Homesteading can bring with it a lot of unique challenges. It’s not all fun and roses and even a rose has thorns. When those days come along and one of us is struggling with depression, we try to have some ideas on hand to deal with the depression and focus on better things. Depression is a common kind of mental or emotional disorder and it does affect approximately 16.2 million people in the US (that’s over 6% of the population).
According to research, over half of the cases of depression aren’t even diagnosed. It can happen to all ages, all genders, all social classes and in any culture. Women tend to struggle with depression far more often than men. It’s important to make the distinction between being depressed about a bad day on the homestead, or an overall feeling of depression that has no connection to what is going on around you.
Depression can be a very normal reaction to a situation such as losing a pet, losing a friend, or some other situation on the homestead. Instead of suppressing the depressive feelings, it’s better to find a way to work through them. There are many other ways of working through depression besides pharmaceutical prescriptions.
Symptoms Of Depression
There are many symptoms of depression. Here are a few of the symptoms and then we’ll take a quick look at some of the causes and how we can work through them without the interference of pharmaceutical drugs and medications.
- Feeling Hopeless
- Feeling Guilty
- Loss of interest in former things you loved
- Sullen mood
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Increase or decrease in sleeping patterns
- Lack of concentration
- Lack of energy
Here are some fantastic ways to work through depression whether it be due to something going on at the homestead, or a clinical depression (if you don’t want to try any pharmaceuticals or prefer to try something more natural first).
How To Treat Depression Naturally
Sometimes, depression is due to something in your life or on your homestead and it’s not due to a chemical imbalance. Consider the possibilities of this before you start reaching for any medications.
Be brutally honest with yourself and focus on the potential causes such as a pet dying, friend or family member ill or dying, crop failure, relationship issues, or even lack of finances. Accept that you can’t change these things for now and that they will improve in due time.
2. Get Up And Get Moving
It is easy to lie around and feel depressed and sad, but, when you get up and get moving the adrenaline and endorphins will kick in and you’re going to start to feel better. Go for a walk, call a friend and have them join you for some exercise and conversation. Take an aerobics or yoga class. Saddle the horse and go riding. Whatever you choose to do, get out of the house and make it in the fresh air or somewhere else.
3. Eat A Balanced Diet
For many, one of the first signs of depression is lack of appetite. Make sure that you’re eating a healthy balanced diet and avoid over processed foods. It may take a few days for this to kick in, especially if you’ve been eating improperly for a time. Once your blood sugars balance out you’re going to start feeling a whole lot better.
4. Eat Foods With Omega 3s
Foods with omega 3s increase the serotonin levels in your brain and help you to feel better. Consider adding in healthy fats such as coconut oil, add in some fish such as wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and anchovies, and eat more protein such as free range poultry (turkey or chicken).
5. Reduce Caffeine
Caffeine can reduce your serotonin levels so back off on that 3rd cup of coffee, resist that caffeinated soda, remember that chocolate also has caffeine in it and focus on choosing healthy beverages. This can help to keep your serotonin levels at a more even keel throughout the day.
Sip some herbal tea in lieu of your regular cup of coffee. There are many herbal teas on the market today that can help to soothe jangled nerves or depression. You may even grow many of the herbs on your homestead and be able to collect things like mint, peppermint, chamomile, and even lavender and brew your very own herbal tea from your homestead.
6. Get More Vitamin D
Vitamin D isn’t stored in the body so you may wish to consider spending some more time out in the sunlight or even investing in a light box if you’re in an area that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight. Even just 15 minutes a day can make a huge difference in your mood.
It’s recommended that you use the light therapy (sunlight or a light box) early in the day such as in the morning to mimic day breaking. Don’t allow the light (from the sun or a light box) to go directly into your eyes but rather, focus on having it reflect from above or to the side. You don’t need any eye damage on top of your depression.
7. Take Time For Yourself
Take some time every day for just you. Don’t be afraid to work on a hobby, curl up and read a favorite book, sip a mug of herbal tea and relax for 30 minutes or more per day. It’s so easy to get caught up in taking care of the homestead, kids, spouse, and everything else that we frequently forget to take care of ourselves. Carve out some time on a daily basis for yourself. Even if you’re just sitting and relaxing in the garden or on the porch sipping that mug of herbal tea you’ll be improving your mood and reducing depression.
Spend some time meditating. You could meditate on how you’re going to feel better when you relax. Read a favorite poem, scripture, or encouraging word or something. Spend some time focusing on something besides what is bothering you.
