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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

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.

      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 January 15, 2021

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

      Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

      Posture

      First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

      • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
      • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
      • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
      • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

      All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

      Facial Expressions

      Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

      • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
      • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
      • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

      If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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      1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

      A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

      The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

      This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

      2. Relax Your Face

      New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

      The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

      To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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      3. Improve Your Eye Contact

      Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

      The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

      To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

      3. Smile More

      There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

      Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

      4. Hand Gestures

      Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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      It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

      5. Enhance Your Handshake

      In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

      “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

      It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

      6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

      As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

      Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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      Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

      Final Takeaways

      Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

      If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

      More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

      Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

      Reference

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