How our hair affects depression

O.k., today’s post may seem silly. What does hair have to do with depression? Actually, more than you might know. I got to thinking over these past nine years of depression-free, pill-free years. The one constant was my hair. It’s wild, unruly, and I have a lot of it. I’ve colored it for years but somewhere in these nine years, I gave that up. At least the permanent color. Sometimes I still add a temporary color that fades away in a few short washings. All it really does it tone down my too-bright hair.

I guess I’m bringing this up because I just looked at some recent pictures of myself when I thought my hair looked good and, well, it didn’t. Our hair humbles us like nothing else and we need to make peace with our constant dissatisfaction. It’s just hair, after all.

It’s just hair, after all.

In addition, while most women over fifty have short hair, I’ve gone the other way and have relatively long hair. I just think I look better in longer hair and most importantly my husband loves it. Although this morning I almost took the scissors to it because it was so wild.

I think women’s hair should never look too “set”. You know what I mean. And yet there are days when I wish mine would stay put.

I can actually gauge  what my mood is going to be like by what my hair looks like. Every woman alive knows that “a good hair day” is a good day in general. But when you deal with low moods it’s even more important. I take great care to make myself and my hair presentable every day. It helps set the tone for the rest of the day.

That’s why hair is important. The last thing a depressed person needs is to look in the mirror and see a disheveled wild person staring back at them. I’m not saying that if I’m weeding my garden or painting a room that my hair never looks messy. Remember, I said I like my hair to move. I’m talking more about the effort than the result.

So if you’re having a bad day, do this one thing for me. Go wash your hair and do something with it. It’s kind of amazing how mild to moderate depression responds so well to the constructive little things we do. If you’re really down, I know, I know, it’s an effort to even get off the couch and move. But, please, do it anyway. It doesn’t cost anything(unless you use really expensive shampoo). It requires very little time.

Do you find that if you look better, you feel better? Or are you wanting to look bad so people will feel sorry for you? Good question, huh?

olympic challenges

I was watching the Olympics this past winter and I was really impressed with their efforts and their sacrifices. But then I got to thinking about the heroes of everyday life. I know a few of them myself. People who have overcome great odds, people who will face great challenges in their future.

But what about the people we know who never achieve such fame but whose challenge is every bit as great? I know a number of people who deserve Gold Medals for various reasons. People battling cancer. Parents of children with special needs. Young couples struggling to make ends meet financially. Older people fighting loneliness. Those suffering the loss of a loved one.

I’m not diminishing the efforts of these Olympians, but sometimes we get so caught up in the drama and the glitz that we don’t see what’s right in front of us–people who deserve our applause no matter how small their stage. So the next time you want to cheer someone, look for someone in your own life that deserve your applause.

It could be that person you know who battles depression. They are Olympian athletes in their own right but in their case, their heroic efforts are seldom noticed. I know someone like that. She has lived her whole life under its shadow and yet has managed to find joy wherever she can. No one sees her fight but I do. She is my hero.

So today look around for someone to award a “Gold Medal”.  Give them your encouragement, your support, your applause.  And what about you?  Do you deserve your own medal? I think each of us is brave in some way. I think each of us overcomes challenges every day that no one knows about. So today if it’s been one of those challenging days, give yourself a medal. You deserve one.

get up and move

I’m so excited. Years ago I started a book about depression.  I’ve yet to get up enough nerve to send it to a publisher. I did a lot of research and ninety percent of everything I suggest in the book is based on that research.

Except for one suggestion.

I knew this idea worked because it worked for me and everyone else who tried it.  It was so simple and seemed so “out there” that I almost took it out of the book.  But I knew it worked. It worked for me. It worked for my friends. It worked for a lot of people.

Well, wouldn’t you know on a segment of Good Morning America medical researchers have discovered the same thing. But here’s what I wrote years before in a chapter in my book called “Re-tooling”.

