Recently we’ve had a series of articles on how to beat depression naturally, with tips on exercise, nutrition, and meditation techniques, as well as the dangers of indiscriminate drugs. So, today I would like to look deeper into how we think about depression, and how changing our thinking can help us change how we feel.
Not every pill is good for everybody.
Some people diagnosed with serious depression may need medication. But just because a TV ad says “ask your doctor about drug XYZ” doesn’t mean it is good for you. In a month or so you might hear “did you take drug XYZ? Call the law firm of…..” So how did we come to believe that every problem needs a pill, especially when taking a pill takes control away from you and gives your power to something else?
“Mother’s little helper”
If you’re not old enough to remember, movies can give you the idea. Somehow we survived World War II, with men fighting on battlefields, and women learning welding and living with rationing at home. Then it was over. There was peace. But suddenly we couldn’t seem to cope anymore. Rebuilding was tough for some, but many people saw unprecedented prosperity. And in no time we felt stifled and bored to death.
Enter Valium. It wasn’t really the first drug of its kind, but it was the first time it became widely accepted that there was a pill for every problem, even if the problem was suburban life. By the 1960’s The Rolling Stones even sang about it. Rock stars had acid, and moms had the little yellow pill.
The pioneer woman…too tired to be depressed.
So if modern life is so hard, how on earth did civilization get this far? Certainly depression and mental illness have existed as long as we have, but how did people manage? It could be because they didn’t have time to sit around ruminating on their problems. They treated depression naturally because were too busy just trying to survive.
In the Rocky Mountains, where I live now, there is something called the Mormon trail, where women walked…yes, walked…across America, pushing their few belongings in carts. Now I can barely get through a camping trip without being miserable, but these women trudged for miles to build a new life. They endured exhaustion, the death of loved ones, wild animals and hostile attacks, but there was nothing to do but keep going. There was no time to be depressed.
Change your perspective…change how you feel.
Now you might be thinking, yeah, so pioneer women were wonderful, but I’m a failure, and I’m going back to bed. But the point is not to make us feel even more unworthy. It is to show us how strong we can be if we give ourselves a chance.
To beat depression, we have to make changes in our thinking, before we can change our behavior. We have to believe we are worth taking care of, and we have to want to change.
I have heard that with any negative behavior, there must be something we get out of it or we wouldn’t do it anymore. Is our depression covering up some old unresolved conflict, an old unhealed wound, or a fear we can’t face? If so, it is better to let go and stop focusing on how bad we feel, and turn your thoughts to someone else’s needs.
Meditate or pray as an act of intercession.
The absolute best way I know to pull myself up when depression starts, is to pray or meditate for someone else. There are plenty of people out there who need it, and how we pray doesn’t matter. We can ask for blessings, say a mantra, the Rosary, or just focus on thoughts of love. You can pray for someone you know, or victims of disaster far away. But just taking 15 minutes or so to focus positive energy toward someone who is suffering fills me with gratitude and peace. It could do the same for you.
Move from meditation to action.
History tells us we become depressed less by challenges than ennui. And pop music tells us we are stronger than we think. If you lend your strength to a project or cause outside yourself, you can make a difference in the world and beat your depression at the same time.
Pay attention to your moods. If you feel yourself becoming too self absorbed, listen to Kelly Clarkson singing “Stronger” or Katy Perry “hear me roar,” get up, get out and do something for someone else.
Use your strength to develop healthy habits. There is a cycle here. Feel a little stronger, eat better, exercise a bit, meditate, give of yourself, feel a little stronger and start again. It is possible to beat depression naturally. Just keep taking one step at a time.
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