Nature vs. nature. This is the old adage about whether we are more a product of our environment or our genes. Does a serial killer become one because of his epigenetics or because of horrible, traumatic experiences that perverted his mind? On a lighter note, why is that rich people suffer from mental health problems more than underdeveloped ones?
The typical retort this question is “Rich people in rich nations are better diagnosed because they have the money to see a therapist who will diagnose them.” Perhaps this is the truth. And Lord knows, you are hard-pressed to find a therapist who won’t find something wrong with you so they can code, charge, and bill you.
But I have a simple theory. We, people, of affluent nations have more idle time. Even the poor of America have time to watch TV, fixate on our phones, and generally goof-off. The poorest of America have it nice compared to the large majority of the sub-Saharan Africans and Asians. Those people live in a mud hut next to their livestock sharing a bed with 6 family member surrounded by pestilence, drought, disease, and violence. Let’s always remember to count our blessings.
There is an old saying “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” I think what this means is that when you have too much free time and too much time to speculate, introspect, retrospect, and alike you are more prone to be tempted to engage in illicit activities and delve into more self-destructive acts or tendencies.
My point is simple. If your life is one of eking out a subsistence life living in your mud hut working the fields 16 hours a day, you don’t have much time to ponder “My mom was emotionally aloof when I was a child and that caused me to have attachment issues” or “I’m depressed because I’m not getting enough ‘Likes’ on Facebook.” It is nonsense how First
World most of our “First World” problems are. These people are just trying to feed their families and themselves and avoid rape, assault, and disease that can wipe them all out.
Does than necessarily diminish our own fears of anxiety and depression? No, our issues are our issues and they are important to us. They affect us day-in and day-out and likely diminish our quality of life. And some of the problems which elicit depression, like the loss of a family member, job, or lover, are legitimate. Those, hopefully are few-and-far–between. My point is that we all need a little perspective to remind us that our life is NOT as likely as bad as we think it is.
Here is are some good tips to help get you out “of your mind.”
Do you have a purpose-driven life? A purpose-driven day? Not necessarily that Rick Warren stuff so popular 10 years ago, but having goals, whether personal or professional, enhance and optimize our life. At the least they keep us busy with daily work and away from idle thoughts and at the best get us closer to our goals.
Fill your weekend days with routines. Perhaps it is as simple as making your bed, drinking some tea, exercising in the morning, spending a few hours writing/journaling, praying, taking a nap, spending time with your friends, etc. We want to avoid idle time as much as possible since that is when we give our minds time to be neurotic.
Click HERE to read about the importance of journaling.
That is not to say we want to spend our days in constant stress with no free time. There must be a balance. If you know you have a predilection toward being depressed and anxious, than increase your routine-times and minimize the idle times.
Personally, I am pretty routine-oriented. I love routine. During the school months it is pretty easy since all I have to deal with is after 4:00pm. But even there, I go to the gym, come home and eat dinner, blog a little, maybe watch TV, take a night walk, and then read until I fall asleep. On the weekends, I use that free “work time” to blog, work on my book, or record my podcasts.
Having the website and podcast give me a purpose as well as keeps my free time busy. Every time I create a podcast episode I feel like I’ve birthed a child and have contributed on a very small scale to helping my fellow man. Use your free time to do your hobbies (Kate loves scrapbooking for example), recharge the mind through meditation and exercise, and/or stay close to your friends/family. The worst thing is just being alone with your thoughts. That is when we overthink.
Volunteering is a double-win. It occupies our time, which lessens the idle time, but more importantly, lets us see the plight of others. Seeing how bad other people have it gives us perspective as to how well we have it. Now it is unfortunate that we have to use this tactic, but it tends to be effective. Also by volunteering you are helping those people whose lives are tough and you are helping your fellow man, which makes you feel good about yourself.
Avoid the Drugs
This isn’t going to be a surprise to anyone who keeps up with Occult Health News or my blog. Drugs should be the LAST recourse to a problem, never the first. The psychiatric drugs, even the most common ones like SSRI and Benzos, have major side effects (e.g. weight gain, suicidal thoughts, loss of sexual libido, et al), but also are very hard to wean off. Many who begin taking them for a minor episode of anxiety or depression never get off because the withdrawal effects are worse than the side effects!
So let’s avoid that all together. Try all the naturopathic biohacks to eliminate or minimize anxiety and depression.
Click HERE to read our article on natural ways to lessen minor depression.
Listen to these Occult Health Radio episodes which deal with these medications.
- Anxiety Drugs, Alcohol, Early Death.
- Opioids and Anxiety Drugs Overdose Epidemic
- Big Pharma’s Control Over Medical Schools
Is mental health a worldwide phenomenon? I don’t think so. I think you have always had and always will have people with sever psychiatric problems like schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder. Regardless of the location on the globe. My point is that we in the West have amazing advantages for living here. But this is one of the disadvantages. We have too much time to worry about stuff that frankly we shouldn’t worry about.
There is that saying that poor people are happy, for they live simple lives and are grateful for what they have. Also there is the belief that no matter how much money you have you cannot buy happiness. An element of truth seems to exist with both. We certainly don’t want to choose abject poverty as a means to avoid mental health disorders. And honestly they will likely follow you if you decided to live like a Sherpa in Nepal.
What I’m saying is that excessive idle time doesn’t lead to anything beneficial. For sure, it is an unproductive use of your time. Use this free time not to binge watch Netflix, but rather to optimize your life through hobbies, volunteering, education, exercise and outdoor activities and alike. Why help the Devil if we don’t have to?