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Published on May 2, 2019

How To Overcome Anxiety and Feel More at Ease (Part 1)

How To Overcome Anxiety and Feel More at Ease (Part 1)

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health challenge we face. Globally, an estimated 275 million people, or 4% of the population, were affected in 2016.[1] In the U.S., 18.1% of the adult population suffers every year and 30% of people will experience anxiety at some point.[2] Anxiety disorders touch 25.1% of children between 13 and 18 years old and women are almost twice as likely to experience anxiety disorders than males.

So if you’re feeling anxious or suffering from anxiety, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Not only is anxiety highly common, it is also highly treatable. Yet less than half of people suffering seek treatment.

Having been there myself, I know it is scary, confusing, frustrating and challenging. At times, it feels like it’s going to suffocate you or swallow you whole; and you fear you’ll never feel like yourself again.

I remember a time when I stood at the front door sobbing because I didn’t want my husband to leave for work in the morning. It was not me. I have always been laid back, easygoing and fearless. And all of a sudden I was anxious, scared and full of fear.

What made it even worse was feeling terrified I would feel that way forever. I remember calling a good friend on my way home one day from therapy. She’d suffered from anxiety too. I’ll never forget it what she told me. It was a turning point in my healing.

“It WILL get better; you won’t always feel like this. I know it feels like it now, but you won’t. I promise, you will get better”.

Those words resonated deeply and stuck with me through the toughest of times. I desperately needed to know there was hope.

Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s suffered from anxiety says something similar. I thought it would never end. I thought I was going to have to live like that forever (and I knew I couldn’t). I had no idea how I was going to get out of it. But they all got through it.

In this article, I’ll share real stories and recommendations from those who have been through anxiety, as well as tips and strategies from mental health professionals.

All of them share one common sentiment: anxiety is common and can be treated. If you can summon up the strength and courage to take a few steps out of the darkness, you will find light.

So if you’re out there wondering if you will EVER get through this, wondering if you will EVER feel like yourself again, wondering if this will EVER end…It CAN and it WILL.

For those of you facing anxiety on any level, my hope is that you find at least one of these stories, strategies or resources helpful and supportive in working through your own process and journey.

What Is Anxiety?

People use the term ‘anxiety’ to describe everything from a stressful feeling or situation to a severe feeling of anxiety, and even anxiety attacks which can come out of nowhere and closely mimic the same symptoms of a heart attack.

According to David Carbonell, PhD.(The Anxiety Coach):

“Anxiety is a set of emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations typically centered on some apprehension about a future event or potential occurrence. Anxiety is an ordinary emotion which is part of life. We would have trouble functioning without it.

An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, is a condition in which a person has literally become afraid of their experiences of anxiety and tries to resist and prevent those experiences in ways that make the problem worse rather than better. People develop an anxiety disorder for various reasons. It seems clear that there are genetic predispositions to develop them. People who score high on a measure of ‘anxiety sensitivity’ are more prone to develop one.”

There are several major anxiety disorders including Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and specific phobias of all kinds. When talking about overcoming anxiety, since there are such varying levels and degrees of what that means, there are also varying levels of treatment and support.[3]

    What Causes Anxiety?

    Here’s the technical answer from Jennie Morton:

    “The experience of anxiety emerges from a cascade of events that are triggered in the body by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system (or fight/flight mechanism) in response to a threat. This is a very natural reaction that is designed to ensure our survival when under attack from a predator. An area of our brain called the amygdala acts as a kind of ‘smoke detector’ for environmental threats and plays a key role in triggering the fight or flight response.

    The amygdala[4] is also involved in emotional learning and, based on our experiences from childhood onward, will label certain places, people, situations, etc. as either safe or unsafe.

    So while for many the experience of anxiety may seem irrational or illogical, there will be a reason why the amygdala has chosen to spark this sensation. Somewhere along the line it put a red flag warning on an event or even just a particular aspect of a threatening situation which it is then conditioned to repeat.”

    In my experience, if you’re suffering from anxiety, something bigger is going on. Anxiety is not the problem. Anxiety is a symptom of something.

    There are many complex and varying causes for anxiety, including;

    • Life experiences and events (including trauma)
    • Genetics and upbringing
    • Brain chemistry
    • Medical conditions (including blood sugar imbalance, thyroid dysfunction and gut imbalance/food sensitivities), and
    • Forms of stress including unhealthy relationships, demanding jobs, and financial obligations.

    More often than not, anxiety is a sign you are out of alignment or out of balance in some way shape or form – mentally, emotionally, physically or even spiritually.

      It’s your body’s way of telling you something isn’t’ working. Something is not right. Our bodies are quite amazing. They have a way of telling us to slow down, do something different, pay attention or make a change. And if we don’t listen, guess what? They yell louder. And often, they speak the language of anxiety.

