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Ultimate Guide: Self-Help Tips To Deal With Depression

Ultimate Guide: Self-Help Tips To Deal With Depression

It’s been estimated that nearly 350 million people in the world suffer from depression and almost 80% don’t receive any treatment – that’s a lot of people dealing with depression on their own. It’s a belittling misconception that people who suffer from depression are just feeling sad or are mentally weak. New research has found that depression is actually a kind of brain damage which backs up the fact that it’s not something people can just cure or ‘get over’. Dealing with depression means dealing with a constant cycle of sadness and hopelessness and it can feel never-ending. It can leave you with a lack of drive and energy to take the necessary larger steps you need to make yourself feel better.

There are smaller and more manageable steps you can do on a daily basis that can help you self-manage your depression – they are by no means an attempt at a cure but they can help alleviate the feelings of despair and darkness that seem to take over so easily. It’s important to acknowledge that you may be suffering from depression and taking some steps towards a lighter path will help with your overall outlook on life.

Acknowledging Your Depression

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    The first step is to recognise that you are suffering from depression. Admitting that you’re suffering from depression does not make you a weak person; in fact it’s the opposite. Acknowledging that you may have depression will allow you to attempt ways to deal with it whether with professional help or through self-management.

    • Accept The Depression In Your Life

    Accepting that you have depression will allow you to be able to do something about it. Hiding it away or putting it down to a bad phase in your life will only allow it to spiral out of control. Having depression is not something to be ashamed of and the sooner you realise this and admit that you may have it, the sooner you can deal with it.

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    • Understand That You Can Help Yourself

    It’s important to establish that your actions will help you with your depression. You don’t have to allow things to happen to you – you have the power to control what happens to you. Although this can feel hard to imagine at times, there’s great power in your steps to help yourself.

    • Every Little Step Helps

    Depression can leave you feeling helpless and worthless. Thinking of actions to help yourself can seem overwhelming but it’s not big, grand actions that you need to make happen. Breaking actions down into small daily steps can seem less less daunting and greatly relieve symptoms of depression plus they don’t always need a lot of time or effort to achieve. Keep that belief that every little step is helping you in a positive way.

    Establishing An Exercise Routine To Deal With Depression

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      When you suffer from depression you can find it hard to motivate yourself to get out of bed let alone think about exercising but exercise is crucial for helping you deal with depression. Exercise has been found to be as effective as antidepressant medication as it increases energy levels and decreases tiredness. Studies have shown that exercise protects the brain from depression so it can help prevent further depression from developing. It doesn’t have to be a hard, sweaty workout but just getting out and moving will really help with your mindset and perspective. Releasing those endorphins can do much more than we realise – they reduce stress and tension so have an all-round positive effect on depression.

      • Go For A Walk

      A really simple and effective way to deal with depression is to take a walk. If you find it difficult to find motivation for an exercise routine then walking is a great way to fit this into your daily life. Getting out in nature can have a healing affect and breathing the fresh air will have a big impact on our brain’s oxygen levels allowing you to have clearer thoughts. If you have a dog or can borrow a dog from someone else this will be a great incentive to walk and for longer.

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      • Cardiovascular Exercise

      This is something you can build up to. Establishing a walking routine is a great place to start and once you think you’re feeling the benefits you can decide if doing more cardiovascular exercises is something you want to pursue. Running, cycling and swimming are great exercises to get into but it’s important to find one that you enjoy and will want to stick with. Establishing a routine and setting goals will help with motivation and train your brain to see hope and achievement.

      • Small Movements

      If walking and running seem too much of a step for you then just finding moments to move around are beneficial. Park your car further away so you have to walk for a little bit, take the stairs instead of the elevator – anything that prevents you from being still for too often. Getting your body moving, no matter how small, is good for your mind and you will find that it will help you to feel a little less low.

      Establishing A Healthy Diet To Deal With Depression

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        What you eat has a big effect on how you feel. Establishing a healthy diet can help relieve symptoms of depression and together with exercise can combat your depression greatly. Eating the right foods can boost your mood and help you feel less tired and depleted. When you have no motivation it can be easy to reach for the convenient, junk-filled foods but these can be a hinderance to your depression as it has little nutritional value and causes further unnecessary fatigue.

