10 Tips On How To Heal From Depression

I was at a function last week and the discussion turned to the emotional well being of today’s teenagers. Someone in the group mentioned that they knew of 5 teenagers that had taken their lives in the last year. Adding to that I mentioned how I was also invited to assist with a high school in northern NSW that had 10 students take their lives in the last 2 years.
The sad news is this isn’t confined to teenagers. Its seeping across the whole of society. We have more affluence than we have ever had access to in the history of humankind and yet we have such unbelievable levels of depression and suicide rates. I know that statement means carries little weight though. I know what its like to be deeply depressed and contemplating if life was worth living, and having access to affluence didn’t mean a thing to me. I recall being curled up in a ball on my bed, in a dark misery and self loathing, thinking of the option of not living through this. At one point I was trying to think of all the reasons why I should be happy to help get me out of this state. I had a multiple 6 figure salary, a secure job, a beautiful home, a stable family upbringing, good relationships and on paper an ideal lifestyle. Yet I was miserable. I was deeply depressed. I contemplated not living.
Depression can hit anyone. Young, old, rich, poor. You name it. And yeh, it’s brutal when it comes knocking. There are many factors that contribute to depression as presented here from the Lifeline web site:
* Relationship problems or conflict – e.g. separation/divorce, difficult/abusive relationship
* Job loss, especially long-term unemployment
* Loneliness or feeling isolated
* Excessive drug or alcohol use
* Having another family member who has depression
* Having a serious physical illness
* Changes in how the brain functions
* Personality factors – e.g. anxiety, low self-esteem
Ultimately the end result is that there are low levels of oxytocin and serotonin in the body which leads to a feeling of sadness, depression, emptiness and disconnectedness. The good news there is a way out of that dark abyss. Admittedly there is no magic pill (some doctors may think otherwise) but with a holistic approach there is every possibility that one could come out depression and live a lighter, happier existence. Here are some steps that I took that helped me find my way out of depression:
  1. Daily meditation. This plays a huge part in me feeling happier again. When you are stressed and anxious your body doesn’t produce the happy biochemicals of serotonin and oxytocin. It will produce cortisol, and adrenaline which cuts off your happy chemicals. So the first step is to start finding ways to remove the stress response in the body and meditation will help enormously with that. You can use an app, online programs or ideally, find a qualified meditation teacher who will take you through the steps of learning to meditate.
  2. Regular exercise. This has been scientifically proven to change your biochemicals and increase your happy chemicals in your body. (Black Dog trial ) Not only is exercise good for the increase in happy biochemicals it also is a great release of stress which leads to calmer healthier body and better sleep.
  3. Yoga and stretching. Sitting in a chair most of the day and being stressed will tighten up the body and block the flow of energy through the body. Yoga and stretching will open up the body, calm the mind and realign the body back into a healthier space
  4. Avoid negative media and dark depressing movies and books. Where you attention goes it grows. So if we put our mind on negative depressing content, our mind and body will start to align with the energy of that.
  5. Get off technology and get into nature. Shutting down our phones, iPads, laptops and nature bathing is a powerful way to elevate your energy. When we are in forests, oceans, meadows…anywhere in fresh air and in the simplicity of nature, we start to sync into that local environment which will leave you elevated and enlivened.
  6. Get some natural supplements into you. The American Agriculture Association admitted that there is 60% less minerals and nutrients in our fruit and vegetables than in the 1960’s due to the amount of over farming in the last few decades. Not only that, society in general is eating less fruit and vegetables and more processed food. Boosting your food with supplements with vitamins, minerals and herbs can make a big difference to your moods. For professional advice on this seek out a naturopath in your local village or even try online.
  7. Speaking of foods, stick with more locally grown fruit and vegetables from your growers market, and eat plenty of clean organic live food possible. Avoid greasy fatty foods, processed foods, gluten, caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars where possible.
  8. Sleep! Sounds sensible however we are now sleeping on average less than we ever have. Sleep plays such an important role in healing your mind and body from the stress response and increasing your feeling of wellbeing. I’m all for the afternoon nap just for 20 mins also if you can fit one in.
  9. Open Up To Family and Friends. You may feel like withdrawing from the world, but it’s those precious relationships that make all the difference. When you share your vulnerability and connect, it deepens the bond with them and builds love. There are people in your life that care unconditionally for you. Reach out and let them in. (By the way, it’s been proven that hugs increasing serotonin and oxytocin)
  10. Be active. Sitting in a dark room or curling under your doona all day is what you might feel like doing but it’s not going to help you. Get up and get active. Start doing things. Buy some plants and plant them around your suburb. Volunteer at a local charity. Walk someone’s dog. Go to the zoo. Join your local library and read a book. Find a meetup group and join it. Mow someone’s lawn. There are plenty of things we can do each day that will help you lift out of that dark night and move forward.
Depression can not only take control of your life, but it can also affect many people around you. We can heal from depression, but it will require some action. Doing the same thing over and over again won’t bring about a different result. Keep trying new things, see what works for you. If you are suffering depression, it is recommended that you seek professional help. Have someone to talk with. There are many support facilities around the world that are there to help you through this. You don’t need to do this on your own so please reach out to someone for help.

