Author: Janet Wolfe

Don’t Have A Cheerful Disposition? Beat Depression by Borrowing One

Don’t Have A Cheerful Disposition? Beat Depression by Borrowing One

bigstock_Happy_And_Sad_Woman_Concept_2733807Sometimes when you’re depressed, there is nothing more irritating than an eternally cheerful person. After all, don’t they realize what you are dealing with here? In truth, they may not understand you, or even the concept of depression, but that can be an excellent reason to have them in your life.
There are friends you can pour your heart out to, who know what it is like to be down, and are good listeners. And these friends hopefully have enough optimism to help you look beyond what you are feeling.

The last thing you need when you want to dig a hole and crawl into it, is someone else who wants to dig a hole right beside you.
But eternal optimists are a different breed. They don’t just hope things will get better, they know they will. Furthermore, because they take the good and bad of life in stride, they never succumb to self pity, self criticism, or blame.

So if you can’t talk to your sunny minded friends and family about your depression, what can you do? You can learn from them. You can fake feeling okay, until you actually do.

Stop being annoyed by their cheerfulness.bigstock_Happy_And_Sad_Woman_Concept_2733807 If they wake up to see a beautiful morning, don’t resent it, or try to avoid them. Have some coffee and try to see what they see. If they are chatty, and you’re not, don’t fight it. Know you can become more talkative as the day goes on, and let it flow naturally.

Relish the generosity of a cheerful soul. Truly happy people can be exceedingly generous. Kindness and acceptance seem to just flow out of them. And they give as the natural thing to do, not because they expect anything in return.

Realize that they care for you, faults and all. When cheerful people say they are happy to see you, it’s because they really are. This can be hard to take in if you expect people to size you up and find fault. And you may even tell yourself they can’t possibly really like you that much. But when you fully understand this kind of acceptance, it can open your eyes, and raise your spirits.

Cheerful people can show us what real sadness means. Even the most optimistic people encounter pain and sadness. They suffer loss and deep grief, like everyone else. If we can be there for them in a time of loss, we may gain a better understanding of deep sadness, and how it differs from depression and malaise.

We can also learn from their resilience. Memories may bring tears to their eyes on occasion, but they let them flow and then move on. When grief passes, they retain their gratitude for all their past and present joys.

Don’t make a big deal of why they’re happy and you’re not. You don’t need one more reason to compare yourself with other people. Accept them for who they are, and also accept yourself. Share in their good feelings when you can, and eventually you may realize they have lifted some of your burdens. And you didn’t have to say a thing.

Declare Your Independence From Stress

Declare Your Independence From Stress

stress freeIn the U.S. July 4th is our national holiday, Independence Day. As well as its historical significance, it has the distinction of being the least stressful holiday we have all year. There is no stress of big meals to fix, no frantic shopping, no worrisome winter travel, and we celebrate it by lounging around outside, maybe barbecuing, and watching fireworks. Once a year we just relax.

For some reason this year, I started thinking about the impact of personal independence on how we respond to stress. Independence requires a certain amount of self reliance, courage, and strength, both of body and will. Independence grows out of a sense of confidence, resilience and personal power. The more confident and empowered we become, the more our independence grows, and the less power we give to stress.

Five places to reclaim your independence…now.

1. Be independent from other people’s opinions. A driving need to please others can be a major source of stress for many people. There will always be people you don’t agree with, or critical people who want to judge how you look, act, cook, raise your children, or whatever else they have an opinion about.

It is nice to take action that you know will make people happy, but you simply can’t do it all the time. Other people really are responsible for their own happiness. You can help occasionally, and that adds to happiness in the world. But happiness is not even a goal for some people. They get too much pleasure from criticizing those around them. So, declare your independence from the negative opinions of others, and leave that stress behind.

2. Be independent from your To Do List. Yes, it is good to be organized, and having a “to do” list saves you the stress of forgetting important tasks. But your list is not your life. When you check things off, take a breather. Not having another urgent entry does not mean you aren’t needed. It means you can look at the world without an agenda for a change. You can see what‘s out there, be spontaneous. You can take some time to simply BE.

3. Be independent from worry.  As much as worrying feels like we’re doing something, all we are doing is causing ourselves more stress. Notice when worry starts creeping in, and ask yourself if there is some action you can take to solve the situation. If there is, go for it. You will feel far better if you face up to something that your inaction has caused you to worry about.

If there is nothing you can do today, declare your independence from fretting about it. If you need to check on it later, put in on some future day of your agenda, then tackle it as a task to accomplish, when the proper time comes.

4. Be independent from unhealthy food. Many of us have our little junk food addictions. So it might be time to remind yourself that you are in control of what you eat, not the other way around. Substances like refined sugar or over processed flour can cause cravings that would run your life if you let them. Declare your independence from the stress on your body of blood sugar run amok, or the lethargy that follows a sugar high. You have the power to feel better, if you take back your right to eat real food.

