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Last Updated on December 18, 2018

The Importance of Self Improvement No Matter How Old You Are

The Importance of Self Improvement No Matter How Old You Are

Ever since we were young, we were told to excel in academics, focus on getting good grades and ace our exams. In schools and colleges, the learning has always been more directed towards academic courses but what about aspects like self-improvement and personal development that play an equally important role in people’s lives?

The importance of self-improvement often goes unnoticed. We are either conveniently brushing our shortcomings under the carpet, refusing to face them or are just happy being ignorant. Truth is – you cannot run away from yourself. The farther you run, the deeper a grave you dig because there will come a time when all those unresolved emotions will surface, leaving you overwhelmed.

So, what should you do? Start with consciously becoming more self-aware, observing your thoughts, emotions and responses and deciding to make self-improvement an integral part of your life.

Just the way learning should never stop, the same applies for self-improvement. The idea should be to focus on continuous self-development at every stage in our life and become better versions of ourselves.

Here are 12 reasons why self-improvement is important irrespective of your age:

1. Increase Self-Awareness

We spend so much time getting to know other people and solve their issues. If only we spent that much time knowing ourselves, things would have been so much more different. Isn’t it?

The first step of self-improvement requires you to become more self-aware and get to know yourself better. It makes you question yourself and face reality for what it is, however harsh it might be.

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Self-awareness is an ongoing journey – as life progresses, you are met with different experiences and challenges, which make you more aware of your personality, thoughts and feelings. So, in order to be on the path of self-improvement, it is important to never lose touch with yourself.

2. Enhance Strengths

Self-improvement lets you identify your personal strengths and play on them. From relationships to careers – knowing your strengths is important for every sphere of your life.

It gives you a better understanding of what you are seeking and where you are likely to thrive and excel. It helps you set life goals and make them happen. After all, you can only achieve what you want when you KNOW what you want.

By nurturing and playing on your strengths, you are more likely to attain success and move towards shaping a happier and more productive life.

3. Overcom Weaknesses

While identifying strengths is an important aspect of self-improvement, so is coming to terms with your weaknesses. Don’t be ashamed of them, look at them as areas of improvement. We all have strengths and weaknesses that shape our personality. It is these imperfections that make us human.

The goal of improving yourself should be to look beyond those weaknesses that are stopping you from achieving greatness. Accept your weaknesses, identify where they stem from and be determined to overcome them.

It’s not easy but it’s certainly not impossible. Let your journey of self-improvement turn every weakness into a strength and only take you upward.

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4. Step out of Comfort Zone

The ‘comfort zone’ is a dangerous place to be in. It surely feels good, but it also denotes stagnancy and where there is stagnancy, you can never find growth.

Choosing to work on improving yourself requires you to step out of your comfort zone. It lets you face your fears, try new things, take risks and challenge yourself. There will be times when you will discover a new side of your personality but there will also be times when you will fail.

Don’t let those failures bog you down. The fact that you tried should motivate you to never get complacent and too comfortable in familiar spaces because as they say, life begins outside your comfort zone.

5. Improve Mental Health

One of the biggest importance of self-improvement is the positive impact it has on mental health. When you work on yourself, you get to know yourself better which lets you deal with your thoughts and emotions more effectively. You begin to understand why you are experiencing certain emotions and learn how to tackle them with time.

Someone who is not self-aware and not focused on improving themselves will have absolutely no control over their reactions which can lead to added stress and anxiety. Being in denial is never the answer.

6. Heal Relationships

When you work on improving yourself, you automatically improve your relations with those around you. For example, if your short-tempered nature has always been a cause of concern in your relationships, by consciously working on that aspect of your personality, you learn how to tame your anger and become calmer. This positive change reflects in your personal and professional relationships and enhances them.

The key to combat conflicts and build meaningful relationships starts with looking inward and developing yourself first. Moreover, when you strive to become a self-sufficient person and have a positive self-image, you are bound to nurture healthy relationships.

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7. Motivating Factor

Imagine climbing up a mountain – every hurdle you cross, motivates you to go higher. The same analogy holds true when it comes to self-improvement. Every fear and weakness you overcome motivates you to continue on the path of self-improvement and evolve further.

Self-improvement and motivation go hand in hand. When you see yourself developing as a human being, you are filled with optimism and the drive to push yourself to do better. It is a continuous cycle that needs you to maintain your motivation levels and be committed to continuous growth.

8. Better Decision Making

We are required to make decisions at every step in our lives and every decision has a repercussion. Moreover, it is not about making decisions as much as it is about being confident about the decision taken.

