How to Lift Yourself Out of a Depression

There was a time in college when I was going through a very bad patch – my personal life was going down the drain, I was unable to focus on my academic performance, and I had no clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. It seemed as if my past, present and future were conspiring against me to keep me in a depressing limbo from which there was no respite. And then I came across a paragraph that turned things around radically; leafing idly through an old textbook which I had bought secondhand, I found a piece of paper titled Footprints in the Sand.

Many of you may know the story, but for those who don’t, it details a conversation between man and God – there are two sets of footprints in the sand that represents the man’s life, and God tells him that he is there too, walking beside him and taking him through life. And so the man traverses his life, identifying the highs and lows that he has been through. He finds a curious pattern – during all his times of turbulence and trouble, there is only one set of footprints. So he turns to God and accuses him of ditching him during his difficult periods. And God in his infinite wisdom replies – No my Son, I did not leave you to face your troubles alone. Rather, I carried you through them to help lighten your burden. The sole set of footprints you see are mine, not yours. Needless to say, the man is chastened and ashamed.

Whether you believe in God or not, the above story is both inspiring and uplifting. In my case, it helped me pull up my socks and stopped me from feeling sorry for myself. I realized that there were people willing and waiting to help me, and I had been spurning them because I was so wrapped in my own misery.

God in this story is a symbolic representation of all that is good in our lives – our close friends, family members who care about us, work which we find challenging and satisfying, healthy relationships that allow us to grow and flourish, and activities which we enjoy and love. When we hit rocky patches of life, we drown in self pity and forget that there are many Gods who are waiting to carry us through these tough times. It’s only when we open our eyes to their existence and trust that they want what’s best for us that we’re able to let go of our misery and allow ourselves to enjoy new experiences.

So the next time you feel down and out, here’s what you can to do to feel better again:

  • Instead of focusing on all that’s wrong with your life, write down all the good things you have going for you. The more you think about it, the more good things you’ll find. Seek solace through these good things in your life, and you’ll soon stop feeling miserable and sad.
  • Tell yourself that “this too shall pass” – this is my favorite quote, and at the slightest hint of sadness or trouble, I tell myself that this too shall pass and all will be well with my world again. I just need to ride out the storm and wait for the calm to envelop me again.
  • Realize that there are others who are in worse positions than you are, and that you are better off than many people in the world. This makes your problems seem trivial and you’re shamed out of feeling sorry for yourself. This also brings about a positive attitude which helps you look for solutions to your problem instead of moping around and feeling depressed.

Besides this, it helps to stay focused on your work and your daily responsibilities, and to stick to your schedule as normally as you can. Take up regular exercise as a way to boost positive energy and get rid of negative stress and the resultant toxins that build up. And try to be proactive and think of solutions to problems instead of reacting to them and letting them get you down.

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