Sip a mug of herbal tea or a lemonade and just focus on something that makes you happy. Picture yourself on a mini vacation anywhere in the world and just meditate on this for awhile when you’re starting to feel depressed. It works wonders to help you reset your mood.
9. Balance Your Hormones
Sometimes, depression is a simple matter of imbalanced hormones. If you’ve tried many of these home remedies and are still feeling depression, consider asking your doctor to check your hormone levels. If your hormone levels are off ask what the doctor might recommend to help balance them out. Tell the doctor that you want to avoid pharmaceuticals such as antidepressants and focus on ways to heal naturally as much as possible.
10. Be Real
Don’t pretend to be someone or something that you’re not. Focus on being authentic and more honest with people. Don’t be afraid to say no to something at work, church, for school or anywhere else. It’s okay to say not to being on that committee, to helping someone, or to not help with the school play.
If you’re not able to give the time, don’t feel guilty for saying no. You are only one person and when you spread yourself too thin you won’t have enough of you left over to be yourself. It’s also very important to remember that not everyone that you meet is going to like you. Don’t apologize for being yourself and don’t change to please others.
Consider a visit to a therapist, clergyman, psychiatrist or even just a good friend who might have a different perspective on what you might be going through. Don’t let yourself sit around and feel hopeless. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling and work toward a solution.
Note: if you’re choosing a friend, make sure it’s someone that you can trust if it’s a personal reason that you’re struggling with depression. You don’t need to compound the situation by choosing someone that is going to blab your woes all over the homesteading communities.
Sometimes, you’re out of sorts because you don’t have a routine. Consider a routine. Get up at the same time every day. Have a morning routine. Whether it be coffee and breakfast, or chores then coffee and breakfast focus on it on a daily basis. You’ll always know that you’re going to do these things in a particular order and sometimes that can help you to balance out how you’re feeling. It will also help you to manage time better. Sometimes, depression is a matter of time management.
Positive Put yourself into a positive mindset. Think about some positive things that are going on in your life. Don’t dwell on the negative. When negative thoughts enter your mind push them out with something more positive.
Write in a journal. Make a gratitude list of things that you’re thankful for. Make a list of positive things going on in your life. Write out a 6 month plan, 1 year plan, and a 5 year plan. Include pictures if you like either cut from magazines or snapped with your camera.
Make this your “Healing journal” and if you need to write in it more than once a day that’s okay too. Don’t forget to read it often as well. Sometimes, just reading what you’re thankful for a few times a day will go far to help get those negative thoughts out of your mind.
15. Set Goals
Set daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals etc. Don’t hesitate to adjust these as required. Keep the goals easy to attain on a daily basis. For larger goals, break them down into several steps such as “clear off one counter daily” or “pull one row of weeds”. Instead of making it the entire kitchen or laundry area, just make it one small area and then mark it off your list. It can be very satisfying to mark things off of your list and help to improve your mood.
Statistics show that most of us aren’t getting enough rest. A healthy adult requires from six to eight hours of rest each 24 hour period. If you can’t sleep, at least take some breaks during the day and relax. Special Note: Don’t let yourself nap more than about 30 minutes to an hour per day or you may find that you’re wide awake in the middle of the night when you should be sleeping.
17. Find A Hobby
Find a fun hobby or join a group that works on a hobby. It could be a gardening group, sewing club, quilting group, knitting or crocheting circle, reading or book club, the possibilities are endless. You’ll have fun, get together with others and avoid isolating yourself.
You could also take a class on just about anything. Consider photography, farming, homesteading, cooking, baking, canning, gardening or just about anything else that you can think of. Ask a friend to join you and make it even more fun. This will lift your spirits and give you something fun to look forward to on a weekly basis.
18. Take A Break And Do Something Fun
Go to the park with the kids, go on a picnic, go to a museum, focus on something different and enjoy your break. The kids will love spending time with you and you’ll love just focusing on the kids for awhile.
When we volunteer to help others, we leave our struggles behind. We focus on their needs and not our stresses. Often, we see how bad someone else may have it and our issues seem far more trivial. So consider volunteer work as a part of your routine. Even if you only volunteer for an hour each week somewhere you’ll find that it really does help.
20. Check Your Health
Are you taking a new medication or supplement that may be affecting your mood? If so, ask your doctor if depression is a potential side effect and what you can do about it. Perhaps your doctor can change your medications or you can take them at a different time of the day.
