“The physical body is the only means our higher level of eternal consciousness has to communicate with our personality consciousness. Slowing down the body allows us to look around and analyze the really important wounds we need to mend: wounded relationships, gaping holes in our belief system, walled-up tumors of fear, eroding faith in our Creator, hardened emotions of unforgiveness, and so on.” — Marlo Morgan, Mutant Message Down Under
The latest research describes depression as a disruption of the hypothylamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In plain English, when stress hits the brain, it disrupts the delicate balance of command centers that control the entire endocrine system.
There are three primary stages of adrenal stress
Stage 1 (Alarm),
Stage 2 (Adaptation) and
Stage 3 (Exhaustion).
Which stage you are in determines most things most people care about – i.e., how much energyyou have, how happy you are and how thin you can be in a healthy way – even how hard you can work out effectively and whether or not your body is capable of building muscle in a weightlifting program.
Most of the depressed clients who come to see me are in Stage 3 – utter exhaustion. I tell them that means they must have been ignoring the major stop signs in their lives. Up to now, psychiatrists have dealt with depression primarily as an emotional illness or doled out psychiatric drugs in a somewhat vain attempt to boost brain chemistry.
Neither approach addresses A) the whole person or B) puts together a comprehensive plan to rebuild someone – not just emotionally but also biochemically, hormonally, energetically and physically speaking.
If you are depressed:
1. Find out what stage of adrenal stress you are in. The best way to do this is through a saliva lab test. I recommend Biohealth Laboratories of San Diego, Ca. Their test tracks the level of cortisol, the hormone secreted by the adrenal glands in response to stress, throughout the day. Most clients who see exactly how crashed they are find themselves eager to make the lifestyle changes necessary to feel better.
2. Rest. The fastest, cheapest way to get out of exhaustion is simply to rest. For this very simple approach, I am forever indebted to my mentor in healing, Sue Maes of London, Ontario. Using kinesiology, we determine how many days of complete rest each client needs. Being constantly on the go, overexercising, going without enough sleep – all activities deplete very important brain chemicals.
3. Identify and eliminate as many stressors as possible. It’s relatively easy to identify emotional stress, but many clients are also affected by structural stress – such as chronic aches and pains – as well as biochemical stress – such as hormonal imbalances, parasites and food allergies.
This is where the Health Assessment Questionnaire we use at Total Fitness is so invaluable – we look at the whole person from the very beginning. What results have I had with this approach? Most clients who begin to rest realize how much happier they can feel relatively quickly.
One counselor recommended a certain client commit herself to a mental hospital and take antidepressants. She chose to rest instead and remained drug-free and is now very happy. There is a tremendous amount of research about the benefits of therapeutic movement for depression. It is well recognized by mind-body researchers that you can change your state of mind by simply changing your posture, the way you breathe and/or the way you move.
If you have been feeling depressed, in addition to exercise, why don’t you begin with making a commitment to yourself to include 30 minutes or more of these restorative activities into your daily life:
1. Absolute best – meditate daily. Meditation balances the brain waves and can take the place of missed sleep. If you are too depressed or anxious to sit in silence, buy yourself a guided relaxation tape. Even if you think you are no good at it (I hear that all the time as the excuse most clients give as to why they don’t meditate), by the end of the tape, you will probably feel more relaxed.
2. Hot Epsom salt baths, which clear the electromagnetic field of the body.
3. Listen to healing music. I have a huge library of CDs I recommend to my clients.
4. Prayer. Learn how to make your prayers songs of thanksgiving rather than worry rants.
5. Massage – stimulates feel-good neurotransmitters.
6. Read funny books or magazines.
7. Now that the weather is warmer, lie in a hammock. Rocking balances the second chakra, the energy center responsible for your sense of enjoyment.
8. Write in a journal.
9. Sex – no explanation required.
10. Play with your pets. What better way to practice giving and receiving unconditional love!
New Qi Gong Class
Qi Gong classes will resume Wednesdays in April. Join us to practice Qi Gong outdoors in the fresh air – you get to soak up lots of fresh air! $60 per month or $15 per class.
For more information about natural vision improvement, personal fitness training, yoga and Qi Gong classes and life coaching, please visit www.totalfitness.net.
Yoga Classes: Every Tuesday and Thursday, 7:30-9 p.m., Holy Spirit Catholic Church. $15 per class or $65 per calendar month.