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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Having an Emotional Breakdown? 15 Ways to Re-Center Yourself

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Having an Emotional Breakdown? 15 Ways to Re-Center Yourself

Emotional breakdown can present itself in the form of crises when you have reached peak stress in your life.

Signs of a nervous breakdown can present themselves as anxiety attacks, depression or full-blown panic. These emotional disruptions can take you down the wrong road and have you regretting the consequences after it is too late.

At the very least, they will be some of the most unpleasant moments in your life.

The good thing is, you can avoid running off the cliff, because today you will learn 15 quick fixes that will help you re-center in these moments.

1. Choose Your Own Thoughts

You don’t have to agree to every thought that crosses your mind, especially when you are having an emotional breakdown. Many of these thoughts can be pretty tough to swallow.

Maybe nobody has told you this, but you can actually choose your thoughts.

How?

Start by being mindful of all the ideas you are having. Do not get involved with them, simply observe them.

While you’re at it, learn to distinguish good thoughts from bad ones.

Good thoughts will lead you to something better. Bad thoughts are mostly hurtful or they only lead to other undesirable thoughts or emotions.

When you are facing an emotional breakdown, most of the thoughts that will cross your mind will be hurtful and detrimental. These are the kind of thoughts you want to get rid of.

So, how do you do this?

You refuse to interact with the bad thoughts.

There is not much that can be done once you have “thought a thought”. In the end it’s already there, in your mind. But you can refuse to participate with the consequences of having that thought.

You will notice how these thoughts arrive at your mind. But, after you realize that they have no grip on you, they will simply go away; and. you will quickly regain emotional stability.

2. Get Off the Treadmill

Life is like a treadmill, and sometimes, it goes faster than we can handle.

Emotional breakdown is the indicator that tells you the treadmill is just going too fast. And since we cannot use a dial to lower the speed, you must do the next best thing:

Get off the treadmill.

Whenever you start feeling things are just “too much to handle,” simply interrupt whatever it is you are doing. Take 5 minutes for yourself, and for those 5 minutes, do nothing but be with yourself. Ignore everything around you and focus on you.

Taking a small break from tension has never hurt anyone, and it’s a great way to break the downward spiral.

Don’t get too attached to “getting off the treadmill”, because that would be evasion.

3. Take a Step Back and Breathe

A nervous breakdown is a consequence of being far too immersed in your problems.

We get too attached to our issues and our circumstances; and, that’s understandable, because they do affect us. We end up believing they define us; but, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Everything changes when you practice detachment.

How do you do this? Breathe deeply, mentally take a step back, and refuse to see your problems as something that defines you or as part of yourself.

With a relaxed attitude, take a new look at your problems and you will notice a few things:

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  • Because of the accumulated tension, you are having an unrealistic view of your problems.
  • Such problems are simpler than you thought, and there is an answer to everything that you are feeling.
  • If you don’t yet see the answer don’t get attached to the feeling of despair; instead, refuse to take no for an answer and keep looking.
  • The trick is to take a step out of your emotions, because they will cloud your judgment.

Maybe you haven’t noticed it, but your breathing changes according to your mood. It happens to all of us, and it becomes especially shallow when we are going through an emotional breakdown.

Practicing Pranayama (breathing techniques in Yoga) will have an immediate and positive impact on your mind and your emotions.

Although there are many techniques, you only have to remember a very simple exercise:

  1. To interrupt your thinking pattern, quickly exhale until your lungs are “empty” without feeling any strain.
  2. Take 6 seconds to inhale, making sure you expand your belly to allow your lungs to take in as much air as possible.
  3. Hold your breath for 3 seconds.
  4. Then take 6 seconds to exhale as much as possible without straining yourself.
  5. Repeat from step 2.

It’s that simple.

Exhale, 6 seconds to inhale, hold for 3 seconds, 6 seconds to exhale and then repeat.

Keep doing this for at least 5 minutes, and both your mind and your emotions will be in a completely different state.

