We all know the feeling of daily depression. It is that sh$%house state where you feel depressed for no particular reason. You can’t seem to get excited or happy about anything and you feel boxed-in, trapped and alone.
In this post I am going to show you 5 simple ways to destroy those feelings of daily depression. Everyone can use these suggestions and I promise at least one of them will make a difference in your life.
Daily depression vs clinical depression
Before I get into the meat of the post I want to qualify some terms. Daily depression is a phrase that I came up with to describe that general feeling of being down in the dumps. We all get it occasionally – it might be related to work or marriage or your life in general – but it is basically just feeling down for no real reason.
Clinical depression, on the other hand, is a more serious issue. This type of depression can severely affect the way you live your life and requires treatment from a doctor or counselor. While daily depression might be a symptom of a more serious type of depression, this post is more about how to destroy those down-and-out feelings that we all get sometimes.
The idea of destroying feelings
I want to talk about something important here. The idea of “destroying” your feelings is an interesting one. The idea is based in Buddhist thought and my interest was sparked when I read a quote by the famous master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche who said this about his ego:
“I don’t like you. I am going to destroy you.”
The idea here is that his ego is the source of his problems and as such he is going to do everything he can to cut that ego off at the root. We can do the same thing for our depression. We understand that it is causing us problems and as such we are going to try to eradicate it.
Now, I do not think that “destroying” necessarily means violence and explosions and angry retaliation. You are never going to solve your depression that way. What it does mean is that you are going to take certain steps to ensure that you conquer it. Think of this destruction as coming about through peace treaty, not war!
5 ways to destroy your daily depression
Now that I have done a little bit of in introduction I would like to get into the main part of the post. Here are five ways that you can start destroying your daily moods of depression. See how they work for you. And don’t forget, if I miss anything out please leave a comment and let us all know.
1. Get into some wide open space
I work from home. I sit in a nice little room with my nice little laptop. My cat sits next to me on a blanket and watches me all day as I type away. It is quite lovely. But every now and then I get a massive case of cabin fever. My mood changes and I feel depressed, cooped up and down for no real reason. When this happens I find that wide open space cures me.
So, I grab my laptop, get in my car, stop off for a coffee and head up to a spot about 10 minutes from my house. It is a beautiful lookout area that overlooks my entire city. Here is a photo I took for you all today:
The place is chirping with birds, buzzing with bees and there is a serene breeze that comes down the hill and washes over the whole area. I open up the windows of my car, turn on my lap top and work while the wind blows over me. There I am, in the center of wide open space, working away.
Wide open space is actually listed in many ancient Buddhist texts as a way to destroy feelings of depression. When you are in the middle of space you feel alive, invigorated and full of energy. Your mind slowly starts to loosen up and you lose those feelings of captivity – captivated by work, money, mortgages and stress. When your mind loosens up into the space you become free, open and calm.
If you want to destroy your daily depression I highly encourage you to find a place where you can go and just sit in space. It might be the middle of a super large football field or it might be a lookout like mine. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you take time to relax and open up into the space. Let your mind loosen up into its natural state.
Actually, I discovered the power of wide open spaces when I was in India. I wrote about it in this post on my rock high in the Himalayas.
2. Meet with some healthy friends
Time for something a little bit more scientific. I recently heard about a study which involved a whole bunch of depressed people. The study gave them each a different method for dealing with their depression and in the end it was found that associating with people was the most effective method. However, it was the method least engaged in because quite often you don’t feel like seeing anyone when you are feeling depressed.
Human beings are, for the most part, very social creatures. We are built that way. We live in communities, marry other humans for (ideally) the long term and we raise big families that last lifetimes. We love socializing. So it makes sense that being around other people is going to make us happy.
However, there is a danger here. Quite often human beings choose to socialize with the wrong crowd. We pick people that give us instant gratification, take us out for big Friday night benders and ultimately lead us down a self-destructive path. What I would like to propose is that instead of picking just anyone to connect with, you connect with healthy friends and family.
Here is my reasoning. Once I was in India attending a teaching of a very great lama. This lama was teaching about how to safeguard your ethics and he started the teaching by saying something very profound:
“A crystal reflects whatever color is around it. Put white paper underneath and it turns white. Put black paper underneath and it turns black. Be careful who you associate with. Put a rose in a bag of fish and soon the rose will stink too. Be careful who you associate with.”
