Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Children, just like adults, can be depressed. Sometimes seemingly normal children with no major life issues can become depressed. It is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes clinical depression to occur. There are specific signs that you should recognize in your child if they are depressed. Getting them help and treatment is crucial to their mental wellness.

In this article, we will look into the signs of depression in children and how parents can help them to overcome it.

Signs of depression in children

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder) is the widely accepted instruction guide that professionals utilize for diagnosing mental disorders. The DSM characterizes a Major Depressive Episode as depressed behaviors that consistently last for two weeks or longer. Therefore, if your child has been “down in the dumps”, feeling hopeless or having sadness for more than two weeks, it should be cause for concern and investigated.

Below are signs of depression according to the DSM manual. The individual must have at least five of these behaviors present for a period of two weeks or longer to be officially diagnosed as having MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). Below is a summary/generalization from the DSM manual:

  • Feelings of deep sadness or depressed mood that last most of the day (for two weeks or more). For children they can present as irritable rather than sad.
  • Diminished interest in activities (again majority of the day or all the time).
  • Significant weight loss (not through dieting), or a decrease in appetite. In children, they fail to make expected weight gains while growing.
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Either a slowing of psychomotor abilities/actions or an apparent agitation of these psychomotor abilities. This means that they either have moments that lack purpose and seem to be done because of agitation and tension or there is a significant slowness/retardation of their speech and physical actions.
  • Fatigue and loss of energy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt every day.
  • Difficulty thinking, making decisions, or concentrating every day. This may be reflected in their grades.
  • Preoccupation with death and dying or suicidal thoughts.

Please note that if your child is suffering from the loss of a loved one and is processing through the stages of grief, it is normal to have these signs of depression. If they seem to be stuck in the depression stage, then it is time to pursue grief counseling to help them along in the grieving process.

However, if they are not suffering from a bereavement or a medical condition that would cause the above symptoms, then they should be taken to a professional for possible diagnosis and treatment of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).

How to help your child with depression

Depression is not to be taken lightly. Especially if suicidal thoughts are present. The child’s feelings and emotions are real and must be taken seriously. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is the number two cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.[1]

Professional help is recommended if you believe your child fits the criterion for MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). You can take your child to their paediatrician for an evaluation and referral. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, they may benefit from medication such as anti-depressants.

Most professionals do not dispense medication as the first remedy for depression. Instead therapy is the first line of defense against depression, with medication being paired with therapy if the therapy is not enough or the symptoms are severe enough.

Testing

There are assessment tools that professionals can utilize to help in properly determining whether your child is depressed. The three tools used in assessing depression in children are:

  • The Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS)
  • Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI)
  • Clinical Global Impression (CGI)

Taking your child to a professional mental health counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist can help ensure proper testing and assessment occurs.

Therapy

There are many types of therapy available today. It is important to find a professional that specializes in childhood depression and the treatment of such.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the leading therapy methods in treating childhood depression. For younger children, play therapy is useful in treating childhood depression as children are often able to better communicate through play than conversation alone.

What parents can do at home to help their depressed child

Besides seeking for professional help, there are a couple of things that parents can do at home to help their depressed child:

1. Talk with your child about their feelings in a compassionate and empathetic manner.

It can feel high pressure to sit face to face and ask your child about their feelings. However, going on a walk, playing a board game or playing alongside your child (chose whichever is age appropriate for your child) can allow them to relax and open up about their feelings.

Ask your child open ended questions that require more than a simple yes or no to engage in more meaningful conversations. Never judge while they are being open and honest with you because it will inevitably cause them to shut down and move away from being open with you.

It is okay to allow for periods of silence during the conversations because sometimes the child is processing their thoughts and emotions during your time together. You don’t have to fill the space and entire time with talking as silence at times is helpful.

2. Provide activities that help them relax and de-stress.

For smaller children, there are simple ways to help them relax.

Provide play opportunities that they find relaxing such as coloring, painting, working with Play-do or clay, or playing with sand and sand toys. Again, find activities that interest your child and are age appropriate are helpful in making them relaxed.

3. Limit screen time.

Technology is not helpful in making your child less depressed. It can often be an escape that keeps them from further opening up about their feelings and emotions.

Limit time in front of the TV, laptop, smart phone, video games and tablets, etc. Any electronics that seem to prevent your child from face to face interactions should be limited. Ask Dr. Sears cites that researchers have found kids who have higher levels of screen time are at greater risk for anxiety and depression.[2]

Provide alternate activities to replace the screen time such as hiking, crafting, drawing, constructing, biking and playing outside, etc. Some children may be so dependent on their screen time as their source for entertainment that they may need you to participate in alternate activities alongside them in order to get engaged in the activities.

You can’t simply tell your child to go outside to play if they are suffering from depression, lack friends and are used to sitting down and playing video games each day after school. Go outside with your child and do a nature hike or take your child to a playground and have fun together to get them engaged in these alternate activities.

4. Promote outdoor time and physical activities.

Encourage your children to take part in activities that especially involve nature such as nature hikes. Do these activities with them to help them engage in the activities. Again this is an opportunity for open conversations to occur and quality time to take place.

5. Help your child when problems and difficult tasks arise.

Assist them by helping them break down the task into smaller and more manageable parts. Children with depression often have difficulty taking on large problems and tasks and find them overwhelming. Helping them by breaking down the task into smaller and more manageable tasks will assist in helping raise their confidence when the small tasks are mastered.

Small tasks mastered lead to bigger tasks being mastered over time. It is a process over time, patience and a willingness to work alongside your child. This does not mean doing the task or taking on the problem solely yourself. Many times all the child needs is for you to break down the larger task into smaller more manageable tasks and for you to patiently talk your child through the completion of these smaller tasks.

6. Help your child reduce life stress.

When children are depressed, they have greater difficulty handling life activities in general. Cut back on activities that cause stress to increase and look for ways to help reduce stress in your child’s life.

