3 ways to help a post-Earth Day depression
Some people are relentlessly optimistic. I know, because I interview them all the time. No matter what question you throw at them, no matter how dark and gloomy your facts and figures, they respond, in essence, saying that things are getting just a little better, a little better, all the time.
And then there are those of us who research the topics every day and come away from the desk feeling that things are a getting a little worse, all the time.
The truth lies probably somewhere in-between these poles.
If you are of the darker-hued personality, here are three things you can do when the euphoria over Earth Day celebrations wears thin.
1) A new study published in the Lancet is one of the largest ever showing that mindfulness therapy (meditation) is just as effective as mood-altering pharmaceuticals in preventing depression relapse.
It's just the latest in a long line of research studies that are pointing to meditation and breathing as a way to stay mentally healthy and stave off depression. It seems the brain processes thoughts and feelings differently during a meditative state, helping us lower stress and find peace.
To learn meditation and mindfulness it is sometimes easier to take a course or a class, in order to step out of our daily habits thoroughly - but there are lots of online resources like this one or this short meditation with Pema Chödrön to start your own practice.
2) Along with those results, a fascinating new study is showing that probiotics are very effective in getting people to be happier. Researcher Laura Steenbergen speculates that multi-strain probiotics improve the immune system and digestive function, causing people to ruminate less over life's distresses.
And lastly, 3) The picture is getting clearer that some essential oils and scents - aromatherapy - can help balance mood and increase feelings of serenity and peace. While it's hard to find a definitive guide to the latest scientific research, specific studies have shown peppermint and cinnamon effective at reducing road rage and decreasing frustration and anxiety; bergamot can improve mood. Searching PubMed is a great way to find some of the specific studies on essential oils and their effects.
If you are already convinced, you can get a bottle of bergamot essential oil and sniff it while you read the eco-news; or, barring that, try one of The Mood Factory's new mini-deodorants and roll on your aromatherapy.
And if scents and oils don't do it for you, there's always a quick walk in the nature nearest you to practice mindfulness and re-lift your spirits. Happy Earth Day.