5 Ways out of everyday Depression.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Dec 14, 2012
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Elephant Reference Manual: 5 Surefire Ways out of Everyday Depression.

“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside—remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.” ~ Bukowski

I have experience with depression. So do you. We all do. It’s human.

It’s been a part of the human condition for all time—which is good, because folks like the Buddha and Jesus and every great realized human being ever has gone through it, and found her or his way out of it.

(I’m not talking about clinical depression, here).

5 Obvious, Quick, Simple, Easy Ways out of Depression (That we Fail to Think of When We’re Depressed).

1. Anything electronic—unplug it. Video games, instagram, surfing the web—anything too focus-oriented, repetitive, and mildly pleasurable keeps us anchored to our mindless churning beneath the waves.

2. Get outside. Light, fresh air—is the hope, the outlet, the gap, the pleasure that comes with tearing open our cocoon.

3. Touch in with a living sentient being’s heart. See someone. Hug a dog. Talk with community—what’s getting us down now, told as a story, will get us out of what’s getting us down, now. And it usually makes for a good story, too, if only because it’s real.

4. Music. Dance. Blues. Hard rock. Depends on your mood. Something we have to dance a little to. Move.

5. Most importantly: we can avoid the things we think will give us pleasure but know, from experience, will not—sex, porn, picking zits, video games, food we’re not hungry for, ice cream, watching too much TV, whatever it is—go the other direction and…


Remember to breathe. It’s that simple. We remember gratitude, the gift of reclaimed perspective. We remember to eat real food, hug like we mean it, drink good tea or coffee, comb our hair, exercise—the basics. The basics that, when we’re lost in the cool fog of our depression, seem out of reach.

Open that heart, clear that mind. We are not a machine—we are a poem.


Bonus: “Try helping others. Volunteer at a hospital, a soup kitchen, spend a day talking to homeless people and listen to their stories even. Any time you start helping others, and begin to realise that without your help these people will be worse off, your life gets purpose very quickly.” ~ via Reddit

sad depression tired

Irrelephant back story (feel free to skip): Depression seems to come from somewhere. But, really, it comes from our inability not to roll with the waves, not the waves themselves.

Today’s waves: elephantjournal.com was down. The experience of having one’s site down is something unfamiliar for most of us who deal in physical things. It’s a sudden experience of a modest, limited, but cold and toxic death.

The gains of a month, evaporating in hours. My friend and webby Colin saved us, heroically sacrificing most of his Friday night out at a Holiday Party to get our site back up (he’s in the UK, eight-or-so hours ahead).

I’m the founder of elephant. Having your site down is like being out of business, like having your product recalled, like having your house burn down—only not nearly so permanent. I know, rationally, it’ll come back. The rational side of me asked for help and asked you, our readers to find us on tumblr and pinterest and twitter and facebook…but still, our reader count—the way we know we’re one of the bigger web sites in the US, bigger than your favorite personal blog by a factor of 10 or 100 or 1000 or 10,000—was imploding by the minute. Folks from all over the world were coming to our site to find…nothing. And, leave.

So the rational side of me did what I could—emails, tweets, reaching out, phoning our service provider twice, text, keeping the ball rolling and folks connecting. The irrational side of me, however, just committed seppeku again and again. At hour four, I tried to take a bath and read Raise the Bar, a re-inspiring book by one of the few non-sell outs in my world. But the water came out too cool.

So, shivering, 230, the day nearly gone, I biked to the climbing gym, feeling dead inside, weak, tired, sad, defeated, dark. Depression.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


36 Responses to “5 Ways out of everyday Depression.”

  1. Rob Thomas says:

    You had it nicely in part one. As for part two, and for all the other pain and suffering in the world today; breathe.

  2. elephantjournal says:

    Amen. We posted a few articles re the shooting this morning…Kate's is amazing. Of course, we had to wait to post them, because the site was down and out, and then so was I. Thanks, friend!

    Comments via FB:

    Pamela Lawrence-moore liked new post

    Anne Bell Jacks Not 'everyone' suffers from depression. Yes, everyone feels sadness but not true clinical depression. These are all fabulous ways of feeling better when you're having some bad days. But none of these things put a dent on true depression.

    Maryka Hodson Napier Love it! So damn true! Especially the dog part!

    elephantjournal.com Anne, semantics. Depression is something we all experience, to varying degrees. If truly clinical, yes, drugs and doctors may be necessary—but we don't believe everything conventional medicine tells us is solid about us, and profitable for them. The Buddha taught about depression 2,500 years ago. It is part of the human experience.