7. Foster a positive home atmosphere.

Reduce or eliminate negative attitudes, language and conversations. Also avoid raised voices, passive aggressive behaviors and any form of physical violence in the home.

Make your home a safe haven for your child instead of an atmosphere that is ever volatile (in words, emotions or physically). Make it a calm environment that makes your child feel safe and secure mentally, emotionally and physically.

8. Help your child see the positive in life situations.

Point out the positives in a situation rather than the negatives. Help them see the bright side of any situation.

Be a model of seeing the positive in life by speaking words that are uplifting, encouraging and positive. Resist the temptation to voice negative thoughts that come to mind as your child can feed off your emotions and words.

9. Believe your child when they talk about how they are feeling.

Listen to them patiently and take their words seriously. Do not discount or minimize their feelings. Express empathy and compassion when they do open up about their feelings. Help them utilize “I feel” statements in expressing their emotions.

10. Keep watch for suicidal behaviors.

Such behaviors include your child/teen researching this topic online, them giving away their possessions and a preoccupation with death.

Seek professional help immediately with the presentation of suicidal behaviors or thoughts. Keep this number on hand and use it when in doubt: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number 1-800-273-8255.

11. Keep all prescriptions, alcohol, drugs and weapons locked and away from children and teens.

This is a given for all children, but even more imperative for children who are depressed as they have an increased likelihood to abuse drugs and alcohol. They also have an increased likelihood to attempt suicide. So keep weapons and tools such as ropes and knives that can used for suicide out of the child’s ability to use.

12. Spend quality one-on-one time with your child.

Make the time during your day, every day, to spend quality time with your child. You may have limited time and cannot provide an hour or more a day to dedicate to one-on-one time with your child, but you should provide a minimum of 20 minutes a day with your child spending quality one-on-one time together. Try the suggested activities listed in point #3.

13. Be an encouragement and supporter of your child.

Show love and not frustration or anger because of the situation and your child’s condition. Help keep your attitude positive so your child can also see the positive.

Provide daily words of affirmation that are not based on end results (such as a grade or a win) but instead praise the effort they put forth. If you praise the outcome, they will be disappointed when their efforts don’t pan out. If they are praised for their efforts regardless of the outcome, their confidence is built based upon something that they can control (the effort they put into things).

14. Help your child to live a healthy lifestyle.

Sleep is a very important factor in your child’s mood. Not getting enough sleep can cause an entire day to be upset. According to Sleep Aid Resource, children between the ages of 3 and 18 need between 8 and 12 hours of sleep each night:[3]

Ensure your child is eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting physical activity/exercise daily and plenty of sleep time.

15. Help your child foster positive relationships and friendships with their peers.

Set up play dates for your younger child and encourage older children to invite friends over to your home.

16. Talk about bullying.

It can be one of the causes of your child’s depression, so discuss their life outside of home and their interactions with their peers. Help them recognize bullying and discuss how to handle bullying properly.

17. Help your child follow the treatment plan outlined by their doctor, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

Make sure you know the treatment plan that your child’s health care professional has outlined for child. This may include counseling session recommendations, medications and recommendations to follow through with in the home. Completing the plan will help provide optimal results for your child in the long run. A plan doesn’t work unless it is followed.

18. Recognize that professional treatment takes time to show results.

Don’t expect results for the first few weeks. It may take a month or longer, so be patient and understanding with your child.

Depression in children is curable

Depression in children can happen for a variety of reasons. It is quite treatable.

Professional help is recommended if your child can possibly be diagnosed with a depressive episode. There are interventions that can be implemented in a professional setting, at home and at school. The key is having a plan of action to help your child.

Ignoring the problem or hoping the depression will just go away is not a good plan. Treatment is imperative to curing depression in children.

The first step is talking to your child’s paediatrician to get the ball rolling. He or she will refer you to specialists in your area that can help your child overcome and conquer their depression one day at a time. With you by their side, each step of the way you will get through it together and it is quite possible for your relationship with your child to be strengthened in the process as well. That can be your silver lining or positive outlook on the situation at hand.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] National Institute of Mental Health: Suicide
[2] Ask Dr. Sears: It’s a Virtual World: Setting Practical Screen Time Limits
[3] Sleep Aid Resource: Sleep Chart

The post Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It) appeared first on Lifehack.

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15 Ways Meditation Benefits Your Brain Power and Your Mood

These days, you feel like a robot.

You drag your feet into work and you have to deal with your boss. You’re hustling this year yet again to try and make more money than last year.

You come home to kids who always need something from you and all the things that need to be done around the house barely gives you any time to connect with your spouse.

You don’t even have a moment to yourself and it’s beginning to stress you out to the point of burnout.

But life doesn’t have to be this way.

What if there was a simple solution that’s been scientifically proven to decrease your stress levels? Something that will clear your mind of all the clutter and help you feel refreshed each morning with more focus and energy? Like you’re ready to take on the world?

This is exactly what meditation does.

In fact, over 50 years of scientific research has unearthed a whole bunch of evidence of all the different life changing meditation benefits. Here are 15 ways meditating regularly has been shown to significantly improve your brain function and mood.

1. You get fluent at making good decisions.

If you’re stressed out often, you’ve probably had those moments in your life where you made bad decisions as a result. Whether it’s details you missed for an important project or a big mistake you made that negatively affected other people, you know what it’s like when you’re not at your best.

What’s being impaired in moments like this is a skill called executive function.[1] Simply put, executive function is the part of your brain that helps you get results for goals you are trying to achieve. It’s what helps you do things like manage your time, pay attention, plan, organize and remember details.

Studies have shown compelling evidence that it helps people who have impaired executive functioning skills from conditions such as Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).[2] A study run by Dr. Lidia Zylowska showed 78% of adult participants with ADHD experienced a reduction of overall ADHD symptoms when they regularly used meditation practices.[3]

2. You become an expert at handling stress.

Moments of stress triggers your amygdala, also known as your “lizard brain”. It’s the primal part of your brain which is associated with fear and emotion and its primary function is to help you survive.

