Emotional resilience is what allows us to bounce back after a difficult time. Everyone finds ways to cope with their own particular set of problems. Human beings are incredibly adaptable. However, some coping strategies are more destructive than others.
Pain is not suffering. Suffering is the pain we hold onto. Deepak Chopra We rely on what our body tells us to determine pain, anxiety, stress or depression. Then our bodies follow the habits they have made to deal with those feelings.
What we need to understand is that each feeling has an energy associated with it and it is that energy we are experiencing. The suffering part of “I suffer from stress or depression” and so on is our interpretation of feeling that energy.
We need to strip away the interpretation and deal with the energy, discharge the negative energy. Each of these feelings has a physical component that we can let go of. So instead of feeling stressed, lets deal with the energy of being stressed or sad or depressed or anxious. In his book The Book of Secrets, Deepak Chopra says, “all energies are discharged the same way.”
He list 5 things to do. 1) Take a deep breath, sit quietly and feel the sensation in your body. 2) Feel that sensation without judgment, don’t fight it, push against it. Be with it quietly. 3) Let the feelings, thoughts, energies come up as they want to—often we will have to listen to ourselves be anxious, depressed, angry, sad or whatever. Let the voices say what they want to say, listen, understand what is happening, often we can ask what do I have to learn from this… 4) Sit and let those things just fade away into the nothingness, with no holding on. 5) Repeat the process the next day, as often as is needed.
The whole process should take no more than 5 minutes. Being aware of the “I” is our natural state and the other feelings of stress and so forth are unnatural, learned through our lives from watching and listening to others.
To be stressed, depressed, anxious, sad, angry, hurt and suffering all waste our valuable energy. These are all complex emotional states and can really wear us out. We need to simplify our lives. We need to find our true and real self and embrace that self. The “I am” not the “I am sick, stressed, anxious,” well you know what I mean.
We are not what we do; we are not our emotions and our illness or issues. We are special, unique individuals, with perfect, unlimited potential. We get to choose who we are and what we will be. when we are distressed, in pain, anxious or depressed we often lose that choice. We are stuck in our pain, we haven't discharged that negative energy.
We need to be willing to face ourselves in the mirror and say, “Who are you really? Who do you wish to be?” When you can answer that question honestly, truthfully and openly there is another question to ask, “why aren’t I that now?” The answers to that question often lead us to our blocks, where negative energy is being stored. Again, the secret is to sit and just let those blocks and that energy be discharged into quiet peaceful acceptance of "I am."
So, in summary, we are who we are, not what we do or what others say we are. We need to understand the energy we spend “suffering” from our problems and issues is wasted energy. Deal with those issues, discharge all this negative energy through this non-invasive approach that accepts and allows them to be. These types of issues are like a little child tugging on his mommy’s pant leg and saying, “Mommy. Mommy, mommy?” They are just looking to be noticed and acknowledged.
Find your I am and really live from there.
It’s an emotional circus, but you can’t get out the push brooms until the elephant dances. Nora Roberts
Emotional fitness helps us feel in control of our emotions and our behavior. It makes handling life’s challenges more doable and leads to stronger, healthier relationships. Just as maintaining physical fitness requires effort; maintaining mental or emotional health requires some discipline and good habits. Choosing to take even a short time each day to strengthen our emotional health will benefit our lives. We will build our resilience, boost our mood, feel more confident and find more joy in the moment.
Being emotionally fit or healthy does not mean that life will always be easy. We all have bad days—all have insecurities and we all face disappointments, change or loss. These tough times can cause frustration, sadness, worry and stress.
When we are emotionally fit we will find that we bounce back from times of stress, trauma and adversity more quickly. We are more resilient. We take things in stride a little easier. We have a reserve to draw on, are more able to focus on solutions and be flexible and creative in our problem solving.
Here are some simple ways to strengthen your emotional fitness:
- Develop health-promoting routines
- Get enough sleep. Everything seems worse when you are sleep deprived.
- Eat a balanced diet. Physical health contributes to emotional wellbeing.
- Exercise regularly. Get those endorphins flowing.
- Spend some time in the sun; take a few moments each day to enjoy nature.
- Avoid too much caffeine, alcohol and other substances that unnaturally alter your state and have negative consequences for your health and wellbeing.
- Take care of yourself
- Practice gratitude. Choosing to focus on what you are grateful for is one of the best antidotes to negative thoughts, feelings and actions.
- Create and enjoy positive memories. You can benefits as you make and then later remember those positive moments.
