Whenever I tell someone I’m a mental health + wellness coach, they always want to know about one thing: "what should I be eating?"
To be honest, when I started my business, I avoided talking about nutrition at all costs. What I thought was a passion for nutrition in college (I have the bachelor's degree to prove it!) ended up being a thinly-veiled eating disorder that haunted me for much of my younger adulthood. I was afraid of talking about anything that remotely looked like a diet, for fear of causing those same disordered eating habits in my clients.
It wasn’t until I discovered the relationship between the gut, mental health, and our diet that I started to look at food differently. I saw food as less of an enemy and more as an ally in helping me manage my depression. I stopped focusing on restricting so-called “bad” foods and started focusing on eating more anti-inflammatory, mental health-protective foods.
So let’s go back to the original question - what should you be eating to improve your mental health when you have depression?
While research has been unable to prove that one specific diet or another works better than any other for depression, people who have a higher quality diet seem to have fewer depression symptoms. There is also new research that eating anti-inflammatory foods can help boost mental health, too.
As I talked about in last week’s blog post, depression is linked with inflammation in the brain. However, research also shows that depression is linked to inflammation in the gut. This relationship may explain why an anti-inflammatory diet, (some say "the Mediterranean diet") may be promising for depression.
While research is still new, anti-inflammatory foods are the most promising nutrition tool we have when it comes to fighting depression. So let's talk about getting more of them in your diet!
How to eat more anti-inflammatory foods:
Did you learn something new about nutrition + depression? Let us know your fave in the comments!
The arrival and spread of COVID-19 throughout the globe has shown just how important it is to have a healthy immune system. A strong immune response is especially crucial for people with depression because long-term stress and depression have been shown to seriously impact the immune system over time.
The crazy thing about depression is that it doesn't just weaken the immune system, it can also overactivate it! While a weakened immune system can make it easier for you to get sick, an overactive immune response can lead to widespread inflammation and chronic disease - both of which can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health.
Here’s what you need to know about how depression impacts our immune system (and what to do about it!)
Depression is linked with a decrease in your immune cells
According to this study, depressive symptoms and related stress are linked to increased levels of a hormone called CRH (corticotrophin-releasing hormone). Increased CRH causes a decrease in certain types of white blood cells, which are important in fighting off outside invaders like bacteria and viruses.
The bottom line: Fewer white blood cells = decreased ability to fight off infections = you get sick, easier!
Depression is linked with immune system over-activation and inflammation
New evidence suggests that depression is an inflammatory disease. But what does this actually mean?
Simply put, inflammation occurs when your immune system attacks things it thinks are trying to harm the body. The immune system sends a signal to create inflammation, which brings extra nutrients, blood flow, and white blood cells in an effort to heal the area. A visible example of healing inflammation is an ankle sprain - you injure yourself > your body sends blood, nutrients, and healing cells to the ankle > your ankle swells up and gets hot to protect and heal the damaged tissue.
Inflammation becomes a problem when there is too much inflammation for too long. The inflammation starts to spread to healthy tissues throughout the body, which can lead to disease down the road.
This is exactly what happens with long-term depression. We’re now learning that depression is linked with long-term, low level inflammation. This kind of inflammation over time can be harmful for the body and result in chronic conditions like heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and cancer.
So, the million dollar question: what can you do TODAY to boost your immune system and keep you healthy?
Since depression is linked to a weaker immune system, it’s important you do everything possible to keep it strong. Fortunately, the best ways to boost your immune system are also the best ways to boost your mood and keep your depression at bay!
Here are my must-do tips for a strong immune system:
Your immune system is the #1 defense you have against fighting disease. Depression may weaken the immune system, but you have the power to fight back! Need a little support? Book a Discovery Call with me today and find out how we can hack your health and wellness so you can feel like yourself again!
It’s been quite the wait but it’s finally here! The 21-Day Negative Thought Detox course is finally available for purchase! Read on to learn how all about the Negative Thought Detox - and how it can impact your life!
So what is the 21-Day Negative Thought Detox?
The 21-Day Negative Thought Detox is an email course delivered straight to your inbox! It’s designed to help you ditch the depressive, negative outlook for more accurate, constructive, and positive thoughts that help you create a life you love with confidence.
