For more tips and tools that will help you relax and de-stress, you can always visit danagoodfellow.ca. Happy Holidays, everyone!
Originally Published: December 14, 2017
Dana Goodfellow, RMT, Contributor and D.Ac., Meditation Teacher, Owner – Quinte Mind & Body
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Dana is the owner of Quinte Mind & Body, and has been a practicing Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) for many years in the Belleville area. Through Dana’s love of learning and providing superior results for her patients, she has added modalities from her knowledge of the body and medical treatment. Two modalities are Contemporary Medical Acupuncture and becoming a Certified Meditation Teacher and Facilitator. As a graduate of an advanced course of Massage Therapy at Georgian College, Dana takes great pride in treating patients with many different manual techniques. After a year in practice, Dana received her certification from McMaster University for Contemporary Medical Acupuncture.
Short grey days and long cold nights are back, but this doesn’t have to darken your disposition. These five tips are guaranteed to boost your energy and happiness levels!
1. Get out in the sunshine – even if it’s barely visible through cloudy skies! A brisk 10 minute walk will reward you with a quick burst of energy lasting up to two hours. Warm up with some yoga backbends to stimulate your metabolism. Simply stand tall, resting hands on your low back, and lean back as far as feels good to you. Follow this with a forward fold, reaching toward toes. Ahhhh! Do this daily and within a few weeks you’ll notice your overall energy and happiness have increased. For more benefit, use this time to repeat some positive affirmations, like:
2. After that walk carbs may be calling you, but while sugary treats give you a burst of energy, they also quickly lead to a sugar crash. Instead, choose a healthy snack with protein and a big glass of water to keep your energy up. Not getting enough water can make you feel tired and hungry. Pee should be the colour of apple juice. Lighter means you’re drinking too much water, darker means you aren’t getting enough.
3. Colour your world! Surrounding yourself with uplifting vivacious yellow or vibrant orange colours will stimulate and energize you! Dress in these colours, add them to your décor with throw pillows or cozy blankets, fill a bowl with fresh lemons or oranges, even dab their essential oils on your wrist for an uplifting effect.
4. Eliminate stress wherever possible. Practice the fine art of saying no to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Boost your happiness by living in the moment, rather than mentally projecting yourself into the future, which produces anxiety. People who regularly engage in spiritual practices are twice as likely to report being happy, so why not try a simple mindfulness meditation – sitting in silence watching your thoughts without being attached to them. It’s like a mini mental vacation!
5. Nothing zaps energy and happiness like grudges. As the song says, “Let it go, let it go.” Forgiveness is a gift for yourself, it has nothing to do with the other person. Even if they don’t ‘deserve’ it, you do! Try nurturing gratitude instead – it’s my favourite method for boosting happiness. A daily list is a great way to start this healthy habit – why not make it a family practice?
6. Smile! This actually tells your brain you’re happy whether you are or not. While you’re at it, practice being happy for no reason at all! Set a timer for five minutes and celebrate as if you’ve heard the best news ever – fist bump the air, let out a woo-hoo! Not only does this feel good in the moment, you’re setting all those fabulous feelings and thoughts out, and what comes back to you in real life will feel equally good! And remember, spring is coming!
Originally Published: December 7, 2017
Alexandria Barker, Contributor
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Alexandria Barker is a certified life coach and Soul Re-alignment practitioner, providing healing at the deepest level for lasting transformation. She is also an Infinite Possibilities Coach specializing in freeing you of limiting beliefs, enabling you to live the life of your dreams.