I was quite struck by his words and it immediately hit me that our friends and associates have a massive effect on who we are and how we behave. If we hang out with criminals we are probably more likely to be involved in a crime. But, if we find healthy, happy, compassionate and loving friends it is more likely that their positive influence will rub off on us.
If you are experiencing feelings of daily depression it is a great idea to meet with some people that live a healthy and happy life. Go out for lunch or meet up to watch a DVD. The very act of being around a compassionate person will benefit your mind in so many ways. It is very rare that you leave feeling worse than when you arrived.
3. Eat food that accords with your mood
photo credit: nicholaschan
Food is something that we need to choose carefully. It is not just something we eat to fill our hunger, it is our fuel, our lifeblood, our energy. Choose the right food and you can feel energetic, healthy and awake. Choose the wrong food and you can be left feeling depressed and heavy.
The idea of choosing foods that suit your mental state is not one often heard of in Western society. We are mostly concerned with low carb, low calorie, low fat or some other health kick like that. But in the East they often pick foods based on the season and how their mind is behaving.
For example, if you are feeling sleepy, depressed and tired it is a good idea to eat light foods like fresh fruits, fruit juice and other natural produce. You want to avoid heavy things with lots of fat in them. On the other hand, if your mind is going a million miles and hour you might want to try eating some heavier foods like wholegrain bread sandwiches, free range eggs and milk. This will help to slow your mind down a little bit.
On the whole I suggest that everyone should eat a diet based mostly around natural foods. This does not mean you have to go organic or anything like that, it just means you should avoid man-made foods like pasta, baked goods, candy, bars, soda, etc. and replace them with fruits, vegetables, free range eggs, etc. A healthy body often leads to a healthy mental state.
Here is another post I wrote about foods that make you stressed, anxious and depressed.
4. Shift your perspective
Quite often daily depression comes about due to a negative perspective. Instead of seeing all the positive things in life you focus on the bad things. Instead of seeing the potential in your situation you focus on the doom. One way to destroy your depression now and in the long term is to shift your perspective.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama often talks about how important it is to shift your perspective. If you can shift your perspective you can turn your the worst hatred into the best compassion. For example, let’s pretend that a drink driver crashed into your car causing you to go to hospital. It would be easy to hate this person. But, if you use logical thoughts you might be able to shift your perspective from hatred to love. Perhaps the person was drinking because their partner just cheated on them? Perhaps the were drinking because they had a terrible upbringing and are suffering from severe depression. What if they spend all day and all night regretting what they had done to you? Would you still want to be angry?
This is just one example of how you can shift your perspective. The same can be done for any situation that makes you depressed. If you are thinking a lot about how much your work sucks then make a shift to thinking about how lucky you are to even have a job after the latest financial crisis. If you are worried about being an angry person make a shift and think about how fortunate you are to be able to recognize that there is work to be done. Simple shifts like this can go a long way.
Remember, the mind can be trained. You are in control of that training. It might not seem like it at the moment but the more you work with your mind the more responsive it will be. After a few months of shifting your perspective you might find that the negative one never arises at all!
5. Start helping others with their depression
photo credit: super.heavy
One of the most meaningful and powerful ways to destroy your daily depression is to start helping other people with their depression. This is a fail safe method that will enhance the quality of your life and make you feel like you are doing something worthwhile.
Helping others with depression does not mean going and getting a psychology degree and sitting people down on a big couch and listening to their life problems. It is more than that. It is a lifestyle, a mental attitude, a commitment to be of assistance. Did you ever have a person you could go as a teenager where you always felt safe? It might have been your best friend’s dad or a sporting coach. Do you remember how that felt? It was like getting a bear hug from the universe! Whatever you were doing and wherever you were you always knew you could go to see that person.
Well that is what I am talking about. Being like that for other people. When they are down and in the dumps they can come to you knowing that you care. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give a person and it is one of the most rewarding ways to deal with your depression.
I would like to finish this article with one of my favorite quotes of all time. I think this quote perfectly sums up the sentiment of this final point. I read it often.
“For as long as space endures,
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I, too, remain
To dispel the misery of the world.”
– Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva