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How to Get Out of A Life Slump and Defeat The Blues

How to Get Out of A Life Slump and Defeat The Blues
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Once upon a time, I was severely ignorant towards people who called themselves depressed, and I was harsh and angry at them because I thought of it as if it were the simplest excuse they could possibly find. Now, I can honestly say that this isn’t something you should learn from your own experience.

By nature, I’m a cynic and a pessimist, which only made it easy for depression to get to me – if you have a mindset similar to mine, you should know that you’re an easy target as well. All it takes is a little push, really, and you might not even notice how deep in you actually are until you break down into tiny puzzle pieces that are extraordinarily difficult to put together.

Like other illnesses of the mind, the cause for depression can be quite difficult to determine. Although there are familiar reasons like trauma or grief, a person who has a loving family, an interesting social life, and a successful career can also fall to their knees beneath depression, and that’s exactly what makes it so dangerous.

Keep Your Friends Close

…and your enemies even closer―you need to study depression because it’s foul and it can sneak up on you. First, you need to understand a properly functioning brain and know about the chemistry balance behind it. When a person is depressed, that balance is being violated.

It all starts with a small part of your brain called the hypothalamus, which is responsible for regulating your emotions, libido, sleep, appetite, body temperature, etc.― all the basic functions of your body. It also controls the pituitary gland, which is in charge of the primary hormones (including the happy ones) and so, your overall happiness depends on this pea-sized part of your brain.

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Therefore, when you’re depressed, all of your emotions are located in the color spectrum that shows shades of blue, your libido is practically nonexistent, and your sleep habits and appetite go to either one of the two extremes. So basically, the amount of dissatisfaction you have with your life dictates the chemistry in your brain.

It’s A Bottomless Abyss

    I see depression like a big dark cave that lures you in, because it provides you with comfort in isolation. I’m sure you have watched Alice in Wonderland at least once in your life, and I’d like to remind you of the moment when she starts falling down the rabbit hole. The very same things happens to people who start falling into the depths of depression – you don’t know where you’re headed, you don’t want to get there, and it seems like a bottomless abyss.

    After that fear wears off, you decide to willingly trim the sails and ride the wave and decide to just go with it. That sort of limbo is low-maintenance, and you can exist in it without having anyone’s expectations to meet.

    Here, we arrive to the questioning everything phase and not in a curios, healthy way, but regarding the meaning and the point of existence and how random and banal everything around you is. That is when I decided that there’s no need to leave my bed.

    It’s Difficult to Recognize It

    At least before it’s too late, and especially if you have never been in a similar situation before. We all have bad days every now and then, and when you’re depressed, bad days turn into bad weeks and bad weeks turn into bad months.

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    Unless you conduct healthy routines like spending some quality alone time introspecting every day and being fully familiar with the demons of your subconsciousness (which is – let’s face it – a really, really small percentage of people worldwide and most of them are professionally involved with psychology), you won’t see depression coming.

    Darkness from Within

    That’s reason enough to get very close with all symptoms that are its vanguard. Most vocabularies describe depression as a feeling of sadness, but that’s only a mere beginning, because very soon, you move on to hopelessness and severe guilt. Once you get acquainted with these dark shadows and they start following you around and messing with your mood, you should be able to notice a loss of focus and a significant decrease in your overall productivity.

    Accordingly, your confidence levels will sink to the bottoms of the deepest sees, and you’ll start doubting everything – your skills, intelligence, and the ability to make decisions. It will seem like your whole life is a delusion and that you can’t rely on your friends or your family, so those connections will begin dissolving slowly.

    This heaviness will become a physical burden and tiredness will become your constant state. In order to silence your mind, your most probable consolation will be in the form of substance abuse and chances are that you’ll get pretty creative with that matter. At this stage, people who suffer from depression are brainstorming about different ways to bring harm to themselves, as well.

    Somewhere along this ride, the responsibilities you have towards your work will stop having any weight and “worker of the month” will be the very opposite of what you are. For me, this happened in all life aspects, not just the professional one.

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    The Best Defense is A Good Offense

    image02

      War is a common state in nature – exchange of power is in constant flow. War shouldn’t only have a negative connotation, because you can fight for a better life, a better job, or for the ones you love. Although the history of war is filled with ruthless dictators who wanted to conquer the world and redesign it in their own cruel image, those very monsters are an excellent background in a composition of a painting that shows heroes and demonstrates their bravery. If there wasn’t any darkness, we won’t be able to recognize the light, right?

      Break the Chains

      You are faced with two options here – you’ll either let depression destroy you or you can break these chains which are nothing more than a figment of your imagination, and a strong one for that matter. So, if you are capable of creating something that powerful, imagine what you can do when you’re free of these heavy blue shackles.

      Reach Out

      Strength comes from within. I’m positive that people who you love and who care for you deeply will throw you a rope and try to get you out of this abyss, but until you’re ready to grab it and open your mind to the world once more, their efforts will be in vain.

      If you’re a control freak, such as I’m, and you think you can do everything by yourself without anyone’s assistance, this may be a problem for you too. I was fully aware of how unhappy I am, but I needed a lot of time to realize that this isn’t a battle I can win without an army of supporters behind me.

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      It’s pretty selfish of you to think that you’re alone in this or in the whole world, because you’re not – and neither was I. By refusing help, you’re not only hurting yourself, but everyone around you, and if you don’t care enough about yourself, you can find enough strength in you to fight this battle for the people who love you.

      Indulge Yourself

      No matter if this blue period lasts for months or years, it will wreck you – the longer you allow it to linger on, the more of a ruin you’ll become, until there’s nothing left but foundations of a person you once were.

      It’s never too late to fight it off, and this is one battle you cannot always win, because not a cause in the world is hopeless. The bottom line is that you deserve to be happy, and you should do everything in your power to get rid of those negative thoughts and make things happen for you.

      Because of this fact, you can either admire the ruin you once were, or, you can begin believing it was meant for them to get wrecked so you can go back to the healthy part of the temple and move on from there. This image worked for me just fine and more than that, actually, because I know exactly how to reconstruct myself and by which means I should do it.

      But, start with baby steps, because too much of everything may just get you back in bed. As a matter of fact, don’t get up yet – surround yourself with everything you love; books that make you see the world differently, watch movies that strengthen your hope, play music that awakens the most innocent feelings in you. Art is the most extraordinary creation of humankind and it will make you see why your life’s worth living.

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      It’s a hell of a journey, and it won’t be easy. There will be times when you’ll think that the abyss is a comfort zone you should return to. You will be exhausted, disappointments won’t stop coming your way, and it may feel like the world is one cruel place that’s governed by fear. The scariest part of a roller-coaster ride is the free fall, isn’t it? And, it wouldn’t be any fun without the scary part, so have faith in yourself.

      Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/2TlAsvhqiL0 via pexels.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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