When we need these tips most, we can’t access them. That’s how Depression works. So store them in your heart for a rainy day—now:
“The future is no more uncertain than the present.” ~ Walt Whitman
On Everyday Depression.
I have experience with everyday depression. So do you. We all do. It’s human.
(I’m not talking about clinical depression, here. That may require clinical solutions. This is about the Buddhist teachings on how to work with everyday depression).
It’s been a part of the human condition for all time—which is good, because folks like the Buddha and Jesus and every great realized human being ever has gone through it, and found her or his way out of it.
5 obvious, quick, simple, easy ways out of depression (that we fail to think of when we’re depressed).
1. Anything electronic—unplug it.
Video games, Instagram, surfing the web—anything too focus-oriented, repetitive, and mildly pleasurable keeps us anchored to that mindless churning beneath the waves.
2. Get outside.
Light, fresh air—is the hope, the outlet, the gap, the present-moment succor, and pleasure that comes with tearing open our cocoon.
3. Touch in with a living sentient being’s heart.
See someone. Hug a dog. Talk with community—what’s getting us down now, told as a story, will get us out of what’s getting us down, now. And it usually makes for a good story, too, if only because it’s real.
Dance. Blues. Hard rock. Depends on your mood. Something we have to dance a little to. Move.
5. Most importantly: we can avoid the things we think will give us pleasure but know, from experience, will not:
Sex that isn’t based on love, porn, picking zits, video games, overeating food we’re not hungry for, ice cream, more ice cream, binge-watching too much TV, whatever it is—go the other direction and…
Remember to breathe. It’s that simple. It’s that simple, but it’s not easy to remember to do so when we least want to remember to do so.
It takes practice. Meditation practice. Life practice.
We remember gratitude, the gift of reclaimed perspective. We remember to eat real food, hug like we mean it, drink good tea or coffee, comb our hair, exercise—the basics. The basics that, when we’re lost in the cool fog of our depression, seem out of reach.
Open that heart, clear that mind. We are not a machine—we are a poem.
Bonus: “Try helping others. Volunteer at a hospital, a soup kitchen, spend a day talking to homeless people and listen to their stories even. Any time you start helping others, and begin to realise that without your help these people will be worse off, your life gets purpose very quickly.” ~ via Reddit
Even a hard week is replete with fast-past present moments—because even in the midst of struggle are sweet joys, easy to overlook.
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Depression seems to come from somewhere.
But, really, it comes from our inability not to roll with the waves, not the waves themselves.
Today’s waves: elephantjournal.com was down. The experience of having one’s site down is something unfamiliar for most of us who deal in physical things. It’s a sudden experience of a modest, limited, but cold and toxic death.
The gains of a month, evaporating in hours. My friend and webby Colin saved us, heroically sacrificing most of his Friday night out at a Holiday Party to get our site back up (he’s in the UK, eight-or-so hours ahead).
I’m the founder of Elephant. Having your site down is like being out of business, like having your product recalled, like having your house burn down—only not nearly so permanent. I know, rationally, it’ll come back. The rational side of me asked for help and asked you, our readers to find us on Tumblr and Pinterest and Twitter and Facebook…but still, our reader count—the way we know we’re one of the bigger web sites in the United States, bigger than your favorite personal blog by a factor of 10 or 100 or 1000 or 10,000—was imploding by the minute. Folks from all over the world were coming to our site to find…nothing. And, leave.
So the rational side of me did what I could—emails, tweets, reaching out, phoning our service provider twice, texting, keeping the ball rolling and folks connecting.
The irrational side of me, however, just committed emotional seppeku again and again. At hour four, I tried to take a bath and read Raise the Bar, a re-inspiring book by one of the few non-sell outs in my world. But the water came out too cool.
So, shivering, 2:30, the day nearly gone, I biked to the climbing gym, feeling dead inside, weak, tired, sad, defeated, dark. Depression.
My life’s daily schedule fills up fast, sometimes, and I get claustrophobic, and moody, and I don’t have time to eat, and I’m late because every meeting runs late, and yet I get the blame, and I don’t have time to exercise, or shop for groceries, or walk Red enough, and then…
…I just collapse at the end of the day.
Sound familiar, anyone? And I don’t even have children to care for in that mix, yet.
Our days require some space in them, some movement—just as our mind does.
So when you’re busy, speedy, grumpy, hopped-up, or wiped out…remember to give your mind space, and your heart space.