Death is a Tragedy that Keeps Us Going: How it feels to experience loss for the first time

 

  1. “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever; you just have to live.” –Natalie Babbitt.

Summer 2018 was supposed to be thrilling. Summer 2018 was supposed to be the summer of freedom. But I was wrong.

I had recently graduated college and was excited to move back home to begin my next chapter. I was finally free, free from school. No more homework, no more stress, time to enter the real world and have some time to enjoy myself.

Early June, my friends went to the beach. All but one returned home. My friend was missing. 24 hours later, they found him at the bottom of a canal, dead.

That phone call I got and those words I heard will forever echo in my mind.

“He’s dead, he’s gone, he’s dead.”

Those words couldn’t settle in my brain. My stomach was uneasy; my anxiety was high. I just didn’t understand. How can someone just be gone like that? How can someone so young just vanish? I felt like he was just on a long vacation, that one day he would return. But the reality of it is, he wasn’t, he was gone.

He was my best friend. And I had never lost someone close to me before. I thought I would feel it. I thought I would feel the physical sense of someone being gone from this world. Someone I had a deep connection with, I thought the feeling would pass through me. The feeling of a soul being taken. But I didn’t and now I was stuck trying to put together what happened.

How does one cope with this loss?
The day I got the news, a group of us went to his apartment. I could feel the emptiness of the place. All his belongings were right where he left it, but he was not.

We all sat around on the living room floor staring at a single rose in a vase, a lit candle and a picture of the friend we had lost. Everyone was teary eyed, some balling, but me, I was just numb.

I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel. But the truth is, I was feeling grief for the first time ever. The worst feeling possible.

There would be random times of the day where I could imagine him coming back home. Other times I felt like bursting out in tears. I felt this pain at the pit of my stomach, the world just didn’t seem right.

Realizing You’re Not Alone:
Later that week we held a vigil at the restaurant where he had worked at for almost 8 years. Feeling anxious and sad, the vigil went on. But something happened. Something almost satisfying.

The turnout for the vigil was insane. Over one hundred people came to pay their respects. The news even came out to document the experience. Multiple people came up and shared their fondest memories with him. Everyone said something similar. They discussed a time where he did something for them without them asking. They explained how he was so kind, selfless, and always put others first before himself. He was the glue that kept us together, but in his absence the bond was broken.

However, by listening to these experiences, it really made me realize just how much of an impact one person can have. That one single human being touched the hearts of over a hundred people in such a personal way. Now that is true love.

Time to Face Reality:
The following week I had to travel down to North Carolina for my cousin’s graduation. We spent all day driving and went straight to the ceremony. This was a great opportunity to see family I haven’t seen in years.

But still, something deep down was hurting. I just didn’t know what to feel.

Later that night, in the hotel room, I was laying down trying to get sleepy and it hit me. All at once, it just hit me hard. I found myself balling. I finally felt the feeling of loss. I finally felt something, and I hated it.

In my despair I turned to sad poems and songs. It just made me cry harder. I was finally processing what had truly happened. I was finally feeling.

These questions of Why him? Why is life so cruel? Why do the good die young? were constantly going through my brain. But the truth is, there will never be an answer.

The empty feeling:
Cleaning out his apartment felt empty. His boyfriend and I sat in their room, boxes all over the house, his belongings spread all over. It just didn’t seem right. There I was at my dead best friend’s house, going through his stuff, reliving his memories.

But the memories didn’t make me sad, they made me feel relieved. For these memories were happy times, times where he was living his best life. Adventures he went on; concerts he went to. We even found a letter he wrote to his boyfriend wishing him happy birthday, explaining how he loves him and wants to make their relationship work. Yes, the situation was horrible, but living these memories helped me get some closure.

The Outcome:
Once a person loses someone close to them, the hole that was once full will never fully be filled again. That person you wish you could call up to catch up is gone and that person will never come back. However, the memories will forever be there. I cannot think of one bad memory of my friend. I can think of times where we bickered, but it was all out of love. I am now left with these beautiful memories of a time we once both lived together.

Death really gave me a new perspective on life. Death really brought the people he left behind closer. Death showed us a new type of love. Death gave me more of a reason to want to live.

