Facing stress and depression

Disclaimer: this article is not intended to be a medical consultation or anything like that. If you have severe depression, you should probably see a doctor (although this article might help you too, but shouldn’t be considered a substitute for a proper treatment).

When you have to face a certain day, or period of your life, where you just feel like “nothing makes sense”, “why am I doing all this” and “I’m just going to stay at my house and weep”, realize this:

It is you yourself that have to make sense of the world. The world itself is neither good or bad, neither happy or sad, neither easy or hard, neither fair nor unfair – the world simply IS. You, however, with your subjective interpretation of your surroundings, define how this word looks to you and how you perceive it.

So whenever you are feeling down, stop waiting until the world itself suddenly unveils it’s meaning and positive sides to you, because most likely it ain’t going to happen and you will unnecessarily delay your suffering. You have to seize life by its horns and tackle it. You have to get out there (even if you don’t feel like it) and start doing things that will give the world around you meaning. Simply sitting in front of the TV or computer won’t do it – you have to experience LIFE, with its smells, tastes, visuals, social opportunities.

When you are feeling down, probably the last thing on your mind is to go out and meet some friends. You might actually prefer to stay at home alone, hoping that confronting your negative feelings and thoughts will help you to resolve the issue. But this is usually not the case – there is really nothing to resolve, this whole feeling of depression or stress is quite likely a result of your bad daily habits. If you are “on the run” almost every day of the year, always trying to achieve new goals, your body and mind have probably gone into overload; you have gotten used to having to be constantly alert so much, that your body simply doesn’t recognize any other type of feeling. So even when you rest, you find yourself unable to rest and get this uncomfortable feeling that something is wrong, even though you cannot put your finger on it. It has become a HABIT for you to always be on the run, so you basically lose the capacity to really rest and enjoy yourself. And in order to regain that capacity, you simply have to slow down (see my other articles for a more in-depth discussion on the subject).

So, what should you actually do when you find yourself in a negative state of mind? Here are a few suggestions that helped me personally a lot:

  • Meet up with your friends. So simple, and yet it can make an enormous difference. You might not feel like going out to them, but trust me when I say that this is going to be very helpful for you to regain your balance and harmony. Make sure they are positive friends, not the type that constantly wine and suck everyone around them into their negative reality – avoid these people.
  • Meet up with your family. I find there is nothing more relaxing and comforting than having a chat with your parents or siblings (hopefully you have a good relationship with them). Somehow, all the problems of the world get lost when you are around them. Make sure, however, that you are not constantly distracted when you are with them – don’t constantly peep at your cellphone, don’t go sit down at the computer every now and then. Just spent the time with the people! I know, it might be hard at first, and your habit of constantly using the cellphone/computer might get the better of you, but once you do it a few times in a row, with every next time it will become easier and you will actually find yourself enjoying it much more than before.
  • Get busy: watch a movie or your favorite series (I don’t usually advocate watching movies as a positive way for spending time, which I will discuss in more detail in an upcoming article, but in case you are depressed or stressed out, it might be a good solution). Make sure it is an easy-on-the-mind movie, which is entertaining and yet doesn’t get you thinking about the sense of life and other philosophical issues.
  • Whenever you find yourself analyzing life and its meaning, thinking about “whether this feeling will ever go away”, or any other type of philosophical issue, realize that this type of thinking is exactly what will make you feel worse and which will deepen your frustration. Avoid these thoughts as quickly as possible and distract yourself with any other activity which doesn’t get you thinking these destructive thoughts. You will find that each time you ignore a thought, it will come back in a few minutes. But you have to ignore it again, and again, and again, while constantly being aware that soon enough, those thoughts will start coming back less frequently and they will last shorter and in general be much less annoying. So stay sharp, and keep yourself busy with whatever you really enjoy.
  • Stay active in your hobbies. Whether it’s painting, playing music, reading. Anything that you enjoy doing – don’t stop it just because you are feeling down.
  • Have sex. It’s the best natural happy-trigger a human has. You will feel much better after it for at least a few hours.
  • Remember to always try to keep your life as it was before you started feeling worse. Think to yourself: “how was my life a year or two back from now? Was I much happier than? What was it that I used to do at that time that I used to feel that way?” Once you answer these questions, do whatever it takes, and as quickly as it takes, to restore your daily habits to what they were at that time. And again – you might not feel like doing it at all, but trust me: you WILL appreciate it and it WILL quickly make you feel better. Just get started.
  • Try eating healthy. Doing something nice and good for your body will help you break a cycle of bad habits that might have become ingrained in you. This could be a great start for changing your life and for coming out of any sort of self-destructive mechanism that might have started in your life lately.
  • Most of all, avoid any type of drugs. Alcohol is ok as long as it doesn’t make you feel worse. But completely avoid marijuana: if you must smoke, make sure you only do it when you are in a good mood, but NEVER do it to make yourself feel better in a bad mood. It will backfire and make you feel much, much worse in the long run, since your mind will get used to the drug as it’s source of happiness, and your mind will actually stop producing happiness hormones. So as soon as you stop smoking for a longer period, it’s like that your depression/stress levels will rise even higher than they were before. Trust me when I say this – marijuana is MUCH more dangerous to your mind (not body) than you might think. Again: if you have to smoke, make sure it’s only once or twice a month, and only when you are already feeling good.

That’s a lot of tips up there. The rule of thumb is this: do whatever used to make you feel happy before you started feeling worse. You have to force it in the beginning, but it will get much easier and much more comfortable quite quickly. Also, work on reducing your stress level on a daily basis (that’s exactly what this website is all about, actually).

Of course, no cure is ever as good as prevention, so please, try to slow down – it will be worth it.

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