Most people suffer from depression at some point in their lives or know someone who has. Here are seven things a depressed person can do to make life better almost immediately:
Establish a morning routine. Do you wake up at your girlfriend’s one morning, on your couch the next, and occasionally in your own bed?That needs to stop. A morning routine is critical to healthy functioning and when you start the day in disarray it usually only gets worse from there. So, wake up at roughly the same time every day, drink a glass of water, and do what you need to do to have a productive day.
Exercise. If you hate it, find a way to make it fun. It doesn’t have to be running marathons. Try rowing or swimming or bicycling or playing hoops. Again, just do something. And if you have a REALLY hard time doing it, then do it FIRST THING IN THE MORNING!
Build a spiritual practice. Buddhism, Catholicism, Quakerism, whatever. You might even be able to persuade me of the benefits of being a Wiccan. Regardless, though, JUST DO SOMETHING. Create a practice that helps you stay centered every day AND serves as a beginning or end point for every week. I know, I know, we all hate going to church. So add some fun to it like brunch or a giant latte or donuts. It’s important for many reasons. Foremost, it connects you with other humans. As a society we are facing an epidemic of loneliness. We need connection to other people. Try church, synagogue, meeting house, AA, whatever. Just something.
Make time for gratitude. You know when you’re sitting in Chick-fil-a on a road trip and you look over and the family next to you is praying before eating their meal? Yes, it’s awkward and a little embarrassing, but if you were to take 30 seconds 3 times a day to REMIND YOURSELF HOW FORTUNATE YOU ARE it might improve your outlook.
Figure out the patterns. We all have patterns of behavior that we repeat in our lives. Take some time to figure out which ones are holding you back. Are you overly focused on the superficial? Are you living up to your values? Do you keep dating the same types of people? It never hurts to work with a therapist, a coach, or even an app to help you figure things out.
Make a change. Maybe it’s time to get a new job or end a relationship or get a pet or move to a new city. Sometimes a dramatic change can shake you out of a rut. Now, don’t do anything that will hurt you in the long run- run it by a few people first- but explore the possibility of changing your situation, even if only for a period of time. Another simple idea- plan a vacation. Having something fun to plan and look forward to is half the fun!
Forgive yourself and others. Forgiving yourself is never easy and forgiving others isn’t always smart, but generally speaking, going down the path of forgiveness will only yield benefits for you. Explore readings and writing on forgiveness that might help you work through some of your thoughts and if nothing else works, try medicine.
I’m not a fan of exercising. I pretty much hate it and then I kinda hate myself for hating it. So I try to make it fun. In fact, I try to make basically everything fun. And I find I can really enjoy exercising when I incorporate it into other fun activities.
Long dog walks. When I have the time on a Saturday morning and the weather is nice, I’ll take my dog on a 3 or 4-mile walk. As the Dog Whisperer says, a tired dog is a good dog. He enjoys it, I do, and everyone is better behaved.
Biking to work. Another way I incorporate exercise into my daily life is by biking to work during the spring and summer. It’s an invigorating way to start the day and fantastic exercise if you can manage it. It requires a lot of complicated gear and clothing transfers so it’s best to join a gym near your office with lockers for storing clean clothes.
Playing pickup basketball. Hoops is one of the best ways to stay in shape. There is the chance of the odd ankle twist and finger jam, but the consistent effort works out virtually all of your body. I try to play basketball one night per week at a nearby gym. It’s one of the few remaining bastions for male bonding in my community and a hell of a good way to stay in shape.
Getting out in nature. Hiking or taking a long walk in the woods- unless you’re in a rapey urban park- will do wonders for your spirit. If you have time, get well out of the city.
Swimming. I know it sounds boring, but I try to swim weekly by viewing it as a sort of meditation practice. I find that once I’m in the water, and especially when I’m underwater, I reach a deeply meditative mental state. It’s great when you really need to work through an issue you’re grappling with.
Find a partner. It always helps to have the accountability of friends.
Build the habit. Once it’s a habit it becomes a lot less painful. Make time for exercise in your life and make it fun.
There are ways to make exercise a lot less unpleasant. Try them.
