TREATING DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY - updated

Treating depression and anxiety naturally is, just like break-ups, also an individual journey.
But there are some tried and tested methods that helped millions of people, myself included, restore their overal wellbeing.

December 2016
Those natural approaches bellow have worked for me (or haven't, therefore are not recommended). I have had my battles since 15 years old (!) according to my personal diaries. So my advice is LEGITIMATE as I've been feeling quite stable for the past 3-4 years. The more I cut out the 'not recommended' approaches, the better it gets. The last half year has been the best for my wellbeing. In spite of my heart bleeding, I put my past self-damaging ways under control and made those nearly non-existent.


I've been journalling since the age of 9. 
In July I celebrated 20 years of jotting down my feelings and 3 years of being any medication/quick-fix pills free.

In my experience, treating depression and anxiety disorders comes down to working on these five areas.


Mindset - what are the beliefs that still keep you stuck? Are you ready to start questioning them?


Opening the heart - We all had our hearts broken, perhaps by parents the very first time. Are you ready to forgive and love everything and everyone as if you were indestructible?

Nutrition - What you put into your mouth matters. It affects your mood - full-stop. Dot. Unquestionable. It doesn't mean 'salads only'. In my experience, chocolate doesn't hurt either! :) But waaait for it and read on!

Movement - Your body is a beautiful and dynamic machine craving fresh air and lots of movement. If you sit around, you don't sleep well. If you eat and do not burn ingested calories, you know what happens. If that happens, you don't feel too good about yourself either.

Sleep - I am the last person to give lectures about sleeping smarter to treat your blues, but I have tricks that compensate for sleeping too little.

MINDSET and HEART-OPENING
goes hand in hand.
How to achieve a positive mindset when you are feeling low?
There is no recipe for instant success - Only consistent effort.
Training yourself to shift your focus off of the black dot to the blank space around it takes practice, but it is most possible - and it is worth it!

1. Self-love, self-acceptance, self-forgiveness

2. Reconciliation with parents and forgiveness of childhood trauma

3. Prayer-meditation


Prayer-meditation is the most doable when you are feeling low. I can imagine that at times like those you don't feel like sitting quietly for even few minutes let alone hours, just focusing on your breath (we'll get to that with practice); Therefore, if you need an urgent help from your higher consciousness or from above, praying while sitting, standing, walking, cooking, anywhere anytime, and repeating mantras that speak like your best-self - will help you reset yourself from depressed to hopeful. Saying to the outside world out loud what you'd like is what will help you eventually get it.

I am available for help with any of the three approaches above.
They used to be the hardest for me, too.


NUTRITION
A fun part :)
Whole foods 'diet ' is the simplest and most effective way to feel better fast.
(simple, recognizable ingredients on the packaging.) 
Would you cook with asdfgghjkitrwwxxcvbnm or GMO stuff at home?
The following list of foods which I know feel great to body-mind-spirit is NO BULLSHIT.
This works. And I can't stress it enough. If you don't believe it, it doesn't matter. Just try it and you'll see!
Spoiler alert: Yes, you can eat bread, you can have some sugar, and you can even have a bit of wine every now and then...


A word on STEVIA: It is a good option if you are a real sugar addict. In the long run, I hope you will stop enjoying the taste. The commercial granulated stevia is still an artificial sweetener and it is refined. Refined means more toxic load to your organs and vital energy spent on digesting something that is NOT natural, nor necessary.


Brace yourself...
If you want to get depression-free, feel really well, stop using pills and stabilize your mood, you have to cut out all the foods that I'll mention bellow. 
Detoxing is non-negotiable. Then introduce the naughty staff that you'll still want when the worst is over.
Healthy body and mind is a prize that requires a small price to pay!

-> All major stimulants must go, except really good quality fair-trade chocolate with no refined sugar
So, all hard alcohol, all legal and illegal drugs, and more than one weak cup of coffee per day (better having just tea) is NOT RECOMMENDED at all for at least the first month of your detox for regaining your wellbeing.

Wine is tricky (details later), and I believe in wine! It is a fermented beverage, relatively low in alcohol; however, it is not recommended for the early days of detoxing your body and your MIND (I have tested it, your liver might handle it well, but your mind struggles.)
Beer I am not sure of since I don't really drink it (however, I see the beer-bellies and I get a feeling that too much is not great for sure), tobacco is just a joke (it pollutes you), and so are illegal drugs - I hope you have the common sense to not use those if you want to get optimistic and sustain it naturally.

When that's out of the way...
Swap hydrogenated oils - Especially the commonly used oils for frying like canola, peanut or soy - Deep-frying turns food into plastic. It makes us feel sluggish and gross, even if we are not aware of what the trigger was.
Fried is not healthy even if it's a cucumber or avocado (!).
-> Fall in love with Olive oil and other cold-pressed oils from nuts and seeds. You will feel great in no time!