At the end of the day death isn’t so bad. Death reminds us that we are human. Death proves that these moments are not going to last forever and that part of living is dealing with grief and loss. Death is a reminder to live your life with yourself in mind, do what you want to do and accept no less. It’s to time accept what happened and continue on, because this is your only chance.


Rebecca Toro is a writer and digital artist. She is a recent college graduate who is excited to share her experiences and advice with others. Want to chat? Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Twitter or check out her portfolio.

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The Revival of the Handwritten Love Letter

The handwritten letter is romantic, poetic and sensual. It’s more permanent, purposeful, engaging, reflective, thoughtful, individualized and requires and more effort than a cold electronic email message.

In many ways, emails, texting and instant messaging have brought back some of the qualities of letter writing skills, although for many people, it has taken away the allure of the stamped letter mailed at the corner mailbox. Even though most of my day is spent at the computer composing emails, I do have a drawer totally dedicated to stationary and note paper. After all, an email is not a ‘real’ letter and in many ways receiving a stamped letter delivered by the mailman seems to hold more weight and be more credible. It is just so precious. Although we can save emails, there is nothing like saving a handwritten letter, something we have stored away, a piece of paper which reminds us of a particular person. Sometimes the paper might even hold their fragrance.

Word processors are ubiquitous now, but holding a hand-written letter elicits different feelings than a typewritten one.  Writing a handwritten letter is the next best thing to showing up at someone’s door. A hand-written letter also holds the story of the letter’s journey, perhaps across many miles. It holds the spirit and energy of the person who wrote it in a very tangible way.

When each of my children were born I wrote them a letter. When my grandmother died, when I was ten, I wrote her a letter and continue to do so when I have the need to be connected with her. When my father died, twenty-five years ago, I wrote him a letter. All my children are grown and every so often I love sending them a handwritten note or card. I hope they cherish it as much as I do.

To write a handwritten letter, all you need is stationary which reflects your personality, a smooth-moving pen and sealing wax.

Here are some tips for writing love letters:

  • State purpose of your letter
  • Recall a romantic memory
  • Write what you love about the person
  • Write about how your life has changed since your meeting
  • Reaffirm your love
  • Summarize with a potent phrase, such as “I can’t wait to grow old with you.”

If you want to get inspired by wonderful letter writers, check out the following books:

de Ayala, R. (1999). Illustrated Letters: Artists and Writers Correspond. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams.

Gunwald, L, and S. J. Adler, Eds. (2005). Women’s Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present. New York, NY: Dial Press.

Fitzpatrick, E., ed. (2010). Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Tamplin, R., Ed. (1995). Famous Love Letters:  Messages of Intimacy and Passion. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest.

 

How to Handle the Tug-of-War between Working for Money and Idealism

We have idealisms and aspirations. However, we all need a roof over our heads, food on the dinner table, and education for our children (and ourselves). To fulfill all those necessities, we often need to compromise and choose to work for money instead.

Thus, idealisms and aspirations often die over time. Simply because we no longer nurture them. We let them die slowly. We still smile whenever encountering them from time to time, but something within us says that it’s time to “grow up” and forget “childish” idealisms and aspirations.

We become the slave of our routines, which comprise of endless chores and errands. At work, daily workloads become monotonous and boring. At a certain point, life in the suburbs becomes unbearable. Even worse, we label those idealisms and aspirations “childish.”

Now let’s reflect. Is living monotonously days in and days out the only way to live? The answer is an absolute no.

The old Hollywood movie siren Mae West once said, “We only live once. If we do it right, once is enough.” Moreover, I can’t agree more.

Despite what most religions say about the afterlife, which promises a “better life” and a “better place,” we should focus on the 70 to 90 years of limited time on Planet Earth that we have one shot to enjoy. For me, this is the most appropriate way to look at life, which I treasure every single day.

This perspective gives me the courage to live my life according to what I believe and what I truly want out of life. In my case, I’m enjoying my ideal life where I can travel the globe while working remotely as a writer and an online business owner.

With this “one shot to make it right” philosophy, I’m much more compelled to do the best within my limitations. This outlook provides me with energy, determination, perseveration, and willingness to go the extra ten or a hundred miles, not merely “an extra mile.”

It also gives me with the optimism that I can and should reach most, if not all, of my idealisms and aspirations within this lifetime. Translated into simple language: I must manage my time accordingly, so I can work hard and smart, while also having no regrets whatsoever.

