When it comes to personal health, depression is a tricky thing. It’s not something that you readily recognize as a health problem, because it’s also a mental cycle.
It all starts with a feeling. You feel bad emotionally and your mind, in an attempt to figure out why you feel the way you do, will go through a repository of bad experiences and reasons why you must be a horrible person. Reviewing these thoughts and memories will often trigger deeper feelings of depression. Your mind, in turn, will delve deeper into thoughts of worthlessness and sadness.
And thus, you’re stuck in a cycle of depression.
In 2005, I found myself caught in this cycle and didn’t break free until 2007.
During those two years, I learned four valuable things that helped me break free of the cycle of depression. Now, to be clear, there are some individuals that are caught so deeply in the cycle of depression that one of the best aids can be medication. But I’ve found that the deepest healing from depression comes from these lessons learned.
1. Fill Your Life With Light
In the heat of my cycle of depression, I remember talking to a close friend who told me to “fill my life with light” so that there would be no room for darkness.
He encouraged me to listen to inspiring/uplifting talks on my iPod, read good books, watch comedies, spend time with friends and family, and try to fill every moment of my life with good, wholesome things.
As I did so, I discovered all of the goodness I was consuming was slowly drowning out all of the badness. Fill your life with light. Don’t leave any room for darkness.
2. Focus on Gratitude
When you’re depressed, it’s easy to see all of the things that went wrong, that are going wrong and that might go wrong.
At one point, I remember being so caught up in all the things that had gone wrong that I was overlooking all of the things that were going good. I have a very supportive family, I thought to myself. That’s a good thing.
And then I went on from there: I have good food and a comfortable home. I have work. I have educational opportunities. I have good friends.
Every time ingratitude, worry or sadness rears its head, try to find things to be grateful for.
3. Pursue a Hobby or Talent
My mind operates like a laser. Whenever I got into a depressive cycle, I would focus on what was making me depressed and only on that.
But I discovered that as I pursued a hobby or talent, my mind would focus more on those things and less on anything depressive. I found fulfillment in creating things with my hands (carpentry) or watching plants and flowers grow (gardening) and seeing my writing be read around the world (blogging).
Learn a new skill or rediscover a hobby or talent. It will fill your life with a new sense of purpose and drive thoughts of depression from your mind.
4. Love Others
This is the most important step of all.
By nature, depression causes you to become very introverted and reclusive and for anyone that needs healing this is a very dangerous place to be. Because true healing from depression and feelings of loneliness is always outside of yourself.
Serve your family and friends. Listen to their problems and concerns. Spend time with children. Take a friend out to a movie. Volunteer at a program for troubled youth. Seek out opportunities to do random acts of service.
I promise you that as you reach out to others, you will be less worried about your own problems and find more fulfillment in a life lived for others.