Hey folks. Here I share with you the stage one of the program I’ve developed for helping you overcome your depression. As depression is a compound problem you need to attack it from different directions. But first let’s overview some important facts related to depression.
The most important facts you need to understand about treating depression
1- No medication or compound alone can cure your depression.
Depression results from a mismatch between your needs and wants on the one hand and your environment on the other. Therefore medicines and supplements can only be partially helpful. You can’t solve all our problems by simply popping out a pill. Pills are just crutches that you should ONLY use to help yourself get back to normal. Being dependent on antidepressants for year after year does not make any sense. It just indicates that your antidepressant has not been helpful or that you’ve not been able to take advantage of the boost they gave you to organize your life. Moreover antidepressants have serious side effects such as weight gain and sexual dysfunction. They also cause withdrawal problems that your doctor may never tell you about. I will write about all of these in detail later.
Look, I’m not telling you not to try antidepressants. They’ve been helpful to me in the past; but just for a while. Antidepressants are most useful when you are so severely depresses that you can’t even get out of bed. But even then it takes them a long time to take effect. Yes, I know that depression is related chemical imbalances in the brain however most of the time the chemical imbalances are the effect and not the cause. The idea of this blog is that by various healthy activities and by replacing unhealthy habits with healthy ones you can beat depression.
2- To cure your depression you have to push yourself; you have to step out of your comfort zone.
I’m sorry, but that’s right; the responsibility for treating your depression is on you and not on your doctor, other people, the government or God. Depression increases your inertia (lethargy) and so you can think of it as going down a spiral. If you don’t make any effort you’ll reach a point that doing any activity, even getting out of the bed, becomes very difficult. Counseling and antidepressants can make it easier for you to go back up however without making enough effort on your part you can’t get back to normal.
The program: Stage 1
Here is the detailed program. Try this for a couple of months and then I’ll talk about the Stage 2. Some of the items on this list are mentioned briefly and I’ll write more about them later.
Listen to happy music
Music has a magical ability to affect human mood, for good or for bad. even before the dawn of civilization.
So your job is to find more and more good happy energetic music and listen to them as much as you can. Don’t let yourself have any “lonely melancholy spells”. Fill all your alone time with happy and rich music.
DO NOT LISTEN TO ANY SAD MUSIC. Leave sad music for when you’re happy! Several years ago I was feeling sad and I kept listening to Adagio in G minor over and over again and I kept getting sadder and sadder. You don’t do that.
Not just the music you listen to has to be happy, it’s important that it is engaging and of high quality. Modern pop and soft rock music that you hear on popular radio stations is of low quality and just does not cut it. Jazz, specially “chunky” jazz is one of the best as it has a rich rhythm that engages your brain. Find a jazz radio station near you and if there is no one, listen to one online. Here is one: WBGO.
It’s important that you listen to music LOUD. If your environment does not let you do so, use headphones, preferably over the ear ones and turn it as loud as you can without hurting your ears. I know it may feel uncomfortable at first but as I said to cure depression you need to step out of your comfort zone.
Here are a few songs to get you started.
Don’t you already feel a little better after listening to these songs? You’ll keep getting better and better if you follow the steps outlined here.
There is a wealth of great music that you can’t find on commercial radios so you should dig a little further. There are a plethora of different music radio stations from around the world you can listen to on on the shoutcast website. Here I share with you my favorite music radio station, one of the best and most eclectic radio stations in the world that you can listen to online: FIP radio.
Move your ass
This is good both for your physical health and for decreasing your lethargy. Humans did not evolve (or created, if you wish) to be seated all day long. They were scavengers scouring the wildernesses in the search of food. And guess what: you have the same body as they had. As I mentioned above depression makes you lethargic and so you have to counteract its force. In the height of my depression I was lying on bed for most of the day long and only went to bathroom when it became urgent. So you need to make an effort so that you won’t end up like that. Here’s how.
Don’t be seated for more than an hour in a row. Get up and take a (short) walk, shake your booty, jump up and down or do body weight squats. Squatting is one of the best body weight exercises that engages your whole body. Aim for at least 30 squats in a set and at least two sets per day.
