Depression is a clinical term used to label a group of behaviors and internal experiences associated with a depressed mood. It is also a clinical diagnosis. Depression is different than being sad. Sadness is a normal part of life and, as long as you are not feeling it all the time, it is actually a healthy thing for you to feel. It is important to realize that learning how to be happy again after depression looks slightly different for everyone.
Sometimes, we battle our way through a bad bout of depression and come out on the other side, only to find ourselves still feeling sad. While this can be a frustrating and disappointing reality about life “after” depression, it is important to acknowledge that feeling sadness can be an indicator of positive progress. Depression often leaves us unable to feel anything at all, let alone sad. It may not be your first pick for your team, but sadness truly has its hidden virtues.
The truth is that “after depression” just isn’t a reality for many people. Depression is actually a lifelong challenge that we learn to live and work with, more and more effectively. So, it’s understandable that knowing how to be happy again after depression may seem far-fetched or unattainable to many. And if you’re depressed, you should not be ashamed about that experience or of asking for help. If you are in that “after-depression” space, it can take a bit to get back to regular habits.
Here are some tips to help you get back on track.
1. Give yourself time to be sad: If you are still feeling sad the most important thing you can do is give yourself space to feel that way. Be deliberate. Sit on the couch for an hour and let yourself be sad. Then, get up and get moving.
2. Start slow: Often times depression leads to inactivity which can push us out of the healthy habits that we might have at other points in our life. Don’t expect to jump straight back into all your activities. Give yourself lots of time to slowly bring things back. It is good to push yourself, but don’t push too hard.
3. Make it easy: Sometimes what was a small step for us when feeling better is a huge step after being depressed for awhile. The smaller and easier you can make your new activities, the more likely you are to succeed. Give yourself that chance.
4. Acknowledge your progress: It can be easy to be critical of your abilities and your progress, especially if you have an anxiety disorder that exacerbates this behavior. It is vital that you acknowledge each new and beneficial thing you add to your life. You just ran an emotional marathon and now you are showing up at the gym. This is no small thing.
5. Choose the lesser of two evils: Our perspective gets skewed when we are depressed. We lose sight of what is good for us. When you are recovering from depression, you might feel as though you are choosing between something that is not so good and something that is worse. Try and choose the easier or slightly better option.
6. Take a day off: Yes you want to get back on track, but if you give yourself a moment to breathe, it may help you get where you want to go faster in the end.
7. Stick with it: You did not get to where you are in one day. You won’t get to where you want to be in one day either. Keep making efforts and you will see results, even if it takes time. You’ve got this.
Mental illness isn’t something you can just will to go away, but there are treatments that can help you deal with your depression.
If you’re still feeling sad after your depression, I hope these actionable tips help you. Life is a continuous journey and it usually isn’t a smooth one, especially if you’re learning how to be happy again after depression. Whether you suffer from depression or not, the best thing you can do for yourself is build up these life skills and techniques so that you can put them into place when you’re able. My LifeWork Community program is a great way to help you build practices that will support your wellbeing. Click here to learn more.
Happiness can be a surprisingly fickle thing. Sometimes, a new routine or a new perspective can revitalize your life and sense of well-being. Other times, change presents a challenge to our happiness. Learning how to make your joy and energy resilient to the drain that life’s changes sometimes leave us feeling is a key to safeguarding your happiness.
All too often, we forget that happiness is a skill, and that being skillful takes practice. Here are 5 small things you can do every day to practice your happiness skill-set and safeguard your joy.
The first few moments of your day can set the tone for the rest of it. So, start each morning with a quiet moment, an affirmation, a journal entry, or any other activity that helps you tune into your feelings and intentions for your day.
Your focus channels your power. Unfortunately, we often focus on what makes us unhappy rather than what brings us joy. Make an effort to recognize what’s going well in your day and be present to the things you enjoy.
This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s actually something we often overlook. What brings you the most pleasure and happiness? Time alone or time with others? A home-cooked meal or take-out and a movie? Becoming conscious of the things you most enjoy means that you will choose them more often.
