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We get stuck in the "if only" syndrome. If only I had more money, then I would be happy. If only I could find somebody who really loved me; if only I could lose twenty pounds; if only I had a color TV, a hot tub, and curly hair; and on and on forever. Where does all this junk come from, and more important, what can we do about it? It comes from the conditions of our own minds. It is a deep, subtle, and pervasive set of mental habits, a Gordian knot that we have tied bit by bit and that we can only unravel in just that same way, one piece at a time. We can tune up our awareness, dredge up each separate piece, and bring it out into the light. We can make the unconscious conscious, slowly, one piece at a time. The essence of our experience is change. Change is incessant. Moment by moment life flows by, and it is never the same. Perpetual fluctuation is the essence of the perceptual universe. A thought springs up in your head and half a second later, it is gone. In comes another one, and then that is gone too. A sound strikes your ears, and then silence. Open your eyes and the world pours in, blink and it is gone. People come into your life and go. Friends leave, relatives die. Your fortunes go up, and they go down. Sometimes you win, and just as often, you lose.

It is incessant: change, change, change; no two moments ever the same. My response to reluctant strugglers is to ask, "What have you got to lose?" And I'm asking you the same thing now. In the following pages, I'll suggest things you might never have tried before in your attempts to be free of depression. Some will challenge you in unexpected ways. Some will test your resolve by asking you to address old wounds, thought patterns, and addictions. I'll be honest with you: none of these remedies fall into the category of "magic bullet" or "quick fix." They'll require you to buy in and commit--just as I did years ago when I realized I needed to set boundaries for my recovery. No one could do that part but me. It takes courage, perseverance, and an open mind. My approach is not to throw multiple things against the wall and see what sticks. The whole-person plan is a proven method that works. For thirty years, I've watched people desperate for help and without hope find themselves again, regaining the vitality and buoyancy that had been submerged due to months or years of depression. Healing depression is not only possible; it is achievable. But it will require taking a hard look at your life and adjusting your lifestyle--in some cases, permanently. The whole-person plan is not a magic bullet, nor is it a once-for-all fix. The road to wellness is less like a detour back to where you were going and more like following a new road to a new destination. I expect healing to be hard work, but it's worth it. Begin this journey by asking yourself, Why not? If healing from depression is a thousand-piece puzzle, why not find all the pieces and put them in place so the picture of your life is whole again? If you've tried everything else you can think of to be well, why not try the things you haven't yet thought of? If you're truly sick and tired of being sick and tired, why not go all in with a full-spectrum housecleaning of your life?

If you feel ready to abandon hope, why not ask for help--from family, friends, and professionals who can also learn from a whole-person point of view? Most of all, why not seek God's help? Spiritual factors are often overlooked in traditional treatment for depression, but no one knows better how to restore you to health than God. You were not born to suffer or to barely survive. You were born to thrive. The time will never be more right to begin your journey back to abundant wellness. As you look forward, the path may seem impassable, an impossible climb over the pain, despair, and depletion you've been burdened with for so long. I encourage you to imagine instead standing on the crest of that mountain, vibrant and victorious, looking to the bright horizon ahead. Can you picture that? I know you can! Let's get going together. Gyms are great during cold and gloomy winter months, but they can get a bit repetitive after a while. You can easily freshen up the task of keeping fit by embracing the great outdoors. 'Green exercise' is any physical activity undertaken outside in natural surroundings - it can be as simple as spending more time jogging around your garden, strolling through a local park or venturing into nearby woods. Simply being in the great outdoors and breathing in the bracing fresh air can bring a real sense of peace and tranquillity. Whether it's along the coast, through fields, or even just in your own backyard, exercising outdoors can also improve your mood, ease muscle tension and lower blood pressure - and getting closer to nature may give you the boost you need to feel calm under pressure, balanced, content and, overall, more confident. The simple act of smiling releases endorphins, the body's natural feelgood drug - and studies have shown that a person's mood begins to reflect the emotion that their face is communicating. So even if you don't feel like it, turning up the corners of your mouth into a smile will not only boost your mood, it will make you appear friendly and confident to those around you. Win-win! When you feel down, it can be easy to reach for a favourite food to give you a lift.

