10 All Natural Ways to Stop Feeling Depressed

Does this describe your life?

  • Life is a drag.

  • What’s the point of anything?

  • I’ll never be happy.

Do any of these gloomy thoughts sound familiar? It’s likely they do. The occasional case of the blues is perfectly normal, but that doesn’t make dealing with it any easier. If you allow them to, negative thoughts can fester and lead to serious depression. That’s why it’s important to take action early to bust yourself out of a slump. While these suggestions won’t eliminate your problems, they can help you break a negative thought pattern and stop feeling depressed. If you think you might have a serious mental health problem, don’t hesitate to see a medical professional.

1. Understand the emotional cycle – Life is an emotional roller coaster. Some days you feel like nothing can stop you. Other days you feel utterly hopeless. Most of the time you’re somewhere in between. Understanding the pattern of positive and negative emotions will help you put your feelings in perspective. Next time you feel down, just remember that it’s a natural emotion that will inevitably pass. Knowing that a feeling of depression is only temporary makes it less dreadful.

2. Spend time with positive people – Nothing affects the way you think and feel more than the people you interact with. Thoughts (both positive and negative) are contagious. If you are surrounded by negative people, it’s only natural that you’ll start to think and feel the same way. To improve your outlook on life, spend time with positive people. Search them out and try to understand the way they see the world. Chances are their happiness will rub off.

3. Reflect on past success – In the wake of a colossal failure, it’s easy to forget everything you’ve ever done right. Take a few minutes to remember your past accomplishments and build yourself up. What made you successful before? What are your strengths? Frequently, this exercise will build self confidence, help you figure out what went wrong, and generate ideas for success in the future.

4. Focus on gratitude – It’s human nature to measure ourselves against those ahead of us on the social ladder. Studies have shown that people care more about being richer than their friends than actually making more money. When you consider everything good in your life and compare it to the problems of less fortunate people, the issue that’s making you depressed won’t seem as serious.

5. Change of scenery – One of the best ways to change the way you feel is to change your environment. When you get in a slump, you start to associate your problems with everything around you. It can get to the point where your environment is a constant reminder of your problems. This can be a dangerous cycle. The solution is to change things. Change doesn’t have to be radical. Cleaning up, adding more lights, or including pleasant decorations can completely change the mood of a room.

6. Break your routine – Going through the same routine, day after day, can be monotonous and depressing. It often leads to getting caught in a rut. To get out of it you need to temporarily change your routine. If you can, take a day off from work. Do something you don’t normally have time for or something you’ve never tried. In the long run, taking a day off every now and then to get out of slump will make you happier and more productive.

7. Interact with animals and nature – It’s funny when you consider how humans put so much importance on their own tiny problems. Animals don’t think this way. A little bird doesn’t mope around because it isn’t an eagle or because another bird beat it to a tasty seed. Animals live in the present moment and they show love unconditionally. Observing and interacting with them will help you get over your problems.

8. Get moving – As Johnny Cash famously suggested, “Get a rhythm, when you get the blues.” Moving to a beat makes everyone feel better. The same is true for movement in general. Hitting the gym or going for a walk will help you shed the lethargy that comes with feeling depressed. The more enthusiastic your moments, the better you will start to feel.

9. Think about the big picture – As Carl Sagan made evident with the Pale Blue Dot, we’re insignificant creatures living in a vast universe on a tiny planet. In the long run, everything we do will probably be forgotten. Some might find this depressing, but it shouldn’t be. It means that all our problems are illusory. In a million years no one will remember what you did or didn’t do. What matters is the present moment and enjoying every second of life that we’re blessed with.

10. Do something to help yourself – Above all, the best way to stop feeling depressed is to take action. What is your biggest problem? How can you alleviate it? Once you decide to stop moping and start moving forward you won’t have time to feel depressed. Action will occupy your mind and give you something to look forward to. Once you get some results, you’ll build momentum and positive thinking will keep getting easier.

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Think Values Not Goals

What is the most important thing about you? What is the most important thing about your life, your relationships, and the next thing you do?

