Whether it's an old familiar friend, an unexpected acquaintance, or complete stranger, feeling down does not feel good. It affects many areas of life like work and school, exercise and health, negative behaviors like drinking or spending money, and most of all, our thoughts. These can go spiraling out of control when we're feeling down.
Feeling "down" can also mean feeling irritable, worried, anxious, sad, confused, hopeless, and angry. There is so much complexity to what we are feeling and confronting in life. This seemingly one state of being is communicated in one seemingly simplistic word - feeling "down."
The only thing that matters when we're feeling "down" is that we feel stuck, unsafe and alone.
We are feeling as though we are in fight or flight response.
This body response is how we are kept alive and how we survive. All of the feelings in the body, all of the urges, and all of the changes are meant to send a message to us: "You're in danger, something is not right, so go and change it! Now."
This is great when we actually see the danger like a burning house or not crossing the street. Then we follow through on the action and save that family or avoid getting hit by a car. Done. Whew! "Saved and mission accomplished!," is what the body is thinking.
It's not so easy when the feeling is about lack of fulfillment in a job, a fight with friend, or fear of going to a social event. It's not so easy when you're unemployed, feeling overwhelmed by the demands of being a parent, or your car breaks down. It's not so easy to be 'saved' when you're isolated - the very thing that can save you (i.e. being with other people) is the very thing that's causing your need to be saved!
So we have to interrupt this cycle and break the false image of feeling stuck and alone.
- We can choose to use our rational brain to read this article and believe in the science.
- We can choose to follow through on medical advice for our mental health like taking prescriptions for diagnosis of depression or anxiety.
- We can choose to reach out to another person, a friend or even a stranger, to say, "Hey, I'm feeling down. Can I hang out with you?"
- We can choose to go opposite to our emotion and smile, dance, do a handstand or jumping jacks, and sit with our shoulders back and head up.
- We can choose to change our thoughts to validate our body feeling and also change the interpretation of that feeling. Say to yourself, "It's okay that I feel heavy in my shoulders AND I'm going to smile and go sit outside to watch the birds."
These are just some of the many ways to combat the feeling of being alone. In reality, what we're doing it combatting that ONE thing that contributes to feeling lonely and stuck. It takes time and as you can see in the list above, it has to be your choice. It doesn't matter what others tell you, once you decide to make the change, then it feels powerful.
These changes might not be enough or they might feel out of reach. If you are wanting to implement these kinds of changes but want some more support and explanation in doing so, let me know. We can talk online or in-person. If I can't help you, then I'm happy to provide some direction to somebody who can help.
If you are feeling worsening effects of depression like thoughts of harming yourself, please please please reach out to professionals for help. This can be your primary care doctor, a hotline, or a therapist.
Please know that I wrote this for those of you going through feelings of being down with the sole purpose of saying, "You're not alone."
Gracias y namaste,