There is no doubt that covid has been taking its toll on people’s mental health. I would say most people have felt an effect in one way of another. The ups and downs with lockdowns, with job instability, with a lack of people able to see those they care about. All of these things and a lack of predictability can be tough as they continue to go on. I would imagine that a number of people have also felt their ability to keep a happy mindset has also been difficult as their lives have really had a spanner thrown in the works. Depression is something that I see a lot in people. A lack of passion for their lives, a notion that feeling unhappy everyday is just kind of normal and to be expected as you grow older.
It can be hard to pinpoint what exactly is going on for you when your headspace isn’t quite what is used to be. Or, when it just doesn’t seem to be at its best on a frequent basis. According to Marisa Peer, someone I am training under right now, there are 3 major causes of depression that need to be addressed.
The first, is a lack of following ones hearts desires. We can all have this ideal of who we wanted to be, who we dreamt of being when we were younger. Then, somewhere along the way, you get caught up in the motions of life. You followed a path you felt was expected of you and you fell into the trap of pursuing things that your heart does not call to. You can wake up daily and not have that excitement for your life because the things in it are not your hearts desires. At some point, perhaps you were told that your dreams were ridiculous and you wouldn’t be able to make them happen. Perhaps you felt like you weren’t smart enough, not brave enough, not skilled enough. Whatever the reason you held yourself back form following your heart desires and as that has eaten away at you over time, and you now find yourself not feeling very enthused about life.
It is time to make the change, it is time to figure out what you really do what and how to get yourself there. Perhaps you want something you feel is impossible. I would encourage you to break down what it is you want to do and how you want to be feeling. You want to help people and feel like you are making a difference? There are a million different ways to do that. You want to feel like you are contributing to improving our environment? You can find more than just one way to be contributing to that. It is never too late or too ridiculous to follow what your heart desires. The desires that you are called to are put in your heart because you are meant for those things. It is your job to figure out how you are going to make that happen. After all, what is a life lived if you haven’t followed your joy.
The second reason for depression is harsh, critical, hurtful words you say to yourself. Nobody’s words can hurt you and hold you back as much as your own words can. We are so cruel to ourselves, we are saying terrible things to ourselves that we would not dream of saying to other people. How often do you call yourself useless? How often do you look in the mirror and tell yourself you are disgusting? How often do you tell yourself you will never be enough? Telling yourself these things is holding you back and it is killing your esteem and your joy. Criticism slowly breaks down people’s soul, when praise builds it back up.
It is okay to praise yourself. Praising yourself does not make you conceded, it does not make you arrogant. There is a distinct difference between being kind to yourself and being obnoxiously arrogant. I don’t think people actually know how to separate those things. It is like the tall poppy syndrome we have in Australia. People are so against someone getting too big for their boots they think the only way to stop themselves from doing that and having people turn against them is by always tearing themselves down.
When you say something to yourself, your subconscious takes it on as 100% truth and will act accordingly. So, when you are always berating yourself for being imperfect, you are destroying your own spirit. Learning to speak kinder to yourself is a key to moving towards feeling better. Speak to yourself as you would your best friend, or a young child. Encouraging, supportive, compassionate.
The final key factor of causing depression is a lack of community and connection. We are tribal creatures. It is wired within our DNA to need to be around others. When you are isolated a lot you can get so stuck up in your head and really lose an objective perspective on things. Connecting with people brings a sense of calmness to your world and lifts you up. When lockdowns keep coming and going, regularly connecting with people can become a challenge. Make a conscious effort to talk with people you enjoy regularly. Get amongst your community and interact with people. Improving your social connection is a gateway into helping you improve your mental health.
These are 3 factors to consider if you have found your mind not as happy as it once used to be. This does not take away from medication. Medication can be an amazing tool for a lot of people in helping them on the path to taking care of themselves. These are just ingredients to add to the recipe of your mental wellbeing. Which area are you feeling needs to most attention right now? How can you start to make a small change this week to work on that area for yourself?