The thing is, how have I been doing it and will continue to do it?

First things first, I constantly remind myself that there are two ways that I can make money while keeping my idealisms and aspirations intact. The first way is by keeping both of them separate. You can choose to work for money during the weekdays and keeping your idealisms and hopes during the weekends and holidays.

The second way of making money is by combining the two, which means you make money with your idealisms and aspirations. Either way, you don’t leave those nagging wants on the side. Embrace them fully and expect the fact that it would require advanced time management, some persuasion to people around you, and determination to make things work.

Now, how do you come to terms that you want to make it happen? In other words, do you want to be more than a boring mom (or dad) in the suburbs?

1. Be clear about what you truly want in this lifetime (not in “the next one”).

Write down the “bucket list” of what you truly want to get accomplished in this lifetime. Do it freely without feeling restricted by anything. I call this “free writing” session.

Be free, don’t worry about money, family obligations, work responsibilities, taxes, and other stuff. This is the list of things that you’d do in an ideal situation.

2. Ask yourself honestly and realistically whether that idealism or aspiration is doable at this stage of your life.

Be super honest and very realistic about this, because it takes a stable lifestyle to incorporate something new that might not be in perfect alignment with your current job and other obligations.

For instance, if you’ve just had a new baby, it might not be suitable to start something new. This is a reflective session on your current most realistic situation.

3. Once you’re truly convinced, persuade your family to support your intention.

After considering ideal aspirations and the most realistic situations, you’d be convinced to act or not to act. In the best scenario, you’re ready to fulfill your dreams. Also, it means you’ll need the blessing, approval, and support from your loved ones.

Why? Because you might probably need to use more time for yourself (and that idealism you’re pursuing) instead of spending it with them. Persuade them with love and kindness. Make them understand that it’s important to you and you’d be happy to support their idealisms and aspirations too, when the time comes.

4. If you choose to keep work and idealisms-and-aspirations separate, manage your time well.

In this first scenario, you’re keeping both work and idealisms-and-aspirations separate, so all you need now is good time management. At this point, you probably have received a blessing, full approval, and heartfelt support from the family.

Allocate your time well, so you can do well in work, relationships, and whatever it is you’ve just put your heart and mind into. Today, there are plenty online tools and apps ready to help.

5. If you choose to combine the two, inventory the required skills, people connections, and other social capitals you’d need to acquire before you can realize that specific idealism or aspiration.

In this particular scenario, you’re mixing making a living with the aspiration you’ve been longing for years. Congratulations. This choice requires the most sacrifice from yourself and your loved ones, particularly when you’re in the training and apprenticeship mode.

When you’ve just resigned from your current job or ended your current business to pursue your idealistic aspiration, you might stop earning and provide for your family. This may require some other cash flow arrangement, such as having your spouse to be the temporary breadwinner while you’re in training. And it might need time to build your skills to be able to earn sufficiently again. During that period, your family’s support will be tremendously helpful.

In conclusion, idealistic and aspirational wants and wishes can complement realistic situations as long as you have the peace of mind. Moreover, this state of mind can be provided by your loved ones’ blessing, approval, and support. Once you’re convinced that it’s the time to get real about aspirations, you can start right away.

After all, we only live once. If we do it right, once is enough. We only have this lifetime to live with no regrets. Yes, only one lifetime.[]

About the Author

Jennifer Xue

Jennifer Xue is an award-winning author, columnist, and serial entrepreneur based in Northern California. She is a digital strategist for Oberlo. She is the author of White Paper Writing for Business (BookBoon, 2016) and Guide to Become a Management Consultant (FabJob, 2003). Her works have been published in Forbes, Fortune, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Business.com, Business2Community, Good Men Project, Addicted2Success, Positively Positive, and others.

Image Source: Deposit Photos

 

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6 Scientifically Proven Ways to Improve Your Memory

mindfullness : procrastination

Remember those days when your brain is too lazy and you keep forgetting a few things every now and then. Are you tired of studying the same chapter over and over again every day but nothing retains in your brain the next day? Don’t you like to change this? Don’t worry! Read this article and you will find 6 ways that are scientifically backed up on how to improve memory power.

