350 million globally. You may be or know someone who’s suffering this epidemic silently, in self-denial, coping by running into a rabbit hole of intoxication, or joining the rising numbers prescribing medication to balance brain chemicals and promote serotonin; neglecting first, the most natural and effective coping mechanisms, where any brain-altering substances, even those signed by the institute and human in whites we “trust”, be your last resort.
Let’s start with this. Mental health is not intangible, or surpassable. Everyone with eyes on these words has it, no matter how privileged, fortunate, or gifted a person may be.
Whether that’s someone’s insecurity to not admit their own problems, or selfish advance to live in their bubble of self-righteousness.
Some may suffer more than most, due to chemical imbalances, or genetic predispositions thrown into the mix, but we can ALL self-induce poor mental health states.
Like all health; our body, our behaviours and reactions are all entwined as beacons to how we’re feeling. Mental health isn’t invisible, it has signals. 🚨
Sense yourself, or a friend acting unusually quiet, rocking up to the party greasy haired and scruffy – or not at all – large bags and grumpy?
They’re signs that should scream out.
To prescribe yourself or that person suffering with the following methods of overcoming, before signing off your GP prescription, stepping foot in the pharmacy or cranking open the pill and potion cupboard.
HERE ARE 3 HEALTHY, HUNKWORTHY REMINDERS THAT SHOULD STAND BY YOUR SIDE & COME TO YOUR RESCUE:
1. SELF-PRESCRIBE OTHERS “GOOD VIBES”
The urge is to cave up, in a hole, wide and far from people – as the empathetic soul, turned bedroom troll you might become, as to not “infect” the world with your bad energy; riddled with apathy, laziness, dull and down vibrations.
Hey you, you’re fighting a losing battle.
WE FORGET THAT THE MAGIC INGREDIENT IS CONNECTION. BUT DON’T YOU NOTICE?
When you’re having an off day – it’s rare that other people will “vibe” positively as you may have once done before. It takes the true characters, the ones worth standing by, that will fill your cup when you feel empty. 🚰
It’s an interesting journey depression. Take yourself as a vehicle rolling through the rainy seasons and stormy weathers, and windscreen wipers that clear your friendship and relationship visor. 🚗
What you think to be catastrophe, becomes Clarity.
Once the storm passes, you’ll soon feel a lot lighter when you realise who’s truly there for you. ☔
Get connected. With those that will reciprocate.
2A. REVOLUTIONISE YOUR GOAL SETTING
“When life meets expectation, we’re happy”. Mo Gawdat
This simple yet powerful statement becomes the equation to why we fell into a pit in the first place.
Depression breeds on insecurity, self-doubt, social comparison and self-judgement.
It comes to no surprise. As we adopt patterns of our instinctual brain we’ve been installed with upon birth. Our natural pessimist begins to search for inadequacies, shortfalls, or something as little poor decisions as a threat, to ultimately protect ourselves.
We’re always basing success & happiness upon the experience we had and expect in any given situation:
“Your happiness is equal to or greater than the difference between the events of your life and your expectations of how life should behave.” Mo Gawdat
As you’ll begin to see, a pessimistic, serotonin deficiency, gloomy mindset will make everything MUCH harder to achieve satisfaction.
Be it the social situation we rocked up to and “underperformed”,
Previous joys in hobbies failing to cultivate a particular “feeling”,
Expecting ourselves to hit “targets” at work,
Or something as simple as tying our shoelaces properly that morning.
Your brain’s self-evaluation of the past, failing to meet your own expectations, constantly analysing, perceiving and setting a benchmark, that likely created the chasm in the first place – and will only get deeper – the more mentally incapable we become to our own self-deprecating spiral.
To rewind, untangle and unmesh the mess of the expectation gap we made within our minds; we must take ownership, responsibility and accountability, while keeping attuned to our current futile state of motivation. Therefore, our goals, and expectations upon ourselves must be dealt with a sensitive approach to save us diving deeper into despair and feelings of unworthiness. Let’s breed optimism in acknowledging what is going right, rather than what is going wrong.
Something as simple in the moment as choosing an outfit, making breakfast or walking to the local supermarket can feel like climbing Mt. Everest in our deepest darkest lows.
So, let’s focus on the small achievable victories in any given situation.
Taking a new, improved, refreshed stance to goal setting may help, to at least trick it into a positively focussed trajectory.
Though let’s not get ahead of ourselves, “dreaming big” and shooting for the stars while your negative internal dialogue is drumming and droning away, may just create unreachable expectations, especially given your current state of despair.
Be your own therapeutic orchestrator to change the tune, and remind yourself what is currently happening is OK, but requires a PROACTIVE approach to goal and intention-setting, to GET OUT of your current state.
SO… WHAT IS THE SWEET SPOT FOR GOAL-SETTING?
Goal-orientated people put more effort into accomplishing goals. They’re specific, get to where they want to be quicker, tend to achieve more, and make decisions easier for themselves.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well it kinda is…
“one recipe for a dissatisfied future is setting goals that cannot be attained” (Rolf Dobelli)
It seems way too risky in our vulnerable state to take this gamble for happiness, and as goal-orientated people tend to achieve more, we must find the sweet-spot to nurture our emotions while satisfying our reward-seeking brain
Be vague, incremental or have a wider berth in your goal setting to not upset rhythm.
We MUST steer clear of too much fluff, and little progress with intentions, instead take a High-Low approach to goal setting every day. Success in this method speaks volumes in a fitness study:
STRICT GOAL APPROACH:
50% of participants who said they wanted to lose 2 lbs in 8 weeks, were unsatisfied when they didn’t reach, or weren’t on track to reach this goal and completely gave up!
