What I learned from a rainy day hike...
By Deanna Lambson, founder
My friend Kathy invited me on a short hike the other day, in the rain! It had been a rough day and I considered cancelling. But with every step on the muddy trail, and every gaze up into the misty gray clouds overhead, I felt better and better. “This is not just exercise,” I exclaimed, “This is suicide prevention!”
Turns out I was right. Alex Korb, PhD and author of “The Upward Spiral”,reports that by making small changes in your thoughts, actions, interactions and your environment, it’s possible to actually reverse the downward spiral of depression.
During my hike I was getting a mega dose of feel-good chemicals by being out in nature, breathing deeply, getting exercise, being with a friend and feeling grateful—all powerful anti-depressants!
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Although severe depression is best treated by a professional, each of us can benefit emotionally from small activities that cause positive neural changes. Try one of the following suggestions from Alex Korb with your child. Even just one or two can really kick-start the process of an upward spiral.
10 simple "pick-me-ups" to try with your child
Do something active. (Don’t call it exercise… just have fun!)
Spend time in a pleasant environment. Being in nature or even just looking at a view of trees or the ocean can reduce depressive symptoms.
Share a happy memory together at bedtime. Studies show that happy memories boost serotonin.
Try Yoga. All the stretching, breathing and relaxation can, in fact, treat depression.
Help your child develop their own “feel-good’ playlist. Enjoyable music has been proven to lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Even better, try dancing to it!
Smile. Some people think that we smile when we are happy, but it goes the other way too. We feel happy when we smile. It’s called biofeedback. Just relax your face and let the corners of your mouth turn up.
Write a thank-you. One study showed that after writing and delivering a thank you letter, people had increased happiness even two months later.
Be around people. Depression is more likely when your child is alone. Even if they don’t feel like interacting with others, being in the same physical space can help.
Wrap in a warm blanket and enjoy a hot chocolate. Yes, it’s actually good medicine! Feeling warm can boost oxytocin. Don’t forget to give a feel-good hug every day.
Sleep. It lifts mood, lowers stress and reduces pain. Good quality sleep is as important as quantity. Make your child’s bedroom dark and comfortable to encourage continuous sleep.
I hope one of these ideas will bring an extra smile today. For more parenting helps, check out our new series of family conversation workbooks called "POWER UP for families" from Whiteribbonweek.org. The big things are really the little things.