  1. Rehearse your brain for at least 40 seconds.

Rehearsing your brain can help you remember things much better. A study was carried out in a few people, where 26 youtube clips have been played. For most of these videos, the people spent 40 to more than 40 seconds going over the events of the video. They were tested 2 weeks later and the videos that were not rehearsed were almost forgotten by them but they remembered most of the events that they spent 40 seconds rehearsing one.

  1. More vegetables a day could help you improve memory

A study found out that people who eat about 2.8 servings of vegetables a day showed a small decrease in the cognitive function with advancing age. This study was carried among 3718 participants with an age of 65 years or older.

  1. 2 cups of hot chocolate a day can boost your memory.

Different areas of the brain which are functioning more need more blood supply to those areas. An antioxidant known as Flavanol helps to improve the blood supply to different areas of the brain. A study was carried out among 60 people for one month. Half the people were given 2 cups of hot chocolate rich with Flavanol every day for a month and the rest were given hot chocolate with a low content of Flavanol. After 30 days, they were given small tests of memory and thinking skills. Ones, who drank hot chocolate rich on Flavanol, had a better memory power compared to the ones who drank hor chocolate with a low Flavanol content.

  1. A good mood will keep your memory happy.

Simple methods like having some sweets can elevate your mood as well as your memory. A study was carried among a group of older adults aged between 63 – 85 years. Half of the people were given a bag of candy and a thank you card whereas the other half received nothing. The working memory and their decision-making skills were assessed. The results showed that the group which received a bag of candy had better working memory and decision-making skills compared to the ones who did not receive anything.

  1. Supplements can enhance your memory power

As we grow older, our memory tends to decline by about 60%. Isn’t that awful? The good news is that there are ways to prevent or stop this decline in memory power and one such way is by Flexoplex . Flexoplex is a supplement produced by all natural ingredients that help you to improve your memory power. This purely natural supplement helps to improve your memory and your focus. As this is produced by 100% natural ingredients, there are no side effects. This supplement works for both males and females of any age.

FocusNutra Intelligex will improve the cognitive function as well as boost up your energy levels. So reserve your bottle today to improve your memory.

  1. Exercising helps

A new study finds that exercising 4 hours after studying helps to improve the memory. This study used 3 groups of people. The first group exercised soon after studying some picture-location associations. The second group exercised 4 hours after studying the same thing and the third group did not exercise at all. The exercise was interval training on an exercise bike for about 35 minutes. These groups were called to the lab 2 days later and their memories were tested. The group that exercised four hours after studying had the best memory power out of all the 3 groups.

Conclusion

It is a normal fact that we tend to lose our ability to remember things as we grow older but this process of slowing in memory power can be prevented or slowed down. Simple measures like adding more vegetables to your diet, drinking 2 cups of hot chocolate a day, exercising and rehearsing your brain can help you to boost your memory. Another effective way of improving brain power is with FocusNutra Intelligex. It is a 100% natural side effect with minimal side effects which enhance your memory power and boost your memory.

You’ve read 6 Scientifically Proven Ways to Improve Your Memory, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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The Smartphone Effect (And Why We’re All Addicted)

Most of us know the tug of a new SMS message or a notification from Facebook which comes with the ever-present smartphone.  But most of us don’t know – until it’s taken away – how powerful that tug really is.  I recently left my phone in the Athens airport: for at least a few weeks, I went to sleep without a phone beside me.

I was surprised by how potently I felt the difference.  The itch to check just one more app became defunct.  There were only two choices once in bed – read, or drift off to sleep.  No frittering away an hour in the morning or before bed.   Usually the resolution to read before bed – which I genuinely love – gives way to watching Husky videos.  Even after putting the phone down, smartphones haunt sleep, exciting the brain and sending an explosion of stimuli.

Smartphones and the Brain

Checking your smartphone releases an onslaught of neurotransmitters called dopamine.  Dopamine is responsible for desire – not pleasure or reward.  The result?  The powerful urge to check your phone, without ever feeling satisfied by it.

In 1953, James Olds and Peter Milner, two young scientists at McGill University, implanted electrodes in a rat’s brain.  Though they didn’t know it at the time, they had hit on the part of the brain which releases dopamine.  They were surprised by the rats’ behavior: the rats appeared addicted to the painful electric shocks the scientists were delivering.  (1)

Olds and Milner in their laboratory

The scientists set up a lever in a rat cage which delivered electric shocks when pressed.     Once the rat figured out what the lever did, he gave himself shocks every five seconds until he collapsed from exhaustion. Olds then put levers at opposite ends of an electrified grid so that a rat could only receive one shock at a time. Rats ran back and forth across the electrified grid until their feet were so burnt they couldn’t move.

