36 ways to Deal with Depression
October 16, 2012Last updated on February 14, 2017
I was hanging with my uncle Kenny at a Mexican restaurant (obviously) a month ago in San Diego and we started talking about smoothie recipes.
It dawned on me at that moment how grateful I was to be alive. There were so many more smoothie recipes to make the next day and I had something to look forward to…
Compare this to October. I had one of the best weeks and worst weeks this year. WTF happened?
I’m not completely sure. Sometimes it’s so easy to analyze others than spend the time to look at ourselves.
For the great week, life was simple, my mind was insanely clear, I was trying new recipes / activities, I knew what I wanted in almost all decisions and was able to empower others to surprisingly high levels.
Then the 2 following weeks I hardly wanted to take phone calls, life seemed pretty dully and our refreshing of AppSumo seemed like another setback instead of progress.
It’s SO much easier to NOT feel depressed when business is going well. As well, when you have other distractions in life (externally and internally).
Over the past months I’ve been clearing out distractions in my life. Less drinking, better people and exploring what excites me at work. So how could I be feeling down?
I have some assumptions why I may be “down”:
- I had a few drinks, previously I wasn’t drinking at all.
- I wasn’t at home for the 2 weeks.
- AppSumo was refreshing so profits are basically 1 year reversed.
- I’m still exploring being happy completely alone (relationship-wise).
- Maybe a few more I’m not aware of.
BUT sometimes it’s hard to know what changed or why we are in this funk.
One thing that’s super valuable is going back in time to try and recognize when things changed. Did you eat something? Was it something someone said? Work related? Drug related?
We spend A LOT of energy moping but not talking to the one person who can cure it. OURSELF!
I can’t tell you that I’m feeling 100% but I’m exploring what really makes me consistently fulfilled and happy to be alive.
Ultimately, finding the root issue and resolving that will be help you live a fulfilled life.
Here’s what I am doing to improve my root issue:
- Talk with 3 trusted people. Ask them. Listen to them. Fully. Walk with them. Hug them.
- Yourself. You know the answer. Others will help you validate or present it more clearly.
- Pen & paper. Write it ALL out.
Sometimes the answer won’t magically appear. Shitty, I wish it did….
I have realized the act of DOING can be SUPER powerful in figuring what you want. It’s like working out, you CAN’T be unhappy and work out at the same time.
“These smart guys are in a house and don’t have any great ideas and have all the time to do it. Guilt / depression worms inside of them.
Nothing happens because there’s not enough real activity and challenge: You’re not in contact with the experimental guys. You don’t have to think how to answer questions from students. Nothing! “
– Richard Feynman
Ever meet those people who are SO certain? I can immediately think of my brother, Adam Gilbert and my business partner Chad Boyda.
It’s like they always have the answers and are so grounded with who they are. Am I like that? How do you become like that?
To get like that, it’s really about peeling the onion back to find out who we are and what we actually want. Knowing what we don’t like, what excites us and why we are live. It’s inside, we’ve been building it out for X amount of years. Just dusty and warn down from work, leaches in our lives and unhealthy activities.
While walking around Connecticut this weekend I wanted ammunition for when I’m feeling sad. There are ways to deal with depression….
So I listed 36 ways I’ve used to feel better. These are temporary, but still helpful…
- Help someone else. It can be small like holding open a door, larger like volunteering or evening buying a random person a latte at Starbucks.
- Dance. Michael Ellsberg showed me the power of this. Do it completely for yourself, not others.
- Go for a walk. As my friend Adam says forward movement is forward progress. I can attest just getting out of sedentary position is really powerful.
- Write it out. What do you think I’m doing 🙂 The good and the bad. It’ll help you remember when there are better days.
- Dwell in it. Seriously. I know this is a bit contradictory. Sometimes it feels good to simmer in it.
- Indulge in 1 “bad” thing. Eat a candy bar (when did this become bad, ha!). Take a drink. Take someones parking spot at Whole Foods. Whatever floats your boat.
- Get drunk / high. Do this with caution and awareness of momentary escape. This will NOT solve the depression and will likely continue it if abused.
- Hit the gym. I have NEVER EVER felt bad after the gym. As much as I’ve avoided to go, I never regret.
- Listen to great music. Have a happy playlist.
- Have a happy email folder / label. I look at this once or twice a year. Always brings a smile to my face.