Good decision making skills come from a place of clarity, self-awareness and confidence which is a direct result of self-improvement. When you know what you want to achieve out of a situation and set your goals accordingly, you are able to make better, informed decisions.

9. Sense of Purpose

Deciding to walk the path of self-improvement and personal development gives your life purpose and meaning. Why is that important, you ask? It’s because it helps you stay focused on your life goals, makes you feel alive and keeps you motivated. It improves mental and physical well-being by keeping you on the right track.

With a sense of purpose, you learn to accept all the challenges that come along the way because you have your eyes set on what really matters – the ‘bigger picture’.

10. More Clarity

With all the distractions one is bombarded with, mental clarity is a tough state to attain. However, when you make self-improvement the primary goal of your life, you begin to start becoming more authentic and removing the clutter from your life.

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Gaining clarity lets you stay focused and not engage in anything that takes you away from your goal. That said, there will be moments of confusion and indecisiveness but with experience, you will grow to become more surer of yourself while gaining clarity about your life.

11. Instill a Learning Attitude

People who are invested in their continuous self-improvement come with an extremely positive attitude towards learning. It shows that they are aware of their shortcomings and are open to receiving feedback in order to improve.

Instead of being ignorant and escaping from their problems, they make it a point to learn from their mistakes to grow and succeed.

This is a wonderful quality to have as having a learning attitude is instrumental in achieving success.

12. Cultivate Self-love

Last but not the least, self-improvement cultivates self-love and compassion. By seeing yourself grow with every passing day, you build on your confidence and self-esteem.

Many might debate that if you love yourself why must you want to change but that’s not true. Self-improvement is not changing yourself out of frustration. It is more about focusing on what matters to you and overcoming any mental hurdles that might be stopping you from reaching your highest potential .

The Bottom Line

Take this enriching journey of self-improvement in a positive light. The idea is not to get demotivated along the way and lose hope. You should instead take full responsibility of yourself and strive to go beyond your preconceived notions that might be limiting you and this can only be achieved with constant self-improvement.

So, whether you are a retired 65-year old or a 26-year old who is just starting off his/her career  – remember that you will always be work in progress and there can never be an end to learning about yourself. That is what makes life purposeful and fun.

More Resources About Self Improvement

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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Adela Belin

Writes about motivation, mental health, personal development and shares stories inspired by her personal journey.

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Last Updated on May 16, 2019

Can You Stop Depression from Damaging Your Brain?

Can You Stop Depression from Damaging Your Brain?

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in America, according to the latest mental health statistics.[1] Approximately 17.3 million adults have had at least one major depressive episode.

In this article, we will take a deep look into depression, what a depression brain is like, and how to prevent the damage from depression.

What is Depression?

In order to tap into treatment options for depression, we must first examine what defines this disorder.

Apart from differing scientific and medical jargon, depression – also known as Major Depressive Disorder – is best categorized as a serious mood disorder.

While it is common, it is anything but innocent. The symptoms of depression have serious effects on daily living, and leave the afflicted person with an inability to carry out normal tasks, such as working, interacting with friends and family, and sleeping.

Depression itself is an umbrella term for a list of specific types of depression, such as Postpartum Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (which leads into serious symptoms of depression), Bipolar Disorder, and Psychotic Depression (which is depression with symptoms of psychosis), just to name a few.[2]

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While everyone experiences moments of depression in their life, being clinically diagnosed with depression is usually done with the aid of medical help. This diagnosis typically relies on a baseline of depression symptoms that have been present for at least two weeks.

Symptoms of Depression

Because depression is categorized as a serious mood disorder, most symptoms will begin with a person’s behavior. A person may feel persistent sadness that simply won’t go away, or they may experience a loss of interest in activities that they once enjoyed, like gardening, traveling, or working out.

Other symptoms, although not a complete list, may persist:

  • Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Angry outbursts, followed by a complete mood change (from happy to sad in very quick shifts)
  • Struggles with insomnia or significant changes in sleep schedule
  • Inability and lack of desire to get out of bed in the morning
  • Significant decrease in personal hygiene, nutrition, and maintenance of their home or space
  • Decreased interactions with friends, family, or colleagues
  • Lack of energy and physical weakness, apathy, or pains and aches
  • Trouble concentrating on specific tasks or making decisions
  • Frequent thoughts about death, or even suicidal plans, thoughts, or attempts
  • Back pain and headaches

While this list is not complete or exhaustive to a person’s struggle with depression, it does provide a general picture of some of the common symptoms.[3])

Causes of Depression

Mental health disorders still very much pose a mystery to medical professionals and science, in general. While depression is treated in a variety of ways (medicine, therapy, alternative healing, etc.), professionals are still learning more about this disorder and how it affects people of different genders, ages, and backgrounds.

