Rarely do we hear about the need for affection in parenting. Yet, it is one trait in parents that means a lot to children and plays a big factor in the way they turn out on their journey to adulthood. How? For one thing, it helps raise resilient kids.[Read more…] about Parenting: How Affection Raises Resilient Kids
Melancholy as an emotion is distinct from depression or grief. It has its own singular nature that is characterized by a certain vague sadness, an unexplainable tenuous sorrow that is baffling because you can’t quite put a finger on its cause. Changing circumstances in life allow melancholy to creep in insidiously and catch you unawares so that you experience moments of profound bleakness or intense yearning for no one or nothing in particular.
“My melancholy is the most faithful mistress I have known; what wonder, then, that I love her in return.”
A melancholic phase can actually be good for you. It increases mindfulness, raising your awareness of the present. It can also make you more intuitive and empathetic towards other people. But prolonged melancholy can have a significant negative effect on your mental and physical health. Seventeenth-century Puritan theologian Richard Baxter writes that “overmuch sorrow” can pollute one’s judgment, overthrow logical reasoning and hinder hope. Modern medicine says it leads to anhedonia, the inability to find pleasure, and eventually to clinical depression.
If you find yourself languishing in a state of chronic melancholy, it’s time to take control of your moods. Don’t ask your doctor for a Prozac prescription…yet. Here are non-medical treatments that work on both your body and your mind to distract you from your sadness and lift up your spirits, so that you can gradually return to your normal self.
Start color therapy.
Colors prompt a physiological reaction from us. The “red stimulates, blue soothes” is a basic theory. But colors can be deeply personal and evoke fond memories, so choose those that cheer you up.
Overhaul your wardrobe and redo your house. Pick clothes in happy and fun colors. A bit of orange, yellow and red can elevate your mood and give you self-confidence. Paint your living room and kitchen in brighter hues. Beige and brown with warm shades of reds and oranges can stimulate conversations and create a connection when you have guests around. Blues and greens are sedating and best used in the bedroom. If a total paint job is beyond your budget, buy new throw pillows, rugs and carpets, and other accents in cheerful colors.
Keep a journal.
A journal is different from a diary or a to-do list in that journaling is writing down your thoughts, feelings, and reflections of a certain event or meeting. When you write, whether it’s on old-fashioned paper or on a device, there is no censorship. The advantage of journaling is, in reviewing it, you see your reaction in those moments and you can reflect on them and analyze your own feelings. It’s also a great way to let off steam without getting embroiled in an unpleasant encounter.
Believe in a Higher Being.
Separate studies done by researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and McLean Hospital, a psychiatric affiliate of Harvard University found that depressed people who had a strong faith in their God, regardless of religion, had about 75% better response to treatment than the nonbelievers. Their faith in a God who cares for them combined with scientific forms of treatment helped speed up their recovery.
Take vitamins and minerals.
The B-complex vitamins and Vitamins C and D help your body fight against the symptoms of melancholy, depression, and stress. The B-complex vitamins are B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12. They provide the body with energy to combat fatigue and stress and help in the production of the happy hormones serotonin and dopamine. A deficiency of some B vitamins can lead to diseases that cause depression.
Vitamin C is important for people with low levels of serotonin. Inadequate serotonin is associated with depressive mood disorders. Your body produces Vitamin D by exposing the skin to sunlight. Lack of this vitamin is linked to winter’s Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Your body needs the following minerals: magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, and potassium. Deficiency in these minerals can also cause depression.
Avoid negative lines of thought.
Melancholy can be a result of certain lines of thought that are narrow and self-focused. These unhealthy thinking patterns can become habits that will subtly sink into your mind and cause sadness and despair.
Comparing yourself to others – your friends, co-workers, and neighbors have bigger houses and better-paying jobs, are smarter and more attractive, have brighter kids, etc., etc.
The all or nothing – events and outcomes are black or white, good or bad. There is no room for mistakes. A small flaw makes the whole imperfect and a complete failure.
Not counting your blessings – dwelling on the negatives when there are so many things to be thankful for. You’re like the man who cried because he had no shoes until he met a man who had no feet.
Catastrophizing – always anticipating and thinking of the worst that can happen.
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First published in April 2016; updated March 2022
If you’ve been working too hard, aiming for unrealistic goals and driving yourself to the ground, you’re a prime candidate for burnout.