You can also check out this video on Pranayama:

Pro tip: Try increasing the length of your inhalations and exhalations. You will easily do 10 in and 10 out, but how about trying 15 or 20? Experiment with this and leave a comment about how you felt!

The beauty of Pranayama is that you don’t have to simply believe it works, because you will immediately feel the results. Try it out now!

4. Write It Out

If you feel the tension accumulating, the thoughts running faster and faster, and a nervous breakdown hovering just around the corner… stop everything you are doing, take out a notebook and write.

But that is just one part of the solution. Now you’ll need to understand what you will write about.

First, write down everything you want about the way you feel. Take it out, everything. Then, write the reason why you are overwhelmed, but not without a proper structure. Write down a list of problems that are currently afflicting you.

By this point, you will be feeling much better, but go the extra mile and to finish the exercise by adding a possible solution to each problem in your list.

Most likely, this will take you around five minutes, and it makes a real difference.

5. Talk it Out

Human beings are like pressure cookers. The more you hold in your tension, the stronger the explosion will be.

Talking to someone will not only provide you a valuable extra point of view, by verbalizing how you feel, you will also be taking pressure off yourself and acquiring a new angle on things.

Moreover, sometimes we only need to say it out loud in order to understand the issue and feel better.

Talk about the things that bother you. Talk about your fears and frustrations. And, most importantly, talk about what you plan to do about it all.

6. Talk To Yourself

Self-talk can really get you over the hump if you know how to do it the right way.

Why do we fall into the downward spiral? We do this because we are conducting an uncontrolled ‘mental dialogue’. This is self-talk, and it can be positive or negative.

Take a moment to analyze what your self-talk is like when you are facing an emotional breakdown.

If it is chaotic, it will continue to be chaotic if you don’t do something about it.

Whenever you are facing a crisis, pay attention to your mental dialogue and put order where there is none.

Instead of allowing your mind to wander into terrible places and destructive “what-if’s”, take control and guide yourself to a better place.

Talk to yourself aloud if you need to. Treat yourself as a friend and study all the possibilities. Talk about the things that bother you, and then, as a friend, propose something that will help you.

For some, this will be unusual, but it’s very common in creative people such as inventors and artists.

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Just remember: you are your own friend; so, give yourself a hand if you need it!

7. Do Now, Feel Tomorrow — Taking It One Step at a Time

Take a deep breath and take your emotions out of the equation. Resolve that tomorrow you will have as much emotion as you want, but today you need only mind and action. This is especially helpful when you are overwhelmed. During this time, you will have many things to do, but you will be also faced with a lot of emotions.

What do you do? Resolve that you don’t need an emotional side for now and approach the nervous breakdown with a logical perspective only.

Carefully take a look at your issues, and tackle them one by one until you are out of the crisis.

It’s not that you are forcing yourself not to feel; instead, you are just assigning a certain time slot to deal with the other side of the coin: your emotions.

It’s all about prioritizing. Thinking this way will trick your mind into a completely productive and effective attitude.

In most cases, the trick will work just as expected and you will feel all the tension afterwards, just diminished by the way you handled things.

8. Get Your Adrenaline Pumping

Want an easy fix? Take a walk.

The most illustrious characters in history have been hit by inspiration when talking a walk. And it’s not only historically proven. A study conducted by the American Psychology Association found out that people got more creative after taking a walk. [1]

Walking and physical activities help break the negative emotional cycle and will reframe your reality.

You don’t even have to go outside if you don’t have the time for it, just walk around in circles indoors and it will have the same effect. Combine this with the proper self-talk and your emotions will settle down.

Engaging in more rigorous exercise takes things to an entirely new level. Aim to exercise regularly so that you can keep yourself centered, as many emotions can be released through exercise. And you don’t really need a gym to work out, you will be fine with doing squats and pushups at home.

The important thing is to allow emotions to flow out along with the exercise. With each movement, breathe in and out mindfully, and allow the exercise to help you release negative emotions.

