Life is for living, to be the best you every day. That’s not only for you, but for everybody around you too.
Here are some proven successful methods for living that anyone can adopt to feel upbeat. Try them for a fortnight and you should notice definite positive benefits.
Keep it in the moment
Keeping it in the moment, living life one day at a time, is the best way to live. Just look to children and dogs who live like this – they seem generally much happier and more often than most of us!
It’s a waste of energy to live in the past or the future. It just means we fill ourselves up with regrets and anxiety. But living in the past or the future will not change a thing – except it will spoil the present moment.
Keeping it in the day is also beneficial if there’s a day ahead involving something you don’t want to do. Remember, it’s just for that day, not forever.
Do your best to only be around people who are positive for you. These are friends, family and colleagues who show you love and encourage you.
Also limit or give up social media and the news. Social media is always likely to provoke negative feelings such as envy, self-pity and excessive pride.
Then the news just focuses on all the worst bits of the world. Stay in touch with what’s happening, but be aware that the news emphasizes all that’s bad and tragic on the planet – and so you’ll be letting lots of negativity in.
Everybody has the choice to be positive. This can be difficult to hear if you’re struggling with depression, but mostly we can decide to be happy. It was the 16th president of the US Abraham Lincoln who said: “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Gratitude is a fantastic way to feel positive. Throughout every day, realize things to be grateful for – such as having food, friends and family.
When we give we gain
Always show kindness with your time, money and talents. It will help those around you – and also make you feel pricelessly good inside.
Related to this is that we need to find forgiveness for others. Once again, this is a positive thing to do for those who we are forgiving, but it is also good for us as if we’re consumed with resentment it will leave us feeling toxic and negative.
As the saying goes: “Resentment is like drinking poison – then waiting for the person you resent to die.”
Similarly we need to say sorry if we have said or done something or made a mistake that negatively impacts on someone else. They may not even accept the apology, but at least we’ve done the right thing – and so then we can move on.
Exercise and eat well
We need to exercise for 30 minutes five times a week – at least. It is obviously good for us physically, but also releases the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.
So exercising will make us feel good and then when we see and feel the benefits it will boost our self-esteem. Getting among nature while exercising is also excellent for emotional health.
Then, make sure to eat well. That doesn’t only mean lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, but also having regular eating times and not rushing meals or eating too much.
Do something that requires concentration
Our minds need to be exercised every day too. So make sure at least once a day to spend at least 30 minutes doing something that needs thought and concentration. This includes things such as watching a documentary, playing an instrument, doing sudoku or a crossword, learning a language, playing chess or reading a book.
Reflect and relax
Find at least 30 minutes every day to relax. Somewhere that is calm and still where you won’t get disturbed is best.
Make sure to breathe slowly and relax. This is the perfect way to start and finish each day.
Get to bed at the same time every night and develop a good habit of sleeping for seven to eight hours every night. This will be of immense benefit both physically and mentally.
Our immune systems work best if we have good regular sleep. Also, we will be more tolerant and less irritable after a decent night’s sleep. In all ways, we will perform better.
Be honest, including to yourself
It’s much better for us emotionally and mentally – and therefore physically too – to always be honest with other people. Nobody gets away with a lie, because it will leave us feeling at least ill at ease inside.
Be honest to yourself too. More than 400 years ago, William Shakespeare knew the immeasurable benefit of this when he wrote in Hamlet: “This above all: to thine own self be true.”
It pays to learn to listen to gut instinct. It will always tell us the truth because unlike our minds it cannot lie to us.
One aspect to certainly include in this is to answer with honesty questions such as: is my lifestyle good for me – or not? Am I living in a manner that is physically and/or emotionally unhealthy?
If you know, for instance, that you’re drinking or using drugs too much, working too many hours or something else like this that’s detrimental to you (and consequently most likely to those around you too), then you need to make some changes. Many people need help with this from a professional who has expertise in these matters.
There is a concept known as the “hero’s journey” that nearly all Hollywood’s major movies and the world’s bestselling novels are based on. These movies and novels are so popular because they tell a story that resonates deep inside all of us.
