As I talked about in my last blog, Depression is caused by 5 things; pervasive negative self-talk, unhealthy relationships, loneliness, laziness, and poor diet. I can imagine that for some people they came away from reading that wondering; what does she mean by diet and laziness, that sounds a little crass. Let me explain further; all science and research supports the belief that we are what we eat and what we do. When we eat a diet rich in carbohydrates, chemicals, processed foods, and refined sugars it has a dramatic impact on our mood and general well-being. If someone is suffering from Major Depression, before they seek out help from a Therapist they should perhaps first rule out if the Depression is caused by their diet because sometimes Depression can be healed solely through dietary changes.
Some people think that if their not naturals in the kitchen than they have to stick to a processed food diet, this is not true and I am living proof of it. I am horrible in the kitchen, just ask my kids 😉 However I always eat (nine times out of ten, you have to make room for cheese curds and pizza once in a while;) whole foods and eating whole foods does not imply that you have to be a “good chef” in the kitchen. Some of my favorite meals consist of oatmeal, eggs prepared in many ways, sandwiches, banana muffins (with no flour), vegetables, fruits, smoothies, and Cheerios which believe it or not are gluten free and have no chemicals. You can make small changes to your diet that can lead to amazing changes in your mood, feelings, and thoughts. When you commit to eating whole foods, I promise you your mind and your mood will thank you for it.
The reason why I said laziness is a cause of depression as well is because it is, unfortunately. It’s fair to say that for some people they are depressed because they’re too prideful and/or lazy to make the necessary changes in their life to heal themselves. When I say this, I am not just pointing the fingers, there have been a few times in my own life where I was feeling depressed and I knew that I was feeling depressed because of laziness, once I called myself out on it, and start working hard again, the Depression took care of itself. It is amazing how much of a difference hard work can make when it comes to conquering Depression. I think God created it that way, we are all created to work and we all need to work. (By the way, I’m not saying that stay at home mothers are not workers, we all have a lot to learn from many stay at home moms in terms of their hard work and work ethic.)
Now, let’s transition and talk more about how music impacts our mood and well-being. In my own life I loooove music, all types of music and I would honestly be lost in this world if it wasn’t for my love of music. As I said in my last blog, Depression can be caused by negative self-talk. Every day we have this voice in our head that talks to us, empowers us, inspires us, or abuses us. If the voice in our head is abusing us and talking down to us, we will naturally feel depressed, insecure, and worthless. In addition to starting to change your self-talk and the messages that you give to yourself about who you are, another way that you can start to incorporate more positive messages into your identity and self-esteem is by being intentional with the music you are listening to and learning to listen to empowering music and emotionally healthy music.
What do I mean by choosing music that is emotionally healthy? It is imperative that we are selective about the types of music that we listen to and we need to ask ourselves if the music we are listening to is emotionally healthy. This is not to say I want you to start psychoanalyzing all the music you are listening to and stop listening to music that isn’t “positive” and “uplifting”, that would be a little overboard and if I only listened to really “positive and affirming” music it would drive me a little nuts. However what I am saying is that we need to start becoming mindful of the types of music we are listening to and ask ourselves the question; how does the message in this song impact my mood? This simple question can start the process of developing awareness of how music can be used as an instrument of healing in our life.
Let’s say you have a 45-minute commute to work every day, that’s 1.5 hours of driving time every single day and that equals to 7-8 hours every week that you are in your car. What if you made the simple practice of creating a playlist of music that completely inspires you and played that while you were driving to and from work every day? If you did this, you would quickly realize the healing power of Music. When you pick your songs, take some time to do this, and like I said earlier be very selective. When you are picking songs evaluate each song on a 1-10 scale in terms of the level of inspiration that it gives you and only pick songs that are at a 9 or 10.
So without any other further ado, let me leave you with a playlist to add to your musical repertoire. This playlist I created with my daughter and it is designed for girls and teenagers who are in the throes of growing up and adolescence and everything else that comes with this season of life. However, I think anyone will love this playlist for the upbeat nature and positive messages that are present within each song. What are your favorite songs to listen to when you are down? What are your thoughts on whether or not music can help heal Depression?
Kelly Johnson, MA, LPC