9. Bring It Back to the Present

A emotional breakdown is often a product of catastrophic thinking. It can be a product of intense episodes that become crises or by prolonged intervals of replaying depressing scenarios in our heads. Whatever the case, you must remain mindful of the present.

Thinking about how the past has affected you belongs in the past. Thinking about how worrisome the future might be belongs in the future.

So, stop rehashing the same old issues and stop the what-if thinking. Remind yourself that the only moment you can do anything in is the present moment.

Ask yourself: “What are the things I can do right now to make my situation better?”

It doesn’t have to be the ultimate solution to all your problems, but every little improvement that you can do in the present will help you get through a moment of crisis.

Accept your past and embrace it. Recognize there is nothing you can do about the past. The longer you take to accept that you cannot change the past, the longer the past will have power over you.

If the uncertainty of the future is giving you trouble, be aware that fortunately, you have the power to influence your outcomes.

Don’t think about the future, think about your present best self and the future will play out the way you want it. The past is gone, and the future you want will never come unless you act in the present.

10. Divide and Conquer

Being overwhelmed can play an important role in whether or not you will be facing an emotional breakdown. When overwhelmed, our problems become a huge, formless mass of burden. Eventually this mass becomes invincible.

Often, this mass can make us feel buried under a pile of rubble — too heavy for us to even breathe. This is because we are seeing our problems as a whole.

So, if you are overwhelmed, refuse to face the many “monsters” at once, then focus on just one.

Take one issue, just one. You don’t even have to select it very carefully; tackle the first one that comes to your mind.

It is much simpler to divide your issues one by one than to think about them all at once, and be crushed by their weight alone. While you are at it, don’t allow the other problems to affect you simultaneously. You will have to deal with issue B later, but right now make it only about solving issue A.

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11. Unleash Your Emotions

Sometimes, we just need that moment of raw emotion to guide us. Why? Because too often, our negative emotions end up swept under the rug, slowly accumulating and becoming a subconscious burden. That is, until you burst!

So go ahead and scream, curse, kick a punching bag, cry or whatever… do everything you need in order to release the tension and stress. As long as nobody gets hurt, you will be doing yourself a favor. Your negative emotions also need expression and release.

When you unleash your emotions, a lot of things will start coming to the surface. Those are the issues that you really need to be working on.

12. Activate Affirmations

For many, affirmations are just pipe dreams with magical overtones. If you have used them before, though, you know they work.

But, you know what?  You don’t need to believe in them in order to reap the benefits.

Simply repeat the affirmations either aloud or in your head and most importantly, become aware of what you feel when reciting the affirmations.

Notice I said feel, not believe. Just embrace what it feels like. Be aware at the emotional level during the moment you are repeating your affirmations… you will simply be blown away. But don’t just take my word for it; try it out. In fact, try it out right now.

Take a deep breath and repeat this:

“I will overcome all my problems and find every answer need.”

Now please read it again, close your eyes and pay close attention to your feelings.

Not your mind, not your thoughts, not your doubt… be mindful of your feelings, that’s all. How does it feel?

Now take three deep breaths and repeat:

“Everything is possible for me, my potential is limitless.”

Create your own affirmations according to your own situation and repeat them to yourself when you are feeling down.

Or, you can get inspired by these 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

13. Forget Vulnerabilities, Focus on Your Powers

You might be having a very hard time and potentially facing an emotional breakdown, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.

In fact, you have everything it takes to defeat it. But you won’t be able to defeat these issues if you focus only on the things that keep you down.

I can’t do this” will surely defeat anyone, no matter how strong and capable. This is a dead end! Therefore, it makes no sense to stay there.

Instead, you must focus on everything you can do, not the things you cannot change.

Think of at least 10 things you can do to make your situation better. 10 may seem like a lot, but you can actually come up with many more–10 is actually quite conservative.

You have a lot of potential, don’t let it be eclipsed by your current situation, because there is no point of comparison.

