I have lived with depression since I was 10 years old. It is one of those things that is just a part of my life. And much like someone with a physical disability learns to modify how they move to get around, I have had to learn how to manage my emotions to get around. Yoga helps, which is why I love it so much, and to teach it to others brings me so much joy. But yoga in itself is not enough. To manage depression you must practice self-awareness and self-care in all facets of your life.
The intention I set at the start of 2015 was to learn how to love myself. I imagined that after a year of trying to do this, 2016 would roll around and I would be “cured” of all the ailments that self-deprecating thoughts inflict. As usual, my prediction was lacking an accurate perspective, and now, more than half-way through the Year of the Sheep, I find myself grappling with this problem still. But it is not without Hope, because I can feel myself making progress.
This post is an offering to anyone coping with depression, or simply issues of self-esteem. Make a commitment to love yourself. Every day, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful, you are strong, you are a good friend, mother, father, listener, a talented artist, writer, athlete, a caring person, a person who is doing their best just like everyone else. You aren’t alone, and people love you.
I want to share a passage from a book called The Depression Book, by Cheri Huber, which I think every person with depression should read.
“It might take a lifetime to completely turn this around, but is there anything more important than bringing compassion to the one person you know really needs it? And if that old fear of becoming self indulgent rises up, just remind yourself that you are in training for being able to be unconditionally compassionate toward all of life. If you cannot be kind to the one person whose suffering you can actually feel, you will never be able to be kind to anyone. This is the most unselfish work a human being can do. ”
Also, from the book, a list of suggestions to help you practice self-care. Here are my favorites:
Consciously put yourself first at least once a day.
Break any big task into several small ones–take baby steps.
Ask yourself how you feel and listen to the answer.
Stop assuming you know yourself.
Congratulate yourself each time you accomplish anything!
Make time for people who make you feel good.
Say kind things to yourself.
Give yourself time off from hard things–no decisions, no big changes.
Let yourself say, “Me first.”
Practice not believing the negative, critical voices in your head [tell them to stfu!]
Ask those who you love what they believe about who you are, and then say those things to yourself.
Go for a walk and take in as much nature as you can.
I would add: do a yoga pose that makes you feel free:) Chest opener at the wall is a favorite of mine, as well as supta baddha konasana and handstand. Any yoga poses that help you with the blues? Share them with me! And then take a deep breath:)