High levels of stress can make you enter into lizard brain mode where it is dominated by the amygdala. It can be described when one “flips his lid” and is controlled by overwhelming emotion such as fear or anger. Think about it as times you’ve been in a heated argument or deathly afraid of something that might hurt you.

When you are in this mode, other important parts of your brain like the pre-frontal cortex, which is the part of your brain that is capable of higher level thinking such as decision-making, self-awareness, empathy and morality, are turned off

Because the amygdala isn’t as great at logical thinking for the less straightforward situations of daily life, meditation can help decrease your stress levels by first getting you out of your lizard brain and back to being in the present moment, which then empowers you to respond to stress in a much better way.

For example, you might be in lizard brain mode thinking all the time about how to survive by making more money, but through meditation, you connect with what’s most important despite all the stress. You realize before it’s too late that you’ve been ignoring the more important things like connecting with your kids and maintaining intimacy with your spouse.

MRI scans have shown that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the amygdala appears to shrink. And as the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex becomes thicker.[4]

Basically, science has shown that meditation can help you become better at handling your stress by activating the part of your brain that makes better decisions.

3. You naturally remember useful information.

Imagine a time where you told yourself a list of items you wanted to buy at the grocery store without physically writing it down. By the time you get to the store, you’ve forgotten what some of those items were.

This is when your working memory capacity has fallen short. You use your working memory when you need to place a sticky note in your mind so that you can use it in the near future. The problem is sometimes those sticky notes fall off by the time you need it.

If your working memory is the information that goes on these mental sticky notes, then your working memory capacity is how long you can have these sticky notes stay on before it falls off. The longer time you have to hold information, the more time you have for reasoning and comprehension to occur.

Meditation has been shown to improve your working memory capacity.

One study had about 200 teenagers assigned to either a mindfulness meditation practice, yoga, or were wait-listed as a control group.[5] Results showed that the teenagers participating in the meditation group had significantly better working memory capacity than those participating in the other groups.

4. You become an amazing smooth talker.

If you’ve ever had a time when you were talking with someone and you had trouble finding the right words to express what you were trying to say, you’ve had a moment where your verbal fluency wasn’t at it’s best.

​Verbal fluency as defined by verbal skill expert, Min Liu, is the “ability to find the right words at the right time or in the right situation.”[6]

When sixty-three University of North Carolina, Charlotte students with no meditation experience volunteered for an experiment that studied the effects of meditation on their verbal fluency, results showed that there was a significant improvement in verbal fluency in those who engaged in mindfulness meditation versus those who did not.[7] And to add to these impressive results, the group who meditated only did it for 20 minutes a day over four day period.

5. You develop laser-like focus.

With all the information at our fingertips in this digital age, it’s easy to get distracted. We are exposed to an average of 10,000 marketing advertisements a day and it’s hard to discern what the important things we should focus on are. The artificial A.D.D. culture we’ve created has made us have significantly shorter attention spans due to information overload.

Taking as little as 20 minutes a day for five days to engage in meditate has improved one’s attention, which shows the power of simply making a subtle shift and spending a tiny fraction of your day simply being present.[8]

6. You superpower your brain.

All the signature folds you see on the outer surface on the brain that look like windy roads have been formed to help increase the speed of brain cell communication. The formation of these folds is known as gyrification. Since your brain doesn’t have any space inside your skull to get bigger, it undergoes gyrification to increase the capacity of your brain function.

Long-term meditators have been shown to have a larger amount of gyrifcation compared to those who don’t practice meditation.[9] More interestingly, a direct correlation was found between the amount of gyrification and the number of meditation years, which is proof of the capability of our brain to continue growing even as adults.

This means the more you meditate, the faster and more efficient your brain becomes at processing information, which can be especially useful in moments where you need to think fast.

7. You are better at problem solving.

When your brain is solving a challenging problem, it requires the skill to focus attention on what’s most important amongst a large amount of information.

A simple example of your brain at work engaging in such conflict resolution is when you’re at a loud party talking to a friend. If your brain didn’t detect and resolve all the conflicting stimulation around you by helping you ignore all the noise around you and focus on your friend, you’d probably have a sensory overload.

The same principal applies when you run into larger conflict resolution challenges. You need to be able to determine what’s most important and focus your attention on it.

Multiple studies have shown that participants in groups who partook in meditation practices had performed higher on evaluations that tested conflict resolution skills compared to groups that didn’t.[10]

This goes to show why those who meditate generally have a lower stress level. Their brains are more adept at conflict resolution.

8. Your creativity starts to flourish.

The Harvard Business Review has conducted experiments that have shown that 10-12 minutes of mindful meditation practices were enough to boost creativity.[11] The majority of participants who were part of the meditation arm of the study reported that it helped them “clear their minds, focus more on the task at hand, and come up with original solutions.”

Mindfulness meditation gets ideas flowing directly to your neocortex, which is where all of your creative thinking takes place. It’s no surprise why some of the most leading companies have introduced meditation in the workplace as a result:[12]

“The Walt Disney Company was an early adopter of meditation in the workplace, as they noticed a dramatic increase in creativity after employees meditated on creative solutions. General Mills is another company which reports improved innovation as a result of sitting in stillness and has meditation rooms available to their staff. Google has an in house mindfulness program called ‘Search inside Yourself’ and has built a labyrinth for mindful walking meditations.”

9. You kill your anxiety and experience more peace.

About 6.8 million Americans suffer from General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and even if you’re not one of them, chances are you at least worry about something on most days.

When worrying becomes a normal part of your daily life, it can take its toll on you and you find yourself losing sleep, being tense and have a racing mind that won’t sit still.

Meditation has been long established as an antidote for anxiety. Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist recruited fifteen healthy volunteers with normal levels of everyday anxiety to test out this theory.[13] The participants had no previous meditation experience. After engaging in four 20-minute mindfulness meditation classes, it was reported that anxiety was noticeably reduced in every session that they meditated.