Stop thinking in terms of your shortcomings, think in terms of your capacity.

14. Everything Has an Expiration Date

Remind yourself that this feeling is temporary. Holding on to this principle has helped me through the most intense anxiety attacks. Because it is absolute truth.

When we are immersed in an emotional breakdown, our vision of the future is distorted… and pretty painful. And the emotional overload makes us think that “this is it”. But it is only a byproduct of the emotions bringing us down, not reality itself.

So, next time when anxiety draws you a picture of your future, simply refuse to take it as a real vision. Recognize how distorted it is. Also, recognize that the nervous breakdown is only a temporary state. And like everything else, this too, shall pass.

This quick-fix may as well be called “wait for the storm to pass,” because that’s what you can do.

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Take every thought and emotion you have as something fictitious. Painful, yes, but only temporary.

You are only going through a very bad time, but you will soon return to your baseline, and then up to a better state of mind. It will pass. So be still and know it will only be temporary.

15. Recenter With Visualization

What good can visualization do if you are having an emotional breakdown!?

Actually, it can do a lot.

Visualization takes you out of the emotional state that is holding you down. It is not just wishful thinking, but a clear vision of the exact goal you are aiming for–even when you don’t yet know it.

Maybe you can’t quite see where you are heading because you are swamped by emotions right now. But, this is precisely when visualization comes in handy. In visualization, there are no barriers. It’s just you, your desire and the constructive use of imagination.

How do you do it and how to make it work?

First, when I say visualize, I don’t necessarily mean that you have to create a crisp, crystal clear vision in your mind. Just thinking about what you want is enough.

Some people are more visual than others, but this doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you start immersing yourself in the visualization and start feeling the effects of this positive thinking.

Putting It Into Practice

Close your eyes and imagine a moment in the future where every worry is gone. You handled all the adversity like a pro and now you are living that moment.

What would it feel like? Is there anybody by your side? What are you doing? Why do you feel so happy? What happened to the things that were worrying you so much?

Take a couple minutes to register in detail how everything feels in that vision.

And after you are done, it’s time to make it work.

What solutions were implemented immediately before your visualization? That is, what led to that moment of joy in your life?

What caused it all to culminate on that visualization? Did someone new come into your life? Or maybe somebody left?

Did you finally learn how to deal with that difficult confrontation? What decisions did you make?

Tone Down the Tension

You see what we’re doing? We are reverse-engineering your visualization.

You know where you want to be. Now walk backwards and observe everything that needs to happen so that you can get there. Do it in as much detail as possible until you get to the present moment.

This process of visualization takes the tension off and works the other way around. Don’t focus on your problems, but on the desired outcome.

Visualization plus action will help you defeat a nervous breakdown.

Final Thoughts

These quick-fixes are only the first step to get you over your hump. As you can see, they help you at these difficult moments, but they are not the solution in itself.

Generally speaking, you must face a nervous breakdown with emotional detachment and practice stillness to avoid being shaken.

Nobody likes to be thrown around by emotions, and that’s why you must develop a more stoic approach when it comes to your emotional breakdowns.

Always keep in mind that these periods of intense stress are only temporary states, and that they do not hold absolute power over you.

The more you practice these quick-fixes, the easier you will handle crises in the future.

In the end, it’s not about trying to avoid pain, but to learn how to be bigger than your suffering. Putting these tactics above to use will help you regain control over your emotions.

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More About Emotions Management

Featured photo credit: Riccardo Mion via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

George Alonso

Mental Health Expert, creator of the Transcendental Mindfulness Therapy.

9 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Calm Your Mind Having an Emotional Breakdown? 15 Ways to Re-Center Yourself Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional? How to Handle Relationship Fights to Connect Deeper with Your Partner Why You Keep Getting Into Toxic Relationships (And How to Stop)

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Published on August 23, 2021

Why Am I Depressed If My Life Is Fine?

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Why Am I Depressed If My Life Is Fine?

