Do you ever feel weighed down by the pressures of life? Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the stresses and challenges of the daily grind? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. For many people, stress has become the new normal. And that’s a trend that’s causing health problems on a global scale. There’s a disturbing increase in stress levels around the world that’s clearly reflected in the numbers of individuals who are experiencing long-term anxiety and depression. Do you feel that you might be one of them? It’s a serious issue and the bare facts are sobering. There are more than three hundred million people who are suffering from depression – and the numbers are growing. These are recorded cases so the real numbers could be much higher. And whilst there are many pharmaceutical products that are prescribed every day to help people cope with the condition, the underlying causes of the problem deserve our fullest attention. Let’s take a closer look at what we can do to prevent our stress levels from getting out of hand.
At least three times every day take a moment and ask yourself: What is really important? Have the wisdom and the courage to build your life around your answer.
– Lee Jampolsky
The transition from feelings of being stressed and anxious to a state of depression is often associated with a numbing loss of control. Depression is often described as a state of hopeless despair where people feel powerless to exercise any kind of meaningful influence over their lives. This state of powerlessness extends far beyond sleepless nights and physical fatigue. It also leaves its mark on how people think and feels and behave.
Life can certainly be very challenging, even when we feel strong enough to influence many of the outcomes. From the numbing inertia of depression, the world can appear to be an extremely intimidating place. That’s why depression is often recognized as a form of paralysis, a condition where we no longer see clearly how we can move forwards and how we can escape the crushing sense of despair.
You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You are not meant for crawling, so don’t. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.
Clearly, depression can take many forms and it’s always wise to consult professional advice from an experienced counselor or from a suitably qualified medical practitioner.
Yet, one of the surprisingly effective antidotes to many forms of this debilitating condition is – to take action.
At first glance, it might seem far too simple to be worthy of consideration but this is a surprisingly powerful pathway that can lead many people to recovery. And what does it really mean? It means getting busy. Performing some form of physical activity. Seeing the results of one’s labours. Connecting the expenditure of effort with any kind of tangible outcome. Understanding through the medium of sweat and physical exertion that we can make a difference to ourselves and to our environment. Witnessing the results of our actions. Learning that, in the midst of a difficult challenge, we really are capable of making a difference. Reinforcing the sensation that we have all the power we need to do things, to make things happen, and to influence how our lives unfold.
Depression is focusing on yourself; on your troubles and what is not right. You can’t be depressed if you are focusing on others. It’s impossible.
― Elizabeth Bourgeret
Becoming active and getting busy provide physical responses to the feelings of being bound and limited. But there’s another ingredient in the formula for overcoming feelings of helplessness. Can you guess what it might be?
So far, we‘ve described the feelings of powerlessness that reflect our internal landscape. These feelings are bound up with our own interpretation of our problems and circumstances. The answer is to turn our attention towards others. That’s right. By doing something to help someone in need, we turn our focus from our own issues and learn to widen our perspective. By helping others, we can appreciate the profoundly powerful fact that we are entirely capable of making a difference to another human being. And that means we can make a difference in our own lives too. It’s a beautifully virtuous cycle where we discover the virtues of altruism whilst delivering the message of hope to our own circumstances.
Work is of utmost importance in a person’s life and not only as a means of meeting one’s needs at various levels of Maslow’s pyramid. Believe me, I speak from experience when I say that good, focused hard work is also one of the most effective remedies for depression.
― Indu Muralidharan
If so much of despair and its darker cousin, depression, can be traced to a sense of being powerless, then the antidote is to take action and do something practical to help ourselves – and also to help others. This simple advice has been interpreted in countless ways. It can be launched in something as mundane as cleaning a room and bringing order to a chaotic part of the home. Each step on the pathway to taking control of the environment leads to a sense of achievement. We appreciate the unmistakable connection between the effort expended and the changes wrought by our activities. If we can change and improve one thing, we can change and improve other things. Turning our hearts from our own predicament and devoting energy towards the needs of others can produce deeply healing reactions in our mental and emotional frameworks.
Become aware of yourself. Everything will come to you, Chinmay when you are in that most wonderful place on earth, the centre of your being. If you learn just one thing from this book, let it be that once you are aware of yourself, depression cannot hold you back any more than a tiger can be trapped in a spider’s web.
― Indu Muralidharan
It’s often surprising how an appreciation of other people’s problems can help us to put our own situation into a clearer and healthier context. So, whenever you experience those old, limiting feelings of frustration, powerlessness, and despair, be bold. Take a deep breath and take action. Refuse to be bound by the chains of fear. Break free. Show yourself that you really are capable of doing something to make a difference, either in your life or in the lives of others. And shatter the illusions of powerlessness with a focused burst of energy.
Only when you illuminate others, without expectation of reward, will you truly understand how to illuminate yourself.
― Mark Marsland
Greg Parry created The Wellness Foundation and the Cognitive Empowerment Programs specifically to help people master their stress, overcome their limitations and explore the power of their true potential.
If you enjoy these blogs, you can imagine how much fun it is to have Greg in the room as an inspirational and highly perceptive speaker. If you’d like to invite Greg to talk to your company or organization or event, feel free to get in touch.
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