Along with stories from centuries ago, such as some Greek myths and stories in religious books, they follow a journey that we know subconsciously we need to go on for a meaningful and contented life.
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
A growing number of mental health experts are recognizing the striking similarity between the hero’s journey and recovery. In fact, it is now seen that the Twelve Steps recovery program takes people through their very own personal hero’s journey.
Be your own protective force
In this context the word “hero” is more akin to the meaning of the Greek word it derived from – meaning “protector”. That is to be someone who can look after themselves well and without harm, as well as be there for other people when they need some help.
This can be seen in movies including The Wizard Of Oz, Star Wars, Batman, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, The Matrix, Rocky, Superman and The Lord Of The Rings. The main character in all of these stories discovers the treasure that was always inside them – that is the impressive inner strength to deal with an adversity that threatens them and usually their community if not the whole world.
The main characters in films such as these strike a chord in all of us because they represent our lives when they face their greatest fears and in doing so find the hero that was always inside them. They will always have some sort of guide or mentor to help, encourage and believe in them.
Here is the undeniable connection with recovery. To find recovery and then maintain it we all need to have the strongest resolve to have the utmost courage to change something.
It usually means looking back at unresolved histories with a professional who has expertise in these matters. They will help, encourage and believe in the person who has asked for their help.
They will help them recover something – their true self, that at some point became hidden and that might have seemed lost forever.
From ordinary to extraordinary
In a hero’s journey one of the first stages is going from the potential hero’s ordinary world into an extraordinary world. Any potential hero knows deep down that where they presently are is not where they can be or need to be to know happiness and fulfill their potential on this earth.
So it is the same with recovery: someone’s ordinary world might definitely not look ordinary to most of us, but to that person it has become that way. For instance, the alcoholic drinking every day until blackout; the cocaine addict snorting lines as soon as they wake up; the workaholic who never sees his children; the sex addict in debt due to paying for sex…
It might be extremely chaotic and distressing, but this has become their ordinary world. To leave it to go into an extraordinary world – meaning somewhere extremely different – needs courage and desire.
It is why such as a rock bottom or breakdown is frequently needed before people get well in recovery. As with the hero’s journey stories, people often reach the stage where there is nowhere else left to go.
No matter how they get there, when someone makes that courageous journey from their ordinary world into the extraordinary world – that could be from such as attending a Twelve Steps meeting, seeing a therapist or booking into a recovery center – what then?
If it is someone’s first time, then it will certainly seem like they have entered a strange world. There might be people like themselves there and they find identification for the first time.
There will be people there to help them, and for some people this is a first. People will listen to them about their emotional issues. For many who start recovery – even those who might have had hundreds of people under their leadership in business – it’s the first occasion they have felt listened to genuinely.
There might be some new words and phrases that are heard for the first time, and it can initially seem like learning a new language. But thankfully it is the language of recovery that’s easy to learn.
There will almost certainly be new concepts too as methods for living life on life’s terms. Discoveries will be made that often seem obvious – but that couldn’t be seen before talking to such as a therapist.
This could be, for instance, that we all have a choice over which thoughts we pay our attention to on a daily basis. Or that how we’ve always responded to certain situations is merely how we learned during childhood – but that it’s never been the best way for us or those we are around.
Another realization that many people who start recovery make is that sometimes the support from some family members and certain friends might not be there for them as they believed it would. This is frequently due to the other person and should never put anyone off entering or continuing recovery.
There’s a recovery phrase for this: Those that matter don’t mind; and those that mind don’t matter.
It’s a useful phrase to remember – but sometimes it is not so simple. This is because at times someone in recovery might discover that their partner or a close friend does not seem to like that they are making positive changes in their life.
For instance, this could be that someone has a codependent partner who actually got something from the relationship by being the one who was always needed to pick up the pieces caused by the messiness of such as an addiction. It helped them deal with their own emptiness and was a constant distraction from their pain.
