yoga for depression

Because I love yoga, I’m always fascinated when I find new ways the practice might be helpful. I’ve already posted how yoga is beneficial for my migraines. Today I found this video, which discusses how yoga can be useful for those suffering from depression.

I absolutely love finding and sharing any natural remedies I come across. However, some people think this belittles whatever condition the remedy is supposed to address. That would never be my intention. Depression is a very real medical condition, and I take it seriously.

But I think one should use ALL the tools at one’s disposal. Use medication. Use counseling. Use cognitive therapy. Use vitamins and herbs and light boxes. Use cardiovascular exercise and fresh air and the support of friends and family. Use everything you’ve got. 

Use yoga, if you like.




step by tiny step

I want to write. I want to keep this blog updated. I am passionate about the topic. I feel strongly, down to the depths of my soul, that people are whole, integrated human beings. And until you address all aspects of health and well-being–physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, societal, etc.–you are aren’t really healthy at all. It all matters.

But I feel like I’m failing utterly in pretty much all of those areas, so what would I write about anyway? I’m tired. I’m physically, spiritually, and emotionally exhausted.

And I know the original  premise of this blog was that I wasn’t coming from a place of knowledge or authority. I’ve never claimed to be some teacher or guru with it all figured out. This whole thing was supposed to be about the journey, about taking those small steps and seeing where they led. I was supposed to be a fellow sojourner, stumbling along with everyone else.

Only I think I stumbled straight off the cliff. So definitely don’t follow me.

But I guess I need to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and admit that I don’t have it all together. Admit that sometimes I don’t have any of it together. And sometimes I can’t even bring myself to care a whole heck of a lot.

It really is a journey. And it has a whole lot of detours and switchbacks.

But maybe if I go back to just taking baby steps–teeny, tiny, wobbly baby steps–I can find my way back to the right path.

Fall down seven times; get up eight.

–Japanese proverb

Today I went back to basics–I did yoga and drank water. I journaled, did my Bible study, and prayed.

And I stood back up.

thinking about the seasonal depression

I ran across an article awhile back regarding SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I didn’t think too much about it at the time. I just kind of mentally noted, “Oh, that’s interesting,” and went on with life.

Then January hit. And the bottom dropped out of my mental health.

My worst bout of depression was post-partum. But I do struggle with “winter blues” as well. A full-spectrum light bulb and a high octane vitamin D supplement usually enable me to survive until spring.

Not this year.

Several things happened at once. I was trying a new type of progesterone supplement (bad idea; I’ll be going back to my old one). I had to replace my light bulb. And we had a snowstorm that left me housebound for days.

I reached a point where I just wanted to sleep all the time. Or cry. Or sleep and cry. And eat.

I wasn’t functioning very well. If at all.

Eventually sunshine returned, and I remembered the article I’d found weeks and weeks before.

I decided to read it again.

I’m even more fascinated now. I first learned of cognitive therapy in college, and I’ve always felt drawn to it. It’s a highly effective form of therapy, especially in combination with anti-depressants or other medication.

And I had the crazy idea that I could fit it in with my Christian faith. The Bible tells us to meditate on Scripture and to “take every thought captive.”

Someone else had that same crazy idea and did a study on it.

So I’m recovering now. Still taking my vitamin D. Still using the light bulb. The snow melted,so I’m getting out more. Even weak winter sunshine helps.

And I’m doing a devotional chock-full of Bible verses specifically for depression. I’m also making my own list of verses and passages to think on, recite, etc.

I still want to learn more about the specific cognitive therapy used in the SAD study, but for now I’m going to stick with what I’m doing. And I think I’ll be okay.

on listening

The world is incredibly noisy. Social media can be the noisiest of all. No matter the subject, people are shouting their opinions and suggestions and solutions. They feel strongly about whatever their point of view is.

And there are things we should feel strongly about. It may not matter what my favorite movie is or which book you like best, but some things aren’t subjective or inconsequential. Standing up and speaking about these weighty matters is both brave and necessary.

But maybe, just maybe, people might be more willing to hear our thoughts on those important subjects if we did a bit of listening to them first.

Maybe we’d understand the opposing viewpoint a little better, even if we still don’t agree with it.

