7 Steps to Karate-Chopping Depression

depression sucks

Flickr credit: nlewis039

Being a depressed Superhero sucks…

So what can you do to pull yourself out of that funk? What’s the magic antidote to that kryptonite called “Depression”?

If you’re looking for tips about a new book to read, a new tea to drink, or a different way to comb your hair in order to get out of a funk, this post isn’t for you. BUT, if you’re someone who’s truly open to new ideas, this might be your kind of post! You decide.

Let us begin from the beginning.

1) Start the morning off correctly (from the moment you wake up)

What are your first thoughts when you wake up in the morning? You should write these down for the next 4-5 days. My hunch is that if youre in a funk, they’ll be something like “ugh, I don’t feel like getting out of bed”, “today is gonna suck, I can just feel it”, or “I don’t feel like dealing with or thinking about xyz person today”. There’s something that all of these things have in common…YOU and your thoughts/feelings about YOURSELF.

Just get over yourself, life isn’t all about you. Think back at some of the happiest moments of your life. Did they involve other people? Did they involve your feelings toward other people? Whether it was feelings of love, joy, pride, peace, or whatever, chances are that your happiness was directly related to others in some way. Now I’m not saying that you should be dependent on others to be happy. That’s a different set of problems. I’m saying that people need people, and that many times they are directly correlated with our level of happiness.

So instead of those negative thoughts about yourself or your life when you wake up, conjure up some positive thoughts about someone else. Something as simple as “oh yeah, Diane said she has that interview this afternoon, I hope she does well” or “I really hope that Alex and Kim are doing okay in their relationship” or “I’m gonna send some positive vibes out to the starving children in the world” – it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s positive and about others. Try this for the next couple of days and see what happens. If you need to, put a sticky note (or other reminder) telling yourself to do so. Put one on your night stand and another on your bathroom mirror…in case you try to skate past that first one 😉

2) Eat breakfast with purpose (even if it’s pop tarts)

Have you ever witnessed someone truly enjoying every single bite of what they were eating? You most likely have. You can see the happiness is their eyes and the satisfaction in their smile. They eat so slowly, ensuring they (and their stomach) thoroughly enjoy the meal.

Whether you sit, stand, or eat in the car on the way to work, have an intention while you’re eating. Try to feel the nutrients going to all the right places in your body. Purposely take a few seconds longer when you take a bite to allow the flavors to sink into your taste buds and for your sense of smell to complete the flavors of what you’re eating. Sit for a moment after finishing your meal and just allow for your body to feel satisfied with what you’ve just consumed. If you’re religious you can thank your higher power for the food before and after. If you’re not religious you can feel grateful for the food, and the nutrition that it has given you. Either way you’re eating with intention and gratitude, both of which will make a huge impact on how well your day begins.

DISCLAIMER: You may begin to eat heathier as a side effect to this exercise. The reason is that when you consciously think about what you’re putting into your body, you’ll most likely make healthier choices.

3) DO NOT watch the news in the morning (watch something funny instead)

Actually, you may want to stop watching the news altogether. It’s depressing in and of itself. Oh well, either way skip it in the morning. All you’re going to hear is how bad the traffic is, who got shot last night, how down the economy is, and other horrible things for you to think about. Instead, watch a funny/entertaining morning show or listen to one on the radio. My best mornings (and most productive mornings) are when I laugh hysterically on the way to work while listening to a local radio show (“Kevin & Bean” for all you OC/LA folks).

You’re either going to build negative momentum or positive momentum going into the morning, so choose wisely. Actually, just choose positive. Done.

4) Stop being right all the time (although you probably are!)

Something magical happens when you give up the need to be right. I’m not calling you out here, everyone feels like they’re right most of the time. Otherwise we wouldn’t say what we say and do what we do. But when a moment arises and you’re caught in a disagreement of some sort, take your “I’m right damn it!” hat off and put it aside. In its place, for just a moment, put on a brand new “(s)he could be right” hat (even if you’re certain they’re not). This is just an exercise to open up a multitude of possibilities. Just be observant of your thoughts at this point and how they transform. You may still be right, but your whole demeanor will shift, the anxiety/anger/frustration will disappear and you’ll be in a more positive space.

