Depression is a major health hazard affecting many people's lives all around the world. Stress is a large part of depression. In the United States, about fifty-four million people experience some type of mental disorder each year.  That is about one in five Americans.  There are certain things we should pay attention to in order to have a stress-free lifestyle, which can greatly contribute to reducing or eliminating depression.

1. Avoid flying off the handle.
When we are upset or angry with someone else, we need to seek a temporary distance. This can give us time to quiet our minds. Time is part of healing. Arguing instead of seeking distance might make things worse. Even if we are right, arguing is still not the best way to solve the problem. People shout and yell to try to get their point across, but this just provokes more shouting and yelling, and does not lead to understanding. Just because your voice is louder doesn't mean you're right. Learn to use a soft voice. Speak slowly and clearly. Sometimes a soft voice is more powerful than a loud voice. As long as you are honest, things can be straightened out without arguing.

2. Take Responsibility for the situation.
We often blame other people. Blaming other people might make us feel good but it doesn't solve anything. In some cases, it may make the situation worse. Before you speak out, or blame others, ask yourself, "What can I do to change this situation?" Give the situation some thought: "Maybe it is my problem." "Maybe I did not explain clearly." Very often, you are the one who can change the situation. If you change yourself, you might be surprised to find that others change too. If it is nobody's fault, focus on finding a solution rather than assigning blame.

3. The art of communication.
There are many broken families. Oftentimes family breakdown is due to a lack of good communication skills. Language is an art. We need to speak in a peaceful way and learn to listen to really understand where others are coming from. Not everyone is trained to listen and understand the person, but we can all learn and do better. Misunderstanding causes many problems. Speak in a way that is positive, peaceful, and harmonious. Learn to say, "I think," "I feel," "I would like," "I wish," "I would prefer," "It may be," and "I hope." It is better to say something about yourself than to criticize or blame others. Avoid making vague requests. Say what you mean and mean what you say, but say it in a positive manner. You should not expect others to read your mind. You may think that whatever is on your mind should be plain to common sense, but it is probably not so from the perspective of others. Most people, including your family members, are too busy to take the time to try to figure out what you're thinking.

4. Try to appreciate the fact that people are different.
Different perspectives and ways of reacting do not necessarily mean that one person is right and another is wrong. Sometimes, what seemed right at first turns out to be wrong, and other times what seemed wrong turns out to be right. This is the philosophy of the yin and yang, of the Dao. Remember that nobody is perfect and nobody is right all the time. If you disagree with something but have no choice but to go along with it—as sometimes happens at work—it might turn out to be a good learning experience. Avoid intellectual arguments that go nowhere. Don't spin your wheels trying to convince others of the "rightness" of your position. Agree to disagree.

5. Avoid being oversensitive.
If someone is unfriendly one day, this does not mean he doesn't like you anymore. It could be that he or she is occupied with some problem and is too distracted to focus on his interaction with you. Being oversensitive can only hurt you. Trying to guess what's in another's mind is very tiring and stressful. In many cases, your assumption is wrong and you may act inappropriately because of this. If you are natural, relaxed, and not too sensitive, life can be much easier. On the other hand, when people see that you are oversensitive, they are less likely to tell you the truth, because they don't want to hurt you. Then you are unable to know the truth. If you want truth, you need to be able to accept it, which might involve learning some things you may find uncomfortable. But if you are able to be objective, you can live your life more authentically.

6. Realize that each person is responsible for her or his own behavior.
You cannot change people unless they are willing to change. You might assume if you help someone you care about, things will get better for them. But you might be surprised by the results. Things do not always happen the way you want them to happen. You might get frustrated from trying so hard and not seeing the change you hoped for. You might be hurt, frustrated, even angry. You might become depressed. It is sometimes wise to just let the person figure things out on his own. Healing comes from within. There is an old saying: when a person wants to be healed, the healer arrives. And everyone knows that you can lead the horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink. So you don't always have to put so much weight on your shoulders, which only brings on more stress and opens the door to illness.

7. Good things take time.
Don't get discouraged if you fail many times as you try to achieve your goals. You will have plenty of opportunities to get back on track and try again. Many well-known businesses people experienced a long string of failures before they finally succeeded. Worthwhile things take time. Time allows you to learn, to heal, to forgive others, to find happiness, and time to find a path to success and achievement. Be patient. Time gives you plenty of whatever you need for nourishing your spirit. But don't waste time; use it wisely. It is too valuable and you can never get it back.

8. Don't always expect a positive response. Be prepared for a negative one.
Being prepared for the worst is always wise. This is different from being negative. Prepare for the worst so you will not be surprised and can deal with the situation. If someone borrows money from you, you need to be prepared to accept that this person may not pay it back. If this person does pay it back, good—be happy. But if not, when you are not prepared, you will be very upset and eventually may lose the friendship. If you are not prepared for the worst, or cannot take the worst, you should not go down that road.

9. Focus on the present.
Staying focused on the present is tough for many people. Our minds are always active, involved in driving, working, walking, running errands, and even in sleeping. We have so many distractions in our lives, and it seems like the more we have, the more stress we find ourselves under. We get distracted by too many bills, by being overloaded with work, by vacation planning, by children, by house maintenance, by retirement planning, by having to figuring out how to save or invest money, and by so many other things. When we are driving, we cannot just focus on the road, but have to call someone on the cell phone. I have seen too many people on the phone while driving. When we are doing one thing, our mind is in a different place. Distractions cause traffic accidents, mistakes happen at work, and delays in completing important projects.

To be productive and get our work done with less stress, we need to focus on the present, on whatever we are doing at the moment. I sometimes have to remind myself to focus on the here and now. All Daoist and Buddhist practice require that the mind remain focused on the present. Buddhists especially use this kind practice to reach enlightenment.

10. Get a good night's sleep.
No matter how stressful your day has been, try not to let things interfere with your sleep. This may be easier said than done, but a good night's sleep can restore your energy and help you to let go of the things that happened during the day. Appropriate rest is part of healing. Some people have physical problems that affect their sleep. Some people have too much on their minds and that affects their sleep. We all have too much going on in our lives—so much to think about, and so much to worry about. We should try to write everything down on a sheet of paper to help us unburden our minds. This way, we can take care of the listed tasks the next day, or make a schedule to do things one by one. If you have no apparent reason for insomnia, you need to find a good doctor, either Western or Eastern, to help you. A good night's sleep can help you to start a new day and even a new life.

Natural Healing Relief

Treating depression with Chinese natural healing methods can be very effective when done correctly. The Chinese way of healing is whole-body healing and mind-body healing that involves many different methods and techniques. The methods can be used in combination, but they all work in harmony to create smooth energy flow in the body. These methods include Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, tui na (Chinese massage), Daoist study and practice, healthy diet, a balanced lifestyle, taiji, and qigong. These all aim to balance the body's energy and organ networks to make the body strong and vital.

All of these methods are important in the healing process. Many people like a quick fix. Even though medications do help to reduce the symptoms of depression in a short time, the reality is that there is no quick fix. Sometimes the side effects from medication could eventually cause other illnesses. Chinese healing might take longer to work, but it is effective, powerful, and long-lasting when done correctly. Chinese healing has been around for over four thousand years and is popular not only in Asian countries but around the world.

The above is an excerpt from Tai Chi for Depression: A Ten Week Program to Empower Yourself and Beat Depression by Dr. Aihan Kuhn, OBT