“I’ve tried some stuff, I just can’t seem to stick to anything.”
I hear this, or some version of this, whenever I talk to someone new about her struggles with depression. In particular, her struggles with taking care of her health and wellbeing during - and in between - times of depression.
Most of the women I talk to know, or at least have some basic understanding, of the importance of taking care of themselves. They know that eating well, exercising, and reducing stress can help improve their mood and prevent depressive episodes. And thanks to social media, women are bombarded with more messages about the importance of “self care” than ever before.
However, even though women are constantly being told they should engage in “self care,” they often get zero guidance on how to actually get started - and stick to - a self care routine.
Through years of living with depression and coaching others with depression, I’ve learned the most important things you need to know to stick to a self-care routine:
Taking care of yourself can be the most powerful ways to boost your mood and keep depression at bay. However, it can be hard to stick to healthy habits, especially when you live with the ups and downs of chronic depression. Learning how to implement these tips can go a long way in helping you stick to healthy habits and feeling better, faster.
If you're still feeling stuck - you're in luck! I'm currently offering a FREE self-care audit where I take a look at your current self-care routine and identify exactly what's holding you back from feeling less than your best. Click here for more information.
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!