“You’re young, what do you have to be upset about?”
The first time I heard this statement I was 21 and had just confessed to a good friend that my so-called bad mood was starting to overstay its welcome. While I was stunned by her less than compassionate reaction, I couldn’t completely disagree with her. Generally a happy girl, I’d never gone through a dark, let’s-play-with-explosives phase. But now a black, depressive cloud was zapping my energy.
- Why was this happening?
The 20’s are a volatile, transitional decade exploding with expectations. Expectations from peers, professors, parents and self. A pressure cooker of insecurities that we willingly roast in, until about age 30.
This self-torture all stems from a false belief that we are supposed to know who we are, what we want, and how to put our lives on a “successful” path. It’s during this time that many of us begin to feel drained, down and just plain exhausted.
Depression is a common condition among many people in their 20’s, but extremely treatable for those that want the help.
- What to do to snap out of depression?
Once you talk to a doctor – always recommended – here are a few ways that I used to beat the blues.
Let go of expectations: Twenty-five and not the millionaire you thought you’d be? Haven’t stumbled across your soul mate yet? Considering the economy, you might just have moved back in with mom. That’s okay. Give yourself permission to let go of unrealistic expectations, and learn to recognize time as a friend. By any means don’t give up on your dreams – just realize that there is no set order to how life will happen. So enjoy it.
Meditate: Think there’s no way you can calm your raging mind? Check out guided meditations for your iPod. Meditating is proven to reduce stress, increase happiness and offers a wide-range of both mental and physical health benefits. Guided meditation walks your otherwise wandering mind through a relaxation process with assistance. All you have to do is listen! My favorite back then was the Splendor of Meditation, available on iTunes.
Change your diet: Crazy schedules are often synonomous with bad eating habits. Fast, processed foods often trigger symptoms of depression, but depression also causes us to crave unhealthy foods. Chicken vs. the egg at its finest! Combat those cravings by eating whole, raw foods. Try adding a vegetable or fruit that you really like to your diet everyday. I started with blueberries. Once you start filling your plate with nutritious, depression-fighting foods, your body will start craving the good stuff. This means you’ll do that sugary, depressive crash much, much less.
Hit the gym: Where are you going to find time for that, you might ask? Make time. The 30 minutes a day that you combat depression on a treadmill, elliptical, or in yoga class will act as a forcefield – protecting your mood the entire day. Recent studies have shown that regular exercise (5 days a week) has the same effect as taking an anti-depressant medication. However, unlike anti-depressants, working out benefits your entire body, as well as appearance. Its effects are contagious. Once you start, you don’t want to stop.
Choose people that inspire you: My new year’s resolution this year was simply that I was going to spend time with only the people that I enjoyed, laughed with, trusted, felt inspired by, and above all – who I loved and was loved back by. When people cease to make you feel good, kindly decline their toxic energy and build a personal support group that keeps you smiling. Human interaction is one of your best weapons against depression.
Above all, be patient and considerate with yourself and if you do not see any progress, ask for help.