Now, I will start with a caveat. I am not a medical professional. I am not a psychiatrist and cannot help people dealing with what is called as clinical depression.
However, I am an author of a book on happiness, and fought back a period of clinical depression and an entire bunch of rough patches in my life. This post is from my experiences of fighting depression and negative thinking.
What is depression?
The way I see it, depression is an uncontrolled avalanche of negative emotions that became too big to control.
Alright now that the context has been set up, let’s jump straight into it. Here is a list of ways you can avoid depression, no matter what you are going through in life.
1. Don’t use the word ‘depression’
Do not use the word. It is simple. You feel the words you use. If you say, you are sad, you would feel sad. If you say, you are having a tough day, that’s what it is.
Do not use the word depression no matter what happens. This year is difficult for a large chunk of humanity. Hundreds and thousands of businesses have shut down, countless people have been laid off, and artists have lost the ability to perform their art, among other things that this horrid virus has thrown at us.
You are going through a tough time and I am asking you to hold on. You are tough, and you will see through this. You have seen difficult times before and you have survived. You will see through this.
Just don’t use the word depressed to describe how you feel. It is okay to feel low but don’t let this defeat you.
2. Negativity is default. Optimism takes effort
Look, life is fucking tough. We get it. If you are reading this, you may be going through a rough patch in your life and I hope I will be able to help you.
Negativity is a default because life is tough. On an everyday basis, we are facing so many problems, professionally or personally, that it becomes difficult to stay positive.
However, if you consider the fact that your life depends on staying positive, you will make the effort. Negativity is a marshland. It will suck you in, if you let it.
Look, you didn’t earn life. You got life because due to some biological fuck up, your parents met, they had sex and bingo, you got life as a gift. Now, is it difficult to stay positive?
Consider your life as a profit and loss account. No matter how difficult life gets, if you record life in the profit side, no matter what happens on the negative end, you will always end up with some profit.
Count the people who love you and care that you are alive, your education, your ability to improve your life, ability to work hard as blessings because that’s what they are.
It takes work to stay positive- mental work. But, trust me, it is worth it.
3. Run 30 minutes a day
I have had tough days. I have had some really tough days in life without my choosing. Do you realize that strong people do not really choose to be strong? Nobody gives a fuck about wanting to be strong. Life makes you strong. That’s how some lives are designed.
Having said that, there is one thing I have realized , if I run 30 min a day, I can fight anything.
Exercising everyday has saved my life from some of the most painful challenges life has thrown at me. If there was one feature of my clinical depression in 2007, I had stopped running.
You may not like running. That’s okay. Choose your workout. Swimming, gym, walking, whatever it is. Just do it. The body and the mind are related and one cannot live without the other.
I had a really shitty day today but I went for a run at 9 pm. Now, I can write this piece because my mind started working after I had had a run.
I guarantee that if you run 30 mins a day, whatever you die of, you won’t die of depression.
4. Watch positive content
The internet is a maze. You can watch porn. You can watch people dying, or you can use it effectively.
Take time to learn something. Follow positive blogs, like this one. Follow positive people. What you feed into your mind will also determine what comes out of your mind.
Be in a permanent student mode.
For example, I started this blog in August. It was a free site and I figured how to buy domain, hosting and shit. I hadn’t done it in years and I am learning this and trying to learn search engine optimization so more people can discover this blog. Nobody knows me at Google.
5. Please fix your life
I firmly believe that life gives us signs. It tells us over a period of time that something is not working.
You could be in a negative state of mind because of two primary reasons- your career or your personal life, or both. These are my rules, you may disagree. Only a few people, if they are terribly unfortunate will be in a negative state because of their friends.
Our work forms a large part of our lives, and so does our family.
If our work is not going well, it tends to affect our financial state, our emotional state and sense of self-worth. If this is a situation you are facing, please see what you can do about it. Learn new stuff if your industry has been rendered obsolete by the corona virus. Acquire new skills. It may take time, but anything can be learned on the internet if we spend time and effort. Please do that. Seek help from others, if needed. Do not allow your negative thoughts around your work to take over your entire mental state.
The other part of life which affects all of us, if not handled properly is our personal lives. Our relationships with our parents, siblings, and partners have a huge impact on how we feel on an everyday basis. If something is not working and it is not addressed over a sustained period of time, it could lead to an avalanche of negativity, as we have seen earlier.
The point is life gives us signs. There may be chemical reasons for clinical depression but I have not seen or known many people personally who led happy lives and suddenly plunged into depression.
Everybody I have seen going to a psychiatrist’s clinic has had major fundamental flaws in their lives, either of the professional or personal nature.
Please fix your lives. Do whatever fixes it needs. Sedatives cannot solve life problems. They can only delay the process.
6. Go to a doctor when needed
When you feel that things have gone out of your hands and you need to see a doctor, please do. There is nothing wrong in seeing a doctor for something you cannot handle on your own. Mental illness is illness and when it warrants treatment, it must be dealt with treatment.
However, this piece is about avoiding depression and so that’s what we will focus on, for the rest of the piece.
It is an extension of the point on running and exercising. Meditation is observing your thoughts without judgement with synchronized breathing. I do it every day after running and it does provide a healing impact on my mind. My mind feels lighter and sharper after meditation.
It doesn’t take long. I would recommend 15 minutes a day, which is not a time to keep your mind healthy.
Books can heal. Empty mind is devil’s paradise. If you can keep yourself busy reading stories of people who fought insurmountable odds to lead a successful life, you will find your difficulties just a little lighter.
I highly recommend reading as a hobby. I also recommend life stories of Nelson Mandela and Hellen Keller. They are two of my biggest inspirations.
I also have more inspirational references of people who have been dealt with a tough hand by life and they still made something of themselves. You need to have your list as well. It provides perspective.
No matter who you are, please write how you feel. Write it in a blog or a diary, whatever comes naturally to you.
When you write down your feelings, you may feel better. No, you will feel better.
10. Take a break
Sometimes, the avalanche of negativity is triggered because you are in a certain situation and you cannot walk out of it, unless you press the brake button.
In case you feel it is getting overwhelming, please take a break. Take a leave and allow your mind and body to rest. If it’s a relationship that’s bothering you, find some space and think about what’s happening.
When you look at problems from a distance, the perspective shifts and you are able to think more clearly.
11. You are a fighter. Fight
You know what, that’s what I have told myself most of my life. That’s what I will tell you.
I have been bullied as a child for I was short and diffident. I hardly spoke throughout my entire school and undergraduate life. I didn’t know what happiness was about. I wandered through most of my life trying to be happier. I got depressed at what should have been a peak point in my life. All this, and more.
You are a fighter. Fight life. Fight life like a boxer who won’t be beaten. Let life hit you, over and over again. Fall down. Get up. Fall down. Get up. Fall down. Get up. Repeat till your last breath. When you breathe your last, let life salute you as the fighter who didn’t give up.
Problems get easier if you laugh about them. Laugh at your problems and they will feel lighter. Consume stand-up comedy. It is an art form whose key product is laughter.
When you laugh and you hear the sound of your laughter, life seems like worth living.
If you do all of these, depression will stay away from you, in most likelihood. I am sure there are reasons of depression which are beyond our emotions. They may be genetic and need medical attention.
However, most of us can fight depression we don’t let life keep us down. It will hit us and drop us to our feet but it cannot keep us down.
I hope you are able to fight whatever life throws at you, you will not let depression get even close to you.
Thank you for reading.
Please clap if you found the post useful and share with others who may benefit from it. The post was originally posted on the happiness blog.