- Zone out to the tv / movie. It’s okay to just let your mind go. Dwelling may not always be the solution.
- Surround yourself with positive people and positive triggers. Your real friends and positive people will want to cheer you up.
- Listen to a comedy movie or standup. I always laugh at Mitch Hedburg but choose your own medicine
- Reflect on a great thing you’ve done. Look at something in the past you are PROUD of, something you worked really hard at and accomplished.
- 1 small win. Clean your room, brush your teeth, take out the trash, anything.
- Talk to a parent. Relative. My mom is a rock. Find the person who really knows you and is always supportive, unconditionally.
- The 5 minute rule. You get 5 minutes to COMPLETELY whine out. Go hard. A lot of times you realize how small or insignificant our issues are.
- Write out everything when you are feeling sad. It’s really funny to laugh at when you are feeling better. Do the opposite when you are in a great mood. Look for patterns about where, when and why you are in this mood. I wrote this out on a post-it note and try to put myself back in those places when not feeling great.
- Avoid work. Your work will reflect you which is sucky work. Some of these contradictory. I’ve just noticed when I have incongruence in my feelings / emotions then I’m not doing my best work. Other times working is a great cure to feeling better.
- Change your environment. I’ve noticed being at home cheers me up but if it’s leaving your home, doing a fav activity (for me it’d be disc golf) or going to a fav city; do it.
- Hot tub. I love em. Go naked. Try it out.
- Listen to someone else’s problems. I am sure there is some deeper psychology but listening to others issues generally makes me think mine aren’t as bad. Kinda similar how we all think our family was the weirdest until you hear about someone else’s. You KNOW what I’m talking about
- Read in a coffee shop. Be around others. Makes you realize there are others on Earth, gives me a sense of being connected. Even if you say, “I have no friends” go to a place where you can be with people. The only way to find friends is to be around people who can become friends. Start there.
- Text a friend that always texts back. That always cheers me up.
- Throw stuff away. Seriously. Clear up your place will help clear up your mind.
- Incense. Have some positive association with smell and go back to it.
- Smile at a stranger. Make it a competition. Just forcing your smile will help.
- Eat at your fav restaurant. Tacos!
- Be congruent. Don’t fake. When someone asks how you are doing, be honest. You’ll be shocked at how much closer to others you’ll feel and how much better you’ll feel.
- Focus on what positive you can do. Anything? Something? 1 thing?
- Look at old people. This always helps me realize the finiteness of our time and using the best of the time.
- Have activities / places you know cheer you up. Make a list. Go to it when feeling down.
- Check ‘yo ego. Think if the emotion / sadness / feelings are from what you really want internally or more for an external validation. Thinking through
- 1 minute rainbow. Find a close friend and have them tell you via email for 1 minute about how awesome you are. Reference this when needed.
- Look macro. If you are working towards your purpose then the bumps of shit growth or bad rev days are okay. I know my mornings are SUPER impacted by sales / response from Sumo-lings. Even after 2 years it still gets to me. Ultimately it’s recognizing a higher purpose and staying true to that.
- Go to laughing yoga. Haven’t tried but I hear this barista in Starbucks laughing and it cheers me up.
AND (bonus!) make a list of what a great day looks like. Do the things that make your day great. Even if it’s just one thing.
So where does that leave me?
I’m home. Austin. My scooter. My new Vitamix (LOVE!). My gym. My office. My co-workers. My friends. What is it about all this that makes me happy? I’m not 100% sure but I know it makes me happy.
The easiest way to think about moving forward:
- How can I simplify my life? (remove / add people, places, things). Read this amazing article about simplifying life (via Susan)
- Subscribe to DailyOm.com
- Remember that failure is good. When you learn from failure and overcome it, you can be happier even when things don’t go your way.
- Start EVERY DAY off with something small and positive. However trivial it may be. Something that makes you smile. It can be incense, a picture, something material, texting Noah, eating oatmeal (I LOVE cinnamon and raisin), whatever.
- Reading Richard Feynman’s (thanks Nev!) book “Surely you must be joking Mr. Feyman” and realizing that curiosity, playing and doing the things that interest you will lead you to the right place.
Do I have the answer for what will make myself consistently fulfilled? No, I wish. I’d bottle that up and eBay it for a millie.
For me, it’s important to know it will happen and that’s okay. Remember depression or failure or whatever has a lot to teach us. Embrace it but try not to make it self fulfilling…
Why are you happy to be alive?