HIGH-LOW GOAL APPROACH:
On the other hand, those who set High-Low goals of losing 1-3lbs of bodyfat in 8 weeks, although were less on track to hitting it, gained the benefits of longevity and sustained effort, with 80% rate of continuation with their goal set.
Opening up the target to minimise our expectation gap is a no-brainer, but notice we create another problem… These are quantifiable results.
We’re dealing with depression, which falls into the school of emotions. One of the most difficult things to measure. They’re unquantifiable ANDconfusing. The English language has more than 300 adjectives to describe the darn things.
Therefore, the way tackle progress and self-evaluation must change.
2B) THE HEALTH HUNK METHOD
So, let’s take a journaling approach every day, to externalise the negative, be grateful for the little victories, and aware of how particular actions and happenings made us feel. While we deal with the quantifiable in life through High-Low goals setting.
Both approaches combined keeps us appreciating what we already have, (with our glass half-full) while striving in the most positive form for an improved sense of wellbeing for ourselves. (striving to fill what might be empty)
Enter two ways to ownership with the Hunky H2O analogy below:
Ultimately, it’s not the end goal of better mental wellbeing, lower bodyweight, or more money that makes you unhappy or happy, it’ll be HOW we realize our ambitions that gets us into our ideal state.
It’ll take strife, sweat and hard work, where forcing yourself to be PROACTIVE will be the best recipe for stable mental health success.
3. GAIN SELF-AWARENESS THROUGH YOUR “FLOW”
We know we’re feeling low when all the fine, fun and fresh joys in life become mundane, a chore or sucked dry of all the great feelings we used to experience.
Let’s put a stop to our Ebb with Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of FLOW.
Flow is a state we can all experience. That feeling of being fully immersed, when time is no concept, and our productivity sky-rockets.
Often this is achieved by the professional athletes, video gamers, and creatives and who are truly CONNECTED with their task at hand.
Flow is a state met when a task is meaningful and filled with purpose, is intellectually challenging, stimulating, and has the ability to nourish our emotions, having us feel pleasant and most importantly “safe”.
Those susceptible to anxiety and depression, like myself, may fall victim to self-analyses, perfectionism, and an inability to calm the busy mind in a heartbeat.
Flow is immediately more difficult to sustain when the simple day-to-day tasks feel impossible.
That’s when the Health Hunk High-5 Formula adapted from Mr. Mouthful. (Csikszentmihalyi) can back us up to gain presence in our lives and find that hobby or space, that once again takes all the human second-guessing, thoughts and self-judgery from the equation:
STEP 1 – FIRST FIND A HOBBY/TASK THAT WILL PIQUE CHALLENGE, INTEREST AND SUSTAIN YOUR ATTENTION FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES. 🏈
STEP 2 – CARVE OUT RECREATIONAL TIME IN THE DAY THAT WILL ALLOW ALL BURDENS TO CEASE TO BUG, NIGGLE OR IRRITATE YOU. CREATE THAT SPACE FOR FREEDOM. ⏱️
STEP 3 – CENTRE YOURSELF WITH YOUR SENSES AND FOCUS ON WHAT’S HAPPENING, RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, IN EVERY PRESENT MOMENT. 🧘
STEP 4 – IT MIGHT TAKE SOME ADJUSTMENTS AND MINDFULNESS TO RE CENTRE YOURSELF BUT PERSEVERE. 🐝
STEP 5 – RE-EVALUATE WHETHER THAT TASK OR HOBBY HAD YOU FEEL AT EASE, YET IN CONTROL, REWARDED YET CHALLENGED, WHERE TIME JUST “FLEW BY”. 📓(IF IT HADN’T SATISFIED AT LEAST ONE OF THESE METRICS, RETURN TO STEP 1 WITH A SEARCH FOR A NEW TASK)
“Flow” is a state even high-performers and those currently in a stable mental health state are eeking to find. So be kind to yourself and remember any form of “Flow” escape in being present with a task is a positive shift.
There’s a powerful self-learning when you hit rock bottom as to what brings back your fire, spirit and spring, so the journey for “Flow” should be sought after, and at all costs, without expectations!
NEVER “GIVE UP”…
It takes a consistent drive and push with changing the balance of your brain chemistry, without brain-altering medication.
With good human connection, treating your day-to-day with a little more respect than a busy Indian train to your public space, by giving yourself some “me time”, meditation, journaling, a good read or jog around the block – you may stave away from those lows, negative side-effects and feeling the feels of losing yourself a little. 🤯
This is just to say it’s real. Let yourself feel, and process it. It’s OK not to be OK. Whether it be shedding a tear, knocking a punch-bag for six, or sharing with a mate. All costs, don’t have it be the unhealthy kind by lashing it out on the next guy or self-bottling to the point of dysfunction – Let your current state of depression be the sign to make a change. 🚦
Just know you’ll come out cleaner, wiser, when you sit with, and proactively make an effort to change what is currently not working in your favour.
People throw the word depression around like there’s no tomorrow.
The fact we felt ill at work, that lazy day, or food coma doesn’t mean you’re depressed. Depression is the real deal.
I have all empathy and understand the use of medication to get you out of the rut.
But do, in all your power to use all the tools of self-medication to your ability.
(PLEASE NOTE: I am not a psychologist, nor Doctor – These are views based on Self experience, Mental Health Mentoring, Coaching & Research)
Stay well, and know you’re not alone. 💪