5. Be independent from some screen time. Television, computers, phones, whatever. The screens always seem to be calling for our attention, waiting for us to give them all our time. You don’t have to go cold turkey and give up technology for good. Just look up once and a while. Good outside. Take a walk. Take a friend to lunch.

In spite of what you think it they are telling you, your screens will not really miss you when you are gone. Declare your independence now and then, and let go of the stress of too much sitting, eye strain, advertising, and interrupted sleep. Your body will thank you in the long run.

These are just a few ideas of things we let have too much outside control in our lives. What are yours? Make your own list of whatever you’d like to let go of, at least once in a while, declare your independence and take a holiday from stress.

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Beat Back Depression When You Say Goodbye to Others’ Expectations

Beat Back Depression When You Say Goodbye to Others’ Expectations

ShameThroughout history people have recognized the power of words spoken as a curse. They are words that eat at the mind, words that attack a person’s will to the point that they cause real physical harm. In our modern world we believe we have grown beyond such things. Yet we still say words, especially to or in front of children, which have the same end result.

We say things like, “too bad she’ll never be pretty,” or “you’ll never be as good an athlete as your brother,” or “has she always been fat?”. And if you are trying to beat depression, you know these words never go away.

I brought home a report card once that said “not living up to her potential.” I was seven years old. Now how much potential a seven year old is supposed to have was never explained to me. Or what kind of potential it was. The grown-ups shook their heads sadly. I might as well have worn a sign, like David Copperfield, only mine would have read “failure.” And I never forgot.

What kind of signs do you wear? If you are depressed, chances are that you carry a heavy load of labels people gave you as a child. Plus, when we feel we are a disappointment, we heap ourselves with guilt as well, for letting down the people we love.

Say goodbye to your parents’ or family’s expectations. Everyone has to face this at some point, even if they are not depressed. But our level of depression is influenced by how much power we gave those expectations, and the people who voiced them.

Talk it out with your parents if you can. If your family relationships are good overall, let them know how you feel. You may find that they gave absolutely no credence to some busy-body’s opinion, which you have hung on to for years. You may also learn that your parents never had half the expectations you thought they did, and they are just proud of who you are.

If communicating with your family is difficult, gently let them know that your life choices are your own. You may apologize for their sense of disappointment without taking any responsibility for it.

Sometimes we have to accept that other people will never be happy. When we hear criticism, we don’t always know that the person speaking criticizes everything and everybody. If you are just one more imperfect face in their eternally unhappy line of sight, let it go. Send thoughts of kindness to the person speaking the harsh words, and acknowledge how awful it must be to see no good in the world.

Speak words of acceptance to yourself. When you are trying to beat depression you may find it hard to believe good things about yourself. Think back to moments when you made someone else happy, or achieved some goal that mattered to you. Write them down if you need to, and add to the list as you remember more.

Give yourself credit for trying to beat depression, and be thankful. You only need one real fan. Make that person you.

Dealing With Stress is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Dealing With Stress is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

marathonWhen we’re overburdened and dealing with stress everywhere we turn, we might cope by looking at some moment in the future, and believing if we can just make it there, then all our stress will disappear. But as one kind of stress fades away, another always seems to be there to replace it. The causes of stress change, but the stress itself never leaves.

Life will always have some kind of stress. More peaceful days do come, but they don’t last forever. If we are not careful, we can waste good times waiting for the next crisis. A healthier approach is to learn from whatever is causing us stress, and to become stronger and more resilient. Instead of hoping the future will be a stress free life, we need to picture ourselves overcoming the stress, and being able to cope tomorrow better than we do today.

Stories abound of scrappy kids who grew up in hardship, but built lives of success and promise. And yet overly sheltered children often reach adulthood with few resources to deal with even the tiniest stressors of grown-up life. If you feel unprepared for the slings and arrows or your life’s circumstances, then it may help you to think of yourself in training.

Build muscle and character. Some exercise physiologists have said that people who visualize themselves getting stronger as they work out, have better results than people whose attention is elsewhere.
Building physical strength gives you stamina, and can help you get through long, stressful days. At the same time, you can focus on building your inner strength, adding positive self talk to your exercise time, and knowing that both physically and mentally you can meet bigger challenges without being overcome.

Relax and stretch your body and soul. Meditative types of exercise like Tai Chi and Yoga allow you unwind your kinks and your frustrations. Visualize yourself untroubled by events that might have caused you stress in the past. See yourself unaffected by non-essentials, and let your breathing simply flow.

Be choosy about what you watch on TV. Violent crime dramas, and political pundits yelling at each other over the news of the day, are not something you need if you are dealing with stress. Choose music, something uplifting, or a worthwhile movie. Or escape into a really good book.

It is fine to be informed, but a lot of horrific news is simply repeated over and over on the air. Learn what’s going on, if you must, then set it the news aside.

