Ten Top Tips for Working Up a Really Good Depression
Anyone can change their mood for better or for worse. For example you can see how the following procedure is almost guaranteed to do the latter:
1. Close the curtains to shut out any danger of exposure to natural light.
2. Go to bed and stay there for as long as possible.
3. Avoid any contact with people. Lock the door, take the phone off the hook and don’t open any mail other than bills.
4. Avoid any kind of exercise.
5. Eat only chips, chocolate and ice cream.
6. Avoid any kind of work or meaningful activity.
7. If you must read, read only sad stories about people who are depressed. If you must listen to music, only listen to sad songs.
8. Go over and over your problems in your mind, especially at night, and make sure you’ve fully explored all the worst possible things that could happen. And generalise as much as possible.
After all, if it’s bad here, it must be bad everywhere, right?
And if its bad now there must surely have been similar bad stuff in the past, therefore we can’t expect the future to be much better, can we?
9. Blame as many people as possible, better still, blame yourself, and if that doesn’t work,
there’s always God....
10. Ignore (or better still be mortally offended by) any advice from family, friends or others. What do they know about your issues? Offers of help only trivialise what you know to be the seriousness of the situation. And of course, if anyone says anything of a remotely negative nature, be sure to take it personally.
If you managed to smile at any of the above, then you’re already on the road to recovery. Better still, you will probably be finding all sorts of creative ideas popping into your head that are the opposite of the ten tips given above and can soon have you feeling a whole lot better.
For example, if you are thinking of getting out of bed and moving about a bit, (or joining a martial arts class or going for a nice, relaxing swim) you might be inspired to hear that recent research has found that exercise is as good as anti-depressants for lifting your mood, and without the potentially harmful side-effects. (You have probably heard of endorphins, natural pain killers, similar to opium, which are released when we exercise, giving us a sense of well-being). And you’ll have heard of course that fruit, veg, vitamins, minerals and omega 3 oils (in fish, or seeds if you’re a vegetarian) appear to be good for the brain.
And just taking that first step of opening the curtains could be one of the most powerful things you can do. The sun may be ninety-three million miles away (thankfully) but its rays can reach right down to the ground and warm the soil, allowing a seed to germinate and fight its way out into the open air and reach up towards the sky until it achieves its full potential as a tree. If the weather is crap, buy a light box!
The best solutions to your current set of challenges will undoubtedly be those you discover for yourself, since you know yourself better than anyone else, and when you can feel calmer and more able to access your own inner wisdom you’ll be amazed at the creative solutions that you can come up with.
Meanwhile, you might find some of the ideas in the right hand column, which have worked for other people, very interesting. Perhaps they will inspire you and spark off even more helpful ideas of your own.
Ten Top Tips for Lifting Your Mood and Transforming Your Life
1. Get some practical help if you need it. Whether this is police protection, the ability to deliver a good pre-emptive strike, financial advice, medical assistance or just a bit of help with the cleaning, we all need a hand sometimes and there is no particular merit in trying to cope with everything on our own.
2. Get clear about what you really want from life. Create a Vibrant Vision.
3. Spring clean your life. Declutter your living environment. Pass stuff on, recycle it, organise what’s left. Think Zen. Its amazing how your internal clarity increases with the awareness of organised space around you.
4. Do something meaningful and worthwhile. If you were a hundred and ten and looking back on your life, what would you like to be remembered for? If you haven’t done it yet, how soon can you start?
Now tends to be a good kind of time.
5. Be careful of any statement that begins with the words “I am”, whether you are thinking them in your head or saying them out loud to other people. These are the self-fulfilling prophecies which end up forming our sense of identity (and other people’s impressions of us).
Your identity is not something you are stuck with. You create it by choosing your “I am” statements rather than leaving them to form by themselves by default or by going along with what you think others say about you.
If you constantly replace “I am one of life’s victims” with “I am strong and resourceful and I make my own decisions about my life” then you will soon come to believe that that is what you are…and therefore that is what you will be.
While some people may be born into more helpful circumstances than others, resourceful, successful people are not born that way, they choose to be resourceful and successful, and some of them have surmounted considerable challenges on the way (and perhaps become stronger and more resourceful because of what they have learned from them!).
6. Learn to recognise the tricks your emotional brain plays when you’re angry, upset, scared or otherwise emotionally aroused. It’s called black and white thinking. For example “They are wrong, I am right, and there’s no common ground in between”.
Such thinking is often illogical: “It always happens to me because I’m a Sagittarius” and global: “Everything is terrible!”
Get into the habit of eliminating the words “everything” and “always” from your vocabulary and your rational brain will thank you for it. A passing challenge is not necessarily a catastrophe.
7. Find ways to unwind. Whether it's meditation that helps you to feel peaceful, or Tai Chi, or Qigong, or Yoga, or swimming, or sitting by a stream, or playing football, the important thing is to have few strategies that work for you when you feel the need to chill out and calm down. The calmer your mind, the more easily you can start to see things in a clearer perspective.
8. Phone a friend or ask the audience. You know what they say about a problem shared. Its good to unburden ourselves and sometimes hearing some fresh thoughts on a subject can help us to get a handle on it.
The more we get out and meet new people, the better chance we have of meeting a few who are on our wavelength and will be there for us when we need them.
And of course we can also be there for them when they need us. It's amazing how helping other people can make us feel better very quickly by taking our mind off our own concerns for a while.
9. Make a habit of looking for the best in life and people. You have probably heard the tale of the two prisoners looking through the same window. One sees the bars, the other sees the stars. What you put your attention on tends to become your reality.
10. Find ways of using your natural resources to get your emotional needs met. (See the Human Givens model). For example, if you can ruminate about your problems well enough to make yourself feel really bad, then you obviously have a brilliant imagination, which might be more usefully employed in developing a vision of the future that you would prefer to create.