Depression can drain your energy, leaving you feeling empty and fatigued. This can make it difficult to muster the strength or desire to seek treatment. However, there are small steps you can take to help you feel more in control and improve your overall sense of well-being.
These tips can help you feel better, starting right now:
1) Don’t take life too seriously.
No matter what anybody says, life is a game. We come in with nothing, there are next to no consequences to our actions (on the grand scale of things) and we leave with nothing. So why do we experience so much anguish in between? Because we take it too seriously. When you play a video game, and it’s just not going your way, it can be frustrating, you might even wonder why you’re playing the game to begin with, but when you realise that the point is not to win, but just to have fun, then you can really bring out a lot more in that experience. Same goes for life. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go your way, don’t get caught up on seemingly life-changing incidents. Life happens. Life goes. Regardless of what you do or how you do it, you’ll be leaving the stage through the same door as the rest of us. Nothing changes that. So take a deep breath, chill out, and realise that everything will be okay. At this point people think it’s an excuse to be nihilistic, to wallow in the absurdity that nothing really matters. But that’s the wrong way to look at things. There are so many ‘pointless’ things we experience in our lives, and yet we still enjoy them. Same holds true for life.
2) STOP PEOPLE PLEASING
People always say “you have to look out for #1 first” and it took me years to figure out what that really meant. But basically it means ‘Be you. If people don’t like it. Just don’t care!’
It’s your life, and nobody has a right to tell you what to do, ever! (law permitting), so if somebody has a comment about what you do or how you do it, think about whether this person really needs to be in your life. I might get into cutting poisonous people out of your life in a different post. But seriously, all the energy you waste doing and not doing things to keep others happy is sapping energy that could be used to make you happy. You weren’t born to appease other people. You were born to enjoy your life. So stop worrying about what others think and be you.
3) Accept it, you’re human.
Humans make mistakes, and humans are also massively self-loathing. Not a good mix. So accept you make mistakes and move on. When you’re depressed it’s very very easy to be your own enemy, nobody is a worse critic than yourself. So when you do something that maybe didn’t help you, learn from it. Ask yourself “Okay, in hindsight that wasn’t a good thing to do. What can I learn from this so I don’t do it again?” when you ask what you want to learn from a ‘mistake’ it’s no longer that, it becomes a lesson. Somebody who keeps making ‘lessons’ is somebody who’s improving. Why beat yourself up for learning? And i’ll admit this is all easier said than done, but look at your idols, look at the people you admire, they make mistakes too – it’s normal! So give yourself a break. Nobody is saying “Oh look at them, they’re really hard on themselves! That’s so cool.” No. Nobody gives a shit. People have their own lives to worry about. So chill. Move on.
4) Life’s a beach, consciousness is eternal.
Now this one is subjective, but by our own experiences, we can say that consciousness breaks the first law of thermodynamics. That energy can never be created or destroyed, only transferred or changed from one form to another. But does consciousness really start and stop when life does?
It doesn’t really matter, but if we learn to create a belief system that facilitates a happier lifestyle, this concept of eternal consciousness may creep up. Imagine in ‘the afterlife’ that you have everything you could ever want. What happens? You get bored. You might decide that you’re going to head to earth to have a human experience. You might decide to have a life with depression and anxiety to up the ante, like turning up the difficulty on a video game to make it more interesting. If we’re abused at an early age, or brought into a difficult area to live, this can add context to that. We can say “I chose this so that life would be more interesting, I chose this to see what I could achieve. So why would I get upset about this? Just because I don’t remember creating this life, doesn’t mean I didn’t do it.” With abuse, difficulty and anguish put in a larger context, it can take the power away from your trauma and put it back in your hands. This is your life remember.
What I want to stress at this stage though is that – for the skeptics amongst us- we don’t get brownie points for being right if we’re just going to kill ourselves. In this game, we get brownie points for being happy. If we develop a belief system like what I’ve just mentioned. We can learn to be happier, with trauma in a greater context, it has less power, with trauma in this context, it’s just an epilogue that set the foundations for our own success.
5) You are what you eat.
Diet really doesn’t get the attention it deserves when people talk about D&A. Think about it, you put food into your body, and the entity that is you runs on the stuff you put inside it. So why fill it full of shit? If you filled your car full of knock-off petrol you’d soon realise you aren’t getting the performance you’re used to. Same goes for people, we’re not goats, we can’t just eat whatever the fuck we want. Just because things are there, doesn’t mean we should entice ourselves with them either. Get good food in you, get good fuel in you, to run the machine that is you, effectively. Pick fruit, pick whole foods, stay away from processed foods. But most importantly, remember number 3, sometimes life can get in the way and all we have time for is a McDonald’s on the way home, that’s fine, but don’t make a habit of it. Respect yourself, respect your body, because you are what you eat, and if you fuel yourself with shit, your output will be shit too.
