Did you know that the Harvard School of Public Health announced that women who eat refined grains are 29 to 42 percent more likely to suffer from depression? An article in Live Science identifies the three foods that have the most negative affect on our mood; so called “fast food”, soft drinks and refined grains. Refined grains include so-called foods such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, and pastries. This includes high fructose and corn syrup sweeteners, as well as the cleverly named “evaporated cane juice”. The article is written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC, whose comment should really grab your attention. Who would think that you have to be wary of the labeling in a “health food” store? Well, listen to what she says,

“Funny, the white sugar requires more resources and energy to produce, so one would think that it should cost more [ than the evaporated cane juice] . that sound like they're “natural”, regardless of the truth. ”

When holiday delicacies are loaded with these refined and altered foods, is it any wonder that people get “holiday blues”? The author William Dufty named it best when he wrote the book “Sugar Blues”, inspired by legendary Hollywood actress Gloria Swanson.

Whether depression is medium to mild, or a result of a life-altering event, there are three self-healing practices most recommended by the medical professionals.

The first line of defense against depression is to make a conscious decision to create meals and snacks from whole foods. Many holistic medical professionals also recommend supplements, especially since stress lowers the ability of the immune system to respond to threats. Physicians who are well known for their presentations on programs such as PBS, Frontline and Oprah Winfrey include Deepak Chopra, Dr. Amen, Dr. Anthony Weil and Dr. Oz, all of what have very educational websites that contain information, including suggestions for healthy supplements. Always consult with your health practitioner before spending money on supplements, and select only those of the best quality. Synthetic preparations, with a few exceptions, generally are not recognized at the cellular level and you end up with poor results in addition to simply throwing money down the drain.

Regular exercise is also recommended as an essential part of self-healing, with special mention given to Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong as healing practices to accompany regular walks in nature, strength training and cardio exercise.

The third highly recommended strategy for depression is a daily practice of a spiritual practice such as prayer or mindful meditation.

Some depression is a result of fatigue, stress and overwork, combined with lack of sleep and poor diet. It may be necessary to examine our choices, especially when we find that we do not even have time to take care of ourselves. When depression is the natural result of a life-altering event or tragicy, it may seem even harder to find the motivation to take those steps for self-healing. One of my teachers told me; do not wait for illness or bad things to happen to begin self-care and self-healing practices. Build those skills when times are good, and when trouble comes these skills will serve you well.

When trouble comes or tragedy strikes, and we feel overwhelmed and discouraged by situations outside of our control, Deepak Chopra has written about how to deal with depression in his book, “Natural Healing for Anxiety and Depression” . He provides us with the experience and perspective of a physician's wisdom in an article on Oprah Winfrey's website titled “How to Heal from Depression”

Deepak Chopra advises, “As a doctor, I know that someone is not depressed if they can answer a simple question about a bad situation: Is this something I can fix, something I should put up with or something I need to walk away from ? Depressed people deny them those key decisions. They almost always put up with bad situations. ”

Sometimes we need to look problems in the face and make some decent choices. Deepak Chopra suggests that while bad things can not be preverted, some aspects will make them worse: if the stress is repeated, if the stress is unpredictable, and if you have no control over the stress. He says that people often will make a habit of putting up with bad situations. In order to avoid or alleviate depression, Mr. Chopra says we need to take two critical steps; here is his advice for assessing your situation in order to decide what actions are in our control, and making those changes that are necessary for a healthier life:

Stop exposing yourself to stresss that happens again and again, such as a bad boss, abusive spouse, boring job or any stress that repeats every day.

Avoid uncertainty and unpredictability that goes beyond acceptable limits. Close encounters with someone who flies into unpredictable rages, or a spouse who may or may not cheat, are relationships that are not acceptable – or healthy. Regular exercise, a good night's sleep, a steady and supportive relationship, and a job you can count on are basic needs. Deepak Chopra declares that these are not just good for us; they help us to avoid depression.

Depression has many causes, some of which can be controlled, and some that are not in our control. However, we can control our response to stressors that lead to depression. Sometimes we need to take better care of ourselves, with quality real food instead of process industrial substitutes, regular exercise, including proven stress-busters like Yoga or Tai Chi, and spiritual practice such as prayer or mindful meditation. We may also need to face our situation and make healthy choices rather than simply enduring stresses that go on in perpetuity.

So, be proactive and give some of these ideas a try. This article is about what has worked for me, but let's hear from you! There are many of you who have found great ways to deal with depression. It would be great to hear from you about your favorite anti-depression strategies. What works best for you to support self-healing? Please do share your experience with others; others can benefit from your success! I would love to hear about your favorite depression-beater strategies, and hear about what you do to sustain self-healing in the Comments section below.

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