      Remember, anxiety is a message. To honor this message, look deeper into what may be out of balance in your body, as well as your life. This may feel scary at first, but remember, the life you want is on the other side of fear! — Dr. Kelly Brogan

      How to Heal Your Anxiety

      I’d like to introduce Erica Phillipson. Erica is a Graphic Artist, Yoga Instructor & Retreat Facilitator (and former Club DJ & Radio Show Host).

        Here, she shares her personal story and recommendations for overcoming anxiety:

        At the height of my anxiety, I thought I would never get through it. I didn’t just have anxiety, I had Panic Disorder. On bad days, I would have 6 or 7 panic attacks. They would sometimes last for over an hour and often it would take me a few hours to recover. The trauma I experienced took a toll on me both physically and mentally. Eventually, everything became too much for me. I didn’t want to get too excited/nervous/scared, I didn’t want to put myself in any situation that could trigger my panic, I didn’t want to leave the house. I felt like I had short-circuited. I even got to a point where I would worry that merely thinking about a panic attack was going to bring one on.

        I thought it would never end. But it did. It may have lasted 6 years, but I haven’t had a panic attack for over 6 years now!

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        Having Panic Disorder pushed me to work through so much ‘stuff’. It forced me to really go deep within myself. Looking back at how much I evolved during that time, I can honestly say that my Panic Disorder has been one of my life’s greatest gifts. Without it, I would have stayed in a career that was not working for me; I would not have found balance in my life; I would still be saying yes when the answer in my heart is no. I would probably not be as grateful for the little things that make our lives so beautiful; I would not be the person I am today.

        I know who I am. I know what I want. I know what I am willing – and not willing – to put up with. I am happy! If I can get through it, you can, too.

        This anxiety you are facing is a tool for growth, but you need to be willing to work with it. Your body has given you anxiety because it is trying to tell you something but you have not been listening. It’s time to listen.

        As I went through my healing process, I tried every type of therapy out there, including: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Tapping, Vitamins, Homeopathy, Yoga, Hypnosis, Art processes, kundalini, Breathwork and medication (for a few months).

        I’m hoping that the knowledge I gained from these therapies will help you to heal quicker than it took me.

        The biggest thing I want you to know is that no one can heal you but you.

        Here are my recommendations:

        1. Know your triggers.

        Get to the root issue of what’s not working and what’s causing anxiety.

        For me, there were a few triggers. I was working too much, not sleeping, traveling every week and stressed out. I was afraid of flying (from a past experience as a child), so having to perform in a new city every week became a massive trigger for me.

        Living on my own became a trigger because I would arrive home in the early hours of the morning when no one was around (in one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Johannesburg).

        My radio show also became a trigger because it was naturally nerve-wracking for me. DJing at clubs became a trigger for me because it’s stressful having to keep a dance floor full and happy.

        Compounding these triggers resulted in the perfect recipe for Panic Disorder.

        I also used coping mechanisms to keep me going. I would get ready to DJ a show by drinking Coke and a shot of tequila so that I was ‘awake and smiling’. Now this may sound extreme, but my guess is many of you have your own versions of this – taking medication for that headache every day, having one too many glasses of wine every night, taking sleeping pills so you can sleep or drinking way too much coffee to get through the next hour of work. All of those things are masking something that’s not working.

        Find out what they are and eliminate those things from your life. Make the changes step by step, and eventually you will begin to understand your anxiety and get what your body is trying to tell you.

        It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be a heck of a lot easier than living the way you are right now.

        2. Find what brings you JOY and add more of that to your life.

        Find what brings you balance, makes you feel good, or brings positivity.

        Do what you love. Find things that are aligned with your heart, your soul, your purpose.

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        3. Surround yourself with people that ‘get you’.

        Unless you’ve had anxiety, you can’t really understand how it feels. Not many people got what I was going through.

        So many times I suffered panic attacks ‘in broad daylight’. I would be hosting my show, DJing to a thousand people, at a fundraiser for the “South African Depression and Anxiety Group” (ironic!), and wouldn’t tell a soul.

        Others would try and help by telling me ‘it was going to be ok’ or ‘I must think about something else’, but they had NO idea how dark it was. I thought I was going to die. I thought I was going to lose my mind and never come back.

        It’s important to find your people. Maybe they have gone through it themselves, maybe they just know how to support you unconditionally, maybe it’s a therapist who can support and normalize what you’re facing.

        My husband was my rock, his love helped me heal. My best friend was incredible, she took my panic attacks seriously and that meant the world to me. I also found immense comfort in my dog, Nala. She truly was my emotional support dog.

        4. Take care of your body.

        Eat healthy foods, practice yoga, journal, exercise, breathwork, sleep… These were critical in my healing.

        5. Acceptance.

        When I stopped fighting my panic attacks and faced them, they moved through me much more quickly.

        Being aware of what has triggered you and how you are feeling will help you to gain perspective and slowly. But, surely you will understand that you are safe and nothing is going to happen to you.

        6. Get to know yourself.

        This was the single most important factor of my healing. So much of my anxiety was caused from being out of alignment with who I was, I had to get REAL.