21. Get A Massage
A massage can release all of that pent up stress, relieve sore muscles and help you to relax more. If you can’t afford to visit a massage therapist ask your spouse for a massage.
Be more mindful of the present and less concerned over the future. Future tripping or worrying about something that hasn’t happened and may not happen is not healthy. Instead focus on the here and now. Focus on the planting, not the harvest.
Focus on the moment and stay in the moment. Don’t stress over the past, focus on the here and now. Many people get caught up in stressing over things that have happened instead of just focusing on what’s going on now. Don’t worry about your past, it’s gone. Don’t stress over the future, it’s not here yet. Stay in the present and give yourself the gift of now.
23.Watch Funny Movies
Take some time and watch some funny movies with friends or family. Laughter really is the best medicine. You could also read a joke book or watch a funny sitcom if you don’t have enough time to give to a movie. Get the kids to join in and make it some fun family time. The more you laugh, the better you’re going to feel.
24. Throw A Party
Don’t stress over it, just invite friends or family over for a barbecue or holiday party. Make it a potluck and you won’t have to do all the cooking. Just make sure that you don’t invite anyone that makes you more stressed. Keep it simple and have fun. You could also make it all desserts or something for fun. Consider a cookie swap or swap favorite recipes but have them bring a sample of the favorite recipe.
25. Plant A Flower Garden
If you’ve always dreamed of a huge flower garden on the homestead, this is a great time to either plan it out or go outside and plant it. If it’s the wrong time of year to be planting you can set pen to paper and draw out where you want it, what you want in it, and maybe even do some shopping for the seeds or bulbs.
If you see a great garden on a neighboring homestead, stop and talk to them about it. How long did it take them to get it to look like this? Do they have any extra seeds? Learn about their tips and tricks to make their garden a showcase. This will take your mind off of your depression and help you to refocus. It’s also going to look great on your homestead. Plants love you unconditionally and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you do this.
26. Dog Therapy
Your dog loves you unconditionally so take the dog for a walk or a run and focus on having fun with something that loves you always. It’s excellent therapy.
You can also tell your dog anything with the confidence that he or she isn’t going to be blabbing what you’re sharing around the neighborhood. Your dog will give you good advice by simply listening and letting you talk things out. Sometimes, once you’ve talked things out like this you actually feel better and realize you had the answer all along, you just needed to vent.
27. Color Therapy
Adult coloring books are all the rage right now and you can enjoy some color therapy. Make the world however you want it while you’re coloring. It will give you something to focus on and it will be relaxing. Color a garden if you wish or plan out your own garden and color it in with colored pencils.
28. Listen To Some Upbeat Music
It will lift your spirits and help you to feel better. Choose from a favorite band, group, or something mellow and soothing depending on how you want to improve your depression. Focus on the sounds and let your body move with the music.
29. Crank The Tunes And Clean The Homestead
Looking around the homestead and seeing things that need to be done, but aren’t, can cause depression. Instead of being depressed, focus on one particular project and crank the tunes and throw yourself into it. Pretty soon you’ll be so engrossed that you will put the depression behind you.
There are many supplements on the market today that are believed to help reduce depression symptoms. Before you begin the supplement route, make sure to talk with your doctor and ensure that none of the supplements that you’re considering will interact with other medications that you may be taking. Here is a list of the most commonly used supplement to help with depression:
B Vitamins (this includes folic acid as well as B6) can help to reduce the symptoms of depression.
St. John’s Wort is a plant that is frequently used in treating mood issues. It’s very similar to Prozac in many studies and shouldn’t be used with certain other medications including birth control pills or other antidepressants.
Fish Oil works well for many people by increasing the Omega 3s in your body and thus raising the serotonin levels in your brain.
5HTP converts directly into serotonin and will improve your mood. If you begin to have diarrhea or sleep too much you’ve taken too much of this supplement.
Clearly there are many great ways of dealing with depression on the homestead that don’t have to involve pharmaceutical medications. Pharmaceutical medications have their own set of side effects and as homesteaders many of us wish to avoid such issues. Homesteading is all about doing things as simplistically as possible and dealing with depression as simply as possible doesn’t involve pharmaceuticals for us.
We’ve tried a variety of the above-mentioned ideas and found that they are all great ways to reduce or eliminate depression regardless of the reason. As time passes the depression will lift and you’ll find that it’s just a vague memory. The homestead has given us a lot of great time together as a family and we really enjoy spending this time together.
This article should not substitute for medical advice – be sure you talk to your physician before making and consuming any of the following teas.