To yourself, your partner, your child or co-worker. Make a point to express your gratitude for what’s working in your life. Showing your appreciation will immediately make you and the person you’re thanking feel more positive. And, by expressing gratitude for the things the people around you do, you reinforce the positive behavior as well as the positive feeling.
Slow down and savor the good parts of your life. Pay attention when you’re eating something delicious. Choose to really listen to your friend while they’re talking. Take the time to notice what’s around you on your daily walk or drive. The more you can use your five senses to be present to what you’re experiencing, the better.
Life is always a mix of things. No matter how bad a day seems, there’s always something in it that’s positive. Use the list above to help you focus in on the good that’s present in life’s simple, daily events. These simple things can add up quickly and drastically increase your happiness.
Brene Brown caused a big stir when she stood up and started talking about her own vulnerability. As she candidly put it in her TED talk, she did not think that she was supposed to feel vulnerable. Only to discover, that she actually was missing out on some of the best of life—namely intimacy—by being unwilling to surrender to being vulnerable. I am so grateful for her efforts to make the world a little more real and a little more humane.
It takes a lot of discipline to open up when you feel threatened but that is just what vulnerability asks us to do. It asks us to let go of our pride –our need to be right—and open to the greater truth of ourselves, the other, and the situation. When we are vulnerable we loose the stranglehold of our lesser selves. Vulnerability requires that we are able rely on a much deeper and stronger part of our self –one that is not caught up in our ego.
Let me describe the process:
It happens all the time! I get myself into a situation where I can feel myself armoring up. I feel judged, disrespected, misunderstood. It does not matter what the specific situation is, really. Just that I can feel it coming on. This intense desire to protect myself -sometimes, at all cost. My heartbeat goes up, my muscles tense, my thoughts start running away, taking my rational self with them.
I know that nothing good can come with this approach but, it is so automatic sometimes. Can you relate?
It takes everything I’ve got to remember that my reaction is causing the problem not protecting me from it. I remember I have nothing to lose but my pride and I let go. My breath deepens. My muscles soften. I can feel my heart open up. NOW, I can make something good happen.
Now let’s break it down step by step:
Why is this important?
I am going to give you two reasons why this is so critical to our overall fulfillment in life. First, we are unable to develop real relationships that are deeply caring and intimate if we do not allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Second, if we need to pretend that we are not vulnerable then our whole life becomes a charade. We have to work all the time to keep up appearances and in short that makes us miserable.
Short and sweet summary: If you want to be happy, learn how to be vulnerable.
Tune into this weeks Real Answers Radio for more on how to create meaningful relationships through vulnerability. The show is always live and your questions are always welcome!
I learned after years of working my tail off that if I did not take care of myself one of two things was going to happen. Either I was going to lose my health or I was going to lose in terms of my results. Self-care became my battle cry where as before I would sneer a little bit at people that talked about self-care thinking “How bourgeois!” Little did I know that I would be biting my tongue!
Not only did I learn the merits of self-care but I also learned that it was not as easy to get and keep on track with as I thought. In other words, the biggest tip for being your personal best is: Self Care, Self Care, Self Care!
Self Care is an investment in our personal resources. Whether what you demand of yourself is large or small you need to take care of your most important tool – you. Here are a list of 10 self care tools that you can use to be your personal best:
What are some ways that you care for yourself? Please share below!
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” ― Voltaire
Are you being judged by your questions? Not moving forward in your career, business, marriage, or fill in the blank _______? It could be because you are not asking the right questions. You need to be good at asking questions.
You might not be getting the feedback you need to make corrections in your behavior. You might not be getting type of answers that you need to hear. You also might just be getting downright wrong information.
What Do You Want?
When you ask a question, you have to know what you want for an answer. I spent quite a few years in the military. We had intelligence reports coming in; we needed data, not someone’s opinion. That meant we wanted strictly the information. We did not want any interpretation. Just the facts, ma’am. When you are asking questions, make sure you put it in the right context.
