How to Lift Yourself Out of a Depression


There was a time in college when I was going through a very bad patch – my personal life was going down the drain, I was unable to focus on my academic performance, and I had no clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. It seemed as if my past, present and future were conspiring against me to keep me in a depressing limbo from which there was no respite. And then I came across a paragraph that turned things around radically; leafing idly through an old textbook which I had bought secondhand, I found a piece of paper titled Footprints in the Sand.

Many of you may know the story, but for those who don’t, it details a conversation between man and God – there are two sets of footprints in the sand that represents the man’s life, and God tells him that he is there too, walking beside him and taking him through life. And so the man traverses his life, identifying the highs and lows that he has been through. He finds a curious pattern – during all his times of turbulence and trouble, there is only one set of footprints. So he turns to God and accuses him of ditching him during his difficult periods. And God in his infinite wisdom replies – No my Son, I did not leave you to face your troubles alone. Rather, I carried you through them to help lighten your burden. The sole set of footprints you see are mine, not yours. Needless to say, the man is chastened and ashamed.

Whether you believe in God or not, the above story is both inspiring and uplifting. In my case, it helped me pull up my socks and stopped me from feeling sorry for myself. I realized that there were people willing and waiting to help me, and I had been spurning them because I was so wrapped in my own misery.

God in this story is a symbolic representation of all that is good in our lives – our close friends, family members who care about us, work that we find challenging and satisfying, healthy relationships that allow us to grow and flourish, and activities that we enjoy and love. When we hit rocky patches of life, we drown in self pity and forget that there are many Gods who are waiting to carry us through these tough times. It’s only when we open our eyes to their existence and trust that they want what’s best for us that we’re able to let go of our misery and allow ourselves to enjoy new experiences.

So the next time you feel down and out, here’s what you can to do to feel better again:

  • Instead of focusing on all that’s wrong with your life, write down all the good things you have going for you. The more you think about it, the more good things you’ll find. Seek solace through these good things in your life, and you’ll soon stop feeling miserable and sad.
  • Tell yourself that “this too shall pass” – this is my favorite quote, and at the slightest hint of sadness or trouble, I tell myself that this too shall pass and all will be well with my world again. I just need to ride out the storm and wait for the calm to envelop me again.
  • Realize that there are others who are in worse positions than you are, and that you are better off than many people in the world. This makes your problems seem trivial and you’re shamed out of feeling sorry for yourself. This also brings about a positive attitude which helps you look for solutions to your problem instead of moping around and feeling depressed.

Besides this, it helps to stay focused on your work and your daily responsibilities, and to stick to your schedule as normally as you can. Take up regular exercise as a way to boost positive energy and get rid of negative stress and the resultant toxins that build up. And try to be proactive and think of solutions to problems instead of reacting to them and letting them get you down.

Photo by Caitlinator

9 thoughts on “How to Lift Yourself Out of a Depression”

  1. Best way to get out of depression? Go get some good music for your ears! Take your mind off your stinking thoughts and you’re suddenly out! Concentrate on something that feels good. That’s it!

  2. Hi April,

    I too have struggle with depression when I was younger. I too went through the things you experienced; lack of focus, being unsure of what to do with my life. The Footprints in the Sand story is really a great help during these difficult times. You have also shared some useful tips on how to manage depression. There are just a few points I wish to add.

    Firstly, we should focus on the solution, not the problem itself. By doing so, we channel our energy in constructive ways to resolve the problems that plague us. Whether it is drawing up a plan, doing research to broaden our options and so on, as long as we do something, we use up our energy that would otherwise be used on worrying. And when we resolve the issue at hand, our depression lifts automatically.

    Secondly, it also helps to create or find something or someone to live for. Preferably a few powerful reasons that give our lives meaning. With such a motivation driving us, there is little room for depression in our lives. We know why we must wake up each day and we know what kind of legacy we intend to create with our lives. Whatever obstacles we face, the drive will be strong enough for us to help us find a way around it.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  3. I like this post because it shows how just reading something inspiring, and taking in its message, is sometimes enough to turn the tide for us.

    I read that poem, and puzzled over it when I was younger, too.

    I also used to identify with Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull — I was always trying to get better at ME, but not really knowing why.

    The two things that make a difference for me are doing at least one small thing, even if I just don’t care, in a positive direction. It just generally leads me to a better place just by the doing.

    The other thing I do is I interview or call clients or other business owners who have a story to tell for my work. Their creativity and inspiration keep me going. The act of swapping stories and sharing with another person definitely leads the way out of negative thoughts.

    Best, Jillian

  4. This is really nice April, thank you. Depression can really have us in its grips. When things get tough for me I tend to swing toward depression. The tips here are wonderful. Focusing on the positive, counting our blessings, and believing that we are strong enough to get through our rough times will keep us free from the devistation of depression. Thanks for the positivity!

  5. A lot of people are getting through different kinds of “depression”. What makes things worst is when sometime no one seems to at least listen to what you have to say or to what you feel. One of the main reasons why there are lots of grumpy people and why a person can’t share even a smile. Thanks for the post. Really appreciate blogs like these.

  6. WOW; I’m a junior in college and i’ve been going through everything you said you went through, you inspire me, you all inspire me because I see that since you all have made it through..then so can I. Just when I feel hopeless it is people like you who uplift me…thank you SO MUCH!!

  7. Thanks for the post I’m a mother of two and been dealing with s.a.d since around fourteen and it seems it geting worse I just wish this would go away.

  8. I’ve been struggling with depression for about 6 years. And only recently, I’ve been recovering by using a technique called EFT everyday.

    The biggest question I asked myself when I was depressed was: “Why am I here?” “What’s the point in living if I’m going to die eventually anyways?”
    Many who get depressed don’t know what their purpose is, why they are here. But we all have a reason, a purpose. I don’t know what my purpose is. Richard Branson’s purpose was to be a visionary, now he is building a SPACE SHIP airline. Steve Job’s purpose was to connect people and revolutionize the way people communicate

    We all have that ONE thing, that ONE gift. And the depression is a sign that we are not in touch with it. But God has a purpose for all of us. And the cure to depression is finding your gift. Whenever you do it, you become COMPLETELY immersed in it and lose your sense of time because it’s so damn fun. Depression is non-existent in this flow state.

    Find your gift.

  9. If depression starts, start doing jogging/running. Depressive feeling will go off slowly, but if don’t feel better in three weeks, don’t wait start medicine after advice of a psychiatrist, you will be be better in 3 weeks..but wait for next 3 weeks, if the depression returns, dosage might need to be increased a little. When you continue to feel better for at least 6 months it means the medicine has worked. Continue it for at least one year then gradually stop it.Simultaneously joing a Gym, do some vigorous exercises daily…still smtime you feel like taking the medicine again, control your urge and continue with life and a changed lifestyle which is more hectic and social. Soon everything will settle down…. Bottom line: Depression needs to be treated and can be treated very effectively.

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