Sometimes too someone like an old drinking buddy might not want to lose their mate as an accomplice. They liked that they were always on hand to go out and get drunk with them, yet again. The fact they had a friend who drank as much as them meant their own drink problem had somewhere to hide.
By someone like this going into recovery it is as if this person then sees a mirror held up in front of them and they cannot face what they see because they do not like it. As well, perhaps they do not think another way is possible.
So they might avoid the old friend who’s making positive changes now. Or even make attempts to sabotage the relationship no matter if they have known each other since childhood.
People in early recovery will start to realize they have more time as they are not spending so much of it on things such as an addiction or battling anxiety. Frequently people notice they have more money too – and wonder before long how they ever could have afforded such as a drink or drug addiction.
Business and work achievements will improve. Family time will increase in quality. Friendships can be rekindled.
There are other fantastic benefits that are usually noticed in early recovery. Heads will clear, people will feel physically fitter and stronger, a sparkle will come back into their eyes, aches and pains felt for years can dwindle or cease…
Sometimes some of these things might not be noticed by the person in recovery, but they are noticed by others especially if they’ve not seen the person in early recovery for some time. Sometimes the person looking at the other who’s in early recovery cannot put their finger on it – but they sense and see something different and it’s wholly positive.
If you are in early recovery, don’t be surprised to see people looking at you with a slight sense of wonder, maybe with their head tilted, as they ponder just what it is that has changed for the better in you.
Another thing that is often felt by someone in early recovery is an inner strength either coming back – or seeming to be there for the first time in their life. Day by day they get the growing sense that they can live their life in a better way. If they had an addiction they will get to know that the balance of power is changing in their favor.
There is also the sense of finding parts of themselves they remember as being their true self. There’s a sense of familiarity about this, a return home as they recover their true self.
Everyone who has successful recovery today also had their first days in recovery – and they will tell anyone thinking about seeking help that they would not want to miss this priceless feeling of recovering their real sense of self.
Depression can develop for different reasons. As a result, there are several types of depression.
These major types of depression are:
Characterized by episodes of mood known as mania: delusions, overactivity, extreme excitement or euphoria. There can be elation, excess energy and the person might have relentless ideas, talk rapidly, not want to sleep or eat, do irrational things and make risky or harmful decisions.
Most bipolar disorder sufferers also have episodes of deep depression. They may feel unbearably sad, empty, pessimistic and irritable most of the time, lack energy, have trouble focussing, experience memory issues, not be able to sleep and also have suicidal thoughts. Tragically, the risk of suicide in someone suffering from bipolar disorder is 15 times more than in the overall population.
Major depressive disorder (MDD)
Also known as classic depression, unipolar depression, clinical depression and major depression, this is one of the most common types of depression.
A person will be diagnosed with MDD if they are experiencing five or more of the following symptoms during a two-week period. These cannot be because of substance abuse or another condition – and “depressed mood” or “loss of interest or pleasure” has to be at least one of their symptoms.
Depressed mood nearly every day for most of the day.
Significantly diminished interest or pleasure in all or most activities nearly every day for the majority of the day.
Significant weight loss when not dieting. Or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite most days.
A slowing of thoughts, and a reduction of physical movement that’s observable by others.
Loss of energy or fatigue most days.
Feeling worthless or with inappropriate excessive guilt virtually every day.
Less ability to concentrate and think or indecisiveness most days.
Recurring thoughts of death and/or suicide (with or without a specific plan), or a suicide attempt.
Sometimes known as MDD with atypical features, atypical depression is a depression that goes away in response to positive events. This means someone may not always appear depressed.
Common symptoms include: excessive sleep or insomnia, fatigue, poor body image, feeling overwhelmed, excessive appetite, weight gain, and intense sensitivity to criticism.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
SAD has similar symptoms to MDD, but develops in someone during a particular season – mostly during the dark and cold winter months. For this reason it is sometimes called MDD with seasonal pattern. It is seen much more in far southern and far northern nations where there is much less light for long periods of each year.
