The past few weeks I've been feeling a bit off. Moody, low energy, nauseous, unproductive, unmotivated, and a gnawing feeling of unease in the pit of my stomach. Depression runs in my family, so I'm hyper aware of it, but I also know that my genes are not my destiny and I know I have all the tools at my disposal to change my state naturally.
I've accumulated quite a bit of trauma in my life and trauma is notorious for narrowing our window of emotional tolerance. So my constant work is to use all the tools at my disposal to widen my window, so the little things don't feel so big. And when the big things do strike, I work on responding rather than reacting.
In the past, when life got too overwhelming or something triggered me, I would unconsciously go to one of two places - explode emotionally or completely collapse in on myself. That's what trauma does. It takes work and courage and a consistent effort to stay present and not spiral into the past or spin out into the future.
It takes awareness to know when something is off. And strength to decide to do something about it.
Teaching yoga helps because it requires my full presence. Moving my body also helps tremendously. Exercise increases dopamine and serotonin - our "feel good" neurotransmitters. Depression lies to you and tells you to hide under the covers with ice cream. Trust me, that's not the cure. So I get up and go to yoga or Jiu-Jitsu even when I don't want to.
Steering clear of sugar, caffeine and alcohol also helps - these foods contribute to anxiety and depression.
And I meditate. Meditation can literally re-wire your brain. Research has shown that consistent practice actually increases your brain's gray matter.
Being open about the things that we universally struggle with also helps. Hiding things creates shame and is counterproductive to healing. When I feel low, my world no longer collapses. It doesn't feel like I'm being swept up into the eye of the storm, it just feels like a passing shower.
I look at it as opportunity to put my tools into practice. And I always emerge stronger and more resilient than before.