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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 April 11, 2019

      How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

      How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

      Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

      I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

      I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

      Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

      How Communication Skills Help Your Success

      Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

      Create a Positive Experience

      Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

      When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

      What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

      Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

      As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

      Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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      Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

      Help Leadership Skills

      It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

      Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

      As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

      Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

      If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

      Build Better Teams

      Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

      In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

      If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

      When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

      Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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      How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

      There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

      Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

      1. Listen

      Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

      Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

      People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

      Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

      Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

      2. Know Your Audience

      Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

      Here is a good way to think about it:

      Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

      You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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      3. Minimize

      I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

      He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

      Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

      State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

      The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

      4. Over Communicate

      So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

      What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

      Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

      Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

      Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

      There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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      5. Body Language

      The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

      When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

      In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

      When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

      Conclusion

      Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

      Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

      There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

      Now go communicate your way to success.

      More Resources About Effective Communication

      Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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