36 ways to Deal with Depression

36 ways to Deal with Depression

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…

  1. 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.
  2. Dance. Michael Ellsberg showed me the power of this. Do it completely for yourself, not others.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Dwell in it. Seriously. I know this is a bit contradictory. Sometimes it feels good to simmer in it.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Hit the gym. I have NEVER EVER felt bad after the gym. As much as I’ve avoided to go, I never regret.
  9. Listen to great music. Have a happy playlist.
  10. Have a happy email folder / label. I look at this once or twice a year. Always brings a smile to my face.
  11. Zone out to the tv / movie. It’s okay to just let your mind go. Dwelling may not always be the solution.
  12. Surround yourself with positive people and positive triggers. Your real friends and positive people will want to cheer you up.
  13. Listen to a comedy movie or standup. I always laugh at Mitch Hedburg but choose your own medicine
  14. 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.
  15. 1 small win. Clean your room, brush your teeth, take out the trash, anything.
  16. Talk to a parent. Relative. My mom is a rock. Find the person who really knows you and is always supportive, unconditionally.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Hot tub. I love em. Go naked. Try it out.
  22. 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
  23. 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.
  24. Text a friend that always texts back. That always cheers me up.
  25. Throw stuff away. Seriously. Clear up your place will help clear up your mind.
  26. Incense. Have some positive association with smell and go back to it.
  27. Smile at a stranger. Make it a competition. Just forcing your smile will help.
  28. Eat at your fav restaurant.Tacos!
  29. 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.
  30. Focus on what positive you can do. Anything? Something? 1 thing?
  31. Look at old people. This always helps me realize the finiteness of our time and using the best of the time.
  32. Have activities / places you know cheer you up. Make a list. Go to it when feeling down.
  33. Check ‘yo ego. Think if the emotion / sadness / feelings are from what you really want internally or more for an external validation. Thinking through
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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:

  1. How can I simplify my life? (remove / add people, places, things). Read this amazing article about simplifying life (via Susan)
  2. Subscribe to DailyOm.com
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

 

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77 responses to “36 ways to Deal with Depression”

Michelle Catapang
December 9, 2019 at 3:48 am

Such a nice content. This will be helpful for people who needs assurance on what they are dealing right now will eventually be alright. Thank you for this content!

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Cortt Parker
April 16, 2019 at 4:55 am

reading this article has already made me feel better, can’t wait to take the advice!

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Karim
March 14, 2019 at 11:02 am

I am happy to be alive because I feel like I am on a journey, a challenge, to becoming a better person and a better human being, more skilled and more knowledgable. And I am a guy who loves challenges.

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Abe
February 15, 2020 at 2:45 pm

U GO Karim!

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Déborah
September 11, 2017 at 4:39 am

The problem is: Where can I find the strength to walk to do whatever could help me? I have so many problems/traumas to deal with that it blocks any attempt of doing something.

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Dave
March 18, 2017 at 7:02 am

I don't know if I am - or ever have been...
What does the word "Happy" even mean?
Is that what comes after contentment?

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Déborah
September 11, 2017 at 4:42 am

A friend told me once that "if we stop to pretend we are ok maybe we could use that amount of energy to rule the world. But we always try to fake happiness to avoid the others.

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Caterine
March 9, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Thank you for this. This is something I have to deal with every now and then. You know what I think really helps, besides what you mentioned? A pet. I have a dog (my therapist).

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Phil
November 7, 2016 at 5:31 am

Thanks I'm going through the low lows right now, but will try these and see if they help

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Alice
April 8, 2016 at 10:35 pm

Thank you <3 18 years ago I spent the better part of a year and half in the hospital. I just wanted to die. I crawled out of that hole and had 18 amazing years. about a year ago it all fell down.systematically piece by piece it was all gone.. jobs..friends..money...i had my partner though.. until last month. While I don't feel as i did 18 years ago...the depression is quite the same. I will try some of your list. Maybe a new one each day.. without predetermining success or failure..just try. Thanks for sharing.. I shall survive..I always do. and so will you.

