INSPIRATIONAL

  • Depression and anxiety during lockdown. I get it too.

    There was a three-fold increase in the number of people reporting significant depression and anxiety problems during lockdown.

    If isolation, anxiety, economic uncertainty, and the daily onslaught of bad news generated by the coronavirus pandemic are taking a heavy toll on your mood, you’re not alone.  The stress of social isolation, the worry about jobs, money, and health, and the profound feelings of loss that many of us are experiencing at the moment can trigger depression for the first time or exacerbate symptoms if you’ve already been diagnosed. When you’re suffering from depression, life can seem overwhelmingly bleak and hopeless. It can interfere with your ability to think straight, drain your energy, and make it difficult to get through the day.  This is a distressing, uncertain time. Even as some places start to open up again after months of lockdown, the end may still seem a long way off. You may have lost your job, be struggling financially, and worried about if and when the economy will pick up. You could be grieving the loss of loved ones or the life you knew before the pandemic, or feeling frustrated and cut off by continued social distancing. Living in the age of coronavirus can have a profound effect on your mood.

    Isolation and loneliness fuels depression. Human beings are social creatures. Being cut off from the love, support, and close contact of family and friends can trigger depression or make existing symptoms worse. Months of social distancing and sheltering at home can leave you feeling isolated and lonely, having to face your problems alone.

    A troubled relationship may be even worse than loneliness. While strong and supportive relationships are crucial for your mental wellbeing, being forced to spend months quarantined in a troubled, unhappy, or abusive relationship can be even more damaging to your mood than being alone.

    Anxiety can lead to depression. All the fear and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 means it’s natural to worry. When your worries spiral out of control, though, they can cause panic and anxiety. Since anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, one can often lead to the other.

    Stress levels are soaring. Experiencing a major change in your life, such the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, being diagnosed with a serious illness, or financial or relationship difficulties, can bring overwhelming levels of stress. As a result of this pandemic, you may be experiencing several of these major stressors at once, making you more vulnerable to depression.

    We’re turning to unhealthy ways of coping. The boredom, loneliness and stress of being in lockdown, struggling financially, or having to juggle a job and home school your kids, can prompt unhealthy ways of coping. Maybe you’re drinking too much, abusing drugs, or overeating junk food in an attempt to self-medicate your mood and deal with stress. While these methods may provide a brief respite, in the long-run they’ll make your depression symptoms much worse. Instead, you can use the following healthy strategies to boost your mood and ease your depression.

    Change your focus

    There’s no easy fix for recovering from depression, and finding the energy and motivation to take the first step can be tough. But you have more control over your mood than you may realize.

    It’s true that these are painful and worrying times, and few people have much to be cheerful about at the moment. But at the same time, depression can make things seem even worse than they really are. When you’re depressed, everything is filtered through a lens of negativity. By simply recognizing that, you can start to change your focus and take the first step to feeling more optimistic.

    Distract yourself. When you’re depressed, out of work, and isolated from your social network, the negative thoughts running over and over in your head can seem never ending. But you can break the cycle by focusing on something that adds meaning and purpose to your life. Perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn, like a new language or a musical instrument? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to write a novel, take up cooking, or grow your own vegetables? Focusing on a project or goal, even a small one, can give you a welcome break from negative thoughts and worries—and add a sense of meaning to your days.

    Find simple sources of joy. While you can’t force yourself to have fun, you can push yourself to do things that will boost your mood throughout day. Try listening to uplifting music (even getting up and dancing around if you can) or finding a reason to laugh by watching funny videos on YouTube or episodes of your favorite sitcom. Spending time in nature—whether it’s walking in the park, paddling on the beach, or going for a hike—can ease stress and put a smile on your face, even if you’re alone. Or try playing with your kids or a pet—they’ll benefit as much as you will.

    Limit your consumption of news. Yes, you want to stay informed, but overconsuming sensationalistic news or unreliable social media coverage will only fuel your negativity and fear. Limit how often you check news or social media and confine yourself to reputable sources.

