Depression is a gift I never wanted. Taking the time to understand my depression has reframed the way I care for myself and those around me. I tend to carry burdens that are not mine. When the weight of those burdens and some other things in my life became unbearable, I slipped into a particularly vicious cycle of depression. I started getting re-triggered by people, things, and emotions I thought I had overcome. During this time, I intentionally used cannabis, essential oils, physical activity, therapy, journaling, nature, nutrition, and the power of my sisterhood to battle the depression I was experiencing.
I choose to treat my depression holistically because it is what works best for my body. Depression is different for everyone. It may take some trial and error before you figure out the formula that works best for you. My battles with depression taught me the importance of unapologetic truth-telling, self-care, wellness, and love. Over time I have learned that when one of these things are lacking, my depression starts to resurface. While I am not a doctor or an expert on depression I would like to share what has been helpful to me along the way. Below you will find a list of eight tools that may be beneficial to you or someone you know battling with depression.
My depression is like a wet blanket of emotions or nothingness that I can’t shake off, making me exhausted both physically and mentally. It can also make me irritable, disinterested, and very pessimistic. I intentionally stay away from indica dominant strains when I am depressed because from my experiences they only amplify my depressed state. Instead, I prefer to consume sativa dominant cannabis strains. Especially strains with limonene terpenes. Limonene is great for treating depression because it has the ability to elevate one’s mood and reduce stress. My go to strains when I am depressed are XJ-13, Lambs Bread, Sour Diesel, and Jack Herer.
When I am feeling depressed I intentionally surround myself with smells that evoke happy memories and give me energy. I love using essential oils because I can keep them in my purse and have a personal aromatherapy session anytime I need one. My favorite essential oil is called Cheer Up Buttercup and it is a blend of lemon, lime, grapefruit, and bergamot oil. This oil is designed to make you feel energized, refreshed and uplifted.
Numerous studies have shown that regular physical activity can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Outside of the mental benefits of having a regular physical activity practice, there are also physical benefits such as improving sleep patterns, lowering blood pressure, reducing body fat, increasing your energy levels and you might be be able to fit those old jeans in the back of your closet again! Some of my favorite physical activities are yoga and tabata style exercises. Another favorite of mine is sex. Yes, sex. An orgasm a day may just keep the depression away.
I wholeheartedly believe in the power of therapy and mental wellness. If you are blessed to have medical insurance, take advantage of it and find a therapist in your network that resonates with your spirit. If you don’t have access to medical coverage or you are looking for another option check out 7Cups. This platform is an affordable, on-demand, emotional health service that works by connecting real people to real listeners in a one-on-one chat. Anyone can talk about whatever is on their mind with trained, compassionate listeners. The 7 Cups of Tea listener doesn’t judge, try to solve problems, or tell you what to do. They just listen and empathize. Sometimes that is all we need.
Journaling is an amazing tool for those trying to become more insync with their triggers, thoughts, and emotions by recording and reflecting private thoughts. Keeping a journal allows you to process the situation or experience by recording and reflecting on it. Remember, there is no right way to journal. Just make time for yourself on a consistent basis to record and reflect. Also make time to go back and read over your thoughts, you might be surprised at the connections you make yourself.
Take advantage of Mother Nature and go outside. Feel the sun kiss your skin. Sit by the ocean and absorb the salt. Go for a hike and work up a sweat. Sit in the grass and read a book. Look at the stars and the moon. One of my favorite things to do is to sit near a body of water and meditate.
We are what we eat so it is important to maintain a healthy diet because food can affect our moods. Yes, there is a proven connection between our moods and our foods. When I am hungry I tend to get angry and irritable very fast. When I eat a lot of starch I tend to feel sluggish and bloated. I encourage you to really listen to your body and figure out a healthy diet that works for you.
When you are depressed it can be tempting to shut your friends, family, and community out but this is when you really need them the most. Reach out to your friends. Tell them you need their love and understanding more than ever. Allow them to show up for you. Surround yourself with your loved ones.
Do you suffer from depression? If so, what tools do you use to battle your depression? Is cannabis one of those tools? If so, how have your experiences been?
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Ashley Asatu Barnes is a healer, truth teller, seed planter, collaborator, and creator of brave spaces. Ashley specializes in cannabis education, cannabis wellness, and cannabis therapy plans in the San Francisco Bay Area.