In more recent years, as I get older I get more in tune with how my mind and body operate, I’ve become aware of the fact that I tend to have depressive cycles.
I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as a depressed person, at least not most of the time.
But it does seem as though, at certain times of the month, every so often, I sink to a depressive low.
These low points aren’t really associated with the events going on in my life.
They kind of just seem to happen.
Granted, they do heighten my negative feelings about what’s going on in my life at that current moment. And at times, they can be ‘triggered’ by something bad, discouraging, or disappointing happening.
But I don’t think they’re caused by the events of my life.
I’ve come to believe that I simply have depressive cycles.
And I don’t think I’m the only one who does.
And in this post, I’m going to talk about how I deal with them.
Keep in mind that I’m not a psychologist. I’m not an expert on mental health. I can only speak to what I have done for myself in my own life to help overcome the problem, and what tends to work for me.
First, I Try To Be Mindful Of How I Feel On A Daily Basis
When I was younger, I used to ignore my feelings.
I would feel them without giving them any kind of label.
But I think being self aware of how we feel is an important step in dealing with our feelings.
So when I wake up in the morning, I try to spend a moment deliberately labeling my state of mind.
- Did I wake up hopeful?
- Did I wake up happy?
- Did I wake up depressed?
- Did I wake up feeling hopeless?
These are important things to recognize and be aware of.
Second, I Try To Assign Labels To My Moods As They Change Throughout The Day.
If I wake up feeling hopeful, but then my mood suddenly changes an hour or two later, leading me to sink to a state of depression, I ask myself:
Why did this happen?
In most cases, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what caused or triggered the change.
Perhaps it was a negative interaction with a client, a troublesome interaction with someone I love, a problem with my bank account, a malfunction with my computer, or a letter from the IRS.
There’s no shortage of things that could plunge us into a worse mood.
But once again, being aware of the state of our moods and when they change is important in helping us to overcome the negative feelings.
Third, Make A Plan
This is probably the most important step.
See, as humans, we’re never going to be able to get rid of all of our negative feelings.
Feeling negative feelings like depression isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that you’re broken or that you’re malfunctioning.
It’s just evidence that you’re a person, and not some kind of machine or robot.
The important question is this:
What should we do with these negative feelings when we feel them?
And my answer is to make a plan, and generate hope for a better future for yourself.
Once again, not every cycle of depression will necessarily be caused by events in your life that you perceive as hopeless.
But in my own life, I’ve found a strong correlation between having a plan, being motivated, and feeling better.
I find that when I make a solid plan for how to get myself to where I want to be in life, my depression seems to affect me less.
And eventually, it seems to dissipate.
Another Thing That Can Really Help With Overcoming Depressive Lows Is To Create A Positive Experience That Helps Turn It Around
The most helpful thing that I’ve found for this is to do something nice for someone, or to show love or appreciation to someone else.
For example, if I wake up feeling particularly depressed, I’ll make a strong effort to give my girlfriend a hug and let her know that I appreciate her.
And I may even try to do something extra that’ll help to make her day better.
When I see that my actions make her happy, I enjoy that boost of feel good chemicals in my brain.
And it really helps to reverse the depressive thoughts I feel.
The problem here, though, is that when we get depressed, it can be really tempting to shut down, or even lash out at other people.
This is why it’s important to be self aware.
You need to overcome that temptation to isolate or lash out, and either take some time to sort out your feelings, or do nice things for people instead.
There are a lot of mental health benefits to being kind and making other people happy.
Think of it as an injection of positive feelings directly into your brain.
These are the steps I take to help overcome depressive cycles in my own life.
And I can honestly say that as I get better at executing on these steps, my depressive cycles tend to take a far lesser toll on my life, my work, my relationships, and my state of mind overall.
Of course, every human is different.
So my advice would be to take these steps and give them a try in your own life, but also be open to the fact that you may need to experiment or change them a little bit to account for your own unique personality traits.
You are, after all, a very unique creature.
And this ‘uniqueness’ is part of what makes you so interesting and attractive.
But it also means that we have to do a bit of creative problem solving when trying to sort out our issues.
Alright. That’s all I’ve got for this one.
Go with grace, my friends. And never give up your power.
Until next time.
Joshua K. Sigafus