Life is a mixed bag of both sweet and rotten fruits for everyone. But sometimes it can feel like you were given a bigger share of the rotten. The challenges and ordeals life throws can leave you feeling spent and hopeless. After all, in the face of incessant hardships it is only human to feel demoralized and dejected.
But if life has you feeling run over then continuing to feel sorry for yourself will only make matters worse. There are positive steps you can take that will change the game entirely and put your life back on track. The good news is that it is never too late to change your mindset and circumstances. Here are some easy ways to heal:
- Acknowledge your pain: To achieve freedom from pain it is first important to understand what ails you. A lot of people feel depressed out of loneliness, poverty, competition, and physical ill health. Others feel miserable because they are trapped in a toxic relationship and are unable to find a way out. Whatever your case may be, the first step to cure is always to understand the root cause. However, if your depression has no particular known cause then try probing your subconscious with this simple trick. Sit in meditation and clear your mind of all positive and negative thoughts or simply listen to some relaxing music. Then take a pen and paper, and write down 10 things that are making you unhappy. If you have more than 10, then just keep writing to your heart’s content (empty all the pain out on paper) but make sure to number them appropriately. Then focus on the list of things that make you unhappy and further write down 10 ways you can either eliminate or avoid them. You obviously cannot eliminate all toxic relationships (e.g. a rebellious teenage child or an annoying aunt) but you can find creative ways to improve your relationships. If nothing works then you will want to find ways to distance yourself emotionally.
- Make small changes: Focus on the list of action items you created above and focus on just one or two. See if you can do just one thing a day no matter how small. If your health bothers you then do one thing to improve it today. If your relationship with your teenage son is bothering you, see if you can have face to face talk. If your Aunt is always taunting you about not visiting her often enough, then see if you can set a reasonable schedule to visit her which will work for both of you. But focus on one or two constructive ways to improve your situation today. If there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, then learn to accept it. Time will eventually heal pain.
- Make health a priority: A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. If you are already in tip-top shape than that much more power to you. For the rest of us we can all make small changes to improve and keep our health in the best shape possible. If possible join a gym. If you cannot afford a gym, then start your day with a brisk walk and observe the world with a child’s eyes. Notice the birds playing in the trees, or the dew settled on the green grass or the clear skies. Seek joy in the simpler things in life. Make an effort to eat healthy. It is easy to fall into a habit of eating comfort food when you are feeling blue. But this habit can become hazardous over a long period of time. Try making simple, nutritious meals. Make small changes by inculcating more greens, grains and fruits on a daily basis.
- Be grateful: Gratitude is one of the best medicines to depression as it changes one’s focus from “the have not’s” to “the have’s”. While it is easy to look at everything we do not have, it is far more rewarding to focus on the things we have and offer genuine gratitude. Kindness starts at home. Be kind and grateful to your parents, partner, friends, children, pets and colleagues. Find some time to send them a card, or call or text them with a simple “thank you” message. This alone will improve your relationships. This will not only change your perception but also alter their perception of you.
- Offer Charity: This may be so counter intuitive. When you are ailing and need help, it is hard to think of others. Yet when you focus on helping others you take away the focus from yourself and your own pain. You look at people who are less fortunate than yourself and realize how much you have to be grateful for. Also helping other people releases mood enhancing endorphins.
- Inculcate a hobby: Hobbies are not just for kids. They are equally important for grown-ups. If you have a hobby then find time to work on it every day or as often as you can. This will give you a feeling of fulfillment, accomplishment and joy. If you don’t have a passion, find something you can enjoy. Maybe it is something you did as a child but just don’t have time to do it anymore? If you enjoy reading books, then join a book club. Meeting like-minded people and sharing views helps take mind off your problems. If you enjoy photography then invest in a reasonable camera and take a picture a day. If you enjoy writing then start a blog. If you enjoy gardening then get a few plants and decorate your home. Get the drift?
- Set aside time for you every week: The worst possible situation is to find yourself in a place where one day dwindles into another. If you have a hard time remembering what you did yesterday or what you will do tomorrow then you may be in a bad place mentally. Each day is a new day to fulfill your dreams and promises. No matter how small. Set some time every week to focus on yourself. Write down your goals and plan on fulfilling them. You don’t have to come up with flamboyant plans. You can use the time to simply organize your bookshelf, or clear some clutter in the garage. Or pamper yourself with a facial or go to the cinema and enjoy a movie. Make time to invest in yourself every week.
- Do not participate in office politics: Sometimes vicious cycles are created by simply participating in vicious activities. If you are unhappy at work, participating in company politics will only make it worse. Venting about difficult colleagues or bosses can sound like a good idea to vent out at the moment, but it will only make you more miserable. And usually will come back to haunt you and cause you to lose credibility in the eyes of your peers and management. If people are participating in politics around you, try to stay disengaged. In the long run, you will gain more friends and build respect.
- Change your attitude: Whether the glass is half empty or half full depends upon the way you look at it. Perception is everything. And yet, it too can be adjusted. Find positive viewpoints in every situation. See also positive in people. People are neither entirely good nor entirely bad. We are all motivated by our own inner needs. Learn to see these needs impartially and try to forgive others for their faults. When something bad happens to you, try not to focus on what has happened but how you can fix it. Try putting things into perspective. Will this matter an year from today? Read positive books by motivational writers such as Dr. Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Stephen Covey, Dale Carnegie. If necessary read them over and over again. The mind can be stubborn but loves repetition.
- Consult an expert: If nothing else works then seek the help of an expert. Look up for a psychiatrist or see if you can join a support group. Build a strong network of friends and family who would be willing to see you through difficult times. Offer them love and gratitude in return and be there for them.
Remember there is no quick fix to most problems in life, breaking old habits takes time. Most known quick fixes like medications, drugs and alcohol only mask the problem today, but make matters exponentially worse in the long run. Instead try to become your own best friend and make small but consistent efforts to heal yourself both mentally and physically. Good Luck!