The brain imaging scans taken of these individual revealed that meditation was providing anxiety relief by activating the anterior cingulate cortex which is one part of the brain that helps with the control of worry. Scans also revealed decreases in the grey matter of the amygdala which is the part of the brain that plays an important role in anxiety and stress.

10. Your brain stays young forever.

Most of the neurons in your brain are contained within a portion known as grey matter. It’s within the grey matter where essential things such as memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control take place.

After you reach 30-years-old, your brain begins to slowly shrink.[14] But evidence shows that those who keep their brain in shape by engaging in regular meditation practices can prevent the shrinking altogether.

One study from UCLA showed that in long-term meditators, age-related grey matter loss was less pronounced compared to those who didn’t meditate.[15] Brain scans of the participants who had been meditating for an average of 20 years even showed more grey matter volume throughout their brain than expected.

11. You become great at adapting to changes.

Cognitive flexibility is the vital function that’s been described as the ability to adapt behaviors in response to changes occurred in the environment.

Imagine if you started to live in a new country, your level of cognitive flexibility will determine how fast you can adjust to all the changes to your environment such as having the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car, learning the local language and figuring out the nuances of the new culture.

Meditators performed significantly better than non-meditators as examined in a study which brought participants through exercises that tested cognitive flexibility.[16] The study indicated that mindfulness is closely linked to improvements to cognitive flexibility.

So if you’re ever having trouble adjusting to a new situation, maybe a little meditation will solve your problem.

12. You begin to win your battle with the blues.

A research review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) of Internal Medicine in January 2014 showed meditation was about as effective as an antidepressant.[17]

Another study on mindfulness meditation published by psychologists from the University of Exeter found it to be better than drugs or counseling for depression.[18] They found that after four months of meditating, about 75% of patients felt well enough to stop taking antidepressants.

Even if you aren’t suffering from clinical depression, meditation will uplift your mood if you’re feeling down.

13. You grow stronger and experience less pain.

Mindfulness meditation has been shown in clinical trials to reduce chronic pain by 57 percent and that seasoned meditators can reduce it by over 90 percent.[19] Brain scan studies show that meditation can physically alter the structure of the brain so that it no longer feels pain at the same level of intensity.

Hospital pain clinics now prescribe mindfulness meditation to help patients suffering from all kinds of diseases such as cancer, arthritis and heart disease.

Just like many other studies researching meditation benefits, you can see the results of meditation within a short time frame even if you’ve never done it before.

Wake Forest University conducted a study that took 15 healthy participants and performed brain scans while inducing pain. A certified instructor took them through mindfulness meditation over the next four days and by the fifth day, there was about a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity ratings while they were meditating compared to when they weren’t.[20]

14. Your ability of self-control goes up another level.

If you’ve ever found yourself giving into the temptations of eating that tub of ice cream when you’re on diet or lighting up that cigarette when you’re trying to quit, meditation might be the exact thing you need to give you that extra push of self-control.

In fact, meditation can even help people recover from various types of addictions. Meditation activates the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex which are the parts of your brain related to self-control.

One study showed that smokers who were assigned to do 5 hours of meditation spread over two weeks showed a 60% reduction in smoking compared to the smokers who didn’t meditate.[21]

15. You gain an overall sense of happiness up another level.

If you’ve ever experienced the pleasurable experience of the “runners high,” then you know what it feels like to have a release of endorphins in your brain. While endorphins are neurotransmitters that your body uses as a natural painkiller, it’s also responsible for the overall sense of happiness you sometimes feel.

When a study compared 11 elite runners and 12 highly trained meditators, results showed that both groups had noticeably elevated levels of endorphins after running and meditation. More interestingly, the pleasurable effects of endorphin release were measured in these groups and the meditation group scored higher.[22]

The easiest way to start meditating

On top of all these amazing meditation benefits, meditation is easy to do and you can actually do it right now.

Here’s a very straightforward and simple step-by step instructions that you can immediately implement to start experiencing the benefits of meditation:

  1. Set aside 5-10 minutes
  2. Find a safe space with little distractions.
  3. Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor with your back straight.
  4. Take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth
  5. Close your eyes or focus your gaze on the object you’ve chosen.
  6. Breathe normally and gently bring your focus to the breath.
  7. If your mind wanders, gently steer it back to focus on the breath.
  8. When finished, just take a moment to let the effects of your meditation feeling sink in before going about your day.

If you want some more live guidance or would love to learn more about meditation, Headspace is an amazing app that I use regularly. They do an amazing job of explaining what meditation is and walk you through how to do it even if you’re totally new to the concept.

The road to your best self

The ultimate solution to being happier in life isn’t to try and make things easier, but to make yourself stronger. Meditation will develop the mental strength you need and lift your mood.

Imagine yourself starting your day feeling ready and prepared to take on what comes. Stress keeps knocking on your door but you let it right in and send it right back on its way out.

You’re able to stay focused on what matters to you most and you feel intimately connected with yourself again. You feel like you’re in your prime. You’re no longer a mindless zombie who’s going through life in a daze. You’re finally living instead of just existing.