 

Tom is a meditation teacher, author, corporate speaker and personal coach. He provides one on one coaching as well as group coaching in his Zen Academy for Transformational Leadership. To contact Tom about receiving his guidance or booking him to speak at your company click here.

How To Be An Inspiring Leader In A Turbulent World

Ken Blanchard, the successful author of over 60 books once said…

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”

We are in changing times…

I’ve been invited to present a number of talks lately in the corporate sector, on leadership.

It seems this is a big theme of late as we are entering a very interesting time as the status quo in all areas of life is being disrupted on a daily basis and company leaders are having to keep up with the pace.

We are seeing the shared business model such as Uber and AirBnB challenge long standing business of taxis and hotels.

We have Ai and robotics which are going to potentially disrupt the employment sector, and then…

We have social media where everything is reported and very little passes public scrutiny.

Companies and their leaders are more accountable than ever before. A tweet, a Tripadvisor post, a Facebook rant can bring an entire company down very quickly.

So what does it take to be a leader in today’s world?

When I was asked to do a talk on leadership I researched some of the top leaders in the world today to see what they were doing and how they were doing it. Surprisingly the number 1 leader in a list of 50 inspiring leaders was a man that I had never heard of before! Theo Epstein.

Who is Theo Epstein?

  • He was the youngest coach of a Major League baseball team at the age of 28 when he was signed to the Boston Red Sox.
  • Within 2 years of his signing he took them to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years.
  • Not long after that, he was poached by the Chicago Cubs where he went on to win the World Series for them for the first time in 108 years!

How did this young man have so much influence over a team of players that inspired them to do something no other coach had done in 86 and 108 years?

Maybe this quote from him had something to do with it?

“When people do things they weren’t even sure they were capable of, I think it comes back to connection. Connection with teammates. Connection with organisation. Feeling like they belong in the environment.”

Theo Epstein brought together his teams and inspired them to reach new levels of capability that were always there, only it took Epstein to bring them out.

Famed musician Quincy Jones said…

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

This is a new era of Leadership! We can no longer rule with brute force or authority. It’s a time where our leaders lead with inspiration and influence.

What makes this challenging is fallibility!

No matter how high up someone might be as a leader, they still have fallibility. Which means they will…

…screw up

…make mistakes

…do something wrong

AND it will potentially be highlighted.

Our expectation of leaders is getting higher and higher which is a good thing, as it means we ideally should be getting better leaders, but it also puts immense pressure on our leaders to meet this high standard. And it comes at a price.

There are many days where I have beaten myself up for not reaching the level of standard that I and others set for myself.

I’ve made many mistakes along the way, and after pulling myself out of the dark night I look to improve and grow from the situation.

But often it’s a slow process.

So how can leaders progress during this time of intense scrutiny and pressure?

Being vulnerable and coachable is key.

Leaders need to be open to learning and growing. To do this they need to embrace criticism and adapt accordingly.

After each of our retreats we send out a survey to our attendees asking them how we can improve what we do? I also have a fortnightly coach that is there to help me see what I can’t see and inspire me to be a better version of myself.

I believe a leader also is able to be led…A teacher is always a student.

So what are some qualities that you would seek in a leader?

Here are 12 traits that I feel as a leader we should aspire to:

  1. Vulnerable
  2. Kind
  3. Calm
  4. Consistent
  5. Focused
  6. Polite
  7. Compassionate
  8. Strong
  9. Flexible
  10. Integrity
  11. Coachable
  12. Friendly

In some way shape or form, we are all leaders. We all have a sphere of influence, whether it’s with friends, colleagues, family or clients.

