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15 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Suffer From Depression

15 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Suffer From Depression
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Sixteen million Americans are diagnosed with depression. Around the world, this condition affects around 350 million people. However, there are still so many negative stigmas and false knowledge about depression prevailing in the modern society.

The first most important thing to remember is that nobody “wallows” in depression as if it’s a cozy hot bath tub. Depression is not a choice. It’s a severe physical condition that needs special treatment and attention. When you deal with someone having depression (a loved one or just a casual acquaintance), please do not forget about the following things:

1. They experience much more than sadness

Depression does not equal to sadness. In fact, it’s a complicated mix of of feelings and physical changes in the body. Apart from overwhelming sadness, it rolls in with a huge bundle of other emotions like anxiety, disturbance, apathy, tension and more. Don’t ask them about where their anxiety came from, instead, offer them to help dealing with it.

2. They are not weak

Some of the most influential and talented people in the world suffered from depression. These people include J.K. Rowling, Robin Williams, and more. And that’s absolutely fine. In fact, as Dr.Neel Burton puts it in his TED talk it is our modern society that created a negative stigma around depression.

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The book author Eric G. Wilson develops this thought even further and writes: “I for one am afraid that our American culture’s overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life. I further am wary in the face of this possibility: to desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations“.

Being sad, overwhelmed and depressed is absolutely fine. It doesn’t mean people with depression are just weak. It means they just need to address some important life problems and learn to deal with them.

3. They won’t become happy if they just start acting like one

Sadly, they can’t just snap of being depressed. They cannot do the “happy things” and become happier.  Depression severely affects brain chemistry. It’s a condition that you can’t get rid of by simply switching your mood. Don’t push them into doing things that might make them delight or force them to have fun. As Sabrina Benaim puts it in her video: “It’s just not so that much fun having fun when you don’t want to have fun”.

4. They often have insomnia they can’t beat

Counting sheep won’t do the trick here. Their mind rings with thousand questions and thoughts keeping them awake at night. If you find them sitting in the kitchen in 3 am, don’t force them back to bed. Offer your company (even silent), a glass of something warm and a soothing talk or book, or anything else that might help them get rid of those pesky thoughts.

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5. They don’t make something out of nothing

Depression is a serious, biological illness that leaked into their existence. And they definitely did not choose to be depressed. Why would anyone choose to have Lyme disease or polio? It’s beyond your control and being depressed is not a choice. Sure, there are ways to practice mental health, but no one can be 100% sure that depression will never happen to them. They did not choose to feel this way. Don’t forget that!

6. They may push you away

Among other complicated feelings, people with depression often feel guilty for being a burden to their close ones.  They prefer to appear “busy” while secretly craving for a company. They often isolate themselves simply because they worry to much about burdening the close ones with their illness. Don’t force them to hang out together, but gently remind you are always here for them and will not stop loving them.

7. They can listen to your problems too

Dealing with their own problems, absolutely doesn’t mean they don’t want to (or can’t handle) listening to your problems and feelings. In fact, it helps them focus on something else than their own troubles, plus feel better for being a good friend/partner.

8. They can’t handle “tough-love” approach

If you think that you can “fix” them by making demands, creating ultimatums e.g. “I’ll break up with you if you don’t get better now!”, you are one step away from traumatising them even more!  Depression isn’t something you can cure with threats and “tough love” approach. It’s unrealistic and manipulative of you.

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9. They become easily overwhelmed

Don’t be mad when they suddenly cancel plans or choose to leave home early. It’s not about what you did or said. It’s just one of the side effects of having this condition. At one moment you feel great and full of enthusiasm, but just a few moments later overwhelming tiredness rolls in and all the energy is gone. You see, people with depression need more effort to get through their day. Small things can seem exhausting to them. Some days they have more energy left to do some good stuff, some days they finish up empty.

10.  They have “good days”, but it doesn’t mean it’s all gone

People with depression can have “good days” when they are completely happy just as anyone else around. However, don’t swiftly assume they are no longer sick and would be cured forever. Depression isn’t as simple as that. Have fun with them today and help them get through tomorrow even if their condition returns in its worse.

11. They never mean to hurt you

Watching how your close one’s suffering from depression can be a painful experience. It’s hard to understand and accept their self-harm attempts, daily struggles and frequent crying.

Sadly, depression is a selfish disease. We can say harsh things, be mean, push you away, and do other unpleasant things we actually don’t mean to. It’s all out of tremendous hurt we are trying to deal with.  And we often prefer to hurt ourselves instead, just not to hurt you (which is rather obscure as you suffer as well eventually). It’s challenging to love someone with depression, so we are very, very grateful you are here with us.

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12. They understand when you get frustrated

People with depression perfectly understand how difficult it is for you to cope with their state. There’s no need to walk on eggshells when you’re around them.  Yes, they need your love and support, but they also don’t expect complete self-sacrifice from you. Once your feeling boil up, don’t be afraid to talk with them about it and work a better strategy together! Set up appropriate boundaries and you’ll be good.

13. They are proud of small achievements

Things that may sound insignificant to you can mean the whole world to them. Getting out of bed today is an achievement, and so does going out or falling asleep easily for 3 days straight. Be proud of those small progresses even if they may seem minuscule to you. Remember, they will aim for bigger things once they get healthy. But for now, it’s the small things they should learn to accomplish daily.

14. They are loyal friends and partners

Yes, it’s challenging to be close with a depressed person. A lot of friends will leave them during their illness, however if you stick with them, you’ll have the most loyal friend you can ever imagine. The support and efforts you’ve made for them would be never forgotten.  If you make it till the end together, you’ll share the bond very few people can boast of. They will always be there for you and you will never fight anything alone.

15. They will get better one day

As any physical illness, depression can be treated. One day, the storm will pass and you’ll find yourself next to an amazing person and grateful loyal friend for a lifetime!

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Featured photo credit: gagilas via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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