Some Things I Have Learnt From Depression

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Practising Yoga has taught me that pain is a good place to start – in many ways it is a gift: it lights the way and points us towards what we need to work on.

So, here is a list of some things I have learnt from my depression:

  • It’s not worth working overtime for extra money if it’s a sacrifice to your wellbeing

  • Good diet and exercise make up half a healthy person. Meditation and proper sleep regimen is the other half.

  • Positive thinking is key: there’s no point eating healthy food and exercising if all the while I’m telling myself I “should” be better, or pushing to hard, or using it as an excuse to punish myself. In doing so, I’m attracting a harsh and negative outcome for myself. Better to say “how can I best nourish myself in this time?”

  • Just one day or two of good diet, exercise, sleep and meditation makes a difference.

  • TV is very much worth avoiding. It’s like a corrosive for the soul. Like eating white, processed things with sugar and momentarily feeling numbed and OK – then feeling sick…

  • Letting loved ones know you’re struggling is definitely a good idea.

  • Going for a walk is never a bad idea.

  • Depression is an illness. Anxiety is an illness. Treat them as you would any other illness.

  • Depression and anxiety warp your way of thinking – you are not who you truly are when you’re ill. You will get better.

  • First, love yourself. Self love is the most important thing of all. Without this, nothing else matters. With it, everything falls into place on it’s own.

  • Distractions to your pain will often make you feel worse. Sitting with your pain is uncomfortable but will bring more relief and reward.

  • A constructive distraction could be good – e.g go and see some live comedy with a friend and tell them you’re feeling low, or help someone else with something they might be struggling with – it will take you out of your own head for a while and perhaps give you some perspective. If you can’t do that, watch a funny movie or sitcom instead – but make sure it’s followed by a walk!

  • So much easier said than done, but – slowing down and practicing delayed gratification will make you feel wonderful.

  • Suppressing emotions is dangerous – write them out, say them out, get them out! A good exercise to do is to say/write your feelings like so: “I’m anxious, worried, tired, maybe a bit frustrated, a bit agitated, looking forward to getting home…” etc. In the wise words of Yoda: “Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” Thanks, Yoda 🙂

  • Don’t get too serious. Balance seriousness with lightheartedness. Laughter is therapy. Even if forced at first 😉

  • Yoga is like a prescriptive drug. Don’t skip it! (For those of you not practising Yoga – replace this with whatever equivalent activity you do – jogging, walking, pilates, etc. Don’t have one? You’re missing out!)

  • Making a list called “Some Things I Would Like To Do/Try/Achieve When I’m Feeling Better” will remind you that you have a life and an identity beyond your depressed state.

Patanjali tells us the top five causes of suffering are:

  1. Avidha: ignorance of our eternal nature

  2. Asmita: seeing oneself as separate and divided from the rest of the world

  3. Raga: attraction and attachment to impermanent things

  4. Dvesha: aversion to the unpleasant

  5. Abhinivesha: clinging to life because we fail to perceive the seamless continuity of consciousness, which cannot be broken by death.

After meditating on these causes of suffering, take some time to go over his four recommendations for achieving mental clarity:

  1. Friendliness toward the joyful

  2. Celebrate the good in others

  3. Compassion for those who are suffering

  4. Remain impartial to the faults and imperfections of others.

(Translation taken from “Bringing Yoga to Life” by Donna Farhi.)

What are some things you have learned from your negative experiences?

 

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