On the Sunny Side of the StreetMarch 4, 2010
Do you remember the lyrics to this 1930’s song, On the Sunny Side of the Street?
“Grab your coat and get your hat
Leave your worry on the doorstep
Just direct your feet
To the sunny side of the street.
Can’t you hear a pitter pat?
And that happy tune is your step.
Life can be so sweet
On the sunny side of the street.”
(McHugh, Jimmy/Fields, Dorothy)
The song was written a year after the Wall Street crash and was recorded by many artists, among them, Judy Garland. Ironic, isn’t it, that someone who led such a tragic life sang this song about leaving your sadness behind.
Everybody gets the blues. Depression is a fact of life that strikes even the cheeriest among us at times. Heck, I once titled a painting “Don’t You Ever Smile?” based on a comment an adult made to me during my sullen teenage years. (I like to think of them as introspective years!) The fact that I even remembered that comment some 40 years later speaks volumes. All kidding aside, depression can be deeply uncomfortable and has a tendency to take over our every thought. However, like any other affliction, the more we understand and prepare for it, the better we will be able to cope, recuperate and come out stronger when it strikes.
There are many factors that can trigger a depressive mood or state. Some are obvious, like emotional or physical trauma, while some seem to come out of “the blue”. When it’s the latter, it is often your body telling you that it’s time to take a look at your life and figure out what is off balance. One easy place to start is food. Never underestimate how directly what we put in our mouth affects our mood (remember, you are what you eat!) Certain things that we eat are known to trigger depression, anxiety and even anger. The big ones to be wary of are sugar, dairy and any processed foods. Your best bet when feeling down is to switch to a diet filled with a variety of whole, organic foods, increase your water intake and be sure you’re getting an adequate amount of sleep. Notice how you feel after a few days of a healthier routine.
Environment also plays a huge role in how we feel. Many people feel particularly vulnerable in the winter months because of the lack of sunshine and tendency to stay indoors. This can be countered by trying to get outside on a sunny day and/or supplementing with Vitamin D3. Be sure to have your Vitamin D3 levels tested before trying supplements. Using a light box is also helpful for some people who suffer with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
We all know that exercise can help by relaxing us and stimulating the release of feel good chemicals called endorphins in our brains and bodies. But something equally beneficial that you can do to combat depression (or really any ailment) is establishing a daily meditation practice. If this seems daunting, just closing your eyes and focusing on your breath for 5-10 minute intervals during the day will yield amazing results.
Perhaps the most important factor in dealing with depression is the attitude we take towards it. Carol Tuttle writes, “your depression is not your identity, it is your experience.” When we are in it, it can feel like this is who we are, not what we are going through at the time. When you are feeling down, try to allow yourself to feel what you are feeling and accept yourself. Give yourself time and take care of yourself by doing things that can help you come back into balance. This means taking time each day to do something that brings you joy and laughter, surrounding yourself with positive people or environments and attempting to think positive thoughts about yourself and your life. Sometimes we have to change our thought patterns first and our moods will follow suit.
And last, but certainly not least, we in the modern Western world need to understand what ancient civilizations have known for thousands of years. We are not just a physical body but an energy body as well. This vibrational energy body interpenetrates and surrounds our physical body. Called qi (chi), prana, ki, or other names depending on the culture, this life force of energy is vital to our physical, mental and emotional health. In fact, disease exists in our energy field long before it manifests in our physical body.The good news is that by learning to keep this energy field vibrant and flowing (as opposed to dull and stagnant) we can lead a happier and healthier life. This certainly includes treating depression.
Ways to keep your energy flowing and eliminate stagnation include yoga, meditation, qigong, t’ai chi, acupuncture or working directly with an energy healer. Deborah King is a contemporary master energy healer who reaches millions of people worldwide with her Hay House Radio show every Wednesday at 5:00 pm ET. Visit her website if you would like to learn more about this phenomenon known as energy medicine.
If you are taking time to re-balance yourself, you will often (hopefully) discover the roots of your sadness along the way. Talk therapy, dance, yoga and meditation can all help us get back in touch with ourselves and realize what we need to do to feel good again. As bizarre as it sounds, sometimes depression can be a gift, in that it is a warning signal that forces us to get ourselves back on a healthy emotional and physical track.