This is a book excerpt from The Upside of Down. To read more about how Tamra Mercieca overcame depression the natural way, visit: www.theupsideofdown.com.au
I find it ironic that as human be-ings we are defined by what we do in life. Often we feel the need to be constantly achieving goals, meeting budgets and proving ourselves worthy. While these can be good for our self-worth, our soul needs rest and stillness to create balance in our lives.
That is why it is so important to nurture the soil of self. By that I mean take time to be a little selfish and devote some attention to your relationship with yourself. Often we get so caught up in daily chores, our job and our relationships with others that we neglect the most important person in our life – ourself.
These days many of us lead hectic lives and we often forget to take time out to simply relax. Incorporating time into your life to slow down and unwind can have wonderful health benefits and will help lift the blue veil from your face, leaving you feeling refreshed and more alive.
Find a way that you can disengage from outside pressures of your life, whether by meditating, writing in your journal or making positive affirmations. Budget your time in the same way you budget money. Thirty minutes can be spent on a facial steam, a hair treatment, a manicure, a relaxing walk or meditation. You do not need to spend a wad of cash and time on a weekend retreat to take time out. Run yourself a bubble bath, make yourself a yummy herbal tea and sit in the garden while you read a book, or dedicate one morning a week to sleeping in. Whatever you do, take time out to recharge the batteries.
Get a massage
Close physical contact between people is an important element of mental health. To touch is to reach out and connect. To be touched is to feel acknowledged, valued and perhaps loved. A rich sex life can be of great benefit to mind, body and spirit, by expressing the love and commitment you share with another.
But you do not need to have a partner to benefit from touch. Massage can be a non-sexual way to touch and be touched – you can share it with a friend, or book yourself in for a professional massage.
Massage is one of the oldest healing techniques, found in the ancient Chinese medical texts of 4000 years ago. It is used to help us overcome psychological and physical problems. It cuts through stress like a hot knife through butter, relaxing muscles, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, enhancing blood circulation and even boosting immune function.
Massage also causes the body to release all of those feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine and reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin. It is as if massage mechanically forces the muscles to relax, allowing the brain to relax. Aside from all the medical benefits, it just feels good too.
Soak in the tub
The bathtub can do more than wash away the day’s physical dirt. It can also wash away the days emotional dirt. Unfortunately for some, the humble bath has been replaced by the convenience of the modern shower. So if you are lucky enough to own a bath, then it is time to indulge.
Considering that our body is about 70 per cent water we often take water for granted and forget what a precious gift it really is. Our bodies need it inside and appreciate it outside – it stimulates, relaxes, heals and purifies. Just be sure to use warm water, as really hot water is destructive to the skin, and can leave you with dryness, irritation and broken capillaries.
Music is everywhere – you cannot escape it. But what most of us do not realise is that music can have a powerful influence on our emotions, moods and behaviour. Listening to music can rev you up or calm you down, depending on the rhythm and tempo.
A UK study found that listening to music can reduce depression by up to 25 percent. So use it to your advantage. Learn to recognise what music gets you going and what calms you. Then take time out to put on your favourite music and dance around the living room, or just relax in an armchair and let the music take you to another place.
Read a book
An escapist novel can engross you so much that it lifts you out of your depressed self and returns you later as a renewed person. Whether you look at it as an escape or a distraction from the doom and gloom that has become your life, it is a sure way to shut out the negativity that invades your mind.
The ancients believed we have many different sub-personalities within us. I agree that inside each of us is not only a responsible adult or good parent, but also a fun loving kid, or romantic – some sort of play creature who needs to play dress-ups occasionally.
Play releases both sides of us, gives us a giggle bath, and stops us from taking ourselves and others too seriously. It keeps us young at heart, creative and happy. But often the missing ingredient in a person’s life isplay.
Wellness in the new millennium is not simply about eating your greens or jogging until you can no longer feel your legs. It is about incorporating fun and play into your life. Good loving, great sex, healthy relationships and a productive work life are all vital components of being well. So live, laugh, play, be happy, and whatever you do, keep smiling.