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Look for Balance and Feel Balanced!

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Research has catapulted emotional health to the forefront of wellness. The consensus now is that mental health is the new frontier for peak performance and quality of life, while stress and depression its nemesis.

Research has catapulted emotional health to the forefront of wellness. The consensus now is that mental health is the new frontier for peak performance and quality of life, while stress and depression its nemesis.

In Canada, from 1995 to 2000, patient visits for depression went up 36 percent to become the fourth leading reason for seeing a physician. Since 1996, there has been a 63 percent increase in the number of prescriptions filled by patients seeking help for depressive disorders, growing at an average rate of 13 percent per year. Depression can range from occasionally being grumpy to suicidal thoughts. Most people fall somewhere in between.

Set Realistic Goals

All situations in life have both upsides and downsides in equal numbers. Nature is the best example of perfect balance. People may try to achieve balance in their life by getting married, finding a new job, buying a new car, or starting a new diet. However, when the unanticipated downsides become more clear, ultimately, they may feel depression.

Depression occurs when you create fantasies about a person or activity (more upside than downside) that can't be met. Even the best-intentioned plans can require a lot of work. The soccer mom, who is stretching her personal resources by attempting to get all her kids involved in sports, doing well at school, eating healthy, and having spotless rooms (all at the same time), may feel depressed and dejected when things don't go according to plan. To her, it may seem like her life's work is falling apart.

Count Your Successes

The following are some basic emotional steps to begin tackling a glum or depressed mood.

  • Stop being a perfectionist! Take note of even the smallest of your successes. Give yourself a pat on the back if you emptied the dishwasher when you didn't feel like it or if you ate one bite of dessert rather than the whole piece. At the beginning of your day, look over the previous day and write down at least seven of your
    successes.
  • Isolate why you feel depressed. What specifically are you disappointed with? What were you expecting to happen? Write down seven things you learned because of the way things turned out.
  • Ask yourself, "Are my goals and expectations based on what I would love to have or am I chasing desires based on what others think is important?" Perhaps the soccer mom above would serve herself and her family better by choosing a slower pace that included more activities done with the whole family.

Remember that life is a journey of lessons and growth. Our challenges often yield our greatest rewards. Isolate what is important in your own heart and express your uniqueness, rather than live as others expect you to. Refine what it is that inspires you, and put more of that into your day.

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