The word Depressed is used frequently but more often than not erroneously.
People who are depressed have feelings of overwhelming sadness; they feel anxious, tense, irrationally worried and irritable. They lose interest in life, lack concentration, have difficulty sleeping, lose weight, lack the energy to even get out of bed and have feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. In severe cases there may be recurrent thoughts of death or suicide and self-harm.
If you tell yourself that you are depressed but are getting up every morning, going to work, eating well, listening to music, reading, and conversing with friends and colleagues, then the chances are you are not depressed, more likely you are discontented with some aspect of your life.
Everyone feels down in the dumps now and again, but if you have a constant feeling of discontent, then it is time for you to sit down and evaluate what is wrong in your life, what needs to change and how to change it. If you don’t take action, you will continue in this downward spiral.
The first step is to identify which area of your life is causing the displeasure. It may be that you feel stuck in some way, that you are in the wrong job or in a bad relationship, or not in a relationship, maybe you are unhappy with your living arrangement or maybe you just have no fulfilment in your life.
Once you have identified the area of discontent, then you need to look deeper, zoom in, dig down, pull it to pieces, don’t leave any stone unturned. Once you decide what needs to change, you can then decide how best to take action or it may be that the only solution is for YOU to change.
As an example, you wake up every morning and dread going to work, you hear yourself saying “I hate work it’s so depressing”. But what exactly is it about your job that is bringing you down?
Now it is time to start chunking down!
Do you like the sector you are in?
Do you identify with the company and its goals?
Do you enjoy your daily tasks/duties/responsibilities?
Do you feel fulfilled in your work?
Do you feel the hours are suitable?
Do you feel satisfied at the end of the day?
Do you need further training?
Do you feel you are due promotion?
Do you feel there is no progression available?
Do you feel confident in your role?
Do you get enough support?
Do you get recognition?
Do you like your boss?
Do you like your colleagues?
Do you like the general moral?
Do you like the general environment?
Do you like the location?
Do you find the journey to and from work manageable?
Are you happy with your pay/benefits?
Now you have identified the problem area/s, next you need to decide upon your options. Are you able to make the necessary changes, do you need to address the issues with a colleague or your boss? Don’t put this off, decide upon the action required and act!
Let’s suppose that having pulled the problem to pieces you realise that it isn’t actually your job, but your journey to and from your job that is the problem. You have to get up extra early, there is always traffic, you get tense and frustrated during the journey and by the time you arrive at work you are wound up and you start the day in a bad mood. The working day ends and you know the journey home will be just as frustrating, there will be traffic; you know you will get home late and when you get home you will be once again wound up and in a bad mood, consequently you then don’t have the inspiration to do anything. So, problem identified, let’s look at the options.
1. Is it viable to resign and find a job closer to home? If the answer is yes then start looking for a new job straight away. If the answer is no go to option 2.
2. Would moving closer to work be an option? Would it be affordable, could you house share? If the answer is yes then start looking for suitable accommodation straight away. If the answer is no go to option 3.
3. What can you change about your journey, obviously you have tried other routes and to no avail. So the change that is necessary is something that is out of your control. Therefore YOU have to change.
This is where changing your mind-set comes into force; you must decide how you can approach the problem in a different way.
By reacting this way to your journey YOU are creating the problem. You are fighting against it. You keep telling yourself you hate it, you have to get up earlier, you sit in traffic and get wound up, you hate getting home late. All of this is out of your control, getting wound up and angry is achieving nothing other than putting yourself in a negative state. Your anger will not change the traffic or shorten the journey so it is a waste of your energy.
This is now a repeated pattern that only you can change! Instead of fighting it, accept it. Accept that you have to get up earlier; is this a bad thing? If it is a struggle, then perhaps you need to go to bed earlier. Accept that there will be traffic every day; is it logical to expect empty roads? Ensure you leave in time to allow for traffic, this way you won’t be worrying about being late. When you are sitting in traffic accept it, and just let it go. Don’t concentrate on it and complain about it. Listen to the radio, listen to your favourite music, relax, breathe deeply in and out, with each outward breath let go of the tension and negativity, tell yourself you are calm and that everything is fine. Think about the day ahead, plan your day, think of good things and keep positive. By doing this you will arrive at work in a calm state ready to face the day! On the way home, do the same, forget about the traffic, listen to music and plan the evening ahead.
Instead of fighting it, accept it and just let it go!
Once you look into issues much deeper you will be able to find solutions, either by YOU changing or by instigating an external change.
You may find after digging deeper, that the problem is there simply because you have not done anything to rectify it. If you are no longer challenged in your job and feel promotion is the answer, then speak to your boss. If you lack confidence and feel you would benefit from further training, speak to your boss?
So often people moan and groan over and over but do nothing! If you don’t ask you will never know!
You may come to the conclusion that the job is not for you and that you will never be happy there no matter what, so time to move on!
Once you determine which area of your life is causing the discontent, repeat the exercise, above, break it down, ask yourself in depth questions to determine exactly what needs to change, or if indeed it is YOU who needs to change.
Changing your mind-set will help with feelings of discontentment. If you tell yourself every day that you hate life, that you are miserable and that today will be crap, then it is inevitable that it will be.
Our self-talk is fundamental to our wellbeing. Become aware of what you are repeating to yourself over and over.
Start to concentrate on what you want and forget about what you don’t want. Look ahead, not back.
Life is all about choices, there is always a positive or negative side. It’s you who decides which to choose.
The next time you hear yourself saying “I am depressed” think about what you are saying. Are you really depressed? Or are you just avoiding taking action!