Whether you have been depressed since last one month or for the last few years, there is a gift that you get from your psyche every once in a while. It’s a gift which can be your ticket out of the despair you feel all the time. This post is my own take on what to do on those not-so-bad days, a.k.a. the Gift.
This post is written specifically for you if you are one of those type-A personalities. The people who are forever thinking about achieving more and more, but simultaneously feeling anxious all the time.
It’s a simple strategy that comes out of two key realizations I’ve had through my own struggles.
The first realization is that you invariably will get those days which make you feel like the bad times are behind you. You might have gotten an achievement at the office. Or maybe somebody told you that they appreciated you. Maybe you read a book that made you feel hopeful for the future. Or maybe you had a kick-ass training session at the gym. Generally some positive experience happens in your life, and for some time following that experience you get a gift of a few days where your overall mood & productivity levels go high as the sky. This is a gift.
In order to understand the gift, you need to consider what I call the ‘Seasons theory’. Life is just like the seasons. Like in nature, after cold and damp winters follow rejuvenating and bright summers, so in your life the bad days are bound to be followed by good days. It’s like a cycle of nature. Both follow each other inevitably. I learnt the theory from Jim Rohn, one of the greatest motivational speakers in the world. If you want to listen to him speak about the seasons theory at length, watch his talk here.
The second realization is – what you do on those highly productive days of your life can outlast those 24-hours and help you weather the storm during the following low-days. It is just like building a shelter. Going back to the Seasons metaphor, consider the ‘Wise Farmer’. This wise farmer takes advantage of the summers and toils away his days sowing good quality seeds into his field, caring for the crops, building a stable house for himself and his family.
When the winter comes, no matter how bad it is, he has a good harvest that can feed his family for the hard & cold months. He has remaining produce which he can sell in the market for a neat profit. And he also has shelter which will keep him and his loved ones warm and secure during the trials and tribulations of the unfavorable weather. The wise farmer knows that in winter his capacity for work will be lower and the situations will be tougher. So he works harder during the times when he knows situations are in his favor.
The same principle can be applied in our day-to-day lives. The biggest problem with anxiety and depression is it renders you helpless. You are not able to do the right things, even when you know they will benefit you. On my worst days I eat ungodly amounts of junk food, don’t get any sleep, watch strings of Netflix series and systematically avoid doing any difficult tasks at work. It ultimately affects my health, my mood and my job performance.
But since the time I’ve learned the principle of Seasons theory and the metaphor of the Wise farmer, I make sure that on the days when I am feeling hopeful and positive, I double down on the positive actions.
I pre-plan my day to include as many positive actions as possible. I eat only healthy and nutrient rich foods. I pick up as many strategically important tasks at work as possible. I read a few good articles and a good book. I enroll for a class or course that will commit me to improve on something that I want to grow in. I talk to a few friends and tell them about my goals and progress to bring social accountability. And I also end the day with something fun and relaxing, in order to create as many positive associations with my previous behavior as possible.
I have noticed that each positive action that I take during my gift-days, gives me benefits that last me through the bad-days (when they come).
I can give you another simple analogy. A person with high-functioning depression i.e. someone with a type-A personality who experiences constant anxiety and depression generally follows a predictable pattern. This person spends his life taking two steps forward (on the path of personal growth & achievement) and one step backwards. It’s very common.
Well I am making a case for making sure that you take at least four steps forward, so your net score after one full cycle will be +3 instead of +1.
I know it’s a little technical but I’m sure you get it. It’s a simple idea but if followed consistently, it has the power to change your life.
So no matter who you are and what your life story is, just remember that life is just like the seasons. And the wise farmer takes advantage of the summers so he can benefit during the winters.