Say "No" to white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, cane sugar, everything sugar - even if organic - that is a trap! 
Sugar causes havoc in our bodies. Our thinking gets altered, our eyes become blurry and the crash later on calls for another dose of sugar or a similar stimulant. 
Try the new hype - coconut sugar - only when you are already off the sugar addiction (hey, I am not sure myself if I can already allow myself coconut sugar!) and you want to treat yourself a couple of times per week (not per day).
-> Stick to real fruits, rice malt syrup, honey or little of maple syrup. 
These are non-addictive and mainly glucose based. Which is the only compound of sugar we need (Sarah Wilson, I quit sugar).
STEVIA is a good option if you are a real sugar addict. In the long run, I hope you will stop enjoying the taste. The commercial granulated stevia is still an artificial sweetener and it is refined. Refined means more toxic load to your organs and vital energy spent on digesting something that is NOT natural, nor necessary.
- No table salt. -> Use Celtic salt, Himalayan or sea salt.

Regarding Chocolate, the divine food:
It has antioxidants, releases endorphins, hormones responsible for feel-good moods, and works on the serotonin levels in the brain. (good short description of some of cacao's properties: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro04/web1/kcoveleskie.html)
-> Eat either the beans, raw powder or 85-100% cocoa content chocolate bar. You'd be surprised how great it tastes once your taste buds adjust to having little or no sweeteners regularly. And please make sure it is FAIR-TRADE. I just created a presentation about child slavery in Africa, and you'd be shocked to learn what is happening behind the scenes of producing commercial chocolate bars :(
Whether you're a veggie or a meat either - chocolate is for anyone to feel good (however, some people may still be allergic to cacao)
Cacao is like a daily bread and butter for me. 
I am not skinny but my weight seems to be consistent regardless of how much of unsweetened chocolate I ingest.

Of course, I don't run exclusively on chocolate! :)

For additional vitality, I drink mix of spirulina, chlorella and grasses.
I love raw nuts
chia and flax seeds for the fiber content. It fills you up without feeling heavy. I love veggies (lettuce, spinach, brocolli, kale, lebanese cucumbers and warm zucchini spaghetti are my favorites)
Most root vegetables should be heated for an easier digestion and less stress on the thyroid.

Where do I take my feel-good protein from?
Well, well, well...we might differ here, and that IS OK.
I had some share of vegan and vegetarian days, and I really do get the idea behind it, however, I am not an advocate of radical diets other than a diet clean from: 
artificial ingredients and negative thoughts.

I, too, care about the environment and I love animals. However, I believe there are many other ways to be a conscious human being (and eater) on this planet. I am sensitive enough to notice what food does to me and what it does to the Earth. I never had pets, so that as the sole reason for veganism can work for people who understand that pet-companion love - which I have never experienced. 
Unfortunately, I can't sustain vegan diet even while on supplements. I feel like my body asks for extra calcium (and creaminess) just before my period, and some eggs/fish when I am extremely physically and mentally active. 
Just make sure you eat lots of cultured veggies with some hard to digest proteins - as Donna Gates, the creator of Body Ecology mindset recommends. Works for me.

April 2017 - I am having a break from dairy and meat again. Instead, I eat many cultured foods (as they naturally contain enzymes and B12) or I make my own. I improved my digestion and I feel great.
April 2018 - I am back to eating fish several times per week and I do include high-quality dairy. I sleep oh so well (!)

-> I believe it is part of our human experience to inquire about where our foods come from. So question, then eat the kind of protein that is natural, minimally heated (except meat), ideally organic, and makes you FEEL HEALTHY AND GOOD.


A word on meat:
Not every practice of killing is ethical or non-harmful to the natural symbiosis. 

(there are some horrific videos about that, which I am sure some of your vegan friends share daily on facebook)
Meat used to be the perfect option for our survival - people who were not cannibals had to resort to eating their dead companions to survive on deserted islands or when lost in the wilderness. Hunting animals might be a better option fo21st-centuryentury modern human...
If you know and trust your farmer, there might be some hope for the survival of the ecosystem.

Carbohydrates:
Yes, there is a lot of information about the evil and good side of carbs out there.
Where do you find yourself in all that?
Low-carb, high-carb, no-carb (Keto)?
I believe that healthy humans need carbs!

But not all carbs are the same.
Some commercial, packaged breads have ingredients that are, well, poisonous.

I prefer gluten-free grains like buckwheat or quinoa and I love oats (which do have a type of gluten). I am not too sure what the deal with gluten is for me. I am not particularly sensitive to home-made breads. Beware, some nutritionist and holistic doctors link gluten to depression (e.g: Kelly Brogan). All in all, gluten-free is a sure way to not feel bloated. Moreover, those mentioned super-grains have so much fiber and protein so they are a complete food

I love black beans (and black bean spaghetti is my frequent affair!)

For simple sugars, I go for dried figs and prunes, bananas, rock-melon, or blueberries. I try to avoid overdosing on fruit as it honestly gives me a headache and spaciness!

Apparently, fructose causes dementia (Sarah Wilson - I quit sugar)

When I bake, I use rice malt syrup or stevia. No agave - raises your blood sugar like there's no tomorrow.