- Take time to be still. Learn to meditate and practice meditation or listen to soothing music.
- Learn something new. Enjoy a sense of growth and accomplishment.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Set and maintain healthy boundaries. Learn to say no without guilt.
- Exercise your self-discipline muscle. Little positive choices made consistently can add up to huge results.
- Put a time limit on draining mental habits like negative self-talk and worry.
- Find healthy ways to reduce and manage stress.
- Practice being in the moment; pay attention to your senses.
- Make time for fun. Smile and laugh. Humor is also a great antidote to the negative and does wonders to build resilience.
- Vividly picture yourself as happy, healthy and emotionally strong. See your self responding well to challenges and enjoying good times.
- Reach out to others
- Help others. Volunteering can help build confidence and bring positive feelings.
- Shut off distractions (phone, TV, computers etc.) Make eye contact and talk to others.
- Join a club or group. Find something that gets you out of the house regularly.
- Spend time with positive people.
- Share your thoughts and feelings appropriately with those who support and have an interest in you.
Strengthening your emotional fitness will increase your enjoyment of life. You will enjoy a greater sense of contentment; find it easier to balance meeting the needs of other while meeting your own needs. Make strengthening your emotional fitness a priority. This will benefit all aspects of your life.
“We cannot live what we cannot dream.” Richard Paul Evans The Four Doors Why do I call depression the new plague? Let’s take a look at the definition of a plague. Plague: pestilence, outbreak, curse, afflict with and it has synonyms like disease and infection. Now let’s take a look at depression: despair, slump and synonyms like misery, hopelessness and dejection. From personal experience it would not be far from the truth to say that depression is a curse. When you are afflicted with depression there seems to be no hope.
The real reason I consider depression the new plague is because of the second word in the definition of a plague, outbreak. In the last 4-5 years the number of clients coming to see me for depression has risen steadily. Research indicates that there could be as much as a 20% a year increase in the diagnosis of depression. That could be because more people are recognizing that they need help to deal with depression. However, research again indicates that 80-85% of people with depression are undiagnosed and untreated.
Some more numbers to throw at you, 1 in 33 children may suffer from depression, 1 in 8 adolescents and 1 in 10 people period. Frightening numbers. Let’s make it a little closer to home. The average family is 2 parents and 2 kids, so with extended family that works out to 2 sets of grand parents, 8 parents (aunts and uncles) and 8 kids (cousins). A total of 20 people, so factoring in the above statistic of 1 in 10, that means that in an extended family situation there is a very high possibility that 2, perhaps 3, of those people will be depressed.
Some of the symptoms are feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness, loss of the ability to control negative thought processes, which may lead to negative behavior patterns, loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed and loss of self worth and esteem which leads to a loss of self-confidence. Appetite changes sleep changes, anger, irritability, loss of energy, no motivation and seemingly no choice. Self-loathing can creep in leading to reckless behavior like drinking and drug use, speeding and reckless driving with out seat belts and more important, suicidal thoughts and ideation.
Suicidal thoughts are not to be ignored; they need to be taken seriously. If you as the individual have them or you live with someone who has them, don’t joke around. Make sure you know the number of the Suicide Prevention line in your area, the name and number of a good friend, pastor, priest or counselor who knows somewhat of your situation and is willing to help. Talk to your doctor, to a counselor, a teacher or spiritual advisor; tell them of your fears and troubles, ask them if they would be willing to help you by letting you call in times of suicidal thinking. Know the way to the closest emergency room and don’t be frightened of going there, go and admit yourself, they can help.
Another fact; women suffer more often than men and they suffer differently. In men depression may present as anger, fatigue, sleep problems, irritability, aggression and violence. With women it can be seen as guilt, excessive sleeping, overeating, blaming self. Also with some women there may be a hormonal component. But no matter who or how it is presented it is real. It is painful, they can’t seem to find their way and have no energy or motivation to do work on it.
The very worst thing for a depressed person to hear is: “Get over it,” “You’re ok, buck up,” and my personal favorite “You know what to do, so do it.” If it were only that simple? Do people really think that a depressed person likes it so much that they will choose to stay there? Not likely. So here are some another facts for non-depressed people – it is real, it hurts, we don’t like it and don’t want to be here, if we could change it we would. In fact, most people cannot heal or deal with depression while they are depressed. You work on managing depression when you are up, not depressed. Then you have energy, motivation, thinking capabilities and so on.