        • Cut Back On Sugar And Carbohydrates

        Sugar and carbohydrates are common foods to reach for when we need comfort. Cakes, biscuits and breads are full of refined sugar and carbohydrates which can leave us feeling lethargic which can add to other symptoms of depression. It can also lead to a crash in mood as our blood-sugar levels drop dramatically.

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        • Superfoods And Vitamins

        There are certain foods that help with boosting our mood including bananas, nuts, omega-rich fish, brown rice and spinach as well as many more. Complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain foods can boost serotonin levels without the crash that we get with simple carbohydrates. Considering taking extra vitamins and supplements including complex B-vitamins and folic acid will be beneficial. Vitamin B deficiency in particular can trigger depression or alternatively you can eat foods rich in vitamin B like eggs, green leafy vegetables and chicken.

        • Eat At Regular Intervals

        It’s really important that you keep fuelling your body. Going for too long without food can cause irritability and low blood sugar levels which can cause mood swings. Make sure you try to eat a healthy meal or snack every 3-4 hours. It can be tempting to reach for the junk food but try to make a conscious decision to pick something healthy and beneficial.

        Managing Your Negative Thinking

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          Depression ultimately changes the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. It can darken thoughts about the past, present situations and the future. The key to managing negative thoughts is not to just think positively and they’ll go away but rather to gradually introduce a different way of thinking that will encourage a slightly different mindset.

          • Recognising Negative Thinking

          The first important thing to do is recognise your negative thoughts. There are different types of negative thoughts that can foster depression and recognising them is a great first step in starting to combat them. Thoughts such as emotional reasoning where you believe your negative thoughts are reality, for example believing you’re worthless. Overgeneralising is something that people with depression often do – holding on to a negative experience and believing it will continue to be like that. Self-blaming, jumping to negative conclusions by false assumption and ignoring positive events are all different types of thinking prone to someone with depression.

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          • Avoiding Isolation

          When we’re depressed we have a tendency to want to withdraw and be alone but isolation from others is more likely to create negative thinking because we are further separating ourselves from reality. Connection with others is a basic human need and studies have shown just how important social interaction is when it comes to our happiness. Even if you don’t feel like it, it’s important to cultivate relationships with family and friends – they will be your support network. Just finding someone to trust and talk to every now and then will help stop the tendency to withdraw.

          • Shifting Your Perspective

          Shifting your perspective is not changing your thoughts from sad to happy, it’s allowing yourself to see something in a different light. It’s about thinking outside of yourself. When we’re hard on ourselves it becomes a way of thinking but try asking yourself would I say something so harsh to someone else? Changing your perspective is about learning a different way to see things and getting your mind to realise that there are other sides to a problem. It’s about cultivating gratitude for the small things that we have whether that’s food, hot water etc. There are many ways to change our perspective that can help fight off those negative thoughts. Trying to gently shift your mindset will help you on your journey to managing your depression.

          Featured photo credit: De Visu via shutterstock.com

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          Jenny Marchal

          A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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          Published on January 17, 2020

          How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

          How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

          If you think yoga can be learned on the mat, you’re wrong! To learn yoga is to learn yourself, your life and the world around you, which happens mostly off the mat.

          Since 2000, I study, practice, teach and live yoga – I grow with it from year to year – hence life becomes more interesting and more meaningful from year to year, too. Through all these years, I observe the evolution of yoga in the western culture and see, how (mostly) wrongly, has been interpreted, taught and practiced. Little is known about how to learn yoga – about its practice, its effect and its application. Yoga is all about finding the simplicity and the meaning in the complexity of life.

          But when we look around us, it doesn’t seem so simple, even for those who practice it, and for the most who teach it. Everything about yoga begins in its definition from the original yogic scripture Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[1]

          And the value for how to learn yoga, is in this article – showing the value of the above definition and how to practice it in the simplest way, effectively and efficiently.

          What is Yoga?

          Yoga-Citta-Vrtti-Hirodhah — and its translation is: Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations arising within consciousness.

          The 195 Sutras, that the original yoga scripture consists of, are written in a strongly compressed manner with the idea to deliver a profound meaning and a lot of space for interpretation. However, the interpreter must be highly serious and competent, otherwise the interpretation will drastically deviate from what the message conveys.

          When the definition about yoga is interpreted and applied the right way, it tells us how yoga is to be practiced and explored. To start the right way, we must know the right destination of yoga, which is Kaivalya:[2] The union between you, the other and the world.