Other times you might want someone’s opinion. For example, “What do you think of this cologne?” Sometimes you want a reasoned opinion or advice. “What is the route to get from uptown to downtown?” As you get ready to ask your question, make sure you have the right source and they know what you want from them.
Do I need a factually correct answer?
Do I need an expert opinion?
Do I need a well-reasoned judgment?
How to Be Amazingly Good at Asking Questions
Once you know what kind of information you need and who to ask, you have to ask your questions in a manner that gets the best possible information in response. Asking amazing great questions is skill like any other skill, it takes practice. Here are some techniques to draw out what you need to know.
1. Don’t Ask Yes or No Questions
When you ask a yes or no question, you will most often get incomplete information. Instead, ask an open-ended question. By using an open-ended question you get insights and additional information you might not have known existed. Questions with “would,” “should,” “is,” “are,” and “do you think” all lead to yes or no. Questions with “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “how,” or “why” lead to people giving some thought to their answers and provide much more information.
2. Dig Deeper
Always consider using follow-up questions. Unless you are looking strictly for the facts, there is some sort of assumption in the answer the person gives you. Ask them a follow up question such as, “What makes you say that?” or “Why do you think that?”
Let’s say that you are talking to a co-worker and need to know details of a project. Your co-worker tells you that one of the suppliers has been very difficult to work on the project. You will want to follow up on that comment. A question such as “What do you mean he is difficult to work with?” will lead you to the real facts. It may not be because the supplier is particularly difficult to work with but rather is not reachable for quick communications or any number of outside reasons. Follow up questions give you insight and let you make your own opinions about things.
3. Use the Power of Silence
Start getting comfortable with asking a question, waiting for response, listening to the response and then waiting some more. Many times the person you are questioning has more information and will bring it out when you wait for it. You have to be comfortable with that silent period before the dam breaks. Police and military interrogators use silence very effectively. People feel a need to fill the holes in the conversation and often they will then bring out the critical bit of information you seek.
4. Don’t Interrupt
Don’t interrupt the person with whom you are talking. First, it tells the person you don’t value what they are saying. Interrupting stops their train of thought and directs the conversation the way you want, not necessarily the way it should go. Ask your question, then let the person answer it in full, even when you think you are not getting the answer you want. Listen fully to what they are saying and use that to direct them back to the topic in the next question when there is a natural pause.
If time is of the essence and the person has long strayed from the topic, then of course you need to interrupt. Be as polite as possible when doing it. This shows the person that you do respect what they are saying. Say something like, “Excuse me, I want to make sure I understand you. What I heard you say is…” and then bring them back on point to the matter at hand.
As you go forth in your quest for knowledge, remember that asking great questions takes practice. This implies that you probably won’t get it perfect every each outing. Just get started asking questions. Your skills will improve over time. Remember that if you want good answers, they come from asking good questions.
About the author: Former Green Beret Mike Martel focuses on helping individuals, entrepreneurs, and small businesses get results and improve productivity. For more information and a free Green Beret Productivity Toolkit, click here.
Self-confidence seems to be such a slippery thing to hold on to, as it can be heavily impacted by our environment, our experiences, and the feedback we receive from others. If only there was a self-confidence vitamin we could take every morning…
Fortunately, there is a simple system to gaining and maintaining your self-confidence, and you can add it into your daily self-care routine, right along with those other vitamins! Are you ready for the secret to self-confidence? It is having greater self-awareness – being aware of how you think, feel and act – and it has four important components:
The first step in creating greater self-awareness is to know yourself. Do you pay attention to your thoughts, feelings and actions? This is absolutely essential, because you can’t change what you don’t notice.
As you move through your day, listen to your thoughts. Are they mostly positive and productive, or do you have a lot of self-criticism or other mental chatter running through your head? You may even want to carry a small notebook around with you to record your most commonly recurring thoughts.
Our feelings are highly accurate barometers of how well we are taking care of ourselves. Feelings can be triggered by our thoughts, our experiences, and our interactions with others. Notice your moods throughout the day (again, you may want to record this in your notebook), so you can get a clear picture of your emotional ups and downs – and, most importantly, what caused them.
