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Men's Mental Health

When Battling Depression, Focus on Little Wins

Photo: Courtesy of Blake Connally

As men, we are faced with hard emotional and mental times in life. Frequently, we become paralyzed in our depressive state. By not being proactive, we put ourselves in a worse place. 

As Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” 

Because in Western cultures, speaking about how men feel is not socially acceptable, men dig into themselves and shut down. This is a cycle that continues time after time, and if men don’t learn how to overcome or work through this, depression, loneliness and suicide usually are the next things to come knocking at their door. 

There are practical tools to help men get through that hell.

Small wins

Something that is not taught often is the impact external actions have on the internal state of men. The practical power that small wins have on the mind is very underrated. 

You see, every small win gives you a little shot of dopamine — a feel-good brain chemical that is linked with feelings of motivation. 

Take that fact and use it as a weapon to start chipping away at feeling unmotivated and depressed. 

What motivation looks like 

Here are a few practical things you can do to start building up small wins in your life and feel some of that beautiful dopamine. 

Some of these points may seem cheesy, and you probably have heard them before, but the key thing is finding something in this list that you know you can do that you currently aren’t doing. It can be as simple as these chores:

  1. Make your bed
  2. Wake up a little earlier
  3. Start to work out
  4. Work on your posture 
  5. Try a new hobby
  6. Talk to a random person at the grocery store
  7. Fly a kite
  8. Change a tire
  9. Create a to-do list of things you have been meaning to get to, then do something on the list every few days
  10. Get a haircut
  11. Take a shower
  12. Clip your fingernails
  13. Do the dishes
  14. Clean your room or house 

Doing these simple things can really help men who are struggling with depression, loneliness and a lack of motivation. 

The biggest key is to be persistent with finding and achieving these small wins. It can be as simple as finding a new hat to wear or applying for a job.

Find the small things you can do that will give you the hit of achievement dopamine you need.

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