Maybe we’d have more empathy. Maybe we’d treat those who disagree with us with a little more kindness and compassion.

But all too often, precious little listening occurs amid all the noise.

Why is that? Are we afraid to listen to opposing viewpoints? Afraid they might actually succeed in changing our minds?

Or just too angry that they don’t see it like we do?

Maybe it’s a mixture of both.

A joke I’ve seen making the rounds on Facebook talks about a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, and sometimes an atheist and/or pagan walking into a bar. They sit, chat, and have a lovely time. Because that can happen when you’re not a jerk.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey says to first seek to understand then to be understood.

So listening first is more effective, and it makes you a nicer person. Sounds like a win, right?

I think we could all stand to display the courage to sit and listen a bit more often.

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the fear of not being good enough

The assignment is to start the post with a quote. I knew immediately that I wanted to quote Brene Brown.

The problem was choosing which quote to use. There are so many good ones. I want to use them all. I want to sit you in front of her TED Talk videos and make you watch them. Then you can choose your own favorite quote.

I guess that’s cheating though.

I do love the videos though and have watched them more than once. I love her books (at least what I’ve read of them). I think what she shares is important and worthwhile.

It’s just hard to narrow it down to the most important or the most worthwhile.

But finally I decided to just suck it up and pick one. I’m already crazy late posting this.

To create is to make something that has never existed before. There’s nothing more vulnerable than that. –Brene Brown

The above quote is actually quite apt. I feel incredibly vulnerable as a writer. Every single time I click post–whether it’s here or whether it’s the stories I write and post elsewhere or sometimes even just a Facebook post–the nerves almost kill me. Oh, my gosh, is this even any good? What will people think? 

Once I started admitting to “being a writer” it got worse. It’s one thing to play around with a blog. But to admit that someday you’d actually like to do something with this writing stuff–well, that just raises expectations, doesn’t it? Suddenly you’re supposed to be good at this.

And I’m always terrified that maybe I’m really not. I’ve read good writers–really good writers who are deep and profound and awe me with their ability to use words. I frequently find myself thinking, I want to write like them when I grow up.

Of course, I keep learning and improving, but I only ever write like me.

Talk about feeling vulnerable.

Writing is my most dearly held dream, and in all fairness I’ve never had anyone not be supportive of that. I have truly great friends and family who get excited on my behalf when I talk about writing.

And then they want to read something I wrote.

Ugh. The fear comes again. I’ll never be able to live up to their expectations.

Or maybe it’s that I’ll never live up to my own.

And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough” … then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.–Brene Brown

And the truth is, I don’t know if I’ll ever be wholly satisfied with where I am as a writer. I kind of hope not, actually. I want to always be learning, growing, improving.  We don’t ever really arrive.

But I’d like to reach a point where I at least feel comfortable–being proud of where I am now and how far I’ve come even as I strive to get better. A place of being “kind and gentle” with myself (that’s harder for me than being kind and gentle with others).

A place of not being terrified to click “post.”

P.S. I seriously do love Brene Brown’s TED Talks. If you have a few spare minutes I highly recommend them.

the one with the lists

Yeah, I’ve been watching too many episodes of Friends on Netflix. Sorry.

But when your assignment is to make a list, what else is there to title this post?

Besides, I like Friends. So you can put that on my list.

Actually, since the goal of this blog is to explore the various aspects of health, I’ll list things that help me stay sane, healthy, and whole. Three separate lists for your reading enjoyment (although some things obviously overlap and could fit on more than one list).

Things that make me feel healthy spiritually:

  1. a good, in-depth, inductive Bible study–lots of “meat”
  2. singing hymns
  3. reading and/or praying Psalms
  4. a good church service, with powerful worship and teaching and Communion
  5. a deep discussion of theology
  6. being able to help someone in some way
  7. reading a piece of rich Christian writing
  8. seeing beautiful stained glass windows
  9. seeing answered prayer
  10. seeing God’s handiwork in nature (especially fall leaves and spring blossoms)

Things that make me feel healthy physically:

  1. remembering to drink adequate water
  2. walking
  3. yoga (I’m not really good at it. It doesn’t really matter.)
  4. being well-rested (No, it doesn’t happen often.)
  5. green smoothies
  6. big green salads
  7. grilled fish
  8. being outside (fresh air and sunshine)
  9. not having a headache (I cherish those days!)
  10. herbal teas, supplements, essential oils

