Steps to stay away from depression from depression’s point of view
Even though the title brings attention to depression, the suggestions given in this article can be helpful for anyone who wants to have more joy and peace in their lives. I debated whether to title it ‘Steps towards Happiness’ which highlights the destination and seems more appropriate for its positiveness. I decided against it because it is what it is: We all have our down moments in life. It is helpful to shine a torch onto where we currently are, before moving on to a nicer destination.
Everyone’s journey is unique. This article is about things from my experience that anyone can incorporate in their lives to achieve happiness but is not medical advice. Some people need more help than others and there is nothing wrong with that. If you are currently under guidance from a healthcare professional, please discuss with them before getting off medication or terminating their services. Slow progress might mean a good foundation and at the most difficult period of our lives, we need as much help as we can get.
Yes, ‘Steps to stay away from depression from depression’s point of view’. You read the title correctly and it is not an error. Previously I talked about my own experience with depression. Here I would like to share with you some simple steps you can easily introduce into your life in order to stay away from it. The following is one of the most curious regression experiences I have had and is the inspiration behind this article.
I know that not everyone believes that we have past lives or parallel lives. It’s fine! It does not matter at all whether what we saw during regression really existed or not. In fact, at times I need to remind my clients not to dwell on what came through and only take the messages and learnings that they received through the experience. For example, a client who saw themselves doing some major bad things in a past life might need to learn to accept other people’s mistakes, and not for them to feel all guilty about it. Let’s read the following as a story and see what we can learn from it.
The opposite of fairy dust
As the picture came into focus, I found myself in a room that felt like a dungeon. It was a very dark room lit by an oil lamp on a desk. The atmosphere was stifling in there but the man I was looking at seemed too engrossed in writing something to notice his environment. His desk was full of books and piles of papers. Am I supposed to be him?
I felt all weird when I noticed him staring right at me, as if he was studying me. Who am I? What am I? I started looking and feeling if I had a body. No, there was nothing as I looked down to where my body should be. Suddenly, a thought came:
I was Depression!
My logical mind said I couldn’t be. The all-knowing part of me knew it was true despite the impossibility of it. My mind then said, ‘Okay let’s see what happens!’ I observed myself a little – I didn’t have a solid form. The closest description I can give you is for you to imagine fairy dust which is supposed to sparkle and brighten the ambience. I, as depression, was the opposite.
The guided meditation voice asked the scene to be changed. No change where I was, only that the man seemed to age a little. He was still bending over his desk and from time to time, he seemed to look right at me in a pensive mood – ah! He was studying me, his depression! It was odd to consider depression as a ‘thing’ but there it was.
The final scene appeared as prompted and it was the final day of this man’s life. We were still in the same room that was filled with heavy energy. He had committed suicide by hanging himself. As depression, I remained in the room as part of the heavy energy.
The lesson of this story
Depression is a ‘thing’ and makes one feels heavy as any ‘heavy’ energies do. It is basically harmless: it can’t make anyone do anything. The man, however, took his own life because he didn’t have anything worth living for since he put all his focus on depression.
Steps to stay away from depression
1. Acknowledge its existence
Even though you are trying to get rid of your depression, it is part of you right now. To deny or dismiss its existence is like putting a lid on the rubbish bin, letting whatever it is inside rot. If you fight it, you are fighting with yourself. Acknowledging it is accepting that this is part of you right now and be at ease with yourself. From here, you can make plans to move on from this chapter of your life.
You can tell yourself these words, you can change some of the words or say whatever that applies to you: ‘This is where I am right now. Sometimes I’m depressed. I acknowledge that this is part of me. I accept myself and all parts of me.’ Take a deep breath and let out a sigh as you breathe out. Give yourself a hug and set a goal as to where you want to be e.g. joyful, content, peaceful. At times we are so busy to try to leave wherever we don’t want to be and forget to wish for our dream destination. It’s helpful to focus on what we want and not to dwell on what we don’t want.
2. Explore your senses
This might sound strange but one thing that got me out of the dark clouds was the sense of touch. One day while searching for something in my large and messy bag, I realized that I could differentiate different items by touching the objects. That was the first time I noticed how clever my fingers were and I experienced this unexplainable sense of joy. Since then whenever I found myself falling into despair, I find something for my hands to do and focus on the magical ability of touch.
Most of us can see, hear, smell, taste and touch, and yet most of the time we take these senses for granted and not really using them. Do you taste the food you eat? Do you see details of your surroundings? Do you literally stop and smell the flowers and listen to birdsongs?
