Here’s how to kick depression’s butt to the curb
Are you a man living with depression? Searching for natural ways to increase your mood that actually work? If the answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place.
As a counselor who works mostly with men, I know how much it sucks to be a guy with depression. Let’s face it – most of us have been given bad blueprints when it comes to dealing with this issue.
You know what I’m talking about, right?
Those old axioms – like “real men don’t share their feelings” and “a real man doesn’t complain when he’s feeling down.” BS like that.
Well, I’m here to tell you real men do get depressed. In fact, it happens more often than you might think. While the research is someone scattered, current estimates suggest around 10% of males in the United States struggle with this problem.
That’s a lot!
So, the question is – what can you do about it?
Folks, I could sit here and list out all of the clinical data about best treatment options till the cows come home. But my sense is that’s not what you are looking for.
Instead, I’m betting as a guy, you want to find natural ways to address your depression head-on. If I’m right, then I encourage you to read what follows.
Now here is the thing – depression is a serious life challenge that requires a multi-prong approach. Thinking it just takes one thing (or one pill) to provide relief is a mistake.
Instead, it’s far better to think comprehensively. In other words, it means you’ll need to get your A-game on. Follow me?
Here are 10 things smart men do to fight depression that actually work. Check it out.
1. STOP DENYING YOU ARE DEPRESSED
In my experience, the absolute worst thing guys do who live with depression is engage in denial. Here, I am talking about pretending you don’t have depression and buying into bro-myths like: I should be able to handle it. I’m a man.
I hate to break it to you but it doesn’t work like that. The hard truth is depression doesn’t care about gender. In the case of guys, it also doesn’t give a hoot how manly you are.
But here’s what it does care about – winning.
In other words, depression loves when you deny its existence. Like a hungry beast, it uses your denial to help it grow.
If left unchecked, the bastard turns into a MONSTER. And you know what monsters do – they kill.
If you want to throw a major monkey-wrench into depression’s plans, you’ve got to stop denying he’s in your life. The moment you do this, his power starts to diminish – big time!
And it’s one of the smartest things you’ll ever do.
2. DITCH THE BOOZE AND 420
As men, we learn to medicate our emotional wounds in a number of ways. The big ones include booze and sex. And to a lesser or greater degree, 420.
As stand-alone activities, there’s nothing wrong with any of these. In fact, they can help some of us get our chill on. The problem is with depression, we’re vulnerable to overusing them as distractions for what is really going on – deep inside.
But here is the real deal. Any activity that you get hooked on makes depression worse. And watch out if an addiction develops because it only compounds the problem.
If you are using alcohol, drugs, sex, or p*** (rhymes with corn) to deal with your sh–ty mood, stop right now.
Instead, cleanse your mind and body and focus on activities that promote wellness. Once accomplished, you’ll make room for the healing you so badly desire.
But it ain’t never gonna happen until you decide to say yes to yourself and no to the fake cures.
3. START MOVING
Here’s one thing depression hates – movement. In fact, it hates any kind of movement! The little bastard would love nothing more than to have you sit in an easy-chair, feed yourself with chips, gain weight, and feel miserable.
The longer you remain sedentary, the stronger depression becomes. That may suck to hear but you came here for the real deal, right?
Here’s how you put that a-hole in his place. Get up – move.
I don’t care if it’s just a walk around or around the block or shooting some hoops by yourself – move. Man, I’m telling you to make movement happen with everything you’ve got – even when you don’t feel like it.
Once you start to make physical activity part of your daily routine, you literally take a hatchet to depression’s head. Yep, that’s right – you chop his ass in half!
That’s because depression festers by screwing with the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. But when you make movement, like exercise, part of your reality, it throws the SOB for a loop!
You don’t have to hit the gym every day either. Brisk walking, rope-jumping, jogging, and even stretching can do a lot to help you feel better.
Can you dig it?
4. DITCH NEGATIVE PEOPLE
I’m not going to belabor this point because it should be obvious. If you are hanging around negative people, it stands to reason they are going to have a not-so-positive impact on you.
Negative people are easy to identify. They are the ones who live by the motto I can’t. They continuously vibe out, I’m helpless and they almost always live in a world of drama and chaos.
If there are people like this in your life – ditch them.
I know what you are thinking. “What do I do if that person is a relative?” Well, that’s up to you to decide. If you can’t cut the person off, minimize their presence in your life as much as possible.
At the end of the day, whose happiness really matters? There’s or yours? Get my drift?
5. CHANGE YOUR DIET
There’s an old saying: We are either feeding disease or fighting it. In the case of depression, which are you doing?
For example, are you loading him up with unhealthy, fattening foods like burgers and fries or are you kicking his ass with natural eats like fruits and vegetables.
Oh yeah, bro – didn’t you know? Your diet has a LOT to do with the intensity of your depression. We know from piles of clinical data that certain foods are terrible for mood.
Examples include fast-food, salty-soups, cookies, and alcohol.