    Maintain a routine. Sleeping too much or too little, skipping meals or exercise, and neglecting your personal care only feeds into your depression. Establishing and maintaining a daily routine, on the other hand, adds structure to your day, even if you’re alone and out of work. Try to include set times for exercising, spending time outside, and communicating with friends each day.

    Express gratitude. When you’re depressed, especially at this awful time, it can seem that everything in life is bleak and hopeless. But even in the darkest days, it’s usually possible to find one thing you can be grateful about—the beauty of a sunset or a phone call from a friend, for example. It sounds cheesy but acknowledging your gratitude can provide a respite from negative thinking and really boost your mood. For a meditation to help you develop this habit, click here.

    Find new ways to engage with others

    Meeting friends and family in person is still difficult for many of us at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to feeling isolated and alone. While nothing beats the mood-boosting power of face-to-face contact, chatting over a video link, on the phone, or via text can still help you feel more connected. Reach out to close friends and family, take this opportunity to look up old friends, or schedule online get-togethers with groups of people. Even if your depression symptoms make you want to retreat into your shell, it’s vital you regularly stay in contact with people.

    How to really CONNECT with others

    Whether you’re talking with a friend or loved one at a social distance, via video, or on the phone, it’s important to strive for more than just a surface connection. The deeper the connection you establish, the more you’ll both benefit.

    Move beyond small talk. To really establish a connection that will ease your loneliness and depression, you need to take a risk and open up. Sticking to small talk and limiting yourself to a surface connection with others can actually make you feel even lonelier.

    Share about yourself. Open up about what you’re going through, the feelings you’re experiencing. It won’t make you a burden to the other person. Rather, your friend or loved one will most likely be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only deepen the bond between you.

    Nothing needs to get “fixed”. Depression relief comes from making a connection and being heard by someone. The person you talk to doesn’t need to come up with solutions, they just listen to you without judging or criticizing. And the same is true when you’re listening to them.

    Adopt healthy daily habits

    Your daily habits can play a big role in helping you to overcome depression. During this health crisis, it’s tempting to slip into bad habits, especially if you’re stuck at home and not able to work. You may sleep irregular hours, overeat to relieve the stress and boredom, or drink too much to fill the lonely evenings. But by adopting a healthier daily routine, you can bolster your mood, feel more energized, and relieve symptoms of depression.

    Get moving. Exercising is one of the last things you feel like doing when you’re depressed—but it’s also one of the most effective ways of boosting your mood. In fact, regular exercise can be just as effective as antidepressant medication in relieving depression. Even if you’re still under lockdown or a stay-at-home order, there are creative ways to fit movement into your daily routine.

    Practice relaxation techniques. Incorporating a relaxation technique such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or a breathing exercise into your daily schedule can provide a welcome break from the cycle of negative thinking, as well as relieve tension and anxiety.

    Eat a mood-boosting diet. In times of stress, we of often turn to “comfort foods” packed with unhealthy fats, sugar, and refined carbs. But these foods, along with too much caffeine and alcohol, can adversely impact your mood. Instead, focus on fresh, wholesome foods whenever possible and increase your intake of mood-enhancing nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids.

    Sleep well. Just as depression can impact your quality of sleep, poor sleep can also contribute to depression. When you’re well rested, it’s easier to maintain your emotional balance and have more energy and focus to tackle your other depression symptoms. Changing your daytime habits and bedtime routines can help improve how well you sleep at night.

    Use reminders to keep yourself on track. When you’re depressed, it’s easy to forget the small steps that can help to lift your mood and improve your outlook. Keep reminders of the tips that work for you on your phone or on sticky notes around your home.

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  • Changes You Can Make for 2021 while in Lockdown

    Changes You Can Make for 2021 while in Lockdown

    “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”
    —Hans Hofmann

     

    Have incredible stories to tell by the end of 2021, not incredible clutter stuffed in your closets.  I sincerely wish this for my family, and yours, in the year ahead.

