Everybody experiences feeling of anxiety and depression from time to time. It’s a normal part of life. But when these feeling become chronic, and begin to interfere with our day to day lives, they can lead to greater health concerns. Conventional treatments for anxiety and depression rely heavily on mood altering drugs that can often have extreme, and unwanted, side effects. The holistic approach to natural health understands that the mind and body are closely connected, and depression and anxiety are only manifestations of the body’s total health. To find release from depression or anxiety, one must treat the whole body, not just the symptoms, and work to restore the natural balance of body and mind.
Nutrition Plays a Vital Role in Mental Health
People tend to think of good nutrition as a way of maintaining optimum physical health, overlooking the fact that diet also plays a vital role in a person’s mental well-being. What we eat, and when we eat, has a direct influence on the release of chemicals within the brain. These chemicals control our emotional sense of well-being. A balanced diet, preferably based on whole organic foods, is the foundation of a life free of anxiety and depression. Transitioning to a vegan, or vegetarian, diet should be the goal. It is also important to reduce, or eliminate, highly processed foods, as these have an overabundance of man-made chemicals and toxins that can adversely affect mood.
What we eat is important, but it is also necessary to plan our meals to schedule. Three balanced meals a day, containing a significant source of protein, should be taken at regular intervals. Protein is vital to the production of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, without which the mind is prone to attacks of depression and anxiety.
Supplements to Combat Anxiety and Depression
Optimally, the majority of our nutrients should come from a healthy diet. But certain nutritional supplements may be taken to help offset any deficiencies in diet, and to help to improve a person’s overall mental health. Vitamin D, St. John’s Wort, and certain amino acids all help to maintain a healthy chemical balance within the brain. Passionflower, taken as an herbal supplement, has also been shown to combat anxiety, while reducing the drowsiness associated with depression and helping to focus the mind.
Fighting Anxiety and Depression with Exercise
Regular activity of any kind helps to maintain a healthy body and mind. Recent studies have shown that moderate exercise, taken three to five times a week, can have positive lasting effects on a person’s mood and general mental health. A regular exercise routine, consisting of high intensity and short duration cardiovascular exercise, releases chemicals in the brain which promote an overall sense of well-being. Once one realizes the stress relieving aspects of exercise, and it becomes clear how vital regular exercise is to maintaining a happy and healthful life.
Prayer and Meditation
Tending to the health of the body is only the beginning of releasing oneself from the burdens of anxiety and depression. We must also tend to our spiritual needs. As we begin to bring our bodies back into balance, it is important to take time to meditate on the word of God. Set aside a portion of the day to pray. Understand that God has a plan for and if you still your mind and learn to listen to your heart you will hear His voice. Trust in His design, place your faith in who you are in the family of God, and let go of the day to day travails that are causing the feelings of depression or anxiety. Through faith or trust in Him and what He said was true, all things are possible. Once you have accepted that, chronic anxiety and depression will become a thing of the past.
No one path will provide freedom from anxiety and depression. We must strive to balance our physical health with our mental well-being through diet, nutrition, exercise and prayer. Taken in combination, these can lead to a general sense of well-being, and a natural fortification of the body, mind and spirit. Above all, it is important to remember that depression and anxiety are a part of life’s journey. When those feeling occur, trust in God and understand that with Him you are more than a conqueror.