What do you do when you are afraid all the time? When you feel the world out there is waiting to get you? When you feel, people are rooting for your failure? When you have to cope up with failed dreams, dreams that laugh at your face, taunting you? When the person in you is constantly berating you? What do you do when all you can do is stand by and watch your confidence plummet and anxiety & stress increase? What do you do when you have to handle all this internally and yet show up to work with a smile on your face, ’cause you have continue to make a living? when you have to laugh with your family in order not to worry them?
But you know you are bursting at the seams, barely holding things together. You can see the cracks, but, you try to cover them up before others notice. You don’t ask for help, ’cause you know if anyone gets a wind of this, they’ll think less of you. So, you only end up questioning your situation in your own mind, ‘am I really in a soup? Yes. Good, you deserve it, now suffer/No. Then, why am I not able to? I’m such a loser, I can’t even handle this’, making it worse still.
Sometimes there is no single cause you can point to. Which straw broke the camel’s back? Which negative thought started the downward spiral? Which thought kept you down? And, what to tackle? Fighting depression is not easy. Suddenly you are up against every mistake you made, all the regret you cannot undo, all the guilt you harbor, and all the pain you suffer. Some of it is in the past, that cannot be undone. Some of it is in the future, that cannot be touched. Leaving us the present, to feel sad about our entire past and anxious about our entire future, overwhelming us.
How to cope then? What to do?
- Sometimes we need a change – We may have to get away from a particular place, from particular people or from a particular environment. They may be the source of negativity in our lives and sometimes moving away permanently from them is the only solution.
- Take a break – We cannot always change the environment or people in our life; all we can do then, is take a break. Sometimes finding enough time/room, stepping back and looking at life may help us in identifying the pain areas and gives us room to think about solutions.
- Get enough Sleep – some days when we wake up, we are refreshed & relaxed, we are at ease with ourselves and life around, all thanks to a disturbance less sleep. Target to get enough sleep. But, how do you know how much sleep is enough? Track your sleep for some days, sleep when you are sleepy and wake-up naturally without an alarm and track the time. That is the amount of sleep you need to feel refreshed.
- Exercise – Getting some moderate exercise everyday, such as walking, for thirty minutes, can do wonders in keeping the mood and energy up for the entire day. The key to exercise is to start with something we like. If we like playing cricket, play. If we like cycling, cycle. If we like walking, walk. Starting with an activity we like, motivates us enough to get moving.
- Spend time in nature – Gentle breeze, rustling leaves, flowing rivers, blooming flowers, swaying grass blades, all have a relaxing effect on us. Nature is therapeutic. Period.
- Meditate – Meditation is not mumbo-jumbo. It means simply concentrating on one thing. Mostly the breath. It is a way to tame our minds by focusing only on our breath. At the start, the pockets of concentration tends to be small. But, as time progresses, we become good at holding our attention only on our breath thereby reducing the time our mind wanders in the past or the future helping us be in the present more which is the only time we have in our control. Meditation helps in mindfulness. In being aware of what is happening in and around us. It helps in realizing we are not our thoughts, emotions or feelings; that thinking we are failure does not make us one.
- Educate yourself – Read philosophy. What we need is: reality – acceptance of the problem and identifying the solution. Not, optimistic and wishful thinking preached by the self-help genre. Philosophy, on the other hand puts emphasis on the effort and not the result, on the character and not reputation, on differentiating what is in our control and what is not. It give us courage to be who we are and to focus on what really matters, reducing the clutter in our mind.
- Journal – when opening up to others is difficult, pouring our hearts out into a diary tends to have a cathartic effect. Writing honestly, without mincing words, trusting it to be a safe environment is very relieving.
- Talk to a close friend – Having a friend on whom we have confidence, who wouldn’t laugh at our failures, who wouldn’t listen just to advise us, but to understand us is a blessing.
- Reach out for professional advice – When all else fails, reach out for professional help.
There’s a lot going on in our lives. We live paycheck to paycheck. We have more commitments than we can honor. A lot is expected of us consistently at work. Relationships need time and patience which we know is in short supply. We get up every day with a to-do list and we sleep with more on the list than we crossed off that day. Technology has risen the standard of life, but happiness and peace remain as elusive as ever. We think we need to do more, to have more to finally reach the land of happiness. Isn’t that what we were told as a kid? Get a good grade, it will get a good job; get a good job, you’ll get a good pay; get a good pay, you can buy the stuff you want and earn a respectable status. We are happy as long as we keep getting the good grade, the good job, the good salary, the latest television, and opportunities to climb the corporate ladder. When one goal is achieved, the next one beckons. We are always moving to the next goal. What happens when we don’t get the good grade? or the good salary? or the highest promotion? What if we don’t enjoy this life of chasing one goal after another? Depression strikes everyone. No one is exempt. Sometimes a relook at life, of what we believe is necessary. Sometimes strength to get through the moment is necessary. Sometimes help is necessary.