If you are depressed then you’re stuck in a rot and need to figure out a way of getting out of it. You can regard depression as a trap. You did not fall into it at will but you can get out of it by the force of will. You can also be stuck in a rut without feeling depressed although staying in a rot can be depressing. Either way, in this article I will tell you about four basic rules that if followed can get you out of the rot you are in, no matter what it is.
1-Struggle not to waste any time
When you are depressed it can be very difficult to get anything done, even fun stuff. You may not feel any motivation or energy for doing anything. But ask yourself this question: tomorrow, a month, a year or a decade from now, will you be better off having done the stuff or not?
One effect of depression on your thinking is that it can make you forget that there is a future. You can get caught up in the present or the past so much that you forget to prepare for tomorrow. But guess what: tomorrow, or the next year, is just around the corner you’d better plan for it.
Here I have to tell you something that may sound a little harsh: if you don’t plan and work for future, you won’t get out of your rot. Remember one of our main principles on this website: to get out of depression you have no choice but to push yourself a little.
Getting stuff done instead of procrastinating them, even if it is simple chores, has several benefits for you. For one thing, it frees your time for more important stuff. For another, even doing simple stuff like tidying up your place or doing the laundry gives you a feeling of accomplishment that builds up over time. It is beneficial for you and makes you feel better, even if just a little bit. These little bits then add up over time.
It might be infinitely difficult for you to get out of the bed or off the couch but in the end you’ll be better off if you do it. Remember what the old proverb says:
Just do it!
2-Don’t waste your brain cycles on useless stuff
I say brain cycles, like CPU cycles. In places (such as research institutes) that there is a supercomputer, each task has a limited time to use the CPUs on the machine because, well, it costs to acquire and maintain the machine. Your brain is not that different from a supercomputer. You can use it to achieve great things if you don’t spend its power on useless stuff.
What are such useless stuff? Basically anything that is out of your control. These include things that happened in the past, politics, celebrities, TV shows, other people’s affairs, etc. Basically things that hardly have anything to do with your current self and your goals.
If you’re depressed you may spend a lot of time ruminating about the past. Depression has even been characterized as feeling threatened after the source of threat is gone. However the past is past and reliving past memories will not change anything. Make a conscious effort to stop yourself from ruminating and direct your attention and energy towards things that make you feel good instead.
3-Prioritize more important stuff over less important
Think which things are more important and more likely to make you happy (or happier) in the long run and prioritize them over the less important ones. For example if I can pay online bills or practice the guitar, I get the latter done first because paying the bills does not require any intelligence and can be done at any time. Between writing an article for this weblog and practicing the guitar I prioritize the former because it takes more effort and personally gives me more of a feeling of fulfillment.
I used to be very scatter brained, easily distracted by unimportant stuff. For example when I was working (my work requires a lot of concentration) and I received an email, I would read it immediately. Then it might include something that needed my attention such as a bill that looked like too much and I’d be totally sidetracked.
I however stopped doing so. Frankly that is not the way to live. To have success in anything, even simple stuff such as reading a book in due time, you need to concentrate; you need to disallow yourself from being distracted. Look, you need concentration EVEN FOR RELAXING. Otherwise you try to relax but your mind keeps worrying about stuff. If you’ve ever had anxiety you know what I’m talking about. Once you get the task at hand done, you will free to attend to other stuff.
If you have difficulty preventing your mind from getting distracted, or from having racing thoughts, doing meditative stuff can be of great help. You can mediate (about which I will write soon) but you can also do other meditative activities such as learning/playing an instrument or spending time in nature. In all such activities it is important to willfully and consciously preventing your thoughts from wandering. Focusing on your breath or doing something that requires your full attention (such as playing music) helps tremendously.
4-Don’t spend undue time on anything
Things such as making decisions or figuring new things out can take a lot of your time. If you are the obsessive type (and depression can make you obsessive) you can spend hours on such things and therefore forgetting other important stuff.
One effective way to solve this problem is to allocate a specific amount of time to each task in advance. Also have a list of the things you want or need to d so that the current task at hand won’t make you forget about them.
It’s not easy to achieve anything great if you don’t have a good attitude. Develop a habit of always having a smile on your face even when stuck in a traffic jam. It does not have to (and better not) be a big goofy grin. A little smile to soften your mood is enough. This creates a feedback loop that changes your mood for the better. In the long run it can change your attitude from irritable or frustrated to a more content and appreciative one. Give it a try and see for yourself. You’ll see that other people’s reactions to you will change for the better as well.
There you have it, 4+1 rules that can get you out of any rot. All you need to do is to make use of them. Notice that I didn’t mention how to find the desired status that you want to reach. This will come to you naturally if you follow the above rules and cut away the unnecessary, the useless and the harmful.