So take a moment, practice being present and soak it all in. You’ve now just figured out how to keep your life beautiful.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Web MD: What Is Executive Function?
[2] NCBI: Meditation, mindfulness and executive control: the importance of emotional acceptance and brain-based performance monitoring
[3] NCBI: Mindfulness Meditation Training for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adulthood: Current Empirical Support, Treatment Overview, and Future Directions
[4] Scientific American: What Does Mindfulness Meditation Do to Your Brain?
[5] NCBI: A Randomized Controlled Trial Examining the Effect of Mindfulness Meditation on Working Memory Capacity in Adolescents.
[6] Min Liu: How To Increase Your Verbal Fluency
[7] Science Direct: Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training
[8] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America : Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation
[9] Frontiers in Human Neuroscience: The unique brain anatomy of meditation practitioners: alterations in cortical gyrification
[10] NCBI: Focused attention, open monitoring and loving kindness meditation: effects on attention, conflict monitoring, and creativity – A review
[11] The Harvard Business Review: Can 10 Minutes of Meditation Make You More Creative?
[12] Huffington Post: “How Mindful Meditation Boosts Creativity and Innovation”
[13] Psychology Today: How Does Meditation Reduce Anxiety at a Neural Level?
[14] Brainscape: 25 Facts About Your Gray Matter You Should Know
[15] Frontiers in Psychology: Forever Young(er): potential age-defying effects of long-term meditation on gray matter atrophy
[16] Science Direct: Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility
[17] Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) of Internal Medicine: Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being
[18] Psychology Today: Curing Depression with Mindfulness Meditation
[19] Psychology Today: Can Mindfulness Meditation Really Reduce Pain and Suffering?
[20] The Atlantic: Treating Chronic Pain With Meditation
[21] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America: Brief meditation training induces smoking reduction
[22] EOC Institute: How Meditation Boosts Melatonin, Serotonin, GABA, DHEA, Endorphins, Growth Hormone, & More

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Showing Signs of a Nervous Breakdown? 15 Quick Fixes to Help You Re-Center

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.

Recenter Your Thoughts to Combat Excess Stress

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 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.

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 damn 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.

Take a Step Back

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:

  • 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.

Practice Pranayama

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.

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!

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.

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.

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 nervous 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.

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

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.

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 activity will help you 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.

Bring It Back to the Present

A nervous 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.

Divide and Conquer

Being overwhelmed can play an important role in whether or not you will be facing a nervous 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 and instead 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 have think about them all at once and be crushed by their weight alone. And 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.

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.

Prioritize Positivity

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.

Forget Vulnerabilities, Focus on Your Powers

You might be having a very hard time and potentially facing a nervous 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.

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 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 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.

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.

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.

Visualization 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.

Practice Makes Perfect

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.

Featured photo credit: Imani Clovis via unsplash.com

Reference

The post Showing Signs of a Nervous Breakdown? 15 Quick Fixes to Help You Re-Center appeared first on Lifehack.

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How to Forgive and Live a Happy Life Again (A Step-By-Step Guide)

We’ve all experienced unmet expectations and painful experiences: when we hang onto them, we keep ourselves from soaring and enjoying our precious lives. Instead, we’re weighed down by pain and the burden of feeling betrayed. But it’s possible to let go, and I’m here to tell you that there is no better time than now for sacred personal healing.

In this article, I will share with you how by being forgiving, you can lead a happier life again; and the exact steps you can take to forgive someone who has hurt you.

Why it seems so difficult to forgive

I often see people stumble and get stuck on a loop because they believe that if they forgive, it will be as if the initial hurt or betrayal never happened. People that have been hurt feel that when someone has done something wrong, they should not be able to get away with it.

But that is simply not true. We don’t forgive someone else for their benefit, and we don’t try to pretend that nothing happened. Instead, we forgive for ourselves. We do it so that we can move beyond that hurt.

Another reason why it may feel hard to forgive is that we could perceive the act of forgiving as a betrayal to ourselves in some way, or we could feel that by forgiving we could be exposing ourselves to be vulnerable and get hurt again.

The hurt and wounds can leave feelings of bitterness, resentment, and anger for years. We can get to the point that we feel like victims because of what others did to us. When we feel like victims, our feelings are not protecting us, but are rather harming us. We find ourselves locked in emotional prisons filled with hurt. How can we live happy and expansive lives from that place?

The importance of learning to forgive

There are medical studies that show the link between forgiveness and health. Karen Swartz, a psychiatrist from Johns Hopkins Medicine shared that “There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed”. She also stated that chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions.

Forgiveness, however, can lead to lower stress and anxiety levels, less depression, healthier and closer relationships, a healthier heart, lower levels of blood pressure, lower levels of physical pain, better sleep, better immune system function, and more. It’s very simple, by forgiving, we heal from the inside out!

Until we forgive, we are the ones paying the highest price. Our trapped emotions can become so overwhelming that they affect our current relationships and our ability to authentically and lovingly connect with ourselves and others. Only when we truly forgive will we be free of pain, hurt, and anger. If we hold onto them, we won’t be able to enjoy the present—and they will affect our health in many ways.

Here’s the thing: by forgiving, we won’t pretend that the initial hurt or betrayal never happened, we’re actually doing ourselves a favor. The person you forgive will still have their own karmic debt for all of their actions.

However, when we forgive, we’re becoming free. When we’re focused on resentments towards others or even ourselves, we won’t be able to listen to our soul’s messages. When we let go, we can tune in more deeply.

Forgiveness takes courage because beneath our personal story of pain and suffering, we always have the choice to access our wholeness, and to tap into our innate joy and compassion. Eventually, we will liberate our heart from the resentment prison, and we will be open to a new way of being and living that we might only dream of right now.

How to forgive someone who has hurt you (Step-by-step guide)

“Forgiveness is a conscious decision and a state of mind that we can cultivate through daily practice.” Here are some easy to follow steps that you can take to start your forgiveness journey:

1. Connect with your emotions

Honor where you are in this moment, without judgement. Be gentle with yourself and take ownership of everything that comes up. Just be with the experience without blaming anyone. Something that you could do is to write down your thoughts and feelings on a piece of paper, so that you can get clear on what they are.

Next, ask yourself what is it that you can do to find an outlet and work through those emotions: it could be going out for a walk, spending time in nature, doing something creative (paint, draw, color a mandala, sing, play music, etc), writing a Forgiveness Letter, getting help from a counselor or coach.

2. Release the past

In order to move forward in our lives, one of the key things we must do is release the past and live in the present moment. We often carry the past with us—and if we’re not aware of this, the past will weigh us down, and we will feel stuck. Without a regular practice of releasing, we develop a backlog of unprocessed emotions, and mental clutter. This clouds our vision, and can make it difficult to see the next steps towards a happier life.