          Let’s see how to do that:

          Beginning with the famous mainstream slogan “Union of Body, Mind and Soul”, brings up the question, “How to reunite the body, mind and soul?”

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          Your feelings – created by outside stimuli result in the creation of thoughts, hence there’s connection between your body and mind. That’s easy to understand, right?

          Now this connection and the thoughts must serve and improve the mind, making it capable to 1) understand the soul and 2) to unite it with the body and mind. That’s where our journey towards the goal of yoga (Samadhi) is interrupted – making the main part of the union not easy to understand, even less so to accomplish.

          Yoga is More Spiritual than Physical

          This is what makes yoga more spiritual than physical. To put it in numbers, yoga is 97% of psychological, philosophical and spiritual nature and only some 3% of physiological, considering that there are only seven out of 195 Sutras referring physiologically to sitting and breathing, of which I talked in my earlier post on Yoga For men.

          But before experiencing any spirituality from yoga, there is the mental (emotional) part that needs to be mastered and that part is to establish a connection between the body and mind. How?

          The simple thought and realization that you are conscious of how you feel within your body (cold, warm, relaxed, depressed, anxious, happy and so on), means that you have made the union between your body and mind. (below the step by step exercise for that).

          But to establish a connection to your soul – to the finest part of yourself – the Self:

          You must find out (through thinking) what is the subtlest thing that drives your body and mind – yourself as an individual and use that driver to go pass beyond your physicality and mentality.

          It is right here that you use the definition about yoga and the realization – the moment, where you are not analyzing any thoughts or feelings. This is a state of Yoga – a state of union between body, mind and soul, in which your consciousness has ceased to identify with its fluctuations.

          Yoga as Creativity and Expertise of the Individual

          In such a case, there is no specific (like beginners, intermediate or advanced) technique for learning yoga. The moment of the state of yoga arises for everyone of us in an individual way as everybody’s physique and mental content are different. You might be very well advanced in performing the most difficult asanas for decades but still unable and incompetent to be in a state of union with your body, mind and soul. Whereas, if you are a beginner and possess the grace and other virtues, than it’s easier and quicker to establish that connection.

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          As yoga is an inherent part of the human being, firstly, in order to pave the yoga path successfully and effectively, you must understand that yoga is not a technique for performance, but rather a creativity and expertise of yourself.

          Your learning process cannot be focused on, nor conditioned by a certain handbook, someone’s instructions or some specific school.

          Learning yoga requires your creativity to look within yourself and learn from yourself, become the expert of your feelings, emotions and desires. You, as a beginner might already possess many qualities and prerequisites for creating the union between your body, mind and soul, but your knowledge requires creativity for your growth to reach the state of union and then reap the fruits of that union. Once this happens there is no turning back – you’ll be pulled by the beauty and energy of your on being.

          Be Fast Mentally and Slow Physically

          As already mentioned, you don’t need to do physical performances like the split or the headstand to be able to immerse in a deep meditation or Samadhi. But you do need enough creativity for your self-inquiry.

          Many of my students start working directly with meditation – attending the complexities of the mind, because that’s where the hindrances lie. There, the meditator is able to work on the cessation of identifying with the fluctuations of the consciousness – where intelligence expands, adversity ends and the individual is ready to pass through its physicality and mentality in order to reach the union with the soul.

          But if you’re really a beginner and cannot start with that, then you can start enhancing your creativity on the body-mind level. The exercise follows in the next paragraph.

          The greater your creativity, the better your expertise about yourself – the deeper your competence to inquire further into the union with your soul. Sure enough that a more pliable and healthy physical body has some advantages and better preconditions for that, but don’t get discouraged because your body-mind union will open up the way.

          So here we are, you are at the moment to enhance your creativity upon that union. Please, take this as a very serious part of the practice as it is crucial for learning yoga – for learning yourself.

          The Beginner’s Exercise – Creativity upon Body-Mind Union

          The first and most important element to learn and practice yoga is of physiological and psychological nature: Stillness:

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          1. Make sure your body is still and comfortable.
          2. Focus on breathing to initiate observing.
          3. Observe your body and identify the first feeling that occurs to you.
          4. Keep identifying feelings and emotions, but without getting involved with them.
          5. Now create feelings and emotions as you please and let them go.