But we also know that other foods have a healing effect. Examples include nutrient-rich greens, tomatoes, and nuts. I’m not saying you have to give up the things that you enjoy. But I am suggesting that the healthy foods need to be part of your daily routine.
It really is all about moderation, you know?
6. START MEDITATING
I can see people rolling their eyes right now as they read this suggestion. “Meditation – isn’t that what girls do?” you might be wondering.
Buddy – if you are thinking that, you couldn’t be more wrong. Ever hear of Confucius? He was a dude just like you and he lived in 551 BC. The guy was a teacher and philosopher.
And you know what else? He meditated!
Some people get all jumbled up when they hear the term “meditation” because they think it involves chanting and lighting sage.
Honestly, that’s a bunch of BS. Yeah, some people do this but that’s not the majority.
Meditation is nothing more than a natural way to promote inner calmness while clearing the mind. I regularly engage in this activity and have found it to be amazing.
The great thing about meditation is that it is free! It also is great for helping to minimize another monster – anxiety. You know that one, right? He’s the jerk that screws with your sense of self-esteem.
If you don’t know how to meditate and want to learn, there are tons of resources online. Personally, I like books that teach things, like an Ordinary Dudes Guide to Meditation.
Try engaging in this activity for 10 minutes each day for a week. You will be surprised at how you feel. Guaranteed.
7. ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
Depression loves it when he can set up camp in your mind. Like an unwelcome guest, he starts using you without regard. And the less you have to do with your day, the more of a foothold he takes.
But there is one way to kick his butt to the curb. Start a routine.
You may be wondering why? It’s simple. When you have a routine, your mind is focusing on the activity at hand. Boy does depression hate that. Oh, he’ll try to screw with you by making it difficult to concentrate. But if you keep at it, he eventually shies away.
Conversely, if you aren’t doing things regularly that involve mental or physical stimulation, he takes over your s-—t like a bad relative.
Routines are easier to establish than you think. We’re talking basics here man. Like getting up around the same time each day and going to bed in the same way.
Scheduling physical activity into your morning, eating at specific moments, going to work, etc. Do you get my drift?
Now don’t confuse having a routine with keeping busy. While similar, they aren’t the same. The goal here isn’t to distract you form your troubles. Instead, a routine helps to prevent depression from grabbing hold in the first place.
8. GET A GOAL
This one is big – like massive. You’ve got to have a goal in your life. It doesn’t matter what that goal is. It could be saving money or losing weight.
The point is to get a goal – any goal.
Here’s the deal with goals. When you focus on them – you bring meaning to your life. Meaning is the very thing depression wants to rob from you.
That’s why it’s so important to have at least one. I could go on forever and a day about the differences between small goals and big goals and creating a plan for success.
But do you really want to read that?
My sense is that right now, you are looking for the big picture.
If you need more insight on this topic, you can always visit this page on SMART Goals.
9. GET A HOBBY
You may be reading this and thinking, “Is that dude for real?” The answer is – you bet I am. Let me explain why this one is important.
By having a hobby, you provide a conduit to discharge pent-up energy. More importantly, you also give yourself something to look forward to.
And did I mention depression can’t stand it when it sees joy on the horizon? It can’t. Man, that lil’ SOB runs for the hills at the first sign of happiness!
This is why you need that hobby – badly!
Hobbies channel personal insight and creativity. They promote inner peace and self-love. They don’t need to be fancy either. Examples include writing, painting, flying a kite or building furniture with your hands.
Frequently I am asked: What if I don’t have a hobby?
Here’s my response: Find one.
The truth is the journey towards discovering a hobby is part of the healing process. Think of it as an adventure– one that you get to take that’s all yours.
10. GET A COUNSELOR
You knew this one was coming and so that’s why I’ve been saving it towards the end. Long story short, you need someone in your life you can confide in.
I’m talking about all that stuff that goes on in your head that you hide from the world. Those dark thoughts – the scary ones.
But here is the thing. When you give yourself the gift of a counselor, you provide a safe space to discharge toxic material that’s been fueling your depression.
Ideally, the professional you choose will be someone you can identify with. Gender doesn’t matter but the person’s approach to the healing process does.
That’s why you’ll want to look around and find the best person to fit your needs.
I’m not going to write out all of the things you need to look for in this person. If I did that, this post would never end. At a minimum, make sure they hold a mental health license and are trained in treating depression.
If you aren’t sure where to start looking, just head on over to websites like Psychology Today or Good Therapy and you’ll find many options.
Bringing It All Together
You are a man who happens to be reading this post because you struggle with depression. But you are still a man. And you become even manlier when you do what is necessary to take care of yourself.
If you are looking for more information on how to push back against depression, I highly recommend a book by Dr. David Burns called Feeling Good. It’s an excellent resource to call upon for insight and natural ways of coping.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope what’s been shared here was helpful.
Read this article about depression if you are interested in learning more about this topic. If you are concerned that you may hurt yourself, please call 800-273-TALK, or one of these numbers for international readers (choose your country from the drop-down list).