Finally, take a good look at your actions. Do your actions support your goals, or do you find yourself distracted with trivial activities or procrastinating getting the important things done? Consider using your handy notebook to make a list of absolutely everything you do during one 24-hour period (and how much time you spend doing it). You may be amazed at how much time and energy is lost in optional or non-essential activities.
The second step in creating greater self-awareness is to understand yourself. When you take the time to notice and know your thoughts, feelings and actions, you will begin to see patterns of beliefs and behaviors. Once you recognize these patterns, it is important to explore how they were created and how they may be limiting and restricting you, rather than supporting you.
Review your list of your most common negative thoughts, and see if you can remember when they first began to appear. Perhaps you can remember a specific event in your childhood that created this thought pattern, or perhaps a particular set of thoughts sound just like your mother or father… Understanding the origin of your thought patterns and beliefs can be a powerful first step to realizing that they are not serving you and figuring out what you need to do to break free from their spell.
The only way to understand your feelings is to allow yourself to feel them – without judging, stuffing or denying them. When you feel a strong emotion, remind yourself that it is okay to feel this way. Then ask yourself what is underneath the emotion. Perhaps your feelings are trying to draw your attention to an unmet need or some unresolved pain from the past. Discovering why you feel a particular emotion helps you to understand yourself and ultimately take better care of yourself.
You may want to review your 24-hour activity list, paying extra attention to those activities that could be considered an unproductive use of your time, energy and focus. What excuses, explanations or justifications did you tell yourself to make it “okay” to choose these activities over something else? What kind of motivation, support or resources would have made a difference in helping you make healthier or more productive choices? Understanding how and why you select which actions you take throughout your day will help you to remain more conscious (and conscientious) about your activities.
The third step in creating greater self-awareness is to accept yourself. As you gain a greater understanding of your thoughts, feelings and actions, it becomes easier to lessen your self-judgments and become more self-compassionate. Accept yourself for who and how you are in the moment, know that you don’t have to be perfect, and maintain a steady momentum of personal development to bring you even closer to your ideal you.
It can be challenging to quiet negative mental chatter and focus your thoughts in more healthy directions. Don’t beat yourself up when you get into a mental funk – that’s just creating more criticism and judgment! Instead, take a deep breath and redirect your attention to more constructive thoughts. Since your brain can only hold one thought at a time, you may want to create a list of affirmations or positive statements to say out loud or silently to yourself to replace any negativity.
Give yourself permission to notice and feel your feelings, and be gentle with yourself when you feel vulnerable. Notice if you need support in expressing and releasing your emotions and find a healthy way to get that support, whether it is with friends and family, your spiritual community, counseling, or another resource.
Choose your actions wisely. Seek a balance between productive activities that will bring you closer to your goals, and recreational activities that will nurture and energize you. Reward yourself when you do something spectacular or achieve a big goal, and forgive yourself if you have a frustrating or unproductive day.
The fourth step in creating greater self-awareness is to love yourself. When you choose to accept yourself, rather than judge yourself, it’s easier to notice your good qualities and celebrate your successes. You’ll grow to like the person you are, and then one day you’ll wake up and realize that you’re in love with your life and yourself!
Your thoughts will be loving and supportive, and you will have a much more positive outlook. Your emotions will flow freely, and you will feel comfortable expressing your wants and needs. Your actions will be in alignment with your goals and dreams, and you will feel empowered to live your life to the fullest.
When you know yourself, understand yourself, accept yourself, and love yourself, you will naturally be more self-confident. Incorporate these four steps into your daily routine, and you will be amazed at how much better you feel about yourself and the world around you!
Shannon Lee, The Stuck Spot Remover, is the Director of the Self-Awareness Institute and the founder of Inner Harmonies. Shannon is a personal growth expert with over 20 years of experience in helping people to identify and overcome their obstacles to happiness, success and well-being. Visit her website at www.SelfAwarenessInstitute.com