Stretch. Do them 2-3 times a day and see how much they make you feel better.
Go for walks. I make sure to take a walk of at least 30 minutes everyday. And whenever I can, I go for hiking.
Thank me later!
You’ll notice that as you become more physically active and mobile, you get happier too. This is because physical activity makes your central nervous system produce more endorphins which can produce a feeling of euphoria.
Of course you can do much more. You can run, do calisthenics, lift and even do Crossfit. I’ll talk about those later but for now let me tell you that if you’re overweight or older than 30 then running can hurt your knees.
In my own experience working out regularly completely eliminates my depression. It does not solve all the problems in my life but it enables me to go through the vicissitudes of my life like someone in armor. More on this later.
Take care of your nutrition
Be choosy about what you put in your body and make sure you get all the nutrient you need. Junk food is “food” that does not supply your body with the nutritions that it needs and often contains harmful additives. It includes most fast and packaged foods. Good, fresh and delicious food makes you feel better compared to junk food and gives your body the nutrients it needs. I’ll write a detailed article on how to cook easily but for now take this tip: get a crockpot.
Take care of yourself and your domicile
Take showers everyday, keep your apartment tidy and dress up. Doing these makes you feel better about yourself. It also sends a message to you and to the others that you value yourself.
Put your best foot and the best version of yourself forward and see how people’s reactions to you change for the better. If people ask you why you’re dressed up tell them “This is how I am”. This is also a first step in stopping to care what other people think.
Don’t complain to others
Why? For one thing complaining reinforces your feeling of misfortune. Remember: your goal is not to be wallowing in pity for the rest of your life but to reach a state of happiness. Believe me that this is possible.
As my own experience shows this can be difficult at first. When you’re depressed it’s like all the problems of the world are yours AND that they are the most important things ever. But other people don’t really care as much. They prefer to be with a happy and energetic person over a sad and one any time of the day. This applies even to your close friends.
Skimp on watching TV
Why? Because TV is full of unreal stories of good looking people who don’t seem to have any real problems in their lives (sitcoms). It also wants to exploit your insecurities to make you buy stuff (commercials). You want to be the actor of your life yourself; to be your own hero. You don’t want to be someone who only watches others live their happy lives.
I know this can be difficult at first. A few years ago I stopped watching TV and that was one of the best decisions I ever made. There is no going back for me. You however don’t have to go that far. Just be mindful of when you’re living through TV characters and when watching TV prevents you from planning for your life. The same thing goes for social media.
Instead read a useful book or do something productive.
This is in line with the previous item. The point is to decrease the flow of (useless) information from the outside into your brain and allow your mind to become serene. If you’re depressed or anxious, your mind becomes vulnerable to be overtaken by your (negative) thoughts. Meditation is to combat exactly that. Think of your mind when you’re meditating as a boxing ring. Thoughts want to jump in and take over the ring. When you meditate you punch those bozos out of the ring; you don’t let them take over your mind.
I will write a detailed article on meditation later but for now you do it like this. Allocate some 10-20 minutes. Sit down, lie on the couch or take a walk in a quiet area. Listen to white noise to block outside sounds if needed. Close your eyes if possible. Breathe deeply so that your belly is inflates. And don’t engage with any thought that comes to your mind.
It’s almost impossible not to find some time for meditating everyday so no excuses!
One thing that depression does to you is that it narrows down your mind. For example you may keep thinking about a person of the opposite sex (or same sex) even though they indicated to you that they were not interested in you. This would make you not notice all the other opportunities that are available to you. Therefore it is necessary to step out of your daily beaten path every once in a while.
Traveling gives you a different perspective on life. When you travel you are away from your problems and bad memories. You realize that life can be lived differently compared to what you’re used to.
It’s best to travel to a location which is geographically and culturally different from where you live in. But if your budget does not allow traveling to a far away place, just visit a different part of your town, visit museums (there are many free ones), go hiking, etc.
When away you’ll be able to view and analyze your problems without being mired in them. As some of your problems are caused by your environment, you may even start thinking of moving to a different and/or better place.