People are suffering. They love the ups of life but don’t love the downs. Those with busy careers are “depressed” as they fight burn out and juggle too many demands. Those retired or unemployed are equally “depressed” as they feel useless in a culture that values youth, enthusiasm and energy. Those with lavish lifestyles are “depressed” because they always want more and then those with less are “depressed” because they feel left behind. The list goes on and on. The point is depression is today’s pandemic. Of course, I am not talking about severe cases that require medication and the expertise of a health professional but rather this general malaise so many are feeling that brings about feelings of numbness, despair and hopelessness that noone wants to talk about.
So let’s get started tackling this vast, complex and important topic. In the first blog of this series I will share 3 steps to manage these emotional ups and downs.
1. Embrace your ups and your downs. Stop viewing the “ups” as better than the “downs” and view them both as equally important to your health and wellness. Why label the “downs” as “depression” when in fact they are just part of the natural ebb and flow of life. So embrace the “ups” when they happen and then embrace the “downs” when they happen as well. Create space for them, welcome them into your life and feel grateful for being able to feel your emotions. So many people can’t feel anything so the fact that you can feel is a true gift.
2. Redefine how you define your “up” and how you define your “down”. Already the word “up” sounds more appealing than the word “down”. Let’s use the analogy of a battery and look at “up” as running the battery and then “down” as recharging the battery. In other words “up” is being active, doing, giving and “down” is resting, replenishing, receiving. Both activity and rest are equally important. If you do too much you will burn out and feel resentment and on the flip side if you receive too much you will feel uninspired, bored and useless.
3. Look at the proportion of time spent expending energy and then time spent building it up Is your rest time giving you what you need to recharge your battery? If you are doing a job you hate, surrounding yourself with people who exhaust you or even rob your energy chances are the rest you are getting is not enough. This lack of energy will deplete you to the point of exhaustion. Over time this burnout turns into “depression”. Perhaps you need to look at shortening your work week or working from home a few days a week, set some new boundaries, hire some help, book a regular weekly massage or go on a holiday retreat…. Is your activity time using up your energy? If you are sitting at home bored and feeling useless chances are you are not engaged in enough activity. This excess energy will be turned inwards, making you stressed as you regret the past or anxious as you worry about the future. Over time, this too will bring up feelings of depression. Perhaps you need to do some volunteer work, learn a new skill or take up a hobby, do some babysitting for a friend, become a mentor to someone struggling in your family or community. Naturally you have your own unique rhythm and cannot look to your neighbour to see how much rest and how much activity you need to feel balanced. Giving and receiving is a very personal thing and cannot be measured. Time spent doing physical labour or studying for an exam will deplete your energy just as much as a parent emotionally caring for a child or a friend being there for another. You alone have the answer. Go within and connect to the wisdom of your heart that always knows exactly what you need to bring balance and harmony into your life. Take a few minutes today to connect to who you truly are and find that balance you need to ride the waves of life.
Nicole Rolland is the author of “Stepping into Consciousness- A Guide to Living a Life of Joy, Meaning, and Abundance” and the owner of Nicole Rolland Yoga & Meditation (NRYM)