Practice living in the present moment by sitting quietly and observing your breathing, or simply going outside and appreciating the beauty around you now.

You could also use journaling as another resource to be more present. You could ask yourself these questions as journaling prompts to help you release your trapped emotions: Who would I be without the anger, hurt, and resentment? How would my life be different?

3. Take your power back

Start writing a new story for yourself. You were not born a victim and forgiveness is not a one-time experience, you have to commit to keep choosing it over and over again. No one has the power to make you feel uneasy without your consent.

When the familiar hurtful feelings come back, remind yourself that you are choosing to forgive; you choose to take your power back, and you are choosing love. I have used this affirmation myself, and it has been very helpful:

“Today is the perfect time for me to take my power back, because I love myself enough to let go of those old memories and emotions. I choose to be free and happier NOW”

The willingness to change needs to come from deep inside of us. We find it when we begin to believe that having joyful, purposeful lives, full of loving and meaningful relationships is our birthright.

4. Embrace the lesson

Every experience we have is a learning experience. Sometimes we go through fire, but I can tell you that we come out stronger than before.

Even if we think that what happened to us is unfair, those experiences are part of our spiritual growth here on the planet. If we’re open to see it, those dark times transform us and help us see new perspectives and insights. I have seen many people experience hard times, which have been the catalyst to creating a new and inspiring story for themselves.

5. Send love and light

Once you’ve gone through the steps above, you’ll be able to start sending love to the people that hurt you. I know it is hard at the beginning, but this is a game changer! Instead of sending bad vibes to the people that hurt you, send them love and light. When you do this, there is no emotional debt between you and them, and you can celebrate your own freedom with a grateful heart!

As part of the forgiveness process, you also need to forgive yourself. We may have judgments about our own expectations. We may think about what should have or could have been.

However, when we forgive, we have to give up the idea that the past should have or could have been different or better. We can’t change the past, so we should not let the past hold us prisoners. Instead, we need to see the hidden value of what happened, there’s always a lesson. As we develop that clarity, we free ourselves from the past and begin to look forward.

Start forgiving now

Forgiving helps us to keep our energy clear.

When we embrace forgiveness, we also embrace peace, hope, gratitude, joy, and general well-being. As we embrace it, we also embrace who we are—love. When we forgive, we are retaking power and control over our own lives.

Forgiveness gives us freedom. Otherwise, we live carrying that emotional debt with us.

Start forgiving with the steps I mentioned above and you will also start living a happier life.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

The post How to Forgive and Live a Happy Life Again (A Step-By-Step Guide) appeared first on Lifehack.

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How Perfectionism is Holding You Back (and How to Let Go)

Perfectionism always sounded like a positive word to me.

After all, what could be better than being perfect?

I cannot think of any situation where something could be beyond perfect. Yet in reality, perfectionism is a real problem because it stops people from sharing with the world the more imperfect (but still amazing!) things they create.

Are you stuck on perfectionism? It’s time to let go. In this article you’ll learn the benefits of embracing imperfection and how doing so will give you a beautiful sense of freedom.

Let Go and Reap the Benefits

Almost all the wonderful inventions that we celebrate today began in a less than perfect way.

The first iPhone, the first Space X rocket, and the first electric car were all put out in a less than perfect state. Yet, people still loved them. People still bought or invested in them. As each iteration of these products came out, they got better, so much so that if you compare the latest iPhone X to the first generation iPhone you would immediately declare the first iPhone to be nowhere near perfect.

The thing about the first iPhone, the first Space X rocket and the first electric car is they were a work in progress.

Sure they were not perfect, but on the whole, they worked and people enjoyed them immensely. Once they were out there in the market, the feedback came in and that helped to improve the products. Imagine if Space X’s Falcon 1 had not launched; would we have seen the impressive Falcon Heavy launch?

The lessons learned from the first Space X launch led to improvements in the next launch. And now, in 2018 we have a Tesla Roadster orbiting our sun. If the engineers at SpaceX were worried about being perfect, none of this would have happened. They would still be working on the Falcon 1 rocket.

And, that’s the problem with perfectionism: it stops you from accomplishing many things that you have the ability to achieve. It prevents you from sharing with the world your ideas, your work and your craft, so you never benefit from the feedback necessary to get better; this means the world will not benefit from the amazing things you are capable of doing.

Outlined below are five tips you can use to help get away from your perfectionism so the world can benefit from the work you do.

All Great Things Began Imperfect

Most likely, our first attempts at anything will not be perfect.

It takes time to develop the necessary know-how and skills to achieve perfection–and even then, it could probably be improved upon. That should not stop you, rather this idea should encourage you. At every turn, at every attempt, you will get better. The goal is not to have a perfect version.

The goal is to create something that works, something that resonates with people, and something that will get better with time and patience and continuous effort to improve it.

Don’t Fret Feedback

Too often people hold back their ideas and opinions because they think their idea or opinion is stupid.

No idea or opinion is stupid.

All great ideas started somewhere. The best ideas were put out into the open so that other people could provide feedback and criticize them. That is precisely how great ideas start–through feedback, the ideas evolved and got better. Holding back your idea or product until you have perfected it only guarantees it will never be perfect.

You need the feedback to make it better. Even if you find that your idea is perfect, another person’s insight may give you a new perspective on ways to improve. Or that criticism may be just what you need to motivate you! Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, said that when he told people of his idea for starting CNN, everyone laughed at him. When that happened, he knew he was on to a good idea.

Perfectionism is Really Just Fear

The truth behind perfectionism is that it is a form of fear.

This fear is most likely of criticism or dislike of your idea. The worst thing you can imagine is that your idea will be a total flop and that you will fail.

The good thing about fear is that it is a mental state, not a physical one. Any fear, especially irrational fears about perfection, can be changed and overcome by analyzing why you are fearful in the first place and recognizing the worst case scenario of putting a “less than perfect” idea out there.