If you suffer from depression or suddenly experience bouts of sadness that seem to come out of nowhere, you probably wonder why this is happening. The truth is that there are several possibilities, and you aren’t alone. According to the World Health Organization, in January of 2020, more than 264 million people were diagnosed with depression and is the leading cause of disability worldwide.[1] In this article, I will answer the question: why am I depressed if my life is fine?” I will discuss what depression is and what the possible causes of depression are. Additionally, I will offer some solutions to consider as you navigate the depression you are experiencing.

The question of why you are depressed if your life is fine is one that I can personally identify with, as I can remember a time when I went through an intense depression even though, in many ways, my life couldn’t have been much better. I was financially secure, had a good family, lived in a beautiful place, had a pretty adventurous and exciting life, but none of that could have prevented a serious and prolonged battle with depression.

Given that you are here reading this article now, you will hopefully be able to identify the problem early and get the support you need to fend off any significant depressive episodes, as this can make a huge difference in your battle with depression.

Furthermore, you don’t have to live with depression! Despite the debilitating effects of depression, with the right treatment and support, it is also one of the more “curable” mental health disorders and you can overcome it.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, irritability, and in the worst cases, despair and suicidality.

Depression from a clinical perspective is classified into a few distinctive categories, two of the more common categories are; major depression and dysthymia. According to the DSM 5, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual—which governs the diagnosis of psychiatric and mental health disorders—major depression is classified as experiencing five or more symptoms in the same two-week period and must include a loss in pleasure as well as a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.[2]

The criteria are:

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  • Loss of pleasure or joy
  • Intense feelings of sadness and depressed mood most of the day, almost every day
  • Difficulty sleeping or disturbed sleep
  • Change in appetite (increased or decreased appetite) and a 5% change in body weight
  • Difficulty focusing, poor concentration
  • Psychomotor agitation or slowing down
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Persistent thoughts of death, dying, and suicide

Dysthymia is an ongoing or persistent depressed mood for a period of two years where you feel sadness more days than not. It will include at least two of the following symptoms when depressed:

  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (having more sleep than usual)
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling of hopelessness

The above symptoms of dysthymia can coincide with the symptoms of major depression.

Causes of Depression

Depression happens for several reasons that I categorize into three: biology, environment, and situation. Depression also tends to occur in more sensitive people, tend to overthink, and get stuck in their thoughts, which—more times than not—are negative.

Biological causes of depression are related to how your body produces neurotransmitters that impact your moods, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Some people might have a biological predisposition for depression and never experience any significant symptoms but when confronted with a challenging life situation, such as a loss or disappointment, it can send them into a tailspin of despondency and intense feelings of low and sad mood.

Depression caused by one’s environment is more about those you might have grown up with, your family, and your home environment, which could also be connected to heredity. Regardless of your biological predisposition, you learn how to handle challenges in life by observing those around you.

Adults, in particular, are role models for children and will likely deal with life in similar ways as to what they observed. For example, a child who grows up witnessing partner abuse between their parents is at increased risk of either being a victim or perpetrator of violence in an intimate relationship as an adult.[3]

Situational depression, as I mentioned above, can be seen as more of a cause-and-effect relationship. When you are confronted with a particular life challenge or change, such as job loss, geographic relocation, or family and financial stress, these situations can cause you to fall into a temporary or prolonged depression.

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In some cases, depression can be a combination of all of the above.

Examples of Causes of Depression

Below are some examples of situations that might lead you to experience a prolonged period of depression.

Grief

The loss of a loved one, especially when sudden and traumatic, can bring about intense feelings of loss and sadness, which can lead to clinical depression. This includes the death of pets.

Medical Issue or Diagnosis

Being diagnosed with a medical issue, especially if chronic and progressive, is much like any other loss you might experience. It represents the loss of a life you had. Very often, there will need to be changes made in one’s life that will not allow for a lifestyle previously enjoyed.

