Depression affects more than 19 million adult Americans each year. Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression in their lives, and are especially vulnerable after the birth of a child, before menstruation and during menopause.
Depression can take many different forms: frequent sad, anxious or "empty" mood; loss of interest and pleasure in activities; fatigue; irritability; social withdrawal, acting out behaviour and family conflict; insomnia; loss of appetite or weight gain; feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or pessimism; declining school grades or job performance; and poor concentration. For some, the winter season can bring on a low mood, for others depression is caused by major life changes, such as a divorce, major financial problems, a chronic illness, death of a loved one and other life stresses.
Here are some tips to help you take care of your emotional health the Ayurvedic way:
1. Practice meditation for 20 minutes twice a day to relieve emotional, physical, mental and environmental stress.
2. Go to bed before 10:00 p.m. Getting enough rest is essential for emotional health, and falling asleep during the Kapha time of night generates a deep, restful sleep that truly refreshes mind and body. If you stay up beyond 10:00 p.m., after the Pitta time of night starts, you are likely to feel hungry and give in to cravings to eat "junk" food. Even eating healthy foods at this hour disrupts digestion, which needs the night time to cleanse impurities and rest. Falling asleep after 10:00 p.m. produces a more restless sleep, and you will be more likely to wake up in the night with emotional distress.
3. Wake up with the rising sun. Waking up early is critical to preventing depression, because sleeping during the late morning, after 6:00 a.m., causes the shrotas or channels of communication to be clogged with impurities, leading to dullness of mind, depressed moods and slow communication between heart and mind.
4. Walk outdoors when the sun is rising and breathe deeply. Daily exercise is essential to combat depression, because exercise helps moved blocked emotions and hormones out of the body. It increases the power of agni and helps improve processing power. Exercise also releases positive neuro-hormones, elevating mood and positive thoughts. The early morning sun adds an extra boost, because you become infused with the positive energy of the sun when it is at its most beneficial for all body types. Walking in the early morning sun helps open the channels, stimulates digestion and elimination, clears the impurities from the previous day, and is an overall tonic for ideal health.
5. Make sure you eliminate each morning. Constipation can cause headache, dullness, fatigue and depression. If your elimination is sluggish or blocked, start your day with cooked apples, prunes and figs. Take two Herbal Cleanse tablets at night before bed. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Eat your meals at the same time each day, with the main meal at noon and a lighter meal in the evening. The early morning walk will go a long way toward making your elimination regular as well.
6. Eat intelligent foods. Foods that are natural, unprocessed and contain more of nature's intelligence are digested quickly by the body and create ojas. Ojas is the product of good digestion that creates bliss, stable emotions and good health in the body.
7. Spices such as black pepper help to enhance medha agni, which means they improve coordination between different functions of the mind. Other spices enhance digestion and balance the emotions.
8. Give yourself a daily abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage). Massage has many benefits: it increases circulation, allows toxins to be cleared from the tissues, invigorates the body, calms the mind and soothes emotions. The sense of touch is associated with emotions, and even if you are massaging yourself you are giving your skin the tactile stimulation needed to balance Vata dosha and calm anxiety and stress. Follow your massage with a warm bath to flush out the toxins that have been pushed out from the cells with the massage.
9. Do moderate exercise such as Yoga Asanas. In addition to your half-hour walk in the early morning sun, it's important to include Vedic exercise such as Yoga Asanas in your schedule. Yoga Asanas enhance digestion, stimulate the Sadhaka Agni, cleanse toxins from the channels and cells of the body and improve overall balance and health. They are excellent for clearing away the toxins that lead to depression.
10. Blissful Joy is excellent nutritional support for emotional balance. It also improves metabolism and helps to clear away toxins that deprive the cells of energy and vitality and slow down cell regeneration. When your body has more old cells than new ones, fatigue and depression can result. Blissful Joy improves metabolism and helps revitalise cell growth.
If in addition to fragile emotions you also feel overwhelmed or mentally fatigued, it's recommended that you also take Worry Free.