          That’s it! That’s the creativity upon the body-mind union. The validity of this creativity lies in the stillness and observance of that union. In this practice you can learn to understand and catch the moment – the main ingredient of life.

          Life is a sequence of moments and knowing that you’re able to manage that sequence is a new level of living life, called dharma – the practical and skillful way of living. An essential character develops as a result of practicing this discipline.

          However, be aware that we are still talking about outward elements of yoga – the gross levels (from Yama to Pratyahara) whereas the subtle, inward elements (Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) are yet to be approached, learned and implemented. It is on these subtle levels that you can realize the depth of spirituality and the essence of yoga.

          It is remarkable how the science of yoga can take you in such heights and depths of exploring life and being. Little is known about the essence and the right practice of yoga in the west. There is a huge knowledge gap between how yoga should be learned and how it is practiced today in the west. You can bridge this gap by practicing the above exercise.

          Know that yoga is of a very subtle nature – operating on a subtle energetic level – the level of your mental energies, your thoughts. That means that it is to be learned at that level and not on any other. A body posture alone cannot take you to that level if you don’t apply your creativity and self-inquiry.

          Prerequisite for Yogic Success – Union between You and the Other

          Yoga is nothing, if our relationships with others are not managed harmonically.

          Learning yoga is also learning connecting with the other – with the stranger who’s not you but carries the same “core”, the same heart as you. We as individuals, possess the inborn feature of Ego – the “I-consciousness” that makes us feel separate from the rest of what makes the wholeness.

          This separation is the second of the the five “klesah” afflictions[3] – that stand as major hindrance against the union (Yoga) – called “asmita” or I-am-ness / Egoism (Y.S. II.6.), and has to be cultivated and brought to a level of discernment that will lessen our disturbance that comes out the fragmentation between the “I-am-ness” and the “Other-ness”.

          This is a crucial concept in Yoga and it is inevitable to be worked upon this hindrance in order to reach the inner “psychological” freedom or the ultimate liberation “Kaivalya” for which Yoga stands for. But, again, if you are beginner in this part, you want to know how to start dealing with all this. Here is the exercise:

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          1. Practice observance from the first exercise.
          2. Realize that the structure of your feelings, emotions, etc. is identical with the one of the other individuals.
          3. Practice witnessing, tolerating and gradually accepting the diversity between yourself and the other individuals.
          4. Observe for so long with equanimity, until you see the uniformity in that diversity.

          This is one of the greatest accomplishments a human being can achieve. To be, means, to be in relationship – internally, as well as externally.

          Yogic Lifestyle – Union Between You, The Other and The World

          Here comes the last piece of the puzzle – the union – on the highest level of worldly existence – between you, the other and the world. This means that Yoga is also worthless if practiced only on the mat. So when learning yoga, especially when practicing the body-mind union, consider if:

          You speak the language of nature and how you’re connected to nature and its basic elements? Do you complicate your existence by thinking that you are in the center of the world and require extra attention and acknowledgement?

          Thinking this way interferes with the practice of yoga. And surely, you might wonder, what should be done here in order to create that harmony in union? You’d be amazed to know that there is one important yogic movement that needs to be done. That is:

          The action of not doing anything but contemplating! Then yoga happens.

          Yes, this goes beyond the physicality and mentality of your being. As our bodies play just a tiny part of the evolution of existence, we must not attach to the world in that sense – clinging to worldly life with that insatiable urge that generates worries and anxiety – but rather grow through life with detachment and the attitude that life has been gifted to us with the purpose to realize that gift and attain the wisdom of life.

          Go Beyond Your Physicality and Mentality

          Attaining greatness like connecting to the world and to your soul, we must pass beyond the thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the influence they have on us. Hence we want to make the mental fluctuations to cease and let yoga shine its light through this yogic movement:

          The stillness and the watching within.

          Can yoga be understood and achieved in one single session and then practiced continuously, productively and effectively? Of course it can. Your union within yourself, the other and the world is lot simpler and easier than you think. Practice these simple yogic movements diligently, seriously but also effortlessly and your yoga will be flourishing and fruitful. I salute the spirit in you!

          More About Yoga

          Featured photo credit: Avrielle Suleiman via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
          [2] Wikipedia: Kaivalya
          [3] Plato Stanford: Klesah

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