More on nutrition in 'SLEEP'

MOVEMENT
Gym did not do the trick for me as much as dancing, hot yoga, hot  pilates and outdoor jogging or walking did. If you have the possibility to swap the weights lifting in the gym for exercising outdoors, swimming, cycling or doing some group sports - you'd speed up the mind-healing process. And it will be fun! Many of my posts on this blog cover my 5rhythms dance and hot yoga practices. You can see what breakthroughs and feel-good emotions they give me each time I committedly show up.

SLEEP/NUTRITION
I have always been such a funny sleeper that this is the last thing where you could expect me to tell you how and how much to sleep in order to sleep out your depression and anxieties!

Some people can't sleep enough when they're depressed, but I have really not slept amazingly even while depressed.

Here are some tried and tested truths by me:

Wine - not particularly recommended. 

It is the resveratrol compound of red grapes that helps reduce brain inflammation by stress, not the ethanol. It can help you drift off, but you really only need a small amount.
(Catchy title appealing to drinkers, but the content says nothing about drinking: https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2015/06/red-wine-could-help-fight-depression/)

It is so hard to get the right amount you need for a good night sleep - depending on your particular level of mental and physical exhaustion, muscle recovery, emotional tension, and hours available for a good night shut-eye. I just can't recommend alcohol for a guaranteed success! Sometimes it quite works, sometimes it makes it a way, way worse.
It is NOT RELIABLE.


All stimulants play tricks on the nerves. You might start calling your ex, and regret it the morning after.

-> Music and youtube sleep videos with nature sounds, or nature elements - water, fire: yes, very good. You'll need about 15-20 minutes at least to hypnotize yourself with it.

Dairy - during some sleepless nights I craved cheese or tried warm milk with honey - yep, worked quite fine and I had some vivid dreams. But the acne the next day was also very vivid! Dairy contains growth hormones and it is also sebum producing. I happen to be so sensitive to low-quality, whey based dairy that I would often get zits. Cheap and processed cow's milk gives me a stomach ache and even though goat and sheep is mostly fine (and so tasty), I would get zits if those weren't organic.

April, 2017 - It helps tremendously if the cow's milk has been cultured. If it is in the form of cultured butter, quark, keffir or buttermilk, I am just fine! Hurray!

Reading before sleep - have you tried it, and ended up reading almost the whole book? Yup. Happened few times. -> Staring into textbooks of boring subjects worked much better for me.

Browsing the internet - a huge no no. The glare of the screen, the electromagnetic waves - how could that ever work?

Magnesium - drink or pills - yes. Great for relaxing the nerves and your tired muscles.

L-Tryptofan - amazing in pills or powder form. Otherwise, you'd have to eat tons of dairy, turkey and soy to get its benefits in a fast and efficient bedtime way.


Water with Magnesium + L-tryptopfan 1 hour before going to bed reduces the time for me it takes to switch off the mind and fall asleep. My favorite combo.
Valerian - made me quite aggressive when I couldn't get hypnotized by it and
 I got to beat it.

Melatonin - made me rather slow the next day.

Feel free to try any herbs out there that are natural and clean.

Great activities to try a few hours before bed:
Sauna - quite works
Yoga - great gentle stretch
Walking barefoot - reflexology for the body, relieving the mind
Eat lightly - there's no good sleep on a full stomach, neither on an uncomfortably empty stomach. Eat light and give your digestion some rest.

Don't work till it is time to switch off the lamp.

And if nothing works, be kind to yourself the next day.
Don't beat yourself up, eat well and try cat-naps if you can. You don't have to fall asleep, just close your eyes, rest, and dream
You don't need to avoid exercise, but don't overwork yourself.

I spent so many sleepless nights, I wonder if that was even legal!

Everywhere I read EIGHT hours is ideal, but hey, I would have to be an artificial being for most of the time I don't get 8 hours, yet I still function well, and I actually still look fine! :)

Nutrition, meditation, and kindness play a big part in thriving on shorter amounts of sleep than 8 hours (4 hours, anyone?)

5 hours is my minimum to feel ok, on 4 I feel really, really tired (but green tea or Yerba mate and moments of stillness and gratitude fix that), 6 is an average, and on 7,5-8 I feel like after a spa session.
I get why they recommend 8. Can every day be a spa day, please?

April 2018 - I've been sleeping so well the past couple of months - could that be switching from vegan to some dairy eating pescetarian? Also, I drink coffee only a couple of times per week and wine about once per week.

*My all-time favorite energy drink is Matcha (a type of Japanese green tea grown in the shade). It is stronger than regular green tea, and way more reliable that coffee. No jitters and you don't feel a 'second-rush' when already tucked in between the sheets.
Yerba Mate - south American caffeine-free tea is also helpful for staying alert. Be careful, it can still keep you up if you drink it too late in the day.
Chai Tea - fav beverage during the day. I wouldn't risk it after 4pm to ensure a good night sleep.


Have fun living healthily for your overall well-being! 
Your Body&Mind&Spirit will thank you for it.
People who care about you will be glad, too, if you turn your wellbeing around!


Love,

Pavlina



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