Everybody knows that exercise is good for the fight against D&A, but very few people partake in it. Why? Because they think it’s painful. The pain of D&A is less than the pain they’d experience from exercise, or so they perceive that to be the case. But there are many ways to exercise, there are many ways to get activity in your life. My favourite quote goes like with regards to exercise, “Even a walk around the block laps everybody on the couch.” and that’s true! Nobody says you have to run a marathon straight away, if you warm up just to run to the end of your road and back guess what? You smashed it! The whole point is to do ‘SOME’ exercise, not do ‘INTENTISIVE’ exercise. As you begin to exercise more, you’ll learn to draw the links between being happier and exercise, you’ll realise that you think better after yoga, you work harder after a run, you have more energy to put into the hobbies that enliven you!
And the best thing? There are so many ways to exercise. Don’t want to be out of breath? Yoga. Can’t run? Walk. Walking too boring for you? Get a bike. Only have a few minutes in your busy day? Well do some push ups.
There are exercise programs, techniques and philosophies to fill the ancient library of Alexandria a million times over – delve in, discover something you’ll enjoy and experience that sensation of being able to accomplish amazing things with nothing but your body. You deserve that.
Meditate. Marmite. Same thing? Maybe. Sitting down and doing nothing. Some people love it. Some people hate it. Some cultures revere it, some vilify it. But bottom line is, it’s absolutely invaluable to people with D&A. First thing to note, there are many ways to meditate, and there are many different pros & cons to them. There are meditations for being a better fighter, or pianist, or athlete, there are meditations to become more empathetic, some to become more aware. We’ll concentrate on one particular technique, the last one. Rather than go into why we’re doing that, because I could write a whole book about it (and at some point will), I want to concentrate on how, specifically, meditation can help you if you’re fighting D&A.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to meditate massively to get the benefits from it, and you don’t want to do too much too soon because you’ll end up stopping for reasons I can’t be bothered getting into (Read ‘The Willpower Instinct’ if you want more info.)
Start with 5 minutes a day, sit down on a chair, close your eyes, no exotic poses, no visualisations for this one. Just breath in and out, in 1, out 2, in 3, out 4, etc… if you find yourself getting caught up in thoughts start again at one and keep going until the timer stops, it’ll go off before you know it, believe me. Also, the goal of meditation is not to get to a super high number, the goal of meditation is to catch your thoughts and bring them back to a neutral point. So you don’t ‘win’ once by not getting caught up in your thoughts, you ‘win’ every single time you realise you’ve gone off on a thought train.
So why bother meditating? Well for one, D&A can take you on some pretty bad thought trains, when we learn to get off them, we can stop bad thought trains in (or on in this case) their tracks, giving us the opportunity to redirect them in a way to suit us. Also, after a period of meditation you’ll just find yourself enjoying life more, I’ve always said that if I meditate on a morning, I just seem to have a better day. Who wouldn’t want to have a better day all day for 5 minutes on a morning?
8) Affirmations for the nation
Affirmations, something you’ll come up against a lot in self-help literature, but what exactly are they? Simply, a phrase that empowers you, a phrase to rewire your mind to a more happier state. The subconscious mind (the mind that controls the vast majority of our life) cannot differentiate between reality outside, and the information you feed it yourself. So, by affirming everyday “I am a happy, successful person.” your subconscious will take that as fact and begin to act out that reality through you – you will in turn become happier and more successful.
Intention is something that really isn’t talked about when it comes to D&A. But what exactly is it?
Well you know on a morning, when you wake up, and there’s a moment between when you decide to get up and then actually get up? That’s intention. During that time, you have the intention to get out of bed. Just like you can have the intention to go get food, or a job or get laid, you can set the intention to be happier. Intention can be used to overcome D&A, simply by saying to yourself “I have the intention to overcome D&A” and if you are progressively moving forward with habits and a lifestyle that facilitate a happier more healthier you – you are embodying this intention.
So set the intent. Intend to be happier and healthier. Everything starts with intention.
10) Take responsibility
This is probably the hardest thing on this list, because by ‘taking responsibility’ for your actions, you also say “everything that has not gone my way so far in my life, is my fault.” and while that might seem like a hard truth, or even one you’re not prepared to admit right now, doing this empowers you to make change.
Some people never learn to take responsibility for their actions, purely because we’re not taught how. People say “Grow up!”, “Act your age!”, “Take responsibility for your actions!”. But what does that actually mean?
It means owning the problem, and I say owning because we may refuse to accept that we caused a problem, but that does not stop us from claiming ownership of it and fixing it.
So when you are confronted with problems in your life, when there are things in your life causing you distress, instead of saying “Why aren’t others doing what I want them to?”, ask yourself “What can I do that will help me overcome this situation?”.
There are thousand of examples of taking responsibility that I may showcase in future posts, but by “owning a problem” you put yourself in charge to overcome it. Nobody is going to make you happy, only you can do that. So don’t count on others to get you out of your own mess, it might seem harsh, but when you learn to empower yourself for your own problems, you become entirely self-sufficient, and you are never let down or dependant on others – you are not a slave to others, you are the master of your own life!