A proactive approach to depression
Every now and then something happens in life that creates a massive shift in mood. When this happens, there is the possibility that depression or anxiety will follow. A proactive approach is beneficial to pull yourself out of this deep state of mind.
Last night I listened to Derren Brown talk, he remarked on Freud’s intention of helping others move from neurotic misery into common unhappiness. Derren Brown aligned this with his view that we either feel unhappy with the present and strive to reach a pre-set goal or we meet goals and find that we become bored with nothing to do.
Living through the teachings of The Buddha or more recently Jon Kabat Zinn, achieves a life without judgement of feelings. Nothing is negative or positive and one is always present in the moment. This lifestyle takes dedication. Outside of this lifestyle, there are several techniques, that when combined can bring you out of a depressed state of mind back to the common unhappiness. From which point following mindfulness achieves the content state of ‘living in the present’.
To learn more about some tried and tested routes to happiness, I spoke with someone that has lived through it. Experiencing chronic fatigue when burning the candle at both ends, James was told by the doctor that if he did not stop the law degree and calm the partying, he would not recover. This meant a sudden halt to life which left him feeling depressed. This slump lasted for a period before James realised that he needed to make some changes. A practice of self-care followed.
Stop and reflect
By stopping James found that he had time to reflect and consider whether he felt happy.
When life is going ok, the busyness can prevent you from looking within and questioning whether all aspects of your life bring you joy.
Schedule some time to question the value that everything you do brings into your life.
Pressure from external sources makes us feel like certifications and big paychecks equal success. I prefer to view success as joy. What good is academic or financial success when misery surrounds it?
During my diploma course, my hypnotherapy teacher Terence Watts told me that everybody could do with some therapy. At the time, a therapist in training I vehemently disagreed with this. More than a decade later I am fully on board!
In the UK we are particularly stoic and considered internationally as repressed, unemotional, resilient, and self-controlled. Qualities that in some situations are beneficial but when you leave the sports field or the office and come home, repressed, and unemotional qualities hinder deep connections.
By seeking the support of a therapist, you can learn to understand yourself and express your emotions clearly. James found that by seeking the support of a counsellor he learnt tools to deal with situations, including how to explain his feelings to family without hurting them.
The therapist helped James to realise that it was ok, everything that had happened, but it did not have to be that way and he had an option. It was up to him and he was in control. He could choose. He did not have to keep going down the same path and had the power to choose a different path. James said this left him feeling empowered and strengthened relationships.
If the word therapist makes you feel uncomfortable try a life coach, a mentor that will guide you through the obstacles in your life so that you have the freedom to live your best life.
What can you change?
I recently wrote a blog post in which I quote Stephen Covey who says, “Seek to understand before being understood”. This does not mean suppressing yourself for the sake of others, but it does mean stop reacting instinctively.
James said that he began to look at where he fitted into the puzzle and what he could do differently. Before he questions anything, he questions himself and his own behaviour, with the knowledge that he has the ability to push himself too far, this can prevent exhaustion reappearing and – in line with Covey’s advice - improves relationships. Ask yourself, what am I bringing and what am I doing to create this situation? Always focusing on awareness rather than blame.
Affirmations and meditation
James uses affirmations, meditations, and yoga regularly. I write about positive affirmations in my blog post Positive thinking and living to change your reality. Used regularly, positive affirmations revolutionise your way of thinking. Positive affirmations work well when combined with meditation and spoken as a mantra -Seven Different Meditations, their uses and why and Meditation as Normality can be read on my website.
Yoga practise often incorporates meditation and is sometimes considered an active form of meditation. Yoga Nidra is a formal yogic meditation, you can follow an online guide or attend a class. In time you will learn your own way of meditating.
The initial thought of knowing he needed to do something sparked James to begin his eighteen-month journey of recovery. Therapy gave him the base from which to jump as it equipped him with a box full of tools to use in various situations.
James lived this experience fifteen years ago and today it is the affirmations, meditation and yoga that keep him well. Alongside greater self-knowledge that he credits with giving him the ability to know when tiredness strikes, and he slows down.
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