Once you realize that the worst thing that could happen is someone will criticize your work, then you will understand that really that is nothing to be afraid of–in fact, criticism is a fantastic tool to help your idea get better! This is where you learn what others think can be improved on, so that your idea will appeal to a wider audience and gain more traction with others.

Failure is Actually Fabulous

Look at any great business person and you will see a career path littered with failure.

Steve Jobs failed at pretty much everything he tried until he returned to Apple in 1997. Elon Musk has had more failures than most people experience in a lifetime. Yet, these two pioneers never gave up. They kept creating, producing and pushing forward despite their setbacks.

Life is ninety-percent failure and ten-percent success.

What matters is the ten-percent. The ninety-percent is necessary in order for you to get the ten-percent successes. So, accept any and all failures as part of your journey.

Life Is Not Perfect

We are not born perfect and we will not die perfect.

In fact, perfection is pretty much a myth.

What one person may find perfect, another will disagree. That is just the way it is. Life is all about successes and failures, and that is how we grow and become better people, just as our ideas grow to be better from repeated failures. We live and we make mistakes and as we do so, we learn and improve.

We will never be perfect and that is the way it should be; if everyone was perfect, then it would be a very boring world. Imperfections are what make you who you are and they make you interesting and unique. Celebrate your failures and imperfections.

Perfection is Imperfect

If you feel as though perfectionism is hard to come by, you’re not alone.

Nobody, nor any idea, is perfect. Accept the idea that striving to do your very best is good enough and will eventually lead you down a brilliant path. If you have a perfectionist streak in you, try and let it go, and embrace the process of getting your idea out into the world, rather than focusing on the end result.

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Hoxmark via unsplash.com

The post How Perfectionism is Holding You Back (and How to Let Go) appeared first on Lifehack.

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How to Make Positive Changes Now (And Start Living a Fulfilling Life)

Whether you find yourself facing redundancy or the loss of a loved one, stuck in a rut or unable to stay motivated, making positive changes is likely to feature in the things you’re going to need to do to feel happy and successful again.

However, it can be easier said than done.

In this article, I will share with you how I helped my clients to make positive changes and lead a fulfilling life again, and how you can make it too.

From losing control over life to radiating happiness again

They sat opposite me and didn’t just look dejected, they looked like the world had caved in on them and was likely to stop their heart with the effort of living. Everything felt wrong and seemed wrong. How could they move on from that?

This client had come to me because they felt like they’d lost all control over their life and it didn’t matter what they did, how they acted or who they spent time with, everything seemed to go wrong. When that is how life is, how do you make changes then?

Why should you even bother? This is exactly how the client had been feeling with the “what’s the point?” feelings. The point of change is that although it can feel tough and difficult to even get started, let alone keep up the changes you’ve made.

Change is something we can learn to do organically to live the life we want to, and feeling the way we want to. When we feel good somehow, we feel stronger and more capable like we can tackle anything.

Wind on 6 months and this client doesn’t just smile when they walk in, they radiate sunbeams and happiness. It’s almost like a different person is before me. And they’ve not just gained a smile and got rid of “the world hates me” look about them, they’ve “magically” found they are earning more money and attracting opportunities that hadn’t seem imaginable, let alone possible 6 months before.

What happened? How did they do that? No, we didn’t bring anyone back to life or help them win the lottery.

I want to share with you the tools and techniques we used. Before I do that we need to look at why we need to change.

Why change is necessary for everyone

Like many things in life, the need to bring about change rarely happens overnight. It takes something like a Eureka moment, a coach or an accident for us to really look at ourselves and realize that something needs to change.

We don’t wake up one day mega stressed and feeling like life is like climbing a mountain of sand in heels, with our hands tied behind our back. These things gradually descend upon us until we start to suffer the results. It is often the results that we notice first and not the need for change.

Signs you need some change

Here’s some signs your life needs some change:

  • Can’t get to sleep or can’t stay awake.
  • Can’t concentrate on a book.
  • You spend too long on social media scrolling through stuff you’ve already looked at.
  • Can’t focus your mind on work or study.
  • Lack interest in further learning or hobbies.
  • Gained some weird rash, random pains or headaches.
  • Eating too much or lost your appetite.
  • Steering clear of friends and family.
  • Snapping or moaning all the time.

All classic “My life needs some changes” results. What is worse, all the above damage your health, your career, your relationships, your earning potential, your happiness, your contentment and your life in general.

Perks of making a positive change

Ever noticed that person that seems permanently happy and in a good mood? They aren’t necessarily the person with the biggest bank account and yet somehow, they exude true happiness. They are highly likely to be a person that is in touch with what they need so that they can be like that.

To really excite you about change and its potential for overhauling your life, here are some of the results I’ve seen with clients through change:

  • Higher earnings.
  • Stop fearing what people think of them.
  • Stop trying to please everyone and put themselves at the top of the importance list.
  • More confidence.
  • Happier.
  • Healthier.
  • New relationships.
  • New careers.
  • Overcome lifelong fears like the fear of public speaking.
  • Stood up for what they believed in.
  • Overcome shyness.
  • Better at sales.
  • Business growth.
  • Overcome agoraphobia.

To say the list is extensive would be an understatement, although I have coached thousands so I really believe in what I share here.

Let’s look at how you can create positive change in your life.

How to create positive change in your life

Feel it – Pain

One of the reasons we don’t create positive change in our life is because we don’t have a big enough desire to do it. Before you do anything else, feel the pain of the way things are for you right now on a level that makes you physically want to squirm in your seat.

When I do this with clients, I lay it on thick. For instance, when a client told me that they want financial freedom, they talked about their over enthusiastic love of the credit cards. I picked up a note and a credit card and through them in the air joking “Fly free my pretties, fly free!” the client was highly embarrassed (as you would be with someone throwing money around a desk) but when the credit card landed on their notepad, they flicked it away.

