Depression And Our Need For Entertainment
When we are depressed, we are naturally drawn to media that reflects our mindstate. We listen to sad songs because we feel as if someone else empathizes with our pain and understands how we feel. We watch sad movies to connect our own feelings of deep sadness with the wider world as we watch characters go through their own experiences. Watching violent movies or playing aggressive videogames might be attractive so we can unleash our feelings of frustration. The problem is that afterwards we often feel worse.
Watching a positive movie or listening to a happy song can be the last thing we want to do when we are depressed. They can even make us feel worse and more alone than ever. When we are depressed, even things that were supposed to be happy can cause us to be sad. For example, a happy family in a movie can make us depressed if we wish that we had a happy family.
Look Closely At Your Thoughts
However, if we look closely at our moods and thoughts, it will become clear that the depressing, sad or negative material we take in through the media can actually make our depression worse. This is because memories of it stay in our mind for a long time after we have watched it and can contribute to our thoughts and feelings spiralling downwards into depression. For example, it is common for many of us to sing songs out loud or in our head during the day, even when we're not listening to them. This is usually in reponse to something that has happened in our day-to-day life. It could be a feeling or specific event that triggers our memory to recall the song, or it can even be just be hearing an unusual word or turn of phrase that also appears in the lyrics of a song. The songs we listen to the most are usually the ones that come to mind, though we might find ourselves remembering songs from years and years ago. If the songs we listen to are full of negative messages and convey a depressing mood, they can wreak havoc on our mental well-being. The impact of the song on our lives lasts much longer than the three minutes it plays for.
The Right Mental Nourishment?
If we fill our minds with depressive material, can it come as any surprise that we are depressed? Common advice to those battling depression is to spend less time around negative people. Though we don't personally know the people on the TV or our favorite singers, they are still people, and spending time in their company will definitely have a powerful effect on us.
In terms of music, we should avoid artists with messages that convey low self-esteem, self-hate, self-harm and hopelessness. Those who promote harm against others and destructive lifestyles are also wise to skip over. Women who struggle with body or appearance insecurities should avoid watching music videos that highlight sexuality and superficial beauty.
Unfortunately, rap music can be full of destructive and harmful messages that promote lifestyles based on materialism, casual sex and violence. Consider substituting these artists with ones who convey a positive message, such as Lupe Fiasco, Kendrick Lamar, Akala, Lauryn Hill, Common, A Tribe Called Quest and K'Naan. Positive rock artists include P.O.D., Owl City, The Postal Service, All American Rejects and Skillet. Other artists known for their inspirational lyrics include India Arie, Bob Marley, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder.
Our social media networks can also have a huge impact. If our Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of negativity, it will prevent us from reaching our goal to cultivate a positive life and state of mind. Many people use social networking to spread uplifting messages and inspirational stories, pictures and quotes, so try to unsubscribe from the ones that make you miserable and subscribe to the ones that lift you up.
Look for movies with inspirational or redemptive themes, such as: Dead Poet's Society, A Beautiful Mind, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Billy Elliot, Schindler's List, Erin Brockovich, to mention just a few. Some of these movies deal with very heavy themes are seem like they are quite depressing in themselves, but the key is that they show however difficult things are, we can always find hope to inspire a final victory. They are full of deep themes that are relevant to us all, especially those suffering with depression. The powerful messages of these movies can move us on a deep level, speak to our hearts and give us hope for the future. However, we must make sure that we balance these with some lighter material. This could be feel-good music or light-heated comedy films. These can help lift our mood and ensure that we maintain a balance between deep thought and enjoyment.
In some cases, even if we change all our listening and watching habits, we can still find ourselves depressed. There are many reasons why depression is difficult to shake, but one is that sometimes we actually want to be depressed. This is because depression is a signal that we are not in line with our purpose and have self-development work to do. The problem is that when we are plagued with negative thoughts, it is hard for us to find out what our purpose is and to change our lives around for the better. It is good to keep in mind that our depression is there because it is giving us a message, but for us to fully understand the message we have to break away from negative thought patterns and work on our personal growth.
To break free from our depression, we need to create goals. Our first goal can be to make sure all our media influences are positive and convey messages of worth and value. This is a good place to start because it is something tangible that we can monitor and change for ourselves. Once our mind is protected from the onslaught of so many negative messages, it is freed to heal itself and work towards finding our purpose. Although changing our entertainment habits may not cure our depression, it can be the first step on our journey to self-development and personal growth.
- Iman Mohiki
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