        I found myself in a life that was NOT working for me. I was in a job that wasn’t me. It was glamorous, fun and amazing from the outside; it looked like the dream job. But it wasn’t me. It wasn’t what I wanted to do or how I wanted to do it.

        I had to look at who I was, what I wanted in life and what truly made me happy. I had to dig into my beliefs, values, and moral compass.

        Please, as you go through this, don’t be so hard on yourself. Be gentle and nurturing. This is a process and takes time. There is no one way to heal from anxiety. The root cause is different for different people and the solution will be as well. Try everything. Note what works and let go of what doesn’t.

        Lastly, consider that the universe might just be giving you a gift. Maybe say to yourself:

        “Here’s a gift. It’s called anxiety. Let’s see what it brings me”.

        I wish I had that perspective and I hope it helps you.”

        Conclusion

        I love Erica’s incredible story and am so thankful she’s shared it with us. It’s a poignant reminder that there’s a reason you have anxiety and that there are things you can do to overcome it.

        Personally, I addressed my anxiety from an integrative, holistic approach as well. I stepped back and assessed my life and looked at what needed to happen mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I went to therapy, worked with a coach, made some important life changes, got bodywork, read books, did yoga, and practiced meditation.

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        I learned grounding techniques. I changed my eating. I cut out alcohol, caffeine and artificial sweeteners. I tried everything I could get my hands on. I kept what worked for me and let go of what didn’t.

        I was able to work through my anxiety too…and though I can’t pinpoint exactly what helped the most, I know it was this integrative, multi-faceted approach that made a difference.

        Today, I wouldn’t say I’m back to my old self. I’d say I’m happy to be my new self.

        As Nietzsche so wisely said many years ago, “That which does not kill me makes me stronger”.

          It’s true. My experience with anxiety has helped me evolve into the more conscious, thoughtful, connected and compassionate person I am today.

          For those of you facing anxiety on any level, my hope is that these stories and recommendations are supportive in helping you work through your own process so you can move forward and uncover that ‘gift’ Erica spoke about.

          Your next step? Take a step forward — any step. That may mean trying one of the techniques you’ve read here or reaching out for help. There are many forms of fantastic therapies that can help – but they can only work if you do.

          Don’t miss PART 2 of the Anxiety Series which includes additional stories and lots of great strategies from mental health professionals and experts.

          And below are some additional resources to support you in your healing.

          Resources and Websites

          Therapists

          If you’re experiencing persistent and excessive levels of anxiety, I highly recommend you reach out to your doctor, therapist or specialist for support.

          To find a therapist near you, reach out to someone you trust who can make a recommendation, contact one of our professionals above or find someone here:

          Additional Websites

          Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Our World in Data: Anxiety Disorders
          [2] Anxiety And Depression Association of America: Facts & Statistics
          [3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Understand the Facts
          [4] Science Daily: Amygdala

          More by this author

          Tracy Kennedy

          Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

          How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit 9 Mindset Shifts That Will Help You Live Your Dream Life How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment What Am I Doing with My Life? Find Your Answer Here

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          Last Updated on October 15, 2019

          How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

          How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

          What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

          To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

          All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

          There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

          With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

          What follows is a list of thirteen of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these 13 tips are essential:

          1. Think Big

            From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

            “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

            There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

            Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

            Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

            Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
            Instead be ambitious.

            2. Find What You Love to Do and Do It

              From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

              “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

              This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

              Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

              If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

              Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

              Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

              Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

              3. Learn How to Balance Life

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                From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

                “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

                All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

                If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

                However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

                If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

                In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

                To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

                4. Do Not Be Afraid of Failure

                  From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

                  “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

                  There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

                  Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

                  His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

                  He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

                  Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

                  Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

                  If you find it difficult to fight your fear of failure, here’s a guide for you: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

                  5. Have an Unwavering Resolution to Succeed

                    From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                    “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                    This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                    It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

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                    If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

                    Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                    6. Be a Person of Action

                      From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                      “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                      Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                      Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                      When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                      You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                      All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                      Applying this to you?

                      Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                      7. Cultivate Positive Relationships

                        From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                        The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                        The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                        People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                        This is key to good leadership.

                        It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                        But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                        What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                        As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

                        8. Don’t Be Afraid of Introducing New Ideas

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                          From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                          “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                          It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                          Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                          If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                          9. Believe in Your Capacity to Succeed

                            From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                            “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                            Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                            It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                            Keep dreaming!

                            10. Always Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude

                              From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                              “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                              Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                              Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                              If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                              However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                              11. Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Pressing On

                                From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                                “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                                It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

                                When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

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                                Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                                If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                                This is How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

                                12. Be Willing to Work Hard

                                  From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                                  “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                                  You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                                  Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                                  True success comes from work.

                                  You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                                  Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                                  13. Be Brave Enough to Follow Your Intuition

                                    From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                    “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                    In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                    If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                    It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                    Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                    Final Thoughts

                                    What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                    Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this: How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                    More to Help You Succeed in Life

                                    Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

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