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Ali
December 6, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Sometimes I'm not happy to be alive. Sometimes life just fooken sucks. I think something people don't tell you is that just like any business.. you can't WAIT to feel happy. You have to CREATE happiness yourself. But, it takes extra energy and just like anything worth having its hard work, which gets easier over time when you consistently push yourself to look at the positive and not dwell in feeling sorry for yourself, because no one really cares. I think what I've seen is how I use unhappiness - I really like to push myself and sometimes I don't know when to stop. By feeling sorry for myself it gives me an 'excuse' to stop, when really I should be smart enough to be self-aware enough to just give myself a fooken break 🙂 Give yourself a fooken break 🙂

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Justin White
November 11, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Hi Noah,

Man, I felt for you as I read this post. I recognize all these symptoms, and my life for ten years or more has felt like an ongoing dialogue surrounding these questions so I'm psyched to answer them. I'm happy to be alive because it exists - life I mean. It's inherently kind of magic to be something rather than nothing and I'm committed to being a part of that. I don't mean this lightheartedly, the appeal of nothing is significant. But just breathing and being a living animal is itself, magic, if you can access that without filtering it through a lot of thinking. For me this is bulletproof, and although I can mentally, internally, litigate against my own right for happiness in so many ways, I can't convince myself it's not good to just be. Mindfulness helps. I recommend just feeling your feet on the floor for 10 minutes.

I want to gently suggest that while it is sometimes useful to look for the root cause of your depression ( what changed, what you ate, what your behaviour patterns have been etc. ), this investigation might be fueling a feedback loop. This study (http://www.medicaldaily.com/stop-overthinking-negative-experiences-excessive-rumination-linked-depression-anxiety-260221) identifies rumination and self blame as leading causes of depression. It's tempting probe the problem, but if you're depressed, you're not seeing clearly and you're the last one to be trusted in investigating the root cause. If you investigate while drunk on depression chemicals nine times out of ten you'll 'realize' it was all your fault.

I'm not saying I don't investigate for causes, but I never do it while I'm depressed and I always talk it over with good people. Depression is itself a little illogical, and in my experience if you can nail the lifestyle supports you've fought half the battle but the other half is an internal battle to accept and be open to sadness, and to stop 'doing' in order to just be. Paradoxically releasing the struggle for happiness allows it to grow.

Hope you're having a great day man, and thanks for being vulnerable and talking about depression online.

-Justin

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TechBloke
July 15, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Oh well, i just stumbled into this old post of yours. I think what you felt at that time is normal given your circumstances. I am wondering - Is it normal for 'some people' to NOT get depressed about thing? Maybe a little stressed/unhappy... but depression is often very deep.

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Maya Hanley
February 26, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Wow. I have had depression off and on most of my life and only recently discovered I have Celiac Disease. Apparently, depression is a big part of it because your immune system is fighting and you also don't absorb nutrition properly. Go figure. I have battled to stay cheerful and am naturally an optimist so depression seemed so counter to my natural self. So, now I know part of why it was happening, I have totally changed my diet (Celiac is life threatening) and eat zero gluten and mainly a paleo diet (I also have a Vitamix which I love). Now it's the exercise that has to start again. I love your lists of things to do. Very helpful and, most of all, your openness about it. A HUGE part of my problem was not letting people know how I was really feeling. It's also good to know that someone like you, who seems so happy, has suffered with this and that you are helping people with your honesty. Thanks!

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Nina
January 31, 2015 at 4:23 am

Love the list! For me it helps if I go with my dog for a very long walk ...another thing that helped (a few years back) was to develop a healthy addiction lol, when i made my first lip balm I was soo happy and proud I really fell for the whole DIY high! Started making natural soap, creams, shampoos, and a lot of other things I never ever thought I would do. I guess its like a therapy to me...I recently decided to start blogging, and your site is very helpful, so thanks Noah!