The Negative Thought Detox (NTD) is chock full of valuable information, including 21 days of lessons, journal prompts, videos, meditations, and more!
But here’s the kicker: each day’s lesson can be completed in 20 minutes or less! That means you get super powerful transformations every day - without having to sacrifice any other area of your life.
What can you expect to learn with the NTD?
So ask yourself…
Are you ready?
Are you ready to take control of the repetitive, pessimistic, depressing thoughts in your head?
Are you ready to ditch the draining negativity for more energy and better sleep?
Are you ready to boost your confidence and self-esteem?
Are you ready to increase your motivation and ability to achieve your goals?
Are you ready to squash your stress and constant, obsessive worrying?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then the NTD is the perfect tool for you to start taking control of your negative thoughts! Click here to learn more and to enroll in the course.
Psst... for a limited time, I’ll be offering a bonus coaching package to help you boost your positive thinking power! Meet with me at the end of each week (3 sessions total) to review the week’s lessons and tailor them specifically to your life. Oh, and did I mention it’s 45% off my normal coaching price? But ya gotta hurry - this offer won’t last!
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I talk about negative thoughts a lot. And there are basically 2 reasons for that: 1) repetitive, obsessive negative thinking can be one of the most crippling symptoms of depression and 2) our lives are shaped by the way we talk to ourselves.
If our thoughts are full of self-doubt and self-deprecation, we’re not going to feel empowered to make changes in our lives. We’re going to feel stuck, frustrated, and unhappy, which can lead to more negative thoughts about ourselves and our situation.
So how can we stop this vicious cycle of negativity? And once we do, how can we adopt a more positive outlook to help us meet our goals? Read on to discover my 3 steps to taking control of your negative thoughts - and my tool for implementing this into your life for the long haul.
Step 1: Notice the stories you’re telling yourself
Sounds easy right? Not always!
Negative thoughts can often lurk in the background without you even being aware of them. This is especially true for long-held beliefs because your mind is used to them being there - and may have trouble letting them go.
If you’re having trouble tuning into your thoughts, start with your feelings. If you start feeling anxious, sad, nervous, or guilty all of a sudden, you’re probably having a negative thought that you’re unaware of. Sit with the feeling (or better yet, journal it out) and see what negative beliefs or thoughts come up for you - no censoring!
Step 2: Clear your mind
Once you notice you’re having a negative thought and are able to identify it, you need to give your mind some space.
Do not skip this step!
So often, people want to go straight to the sexy part of modifying the negative thought, but it’s important to give your mind some space first. Why? Because you need to create room for alternative thoughts. When you’re stuck in a negative thought cycle, there is little room for interpretation or other viewpoints. By taking some time to clear your head, you allow yourself to operate from a relaxed mind that is much more open to possibilities than a stressed-out mind.
Some ideas of mind-clearing techniques include:
Step 3: Modify the thought to be more positive (and true!)
Reframing your thoughts is not just taking negative thoughts and flipping them positive.
Keep in mind that your head has been running on negative thoughts for a long time, and may initially be resistant to any changes that seem “unrealistic.”
Instead, in order to modify a negative thought, you must first debunk it. Once you’ve discovered the truth - or lack thereof - behind the thought, you can modify it to be more helpful and positive. Here are the best ways to get started:
Of course, this blog post is just an introduction to the topic of addressing negative thoughts. Overcoming negative thoughts for the long-haul is truly a daily practice and takes time - but the results are so so worth it!
If you’re looking to jumpstart your positive thinking practice, check out my upcoming 21-Day Negative Thought Detox! Get 21 value-packed days of lessons and action steps - delivered straight to your inbox every single day! Click here for more info!
Depression is an asshole. There, I said it. Thank you for your time.
Okay, so maybe this isn’t a profound statement. Anybody who has ever been afflicted by or close to somebody with depression knows that it’s awful and can ruin your life. And not just because it makes you sad sometimes or forces you to cry in the bathroom at work for no reason or fastens you into the same set of pajamas for three days straight. Depression is an asshole because it is inherently contradictory. This is the foundation for my theory of The Depression Paradoxes.
