There are points in every man’s life where they feel low; where they feel worthless. For most men, it’s in their late teens and early twenties where it strikes the hardest. Why is this the case? Why, in what should be one of the the most adventurous and exciting times in a man’s life, are they struck with this affliction?
Today we are going to explore this topic and list some simple steps to break out of the downward spiral.
Note: I am not a certified physician and the advice listed below is not intended to treat any serious medical conditions that require prescription treatment. The advice below is from my own personal experience and my discussions with others.
Depression is a condition that is still widely studied today. There is a lot of back and forth regarding whether it’s a chemical/hormonal imbalance or if it stems from the individual’s circumstances and personal mindset. I tend to lean towards a hybrid of these two reasons with an emphasis on the latter. That being said, the cause is not the focus of today’s topic and I do not wish to derail the conversation on it.
Symptoms can range from feeling like you don’t fit in and a loser to seriously pondering suicide. If you fall into the latter camp, the tips below might help alleviate your feelings of despair, but don’t just rely on them. Seek professional help.
Change Your Music Selection
I remember a particularly long lasting episode of depression I had in college that I couldn’t seem to shake. Life was pretty good, but for whatever reason, I felt mopey and down all the time. During that time I was also listening to some mopey, emo guy pine on about how hard and scary life is. Crazy coincidence right? As soon as I changed my music selection, I immediately began feeling better.
Depression is a state of low energy. Being such, find music that promotes higher energy moods such as anger or excitement. I personally opt for songs that make me angry as I seem to more easily transition from a state of depression to anger than I would to something like joy. Anger is energy and I have mastered harnessing it. Your mileage may vary. Find what works for you.
Diet and Fitness
The body and mind were made to work together. If one suffers so does the other. Never in my life have I felt better, mentally and physically, than when I was exercising regularly and my diet was on point.
Work out 6 days a week, alternating between weightlifting days and cardio days, taking one day off to rest. When lifting, be sure to lift heavy weights. This will cause your system to release a rush of endorphins (short term boost to mood) and boost testosterone production (long term boost to mood).
For cardio, there’s no need to go to the extremes. A good 30 to 45 minute jog is more than sufficient. You just need to get the blood pumping and the sweat flowing.
As far as diet is concerned, I don’t really care which one you care to follow. The biggest things you need to do is:
- Eliminate the junk food
- Cut out any alcohol (a depressant)
- Drink a gallon of water per day
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Get plenty of protein and healthy fats (eggs, avocados, coconut oil, butter, etc)
The other two steps can be implemented pretty easily. This last one takes more work and is a lot harder to provide action steps for.
This requires a lot of introspection along assessing your current situation, plans, and goals. If you feel like you’re a failure in a certain aspect of your life, ponder on that subject and determine why you feel like a failure.
Are you stuck in a dead-end job that you feel like you can never escape?
Do you feel like a loser because all your friends have a girlfriend and you don’t?
Do you feel self-conscious about your body?
Look into these issues and ask yourself why they upset you so deeply. Ask yourself why multiple times until you dig to the deepest reasons stuck in your psyche.
I’m such a loser.
Why would you think that?
I’m terrible with girls.
Why does that make you a loser?
Because all my friends have girlfriends.
Why does that matter?
Because I want to fit in with them.
Why do you need a girlfriend to fit in with your friends?
…Because….well…umm….I guess I don’t.
You need to be a man of action, conviction, and agency. To get past this never-ending cycle, you must be content with yourself. I don’t mean this in the touchy-feely millennial way where you’re great just the way you are. Rather, you should strive to become a man of strength, dignity, and courage; a man content with his own achievements.
Get Up and Walk
Depression is a muck that will trap you and suck you down into darkness. The best thing you can do is get up. Get up and walk! Depression is the halting of action. The only way to conquer it is to get and do something, anything. You must will your body into action. You must reject your feelings of despair and build yourself from the ground up.
Get whatever it takes for you to get up and walk.
I will leave you with a short story from a gentleman I know. I have a good friend, about 10-15 years older than me that I had been friends with for a few years. He is the type of man who always has a smile on his face; it’s quite infectious really. He’s just one of those genuine guys.
One day, during a meet-up we had at our church, he opened up to me about his teenage years. He told me about how he suffered from crippling depression and often contemplated suicide. Things became quite desperate until one day he finally looked around his room.
It was a mess. It hadn’t been cleaned in ages.
With nothing else to do and at the end of his rope, he got up and cleaned his room. By cleaned, I don’t mean just putting his clothes away. I mean deep, cleaned every corner of his room. After completing this task he felt a little better. He began regularly cleaning his room and taking pride in doing this task well. He gradually began taking on other tasks and, with each new task he undertook, his depression decreased until he was able to fully conquer it.
Will this be the same for you? I honestly cannot say as each person is different, but you will not know until you try. Get up, men. Get up and walk.