What to do when a loved one is depressed

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**This post is not for dealing with someone in a bad mood or having one bad day, but rather a bout of depression or the over-extended stay of a burnout. This is my experience, I am not in any way a medical practitioner. **

 

After being in a relationship for 12 years and even having friendships just as long, I have had my share of experiences with seeing someone I care for go through a tough pro-longed period.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not a therapist in any way but I do consider myself to be a professional co-dependent, meaning I have battled with codependency for 95% of my entire life, so I know exactly what not to do under these circumstances.

It is incredibly difficult to live with someone and have to witness them going through a horrible patch in their life. Many of us have the primal, very real and sub-conscious instinct to “save” people and take all their pain away. Unfortunately, we often don’t realize that the only person we can actually save and have any control over is ourselves.

I personally believe that (Insert Higher Being here)   sends us the specific situations in life that we need so that we can take a step back and learn what is necessary to grow, thus clearing out our karma so that similar situations don’t continue to haunt us. I believe that once we own up to our portion, and accept our circumstances, that we are then able to take full responsibility in the fact that only we have the power to change (for better or for worse).

What we forget is that this applies to everyone around us as well. Often, we like to try to force change and induce epiphanies in people by means of control, manipulation, ultimatums, guilt and shame or belittling. We lose patience with the people we love because they are not growing at the pace that we demand, completely forgetting that they are imperfect humans, just like ourselves.

When we try to rescue people, we’re unable to recognize that it is translating into how we don’t feel they are capable of making their own decisions, take control of their own life, and inefficient in persevering in the face of difficulty. We are also robbing them of their personal growth that is essential to becoming a better person in life.

No matter how much we may want to, we cannot force someone to be aware of what is going on inside them, we cannot read minds, we cannot heal another person’s trauma, make them forgive and let go of what burdens them or create that ‘ah-ha’ moment necessary to have an epiphany. Everyone gets to this stage at the pace that is meant for them.

By trying to take on other people’s burdens we are also doing ourselves an enormous disservice. Most people already have enough on their plate handling their own affairs. If we get into the driver’s seat of another person’s mental, emotional and spiritual well-being we can quickly begin to accumulate resentment and bitterness towards them- completely forgetting that it was never our business to begin with.

What we can do to help those around us is lead by example. By handling our own conundrums, seeking the professional help we need, and diving into the shadows of our inner beings to heal what lies beneath, can be incredibly inspiring and motivating to someone going through a similar situation. By facing our fears and micro-traumas we may be able to start the path to healing that others need to walk down.

We can be the listener in the relationship; someone who is completely present and holds space for another person to express themselves. There is no need to give advice, or try to finish their sentences or interrupt them with our own experiences and stories. Just be there for them and let them speak their truth without judgement.

We can also offer to accompany the person to the doctor’s or therapist’s office. We can go on an outdoor date with them so that they can reap the benefits of how nature can heal. If we stumble upon some useful information we can share it with them, but by no means are we going to take responsibility for them and do their work.

Lastly, I want to mention the importance that we really take care of ourselves during this time. Even if we are not trying to fix this person, it can still take a big toll on our own well-being. It is essential that we prioritize our self-care through diet, being in nature, journaling, maintaining faith in ourselves and through our spiritual practice and cleansing ourselves of any dark energies.

I know the feeling all too well of what its like to be depressed, in an un-shakeable rut and in the middle of grieving through pent up traumas. Let us use our experiences to shine our light in the midst of someone else’s darkness so that they too can conquer their shadows.

 

Love always,

Mabes

Slowing down in a fast paced world

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I recently jumped the ship and left my preschool teaching job. Although I miss my coworkers and those little chicken wings (the kids) it was the right move for me to take me in the direction of my purpose. That being said, life did not come to a screeching halt from taking that leap of faith. I moved to a new home with my partner, I had one week to find a part-time/full-time job, I gained 3 contracts teaching yoga to school children and I was planning out a Goddess Ceremony for a client all while in school.

I hadn’t worked full-time in at least 2 years, so that was something to get used to all in itself. My body ached for being on my feet for 8 hours a day after being used to the lots of rest. I also started commuting together with my partner so we had to come up with a new schedule and routine all together for our completely different work hours.