Paradox 1: You’re Numb Despite “Having It All”
Clinical depression has no rhyme or reason to it. Unlike grief or situational depression, which can be linked to a single problem or event, clinical depression often pops right out the blue clear sky. As a result, things can often be going pretty well for you but, out of nowhere, you start to feel absolutely miserable. For someone with depression, this can be even worse than your entire life falling apart, because then at least you would have an explanation for your sadness. Not having a “reason” to be upset about something makes the voices in your head that much more cutting. “You just got a promotion, you ungrateful jerk! Why are you blubbering in the shower?” or “You’re on a yacht in the middle of Caribbean, sipping champagne with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and you can’t smile for one. friggin. second?!” (Anybody else have that fantasy? Just me?)
So hopefully this explanation makes it easy to understand why a common piece of advice spewed by everyone ranging from Instagram yogis to Dr. Phil doesn’t often work for people living with depression. You can hear a choir of soothing New Age-y voices crooning it now: Practice Gratitude. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for not being a greedy prick and being thankful for what you have. And gratitude is an amazing and powerful tool for those not in the middle of a depressive episode. But for someone agonizing in their own personal hell for no reason other than shitty neurotransmission, counting blessings can be a rough reminder of the fact that they are still suffering despite all they have been given. Even more, for someone with the messed-up thought patterns characteristic of mental health disorders, this can quickly feed into the cycle of negative self-talk and depression.
Paradox 2: Exercise Is Supposed To Make You Happy, But You Can’t Even Get Out Of Bed
I, like many of my fellow mental health warriors, have googled the phrase “how to fight depression” or some variation of that more times than Kanye West has googled “Kanye West.” (Mom, if you’re reading this, that’s a lot of times.) What pops up are several different blog posts listing the same strategies tested by time and scientific evidence: exercising, eating well, socializing, and looking on the sunny side of life! And, of course, all of those things are wonderful suggestions for people with or without a mental health disorder.
However, to quote Carrie Underwood, “There’s just one little problem…” Depression makes those things pretty much impossible, especially when you’re knee-deep in self-doubt, fatigue, and crying spells.
Before you yell at me, I am a lifelong student of the sciences, with degrees in Nutritional Sciences and Physical Therapy. I am a big proponent of healthy living, both mentally and physically. Professionally, I have seen the positive impact of appropriate exercise, solid nutrition, and social interaction on people with mental and physical disorders. Personally, however, I have seen just how difficult it is to follow this advice when you can barely get out of bed in the morning. I, a physical therapist and normally an avid exerciser, had an entire three (okay, six) month span where I did not exercise a single minute. I used all of my social, physical, and mental energy just getting myself to, through, and from work. By the time I got home, I could barely keep it together enough to binge on Triscuits and The Office before crying myself to sleep at the thought of waking up and having to do it all over again. And what made it even worse was knowing that I should be exercising, I should be meeting up with friends, I should eat a goddamn vegetable once in a while. (Translation in my brain: I am definitely a waste of a human and probably do not deserve be living on this planet anymore.)
Don’t get it twisted—it is not my intention for these paradoxes to function as excuses or reasons not to engage in methods proven for battling depression. It’s just that these practices require two things that are often lacking in the depressed mind: energy and motivation. The point of this is to 1) explain why depression is a total jerk and 2) provide compassion and understanding of how depression operates for those coping with the disease as well as those living on the outside trying to empathize.
It is only by identifying and demystifying these paradoxes that we can begin to address and modify our treatment strategies to make room for hope and healing in the depressed mind.
Note: This post was originally published at ThoughtCatalog.com, with some modifications. See the original post here.
Can you relate to this scenario?
You wake up - and you feel pretty good! You’re excited because you finally have energy to do all the things you’ve been too depressed to do (yay!) and decide to get stuff done, son.
Flash forward a few hours later and you’ve run errands, answered client emails, done laundry, cleaned the house, paid bills, caught up with friends and family….and you’re absolutely wrecked. You’ve exhausted yourself so much that you didn’t even get to enjoy your day. Heck, you can’t even enjoy the rest of the week because you burned yourself out so much! Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, I hear about this cycle all too often. I’ve even lived it myself! For some of my clients (at least until they met me!) it got so bad that they started to dread their good days because they knew they would have to pay for them later down the road.
The good news? You don’t have to live like that!
So what can you do to enjoy the hell out of your good days while preserving your mood and energy for the days ahead? Read on to learn more!
How do you make sure you don't burn yourself out? Let us know in the comments below!
