If we think about depression as more of a physiological condition, perhaps the best way to fight and overcome depression is via stimulants which motivate us to move and dance!
Some practical ideas of things which work for myself:
1. Fasting as a means of fighting depression?
Intermittent fasting (not eating breakfast or lunch, only a massive dinner) is very hard. My thought:
Because intermittent fasting is so hard and painful, it actually takes our mind off of feeling depressed.
Also when I’m in a fasted state, I’m sharper, keener, and more motivated to move. Perhaps when we’re hungry, we actually have a motivation to move! Biologically we need to move in order to procure food. If we don’t get hungry, what motivation do we have to move?
Once again, we humans aren’t like machines. We don’t need to eat before moving. A car requires fuel before moving, but humans — no. We need hunger in order to move!
2. Dionysian music.
We need darker, harder, and more Dionysian music. I believe the greatest examples have been Jay Z and Kanye West — glorifying the dark parts of existence, yet finding resilience, hope, and strength in midst of all of it.
Some of my favorite albums:
- Blueprint 3 by JAY Z
- YEEZUS by Kanye West
Any music which puts wings to your feet or mind is good.
3. In praise of coffee shops
I’m very happy at coffee shops. Allowing myself unlimited access to black coffee (espresso, cold brew) puts me in a good mood. Also being able to stand (in praise of standing desks). I find the best coffee shops as having an eclectic mix of people.
While at the coffee shop, selecting and processing my photos. Uploading new photos. Writing, thinking, reading books.
I’m generally less depressed when in public and around strangers. I generally feel more depressive when I’m at home by myself.
4. Does climate matter?
I generally feel more depressed during the winter, in cities which is lacking sunlight. I think I can tolerate the cold quite well, but lack of sunlight saps all of my energy.
Perhaps a solution is a combination of bright lights, hot sauna (steam and dry), and perhaps tanning studios. I also heard that wearing yellow-tinted glasses during winter months elevates your mood.
Also during periods of lack of sunlight, I’m happier when I go out. Spending as much time in public spaces, the mall, coffee shops, or restaurants.
5. Money doesn’t fight depression
Having money, buying new stuff, or acquiring new things doesn’t do anything practical to make me feel happier when I feel depressed. I think we should beware this consumerist notion that “retail therapy” works.
I don’t think it is physiologically possible to feel depressed when you are about to attempt a “one rep max” for your deadlift or squat.
When lifting weights, experiment with listening to music or without music. I think a membership to a gym is worth its weight in gold.
7. What city am I the happiest in?
It I had my choice, my favorite city in the world is Saigon, Vietnam. Friendly folks, great weather, great coffee shops, super fast wifi, cheap cost of living, and ability to get massages often.
As much as I’d like to think that I can use my “willpower” to be happy in any city I’m in, I think there are certainly certain cities in which I’m happier in.
Cities which allow me to walk, easily visit coffee shops, and ample photo opportunities.
Getting a cheap (and painful) massage is one of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling depressed. My theory:
When you get an intense massage, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, which perhaps elevates our mood.
When I was in Vietnam, got really good massages for $10 an hour. Back in Southern California, the cheapest I’ve been able to find is $20 an hour at Chinese massage places.
My practical suggestion: ask your massage person to go “very hard”. Better to get a massage which is at 90% of your pain threshold than to get a weak massage.
9. Walk and think a lot
When I don’t have the chance to walk or leave the house I get depressed. I’m like a dog, I need to be “walked” often and several times a day.
Walking seems to elevate my mood a ton. Also having the opportunity to think “turbo thoughts”.
For my personal happiness: being able to walk everywhere in my own city and not needing to drive myself and certainly not to get stuck in traffic.
For myself, Cindy is my soul mate. I cannot image my life without her.
Perhaps it is essential to have a soulmate and companion if one desires to be “happy”.
Conclusion: Experiment and figure what works for you
This is just what works for me, not what will work for you.
I suppose we must aggressively self experiment, and figure out what works for ourselves.
Never stop fighting!