I asked them if they felt the credit card was dangerous or something? And they were able to feel the full pain that the credit card was bringing to their lives and their families. Together we could see that the credit card was a symbol of all of the emotions and negative feelings that they hated in their lives. When they left, they made a point of saying they were going to leave a credit card on the side in their home to remind them powerfully why things had to change.

Imagine every aspect of the pain so that it makes you feel miserable and every other bad emotion that hides in your mind.

Feel it – Pleasure

Once you’ve felt the pain and realize powerfully why you want to get away from it, now consider the opposite emotions.

If you want to be financially free, what does that look like? How does it feel? You could concentrate on the car and home you will own, however in my experience that is harder to powerfully visualize than emotions are. You see when you get accomplished at this, you are able to change your emotion and feelings in less than a second because you appreciate why you need to and the damage of not doing so. Therefore if you can really feel the emotions, this can help you stay on track when you have a new plan for change.

I find that for most clients, this exercise is best done last thing at night as you drift off to sleep:

  • It stops you from stressing about everything that is going on in life.
  • You are ending your day with a surge of positive emotions
  • You give your mind clear ideas on what to work on.

I honestly believe that creating space in our brain enables us to get answers that we’ve been struggling to find. It’s almost like asking a giant computer to create the formula for success, and your job is to recharge your mind and body while the computer gets on with it. That may sound daft, however I’ve seen astonishing things achieved by clients that have asked the question, worked out what they wanted and gone off to Sleeplyland.

Feel the pleasure of what you wish to achieve on a level that makes you grin. You remember the excitement and happiness you felt on Christmas Eve as a child? The level of energy that felt like it was going to burst out of you? That is how feeling the pleasure of change should feel. No need to work out why, how, where or with whom. Just think about the way you want to feel.

Feel it – Fear

We can’t move forward without accepting that change can bring fear. My book Fight the Fear – How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life helps people to deal with 12 of the top fears that impact on success — whether it’s the fear that you can’t really change, or that you will never have the confidence to say or do that, or the fear that you set the wrong goals or worry constantly about what other people think.

Many fears hide, lurking in our way just as we aim to change. By feeling the fear and understanding how it impacts on you, you can make a decision to do something about it. Fear is the result of a lack of confidence and confidence comes from doing. The irony is (and what stops positive change) is that we are scared to do something different and so stay stuck in the place we are with the results we get.

Here are 5 ideas to help you fight the fear;

  1. Know why you are awesome. We often have plenty of proof that says we rock but we are unlikely to pay attention to that when fear of change is encroaching upon us. I call it the head to heart disparity. Appreciating why you are awesome and all the things you have achieved enables you to ignore the heart’s noisy “you can’t do it” attitude to hear the facts that the head holds on to.
  2. Lean on someone. Whether people do this deliberately from a place of love or spite, or whether they are unaware of the damage they are causing to your confidence and thus helping to reinforce fear; the wrong people will keep you fearful and stuck. There are many reasons for this – they don’t want you to fail and be sad, they don’t want you to be different, they don’t want you to look better than them, it’s a long list. Your job is not to change their minds, it’s to find the right people to help you. They don’t ever have to say a word about what you aim to do, just be the positive, “can do” people that will help you stay on track.
  3. Love failure. Failure is good for us. At the time it doesn’t feel like it, it can feel more like we were not just the last in the running race at schools sports day but like we are the biggest loser on the planet. Don’t let that happen. Accept that through failure, you learn. By learning what went wrong, you have powerful information to help you move forward. One failure doesn’t make a life of ineptitude.
  4. Understand and accept that fear can be fixed in 2 ways. Some fears I can fix for a client in an hour because it is about dealing with their mindset, others need a little longer because the client also has to learn new skills. Skill set and mindset are the key to fighting fears that stop change. What skills do you need?
  5. Action. Fear hates action. It’s very happy when you do nothing, divert your eyes from the fear and feel stuck and out of control. That makes fear smile. Fear hates it when you get a plan. When you get a plan, it won’t always go right. Fear will try and be a noisy voice in your head that says “ha ha, I told you that wouldn’t work.” Ignore it! At the start it doesn’t matter a great deal what action you take, just that you take action. Remember to ask yourself “how will I shut up fear when it tries to keep me here?”

Essential steps to make positive change

Lastly here are the steps I’d take to make change:

  1. Know what fears and obstacles you could experience. List them – for me this is always in a mindmap. It can be visual or a list. Knowing your natural style can be powerful for other things you aim to achieve in the future.
  2. Ignore the rules. When we say we are looking to change, we can often feel like it’s a good idea to look at what everyone else is doing. Only get your ideas from inside you. One of the reasons change is so hard is because we try to do it like other people. You are not them and they are not you. Learn to know your values, loves, beliefs and how they fit into your way of change. If you find yourself comparing yourself with your friends, peers and family, you are not working according to the most powerful way, which is your way.
  3. Challenge your thoughts. Thoughts can sneak into your head and before you know it, you are the one damaging your chances of success. What thoughts do you have connected to this change? For instance, I had a client advise me that they felt our plan of action we had created was going to be hard work. On exploring this, the client admitted that everything they had achieved had just “fallen in their lap” and they “were allergic to hard work”. How likely were they to succeed if they felt it was going to be hard? Be mindful of the way you word your change and actions. For example, instead of saying “this is going to be hard work”, say “this is the next stage in my life and I’m excited to get on with it.” (And yes it did work for this client!)

Create the change YOU want

The personal and professional development industry is worth billions. That’s because while we may know what needs to happen, we often want a magic pill or something that will make it happen instantaneously. Anything you truly want in life takes effort, a change in thought and time. So if you don’t create the space to think about it, how will you create the space to actually do it?

Change is powerful and change is natural but it does take some effort on your part. Nothing in nature is ever the same. Follow this plan and you could create the understanding of yourself, the plan of action and the results you want.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

The post How to Make Positive Changes Now (And Start Living a Fulfilling Life) appeared first on Lifehack.

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