Focus on the journey, not the finish line. Life should not be a race to get to the end. It is a slow, unfolding process, full of both ups and downs. Our medieval ancestors called this fortune’s wheel, which lets us rise to greatness, but where we can also fall.
If we have built strength and resilience, then we can maintain serenity no matter what fortune brings us. And we will reach the end with the wisdom we have gained.

Are You Stressed Because You Can’t Say No?

Are You Stressed Because You Can’t Say No?

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailIt’s kind of a Catch 22. The better you are at your job, the bigger your family, and the more volunteer groups you belong to, the more people expect your help. And sometimes they don’t really ask. They assume you will help them, and are a little hurt or offended when you don’t.

If you rely a lot on other people’s opinions, then it is hard to turn people down, because you think you need their approval. Or if you care deeply about the people, you may truly want to always be there for them, to lend your support.

But the truth is, you cannot be there for everybody. And you don’t need to deal with their stress on top of your own.

So you may find yourself making excuses. Gosh, you would really love to, but you are already booked, or you have a conflict, or you have to wash your hair. Whatever you think they will accept without hurting their feelings. But chances are that after you make excuses, you feel the stress of guilt, not only from turning them down, but also for the little white lie you told to get out of doing whatever it was.

Back in 1969, composer and poet Mason Williams wrote, “Someday you’ll learn that ‘I don’t want to’ is the world’s greatest reason.” At first glance that might seem a little harsh. But as I have finally gotten to “someday,” I understand how right he was.

Of course, you may phrase what you want and don’t want a little differently. But when you are dealing with stress, just telling the truth can lift a lot of weight off your shoulders. And being consistently honest saves you from built up resentment that can blow when you least expect it.

Let’s say you have a deadline at work, your daughter just said she needs a costume for a school play, and someone calls asking you to bake a pie for a bake sale. If you are stressed you might blurt out, “I made a pie once and I don’t need to do it again.” I did, and it wasn’t pretty.

Instead, you could hire someone else to make the costume, and calmly explain that pies are just not your thing, but you will be glad to help with some future non-baking project.

Stop Trying to Have Someone Else’s Idea of Fun.

I’m sure you’ve heard it. “You’ve got to come, it’ll be fun.” And so you go to some party or event, only to be totally miserable, angry at yourself for coming, and ashamed to exit. By the time you leave, your stress level is off the charts.

Instead, value your own opinion. Admit when you don’t enjoy certain activities, and find time with friends or family doing things you all enjoy.

If your partner or friend won’t go somewhere without you, the occasional bout of boredom won’t kill you. If you have made a habit of honesty about trivial things, than you won’t feel so stressed, and you can be generous with your time when it really matters to those you love.

Do You Keep Monsters in Your Closet?

Do You Keep Monsters in Your Closet?

Young Man with His Hand on His ForeheadDo you have fears that keep you paralyzed with stress and anxiety? There are certainly enough things in modern life for us to be genuinely afraid of, and a little fear is not always a bad thing. It keeps us from going down dark alleys at night, or into grizzly bear dens.

What is it about being human that causes us to create even more to be afraid of than is actually there? What takes us from being cautious and alert to danger, to frozen like a deer in the headlights over some disaster that may never happen? I wish I knew.

While the world may still be a dangerous place sometimes, our imagined fears can cause us more stress than any true dangers. The adrenaline triggered by real dangers tells us to grab the kids and head for the tornado shelter, find a life jacket, or slam on the brakes.

When we get an adrenaline rush from stress and imagined dangers, we have nowhere to run to, no defensive action we can take. But you can deal with the stress of imaginary dangers by heading it off before it starts.

Acknowledge your brain’s infinite ability to be wrong. Our brains seem to be hardwired to create pictures or patterns where nothing really exists. It is why we see faces in clouds, or why as children we may have stared half the night at some scary shadow that turned out to be nothing in the morning.

On the up side, this ability has lead to everything from fairy tales to science fiction. On the down side, it makes us worry that every headache could be a brain tumor; every economic setback is one step away from living on the street.

By remembering that there really were no monsters in the closet, we can train ourselves to see the illusions we create for what they really are, and we can relax. No need to deal with stress from something that isn’t there.

Use your fears to spur you into action. If you just can’t seem to turn away from some of your worries, turn them into an action plan. If you are worried you’ll outlive your money, find a way to save more. If you are tend to worry about every new health crisis that comes up in the news, take preventative steps to eat right, exercise, and live a healthy lifestyle.

Just as importantly, know that you take these steps not out of fear, but because you are strong and proactive. Applaud yourself for planning ahead. You can’t protect yourself or your family from everything, but you can give yourself credit for doing what you can.

Focus on the good things in your life, and be grateful. None of us knows what tomorrow holds. Uncertainty is a basic part of existence. But if you remember every day to relish each moment you have, rather than waste it being stressed about the future, you will be stronger and more ready to face whatever the future really does hold. Monsters and all.