Dr. Jaya Moitra
Jamshedpur, Aug 2: Depression is as old as civilization. To the utmost reality, every one of us from time to time in our lifetime went through it unnoticed. Even the great sages, seers and philosophers were no exception to it.
Sri Aurobindo in his great work Savitri says “An endless spiral of ascent and fall Untill at last is reached the giant point….”
But, when the span is of longer duration and symptoms vivid then only it is marked as Depressive Disorder, Clinical Depression, Life Blues and such types of connotations we tag to Depression.Moreover, there can be widespread depression noticed among the masses during any pandemic outbreak or natural or manmade disasters.
We often forget that as with physical health there are ups and downs with mental health also. There may be highs and lows. Since depression is often life altering, affecting the life quality, ruining interpersonal relationship. Hence it should be nipped in the bud.
Tools to combat depression: Tiny Steps Major Impact
- Acceptance: Accepting what I am going through and acknowledging the phase of lows is the stepping stone to overcome depression. I need to come out of the denial mode to be out of the clutches of Depression.
- Transformation and not Suppression: Suppressing the negative thoughts leads to depression and this strategy complicates depression to a point of terminal illness. Simply being wallowed in ones misery is futile.
- Documenting the feelings in order to follow the ebb and flow of the depressive thoughts is an efficient way to handle depression.
- Focusing on the part instead of generalizing the whole: Many things went right with me, so what if something or a few things went wrong!
- Attending less to the Background Conversation: Many a time the negative thoughts, emotions, the irrational voice within me gives me wrong suggestions, so I need to ignore the “Depression Voice”, because the negative is not always realistic.
- Addressing the thoughts: Addressing each negative thought individually and recognizing it and replacing it with a counter positive thought often leads to combat depression strategically.
- Setting of attainable goals: Targeting something part by part and focusing on short term goals with limited to-do list is a way to keep stress and depression at bay.
- Investing in Mental Health along with Physical Health to ensure holistic wellbeing is a vital lifesaving strategy.
Human body can be compared to a country or a nation. As the Defense System of the country needs to be strong enough to combat invasion by enemies, similarly a human body needs to be fortified with physical and mental strength to defend itself from bacterial and viral attacks at the physical level as physical immunity, and in the mental level as mental health immunity.
- Fostering the habit of Let Go: Nonjudgmental. Let us enjoy and not possess. Let things go that I cannot control. Because possession has a direct linkage with depression.
- Healthy eating habits: I am what I eat. Consuming nutritious, balanced diet and avoiding junk foods not only build the physique but it also rejuvenates the mind.
- Keeping the body hydrated by consuming adequate amount of water to avoid irritation.
- Sound sleep: Sleep occupies a major role in physical and mental wellbeing of a person. It is only during the quiet sleep that the cells repair and prepare them for the next day’s work-out.
- Seeking therapeutic support in need: As we consult physicians in cases of physical health problems so we need to consult psychologist, counselor, psychiatrist and mental health workers in cases of mental health crisis and practice the coping mechanisms or strategies advised and or to continue with the prescribed medicines.
- Identifying the triggers and disempowering them: Each one of us have some Depression Triggers in our life. We need to plan for such triggers and tactfully avoid them, not letting them to take a toll on our mental health.
- Reducing alcohol, nicotine and substance use as much as possible.
- Giving a meaning to life: Aimless living is in itself ravaging. So life should be given a meaning to live. Doing something new, creative, effective, socially productive, fulfilling is what we should strive for.
- Restraining from toxic people: It is best to avoid toxic people who demean our self-esteem at all costs.
- Mindfulness meditation: Deep breathing exercises, yoga, taichi, qigong, loving –kindness meditation, guided imagery, and virtual images to relax the body and mind to reduce stress are effective techniques to lessen the stress hormone cortisone and eventually reduce depression. Spending some time on self-care like sipping a cup of tea all alone, or watching the chirping birds, or reading a book, or spending some quality time with a loved one, the ‘Me Time’ is very crucial to keep depression at bay.
- Minimize social media: Excess exposure to social media contributes to depression and low self-esteem. Logging to social media needs to be purposeful and not merely an addiction.
- Strong bond of relationship: Having a vibrant interpersonal relationship is the best way to enhance mental health. It helps like sessions of psychotherapy. Since stress leads to depression so having a strong support system of family members and friends to talk to and share with, de-stress us and therefore it is essential for optimal mental health.
- Each day is different: Not to expect anything permanent in this impermanent world, that is a folly which we often commit. Neither are our thoughts permanent nor are our opinions. Today’s negative emotions do not belong to tomorrow. Life is a passing phase. Every day is an opportunity.
That is what Sri Aurobindo envisaged in Savitri:
“Then is our life a tranquil pilgrimage,
Each year a mile upon the Heavenly Way,
Each dawn opens into a larger Light”