They couldn’t stop pressing the lever even though they were doing irreparable self-harm.

Kelly McGonigal

Scary and unnerving, when we apply it to the seemingly innocuous theme of modern technology.  Between Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and text messaging, we’re bombarded by dopamine-delivery programs nearly impossible to put down.  Kelly McGonigal, health psychologist and a pop conduit to scientific research, states:

“There are few things ever dreamed of, smoked, or injected that have as addictive an effect on our brains as technology.”  (2)

I love my smartphone, and I believe it adds to my quality of life.  I read off my phone, use a piano metronome, keep an easy budget on it, and track my time.  But like with every good thing, it’s about limits.  Because of the chemical addiction, it’s hard to set a limit with smartphones.

 

Smartphones and Anxiety

So is it a surprise that dopamine is sometimes linked to anxiety?  Scientists have suspected for a long time that too much dopamine is linked to dread.  University of Michigan researchers studied what happens to rats when dopamine is blocked from the nucleus accumbens, where emotions including fear are processed.  The scientists removed a fear-controlling brain chemical called glutamate; usually, this would have made the rats frenzied and panicked.  But, when dopamine was absent, the rats were calm.  They came to the conclusion that excessive dopamine is linked to fear, dread, and paranoia.  (3)

When I retrieved my cellphone and started sleeping beside it again, my anxiety increased noticeably.  Increased heart rate, slight trembling in the fingers, feelings of uneasiness.  Maybe it’s because of the barrage of stimulation when the mind should be getting ready for rest.  Maybe it’s because it gets rid of the willpower battle to put down the phone, which wears you out.  In any case, I’ve been careful ever since to keep my phone out of the room when I got to sleep at night.  Try it yourself – you might be surprised!

 

  1. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/1955-06866-001
  2. McGonigal, Kelly: “The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More Of It.”
  3. (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fear-factor-dopamine/)

 

 

You’ve read The Smartphone Effect (And Why We’re All Addicted), originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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How To Get Sh*t Done – Book Review

 

Here’s something we could all use in this New Year – How To Get Shit DONE! I stumbled upon this book recently, and to my surprise, it had a huge impact on me. Erin Falconer, the author of the book, states that we are not doing what’s exactly needed to achieve success. As we all know, life isn’t easy; it’s as complicated as can be. But Erin says that this complexity is necessary for us to perform to the best of our abilities. You need to create a crystal clear plan and stop underestimating your self-worth to get work done better, faster, and in a smarter way.

The book discusses the power of being before the power of doing to achieve your goals. The journey begins with the Power of POP. “What’s that,” you ask? Well, simply put, it is Personality, Opportunity, and Productivity. What women want is a huge mystery – we are lost trying to prove our worth to others and are often sidetracked from our paths. What we need is a personality fix. We often wonder how others reap more benefits from work when we put in more hours of efforts. It’s a mindset that has dug its way into our minds, and that’s why we are judged much more harshly. To avoid feeling that way, we need a clear-cut purpose for everything we do so that our productivity is rightly measured.

We are all busy, but the things we spend the day doing, do we need them all? The only approval you need is yours. This is a lesson we could all use. Do things that give you the most satisfaction and not what others expect from you. Before that, you need to be clear about who you are. Be your true, natural, “wild” self. Think and reflect on what you are doing to judge the situation better. When you talk about opportunities, you might assume that you are seizing them all, but, in reality, you are not. Understand what is holding you back, and you will be able to overcome any obstacle in your path.

Erin stresses that it is important to listen to the voice inside of you so that you can prioritize what you need. By taking charge, you make sure that you are your own boss. Women have been so conveniently objectified, not just by men, but even women too. We have been stereotyped to be just observed and not observe. Don’t you agree? My main takeaway from this part of the book was to stop focusing on what others think and monitor your judgments. In Erin’s words “Bring your focus back to what you’re doing rather than how you’re looking.”

