This post is not about mental illness but about exploring the idea that certain lifestyle choices could contribute to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety and lack of motivation or interest.
I have suffered from what I thought was depression for over a decade. I want to open up the conversation with you because over 49% of Canadians are suffering from depression and anxiety, with a significant majority of them being women. So, obviously, we need to talk about this.
Maybe together, we can further the conversation and open our minds to new tools, perceptive and possibilities.
If I had known earlier the information I'm about to share with you, this would have saved me years of suffering. I hope this will do the same for you, even if it makes your life better just by a little.
Let's jump in!
Depression is a neuropsychiatric illness. It causes a person to experience feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness and guilt, to name a few, that persist. In plain English, it's a mood disorder. It's caused by many different factors like genetic predisposition, personality, stress, trauma, brain chemistry, among others.
Here's a document created by the National Institute of Mental Health to help you understand clinical depression, its symptoms and treatment options. If you feel like you are dealing with clinical depression, please contact your doctor asap.
Look, we do live in crazy times and life is hard, no question, so I understand if you feel somewhat depressed from time to time. Who wouldn't be! But maybe you aren't suffering from a mental illness. Maybe you are experiencing unfulfillment in certain areas of your life.
Let's look at your life situation as a whole. Ask yourself these 5 questions:
Do you have a meaningful job?
Have you received enough education?
How fulfilling is your social life? (Do you have friends and/or an intimate relationship?
Are you in good physical health?
Do you use your free time in a meaningful way
According to clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson, if you've answered "yes" to all of these questions and still feel depressed, then perhaps medications would be beneficial for you. He suggested the following if you answered with "no":
"However, if the patient is unfulfilled in these basic life areas, medication is unlikely to make a difference in their depression. Instead, they may greatly benefit from lifestyle improvement."
When I was confronted with these questions, I shamelessly answered no to pretty much all of them! Not a good feeling, that's for sure. But, what came after was spectacular! The realization that there was nothing wrong with me and that I could actually change how I felt by changing certain areas of my life. One step at a time, I could change my story. And so can you!
Let's explore each question together!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Whatever change you're about to make in your life, please know that you can start small. Don't go nuts and change everything all at once! This might create lots of instability in your life, and that's fucking stressful. Start with one area, step by step.
My personal answer was no. If that was yours too, then you need to figure out what a "meaningful job" represents for you. Maybe you're stuck like I was and have no clue what work you want to do. Perhaps you've lost touch with who you are or maybe who you are has changed so much over the years that you don't recognize yourself. If that's you, scroll down to the key resources at the bottom, I've shared the tools that helped me reconnect with my identify.
Or maybe you already know what career you'd like to step into, but you're afraid of making the switch, and you're coming up with a million excuses why not too. STOP THE EXCUSES. Sorry, but they won't work here. Actually, they won't work anywhere, so get rid of them and get to the root cause. I've created a free ebook where I share the strategy I use to overcome fear.
Ok, let me bust a social myth right now: YOUR EDUCATION IS NOT A REFLEXION OF YOUR POTENTIAL, ABILITIES OR INTELLIGENCE.
Am I clear? For years I use to think I was a loser for not having a university degree. That didn't keep me from making a 6 figure income. You are still good enough even tho you don't have the highest level of education!
But…education and knowledge will make you more valuable in the market place and give you more possibilities for work down the road. It keeps your brain healthy, accelerates your growth and boosts your confidence right up. These are all beneficial to a healthy lifestyle and a powerful mindset. The more knowledge & skills you have, the more valuable you are, the more significant you will feel. The more possibilities will present itself to you. So yes, getting educated is a choice that will impact how you feel about life.
Free resources to get educated right NOW (some are universities & colleges):
A healthy social life is a crucial part of a healthy mind and a fulfilled life. We are wired to thrive by collaborating with others. That's how we survived this long! So many studies have been done proving the health consequences of social isolation and loneliness.
Socially isolated people have a 90% increased risk of cardiovascular death and more than double the risk of death from an accident or suicide (link here). This is just one of the many studies done on the subject.
Ways to grow your social life:
These options will not only give you access to more potential friends, but they might also introduce you to potential romantic partners. In the key resources below are some love experts that can help you improve your romantic relationship.
Are you drinking enough water and eating enough calories? This sounds so simple and almost stupid, but it's the fundamental of good health. Your brain can't function at his best if it's dehydrated, undernourish, or if you feed it crap. If you have a tendency to feel depressed, tired or groggy, please do yourself a favour and start by nourishing your body.
Essential physical health habits for a happy brain:
These habits are a must if you want to improve your physical and mental health. When the body isn't in good health, the mind can't be either.
First, do you have any free time at all? If you're serious about making lifestyle changes to improve the quality of your life, you must make free time for yourself. Whatever this means for you. You need an outlet to disconnect and release stress.
A study showed that people feel most satisfied with life when they have anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hrs of free time per day doing something they enjoy.
Ways you can use your free time:
I have no doubt you can come up with your own free time hobby.
Find ways to create a strategy and good habits that you can use on a daily basis to change certain areas of your life in incremental steps. It's all about consistency.