One of the best things for staving off depression and anxiety is to immerse yourself in something that demands your attention. This can be anything, as long as it is enough to wholly occupy your mind. What will be most helpful is something that deeply resonates with you.
I believe that every person is like an instrument: our bodies are tuned to a frequency that we can hear only occasionally, and we need to follow it to discover what truly fits who we are. For most people, this becomes their primary hobby, but for a lucky few it can be a job.
It can take years to discover your resonance, and that period is best filled with exploration. To find a resonance, you must listen to yourself and follow your feelings, not your thoughts. I have a very good friend, we’ll call her R, who has always wanted to be a writer. She went to college to study for it, worked in a library for years, and can talk your ear off about writing techniques. Yet, she has not found her resonance within writing. It is her passion, yes, but not what she truly loves. While working in the library, R found that she loved walking the stacks of books and curating its extensive collection. Now, she’s looking into getting her degree in library science. If she hadn’t followed one dream, she never would have found her truth.
Sometimes your resonance is buried deep, and you must really branch out to find it. My brother, W, is one of the most hard-working people I know. His focus has always been on improving himself and his performance, but he tends to leave little time for himself. That all changed during 2020 and the pandemic. Without his usual socialization and methods of keeping himself sane, he was struggling to keep his head above water. One day, on a whim, he watched a video on bonsai maintenance. Overnight, it was as if a beast had awoken. His backyard, once a depressing brown of dead pine needles and leaves, gradually transformed into a plant sanctuary as he grew tree after shrub after bush. Now, it’s as if he’s always been a gardener, and he’s eager to tell me about the new soil mixtures he’s experimenting with and the newest plants he’s obtained cuttings of, most from a nearby forest. By completely divorcing himself from his computer and work, he found his resonance.
The biggest factor in these stories is time. W and R both play it safe most times, but they are very intentional in getting out and trying new things. A key part of self-discovery and mental maintenance, in my mind, is a desire and ability to self-reflect and explore. Fear is the mind-killer, and if you let it stop you from following your dreams, you will one day find that you have none at all.
Sam Bigham, who is working as an intern at RiseUP Cooperative, grew up in the hills of North Georgia. As a senior communication major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, his primary focus is public relations and copy writing.