Our world is full of wonderful things and when we connect with it more through our senses, we get to appreciate our surroundings a little bit more. It doesn’t mean we can only stay out of down moments when we have flowers in our homes. Depression is internal and when we use our senses, we are in touch with the outside world and perhaps that would take you away from that internal turmoil for a little while. And if all you smell is stale air, maybe it’s time to let in some fresh air or even give your home a clean.
3. Make your home a Sanctuary
When I was working as a flight attendant, I used to listen to my colleagues’ sorrow: heartbreaks, financial struggles, sad family situations, etc. Apart from listening, I had not much to offer. Usually at the end, I would suggest that they do some tidying and cleaning at home. They all asked me, ‘How do you know my home is messy?’ I didn’t. I only suggested it because manual work does take people’s minds away from internal conflicts and afterwards, we can enjoy a clean and tidy home.
There is no need to be ambitious though. If you have left your home in a very messy state, sorting it out in one go is too much for anyone to attempt. Perhaps start with your bed, maybe the corner where you usually sit, maybe a forgotten drawer. Little by little. Sorting out our physical surrounding often has a positive effect on our psyche. At least you can now enjoy your home a little bit more and please congratulate yourself on your effort!
Maybe it’s time to do some decluttering too. All those clothes that no longer give us joy, souvenirs from past holidays that we no longer cherish, and so many more items that we no longer need or want that do nothing but taking up space in our precious homes. Through making space in our home, we leave behind past baggage and make space in our heart and mind for good feelings and thoughts.
Your home might already be sparkly clean and in top shape – how much do you know it? If you usually sit in the same place, perhaps sitting somewhere else can give you a new perspective of your home and maybe your situation too.
Please remember to cleanse your home of any heavy energies. The easiest ways to do this would be letting in fresh air by opening the windows. Calming music has positive effect on both the environment and the mind. Do a search on the internet with keywords such as ‘cleansing frequency for home’ and you will find many free suitable tracks.
4. Get in touch with the real world
Depression is sometimes so heavy that makes people become immobile while much turmoil goes on within. Let’s give yourself a holiday from this turmoil by getting in touch with the real world. By real world I don’t mean ‘look at the starving children’. Comparing yourself with other people won’t help you and you have every right to be depressed even if you have a good job, nice house and everything that people normally wish for. My ex-boyfriend used to tell me off for being depressed and he did no help but adding guilt to my heaviness and I learnt to fake happiness in his presence.
By real world I mean physical world. Stay away from your phone, computer, television and even books for a little while. You might be reading up some helpful tips to stay away from depression, but being in the physical world is very important. Spending time in the nature is certainly wonderful but this might not be practical for everyone. How about taking a walk in your neighbourhood or your local park?
When I facilitate healing sessions for clients, often messages come through with practical things that clients can do to help themselves. Once there was a message for a client who suffered from depression which said, ‘When you go for walks, notice the surrounding.’ The client promptly said he went for walks often. ‘What about the second part of the message?’ He looked as if it had never crossed his mind to notice his surroundings! Let’s remember to connect with the physical world by using our senses whether we are at home or outside.
Everyone knows exercises is good for both the body and the mind. If you already exercise regularly, great! Be sure that your mind is with the body though. Feel every part of your body and whenever your mind starts wandering, bring it back by focusing on your breath so that you can benefit from the exercise fully.
Before every yoga class, I like to think of little things about myself that I want to change or understand. I found that every class is like a self-healing session and I always feel lighter and receive insights to my quest towards the end of the class. You could set a goal before your exercise routine/class too.
Some people are allergic to the idea of doing exercise, thinking that it is only for sporty people. This is a myth that perhaps the schooling system showed us. Doesn’t matter! Being in the body while utilizing it already works wonder. For example, when you are walking, be with the body by noticing what your body is doing. Are you letting your arms swing freely? Are you holding yourself up straight in a relaxed way? Are you breathing in and out comfortably?
It’s wonderful to stretch out your body when you get out of bed in the morning. Raise your arms while breathing in deeply and lower your arms slowly while breathing out. Do this a few times and you can vary which directions your arms go. Stretch your body in different ways and different directions. Let your body, your arms and legs move in ways that you can imagine. All those warm-up exercises that we used to do in P.E. class are great too and you can search online for ideas what you can do. Remember to be gentle with your body as you’ve just woken up and if you are not used to movements, be extra gentle and never let yourself have pains. Stretch out your body too during the day and remember to breathe in and out deeply to let out that staleness.