Things that make me feel mentally and/or emotionally healthy:

  1. coffee (Seriously, you don’t want to deal with me if I haven’t had coffee.)
  2. a long chat with a friend
  3. a good novel, where the characters seem real and I can get lost in the story
  4. a good nonfiction book, where I learn something or I’m challenged in some way
  5. writing (You knew it had to show up somewhere.)
  6. music
  7. remembering to be thankful for all that I have
  8. laughing–really, really hard
  9. the various fandoms I’m involved with–really. I need my fellow geeks and nerds and flailing fangirls.
  10. coloring! What did I ever do before adult coloring books were a thing? I’m sure I don’t know.

What keeps you sane, healthy, and whole?

I write because…

I love words. I love words that are interesting, impressive, or unusual. Learning new words excites me, and subtle differences between synonyms fascinate me. “Word porn” really is a thing for me.

I love grammar. I can make the stupidest typos known to man, but I love grammar and all its minutiae. A good friend of mine gave me a plaque that reads, “I am silently correcting your grammar.” I frequently am. But my mother’s training in manners and etiquette ensures that I don’t do it out loud.

I love stories. I’ve created stories for as long as I can remember. My playtime as a kid involved creating characters and settings and elaborate plots. My favorite toy for years was a tape recorder. I dictated more stories into that thing than I could ever count. Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to all those tapes. I should probably try to track them down and burn them. But oh, the hours I spent crafting crazy tales.

The first time I recall really putting a story down on paper was in fourth grade. We would get these worksheets each week with either vocabulary or spelling words (I don’t remember which). We were supposed to use each word in a sentence. I wrote a story instead. It was a short story, only a paragraph, but I created a story with the words. And I kept doing it, week after week.

It only took a few weeks to grow frustrated with the limitations of those school assignments. So I wrote my own story–pages and pages, divided into chapters. I can still see those pages in my memory–misspellings, bad handwriting, and all. The story itself was melodramatic and rather imitative (like most first stories, I guess), but I was hooked. I declared that someday I would be a writer.

It’s now many, many years later. I’ve been a bit slow in following that particular dream.

But I am pursuing it. I’m slowly getting more comfortable with calling myself a writer. Maybe not a great one, but a writer nonetheless.

What do I write these days? Stories, still. They will always be my first love. I’ve posted some on various corners of the interwebs, and the feedback I get makes me smile. I blog (obviously). I journal. I’ve written a few paid items and am working toward expanding my portfolio there.

The question as to why I write is a bit trickier. I’m not sure I know entirely how to answer it. Why do I breathe? I can’t not. Writing is much the same–I don’t know how not to. It’s always been there, a part of me, and I don’t know how not to do it. Even if I don’t get it all down on paper or on a computer screen, there are dozens of story snippets rattling around in my brain at all times. No offense, but even when I’m in conversation with you I’m probably talking to myself in my head. Sorry. I try to control it. Sometimes.

But I also write because it helps me wrangle some of those thoughts and ideas flying around in my head–helps me sift through them and figure out what they are. I write because my ideas come together so much more cohesively in this format than they ever could in conversation. I’m actually a rather wretched conversationalist–I never outgrew the socially awkward phase. But in writing, I have time to sort through what I want to say, and it comes out much clearer. This is why I prefer email to the phone.

I write because I believe in the power of words. I long to make a difference, to influence the world for good, and I think words are an incredible way to do that. Words can challenge the intellect and sway opinion. They can cut to the heart. They can soothe and comfort. The pen truly is mightier than the sword.

I hope to wield it well.

Version 3

color me de-stressed

Like most things, I first saw it online. Someone was talking about some new coloring books they’d gotten.

These were not your children’s coloring books.

Next I saw a sizable collection of coloring books for adults at Books-a-Million. They looked pretty cool. Patterns designed to help with focus or to be calming–couldn’t we all use some of that?

And suddenly adult coloring was everywhere.

Amazon. Facebook ads. Even an author-entrepreneur I read was talking about “cashing in” on this hot trend.

