One of the major issues in the world today is mental health exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, economic downturn, seeming hopelessness in the midst of the challenges facing the whole of mankind. As the workplace and business environment tend towards a more digital landscape, people are also beginning to feel isolated as a result of the lack of human interaction. People are struggling to find opportunities to ventilate, share and pour out their feelings and many have resorted to different coping mechanisms. Depression is quite different from a feeling of unhappiness or unease. It’s a pervasive feeling which shows up with symptoms like anxiety, sadness, frustration, lack of energy, and a general lack of purpose and drive. Sometimes it could be a sense of not wanting to be alive as the person doesn’t find any reason to live.
Having studied the subject a bit, here are 5 practical suggestions you can beat depression.
Live in the Moment
A common denominator amongst people dealing with depression is an obsessive focus on everything that is wrong. They tend to ruminate over and over again on everything that is wrong or negative and assume the worst possible case scenarios. Sadly, but truthfully, most of the things you worry about never really happen. This negative thought pattern reinforces a cycle of gloom.
One practical way to overcome to deal with this is trying to live in the moment or what is generally known as practising mindfulness. This is not something that comes easy, it is a skill or habit you must consciously learn. Unfortunately, we all seem to be wired to think about the next thing rather than living in the present. A few tips to help you here:
- Set aside at least 15 minutes daily in a quiet, calm and soothing environment where you can be alone. You can increase the time as you progress in this exercise and begin to see results
- Consciously concentrate on the moment – feel your senses of smell, sound, sight, taste and touch. Listen to your heartbeat.
- Take away all distractions, turn off the mobile phone and any device which can produce noise.
- Center down – listen to your inner thoughts, feel your breath. Take deep breaths
- When your thoughts wander, gently get back om focus. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
- When your alarm goes off, keep your eyes closed for a moment, be thankful.
Guard Your Lips
“The Power of life and death is in the tongue” (Prov. 18:21); “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:3, Matt.4:4). Pay attention to your self-talk. Sometimes when I struggle with negative thoughts, I have found speaking out loud to counter those thoughts very effective. I do this in front of my mirror sometimes, or under my breathe if in a place where I can’t speak out loud and after a while, I usually notice a shift in my thought pattern. Acknowledge the negative thoughts, but don’t dwell there. Speak positive words into your life, your words carry creative power. Tell yourself “today is going to be good”, ‘I see success, favour, prosperity and peace all around me”, “Opportunities are coming my way”, “Doors are opening for me everywhere I look”, “My health is perfect, my income is growing, my business is blooming”, “I have power over every negative thought, I can control my feelings”, “I can overcome anything that comes my way today, life is good and beautiful” “I step into a new level in my career, relationships and business”, “Everything is working out for my good“. Finally, there is a powerful Bible passage I found very helpful some years ago. Try repeating this out loud several times a day for a week or two and watch the difference it makes in your life. That Scripture is Phil. 4:13 “I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME“
Practise the Art of Journaling
One of the exercises I usually ask my students or mentees to do is to create a vision board. I get them to bring clarity to their goals and motivate themselves to bring them alive. I am always amazed when their faces lit up with the sudden realization of the bright future that lies ahead of them. Rather than just creating a mental picture of your desired future, put it down on paper, find images that remind you of those goals, put them in a place where you can see them everyday. For one moment, ask yourself “if everything I wanted in life was possible without any limitations, what would I like my life to look like?” Allow your mind to travel, dream and see the bigger picture, then write those thoughts down. In addition, create a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, write down at least 5 things to be thankful for. Think of the good things which happened during the day, no matter how little or insignificant.
Get Enough Sleep & Exercise
Sleep can be therapeutic. It impacts you your mental wellbeing, body weight, heart, mind and brain function. It has also been said that adequate sleep prolongs life span, helps to improve memory, sparks creativity, enhances your attention and significantly lowers stress levels. Good and adequate sleep helps emotional stability, decrease anxiety, enhances your mood and lowers depression.
Exercise on the hand releases endorphins which improve natural immunity and enhances your mood. Regular exercises have also been found to lower blood pressure, protect against heart diseases, obesity, dementia, diabetes; increases self-esteem and self-confidence. A combination of all these helps you to bet better equipped to deal with depression.
Forgive Yourself, Forgive Others
I once read that “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner is you” Learning to forgive yourself and others will remove a major roadblock to your recovery from depression. Sometimes, we make mistakes and instead of learning from our mistakes and moving on, we stay in the place of regret and remorse which might degenerate to depression. As long as you hold back forgiveness, you deprive yourself valuable peace. Forgiveness doesn’t change what has happened in the past, but it helps to mold and shape the future. It is one the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Let go! When you refuse to forgive, you are actually holding yourself down.
Desist from holding a grudge, don’t give anyone that power over you to control how you feel. When you do forgive, it’s like an emotional burden is taken off you, your mood improves and you are better able to overcome depression.
Do you want to learn more about this subject? I recommend you get a copy of this audiobook by Lysa Terkeurst titled “It’s Not Supposed to be This Way”