A Feeling of Failure or Perceived Shortcomings

As I mentioned, people who experience depression tend to be sensitive and self-critical. You might be struggling with not getting a job promotion or failing to progress in the way you imagined for yourself, but this doesn’t mean that you are not progressing in some other way.

Sudden Life Change

Changes—even good changes and welcomed changes—are hard. Sometimes, these changes can have an impact on your role and status in society like marriage or parenthood, which are both wonderful changes yet fraught with many challenges and new social roles.

Feeling Trapped or With Limited Options

Having options is both a blessing and a curse. We know that the more options we have, the less happy we are and the more anxious we might tend to feel, wanting and needing to make the right decision. However, on the flip side, the idea that you don’t have any options can also lead to feeling trapped and feeling that your life circumstances are already written in stone.

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Burnout

Job stress, being overworked and underpaid, or the lack of fulfillment in your profession can lead to depression, which might also coincide with the feeling of being trapped and feeling as though you don’t have many options in your life and career.

What Can You Do If You Experience Depression?

It may sometimes feel as though, out of nowhere, that you are hit with depression, and this is true for many people who have a biologically based depression. However, I would argue that whenever there is something like depression or anxiety—which are defense mechanisms—there is something in your life that is not 100% congruent with who you are and where your life is at or going.

This essentially means that it’s time to take a step back and reassess a few things in life. It doesn’t mean that you will be able to wright the ship entirely. However, you might be able to make some small changes that will help you feel more in control of your life and the direction that you are going in.

1. Consider Therapy

Therapy will help you take stock and think about what is happening in your life and where you might be able to make some changes. Needless to say, you will also have the support you need to embark on making those changes. It could also be a chance to identify what it is in your life that is causing the depression. A therapist can also help you connect to other supports that might help you as you work through this period in your life.

2. Group Support Network

Processing hurt and pain through the group experience is a powerful method of connecting with yourself and others who might be experiencing similar challenges. Part of the value of group experience is knowing that you are not alone and that you have support not just from professionals but also from other people just like you.

3. Self Assessment

Self-assessment involves assessing where you are in your life in relation to your life goals, your relationships, and the direction that you are headed. Maybe it is time to make a pivot and change course, which could be a very scary thing. Bringing this kind of information to therapy will be very valuable and will assist you in the therapeutic process.

4. Take Some Time Off

Taking some time off will be and can be helpful in many ways. If you are experiencing burnout, this will give you more time for self-care and help you give yourself a break. Moreover, taking a time off gives you more time to do some of the things I described above in therapy, group work, and self-assessment.

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5. Are You Bored?

Sometimes, when we lack stimulation or work in a job for which we are overqualified, we might find ourselves feeling underutilized and as if we are not meeting our potential. This would, hopefully, come out in a self-assessment and could indicate the need to make a change in your work life.

Depression and Suicide

Depression is a serious mental health disorder. Thirty to seventy percent of deaths by suicide are attributed to major depression or bipolar disorder.[4] If you or someone you love is experiencing depression and expresses thoughts or statements about death and suicide, consult with your medical professional or mental health counselor. People who receive treatment for depression have an 80 to 90% rate of success from therapy and/or medication.

Suffice to say, if you get the treatment you need for depression, your chances of recovering skyrocket. Again, as I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to live with depression. Get the right treatment,[5] and you can have a whole new lease on life.

Final Thoughts

Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by feelings of sadness for a long period of time. Many people throughout their lives will experience some depression in varying degrees. If you notice that what you are experiencing resembles any of what I have described above, please know that you can make changes and you can live a life free of depression. Getting help, support, and treatment is essential to addressing the depression or changes in your life that might need to be considered.

More Tips on Coping With Depression

Featured photo credit: Paola Chaaya via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The World Health Organization: Depression
[2] NCBI: The DSM-5: Classification and Criteria Changes
[3] OASH: Office on women’s Health: Effects of domestic violence on children
[4] Mental Health America: Suicide
[5] Upside Down Flan: The Best Treatment for Depression

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