Moving on to one of my favorite chapters from the book, “You and Your Smart Mouth.” You get a rulebook as to when and how you can say no. I believe its something we women could use. When you stop doing and saying what you don’t want, you will be able to focus on things you want to. It doesn’t need to end with a no; you can suggest an alternative. Do not be so bothered about disappointing someone else. Instead, look out for yourself. When you have a short list of things you need to work on, you will be more focused and move forward at full speed without worrying about the rest that you don’t need.

Check yourself always before setting those goals you have in mind. The author is right about this; you need to know the kind of person you are and set your goals to fit your personality. Once I grasped this concept, I knew I had to start afresh. You may think that you are using your time well. Well, that’s what I thought before I read this book! I realized that I could use it better than I did earlier. When we talk about time, we are not talking about how you can stop it or slow it down. We can’t control time, but what we can do is make priorities. Use your time well, and use it to get what’s most important done first and scrape off what you hate doing.

Reading this book helped me make my peace with people. You will come across all kinds of people along your way. You need to be a good judge of character and identify the ones who will help you grow. The relationships in your life, friends, family, and acquaintances are all said to have a strong influence on your professional life as well and vice versa. The best way to get work done and maintain relationships is to be honest and be yourself. I must say that this part changed my perspective. I started paying more attention to how I felt and began being more intentional in everything I did.

Why just aim for success when you can make an effort to enjoy your journey by investing in your well-being and helping yourself grow? The moment I read this book, I knew I had to start putting things into action. You need to get moving if you want to get sh*t done. Don’t just go about aimlessly striking things off your to-do list. Analyze your final goal and work accordingly. Thanks to Erin, I seem to have figured things out much better now.

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Nisha is passionate about writing and loves to share her thoughts with the world. She has written many articles on yoga, fitness, wellness, remedies, and beauty. She keeps herself updated by going through interesting blogs every day. This fuels her passion and motivates her to write appealing and engaging articles. She is a regular contributor to StyleCraze.com and a few other websites.

You’ve read How To Get Sh*t Done – Book Review, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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5 Effective Ways to Overcome Chronic Substance Abuse

When you are deeply addicted to drugs or alcohol, you pretty well know how the craving and yearning for getting intoxicated overpower your senses. At some point in time, you want to give up your addiction, break the shackles and get back to life, but to no avail. This is what the chronic nature of substance abuse does to you; it just takes a turn for the worse – a condition called “relapse”. In simple words, the term relapse refers to a person stopping the use of drugs or alcohol for a period of time and then starting to use again.

On the face of it, conquering substance abuse seems difficult and challenging, but it is certainly not impossible. With the right kind of treatment, support and direction, you can defeat addiction along with self-help and determination. If you have already tried and failed to overcome substance abuse, don’t think there’s no way out. However, the road to recovery is not that easy either; but with a sheer willpower and a strong resolve you are bound to succeed.

Here are some powerful ways to overcome chronic substance abuse:

  1. Understand your cravings

Being aware of your craving and knowing how to manage it is a constructive way to stay on track with your recovery from addiction. During the process of recovery, many people assume that cravings are a sign of relapsing. The truth is you only relapse when you revert back to using a substance to ostensibly cope with life stress and demands. It is quite natural that you feel that strong desire of getting intoxicated from time to time. The effort of eliminating cravings, therefore, is futile, rather you should recognize when your craving cycle begins and curb it before it pulls you in a downward spiral. Typically craving cycle works in three phases – trigger response, obsessive thinking, and full-blown craving. However, powerful these symptoms might be, the craving cycle is definitely not beyond your control. The key is to nip it in the bud the moment trigger response begins.

  1. Find an alternative source of pleasure

There are many reasons why people turn to drugs and alcohol, and all of them can be fulfilled with other activities. So you can still experience your life’s blessings without abusing substances. Since everyone wants to feel good and changing societal norms have become such that one naturally gets drifted towards mind-altering substances, so you have to understand that there are other ways of enjoying life. Drug and alcohol intake encourage your brain to release dopamine; however when the substance abuse becomes overwhelmed with time, the release of dopamine becomes less and less, and you become deeply indulged. As a result, cravings get harder to handle. Therefore, you need to fill your life with a wide variety of fun and engaging activities that will make you feel satisfied and happy.

