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In 1948 the World Health Organisation(WHO) was founded. Of its principles, the first is:
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Yet, even today, many people struggle to achieve balanced health. For those lucky enough to have physical and even social health, mental health is often lacking. Despite mental health issues affecting 1 in 4 people (25% of the population of the world), it remains a taboo and stigmatized subject in society. 350 million people in the world suffer from depression. These people are not odd “crazy” strangers, they are often amongst your closest family members, colleagues, and friends. So common are mental health challenges, that there’s absolutely no reason why it is not viewed as a normal, regular, yet managable condition.
Whilst some of these affected will need the help of specialists in order to function and maintain their mental health, we can all take basic steps to look after ourselves. Just as we invest in a healthy diet, gym memberships etc to maintain our physique and physical wellness, we can do similar things for our mental health. Both share exercise, diet and sleep in common.
When our physical health suffers we often feel the effect quite quickly in the form of tiredness, or even pain. With mental health, the signs can often be rather more subtle. For that reason, it is important that we frequently “check in with ourselves“. Daily self-monitoring and reaction to the changes we observe can be beneficial and helps with the identification of changes to our mental health. When changes are detected, or even before, we can learn numerous coping techniques to assist with the most common challenges such as depression and anxiety.
When we notice changes in our mental health that can’t simply be addressed by refocusing our thoughts or implementing healthy coping techniques then there is an abundance of help available in the form of psychotherapists, counsellors, peer support groups or even talking to family, colleagues, and friends.
Aspire Counselling is here to help when you need to talk or learn how to understand how you feel. Psychotherapist and Counsellor Maria Luedeke specializes in empowering individuals, families, couples and teams in the corporate workplaces to achieve their goals and live fulfilled lives.
You can find out more or book an appointment with Maria at Aspire Counselling by visiting https://aspirecounselling.net or by going directly to our online appointment booking page.
Exercise, Sleep, Nutrition – tackling depression
On world health day 7th April, Maria shared with website Patients Engage 3 lifestyle habits that can support those affected by depression.
According to the World Health Organization, there are over 350 million people globally who suffer from depression. Sadly, it is one of the most prevalent of mental health issues in the world. Maria Luedeke, Counsellor & Psychotherapist, CTRTC, stresses the urgent need to engage in a discussion of individually empowered self-management strategies.
Depression has a cyclical effect. Those with chronic illness are more susceptible to it and those with depression have a higher risk of other medical issues. This can become a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape from. Prioritizing physical self-care such as sleep, nutrition, exercise and medical conditions are imperative in breaking and prevention of this cycle.
Exercising can be a powerful anti-depressant. Research has shown that consistency is more important than quantity in improving mood disorders, so it is more beneficial to walk daily for 10-15 minutes than to do a 3-hour workout once a week. Choosing an exercise that is enjoyable and fits well into daily life is also essential to maximize the likelihood of adherence. Ideally, exercise should be done first thing in the morning or at least 3 hours before trying to sleep.
Sleep is an area that is often cited by depressed individuals as problematic. Many feel constantly fatigued, have disrupted sleep cycles or are unable to sleep/wake at typical times which interferes with their ability to function normally in daily life. Sleep hygiene is an important skill to learn in general for good wellness and becomes integral when managing depression. Establish regular sleep and wake times and be consistent with those throughout the week. Avoid electronics 1-2 hours before bed, this includes phones, iPads, computers and TVs as the blue light emitted from these devices stimulates brain activity at precisely the time we are trying to induce relaxation. Reading on a Kindle or iPad can be done by adjusting the backlight to a softer setting but online reading should be avoided as it is too tempting to flip back and forth between websites and “surf” which is another brain stimulating activity that should be avoided at bedtime. Those who have difficulty falling asleep can try progressive relaxation exercises or deep breathing exercise; both of which induce relaxation and calm.
There are numerous studies about the link between nutrition and mood. One such study by Harvard School of Public Health found that women were 41% more likely to suffer from depression when they regularly ate processed grains, sugary sodas, and red meats. Improving the quality of food eaten eliminates blood sugar spikes and dips that are linked to mood spikes and dips, can increase energy and brain clarity. The Indian Journal of Psychiatry states that patients with depression generally have inadequate nutritional intake, particularly foods high in essential vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Ensuring good nutrition, avoiding skipping meals and reducing high sugar foods can support mood stability.
Practicing healthy physical habits is one piece of managing depression. Paired with Intellectual, emotional and spiritual self-care this is a power approach of depression treatment. Psychosocial therapy and medication are integral components and should not be dismissed but empowering individuals with proactive self-care practices dramatically improves the positive outcomes of depression and mood disorders.
Maria Luedeke is Director of Aspire Counselling Pte Ltd, Singapore. Maria is a highly qualified Counsellor and Psychotherapist with educational qualifications from U.S. and Australian institutions and possesses a Certificate of Clearance from the Singapore Government authorizing her to work with children and adolescents in all settings.
If you are affected by depression and would like to know more, or want to book an appointment with Maria you can go to https://aspirecounselling.net or click here to go directly to our appointment bookings page.