3 Ways to Take Care of Yourself When You're Struggling with Depression

3 Simple Shifts: Make These to Get Your Mind & Body Back on Track

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Atkins.

Real talk: It’s nearly impossible to keep up with any type of regular routine these days — especially when it comes to healthy habits and nutrition.

And especially in a society that glorifies the notion of being “busy” — an idea we often measure against success, consciously or not.

chicago lifestyle blogger and fitness instructor shares how to be healthy when you're going through depression advice help

I’ve been working with the Atkins brand for almost a full calendar year now — mainly, to drive awareness of their latest lifestyle book (“Atkins: Eat Right, Not Less”) — but also to illustrate the lifestyle changes I’ve made because of it.

This is my last post in a three-part series on behalf of Atkins (the first two are here and here) – and in the spirit of open communication between us, I’ve gotten tell you… I’m pretty delayed in publishing it.

And I feel so guilty about it.

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Remember the post I wrote admitting to how I’ve been struggling a bit this year? I touched briefly on how my work and had taken a hit as a result of my depression symptoms and, well — bingo.

This is only made worse by the accompanying guilt — something that’ll feel all-too-familiar to those of you who’ve had anxiety, depression or can overall just relate to letting someone down at work.

Feel me?

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Anyway, I originally wrote this post in a totally different direction; but when I re-read it (after publishing this post), I noticed something worth talking about:

That is to say, that I could actually substitute every single use of the phrase “busy,” with another word: “depressed” — or a similar phrase/idea, like down, anxious, sad, “in a rut,” etc.

(And as a reminder, I haven’t personally had a clinical or evaluation — so I’m speaking broadly, based on personal experience and extensive research in an effort to compare the two and how they relate.)

 

See for yourself:



Exhibit A:

When you’re “busy,” healthy eating habits are often the first to suffer — maybe your options are limited, your priorities are elsewhere or you just want something easy, so you trade in nutrition and end up eating things that are convenient or readily available — and they make you feel like garbage.

Another:

If you don’t think that the mental stress from being “busy” impacts your physical health, think again. This can build anxiety, poor lifestyle habits and — worse — serious health issues down the line, too.

Guys! See what I mean?

chicago lifestyle blogger and fitness instructor shares how to be healthy when you're going through depression advice help

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The way you choose to nourish your body – or to not – regardless if you’re feeling blue, busy, anxious or not — has a huge impact on your life.

But duh, right?

I know. Sometimes we just need the reminder. And often times, the decision is as simple as that — a decision.

As I’ve learned in working closely with Atkins over the last year, it ultimately comes down to eating right, balancing those dietary choices decisions and knowing what works for you. (That way, you’ll be able to stick to those healthy choices..)

Here are three ways your work/life might be impacting your eating habits — and how to start making healthier choices (regardless of which side of the spectrum you’re on).

ONE



If you’re overcompensating with comfort…

Who else crave carbohydrates or comfort food when they’re stressed (or depressed)? One reason for this is that foods with higher levels of carbohydrates and sugar can increase levels of serotonin, that feel-good brain chemical that elevates your mood.

Remember that this is a short-term “fix” though; often causing that dreaded slump or crash after you’ve digested. Long-term, you’re facing potentially serious health problems down the line — even worse!

… Try making small awareness changes.

Don’t worry, Atkins is totally cool with you eating carbs. Really.

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Instead of restricting your carb intake, consider opting for those high in fiber (and/or reducing your portion sizes a bit), and don’t forget to include healthy fats and optimal protein.

Don’t forget that many foods that seem healthy actually have the same effect as sugar when your body digests them, which Atkins calls the “hidden sugar effect.” (Like fat-free salad dressing — you don’t see the sugars, but your body does.)

Read more on the hidden sugar effect in this post

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TWO



If you’re not eating right…

Stress plays a huge role in your appetite, but not eating enough (or not eating right) can make you irritable, foggy, tired, sensitive, and so on… Which, duh, only worsens the way you feel.

So think of food as your first step – or a foundation.

… Get better about planning ahead.

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By now, I’ve learned that I can plan ahead with healthy snacks or get caught in a stomach-rumbling situation, which ultimately leads to making poor diet choices and not feeling my best. Hangry ain’t a good look on this gal.

I know you know, but consider this your reminder: Keep something in your bag for a filling, energy-boosting pick-me-up. That way you don’t rely on the bread basket at your client dinner or whatever you’ve got stashed in your cupboard.

Usually, I’ll keep string cheese, almonds or some other protein and fiber-packed snack on me to ward off the hanger. Lately it’s been any variety of these Atkins Snack Bars, since the brand previously sent me a few different flavors to try (and I’m since hooked).

Atkins White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bars are my favorite way to fix those in-between hunger pangs (12g of protein, 8g of dietary fiber and very little sugar (2g)).

The Atkins Harvest Trail Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Bars offer that satisfying crunch and a little bit of sweetness… Heaven!

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THREE



If you’re just too damn “busy” to make it work…

Grocery shopping and meal prep has been the last thing on my to-do list lately. Ditching this habit is the first thing I do if I have busy schedule or a complete lack of motivation/energy.

As a result, we’re likely to reach for foods that are convenient but not particularly nutritious. Sound familiar?

… Just do what you can, when you can. And be done with it!

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Balance involves two sides of the equation, it’s okay to indulge — in moderation. Generally speaking, that’s just self-care, right?

There are plenty of healthy fast food options out there, so use that as an excuse to get up and get out — but not before you check out this list of Atkins’ recommended options and ordering advice.

Movement is one of the most underutilized antidepressants out there. Two birds, one stone.

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Of course, dietary changes are not meant to be a sole solution for stress, lifestyle changes, depression, etc — as I mentioned, the important thing is to know what works for you.

You should also consider how much sleep, exercise (and any type of treatment, where applicable) that you’re getting, but ultimately…

If you nourish your body, you nourish your mind.

And often, that just comes down to eating right (… not less).

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