  1. Seek professional intervention

Quitting drugs and alcohol cold turkey is often very difficult; therefore it is better to look out for professional intervention. The National Council on Alcoholism and drug dependence defines intervention as a “professionally directed education process resulting in face-to-face meeting of family members and friends along with the person in trouble with drugs and alcohol. When you find the best interventionist, it will be easier for you and your family through the initial recovery process and finally bring about positive change. Since quitting cold turkey might exacerbate side effects and relapse, medical supervision will be the best bet for you. The different treatment options available in the intervention are: rapid detox, inpatient/outpatient treatment, and drug/alcohol rehab. In addition to that, counseling is also very important part of substance abuse treatment.

  1. Change your lifestyle

If you have determined to overcome your drug/alcohol addiction once and for all, you need to change your lifestyle for better. You have to overhaul everything from your daily routine to the way you handle daily stress and down to the family and friends that you rely on for support and guidance. To that effect, following a healthy routine is very important for you to give a new lease of life to yourself. Apart from that, physical activity and exercise can prove highly effective ways in fighting substance abuse and getting back to life. You should focus on both cardiovascular exercise and strength training.

  1. Stay away from high-risk situations

In order to overcome your cravings, you need to distance yourself from people and situations that encourage addictions. You have to say no to your former drinking buddies, and instead surround yourself by the people who have a positive influence on you. If you are fighting chronic alcoholism, just avoid social gatherings and stopping by bars, while staying connected to friends who don’t drink. You need to eliminate those people, places, and things that are triggered for relapse. The reason for this is simple: you need to make it as easy on you as possible to stay sober.

Final Words

Overcoming substance abuse is difficult and there are not doubts about that, but taking proper steps and availing right kind of support will help you defeat your cravings. Sincerely follow the above five steps and you will see the results.

You’ve read 5 Effective Ways to Overcome Chronic Substance Abuse, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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9 Tips on How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking for Introverts

Most people are afraid of public speaking, but when you’re shy or introverted giving a speech or presentation can seem even more daunting. Here are some tips on how to conquer public speaking fear and give a great speech, whether you are an introvert or not.

Know your audience

Understanding your audience is one of the single most important factors to successful public speaking. You wouldn’t give the same speech to a group of school teachers as you would to a group of their students. So ask yourself, who is my audience and what do they want, or need, to hear? The answer to this question will help you decide what to include in your speech and how you present it. Introverts are generally very aware of the needs of others – use this natural ability to tune into the needs of your audience and share with them your unique perspective on the topic.

Clearly structure your speech

Like any good story, make sure your speech has a clear beginning, middle and an end. Structure is your friend when it comes to public speaking. It helps you to organize your thoughts and stay on track during your speech. If you start to wander during your presentation, structure will help bring you back. It will also help your audience to follow your presentation more easily. Introverts are usually good at solitary tasks that require intense focus, such as research and writing. Use your strength in these areas to help you craft a well-structured speech.

Start with an introduction designed to grab attention and give your audience a brief idea of what you’re going to talk about. Next, go into the body, or the details of your speech. Break it up into several main ideas that logically flow from one to another. Include transitions between each point to help your audience follow along. For example, you might say something like, “Now that we’ve discussed ways to be more eco-friendly at home, let’s move on to ways to do the same at your workplace.” Finish with a short summary to review what you’ve covered and make your call to action. A call to action is when you tell the audience what you want them to do after hearing your speech.

If you’re finding it difficult to structure your speech, consider using a content writing service such as CopyCrafter. They can help make sure your speech is logical, well-structured and audience-oriented.

Practice, then practice some more

No one knows exactly why are people so scared of public speaking, but seventy-four percent of people suffer from speech anxiety. Theories suggest it’s related to evolution and our deep-seated fear of being rejected by our social group and left to fend for ourselves. Regardless of the reason, one of the best ways of overcoming speech anxiety is preparation. Your adrenaline is bound to be running like crazy on the day of your speech, so the more prepared you are the easier it will be to stay calm and in the flow. Introverts tend to be thorough in their preparation for events, so apply this same care when getting ready for your speech.

To help you remember your presentation, try practicing while you go for a walk. Researchers have found that our memory performance is boosted while walking.

Being a good public speaker is about more than just remembering the words, it’s about conveying a message with both your body and your voice. A good technique is to practice in front of a mirror. Pay attention to your gestures, facial expressions and other body movements to make sure they are in line with your words and are sending the right message. As you gain more confidence in your ability, try giving your speech to a family member or friend. It will help you get used to delivering the presentation for a live audience.