Persistent depressive disorder (PDD)
While PDD is generally not as intense as MDD, it persists in someone for at least two years. It can make day-to-day living extremely difficult. Relief of symptoms can come – but for a maximum of eight weeks.
Previously called dysthymia, it’s also sometimes referred to as chronic depression. Symptoms include a lack of energy, irritability, anger, changes to appetite, social withdrawal, difficulties in daily tasks, poor self-esteem, insomnia or oversleeping, overwhelming sadness, memory and concentration issues, loss of interest in hobbies and things previously enjoyed, and extreme feelings of guilt.
There are some people diagnosed with MDD who also have periods when they lose touch with reality. This is called psychosis and it causes hallucinations, paranoia and delusion. Experiencing at least two of these at the same time is MDD with psychotic features.
Postpartum depression (PPD)
PPD is depression after giving birth, and there’s also perinatal depression while a woman is pregnant. Both are believed to be linked to hormonal changes as well as sleeplessness and physical difficulties that are common during pregnancy and around the birth of a baby.
Another factor is that when a woman is expecting or has a baby it can seem to intensify any problems, such as worries about their partner, financial issues or work and home problems.
Symptoms include self-harm (or thoughts), appetite changes, social withdrawal, feeling hopeless and worthless, anxiety, panic attacks, severe mood swings, difficulty bonding with the baby, thoughts of hurting the baby, guilt, deep sadness, thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
PMDD has symptoms that are similar to PMS (premenstrual syndrome) such as anxiety, bloating, breast tenderness, irritability, moodiness, fatigue and increased appetite – but they are much more intense. A woman with PMDD can have depression that adversely affects their normal daily life.
Symptoms include feelings of stress, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, frequently tearful or crying, anxiety, panic attacks, lethargy, extreme anger, sleep problems, general irritability and binge eating.
If you think you or someone you know could have any type of depression, it is essential to speak with a therapist. Depression is always treatable – but it needs to be looked at as soon as possible.
Those with problematic drug abuse to substances like marijuana or cocaine who get treated at the beginning of their substance use disorders, are much more likely to avoid relapse and other health care issues in the future.
Substance abuse and early intervention
The days of waiting for an addict to hit ”rock bottom” and realizing the severity and helplessness of their addiction have become more of an antiquated albeit unhelpful treatment method over the years.
Evidence suggests that early interventions have proven to be incredibly advantageous to individuals with a drug use problem.
When a person receives treatment early for their addiction, whether it be drug abuse or other substance use disorder, it prevents the likelihood of other mental health consequences.
Delayed intervention encourages the body to build a high tolerance to a substance (such as drugs and alcohol).
It also allows addictions to create mental, emotional and physical footers, all of which makes treatment and recovery incredibly challenging and relapse much more likely.
The consequences of delayed intervention have proven to be costly for many countries across the globe.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reported that for every two dollars of American government spending that goes toward addiction prevention, over ninety-six dollars gets spent on addressing the consequences of the countries that fail to prevent and treat drug and substance use disorders.
Drug abuse prevention
Detecting and addressing behavioral problems at the outset is just one way in which substance use disorders get prevented or reduced, particularly in adolescents.
Research suggests that many behavioral health issues can get spotted up to fours years before they become disorders.
Programs such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) help to fund sobriety programs for young children and adolescents by teaching them essential principles around substance use that can get adapted for addicts of all ages.
Importance of early intervention
As mentioned earlier, the benefits of early intervention are bottomless.
Whether someone has a marijuana or cocaine addiction, specific therapies and interventions can help control chronic addiction symptoms and improve an individual’s overall quality of life.
Some of the advantages of early intervention include:
Intervening early sets the stage for positive long-term effects, particularly when the long-term feels endless
Intervening at the outset catches the addict while they are still in frequent contact with healthier influences and environments
Early intervention alters the person’s life-course trajectory before it drifts too far out in the distance
Early intervention ensures that the long-term physical side effects of drug abuse and alcohol get minimized
Early intervening allows an addicts’ family members and friends to correct any unhealthy behaviors of their own that may be contributing to a loved ones’ problem with drug use
Intervening at the start also gives an addict the chance to shift their overall life focus toward healthy factors (before the addiction grabs hold) including, resilience, healthy environments, supportive relationships, positive mental health and adequate coping skills
Lastly, early intervention makes things generally that much easier for the addict.