Comfort eating, however, is likely to only make the situation worse. The urge to comfort eat comes from the 'fight or flight' stress reaction, which is ingrained in us despite not being that relevant to modern lifestyles. When we feel bad about ourselves, we tend to be stressed. This leads our bodies to believe we are under attack, and that we will either have to face up to the attacker (fight) or run away (flight). Both of these options require extra energy that can be used quickly - and this means sugar! However, the sugar boost won't last very long and eating that extra slice of cake probably won't help you feel better. If you get a snack attack, try eating some fruit instead and you'll feel the physical and emotional benefits. When we're feeling low, for example after a hard day at work, or when we're lacking confidence in a social situation, many of us will reach for a drink to help us relax. Alcohol does have an instantly calming effect, but this is cancelled out by the depressant qualities of booze, and the feeling of anxiety that can be left behind once the effects wear off. Also, contrary to the popular idea of a 'nightcap', alcohol can disturb your sleep. To feel your best, try to cut down on your drinking as much as possible and if you do go for a tipple, opt for a small glass of Chianti, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines are abundant in procyanidins, plant chemicals which are beneficial to health - especially to our cardiovascular health. They are also rich in melatonin, the sleep hormone, which is good news because a well-rested person is more likely to be a confident person. We have thousands of thoughts every day. Most will be unexceptional, but some are significant and can be harmful - such as thinking to yourself, 'I'm not good enough.' Repeating negative thoughts can have a detrimental effect on your confidence levels, but once you recognise this negativity as simply a thought with no substance, you can begin to challenge it and rebuild your self-concept. Recognise that your thoughts do not need to control the way you feel and behave. Telling others about your new identity is a great way to solidify your pact. Have you noticed how many religions encourage adherents to evangelize their faith? Missionary work is a way to grow the number of adherents, but, psychologically speaking, there's more to proselytizing than getting nonbelievers to join the fold. According to several recent studies, preaching to others can have a great impact on the motivation and adherence of the teacher.

Researchers Lauren Eskreis-Winkler and Ayelet Fishbach have run experiments on diverse groups, from unemployed workers looking for a job to children struggling in school. Their results consistently show that teaching others provides more motivation for the teacher to change their own behavior than if the teacher learned from an expert. But do we have a right to teach others about something we haven't quite figured out ourselves? Should we preach when we're far from perfect? Studies show teaching others can be even more effective at changing our future behavior when we admit our own struggles. As Eskreis-Winkler and Fishbach note in the MIT Sloan Management Review, when people confess past mistakes they are able to acknowledge where they've gone wrong without developing a negative self-image. Rather, teaching empowers us to construct a different identity, as shown by the act of helping other people prevent the same mistakes. Another way to reinforce our identity is through rituals. Let's look again at religion. Many religious practices aren't easy, at least not for outsiders. Praying five times per day toward Mecca or reciting prescribed blessings before each meal takes effort. And yet, for strict adherents, these routines are something they just do, without fail and without question. What if we could tap into some of that dedication to accomplish difficult tasks? Imagine having the fortitude to focus on whatever you wanted with the discipline of a true believer. New research suggests that secular rituals, in the workplace and in everyday life, can have a powerful effect. A study conducted by Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino and her colleagues explored how rituals affect self-control by studying people trying to lose weight. The first group in their study was asked to be mindful of what they ate for five days. The second group was taught a three-step premeal ritual: first, they had to cut their food; second, arrange the pieces symmetrically on the plate; and third, tap their food three times with their utensils before eating. Silly, yes, but also surprisingly effective. The study participants who followed the pre-eating ritual ate, on average, fewer calories, less fat, and less sugar than those in the "mindful group." Professor Gino believes rituals "may seem like a waste of time.