    And only recently has become something solid and profitable. That's not to say it's not serious, and needs attention. Click the links…one is from an experienced doctor re depression.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Randolph Roeder Semantics ? That's a poor choice of words.
    20 minutes ago · Edited · Like · 1
    Anne Bell Jacks I've been seeing many for over a year now. You know not of what you speak.
    21 minutes ago · Like · 1
    Anne Bell Jacks Using acupuncture, herbal supplements, yoga in addition to traditional medicine. I have 4 dogs, walk several hours through beautiful trails daily. No one can say I don't try to break this horrific cycle. To say, to even pose the the possibility that I have made this 'my choice' is ignorant and more so, simply cruel.
    15 minutes ago · Like
    Pamela Lawrence-moore sitting zazen really helps with my anxiety , ptsd and what they call great depression. i can go on. this is what i call the benefits of different sytles of meditation. maybe not for everyone, but works for this old soul.
    10 minutes ago · Unlike · 1
    Anne Bell Jacks I "liked" your page. Will "unlike" once I press post.
    8 minutes ago · Like
    elephantjournal.com Randolph, when I say depression, I'm talking about something we all go through. When Anne talks about depression, she seems to mean, primarily, clinical depression. We're talking about different things, using the same word. That's semantics, no?
    a few seconds ago · Like
    elephantjournal.com Anne Bell Jacks, if you unlike everything you ever have a respectful debate with, you'll only be left with the MSNBCs and Fox News of the world: media you always agree with. Sorry to hear.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Anne, for the third time, we're talking about different things. I wasn't talking about you. Each to her or his own–I respect that you know and respect your own experience and don't need to be told what to do.

    That said, I'm talking about something we all go through, and I'd appreciate it if you don't tell me about my experience, or right to work with it or offer what I've found to be helpful. Each to her or his own.

  5. CAL says:

    Waylon: would like to share this, and not seeing the usual sharing (via email) links at top of page? BTW, as someone who also has personal experience with depression, both clinical and the 'usual' garden variety, props to you for shining light on topic that is far too often "taboo". Namaste! CAL

  6. Susan says:

    I’m glad you wrote this. People get awfully prickly when we discuss something so important and personal, and I’m sorry if the prickles got to you. I’m still glad you wrote it – thanks… 🙂

  7. Robin Turner says:

    Where do we get the music to dance to if we unplug everything electronic?

  8. randolphr says:

    Hmmmm …. some of the actual back & forth that occurred was left out here (above) ….. I'll suppose this was due to the site having gone down then getting rescued and the processes thereof ….. oui/non ?

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I know this topic well, and I feel empathy for those above that find the suggestions trite. But I can say that is you just start moving, just a little bit, you can see the light ahead….

  10. Cristina says:

    Loved your article, thanks, Waylon, these reminders comes in handy.
    I would also add journaling to the list.

  11. JessBee says:

    agree with all of it but avoid sex? nah! a surefire way to lift the mood!

  12. […] when I walked into a local yoga studio four years ago while in the midst of suffering from a deep depression, I was desperate for something other than a workout. I felt like a collapsed house of cards. I knew […]

  13. […] no conscious decision, millions of people can begin a season of depression when December rolls around. It could be the shorter, darker days, the pressure of parties, finding […]

  14. […] on cold days. Take a walk or a hike every day. Getting outside and moving your body is a natural antidepressant. This increases your oxygen and […]

  15. […] have a friend who lives in a perpetual state of mild depression because he feels so affected by the misfortune in the lives of others and powerless to help them. […]

  16. […] few years ago the FDA approved surgical Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) as a treatment for severe depression. The VNS device is surgically implanted into the base of the neck where it stimulates the vagus […]

  17. rob says:

    clean your mind. depression is only in the mind. like senses, they are transient and made up, manufactured only by yourself. in actuality they aren't even reality. you realize this only by let them go. meditation works. reality is bliss.

  18. LongtuckyRider says:

    sex absolutely does help.

  19. Gina says:

    Thank you

  20. Kristina says:

    Thank you for sharing!! I have my own business and am working to stay positive but things started slowing didn’t outta nowhere since August. I’m really needing things to pick back up TODAY!! So I have been depressed some, trying to chant instead of focus on what I don’t have,, trying to meditate instead of stress out or worry. It is a challenge but today I have food to eat, 2 healthy, beautiful children, good supportive, encouraging friends, a nice place to live, and the opportunity to be busy again with work. Counting my blessings instead of complaining.

    It will all be ok!!

  21. Karen D says:

    Since when has there been a kind of depression that is not clinical?