It is much less challenging to break a substance use habit if the substance abuse pattern hasn’t yet established an integral role in the person’s life.
What are formal vs informal interventions?
The term ”intervention” often strikes up terrible images in a person’s mind, among many things, an intervention ”mob culture” where parents, family members, and friends get viewed as interrogators and the addicted, the prey.
Social media often sensationalizes drug use intervention programs with frightening images of addiction recovery settings within primary mental health.
Painting an inaccurate depiction of early intervention programs can be conducive to substance misuse recovery.
Addicts require the full support and understanding from their school, work colleagues and communities, all of which are critical components to treating underlying trauma, behavior and problematic drug use.
People who may be wondering about formal drug intervention must consider all the facts before making their first move.
For example, suppose parents or loved ones already have frank conversations with someone they love about their drug use issues.
In that case, a gentle conversation might be enough to get them to consider treatment to address their addiction problem.
Formal – intervention principles
However, even the most informal approach to early intervention will benefit from using the formal -intervention principles, all of which get stated below:
Prepare the intervention script way ahead – a rule of thumb is to practice in advance as a group and agree among yourselves not to get distracted by arguments or anything else that may take you off your schedule.
Constantly express your respect, empathy and concern for the addict throughout the intervention, letting them know how much you value your relationship with them and instilling the belief that they can overcome their addiction.
Ensure that the intervention team is no larger than six people. Consider how difficult and upsetting the situation already is for an addict without the added pressure of feeling bombarded and outnumbered. The aim is for the addict to remain as logical and non-defensive as possible.
Ensure that you understand the substance used and the specific concerns related to the drug. You must also know how long your loved one has been experiencing substance abuse and why. It also helps to know what other issues have developed as a result of substance abuse.
Always summarize the intervention by issuing the person with a sturdy ”next step”, such as an immediate call to action like professional treatment that they ideally commit to there and then. It’s also helpful to prepare for any harmful consequences that may arise from the intervention, mainly if they refuse treatment.
It’s normal to be concerned
Another area of importance in early intervention is understanding and addressing the common concerns associated with the intervention process.
An individual may worry about losing their relationship with the addict and fear that the addict is angry at them for approaching the issues surrounding their substance use disorder.
Developing a sense of trust
People must come to terms with the possibility that the addict may very well be angry at them. Let’s face it; it’s never easy being told that ”you’re messing up your life” or having to admit to an addiction to substances like marijuana or cocaine.
Anger and resentment are likely to occur at the outset since few people will get geared toward instant gratitude.
Parents and family members must appreciate that although the initial intervention phase will be challenging, your loved one won’t end up hating you for it.
The key is to remain supportive, empathetic and understanding. Before long, your loved one will begin to demonstrate appreciation for your concern, and your relationship will end up being a lot stronger for it.
What to do if the intervention process fails
It’s common for people to refuse addiction treatment.
Regardless of how well the intervention process got implemented, your loved one may not be ready to face their substance abuse problems.
People need to remind themselves:
Not to be discouraged or give up hope – Often, setbacks are merely a setup for a comeback.
To consider what might have gone wrong with the intervention, and if there was another attempt, what principles would get included the next time. Common mistakes made at interventions often include people going off subject, the addict being under the influence during the intervention and interveners getting defensive.
To stick to the consequences – when the addict refuses to get treatment, people MUST adhere to the effects they presented to the addict; if people back down, it puts them in a much weaker position and back into the enabler role. All this makes future intervention a lot harder.
Continue to be active within your support network – addicts’ loved ones’ need support too, and continuing to receive this level of support can be very empowering. It may even encourage an addict to follow this example in the future.
Getting in touch
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, then perhaps it’s time to consider getting treated.