If you can answer these questions with conviction, purpose, and passion, and if your behavior is consistent with your answers, then your life, no doubt, feels completely genuine. You are one of the fortunate few who continually grow, learn, produce, create, and care. You never question your own value or anyone else’s. You routinely regulate negative emotions by investing interest and creating value in the world around you.

Those less fortunate have to think long and hard to answer the most crucial questions of their lives and often become appalled at how little their behavior reflects what they deeply believe to be important. The negative emotions that we blame on stress, bad days, excess weight, society, coworkers, neighbors, and family come largely from ignoring or violating what is most important to us.

For instance, when the most important thing about driving is to get to a destination as quickly as possible, people tend to drive aggressively. They devalue their own emotional well being, not to mention their safety and that of every person – every child – in every car they pass. They ignore both the general warning of their emotional discomfort – to value more – and the specific message – develop solutions to any problems that being late might cause. If they blame their discomfort on other drivers, the design of the highway, the boss, getting up late, or their “own stupidity,” their discomfort gets worse. Their emotions can no longer guide their behavior to conform to what is most important to them. Instead, they seem to be vehicles of punishment, unfairly controlled by situations or other people. The result is a sense of powerlessness that impairs thinking, performance, interest, and concentration. They will work less efficiently, become exhausted more easily, and be less than sweet to their kids when they get home.

Small and Important

When it comes to staying true to the most important things to and about you, it’s the small emotions that matter.  The great passions of life, which seem to have the most significance, never spring from flat emotional landscapes. They rise and fall like waves on a continuous stream of small, unconscious emotions.

The primary function of the stream of emotions is the same in humans as in all mammals, to motivate and energize behavior on the most fundamental level of “approach, avoid, attack.” By habit and default, this unconscious stream of small, everyday emotions greatly influences what you will see, think, feel, and do next. If it flows from what is most important to and about you, your life will get better. If not, it will get worse.

The unconscious motivation of behavior is usually different from goals and intentions. For instance, Rick had a “communication problem” with his teenage daughter. He described a terrible altercation that began with his “harsh but right” reproach: “This is the third time I’ve asked you to clean your room!” His goal in this interaction, of course, was to get her to clean her room. His intention was to let her know that he was upset because she hadn’t. But the motivation that energized his behavior was attack, i.e., make her feel bad for not cleaning her room. Her emotional response, of course, was defensive. After some mutual name-calling (hers under her breath), she cleaned her room, in submission and humiliation, which she numbed with resentment. In fact, this is why she “forgot” to clean it in the first place.

Rick had begun to misinterpret the normal distractedness of a young teenager as a personal affront to him. Feeling disrespected, he attacked. After only a couple repetitions of this dance, his daughter associated cleaning her room with submission and humiliation. It turns out that the human brain will do almost anything to avoid thinking about submissive and humiliating behavior. Rick’s daughter naturally sought more interesting things to occupy her mind, which made her more likely to “forget” to clean her room. The more often she forgot, the more he attacked, and the more he fooled himself with the “rightness” of his goals and intentions.

Motivations are basic, simple, and straightforward. Goals and intentions are always complicated and often self-deceptive. In any given interaction, people respond emotionally to basic approach, avoid, attack motivations, not to goals and intentions.

Rick’s problem with his daughter was about importance, not “communication.” The most important thing, he later decided, was to teach her cooperation and respect. Attack motivations can evoke submission and fear, along with the resentment that goes with them, but never cooperation and respect.

Rick thought that his new “insight” of what was most important would change everything between him and his daughter. As it turned out, he did behave differently toward her, when he was conscious enough to remember his “insight,” usually after an episode of frustrated attacks. Conscious insight rarely influences, much less changes, the unconscious stream of small, everyday emotions. Whatever change you make is likely to last only as long as your attention lasts. Once routine sets in, the flow of the stream of returns to automatic pilot.

Most of what we do bypasses conscious thought and feelings. Only waves of larger emotions, like fear, anger, joy, or sadness bulge into awareness. Otherwise, the stream of unconscious small emotions makes a powerful force of habit that easily overrides the best of goals and intentions.

Lasting change usually requires emotional reconditioning, i.e., changing habits. For most of us, that is the only way to ensure that our streams of unconscious, everyday emotions flow from the most important things to and about us.

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