We are bombarded with information via the news, social media, and documentaries. The vast majority of them are spewing out news about political mudslinging and uncertainty, wars, people being displaced, hunger, global warming, poverty, division, and natural disaster.
There was a time not so long ago when the news was limited to the daily newspaper and the news programs which were shown a few times a day on terrestrial TV which closed down for the day at midnight. Today there is no let-up to the onslaught of information via phones, tablets, PCs, TVs, etc.
Much of the time you can’t be sure what is fact, what is political spin or downright lies. The few ‘feel good’ stories often put as a sweetener at the end of the show does little to drown out the torrent of negativity.
I believe this is making a significant contribution to an epidemic of social depression. I’m not talking about clinical depression or where people have been affected by a tragedy, abuse or life-changing situation which has had a profound effect on them.
I believe the western world is being badly affected by what I describe as social depression. A feeling that you are helpless, that things are being done by others over which you have no control. A sense of overwhelm, fatigue and low mood which persists and you are not quite sure why.
I think we are absorbing the negativity which surrounds us and for the most part are unaware of the growing miasma until it sucks our vitality. Rather like the Dementors in Harry Potter.
I believe that we absorb the mood of those around us really easily. When we are with really positive people it is easier to feel energized and optimistic. When we are surrounded by negative messages, people who are moaning or focusing on the problems rather than potential solutions it is rather like bubonic plague or Ebola. It is incredibly infections and just as deadly.
In the UK over half the prescriptions issued are for anti-depressants. Whilst many people rely on these drugs, others find they have to take larger and larger doses and are still feeling they are unable to cope. The most common reason for men under 40 dying in the UK is not illness or accident but suicide. The economy in the UK loses £70+ billion per year through days lost to work through stress and the cost of presenteeism is thought to cost twice as much to the economy. This in no way gives any sense of the human cost that underpin such figures.
The number of children and young people who are struggling to cope is growing at an alarming rate.
People are using alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, and sex to act as an anesthetic, to dumb down negative feelings. Surely it is time to question what is going on and look to implement solutions that will make a lasting difference.
It would be easy to think there is nothing we can do about things but I completely disagree. I think that anyone who believes they are too inconsequential to make a difference should spend the night in a room with a mosquito. We have choices – every minute of every day. Every choice we make has consequences. Even not choosing makes consequences, and it is often not choosing which has the most impact.
Here is a selection of my top strategies to help you step out of social depression:
95% of our thinking is habitual – it doesn’t actually involve our conscious brain. Learning to think mindfully to be conscious of the quality of our thinking has the capacity to make a huge and positive difference.
Take radical responsibility for everything you say and do, how and when you say or do it or on whether you do it at all. Be responsible for yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually – if you hand that responsibility to others you have to put up with what they decide. No one can MAKE you unhappy unless you choose to let them.
Your beliefs become our reality – if you think you will fail it becomes a done deal, believe you will succeed even if you are not quite sure how then you open the door of possibility. It is time to do a complete overhaul of your beliefs and to ensure they underpin success and happiness.
Choose to focus on what you CAN DO rather than what you can’t. What you focus on appears to expand. If you focus on the negative – it feels as if it grows. The same is true of focusing on the positive - it too begins to expand and grow.
Treat yourself as you would a best friend. So rather than beating yourself up be kind to yourself. Rather than comparing yourself with others, with images which have been heavily doctored choose to appreciate and love yourself – wobbly bits and all. YOU ARE ENOUGH!
Be aware of the language you use - language is incredibly powerful particularly self-chatter. Be aware that we are often our own worst critics, we often so much harder on ourselves than we are others. Be mindful of using the same criteria for yourself as you do others.
Collecting gratitudes is an incredibly positive impact when you do it on a regular basis. As you go through the day notice the things which give you pleasure or make you smile. Make it easy!! Just before you go to sleep scan the day and choose your top 5. Done regularly this will re-calibrate the brain and help you feel really positive.
Random acts of kindness – doing things for others with no expectation of any acknowledgment creates a lasting feel-good factor.
Find your true purpose – be of service to others, animals or the environment. As you take a positive step to make a difference, the quality of your life will change hugely – for the better.
These are just a few of the things you CAN do to help you and those you care about to feel good despite all the negativity which surrounds us. At the core is learning to live a life that embraces love and compassion rather than fear and division.
Everything we do is a choice, even not choosing is actually a choice and every choice has consequences. Doesn’t it make sense to choose to be happy?