Depression is an experience of depletion. You’re worn down, hollowed out, devoid of enthusiasm or vitality. Your senses are dull, perhaps to the point of taking in very little around you. Research has noted that our moods are affected the most by what we take in through our senses. What we smell, hear, see, feel, and taste are processed neurobiologically, but emotionally as well.

Did you know that you can instantly change your neurochemistry but just feeding your 5 senses? Here are some quick tips to help you improve your mood.

  • Sight: The very first thing you need is light. The data on sun and natural light holding powerful holistic benefits for depression is vast. Light is responsible for turning on the brain through the retina and the pineal gland. Quick Fix: Open the shades or get out in the sun. Using color and uplifting images can also shift your chemistry.Once you feel as if you can move from your listless state of depression, start to re-teach yourself to truly see, not just look at things
  • Smell is the most nostalgic of all our senses because fragrance takes a direct route to the limbic brain, where emotional memories are processed. Quick Fix: Open the windows, sit in the fresh air. Other things you can use are Aromatherapy, scents like lavender, lemon and peppermint improve mood. Shallow-chest breathing often comes with depression so learning how to breathe deeply, from your diaphragm, will also help shift your neurochemistry.
  • Taste: Research has shown than food can change mood. Foods like Lean protein, Foods/Supplements with Vitamin D, Omega-3 DHA, Vitamin B 12, Complex Carbohydrates, Ancient Grains, Magnesium, L-Theanine, L-Tryptophan. Quick Fix: A Protein Bar. Once you have lifted the heaviness of depressive symptoms, see if you can use your sense of taste to call forth positive feelings. Studies show that even small moments of flavor sensations can lift mood. So, nurse a delicious cup of coffee or swirl a piece of candy slow and long in your mouth. Whatever foods or beverages you enjoy, take delight and savor the experience.
  • Touch: There are volumes of data showing how being touched and moving your body helps reduce depression, lower the stress hormone cortisol and increase the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Things like Massage, Reflexology, Yoga, Acupuncture, Massage, Reiki, all kinds of Exercise improve mood and cognition too. Quick Fix: Take a Hot Shower. Get a hug, hold someone’s hand.Depression often prompts feelings of isolation, so invite touch in as many ways as possible to help heal your mind body and soul. Learn to feel the softness of a warm blanket, the warmth of a cup of tea as it rolls down your throat, the delicate crush of the rain as it falls on your face.
  • Hear: Studies show that using meaningful sounds will produce theta waves, the deep relaxing brain waves one attains when meditating. Things like Music, Audiobooks, Soundscapes, and Nature.Quick Fix: Call someone you love. As your depression lifts, learn how to become a conscious listener. Focus on the deep tones of voices, the sweet song of the birds in the trees, the sparkling rhythm of a child’s laugh. Invite music or soundscapes into your environment. And if silence is the sound that soothes you, dive on in and enjoy the solitude.

Your five senses are powerful tools for enhancing well-being.

Learn how to feed them well!

References

Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: The effects of nutrients on brain functioning. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9:568–578.

Hibbeln, J.R. (1998). Fish consumption and major depression. Lancet, 351: 1213.

Högberg, G.; Gustafsson, S.A. et. al.(2012). Depressed adolescents in a case-series were low in vitamin D and depression was ameliorated by vitamin D supplementation. Acta Paediatrica, 101 (7):779-783.

Holdford, P. (2003). Depression: the nutrition connection. Primary Care Mental Health, 1: 9-16.

Leyse-Wallace, R. (2008). Linking nutrition to mental health. New York: iUniverse.

Rice-Evans, C. & Packer, L. (2003). Flavonoids in health and disease. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc.

Shaw, K.; Tuner, J. & DekMar, C. (2003). Tryptophan and 5-Hydrotxytryphtophan for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 4:Cd003198.

You are reading

Two Takes on Depression

Depression and Telepsychology

How Telemedicine Can Work with Your Depressive Disorder

Depression and the Importance of a Suicide Prevention Plan

Being prepared with a suicide prevention plan saves lives.

13 Reasons Why: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

How the Netflix series offers much to consider