Depression does not say anything about the person who is suffering, it does not mean they are flawed, lazy, crazy or whatever else people say or think. In our society there is still a stigma against the depressed person. Reality; depression is an illness, your emotions are sick. You would not think or believe bad things about yourself or your friends if they had the flu, they’re just sick. Exactly.
Acknowledge it, say you are depressed and that is alright; you may not like it but it is a fact, so just accept it. You cannot deal with what you cannot accept. Fighting against it only makes it worse, what you focus on you get, so admit that you are depressed, accept it and ask “What is my depression trying to teach me?” A question that changed my life. If we are going to be depressed we might as well learn something or it is just a waste of time.
Seek help, talk openly about it, share your experience with others who are accepting, adopt a healthy lifestyle, proper sleep, nutrition, and exercise, create and maintain a good social network which can help support you, manage your symptoms, know your triggers, understand and accept that there will be things in your life that will make managing depression hard. Note the word manage; there is no cure for depression, if fact once depressed the odds go up that you will be again, so manage it. Life cycles for everybody and depressed people are no different. Learn your cycles, do the things necessary to length the cycle out and make the dips less deep.
Know this, I believe in you, I know you can deal with it and you can be depression free longer and longer. You have the strength, the talents, the ability and the desire to do it and you will. People are survivors; we can overcome and live as happy as we want to be. Write in a journal, become your own source of strength and your own best resource. Love yourself, believe in yourself, enjoy the happy moments, embrace the sad times, but don’t linger. Remember life is good.
“Tell your story. That’s the secret of immortality. The one true way to live forever…There is the life you live and the life you leave behind. But what you share with someone else-especially someone you love-…that’s how you write your future. Brad Meltzer The Book of Lies
Emotional intelligence (EQ) may be even more important that IQ. It helps us to be more successful in our relationships, work and life. Emotional intelligence involves self-awareness, self-discipline and self-compassion. It also involves awareness of and compassion for others. A high EQ helps us resolve conflict and rise above challenges.
IQ alone does not make for a fulfilling relationship or a successful career. It is our EQ that helps us manage stress, build relationships and find the beauty in life. Some people have learned to ignore or shut off their feelings. They have trouble connecting with strong emotions like fear, sadness, anger or joy. When they were children, they may have been discouraged from expressing their emotions. But numbing emotions does not make them go away, however it does make it more difficult to manage them.
Practices To Improve EQ
- Pay more attention to your emotional reaction to experiences. Notice what happens in your body. Where do you feel stress? In your stomach, chest, head, neck, shoulders or back?
- Be aware of non-verbal communication, pay careful attention to and understand the messages that you are sending and receiving.
- Practice self-soothing. By learning to catch and sooth your rising emotions before you are overwhelmed or flooded by stress, you will be better able to use both your intelligence and your emotions in a given situation.
- To self-sooth find ways to ground yourself in the moment. This can help keep your mind from spinning into a negative over reaction.
- Decide and practice how to behave ahead of time. Vividly visualize how you want to behave.
- Do not take yourself too seriously. Using humor and long-range perspective can help you cope.
- View problems as a challenge rather than disaster.
- Practice forgiving yourself.
- Watch the language that you use. Are you looking through dark sunglasses or looking for the silver lining?
Improve Awareness of Others
- Practice listening first, give your full attention to understanding the other person.
- Make a habit of making gentle eye contact when communicating with others.
Improve Compassion for Others
- Accept that sometimes it is better to be happy than to be right.
- Practice letting go of the past and forgiving others.
- Learn to disagree agreeably.
- Practice accepting that we do not all think alike and that is great.
Too often we eat for reasons other than hunger. We may eat when feeling stressed or needing comfort or we may see food as a reward. Eating our emotions rather than dealing with them, does not fix problem and may even complicate things. If eating becomes a way to cope emotionally, the real problems may never be addressed and our health may suffer. Emotional eating has nothing to do with your body’s need for nourishment and often results in poor food choices. Emotional hunger cannot be satisfied with food. Eating may initially provide a feeling of comfort, but that too often is followed by guilt and self-loathing, which is followed by more eating and so on.
If you reach for chocolate or salty treats when you are down or stressed; if you eat when you are bored or feeling unsettled; if you eat when you are not hungry; then you may be an emotional eater.
To reduce emotional eating try implementing the following:
Become aware of the triggers for your emotional eating. Awareness is the first step to change. When you find yourself indulging in emotional eating, you may want to jot down how you are feeling and what is or has been happening. Doing this for a while will help you to identify patterns and learn about the triggers for your emotional eating.