Burnout isn’t about having a bad day at work, or even a bad week. It’s more pernicious, draining your energy and making you feel an exhaustion that isn’t relieved by rest.[Read more…] about The Signs of Burnout and How to Recover from It
The next time you’re planning to go on a vacation, why not take a spiritual retreat? Skip the crowd that flock to the beaches and bars and escape from the noise and clutter of your everyday life. Seek a haven where you can reclaim serenity and inner peace surrounded by silence and nature.
Spiritual retreats do not have to be faith-based. Although a lot of them are, secular or non-faith based retreats are also offered in many retreat centers where people from around the world go to. The most popular places for these centers are India, the Himalayas and Thailand. But you can find one nearer to home, in the US and Europe.
What is a spiritual retreat?
The hallmarks of a spiritual retreat are silence, stillness and detachment from the material world. You willingly go off the grid and re-center your thoughts inward to find the right path to fulfillment.
It’s time spent in contemplation in a retreat facility in a quiet setting, away from the babble and chaos that have become an inherent part of modern living. It can be a monastery or a faraway place with nature and a restful environment as your background.
A guru or mentor will guide you through your spiritual journey. You will have meditations and quiet contemplation done in solitude or with a group. Once you detach yourself from the world, you re-connect with your inner self and gain a sense of peace and calmness.
“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” – Albert Camus
When you find a deeper meaning to your life, you’ll have renewed energy to tackle the challenges ahead of you. A spiritual retreat gives you a keen awareness of your surroundings and the people around you. By continuing the meditation, yoga and prayer practices you learned during the retreat, you will, without conscious effort, develop gratitude, compassion, empathy and kindness towards others.
Even without a budget for the facilities of a retreat center, you can do a spiritual retreat in your home. Create a space for it and allot a quiet time to eliminate distractions. There are videos on YouTube that can guide you through breathing, centering and meditating. Stick to a video that’s right for you and copy it to a disc to play offline. It’s easy to do by following the instructions here.
For those who ask, “What’s in it for me?”, a spiritual retreat gives intangible benefits that are essential to your wellbeing. Inner peace, tranquility of the soul, and the kindness and generosity to others you have developed may not be measurable in concrete units but the positive effects they bring are priceless.
You improve your relationships with other people.
A spiritual retreat is a time for introspection. In the process of examining your own thoughts and feelings, you become aware of your own shortcomings. This awareness evokes humility and a nonjudgmental outlook, raising your tolerance and compassion for others. Eventually, your noncritical approach will pave the way for an enhanced interpersonal relationship with coworkers, friends and family.
You find yourself.
Making a living and taking care of family can overwhelm you. It’s a toxic environment that will take its toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. The demands of career and home can make you feel lost and confused about your own goals.
Go on a spiritual journey and reflect on your life’s perspectives. You may be facing challenges of broken relationships, addictions, or grave illnesses. Spiritual retreats include sessions of meditation and yoga, readings, exercise and a simple diet. A combination of these practices will help you in your personal growth and foster forgiveness, the will to overcome difficulties and acceptance of the inevitable.
You develop a positive outlook.
Faced with a materialistic world, tragic happenings and scandalous news, you become cynical and suspicious of people’s motives. You lose your faith in humanity and the goodness in people. This cynicism comes out in your behavior and can destroy you and your relationships. By retreating from your daily life, you replenish your soul with charity and renew your faith in humankind. You are filled with renewed energy and vigor, ready to go back to the real world with a changed outlook.
You meet like-minded people.
Retreats are one way of getting acquainted with kindred spirits. Having gone through similar spiritual experiences, you can act as each other’s support group and share your experiences, viewpoints and philosophies. Finding people that understand you and vice versa strengthens your newfound resolve and encourages you to become a better person overall.
With the world getting smaller through technology, we are bombarded with upsetting news that challenge our sense of safety and comfort. Spiritual retreats have always been there and now more than ever, they are necessary and relevant in this modern world.
Staying in a rut is like being insane. Albert Einstein must have experienced this reality to pen his now famous definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. But there certainly are easy lifestyle changes that can liberate us from our bondage to a futile way of life.[Read more…] about 3 Easy Lifestyle Changes to Get Out of a Rut