For several years now, society has been awash with negative news. There has been a polarisation of society, inflation and joblessness, the pandemic, climate change, and now the unexpected war in Ukraine. It feels as if at one time, life was easier and less gruelling. But more recently, it is rare that there is something that exudes rays of hope.
In some ways, it feels as if we are living through a repeat of the Great Depression that culminated in WWII. Lockdowns have fed economic downturns, robbed families of fun and joy, and shortages have followed.
Far from moving towards a more tolerant society, we see ever more attacks on minorities: people of color, LGBT, and refugees.
Strategies to combat depression
There are tons of strategies to combat the fatigue that many of us are sensing. The pandemic has challenged our mental health. We have had to deal with stresses that, at least for most of us, were the fodder of dystopian fiction made incarnate. Nonetheless, several strategies were and remain applicable:
- Accepting what we cannot change, even when such is clothed in negative emotions
- Creating new goals that reflect the changing reality
- Conserving our resources, especially our emoths
- Treating ourselves well when all about us is
- Leaning on others and asking for help.
Helping others helps us
That last point which engages the help of others should be explored further.
“The best cure for worry, depression, melancholy, brooding, is to go deliberately forth and try to live with one’s sympathy the gloom of somebody else,” wrote Arnold Bennet, an English Author (1867–1931). Perhaps walking in the shoes of another brings into sharp relief that our own troubles are less overwhelming, or we forget our own woes.
Erich Fromm thought a great deal about personality types. He concluded that one such is the Productive Character; one who channels negativity into something productive. A person focusing on nurturing and fostering; is usually referred to as a good person.
Society draws from such individuals to fill the gaps. Effectively they are found in education, crisis management, rescue, social, and health work. And though they too are suffering the strain of society being jarred literally overnight, for the most part, they soldier on.
Not all of us are cut out to be social workers professionally. However, from time to time, we find ourselves in situations where we find ourselves acting as such.
Some people are paralysed by the system. They simply cannot solve their daily challenges. It might be an elderly person that cannot complete an application form, or even use the internet, or it could be a child whose parent (or parents) is unable to communicate and protect. Those of us who can solve problems, listen, and are willing to take the time, even if we ourselves are stressed by our own problems, will find some joy in helping others.
Consider, for example coming across a distressed person, sobbing in the middle of a bridge. Even though one could feel the weight of the world on one’s shoulders at that moment, the thought of ignoring another is too much. For most of us fearing something awful is about to occur, even though if are untrained, motivates us to act. What causes that? By nature, we are social creatures. Only a handful of us can stand by and do nothing unless we have been raised in a fascist state. Most of us know a thing or two about engaging somebody contemplating suicide. We have a clue as to what one can say to buy time, though, surprisingly, few of us know who is most at risk
Helping others lets us put our own, inner gremlins in boxes; perhaps only for a short time.
And one of the biggest areas that allow us to do this is healthcare. Though many, at first glance are put off by such, fearing they lack the training or specialist knowledge. In truth, there are many entry-level jobs in public health, and they do not require a degree in biology.
The healthcare system has been through a lot during the pandemic. And combined with the urgent care that was postponed, a population continuing to age, and the excess demand from the pandemic, employers are searching for new staff.
A helping hand
Society is, by definition, people working together. It is what we as humans since we emerged as a species have been evolving to do. Sure there are those among us that are throw-backs: self-centred and arrogant. But we can see that most of us gravitate towards wanting to be a part of something bigger; a part of the solution, not the problem.
When we are overwhelmed, we naturally retreat. That retreat leads to feelings of depression. And that in turn ferments if we wall ourselves up, and are left to our own devices.
To break such we need to be engaged. Just as idle hands are the devil’s workshop, just focusing on our own problems foments our own internal gremlins. Rather than remaining in ide, let’s put ourselves in drive and ferry others from their troubles. Doing so, will make us feel useful, be pleased with what we have delivered, and receive the gratitude of others.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.