Doing movements is helpful for staying out of depression because we want some timeout from thinking and feeling whatever doesn’t serve us by being in the body. Also, we stay stuck in certain emotions because there are blocks and sometimes, these blocks can be released little by little through movements.
7. Working with the mind
Are you one of those people who reject the idea of doing meditation? Why?
I used to think that only kung-fu masters could meditate. Once I started learning and practicing it, I found that it is the most natural thing to do. Meditation is simply about relaxing your mind and there are many ways to do this. Walking while focusing on the breath, feeling the body movements and enjoying the scenery is considered a way of meditation. You can sit or lie down comfortably, focus on your breaths while listening to soothing music.
You might find it difficult to stay away from the mental chatter but be patient with yourself and one day you will figure out how to get to that quiet space easily. There are many free guided meditations available online. Type in keywords such as ‘guided meditation for depression/relaxation’ and perhaps start with a short one, or whichever draws your attention.
It is also helpful to change the way you think. I don’t mean from thinking negative to suddenly thinking all positive. If you are depressed and you say ‘I’m happy’, that’s just lying and ignoring your feelings. Maybe it’s more suitable to say ‘I’m not feeling my best right now and I’m doing something about it’. Having said or thought that, now you remember to focus on your body and your breaths, use your senses and whatever tools you have gathered that help you stay away from depression.
Are there any phrases that remind you to stay away from that dark place? Perhaps a funny phrase that makes you laugh, or a phrase that reminds you to smell the flowers. For example, during a yoga class, the teacher instructed us to point our armpits to the sky. I’ve kept this phrase to remind myself to stop slouching. I found this phrase incredibly funny and I would giggle to myself whenever I point my armpits to the sky.
So now you have decided to stay away from depression, let’s commit to your decision!
Some say ‘happiness is a choice’. I say ‘happiness is a daily practice’. Anyone, whether they wake up happy every morning or they are depressed every single day or somewhere in between, can benefit from everything mentioned above.
Gather tools that help you, tools such as ways that were mentioned in this article or what you know works for you. Write them down and remind yourself to do them often. For example, do 5 minutes breathing and movement first thing in the morning. Notice your surroundings while heading to work. Stretch out your body while focusing on your breathing whenever you can take a break. Play some frequency for relaxation when you get home. Follow a short guided meditation before bed. You can introduce all these easily into your daily routine when you dedicate your attention to fulfilling your commitment.
9. Easy pace, solid foundation
It takes babies about a year to learn to walk, and few more years before they can run properly. Would you tell a baby or little child off for taking so long to learn to run?
You are doing something to help yourself stay away from depression now. It’s like you have signed up a new course. And maybe you happen to be a slow learner in the subject of happiness. Nothing wrong with that! A turtle can outrun a rabbit! Take your time and be kind and gentle with yourself. Acknowledge every big and small thing that you do. I know some days it’s so difficult to even get out of bed, or to take a shower. You’ve done that now. Tell yourself ‘well done!’ And if you can’t manage to get out of bed yet, maybe you need to give yourself a hug and focus on your breathing for a little while.
10. Seek help
I know you are an independent person but we are not alone in this world because we all need some support from time to time. Open up to a compassionate friend or family member and talk about your feelings. They might be lost for words at the beginning if they didn’t know you have been suffering from depression but I’m sure they would do their best to support your healing journey. You can even invite them to go for walks or other activities with you.
You might also consider seeking help from professionals. There are so many wonderful healing methods available to us nowadays and I’ve written articles reviewing some of these methods.
Some people might think that enlisting professional help for our emotional states mean having big problem. My belief is that we can exist in the state of joy and peace constantly and attain perfect health. It could be a long journey and when we open up to appropriate assistance and guidance, we can rediscover our self-healing power with ease and thus making our journey of life much more enjoyable.
Best wishes to your journey to happiness!
Since my first miraculous healing experience, I have learnt through my own journey and my clients’ that the causes behind one’s depression can be very complicated. Whether you choose to seek assistance from a professional or not, start introducing ways that help you stay away from depression into your daily routine. Commit to your goal of happiness and take control of your life starting now!
Some more articles on Simple Wellness Techniques can be found here.
In each episode of ‘What is Love?’ video series, I shared a little healing experiment everyone can do for themselves. There are so much we can do to help ourselves so let’s start practicing now!
All images by PhotoMan AKA Konstantinos Anastasakis.