As we continue our special series on what to expect as we come out of this COVID shelter in place or quarantine, I want to highlight another one of the psychological conditions I introduced you to in my first blog. Depression.
As with anxiety, depression is something most of us experience at one point or another in our life. The sadness and, sometimes, loneliness associated with life’s struggles or injured self-esteem are things most of us can look back upon and see some poor decisions – decisions we wouldn’t have normally made – that we may not be too proud of. It leads us to say things like: “Man, that sucked… But I got through it!”
But, for some the condition of depression is chronic, an overwhelming condition that can cause physical symptoms and be terribly disruptive. Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of depression:
- Trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
- Pessimism and hopelessness
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or sleeping too much
- Loss of interest in things once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Aches, pains, headaches, or cramps that won’t go away
- Digestive problems that don’t get better, even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
Now, let’s take a look at some of the signs of depression:
- A sudden switch from sadness to extreme calmness, or appearing to be happy
- Always talking or thinking about death
- Deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
- Taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving through red lights
- Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- Putting affairs in order, like tying up loose ends or changing a will
- Saying things like “It would be better if I weren’t here” or “I want out”
- Talking about suicide
- Visiting or calling close friends and loved ones
Before continuing, if you or someone you know is experiencing these warning signs, please, contact your local medical professional, go to the emergency room or contact the suicide hotline.
Below are a few things to help manage or ease the symptoms of depression:
- Change Your Lifestyle. I’ve heard several psychologists talk on this subject over the years, but I think everyone can admit: It’s sometimes easier said than done. Right? Think of it like your New Year’s resolution. You may say, “I vow to exercise 3 times every week!”, or “I’m going to make it a point to get 8 hours of sleep every night”, or “I’m going to start eating better…” Your heart’s in the right place, but your body has to recondition itself to the will. And, that can take time and a lot of focus. But, when we achieve our goals there’s a positive impact on our mood. There’s a sense of pride in our accomplishments, self-worth and strength that wasn’t there before, and, sometimes, a reduction or elimination of physical pain. As with our New Year’s resolutions, we have to treat this idea with balanced thought (for your Wing Chun practitioners: the right idea). Don’t try to eliminate all of your perceived bad habits at once and don’t expect to overcome the choice one (or ones) over-night. Be patient with yourself, knowing that everyone requires this patients and goes through these struggles to reach their goals (that’s what fighting is). It’s not a unique need to you.
Don’t Be Passive. What do I mean by this? Well, to give you an example, I have had many new students start class insecure about asking questions, taking notes and sharing them, and performing in front of others. As any a martial artist will tell you, this is something one has to get over to experience the entire combat or self-defense system that they are learning. By coming out of the box they get to share perspectives with one another, learning from the experience, uniquely, from each student’s form of application. The same is true when you’re in your martial arts school, working with a team in a group-recovery session, or working with an individual medical professional. While depression tries to make one feel powerless, by reaching out and taking part one can begin to feel a sense of control and learn to responsibly handle that control.
- Perform Relaxation Exercises. Anxiety and tension can make depression worse, so it’s important to learn and perform relaxation exercises. (Once again, don’t think this is a unique require to you. Everyone needs this. I often see students come in from work tense from work, mind still locked on the last work project they were working on. They have to come out of that tension to be their best. It’s an on-going need for all of us.) Now, don’t get me wrong: Playing video games and watching hours upon hours of Netflix doesn’t work. A lack of daily structure can make overcoming depression harder. Here are a few suggestions that do help: (1) listen to soothing music, (2) go for walks, (3) long, hot baths, (4) meditation and breathing exercises, (5) kung fu or yoga, (6) prayer, (7) massage, and (8) a list of therapies form medical professionals.
- Create a Daily Planner. This may be best done in a group setting, with your Sifu (teacher), medical professional, or other team members. The idea is to organize your plans, in a responsible way, and gain a sense of control over your life while tracking your progress.
There are many more things that could be added to this list, but we, simply, don’t have time to get into all of them in this article. Why don’t we do this: If you have something that has helped you manage or eliminate depression or know someone else who has, share it in the comments section below for others.
Empower yourself to life!™
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If you have a question or subject you’d like to see me address on my blog page, or if you have an interest in learning self-defense in or around Tallahassee, Florida, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.