Mental illness is one of the fastest rising threats to public health, of which depression and anxiety disorders are increasing the most. Living with depression and anxiety can at times make you feel helpless. You’re not. Although talking with professionals and taking medications can be effective, there are a lot of things you can do on your own to help fight back and give the black dog a kick out the door. Along with changing certain behaviours, physical activity, lifestyle choices and even your way of thinking can all help to eliminate and/or manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Edible Earth founder, Sarah Muscedere, knows all too well the reality of life with mental illness:
''Following the heart breaking cancer battle and death of my partner Lee, i realised i had been struggling mentally and running on adrenalin for years, i was burnt-out, suffering with panic attacks and anxiety that was born from the grief, guilt and pressure of watching a loved one deteriorate at such a young age, and then being left to raise 2 small children alone, living with their pain everyday on top of my own, I wanted to curl up and pretend it was all a bad dream. But it just wasn't an option. Life must go on. I felt negative, detached, lost, exhausted, like a zombie going through the motions to organise a funeral, get the kids to school, run the home, manage a company, finish a renovation, it was alot. There was a long time of just putting one foot in front. of the other and then distracting myself by trying to move on too soon to try and fill a gaping hole that was left in our hearts. It was messy and it literally tore me apart, i was changed to my core on every level, and will never be the same again.
Living with depression and anxiety can at times make you feel helpless, alone and can zap your self-esteem, but it is something i am finally coming out of after many years of turmoil and grief. I know how debilitating it can feel and how toxic the awful self talk can be that comes from a negative mindset, and the devastation it can cause, so preventing mental illness and helping others recover is a cause very close to my heart. However, in retrospect, from a positive mindset, it can be an opportunity to reexamine the past and rebuild the life of your dreams.
We all have very different circumstances, but regardless of what you're going through (with the exception of war and natural disasters), i wanted to share the lifestyle changes that helped me out of the darkest time in my life, and have made me happier, stronger, kinder, wiser and more alive than ever before, and i hope this helps you too:
- Nourishing my body with fresh produce and wholefood supplements, I don't know where i'd be without GLOW, CALM, LIFE, high strength omega 3 oil, high strength curcumin, and green vegetable juices.
- Daily movement - I only discovered recently the power of running and swimming, or simply playing footy with the kids and our puppy Milo, barefoot at our local park. Start slow and gentle, and work your way up.
- Time in nature - Ground daily. Im fortunate enough to live by the ocean, it's my happy place!
- Socialise - this was HUGE for my mental health, as i always used excuses 'i have no time, im too busy', and by default i would push friends away when i was feeling down, as i felt like a burden. Now i prioritise socialising. I play social cardio tennis with friends on Monday nights, and get such a high from it. I look forward to it every week, the kids even come down and collect the balls for us... winning!
- Get organised - book in times to catch up with friends and family in advance or fun events to look forward too, meal prep, make lunches the night before, do a load of washing each day, all simple things to minimise stress. Of course we have days where we can let it all go, but it is usually more painful to face when the mess builds up.
- Sleep often! Ensuring i go to bed at 10:30pm each night has helped my body clock and hormones stabilise. Your body and brain can't function on minimal sleep and leads to excess cortisol in the body, hello mood swings!
- Speaking to a psychologist to help work through whatever it is that's impacting your life negatively. If you struggle financially get a mental health care plan from your doctor.
Most importantly, I want you to know that you are NOT alone, with constant exposure to the negative events unfolding around us, life can feel very heavy and overwhelming! Mental illness is NOT who you are. We are hearing burn-out is common for many women at the moment, which is why we have written a practical blog to help guide you safe guard your mental health and resilience.
Lastly, it is so important to surround yourself with positive, uplifting people and even when you can't see light at the end of the tunnel, know that it will pass. Life and love are the greatest gifts of all, but without our health, we have nothing.''
Keep Your Gut-Brain Axis Healthy
The gut-brain axis is a term for the communication network that connects your gut and brain. Studies report ''The gut/brain axis is one of the new frontiers of neuroscience. Microbiota in our gut, sometimes referred to as the “second genome” or the “second brain,” may influence our mood in ways that scientists are just now beginning to understand. Unlike with inherited genes, it may be possible to reshape, or even to cultivate, this second genome. As research evolves from mice to people, further understanding of microbiota’s relationship to the human brain could have significant mental health implications.''
Recent studies have shown that your brain affects your gut health and your gut may even affect your brain health. Therefore, it’s important to keep the bacteria in your gut healthy to lead to a healthy mind and keep your brain functioning at its best.
Within the first few days of life, humans are colonised by commensal intestinal microbiota. Taking pre and probiotics help improve the good bacteria that live in your gut and in turn help keep your body healthy and working well. Some probiotics have even been shown to improve symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.
Many ground breaking studies in leading neuroscience and nutritional scientific publications have shown a direct link between good bacteria, optimum gut/digestive health dictates whether you'll have a healthy functioning brain or not. These studies discuss the relation between stress and microbiota, and how alterations in microbiota influence stress-related behaviours. Studies also show that bacteria, including commensal, probiotic, and pathogenic bacteria, in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract can activate neural pathways and central nervous system (CNS) signalling systems.