Depression can majorly screw with your sleep patterns and energy levels (for more info, check out this and this blog post). For my clients, this often shows up as difficulty getting up and out of bed in the morning. I find that most of my clients fall into at least one of the following three categories:
In all three of these scenarios, depression is messing with their energy levels - but in completely different ways!
Regardless of what’s keeping you in bed, the following tried-and-true strategies will get you feeling better and up and at ‘em in no time!
[Click here to watch my video - 3 TIPS TO HELP YOU GET OUT OF BED WHEN YOU’RE DEPRESSED]
What to do if you still can’t get out of bed:
Say you tried all of the above strategies but you still can’t get out of bed - now what?
I am about to say something that most mental health coaches will never say:
If you try and try and try and still can’t get out of bed - then stay in bed.
There is nothing wrong about being in bed. You’re not hurting yourself or anyone else. You’re not “behind” or “lazy” or “gross” any of the other awful things you could come up with to say about yourself.
You’re in bed because your mind and body need you to be. You may need extra rest, you may need to be away from stimulation, you may need to feel comforted in your favorite sheets. Whatever the need, the best thing you can do for yourself is honor that need, without self-judgment. As long as you come from a place of self love and compassion, your body and mind will get up when they’re ready. There’s no need to put pressure on healing.
If this is something you’re struggling with - don’t go alone! I am now offering FREE 45 minute discovery sessions to a limited number of new clients! Book yours here.
The world feels crazy right now. Between a global pandemic, worldwide protests, and murder hornets (seriously, wtf?!), the first half of 2020 has proven to be a rough one. It’s important to stay informed, but sometimes the news can make us feel anxious, hopeless, and afraid for the future. However, sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring all news can make us feel even more anxious because we don’t know what’s happening around us. Here are some tips to stay informed without feeling overwhelmed.
Now more than ever, it’s important we stay informed and aware of the world around us. However, nothing is worth sacrificing our mental health over. By taking these steps to filter out less-than-newsworthy information, you’ll improve your knowledge of the facts while protecting your energy and your sanity. And couldn’t the world use a little more sanity right now?
P.S. Still feeling overwhelmed? Start with your thoughts! Learn more about my 21-Day Negative Thought Detox here.
Black lives matter. Black bodies matter. That means black mental health has to matter, too.
Black people in America are disproportionately affected by mental health issues and poor access to psychological treatment. Research shows that historical adversity such as slavery, sharecropping, racial violence, and race-based exclusion from social services (think healthcare and education) results in a lower socioeconomic status. Low socioeconomic status, as I also discussed in this post, increases the risk for poor mental health. Put this on top of centuries of racial oppression and inequality and you have a perfect storm for a mental health crisis.
Current protests, while necessary, can also leave our black brothers feeling more anxious, hopeless, and on edge. As a result, black mental health is as an important as ever. Here are some ways non-BIPOC allies can help:
Obviously, this is a less-than exhaustive list - but it’s a start. I encourage you to share your own resources in the comments below so we can all support this cause. Together, and only together, can we help improve the lives and mental health of the black community in America.
We all know exercise is good for us, especially for those of us living with depression. Study after study after study has shown the mood-boosting and anti-depressive effects of exercise. But what about using exercise for another purpose – boosting energy and beating fatigue?
For many, exercise as an energy-booster seems counterintuitive. After all, exercise actually requires energy (in the form of calories) and too much exercise can leave us drained and exhausted (more on that later). First, let’s take a look at how exercise can improve overall energy, both in the short-term and the long-term.
However, getting enough exercise when you have depression can be difficult because of fatigue and low energy.
The good news? You don’t have to get that much to see an energy bump!
Research shows that a brisk, 10 to 15-minute walk is actually the most effective form of exercise to see an immediate, significant boost in energy. Longer and higher-intensity workouts can also build energy over time but may tire you out initially because you worked so hard.
My best advice? Start with short, low intensity workouts (think a 5-minute walk around the block), and slowly build up over time to avoid injury and fatigue. Having trouble getting started? Click here to book a free discovery session with me and let's get it done together!
What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to energy and exercise? Let me know in the comments!
Note: I research all of my blog posts extensively and provide only scientifically backed information. Please e-mail here if you find any errors or discrepancies in this post and I will be sure to make any warranted changes. Thank you!