This post is part of a 31-day series.
Depression and anxiety come in many shapes and sizes.
Sometimes depression and anxiety have a “duh” cause, like not enough sleep. Don't underestimate the stabilizing power of sleep! Or maybe a junk food diet; your body simply doesn't have the good fuel it needs to keep up energy and clear thinking. Physical inactivity makes your body go into a slow slump, which translates straight to your brain. Maybe a brisk walk in the sunshine would do a wonder for you.
Those of us as introverted as I hate to admit it, but social isolation easily causes depression. We are necessarily social beings (some of us more or less than others, but still).
Being unproductive, either purposely (as on a long vacation), or unwillingly (as in unsuccessful work, or debilitating injury) is easily depressing and/or anxiety-producing. Similarly, looking like a slob, either willingly or unwillingly, can trigger a low mood. Any form of being "stuck in a rut" can make us depressed, even if the rut is comfortable. Doing something completely and utterly different than usual may snap you right out of it.
Sometimes anxiety is caused by wanting to do everything. God may be calling you to step back from something(s)--even if you feel silly because everyone and their sister can handle twice as much as what you have on your plate.
Maybe there is a purely physical problem causing your low or anxious mood: a vitamin deficiency, a thyroid problem, a medication side effect, alcohol use, or Lyme disease!
On top of all that, experiencing anxiety for any reason, day after day, unchanging and never-ending, can easily get depressing. And depression that goes on and on without explanation or improvement can easily produce anxiety.
If you want to position yourself to have the best chance at fighting mood disorders, you need to take care of yourself with good food, exercise, good sleep, and social support.
Some people find that performing service for others heals their own depression.
Some find that just accomplishing something small improves their mood.
Some people write it out, say, in a journal; or create something; or work in a garden (I read somewhere that some enzyme or whatnot in garden dirt is good for your brain chemistry).
I also read once that looking at the sky has been scientifically shown to lift your mood. Bending your neck up and back opens up your airway and stretches your back muscles; focusing your eyes on something far away relieves myopic tension; and of course the natural beauty and vastness of the sky is inspiring, and may put your life in better perspective.
My hope is that struggling souls don't dismiss these "simple fixes." There are profound relationships between the natural, the bodily, and the spirit.
Tomorrow we will face the rather obvious question that arises when the above is not enough. Despair not! Far be it from me to spend 31 days talking about the diet of champions and making more friends.
Next: The Medication Question