Several of the health problems I struggle with mention the importance of stress reduction. I’ve never been all that good at dealing with stress, to be honest.

So I’ve printed a few of the freebie pages I’ve found (I don’t have a real book yet). They are quite relaxing. I enjoy them.

I see some people who post their coloring work, and they are far better colorers than I will ever be. They know which colors look good in combination. They make pretty patterns. They get these fantastic pieces of artwork when they are done.

That isn’t me.

I have no concept of color or design–I just use the colors I like. Lots of pinks and purples, truthfully, because I like pink and purple.

No one’s ever going to hand me any awards, but the process is enjoyable and the results make me smile.

Which I think is probably the point.

(You can see where the two-year-old scribbled a little on this and also a smudge–I don’t even know what that is! This is real life, baby!)

A Facebook friend posted this article. I found it interesting.

Another friend of mine loves crayons and bought herself her own set to use for her coloring, much like the article recommends. I have colored pencils that I use.

But every time I print a page for me, my two girls request that I print copies for them too. My older actually has more artistic talent than I do, so she may be posting those pretty pages one day. She uses colored pencils as well and puts a great deal of time and effort into it.

The younger uses markers and ends up with about what you’d expect for a six-year-old. But she enjoys it. And again, isn’t that really the point?

the kingdom belongs to such as these

I had a headache yesterday. A I’m-trying-not-to-cry-because-it-will-only-hurt-more, I-hope-I-don’t-throw-up-or-maybe-I-do-because-I-feel-better-afterward, don’t-ask-me-to-do-anything type headache.

It stinks. You probably know that.

And it reminded me of this post, which I started weeks ago (after my last headache).

I started it on a Sunday, then never got around to finishing it, then completely forgot about it.

So, many days late and several dollars short, here it is.

I have two children. Some days, due to migraines or menstrual issues, I’m not capable of being a very hands-on mom.

As a result, I’m quite familiar with mommy guilt.

Someone told me that my children would learn empathy and compassion.

I caught a glimpse of that today.

I had a headache yesterday and spent most of the day on the couch. I felt well enough today to go to church. The official medical term for the period following a migraine is “postdrone.” I just call it a migraine hangover–far more descriptive, don’t you think?

I definitely had that today.

I arrived at church and took my usual seat in the back of the sanctuary. The band started to play the first song.

It was loud. Painfully, unbearably loud.

My husband runs the sound board, so I know it wasn’t really as loud as it felt to me. He keeps a tight rein on such things and is good at his job. But oh, for my post-migraine self, it was torture.

My ten-year-old noticed me wincing. She knew what that expression meant.

So she brought me a pair of the earplugs that the sound booth stocks.

I never asked her to do that or told her I was hurting. She just saw me and brought me something to help.

I’m grateful.

practicing gratitude

I saw a challenge for bloggers titled “Mundane Monday.” The task was to find beauty in something completely commonplace, snap a picture of it, and post it.

I admit to not being much of a photographer. Most of the pictures here are quick shots taken with my iPod.

But I like the concept.

I especially like slowing down enough to be in the moment, to notice what you might ordinarily overlook, to appreciate what you would usually ignore. Mindfulness in a culture of frenetic multitasking is a rare but important discipline.

I thought I might tweak the challenge just a bit. I’m still going to look for beauty in the mundane, but I’m also looking for something that inspires gratitude. So often I am prone to take my blessings for granted–especially those commonplace, everyday blessings. Things that are so much a part of my daily routine that I don’t pay much attention anymore.

So this challenge should help me get my week off to a good start, by forcing me to slow down enough to notice the ordinary beauty and to pause in gratitude. A double win, I think.

The above is my view from the side kitchen window each day. Not the best picture, since I was taking it through the window, but I think it still shows how much loveliness is right outside my house. I can pause while cooking or doing dishes and go to the window for a quick refresher. Often there are deer. This morning we even had a whole flock (do you call it a flock? The internet can’t seem to agree on one answer) of wild turkeys hanging out. I wasn’t quite quick enough, but that would have made an excellent picture!

So I’m grateful for my beautiful surroundings, even though I see them every day (and sometimes during pretty mundane tasks!).

I’d love to hear what ordinary or commonplace things captured your attention with their beauty or reminded you to be grateful today. Let me know in the comments.