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YogiZoli
July 17, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Noah, I really like these posts, sometimes even more than your marketing tips!

Promise that you'll try laughing Yoga!! It's closer to enlightenment then getting high, ejaculating or sneezing!

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Maya Hanley
February 26, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Laughing Yoga? Do you think they have it in the UK?

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James A
July 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Noah, saw your post about feeling low after alcohol.

I'm 40 now, married with kids, own a few businesses, etc.

I got to a point where my hangovers were mentally draining even after just a couple of glasses of wine. I started not liking that I was a louder version of myself after some drinks....thinking I may have said something, and couldn't really recall if I said something or not, and how it was perceived. I'm sure it was all in my head, but the next day after a shitty night's sleep, it became a drain just thinking about it. Not to mention the bigger stupid stuff like sometimes driving home after a happy hour or such while I was a bit impaired. That was really dumb.

Took a short hiatus and ultimately got in to new hobbies. Even did a full Ironman at the end of last year after never doing any sports my whole life. Haven't gone back to booze after 2.5 years. It just wasn't for me anymore.

Actually have more fun at the bars now than I ever did and have the ability to then get a good night's sleep and exercise the next day. The energy consistency is awesome. I feel physically great all the time and that definitely improves the mental part. Just wanted to throw out my experience in case it's useful to anyone.

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Justin Madigan
April 23, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Noah, Thanks for the great post! There is such a stigma associated with depression in our society. This is unfortunate because nobody is happy happy happy (despite the garbage we digest on Facebook everyday). Anyways, here is my favorite smoothie recipe (ultimate happiness guaranteed). Let me know what you think!:

1 massive part blueberries
1 massive part spinach
1 cup of high fat/low sugar plain yogurt
1 banana
1 raw organic egg (optional)
1 tablespoon of almond butter
cinnamon (to taste)
water to desired thickness

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Kimberly
March 1, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Great read. I just discovered your site and it it has already been so helpful. On a side note: You are adorable 🙂

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amar
January 20, 2014 at 12:25 pm

You left out one. It is a long-term solution. And it's not just for people who are depressed. But generally who want to feel better. It also dramatically increases the quality of your life.

Get a girlfriend/boyfriend. (ie get into a serious relationship with a person)*

I guess the short-term variant would be get into a not-so-serious relationship (or an overnight relationship) with a person.

*The internet isn't classified as a person.

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Stefano
January 7, 2014 at 1:39 pm

To be what you are you have to first know who you are. And there is no way you can do that by yourself or by reading a book. You need someone to guide you. This has worked for me:
http://www.claudionaranjo-sat.com/
I started 5 years ago and slowly my life has changed for the better. Today while still being a software engineer working for startups I have found my true balance and fulfillingness

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Leticia
December 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Interesting... I worked at I job I hated but made good money. Saved some over the 3 years I worked for the bastards and after experiencing depression , realizing I was depressed, and learning a lot about myself I decided to quit. It felt great to tell them to fuck off...
Went back home for 3 months ( I'm from Brazil ) , I really needed my mom and dad!.Traveled to places I had never been before in my country with my best friends.
Came back to America and traveled, traveled , traveled...everywhere I was invited to . Met great people , went to amazing beautiful places I had never been before , and experienced life to the fullest ! It felt great !
I made a decision to invest my money on myself , on being happy and doing things I had never done. Now , almost a year after I quit I'm running out of money, I have no flipping clue of what I wanna do and it's frightening to see my savings account going to zero.
No regrets on doing what I did but I guess I was expecting some great idea for a business to come out of all the amazing time, happiness and gratefulness I experienced ... Not really ????
I know what makes me happy., traveling , helping others ( I did some volunteering as well) working out , eating heathy , basically everything Ive been doing for the past year , but with no money it will be impossible to keep doing this ! Any suggestions?

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