Healing Through Human Connections
Therapy and medications are not enough to keep depression away. People need people.Healing takes courage. Connecting with someone takes courage. When we feel depressed, we want to be alone away from the world. We stay in our rooms all day, we sit in front of the TV. Depressed people avoid going outside and avoid others. The last thing a depressed person thinks about is socializing. But the human soul cannot be happy all alone. Humans are made for relationships. In fact, broken relationships can throw someone into depression just as a healthy relationship can pull someone out of depression. When we are deprived of relationships, three important things happen: 1) we begin to focus on our own difficulties, which magnifies bad moods; 2) we reach for substitutes which are at best time-wasters (like surfing the Internet) or at worst destructive (like alcohol and drugs); 3) we feel lonely which deepens our despair and sadness, pulling further into a downward spiral. Healing from depression cannot happen then.
In Chinese philosophy, health and harmony come from a balance between the two opposite forces of Yin and Yang. Yin is the hidden, concealed aspect of life. Yang is the open, overt aspect of life. When you act isolative due to depression, you bring too much Yin into your life. This makes you unhealthy, throwing off your personal energy. By working up the courage to talk, eat, or enjoy time with someone else, you bring more Yang into your life to counterbalance the overwhelming Yin energy. People need healthy relationships to overcome depression.
Find One Person to Turn To
It only takes one. You may know many people, or perhaps you lost most of your friends and family. Somewhere in your life one person is waiting to hear from you. Do you know someone who is kind and not judgmental? Give this person a call. Start with simple chit chat. You don’t have to tell them about your depression. Just having someone to talk to you will help you feel better. Remember, one person is all it takes to help another person and begin the healing process. (After a while you can let them know about your struggle.)
Do you have absolutely nobody to turn to? That’s ok. There are ways to find that one helpful person. You may try joining a club, or signing up for a class at a community college. Another suggestion is to start your search at a religious center such as a church, synagogue, mosque, or other spiritual home. These religious homes have people who are non-judgmental, ready to welcome a stranger. You may say “But I’m not spiritual.” That’s fine. Spiritual centers are open to complete strangers, usually with open arms. Many religious centers have service events, like feeding homeless people, that you can volunteer for or just show up and make a friend. We’ve known many people who have found a pastor who helped them through difficult times. All you need is one person who is willing to listen. But you must build up the courage to get out there in the world.
Take a Walk with a Friend
Walking 30 minutes boosts mood by 33% and reduces stress by 45%
Going outside brightens up the soul, especially with a friend. Sunshine and fresh air do wonders for the soul. Call that one person in your life and invite them out for a healthy and friendly walk. You will be surprised at how much a simple walk with a friend can help your emotions. Walking also has the added benefit of reducing stress and anxiety. By moving our bodies in fresh air we exercise and change the neurochemistry of the mind. This is when healing begins.
On the walk listen to the other person’s stories and pay attention to the nature around. The important thing to do is get out of your own mind for a while. Tell a story. Talk about a favorite place to visit. Share about something simple. Try not to talk about your own problems. Think about your friend and find something in common to talk about. Pay attention to the trees and sky, to the sounds and colors around you. Become part of the conversation and you will feel the difference in your mood.
Find an Activity to Do with Someone
Activities bring us together in mind and spirit. Without common activities, the human soul dies. Many people fighting depression have stopped doing things with others and stay isolated. They would rather sit alone at home than go outside with an acquaintance or friend. For people who have no friends, the next best thing is to get involved in a class, club, or group where talking with others can happen naturally. It takes courage to be willing to talk to someone new, but isn’t that better than sitting alone all day feeling like your world is ending?
Thousands of years ago, humans were bonded together through cultural ceremonies, hunting and gathering, and various activities around the home. Most activities were done with other people. In our post-modern era, more and more activities are done in isolation, breaking the human bond. One of the best things you can do to keep depression away is to find an activity to share with someone. For some, fishing on a lake or river is a wonderful way to start the healing process.
Enjoy a Meal with a Friend
Healing can involve dining. Sharing a meal with someone can bring balance to your mind. It takes you out of yourself and focuses your mind onto someone else. The ancient Greeks and Hebrews believed that sharing a meal was a gesture of intimacy, of opening your home and life to a welcomed guest. Eating together was a sign of acceptance and friendship. While the deeper meaning of eating with someone has been lost in our culture, the basic idea remains. When you eat with someone, that person is sharing his or her time and attention with you. This has healing and mood-improving effects, just so long as you keep the conversations relatively peaceful.