All of us struggle with anger to some degree or another, however, the feminization of society is making all anger- even the anger of hockey players- increasingly unacceptable. Here are 7 tips to help you manage anger in a soft, feminine world:
At the moment of anger, meditate, say a prayer, and take a few deep breaths. This can save your hide and perhaps the life of someone else.
Exercise regularly and consider an outlet like martial arts or boxing. Men were evolved to have the capacity for violence and yet we have so few acceptable outlets for it in today’s world. I recently started a boxing class and I’m having a blast.
ALWAYS get enough sleep. I think for most people this is a necessary condition for decent behavior. I know that my anger is like a Porsche versus a Volvo when I’m not well rested.
Get to know any other triggers. Self-awareness is so critical to growth. There are many ways to do it, figure out one that works for you. There are a number of tests you can take to get a better understanding of yourself- Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, Jordan Peterson’s Self-Authoring program, and Myers-Briggs are some of the countless options out there.
Leave the room, take a walk. With some people you just have to do this.
Splash cold water on your face. This is known to work, but requires extracting yourself from the situation somehow.
Try to remember your values at all times. If you are a Christian, try to see the face of Jesus in your enemy or if not or you prefer, the Buddha or Gandhi or MLK.
A mindless moment of anger can ruin your life in 2019, seemingly like never before. Protect yourself.
There is a ton of advice out there. This bit REALLY works. Here are 5 reasons you should swim regularly:
Your body will never feel better. Swimming utilizes your entire body and the repetition creates enormous flexibility and strength in your neck, back, and legs.
It’s great for the mind, too. Swimming is extremely calming, even meditative. At the same time, it can help you focus your mind if you need to delve into an issue. After I swim, I’m usually unflappable for the remainder of the day.
Beats a chiropractor. I used to have constant pain in my left shoulder blade stemming from an injury that occurred while moving furniture over 10 years ago. I would occasionally go to a chiropractor who was able to make the pain go away… for about 45 minutes. It wasn’t until I started swimming regularly that the pain finally went away.
Lets out aggression. Like punching a pillow, swimming can be a safe outlet for expressing your frustration, even pretending to take a few swings at some imagined underwater foe. I’ve been known to let out a roar underwater from time to time and I urge others to do the same.
It’s a good discipline. In addition to all of the aforementioned benefits, swimming, like running or bicycling, builds discipline that carries over into other areas of life.
If you knew something would take away your back and neck pain AND put you in a relaxed mood for 12 hours or so, why would you NOT do it?
Most of us struggle with a bit of anxiety from time to time. That’s totally normal. It’s when it takes over your life and alters your behavior for the worse that you need to take some steps. Here are 7 tips that can make a big difference:
Plan ahead. This is BY FAR the most important tip. Take the time to think through how your day is going to go and what small or large things you can do to make it all go more smoothly. Nearly every situation you can encounter may be endured with proper planning.
Give yourself enough, or even extra, time. I used to be late all the time. Then I discovered the joy of planning better and started getting most places early. It’s wonderful. So relaxing. So calming. Try it!
Call out the negative voice. Simply point out to that voice in your head, “I’m sorry, but that’s not helpful right now.” Learning to control that voice will change your life!
Explore medication and therapy. Medications can really help and dismissing them is just foolish. So, consider a variety of medications from supplements to cannabis to help take some of the struggle out of your day. And get thee to therapy. We ALL need it. All of us. So figure out a way.
Exercise! This alone can have a major impact on a person’s anxiety level. Push yourself a little bit. Sweat some of that negative energy out and you’ll feel better.
Build a spiritual practice. Try to incorporate some moments of spirituality into every day. Say a brief prayer of gratitude before each meal. Take a moment to kiss your spouse or pet your dog. And once per week, as a family, go to church or synagogue or meeting house and give thanks.
Forgive yourself and others. We all make mistakes. Some of them really awful. But we do so out of ignorance or lack of self-control or confusion. So, forgive yourself. And forgive those who’ve… You get the picture. Again, religion serves to remind us so well of compassion, forgiveness, service, sacrifice- all of the things that humans really need to learn and which give life meaning.