It’s not about putting people on pedestals but acknowledging the leader within each and every one of us. As Tim Ferris once said:

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”

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Learn to become a conscious leader and transform yourself and those around you with personal guidance from the Founder of The Stillness Project, Tom Cronin.
This program will stretch you, expand your potential, deepen your gifts to the world, and explore ways in which you can bring your vision, mission and purpose to life. Click here to speak with Tom about your Vision, Mission And Purpose. Be a Leader at the highest level
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How To Reduce Anxiety And Live More Calmly

How are you feeling? Do you currently suffer from anxiety, insomnia, depression, adrenal fatigue overwhelm, panic attacks, OCD, ADHD, tapping leg syndrome? Or all of the above?

Recently I presented a couple of talks in front a large auditorium, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne and to open both of those talks I asked the audience who was feeling any of the above symptoms. What happened was around 80-90% of the audience put their hand up! 80-90%!

Here in Australia we are blessed to have one of the most affluent lifestyles in the world. Generally speaking most people in our society have smart phones, overseas holidays, nice houses with fresh running water, more food than we can ever eat, more clothes than we can ever wear and tumeric chai lattes! We don’t have marauding tribes chasing us down or sabre tooth tigers leaping out from behind rocks threatening our survival. So why is it we have such high rates of anxiety and panic attacks? Is there a correlation between intense quest to attain and sustain such a high rate of affluence and the toll that takes on our well-being to achieve it? Is it a matter of needing to shift our perspectives on what is important to us?

For years I suffered extreme anxiety and panic attacks, and to be very honest, there are times in my life now where I still get them. Every time I would feel that wave of anxiety sweep over me it is always when I am not present and in the moment. Its when my mind has leapt ahead into a future world, one that I am creating in my head full of scary scenarios of things going wrong. This completely distorts my present moment and triggers a stress response in my body of extreme fear about what could happen.

Our minds are amazing devices that are charmed by the idea of analysing and forecasting. It thrives in the future and the past, and has very little to do in the present moment. When the mind becomes quiet what prevails is a beautiful calm watchfulness of this moment. Here now. This ‘here now’ calmness is remarkably simply and even as I write this I can sit, pause and stay in this watchful calmness. Yet I can also notice how the mind wants to hijack this moment and take me to another place in the future. Some peoples stress default mode is anger or rage, others is deep lethargy or depression, and then there is anxiety and fear. This latter one is my default stress mode. I project into the future and get anxious about what ‘might’ happen. I usually think of a worse case scenario which triggers a huge anxiety reaction in the body.

There are a number of strategies that I use that can really help reduce the debilitating side effects of panic and anxiety. It needs to be a wholistic process, as I don’t believe there is a magic pill or cure for it.

1. Daily meditation. This will play a huge role in calming the nervous system and keeping the mind disciplined and in the present moment.

2. Daily Abhyanga. This is an ayurvedic self massage that soothes the nervous system and grounds the body. It is recommended to use sesame oil or you can buy ayurvedic abhyanga oil online. Once you massage yourself all over with the oil, have a warm bath or hot shower.

3. Vitamins and minerals. Ideally see a naturopath for a guide on what are the best supplement to take however vitamin B’s, C’s and magnesium are all good to help with anxiety.

4. Stay away from stimulating environments as much as possible. Overwhelming the nervous system with lots of noise and activity will wear the nervous system down and lead to emotional disturbance. Try to spend more time in quiet environments especially amongst nature

5. Reduce technology and the use of the phone. Pick up a book, talk with a friend, observe life through the senses, or simply be. I struggle with this one also. My phone is nearly always one and I have to admit, it lures my attention much more than should allow it to. But I know the time when I put it in a draw, turn it on airplane mode or shut it off, I feel so much better in the long run. Those short highs from scoring through a feed are like a sugar fix that doesnt last.

6. Get to bed by 10pm. Sounds simple enough but this change can make a huge difference to how you feel in the morning. There is a circadian rhythm in the day that peaks and troughs and there is a trough or downtime that comes around 9-10pm. This is when we ideally should be turning down lights, turning off technology, having a bath, reading, stretching and then hitting the pillow for a good night sleep from 10pm onwards. I know I feel heaps better the nights I fall asleep by 10pm and wake up around 5am or 6am!

These are just some strategies that will help reduce anxiety. There are more traditional methods like seeing doctors, psychologist and using medication which could all be an option if need be. Search in your local area for people who specialise in anxiety and panic for some further assistance and if things get severe, please please be sure to talk with someone about this.

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If you would like to learn to meditate we have our 21 day meditation program called Faster Deeper Bliss. In this program I will be with you every day for 21 days teaching you how to meditate deeply. This will help you feel calmer, sleep better and be less stressed about life. Find out more about this program by clicking here.