Including superfoods and supplements that boost microbiome and support healthy digestive system are an essential part of the holistic approach to treat anxiety and depression.
Adding marine collagen and L-glutamine in your diet helps to repair and sooth gut and intestinal linings which alleviates digestive disorders, such as IBS, Crohns, leaky gut and ulcers, whilst strengthening intestinal walls, reducing inflammation and optimising digestion and absorption. Learn more about collagen for gut health here to transform your gut health.
Detox Elixir contains naturally occurring pre and probiotics which are designed to support the human body, as well as a host of other raw, certified organic and natural essential nutrients that studies have shown can also prevent and alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Consisting of essential vitamins, minerals and digestive enzymes that we can't obtain from the average western diet, and because our soil is so depleted of minerals, the Detox Life Elixir is your daily all in one wellness that can be added to supercharge cold drinks, or meals like your smoothie bowls, yoghurt or in your favourite brekkie.
Foods to Avoid
Foods play vital role in anxiety and depression so you should understand which food to include and which to avoid. Inflammation is a major cause of depression and anxiety so it's imperative to avoid pro-inflammatory foods. Although sticking to a healthy diet when coping with depression has been repeated many times, it is also important to avoid certain foods and beverages. Processed food and drinks that are high in added sugars such as soft drinks and sugary snack foods may cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate during the day, which may cause moodiness and low energy levels. Avoiding dairy, gluten, red meat, alcohol and caffeine is also a good idea if you suffer from depression as it can make it seem worse and intensify anxiety.
Not sure if sugar, alcohol or caffeine impact your depression and anxiety? Try eliminating them from your diet for two weeks to see if there are any improvements.
Foods to Include
Including antioxidants, complex carbohydrates and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet can have a huge impact on how you’re feeling.
Our bodies normally make molecules called free radicals, but these can lead to cell damage, aging, and other problems. Although there's no way to stop free radicals completely, you can lessen their destructive effect by eating foods rich in antioxidants, including vegetables such as broccoli, carrot and pumpkin, and fruits such as blueberries, peaches and oranges.
Carbohydrates are linked to the mood-boosting brain chemical, serotonin. However, opt for complex carbs (such as whole grains) rather than simple carbs (such as cakes and cookies). Fruits, vegetables, and legumes also have healthy carbs and fibre.
Studies show that people who don't often eat fish, a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, are more likely to have depression. As a double benefit, Omega-3s are good for your heart. However we recommend the plant based versions that are more sustainable for the planet, such as hemp seed and flaxseed oils.
Move Your Body
Regular physical activity might not be the first thing your doctor prescribes when they diagnose you with depression. However, maybe it should be part of your therapy. Exercise can not only have a positive effect on your mood and energy levels, it also gives you a sense of self-mastery and empowerment. A study in 2007 found that exercise is in fact as effective as medication in treating depression in some people.
Exercise causes biochemical changes in the brain that are similar to those produced by medication, including an increase in serotonin and endorphin levels. Exercise is also a good option for those who are unable to or don’t want to take medication. Now you might be thinking, “ew, running?!…” but you don’t need to be running marathons to be reaping the benefits. Just walking a few times a week can dramatically help your depression and/or anxiety symptoms.
Try complementary therapies
There are a number of complementary therapies to help with anxiety and that have been used to help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, there is a growing body of research to back these benefits up. We list a few below: meditation, reiki/massage and acupuncture.
- Meditation - While the body is at rest, the mind is cleared by focusing on one thought, which could be a word, phrase, or particular scenery. Meditation can be practiced regularly for at least 10 minutes each day.
- Massage - Massage supports the mind-body connection, allowing for a better awareness of what is happening in our bodies. Some variations of massage that can support the mind-body connection and general relaxation are Swedish massage techniques, Reiki, aromatherapy and craniosacral therapies.
- Acupuncture - Acupuncture stimulates the body's ability to resist or overcome illness by correcting imbalances. It also prompts the body to produce chemicals that decrease or eliminate painful sensations.
Speak to Your Psychologist About Micro-dosing
Micro-dosing has gained popularity in recent years, with users praising a range of benefits starting from enhanced creativity and increased productivity to improved mood and well-being. Anecdotal reports even suggest micro-dosing can dramatically decrease depression and anxiety in certain people.
Micro-dosing refers to the technique of taking LSD or psychedelics (such as psilocybin mushrooms) in small doses, low enough not to produce whole-body effects, but high enough to allow a cellular response. Increased creativity, energy, productivity, focus, empathy, spiritual awareness, enhanced senses, wisdom, and open mindedness are just some of the positive responses that have been felt after partaking in micro-dosing.
Recent trials and results from ground-breaking research are showing that micro-dosing is better at treating all mental illness than some current conventional medicines alone. Finding and talking to a good psychologist who may be able to recommend a trial may be highly beneficial for you.
it is NEVER too late to get help or to try new alternative ways to rebalance your hormones, nervous system and gut/brain axis, which will ultimately lead to a happier, healthier, more calm YOU.
Tailor your Treatment
In the meantime, take the Edible Earth quiz to personalise your Elixir and journey towards a holistic life, to find which elixir is best for your mental health. Take the quiz here.