Get up and move every hour or so. Mindless sitting (actually mindless anything), is a breeding ground for depression. Even on your job, keep moving if you can. The depressed mind (influenced greatly by the body) left unfocused for very long will eventually sink to its lowest common denominator.

When we move, a number of good things take place in our bodies.  

First of all, our blood circulation improves. We breathe better when we’re upright. When we’re physically active, those good hormones kick in and give us a mental boost. All research on depression encourages physical activity. We simply become more motivated once we’re moving. One thing leads to another and pretty soon we find our mood has lightened. Activity of any kind prompts further activity and we become distracted away from our depressed thinking and distraction is a wonderful thing. Some days this has been my mantra.

When we move, a number of good things take place in our bodies.  First of all, our blood circulation improves. We breathe better when we’re upright. When we’re physically active, those good hormones kick in and give us a mental boost. All research on depression encourages physical activity. We simply become more motivated once we’re moving. One thing leads to another and pretty soon we find our mood has lightened. Activity of any kind prompts further activity and we become distracted away from our depressed thinking and distraction is a wonderful thing. Some days this has been my mantra.

The medical community is now suggesting the very same thing.  In fact, they have discovered than sitting six hours a day can shave seven years of a quality life.  It raises blood sugar levels, cholesterol and decreases circulation and increases the possibility of heart disease by sixty-four percent. However, a medical study from Australia suggests short breaks from sitting once an hour can alleviate most of the problems. While these studies didn’t target mental health, I don’t think it’s much of a leap to see how this very same activity can affect our low moods as well.

I feel so validated. I knew I should’ve hung out my shingle.:)

For your overall health, why not just try this simple little step for a few days and see if you think it makes a difference.  What could it possibly hurt?

When competition spoils enjoyment

competition versus enjoyment/google images

google images

Whoa!  I’m too competitive.  I’ve been playing “Words with Friends”.  I really like the game, but it wasn’t until today that I realized I don’t always enjoy it because I’m so focused on winning.  That has to change.

What’s the point of playing if it can’t also be fun?

So today I’m choosing to have fun.  It’s o.k. if I lose. I’m learning lots of new words, words I’ll never use. And I at least have the honor of beating my husband for the first time. Never up to this point has he lost a game to anyone. I feel so cerebral now.

I’ve never connected depression with competition but I think there just might be one. When we can’t “play” because we have to win, we set ourselves up for anger and anxiety. We spiral down to, “I’m not smart.  I’m not good at anything. I’m a loser”.

I’m playing against some tough opponents today. (I hope they’re not twelve years old!) I might lose and if I do I’m going to try and convince myself it’s only a game and who would know anyway.

Anyway, how are you at losing? Does it throw you into a tailspin? Does it cause you to think of yourself as a ‘loser”?

We’re all going to lose something, or someone. Maybe if we learn to handle loss we will better appreciate what we still have.

doing the right thing

why is it so hard to do the right thing?

hydrangas from my mom's garden

hydrangas from my mom’s garden

I love it when I do the right thing. But I don’t always know the right thing to do and even when I do, I don’t always do it. (Just being real here.) Especially if I’m tired. Especially if it interrupts my plans. (I hate to have my plans interrupted.)

But most especially I hate it when I know that doing the right thing isn’t going to result in anything beneficial for me. There, I said it.

I’m self-centered at times. Yet, in the end, I’m always glad when my compassion overrides my selfishness.

Is there anyone out there as conflicted as I am about doing the right thing?

But today I did do the right thing. There were no rewards. No one said, “Thank you.”

There was only my inner awareness that I pleased God. For me, that’s enough. After all, everything we do, good or bad, reflects on God.

There is a saying I remind myself of often. I tried to find its source but Mr. Google didn’t know.  It’s just another way of saying ,”do the right thing’.

“Do as much good  as you can,

 to as many people as you can ,

for as long as you can,

in any way that you can.”

Is there anyone you need to do the right thing by today? No matter how inconvenient, no matter how little you might be rewarded?

God  bless and I hope you have a good day.

 

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