‘Living Green’ means looking after ourselves as well as our planet, and this means taking care of our bodies and our minds. Most of us experience being ‘down’ at some point in our lives; in fact one in 5 women experiences a diagnosed episode of depression in their lives (when it comes to the boys, the figures are one in 10).
Having a new baby and raising kids is one of the most awesome things we Mums ever get to experience but it also one of the times that women are more prone to depression, be it the post baby blues, post-natal depression or a period later on in our kid’s lives.
Although your doctor will have told you that it’s common, experiencing depression can be a lonely business. This can be especially true when you feel the pressure to put on a brave face, so that often those around you don’t even know what’s going on.
While a quick fix for depression would be lovely, the reality is that for many it is something that has to be managed, often for extended periods.
For Mums experiencing mild depression, taking to bed like you do when you have a bad cold is not an option (though very tempting some days), so the practical approach is to look at ways of managing and getting on with your day to day life while looking after yourself.
Us fitness folk like to think that exercise is the cure for everything, and though, when it comes to depression, a walk in the park won’t change you life, it does have some benefits:
- The chemicals that are released when you exercise improve mood
- You sleep better when your bodies is tired from exercise
- The sense of achievement from sticking to an exercise programme can increase your self esteem
Unfortunately, when you are feeling overwhelmed the last thing you feel like doing is going for a jog round the block or facing up to a gym full of happy people. Often you are feeling down on yourself so scheduling in ‘me time’ is not a priority
Some of the symptoms of depression are lethargy, fatigue and overwhelming tiredness- not the best state of mind to motivate you to get out and about.
If you are the one in 5 who has or is experiencing the symptoms of depression, your doctor will have told you that regular exercise is one of the things you can do to manage your health. So what should you do and how much is enough?
The good news is that while the more often you get out the better you feel starting up with just a walk around the block or a few stretches in front of the TV is a good enough start. The trick is to get started, and keep doing it. Aim to get your heart rate up so you are puffing a bit and keep it puffing for 20-40 minutes (depending on fitness and motivation). The effectiveness of exercise comes when you do it regularly, a short walk every second day is better than an hour of hard slog every now and then.
If you are are feeling down and think that you need help, you can contact your family doctor, check out www.depression.org.nz or check out our articles on post-natal depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or anxiety.