Stop, walk and drink. When a craving hits you, experiment with grabbing your water bottle and going for a short walk. Do not tell yourself that you cannot give in to your craving. Just tell yourself that you are going to do this first. As you are walking, try to be mindful of the day, the walk and also of your feelings. Tell yourself that it is okay to feel however you feel and that it makes sense that you would feel that way. Who knows, perhaps the craving will pass by the time you are finished your walk.
Find another way to sooth yourself. You could write out your feeling, talk them out with a friend, distract yourself or snuggle up with a warm blanket and a book. Find some alternative that works for you.
Develop healthy habits. Get enough sleep, move your body regularly, eat well, drink plenty of water and find ways to interact with positive people. Being well rested and feeling healthy and supported can make it much easier to say no to emotional eating.
All of us have a need to feel like we are contributing outside of ourselves. Volunteering is one way to fill that need. Volunteering has boomerang type benefits. It will benefit not only those that you are serving, but the benefits will return to you as well. Volunteering can benefit your health, both physical and mental, give you opportunities to make friends and possibly increase your skills or advance your career. Volunteering benefits the community in which you live. It also is a great way to meet like-minded people and increase your support network. It can get you out of the house and interacting with other.
Benefits of volunteering include:
An increase in happiness Whether it is because happy people volunteer or volunteering increases happiness, study have shown that the more people volunteer the happy they report themselves to be.
Feelings of fulfillment Volunteering can bring opportunities to try new things. Many people experience a real sense of fulfillment from contributing to their community or a cause of their choice.
An opportunity to increase skills Many skills such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management, and organization are frequently part of volunteering. As a volunteer you may have the opportunity to practice these skills,
An increase in confidence A sense of accomplishment tends to boost confidence. People often enjoy a sense of identity from their position or role as a volunteer.
Increased social interaction Social isolation can contribute to a decline in mental health. Volunteering often provides an increase in social interaction.
Health benefits Volunteering may help older adults maintain a sense of purpose for their lives. Volunteering has been linked to a lessening of the symptoms of chronic pain and to a lower mortality rate.
“Your past will continue to be your future if you drag it along with you.” David Bach Life is a series of events tied with a common thread, us. In my experience as a counselor, most of our issues stem from past events and issues that we dealt with. Mom and Dad didn’t give me enough…love, freedom, respect or whatever. I was cheated on, dumped, disrespected, abandoned and so it goes, there are as many issues as people. These are explanations, justifications, reasons for our present behavior, the truth is these are just excuses.
As adults we have the power, ability, capability to choose what we want in our life. The truth about the past, our past, is that it is exactly that the past. A good friend once told me “we need to give up the dream of a better past.” Our past is a fact of life; it just is, neither good nor bad, unless we say it is. My belief is that we can’t go back into the past and fix whatever is the problem it is not possible. The chance to fix that particular problem is past.
What we need to do is figure out how that problem is affecting us now, in the present. How is it influencing our lives today? What can we do about it? In the today we have a choice, an opportunity to do something about what it is that is keeping us stuck in the past. We can choose to let the past be done, just let it go. This is ok only as long as we truly are letting it go. We can’t be holding onto grudges, pains, slights, resentments and anger, we need to really be able to say that is ok. If not, then the issue is still influencing our present and future.
We must realize that we are in control of ourselves, in control of our lives. When we take control of our life we can ask the question what do I need to be happy, to be healed, to let go of this? For some it is just that easy, we say I am in control of me not my past. Others have a harder time with letting it go.
They need to look at their lives and what has happened since the issue. Is it all bad? I would guess not. There must have been some good times. Are these good times in spite of or because of the issue? The experiences in our lives make us who we are today so the things that struggle with in our past are part of all parts of today the good and the bad.
Acceptance of this allows us to be more understanding and accepting of our lives. Some individuals may need some more extensive work perhaps some inner child interventions. This is where you as an adult need to go back and talk to your younger self. What is it that he or she needs from you now? How can you nurture and support that little you? Are there things he or she needs to here, to know, to understand and that you as the adult can help them with? Sometimes all it takes is to say, “it’s ok, you are safe, I am here for you.”
The past is the past, beyond our capability to change. The future is the future, influenced by our present. The present is the golden time for here we have a chance. It is only in the present, in the moment that we have a choice, a moment to decide how we want our life to go from here. We can choose to be or do whatever we please.