Good News from the TOS – India
Seven Ways for Combating Depression - A program in the TOS Bubaneshwar, India is doing to combat depression.
Seven easy-to-follow steps by Prof. Fakir M. Sahoo, Ph.D., Xavier University, Bhubaneswar (member of TS and TOS)
Professor Sahoo receiving flowers after explaining and discussing the Seven Ways, on the left International Vice-President Dr. Deepa Padhi
Underneath a handout prepared by the professor on which discussions followed.
Depression is comparable to the problem of cough and cold in our day-to-day lives. Over the decades it has become more rampant and bothering. How can we handle it so that we would live in peace and prosperity. It is challenging; yet we can handle it. It is said: Birds of depression may fly over our heads, but we must not allow these birds to build their nests in our heads. Here is some advice from psychological research.
- Use optimistic explanatory styles. Accidents do happen in the best regulated families. When bad (negative) events do happen, people generally ask three questions: Who is responsible? How long would its effects stay? How pervasive would be its effect? People blaming themselves as the sole cause for the bad events feel highly depressed. People considering the effect as permanent and pervasive also feel dejected. So analyze external causes for the bad events and treat the negative events as temporary and specific (If it has happen in the social area, keep it confined to the social domain; if has happened in professional sector, keep it limited to professional area). If positive (good) events happen, explain in terms of personal, permanent and pervasive factors. This will reduce your depression and augment your happiness.
- Do not make unfavorable comparisons. Many people compare themselves with the rich, powerful and the highly placed and feel depressed. Think of the underprivileged and the downtrodden. Of several forms of Buddhist meditation, compassion meditation is a major form. People are trained to mediate and think of the people in plight. A magnificent Chinese proverb says: A man was complaining of his shoes tell he came across a person without a leg.
- Pursue intentional activities. A major form of behavioural mechanism for combating depression involves intentional activities such as hobbies. A self-set task takes away depression. Develop and pursue hobbies. Introduce elements of variety into your intentional activities. If you are taking a morning walk every day, do not start from the same point or at the specific time every day. Be flexible. Start 15 minutes earlier or later. Similarly change your route. Do not have a mechanical way of completing your task. This is not a task; it is a pleasurable activity for you.
- Adopt instrumental coping, not ruminating coping. When confronted with coping problems, a number of individuals adopt ruminating strategy. They spend a lot of time analyzing the cause of the problem. Analysis is sometimes paralysis. There is consistent research finding that the women use ruminating coping while men employ instrumental coping. For dealing with depression, use instrumental coping. Do whatever can be done best. Doing doable things would help you to hide over the situation.
- Define difficult situations as challenging but controllable, never see them as threatening. If you see a snake and run, you get into fear. If you see a snake and hit it with a stick you get into anger. What would determine your emotion is the way you define the situation. If you define it threatening, you would be crippled. If you define it challenging, your efforts would be augmented.
- Associate yourself with good memories (SAVOURING). Generally, people get negative thoughts while alone, especially when they are not doing any work. Associating oneself with positive memories can be done in several ways. That’s why Indic scholars have valued self-study (swadhyaya) and the company of the holy (satsang) as elements of positive living.
- Capitalize on positive emotions. Dealing with negative emotion is a formidable challenge. Research has shown that five positive comments can neutralize the adverse impact of one negative comment. Hence it is better to spread more and more positive emotions. In this context, the role of smile is significant. Generally, people think that we smile when we are happy. Though this is true, it is equally true that we are happy when we smile. It is not that mood always brings positive physical gesture; positive physical gesture can also induce positive mood. Hence keep smiling always.