    As someone who has experienced Clinical Depression, I find this article to be very I nsulting and disrespectful. I'm so fed up of hearing that if you do x / y / z your depression will lift. Like hell it will. It's an ongoing battle that sometimes needs medication, not a walk outside or a week without electronics.

  22. Paula says:

    I need to say I find this article a bit offensive. Perhaps these tools can help people that do not experience clinical depression (or even help to a certain degree those that have clinical depression too) but its such a gross oversimplification of an actual disease. Would you tell someone with cancer the same suggestions and imply that their cancer will go away if they follow them? I am a yogini, a meditator, and someone who has suffered from clinical depression. I tried everything natural to help alleviate the depression and although it helped to a degree, I still suffered. It gets tiring to hear that depression is all in your head. To me, that comes from someone who has never experienced clinical depression. I finally received help when I started on medications. I did not wish to go that route but I tried everything else. So although I do think it is important to bring light on the topic of depression, I do think its a disservice to give a simple list, implying that it will go away by just getting off your arse. Believe me, depressed people beat themselves up for suffering from this disease. It only makes things worse when others tell them its in their head.

  23. Diana says:

    Amen Paula.. couldnt have said it better myself……

  24. Kris says:

    Great article. I have to say though, sometimes staying "plugged in" is what has helped me the most. A search for depression on Pinterest or an article on elephant journal have helped me to stay connected with others who are suffering from this horrible disease. Sometimes you just need to get out of your Own head and realize you're not alone.

  25. Roset says:

    The guy in the picture looks a little like Alec Baldwin.

  26. pauleky says:

    This reads like it was written by someone who has never truly been depressed.

  27. Dennis says:

    1. seriously follow Jesus. The 5 above are great.Basicly they are mentioned by Jesus in other ways and practices that he himself demonstrated.2.prayer
    I do believe in chemical imbalances in the brain,thyroid,and other hormone producing organs in our body though.My mother lived with that and took medication and it helped her.God is with our doctors and scientists too.

    Get a thorough blood workup before they start meds.

  28. Mel says:

    Because there is? Hence why it's differentiated by being referred to as "non-clinical" so that people like yourself don't get offended I presume. "Non-clinical" happens to everyone, people experience bouts of shitty shitty moods for one or more reasons, for varying periods of time and varying intensities. But generally not to a degree that may require antidepressants. The word 'depressed' shouldn't be reserved just for those who unfortunately do have to take medication for it, as though it's some sort of special club (again, hence the differentiation between clinical/non clinical). Anyone can be depressed. The REASONS as to why (including chemical imbalances, etc) differ. And no, this isn't insensitive. Everyone has a subjective experience with depression so it's not only unfair to compare (mine's worse than yours) as this tends to invalidate one's experiences/feelings and suggests they have nothing to fret about 'Hey someone else clearly has it worse than me, I guess now I have no right to feel the way I do'), BUT it also makes it seem like we're all competing to see who can feel the worst. This isn't a competition. For those prone to occasional bouts of it, yes taking a walk outside regularly can help. Unplugging yourself from everyone for an afternoon can help. Spending time on a hobby you love for a few hours can help. It's all relative. Just because none of the aforementioned methods helped you personally doesn't mean they won't help someone else.

  29. 1. Anything electronic—unplug it. Video games, instagram, surfing the web—anything too focus-oriented, repetitive, and mildly pleasurable keeps us anchored to our mindless churning beneath the waves.

    R. Really? I love video games. When depression hit me, I wouldn't, couldn't play. My family would have been ecstatic to come home to find me playing a video game. Instagram? You have to be living life to have photos to post on instagram… I'm so confused.

    2. Get outside. Light, fresh air—is the hope, the outlet, the gap, the pleasure that comes with tearing open our cocoon.

    R. I went outside. A lot. I went outside to escape family and friends who were inside. I didn't go outside to connect with nature, I did it to escape any real connection with the living. I could not see the forest for the trees. The hummingbirds that I love so much were invisible to me.

    3. Touch in with a living sentient being’s heart. See someone. Hug a dog. Talk with community—what’s getting us down now, told as a story, will get us out of what’s getting us down, now. And it usually makes for a good story, too, if only because it’s real.

    R. I had (still have) Three of the most wonderful dogs on the planet who adore me, are wonderful, loving, kind, obedient, I could go on. They loved me, I told them I loved them, and I tried. I was lost. I talked about how I felt with other people who felt the way I did. When you're lost you're lost, when you're empty, you're empty. Not too many people want to hear that story and telling it does NOT make it better, fill the void, shine a light on your path or any of the things you're implying it does. That's preposterous.