    So, let me start off here by asking you…

     

    • Does your home serve you—or do you serve your home?
    • Will your home afford you the necessary space to create happy, healthy memories and stories in the year ahead?

       

      These are not questions most of us ask ourselves, but we should.  After all, our homes are meant to serve a distinct purpose in our lives—to be both the space we come back to, and the space we go out from each day.  Our homes are, in essence, the foundation of our daily lives. And this has been especially true over the past year, as we’ve lived through COVID-19.

      As we enter the New Year, it’s a great time to check in with yourself…

      If your home is serving you well, it is a safe harbor from the storms of life—a space to relax, rest, and connect in meaningful ways with loved ones and friends.  And it’s a secure port of departure when you’re ready to brave the choppy seas of life again.  A home serves you best when it provides both of these benefits.

      A home doesn’t serve you when it complicates your life and takes more than it gives.  When possessing your home (and maintaining the possessions within it) becomes your focus, you end up spending your limited and valuable resources (time, energy, money) taking care of it.  That’s when you know you’re serving your home.  You’re spending less time living the life you want, because you’re spending more time cleaning, maintaining, and repairing—and perhaps also paying a hefty mortgage or rent for the privilege.

      The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way.  It’s possible to live more by owning less.  It’s a purpose-based guide to a simpler, decluttered, refocused life—one that makes sure your home is serving you, and not the other way around.  It recognizes that each of us can love the house—the home or flat—we live in.

      Here are 18 changes to help create a home that better serves you while in lockdown:

