Mood disorders can affect anyone. Managing your mood can be hard when you’re in a funk. Anxiety and depression are common mood disorders that frequently go untreated. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America affecting about 40 million people per year over the age of 18 years. That is a HUGE amount of people, so you are NOT alone! Depression on the other hand, is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people 15-44 years old affecting more than 16.1 million adults in America per year. So needless to say mood disorders are a big factor that impact our health and women are more likely to be afflicted than men. What can you do about it? Luckily, there is a ton that you can do, here is a list of the top 5 things that I consider each time I work with a new patient:
Now, let’s dive in. I am sure you have heard the old adage, “you are what you eat.” Well, I don’t think I will turn into a stalk of broccoli anytime soon, but we definitely are what we absorb from our foods. Changing your diet, just like managing your mood, is not easy and I would never state otherwise, but it is SO worthwhile! I like to start simply, listen to your body. How do you feel when you eat certain foods? If tomatoes, for example, give you heart burn- stop eating tomatoes and instead try something else! I also challenge my patients to add foods in such as a serving of vegetables per meal instead of giving you a list of no-nos. The point is, diet change doesn’t have to be drastic for good results, you can do things stepwise!
How many hours do you carve out for sleep at night? How do you feel in the morning? Can you fall asleep right away? Do you stay asleep or wake frequently? All of this matters! Sleep is when we can rebuild, do cellular maintenance and recharge- without sleep the basic maintenance don’t happen and we don’t heal. So to say that sleep is foundational, is an understatement- sleep is extremely important.
Exercise- I could feel half of you cringe as you read that… Don’t think of it as something you dislike or a line on your to-do list. Reframe it as movement- everyone moves, it’s just a matter of how, how frequently and for what purpose. Move for fun! Do something you love! Dance in the kitchen, walk the dogs, chase the kids at the park, hike that trail or do squats or push-ups at commercial breaks. Get creative- just move and start managing your mood!
What does stress management mean? Doing something to unwind- help your mind settle. This can be as simple as stopping and breathing. This could mean starting a meditation practice with the help of a handy-dandy app on your phone such as Calm App or carving out time to paint or do something you find relaxing. You could accomplish two suggested tricks at once by doing something as simple as going for a walk where you unplug and allow your mind to rest!
Self-care, women in general, neglect self-care because they are so busy caring for everyone around them. Managing your mood actually starts with self-care. Take a bath, get a massage, read a good book, get a manicure, do whatever would build you up! Go to a movie- alone! Get crazy with it, but the biggest thing is- do something FUN! Doctor’s orders! Taking care of you may feel selfish but it simply is not, the only way you can possibly give to anyone else is to make sure you are taken care of first and foremost. Drop the mom-guilt, girl-guilt, whatever you want to call it- YOU ARE IMPORTANT so take care!
If you feel like you need additional support or you thrive with more direction I encourage you to seek out a licensed naturopathic doctor. We are trained to look at the whole person which includes your mental well-being. Together with a physician you can craft a treatment plan with a wider variety of support than the ideas listed above. Having the support of a physician is always helpful to get the best results more quickly. If you are in my area and you are looking for a doctor- seek me out, I am more than happy to cheer you on and help craft a plan specific to your needs!
Disclaimer: Please consult with your health care providers before making changes to your health care regimen!