    4. Music. Dance. Blues. Hard rock. Depends on your mood. Something we have to dance a little to. Move.

    R. This is one of the most interesting on the list. Music fueled my depression. It was the soundtrack to my loss. It was (as it always is) an integral part of what was going on. One of the biggest steps to climbing out of the chasm of darkness was changing the music I was listening to. And no, it wasn't 'death metal'. I can listen to the same music now with love, and I smile! It's amazing what a difference a healthy mind makes.

    5. Most importantly: we can avoid the things we think will give us pleasure but know, from experience, will not—sex, porn, picking zits, video games, food we’re not hungry for, ice cream, watching too much TV, whatever it is—go the other direction and…

    Touch does help, if that leads to sex with the person who is your life partner, well that's awesome! If someone could have gotten me to eat ice cream, it would have been a blessing to my 89 lb frame.

    Your list reads as if perhaps you had a bad day, not two years lost to the black abyss of depression. The abyss where nothing makes sense, no love is found, no light gets in, there is nothing divine, I am thankful that I have a partner who sat with me in the dark, for days while I cried. Who loved me anyway. Who never walked away. That's what we need. Then we need to seek help, professional help. If we're not comfortable with the first person we talk to, move on and try again.

    This is the most misleading list. People who are really suffering from depression, question their reason for existing. I'm here to tell you it's there; that reason is there. I found it again. I'm so happy and thankful I did. I made through to the other side and it wasn't because of anything on this list!


  30. courtney bee says:

    This article reads like a breath of fresh air for me. I’ve battled depression my entire life. Clinical or otherwise, and for a variety of other reasons, medication is absolutely a last ditch option for me. These suggestions are unlike any I’ve ever heard before and I’m going to give them an honest try. Thank you doesn’t begin to cover it. Xoxo-bee

  31. guest says:

    Create it! 🙂

  32. guest says:

    1) some people use gaming as an escape; a way to stick their head in the sand and ignore what they're feeling. (Very similar to abusing alcohol) Too much of this, and one never lifts the fog. They sit in it and it festers and grows. I have personally witnessed this.
    2) Try going outside with different motivation: tell yourself you're going to go for a walk until you see something beautiful. You have to TRY to change your perspective.
    3) Isolation is the scariest part of real depression to those that love the person suffering from it. What this part suggests may not instantly"cure" you, but it’s exhibiting an effort to overcome. Keep at it and eventually you will find joy in interactions. Giving into depression and isolating has never relieved anyone of it.
    4) I understand what you're saying. I, too, used music to accompany my misery. When you get sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, it's time to change your soundtrack! Listening to [sad, whiny college alt rock] on a loop and feeling melancholic wasn't helping me. Putting on [Silly songs from the 90s that I grew up with, laughed while I sang along and made me wanna move a little], EVEN WHEN I DIDN'T THINK I WANTED TO, eventually changed my brain waves. [Please insert music, bands that relate to your experience.]
    5) I can't be certain, but I think this pertains to people who use these things without real joy or overuse them. Having sex to make yourself feel better isn't healthy and only "works" in the moment. What do you do to feel better the other 23 and a half hours? 😉 Also, most men are unable to engage in sexual behaviors when severely depressed. And many, many people abuse food as a substance. Gaining weight, feeling bloated, and filling yourself with empty calories will only worsen your depression. Again, I have witnessed this happen with someone very close to me.

    We each experience this human existence differently. Depression affects everyone in various ways. No one form is better or worse than another. My depression was very different in some ways and similar in others to my loved one's. Our depressive experiences lasted much longer than, say, my mother's did when she divorced after 25 yrs. My loved one is still going through his, and it's killing those of us who truly love and care about him. I found this article to be very accurate and helpful. Maybe it won't apply to everyone who suffers. But it was like someone had been watching our lives and listening to our talks and wrote this post based on the findings.

  33. Berglind says:

    Nice article but I really don't like how you use the word depression. Everyday depression can be described as feeling low or being on the darker side of life or your moods. I have a personal experience of the loss of musclework, memory and more that goes with severe depression and I feel it is way to often mistaken for everyday depression. When you don't understand words and your feet don't move, taking a walk outside is not a viable advise. Thank you for listening and keep cheering people on in life 🙂

  34. AmyBlue says:

    Great tips if you are suffering from moodiness or light sadness. And also helpful in the state of recovery. But quite useless in a REAL depressive episode where you aren't even able to get up, not talking about finding the energy to unplug anything. I was even paralized once, try to breathe that away.