      1. Get your head straight about what matters, and what in your home is distracting you from what matters.  For most of us, our excessive physical possessions are not making us happy.  Even worse, they are taking us away from the things that do.  Once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter.  And sometimes, minimizing physical possessions means an old dream must die.  But this is not always a bad thing.  Because sometimes, it takes (mentally and emotionally) giving up the person we wanted to be in order to fully appreciate the person we can actually become.
      2. Remove decorations that no longer inspire you. Just because something made you happy in the past doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever.  Your life has moved on—maybe it’s time for the decoration to do the same.  Remove the pictures that no longer inspire you.  Or the decoration you bought that one time because it was on clearance.  Keeping just the items that mean the most to you will help them to shine.
      3. Reject the convenience fallacy.  There are certain places in our homes we tend to leave items out for convenience—a stack of favorite DVDs in the corner, appliances on the counters in the kitchen, toiletries beside the bathroom sink.  By leaving these things out, we think we’re saving time and simplifying our lives.  That’s the convenience fallacy.  Sure, we might save a couple of seconds, but the other 99.9 percent of the time, those items just sit there creating a visual distraction.  If you’re not using your convenience items at least 50 percent of the time they’re out, keep them in a cabinet or drawer and out of sight.
      4. Distinguish between simplifying (or minimizing) and tidying up.  Just because a room is tidy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s uncluttered or serves its purpose.  Well-organized clutter is still clutter.  Never organize what you don’t even use and can easily donate to someone who will.
      5. Count the “clutter cost.”  It can be hard to get rid of things you spent a lot of money on.  But keeping things you no longer wear, use, or love also has a cost—every object carries a burden as well as a benefit.  The burden or “clutter cost” is the money, time, energy, and space an object demands of you.  If you’re having trouble letting go of a pricey item you don’t use—or any item for that matter—remember to consider the benefit-to-burden ratio before you decide to keep it.
      6. Free up closet space.  One of the biggest complaints people have about their homes is that the closets are too small.  If you’ve been thinking that you need bigger closets, maybe all you need to do is right-size your wardrobe—and your closet will feel bigger overnight.
      7. Donate clothes you don’t love.  After decluttering your closet, you’ll find more space and peace each morning when you get ready, rather than facing stress and indecision.  Plus, donating unused clothing to a local charity is a simple but meaningful way to help others.
      8. Declutter duplicates. I call this a minimizing accelerator because it’s one of the easiest things you can do to make quick progress.  Open your closet, for example.  How many extra pillows, sheets, and towels do you really need?  Other good candidates for eliminating duplicates include cleaning supplies, gardening tools, fashion accessories, home office supplies, toys, books, and kitchen items.  Keep your favorite in each category—the ones you actually use—and get rid of the rest.
      9. Clear your dining room table.  Is your dining room table a depository for mail, backpacks, keys, and other things that are in the process of going from one place to another?  If so, chances are that using it for a meal may seem like more work than it’s worth.  Put the items away where they belong.  Make your tabletop a clean, open and inviting space.
      10. Invite the right people to gather at your dining room table, often.  These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways.  They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be.  The bottom line is that your decluttering efforts have given you more space to share stories, experiences, hugs and laughs with family, good friends, and close neighbors.  Don’t forget to make it count.
      11. Practice gratitude, in your home, daily. At least once a day, it’s good to pause in your pursuit of a simpler and more organized life, look around, and simply appreciate the life you’re presently living.  “Look around, and be thankful right now.  For your health, your family, your friends, and your home.  Nothing lasts forever.”
      12. Take down signs that don’t sincerely vibe with your present values. I know a woman with a sign in her house  that says, “It’s tough living in the fast lane when you’re married to a speed bump.”  I get the humor, but I wonder how reading that sign every day might affect her approach to her marriage, even in small ways.  If you’re going to put words up on your walls, don’t you want them to inspire you and call you higher instead?
      13. Calm a space for reading and being at peace. Even if you aren’t up for decluttering an entire room, you can “calm” a space.  You calm a space when you minimize distractions.  Choose a favorite chair and declutter everything around it.  Remove anything from the floor that isn’t furniture.  Clear the surface of side tables  by removing or storing remotes, pet toys, kid toys, hobby items, old newspapers/magazines, mail, books, etc.
      14. Clean out your entertainment center. These large pieces of furniture often harbor lots of small items we no longer need.  Take out old electronic components, cords you don’t need, and dvds games cds nobody uses.  Get rid of them by recycling responsibly, arrange the devices you do use in an eye-pleasing display, and hide their cords as much as possible.
      15. Tackle a junk drawer.  Most of us have one.  It’s the default resting place for small items that have no better place to be.  Or for things we think might have some use but we can no longer remember what it is.  Chances are good you can toss out most of what’s in there and never miss it.
      16. Set physical boundaries for your kids. Give your kids a certain amount of space and allow them to manage it how they want.   When things begin to overflow, we ask them to make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.  The same principle applies to a bedroom or a toy basket.
      17. Let go of mental clutter too.   Life is just too darn short.  Do your best to let go of all the purposeless drama, aimless time-wasters and mental clutter that keeps getting in your way.  Again, it’s time to focus more on what matters in the year ahead, and let go of what does NOT.
      18. Be less “busy” and more purposeful in 2021. HAPPY NEW YEAR
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  • Mantra to get you ready for 2021....L.O.V.E

    I challenge you to remind yourself

    Mantra #1: You are not alone.

    Don’t be scared to let someone special in when you’re in a dark place. You know who this person is. Don’t expect them to solve your problems; just allow them to face your problems with you. Give them permission to stand beside you (even if it’s virtually via FaceTime or Zoom). They won’t necessarily be able to pull you out of the dark place you’re in, but the light that spills in when they enter will at least show you which way the door is.

    Above all, the important thing to remember is that you don’t have to face hard times by yourself. No matter how bizarre or embarrassed or pathetic you feel about our own situation, there is someone in your life who has dealt with similar emotions and who wants to help you. When you hear yourself say, “I am alone,” it’s just your mind trying to sell you a lie. Don’t believe it! You are NOT alone.

     

    Mantra #2: Be here now, and breathe.

    Life often leads us on journeys we would never go on if it were up to us. Don’t be afraid. Have faith. Believe. Believe in yourself through hard times. Believe in your capacity to heal. Believe that the answers are out there waiting. Believe that life will surprise you again and again. Believe that the journey is the destination. Believe that it’s all worth your while.