However, a variety of factors are known to be possible contributors to depression, such as:

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  • Hormones – in cases of giving birth or going through menopause, women’s hormones quickly change, which can trigger depression or similar symptoms
  • Genes – while not everyone gets depression from inherited traits, it is a factor, and research has seen a correlation between depression in families that is carried through generations
  • Brain chemistry – one of the key factors in understanding cause of depression is brain chemistry, specifically neurotransmitters that work with the neuro-circuits in the brain to balance mood stability. If these neurotransmitters are not working properly, it could lead to depression or similar symptoms

We already mentioned brain chemistry, and how it plays an integral part in understanding how your brain works in relation to mood stability. Neurotransmitters are your body’s chemical messengers. They transmit these messages between neurons for a plethora of reasons – cognitive function, organ function, dopamine release, etc.[4]

In terms of relating this to depression, however, those transmitters also regulate mood stability, and if they’re not relaying messages correctly or connecting to the brain circuitry in normal, functioning ways, we see a correlation between that “misfiring” and mental illness.

To paint a picture, imagine your brain split in half, the two lobes or hemispheres perfectly separated from each other.

Now, imagine the mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters like tiny little ping-pong balls that bounce from one hemisphere of the brain to the other, relaying messages that connect the brain as a whole. This is what we normally see in a healthy functioning brain.

However, if there is a change in this chemistry, and the ping-pong balls are not crossing and relaying as they should, that change creates a shift in your brain circuitry that may cause depression or similar symptoms.

Because our brain is an extremely complex and intricate organ which scientists are still studying and learning about, it wouldn’t be complete to say that only chemical imbalances cause depression.

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In fact, recent Harvard research suggests that a slew of factors are involved in creating a correlation between depression and your brain function. These are inclusive of the neurotransmitters we described above, but they also include your way of life, medication, stress levels, and even genetic contributions or ways in which you were brought up.[5]

Because depression is a mood disorder, we have to look at our behavior, and how it is influenced by our brain chemistry.

Behavior is shaped by our temperament, and much of that comes from our genetics. We are predisposed to act in certain social situations in ways that tie us to our family chain.

How we react to life circumstances or other people is very much a reflection of what we picked up from our parents, guardians, friends, or social upbringing. From this, we may make different choices in life, for better or worse, depending on these genetics.

Similarly, our view of the world and our relation to it also have a hand in how depression may form. We create our world view early on in life, and while it is influenced by our family and life events, it’s also very much our own.

If you’ve experienced loss or disappointment, you’re likely to fall back on your world view to cope with it and allow it to protect you. As an example, you may close yourself off from new relationships because you’ve endured heartbreak and don’t believe that you’re worthy of real love; or, you come from an upbringing that wasn’t emotionally available, so you don’t create habit patterns or behaviors that show you how to handle emotion in a healthy way.

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All of these scenarios create behavior. In turn, that behavior creates habit patterns, that in turn, create your daily life and your interaction with it.

While chemical imbalances can have a direct role in manifesting depressive episodes, we have to be aware that our own, inherent behavioral traits are just as powerful contributors.

Medications to re-balance any chemical disruptions in the brain are a proactive tool against depression. These can be explained and provided to you by a medical health professional.

When it comes to our behavior, however, and how we deal with stress, trauma, loss, medical problems, and the like – all of which are triggers for depression – we can implement new habits[6] that can decrease any damage to our state of body and mind, such as:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Yoga or any body-conscious movement or workout
  • Journaling about life events or problems we encounter on a daily basis
  • Therapy or group-sharing
  • Acupuncture, Reiki, or any alternative-healing modality
  • Diet and nutrition rich in foods that cleanse and empower (rather than numb and overpack the gut)
  • Hiking, running, biking, or any cardio-increasing activity
  • Spending time with others who support you

These are habits and tools that you can implement on your own, as well as with a professional. Remember to always consult with your doctor before starting any new regiment.

The Bottom Line

Depression is a disorder that affects our mood. While research has uncovered that depression may be linked to chemical imbalances in the brain, it also suggests that our behavior and inherent genetic traits are strongly connected to how depression manifests.

How you deal with the many ups and downs of daily life are strong indicators of where you may want to make changes, whether medicinal or alternative, to decrease your chances of depression and its damage, and embrace a life of health and well-being.

Featured photo credit: AJ Garcia via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] National Institute of Mental Health: Major Depression
[2] National Institute of Mental Health: Depression
[3] Mayo Clinic: Depression (Major Depressive Disorder
[4] Queensland Brain Institute: What are Neurotransmitters
[5] Harvard Health: What Causes Depression?
[6] Help Guide: Coping with Depression

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