At first, I was loving the fast pace of my life, I was busy all the time, I felt productive and proud of myself for everything I was accomplishing and I loved being a part of a new company whose mission was to protect and restore the environment. I felt inspired and creative immediately by all the changes around me. Of course, this did not last and I soon saw the enormous rock ahead also known as burn-out. Everything went downhill as I quickly became overwhelmed, stressed out, and anxious. I felt like a chicken running around with its head cut off heading toward a cliff.

I noticed I had been avoiding and resisting the call of yoga for a long time. It was something that had helped ground and relax me in times of emotional turmoil, physical pain and anxiety attacks. So naturally, I went back to the mat. Yoga has so many amazing qualities to it that can help everyone and their various needs. There are so many styles of yoga, free online videos, and amazing classes filled with great community and acceptance that a person can choose from. I chose the amazing healing yin and restorative yoga to bring me back down to earth and out of my head.

Personally, I have found that doing something physical and close to the ground is one of the best ways for me to come back to my body, and live in the present moment through the breath. As a “pitta” dosha type, I am naturally hot blooded, busy, fast paced, and always trying to fill up all my time productively. Because of those tendencies, I can become out of balance leading to digestive issues, anger, and burn-out. My pitta was definitely over heating so the relaxing and cooling effects if restorative and yin yoga were exactly what my body needed.

After being brought back down to earth I made it a priority to find some type of schedule that worked for me. I was doing my morning routine only on the days that I was off (twice a week) so its preventative capabilities were not kicking in. On the days that I commuted together with my partner I had to make a promise to myself that I made sure that I went straight to my morning routine once I got home. The specific time was not an issue for me, but I had to prioritize the routine at the top of my list to ensure that it was getting done.

My routine is always done in a slow and mindful pace so it immediately helped me to simmer down and reminded me to breathe. I begin with oil pulling as I indulge in the ritual of making my coffee. The smell of the whole beans as I grind them up, the soothing sound of the hot water boiling and then the sight of the foaming coffee as I pour the water into the French press or Chemex fill me up with gratitude and joy. Once I’ve made the coffee I let it marinate in my special spice blend as I move into the yoga room.

In the yoga room, I light some incense and chant my morning Gongyo, meditate, and write in my 5 Minute Journal. I also have two books that I read from, “Simple Abundance” and “Find Your Happy: Daily Mantras.” Meditation is a great way to bring me out of my head and back into a joyful reality. Sometimes I am able to sit in stillness and other times I am not, but I also show up to find out. Writing and reading are two of my favorite activities to do, so not only does it fill me with joy, but the specific journal and books that I use are filled with love, reflection, and positivity that always put me in a great mood.

The last soothing activity is to for me to take a shower and wash away any negative energy from the day before. It helps me feel like I have a fresh start to my day. Once I am out I do abhyanga or oil massage on my body, another way to find appreciation for what I have.

These two activities have helped me tremendously when it comes to preventing burnout and overwhelm and I highly recommend them to everyone regardless if you are living a busy lifestyle or not. I also recommend morning pages, in which you keep a journal by your side and immediately write your dreams, take a brain dump and then end with a gratitude list the minute you wake up. It is supposed to help release your mind of holding onto everything going on in there at all times. It also allows you to live in appreciation for what you have. These two are said to combine for the ultimate effect of unleashing your true creative potential.

Nature is another amazing way to help you to slow down. I am lucky to live in an area surrounded by beauty- but have yet had a chance to explore it. Even just talking your pet on a walk in the morning and evening or sitting on your balcony and seeing the autumnal change in the trees or watching the Fall rain come down as you sip your coffee can transform your day. Not to mention, it is free.

The last tip to help you slow down is to embrace the change in the seasons. As we quickly transition into Autumn, it is the perfect time to redecorate and rearrange your home, and add in the relaxing effects of cozying up your home for you and your loved ones. This act of relaxing, warmth and community is called “hygge” and is all about slowing down. Add some warm colored twinkly lights to your balcony or bedroom, light some candles or incense, bring in wood for your first fire of the season and cozy up with your favorite blankets as you drink a hot beverage with your lover or best friend.

I don’t anticipate the world around us slowing down any time soon, but that doesn’t mean that we have to allow it all to swallow us up and wring us dry. You are responsible for your well being and for your life- make it a priority to care for yourself every day and I am sure that you will be able to thrive in your environment and show up as your greatest self.

Thank you for reading today and I will be back soon. Please leave questions or tips about slowing down in the comments box below.

 

Love always,

Mabes