    Yes, you’ve been hurt. You’ve gone through numerous ups and downs that have made you who you are today. So many things have happened—things that have changed your perspective, taught you lessons, and forced your spirit and soul to grow. See the beauty in this. Appreciate your progress. Give yourself credit for your resilience and how far you’ve come . . .

    You’ve lived.

    You’ve learned.

    You’ve survived all your bad days.

    And you’re still here growing.

    So, just remind yourself right now: You are not your bad days. You are not your mistakes. You are not your scars. You are not your past. Be here now, and breathe.

    Mantra #3: This is the beginning.

    Everything in life—every situation and every relationship has to come to an end eventually. It’s important to appreciate and accept the end of an era to walk away sensibly when something has reached its inevitable conclusion. Letting go, turning the page, moving forward, etc. It doesn’t matter what you call it, what matters is that you leave the past where it belongs so you can make the best of the life that’s presently available to be lived. This ending is not THE END, it’s just your life beginning again in a new way. It’s a point in your story where one chapter fades into the next.

    To a great extent, this happens to us constantly. It’s happening right now.

    Every single day we have to accept the fact that things will never go back to how they used to be, and that this ending is really the beginning. This concept might be tough to accept sometimes, but it’s always the truth. Life is endless impermanence. And it’s beautiful. It means nothing is really behind you. It means life always begins now—right now—not tomorrow or the next day or the next. And it means you can have the fresh start you want whenever you want.

    So be humble. Be teachable. The world is always bigger than your momentary view of the world. Right now there’s plenty of room for a new idea, a new step . . . a new beginning.

    Mantra #4: In your response is your power.

    The goal isn’t to get rid of all your negative thoughts, feelings, and life situations from this past year. That’s impossible. The goal is to change your response to them.

    The first step?

    Anchoring yourself in the present. Because no matter what, you can always fight the battles of today. It’s only when you add the infinite battles of yesterday and tomorrow that life gets overly complicated.

    The easiest way to find presence, and change your immediate response, is to start by evaluating the tension in your body and posture. In fact, I bet you can find some kind of tension in your body at this very moment. For me, it’s often in my neck, but sometimes it’s in my back and shoulders.

    Where does this tension we feel come from? We’re resisting life in some way, perhaps we’re disheartened by the truth, frustrated at our circumstances, or overwhelmed by the road ahead. And our mental resistance generates a tension in our bodies and unhappiness in our lives. 

    • Locate the tension in your body right now.
    • Notice what you’re resisting and tensing up against—it might be a situation or person you’re dealing with or avoiding.
    • Relax the tense area of your body—deep breath and a quick stretch often helps.
    • Face the same situation or person, but with a relaxed body and mind.

    Repeat this practice as often as needed—make it a small daily ritual. Face the day with less tension and more presence. Change your mode of response from one of struggle and resistance to one of peace and acceptance. And see how doing so changes your life.

    Mantra #5: You have enough to move forward.

    What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you were thankful for today?

    Seriously, look around, and be thankful right now. For your health, your family, your friends, and your home. Nothing lasts forever.

    And even in times of uncertainty—even when life seems far from perfect—it’s always important to keep the simple things in perspective.

    • You are alive.
    • You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night.
    • You didn’t go to sleep outside.
    • You had a choice of what clothes to wear this morning.
    • You haven’t spent a minute in fear for your life.
    • You know someone who loves you.
    • You have access to clean drinking water.
    • You have access to the Internet.
    • You can read.

    Some might say you are incredibly wealthy and privileged. So remember to be thankful for all the things you do have. Let your enthusiasm rise from the doldrums by seizing the very real and present opportunity you have to be appreciative. Breathe it in. And then do your best to take the next smallest step forward into 2021.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR......I hope you can feel the love. 