This also holds true for judging people. We categorize people all the time, and there’s nothing innately wrong with that. We need to make sense of things, and that’s just one way that our brain does just that. BUT, it’s a slippery slope because we may be falsely judging a book by its cover. Just for funsies (yes, funsies), the next time you catch yourself judging someone (by their looks, material things, attitude, etc.) put that “maybe I’m wrong” hat on and see what happens. When I started doing this I was amazed at how wrong I was about people. It opens up a whole new world. If you’re saying to yourself “I don’t do that though” – you especially need to do this exercise. Trust me.

5) Take some time to transition into new moments

This one is very simple in theory, and very difficult in execution – especially in our “GO! GO! GO!” world. This only takes a few minutes. You already read the first part of it earlier in the breakfast section: “Sit for a moment after finishing your meal and just allow for your body to feel satisfied with what you’ve just consumed.” The second part is to prepare yourself for the next moment.

Let’s use an example of eating lunch and transitioning back into work mode. You’ve just finished eating and are allowing your body a few minutes to relax. Now you’ll want to consciously decide (ie think about) how the rest of the afternoon at work will occur. You’ll never foresee everything (unless you’re psychic of course), but you can think about what needs to get done, when you’ll do it, and how you’ll do it. Important: when you’re thinking about the rest of the afternoon…have it all go well! It’s okay to foresee potential challenges and how you’ll deal with them, but aside from that be sure to envision yourself being successful at work!

6) Make a positive contribution to someone’s life

You don’t have to save the world…today (although you ARE a superhero). Just do something simple, like holding the elevator for someone instead of quickly closing it on them. Or maybe you can let that person who has had their blinker on for the past 2 minutes into your lane in traffic. Perhaps you can tip the barista today (if you typically don’t), or give that homeless dude at the stoplight a dollar even if you know he’s “just going to buy booze with it” (great chance to put your “maybe I’m wrong” hat on!).

Some people call these “random acts of kindness”, but I just like to call them “being a good human being.” Either way, do some stuff (selflessly) for other people today. That’s the #1 way to get out of a funk – turn your focus away from you and onto others.

7) Before going to sleep, think about how cool your day was

If you’ve followed the first six steps, your day was nothing short of awesome. You started it off right, ate with purpose, laughed in the morning instead of being depressed by the news, discovered that you’re not always right (and that you usually put a lot of unnecessary energy into holding your ground), took some time for transitioning (and relaxing), and made a positive contribution to someone’s life. There are a lot more things that happened during the day, so just sit and think about some of them. Just take a couple of minutes, no more than that (unless your mind gets carried away of course). Today was cool, and tomorrow will be cool too. And soon enough you’ll realize that you’re completely out of your funk. This can actually happen as quickly as the first step!

What other methods do you use to karate-chop depression? Here’s a chance to contribute to someone’s life today!

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  • Ya-Tin

    Great post! #6 specially because we shift the attention away from ourselves. It's not just because we “forget about it” but that we FEEL GOOD when we contribute to our own community.

    For me, when I'm in a funk, I like reading self-improvement type books. I've also tried exercising, especially one out in Nature (walking, hiking, bike riding) where I can absorb the scenery around me.

    Thanks for sharing these other methods! =)

  • Dophin

    That was fantastic!…
    Ima try all of them!

    Thanks buddy! :)

    • http://www.kaizenways.com Jeff Friend

      Awesome! Let me know how it goes!

  • Jessica

    Great post! Ideal to start tomorrow a very beautiful day! :) Thank you!

  • Pingback: Happiness Hack Alert: People and Things Can't Make Us Happy Anymore()

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