How to find joy again…

Epi-Centered

Yesterday, I wrote about how I experience times of discouragement/depression post my brain injury.  It is just part of my life now and I’m learning how to function through the fog until it lifts.  Each time I go through a cycle of being down, I learn something that helps me stay a little more afloat.  In response to yesterdays blog I received a few emails asking how I manage through these more difficult times.  I thought I’d share a few thoughts here.

august-3Discouragement and depression beckon that there is no hope and that nothing could possibly turn around.  While those feeling may indeed be strong, I do not have to live as a slave to them.  I have the ability to rule my thoughts and choose well.  Even when I’m down I make the choice to put my trust in God.  That is the biggest burden lifter of all. 

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 Why treating your mental health is more important than treating a broken bone by Octavio Vargas via http://partnersinchic.com/

Raise your hand if you read self-help books or quotes. My guess is that most of you do not and those of you who do, are ashamed to admit it. It is a shame that society views mental health in a negative light. If someone has a physical ailment we are typically sympathetic, but if they are experiencing mental issues we take a negative stance. Your mental well-being is a key component to the quality of your life and you need to start paying attention to it. Have you ever noticed how something negative, even if it is small, will affect the rest of your day? For example, you wake up and your dog wet the floor. Now you have to spend time cleaning up the mess and you are not happy. All of a sudden getting to work seems to take longer. Now you notice how terribly everyone is driving and you are catching all the red lights. You get to work late and cannot even have your morning coffee. Your first client has an issue you need to resolve and now you are upset at him/her for putting you in this bad mood. The rest of your day goes by slow and painfully. By the end of the work day you cannot wait to get home so that this day will be over. If you would have just brushed off the dog incident your day could have turned around. It’s called positive thinking. If you try to force yourself to think positively it will do wonders for your everyday life. Thinking positively will make you happier and people will gravitate toward you. Your days will not seem as long and you will be more successful. If you currently hate your job or hate doing the work you are doing every day, I encourage you to start your day with an inspirational quote, book, article, etc. Getting your mind ready for the day ahead is very important. Everyday something will happen to alter your mood which in turn will alter your day, but you ultimately have the choice of how you will feel about it. If you get upset, the rest of your day will be awful. If you practice taking a mental timeout and letting the situation roll off your shoulders, the rest of your day will not be as terrible. Whenever I am at work and I am in the middle of a frustrating situation, I will walk away to a quiet place and take a 2-3 minute mental timeout. This helps me think clearly and come up with solutions to problems. I also recently found myself hating my job more and more every day which then would cause minor events to seem like the end of the world. I spoke to one of my mentors and I let him know my frustrations and he laughed at me, explaining that 90% of people my age hate their jobs. The reason we hate our jobs is because our generation wants everything and we want it now. All of us want to launch into success and do not want to spend the time building for it. We choose to blame others instead of ourselves. We cannot continue to rely on others for our success. Just because we graduated college does not guarantee us a career, job, or a business. Being successful takes hard work. Although the media will tell us Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in his freshman dorm room drunk overnight, none of us stop and think how Mark Zuckerberg got to that dorm room in the first place. How many hours of programming and learning did Mark do prior to creating Facebook? How many parties or social events did he pass on to learn the skills that it takes to create such a successful website?
     So back to our mental state of mind: I encourage all of you to work at your mental state. Even if you do not feel as though this is a weak spot for you, working on your mental state will give you even more of an edge on your competition. I have a health coach that I was able to attain through work. She calls me once a month and we talk about anything I want. I think I am supposed to use her as a fitness coach but I do not need a fitness coach so I have transformed her into a mental health coach. I create goals around becoming mentally stronger and stress free. I encourage all of you to find a mental coach, therapist, counselor, friend, family member, etc. Let’s work out all the mental kinks you may have so that going forward you are mentally strong enough to accomplish your goals and dreams. Something great that I learned through my study of mental fitness is how to deal with disgruntled people. After listening to a Tony Robbins tape I took away a really powerful message which is when someone is being negative toward you, ask yourself what else could this mean? Usually when people are upset or being negative it is rarely because of you, most of the time it is something internal within themselves. Always ask yourself what else could this mean. We all have very busy lives and we all deal with stress differently. We do not know if this person’s dog wet the floor this morning and they had to clean it up which lead to their day being altered. I’ll give you a great example of this from the same audio tape I listened to. There was a man who was on a train on his way back home from work. The train ride was a daily commute for him. One day a father and his 5 children stepped on the train. The children were being loud and disruptive while the father seemed to not care. The gentleman that was sitting on the train per his usual commute home from work began to get irritated. He finally spoke up and asked the father why he was not disciplining his children and that it was rude for them to be disturbing the other passengers on the train. The father said “I guess I didn’t notice, I apologize, we just got back from the hospital and their mother just passed away, I suppose the kids don’t know how to deal with it and frankly neither do I.” This event changed the man’s life forever. How powerful of a story is this? We never know what someone is going through internally so we must always ask ourselves what else could this mean.
     I know that many of us going through our twenties are trying to find our identities. Many of us may not be fully satisfied at work or with our current situation. This could lead to a lot of frustration and even anger or depression in some cases. Let me ask you a question, do you tend to gravitate more toward people who are happy all the time or someone who is angry and or depressed all the time? It’s no question we tend to gravitate more toward people who are positive. Can you remember a day when everything seemed to be going your way? I’m sure you were very happy in that moment and people were positive toward you. The universe tends to gravitate toward positive energy. You’ll see that if you could get yourself to be positive your exterior world will push positive energy toward you. Something that I do every morning is I smile in the mirror and I give myself 3 compliments, remind myself of a goal, and I end with an affirmation of love. I always say “You are determined, you are motivated, you are successful, this is why we will complete x goal by x time, and I love you.” We go through days without receiving compliments or positive affirmations. How long has it been since someone told you they loved you? Just a simple I love you makes you feel great inside even if it’s coming from you. If your day, week, month, or even year is going terrible I want you to try this. Stand in front of the mirror and smile. Smile until your face hurts or until you feel better. Just simply smiling alters your state of mind. I learned through another Tony Robbins tape that there was a study done on clinically depressed people. The study that took place was to find different avenues other than drugs to combat depression. After several weeks of participants smiling in the mirror every morning for 20 minutes, every single participant was no longer clinically depressed! Imagine being able to feel happiness by simply smiling. I know you probably think I am crazy but it works. I just recently got out of a relationship and I was feeling really down and worthless. After I listened to this tape I said “This sounds stupid but what else do we have to lose.” I began to smile in the mirror for 10 minutes instead of 20 because I didn’t have enough time in the morning and my face usually started to hurt after a while. I can honestly say that after about a week I started feeling better, having more energy throughout the day, and focusing on things that I loved to do. Every time I would think about her after that I forced myself to smile or I would give myself a positive compliment and eventually I stopped thinking about her all together.
     I must admit that I am that geek that has quotes and stories on a bulletin board at home. You would be surprised how helpful it is to wake up to that. I also have been trying to show and practice gratitude. I try to think about 3 things I am grateful for every morning, it usually starts my day on a positive note. Lastly I would recommend if you have a smart phone to download a self-help app that gives you inspirational quotes to start your day. Again I just want to reiterate the importance of mental health. Situations are going to occur in our daily lives that will affect how we feel but we ultimately have control over those feelings. We cannot let other people dictate how we are going to feel about ourselves. This is easier said than done but just like anything in life practice makes perfect