Depression can be genetic, biological, environmental, or psychological, according to the National Institute of Mental Illness. In Buddhism it is believed that depression is caused by focusing on past experiences. You could have suffered severe trauma, witnessed a violent act, been assaulted physically and/or sexually, or suffered a loss. Depression is on a spectrum meaning everyone has experienced feelings of depression, but the duration and level varies.
So let’s talk about how to work through the feelings of depression and find some light at the end of the very dark tunnel. (This is not a replacement for therapy and/or following up with a psychiatrist).
Ways to manage symptoms of depression:
Running and/or exercising. Running can give you a sense of accomplishment. Many people start off only capable of running a mile with small breaks of walking. Then they find themselves capable of running a marathon. This level of success is very important when dealing with depression as it provides you with a sense of self and a long term goal to work towards. This is a phenomenal way to increase levels of endorphins. Endorphins are the feel good chemical. It’s the way you feel after a great workout at the gym.
Reading and/or journaling. I recommend this often to my clients. Too often we are tapped into the social media world and it can actually have a negative effect on those who are coping with depression. Many people read posts and see pictures of families and everyone having fun with friends. It appears that there is lots of fun in the world and you are on your couch watching TV alone. However, if you turn off the social media nonsense and get in tune with yourself you can unleash serious potential. Reading new books can send your mind on a wild adventure and sense of freedom. You feel connected to characters and it’s something you can take with you, whether it is the train, restaurant, or park.
Journaling is another crucial piece in the healing process. Allowing yourself to be brutally honest without judgement or criticism is vital. Journals are great for people who enjoy writing poems and jotting down thoughts and feelings of the day.
Engaging in a new activity. When you’re depressed it is very easy to lay on the sofa or in bed. Often, it’s even difficult to take a shower. However, if you’re tired of the same old clothes you’ve had on for days and want a change… MAKE IT HAPPEN. I know it’s hard and scary, but get out there. Often there are book clubs that occur in your local library or Barnes and Nobles. There are open mic nights where people get together and read their work. It may be cool to take a class on something you’ve been interested in for a while. (I’m going back to yoga tomorrow!) Whatever it is and whatever you find just take that first step and GO. You never know what you may find.
Meditation. Ah, the last and most important one in coping with depression. Often our minds race with thoughts and negative self-talk. “We are worthless, stupid, losers, fat, ugly, etc.” We bash ourselves and are our own worst enemies at times. However, I encourage you… take a seat and just free yourself. Meditation can be a spiritual practice or a method of healing. I use incense and meditation sounds. I practice in front of a Buddha to bring awareness and respect. Whatever works for you. Once you find a quiet space in your home sit with your legs crossed and your palms face down on your knees. Relaxing your head, neck, shoulders, and back. Eyes slightly open… begin to concentrate on your breathing. Inhale. Exhale. The mind is focused on the breathe. This is done for either 5 minutes every day or some can do an hour! The most important thing to do is practice.
These are only recommendations of things I’ve seen work with others and myself. Depression is serious and those who have been experiencing depression with no remedy for a period of time should seek outside services.
PsychologyToday.com has an array of counselors and psychiatrist available in your area.
Sending you healing, peace, and love.