     

     

     

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  • Gifts we already have in front of us VS stress and anxiety

    Most people experience stress and anxiety from time to time. Stress is any demand placed on your brain or physical body. People can report feeling stressed when multiple competing demands are placed on them. The feeling of being stressed can be triggered by an event that makes you feel frustrated or nervous. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, or unease. It can be a reaction to stress, or it can occur in people who are unable to identify significant stressors in their life.

    40 gifts we already have in front of us to help with stress and Anxiety

    1. A quiet morning.
    2. A hug from someone you love.
    3. Sipping a warm cup of coffee or tea.
    4. Reading a few pages in one of those good books on your bookshelf.
    5. Learning a new skill all by yourself.
    6. Feeling the burn after a power-walk around the block.
    7. A child’s laughter.
    8. Someone special wanting your attention.
    9. Being able to sit with a true friend, comfortably in silence.
    10. Laughing at old family photos.
    11. The moment just after the front door shuts and you suddenly have the whole house to yourself.
    12. Walking around your home and admiring it right after you finish cleaning it up.
    13. The smell of a home-cooked meal.
    14. Throwing food up in the air and catching it in your mouth.
    15. Listening to a song that moves you.
    16. When you make eye contact with someone from across the room and you both automatically smile.
    17. Having an interesting conversation with a complete stranger.
    18. Finding out that others are experiencing the same problem you are experiencing, and finally knowing that you’re not alone.
    19. The satisfying feeling of doing the right thing.
    20. Looking up at the sky on a really clear night and seeing nothing but stars.
    21. That first hint of a cool breeze at the end of a hot summer.
    22. The crackling sound of a fireplace on a chilly winter night.
    23. Getting up quickly to use the toilet in the morning, and then slipping back under the bed covers to the same warm and cozy spot.
    24. Sharing an umbrella with someone else.
    25. The peaceful calm just after a heavy rain.
    26. Walking barefoot in the grass.
    27. Listening to the breeze blow through the trees.
    28. When traffic on the streets is light and you get home faster than usual.
    29. Realizing that you’re in the fastest moving checkout line at the shop.
    30. When a little kid gives you a high five.
    31. The silence in the back of your local city in the morning.
    32. When a stranger offers to take a photo of you and your friends so you can all be in the photo together.
    33. The joy of looking at a picture of yourself and loving it.
    34. When an online video plays without playing an advertisement first.
    35. Achieving a milestone that you’ve gradually and diligently worked for.
    36. Being able to tell someone some genuine good news.
    37. Knowing deep down that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
    38. The bittersweet feeling of finishing a really good book.
    39. Sleeping right next to someone you truly love.
    40. Falling asleep as soon as you lay down.

     

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  • Things will get better.

    As 2020 winds down, I know many of us are yearning for a very small and selective range of life experiences—the happy holidays, the normal times, the settings and experiences that make us feel comfortable. And yet, the full range of our present reality is quite different. This year continues to give us an extensive array of experiences that evoke feelings ranging from sadness to struggle to pride to anger to love to loneliness… to happiness to hope and more. These feelings are all part of being a living, breathing human being, regardless of the season of our lives.

    So, we can revolt against the unfairness of life—the unfairness of having to deal with pain, having to cope with uncertainty, having to feel lonely and uneasy and upset. Or we can embrace every experience life gives us, including all our highs and lows—all the blissful moments and painful ones and everything in between. Life is not just happy and comfortable 24/7. It’s well-rounded, it’s full-featured, and it’s real.

    Embracing the full range of life’s experiences this holiday season means embracing every moment with our full presence, being open and vulnerable to reality, being gentle with ourselves when moments are tougher than we expected, and practicing sincere gratitude no matter what happens.

    It means accepting life as it is, and accepting ourselves as we are.

    It means not expecting the best to happen every step of the way, but instead accepting what happens with each step, and making the very best of it.

    This isn’t easy of course, but it’s worth working on, together.

    Making Progress into 2021

    Yes, the New Year is rapidly approaching.

    Let’s make a pact to enter it with a more open, accepting and resilient collective mindset.

    How?

    By committing the right ideas and intentions to memory.

     

     

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