1) Be depressed
The first thing to do when depressed is be depressed. In order to defeat depression, you must first be aware of how you are feeling and not try to minimize, deny or repress it. This acceptance that you are depressed or “under-the-weather” sets the stage for true change. What we resist persists. When we acknowledge that depression has arisen in our emotional body and relax in that realization, we then become truly ready to take action that can truly lead to a different state of being.
2) Cultivate curiosity
Once you’ve stopped resisting and reacting to your mood, cultivate curiosity.
How do I know I am depressed? Is it physical, emotional, mental? Is it changeable? Can I change it right away? Maybe a better word could describe it. Am I sad, feeling introspective, fatigued, scared, angry, hopeless, etc.
How is this emotional state a gift? What is right about it? How does it serve me? Can I use it to my advantage?
Is the depression even mine? Am I reacting to external events or taking on someone else’s depression? Am I carrying or continuing a family pattern of depression? Can I just let it go?
3) Practice self-care
What is the most loving thing I can do for myself right now. If it is “do nothing”, then do nothing. If it is “do something”, then do that. Caring for yourself might mean practicing tough love and pushing a little harder to “do something” if you get the sense that is the best thing for you. If you are frequently depressed, you may also want to build a support structure when you are feeling better to rely on when you get down.
The most valuable thing I do is a practice that stimulates and moves my chi. I do Dragon and Tiger Chi Gung. However you may find dancing, running, stretching, yoga, or something else does the trick.
What recharges you? For me it is spending time with plants. So I do my movement outside, near plants in all sorts of weather. Gardening also recharges and nourishes me. Many people find spending time in nature is a recharge. Go to the ocean, the lake, the forest, even a park in the city. For other people, music can be a recharge. Consider all these possibilities:
Art – looking at it or doing it.
Taking a bath
Prayer or meditation
Spending time with animals
Spending time with stones or crystals.
6) Serve others
Doing service to end depression takes advantage of the law of cause and effect. When you help others that are down-and-out, you naturally create the cause for ending your own “down-and-out” periods. There are lots of opportunities for service; pick one that also includes a “recharge” for you. For instance, if you like animals, volunteer at the bunny rescue and help with socializing rabbits. If you are lonely, volunteer at a nursing home or someplace you can find other lonely people.
One of my worst depressive moments followed the loss of a job that I loved and was counting on for not only my house payment but my expansion into the world. I did not know what to do with myself and was relieved to find a soup kitchen that fed the needy every day. I dragged my numb body and mind down there each day and helped cook and serve people. I wasn’t long before my mood lifted and I was looking for ways to serve people that required a higher skill set and used more of me.
7) Create a support network
In your exploration of your depression, you may find your particular version has certain characteristics. Many people with depression become isolated and social networks are valuable. Build your support network based on what you know about your depression. If your depression stems from childhood trauma there are support groups you can join. Get yourself into the habit of regular attendance. It might take a push, but this could be a way to practice self-love. If you find movement helps prevent depression or create a positive mental state then get to a yoga group every day or join a running group. Set up a system that gives you daily options for connection. You can mix and match. It might look like this: yoga on Wednesdays and Fridays, walking group on Mondays, incest support meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Saturday special events, workshops or classes, and Sunday volunteer at animal shelter.
At each of the classes and groups you attend connect with people. Get phone numbers and ask what is a good time to call. Find out if the person would like to do other activities together. If you are an extroverted person the classes and groups will be good support. If you are an introverted person the groups and classes are a way to meet people and establish closer relationships that will support you better than the classes.
If all else fails try chocolate. 🙂