Be the expert you are

Stick to speaking about topics you know well and feel passionate about. If you try to talk about something you don’t really understand or care about you are setting yourself up for failure. Be yourself and allow your natural excitement for your topic to shine through. TED curator Chris Anderson says all great TED Talks have one key common ingredient: ”Your number one task as a speaker is to transfer into your listeners’ minds an extraordinary gift, a strange and beautiful object that we call an idea.” Your audience has come to hear what you have to say, so share your ideas and expertise with them freely and openly.

Remember, it’s a performance

Giving a speech or presentation is a performance. Duh, right? That’s why it makes you so nervous. But looking at it this way can actually help you to get over your fear of public speaking. Susan Cain, author of the New York Times bestselling book QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, says it’s like being at a costume party. Behind a mask we feel liberated and our inhibitions fall away. It’s the same way when you step on to the stage. You take on a persona, playing the part of your most confident, most interesting self. You may even want to wear a special outfit, one that makes you feel more confident.

Slow down

Introverts are often quiet, but when they do speak their ideas can come tumbling out in excitement. Slow down and take your time. This will give your listeners the opportunity to really absorb what you are saying before you move on to your next point. By slowing down your speech you’ll also help keep your heart rate down and lower anxiety.

Don’t forget to smile

A smile goes a long way to connecting with your audience and will also make you feel more relaxed. It might seem like a simple thing, but smiling reduces stress and will make your audience feel more at ease as well.

If you make a mistake, keep going

It’s almost guaranteed that you will make a mistake or two at some point during your speech. For detail-oriented introverts this can be tough to accept, but your audience probably won’t even notice your misstep, because while it may seem major to you, it probably isn’t. And even if it is, keep going. Your audience will remember your speech for the whole of it, not just one moment. Your mistake will seem a lot less important if you don’t draw attention to it.

Do reconnaissance

Spend some time in the room where you’ll be giving your speech beforehand. Try out the microphone and make sure any audio-visual equipment is running properly. Do a trial run, if you have enough time. Make sure you have a glass of water handy and all your notes are in order.

Again, preparation is the key to how to stop fear of public speaking for introverts and other nervous speakers.

Like most things in life, the more often you do presentations the more comfortable you will become doing so. For introverts and anyone else with a fear of public speech, there is a certain degree of “fake it ‘til you make it” that comes into play, especially when you first start. But don’t give up. With preparation and persistence you can become a great public speaker.

Need some inspiration before your speech? Check out these TED Talks for some last minute encouragement.

You’ve read 9 Tips on How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking for Introverts, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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Learn a Language Online and on Your Own

First the bad news.  I’m not going to tell you learning a language is easy, it isn’t.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably selling you something .  You may be able to “speak” a language in a few months, but if you want to reach a level where you can read, work, live and study in the language, it’s going to take longer.  For most languages, the time to become truly fluent is five months to a year of dedicated study.  For English speakers, check out the Foreign Service Institute’s guide if you’re curious about where your language falls.

Hopefully, you didn’t stop reading, because there is a lot of good news.  Can you think of a more useful skill that virtually anyone can acquire in six months?  I did it, and I’m not being falsely modest about my abilities, either.  I was awful at French in high school, I mean really really bad.  No blaming the class either, the teacher was great.  Everyone else in that school learned French, just not me.  Despite this, I later decided to learn Spanish for my career and spent six months in Guatemala.  It was intense, but after six months I understood a completely new culture, could communicate with millions of people throughout the world, and read and write well enough to enter a Latin American Literature graduate program at the University of Delaware.

More good news, you no longer have to live abroad to immerse yourself in a language.  Everything you need to practice is online and probably free.

Getting Started

Get a textbook or at least a grammar guide.  I know it isn’t sexy, and I know new commercial textbooks are ridiculously expensive, but you need something to explain how to form the past tense, if the adjective goes before or after the noun, etc.  Besides, your textbook doesn’t have be new or even commercially sold.  Odds are pretty good there’s a free open access book that’s just as good, if not better.  Here’s my quick list, but there are many more.

Spanish
COERLL Spanish Grammar in Context – http://grammar.spanishintexas.org/
Spanish 001 PSU – https://psu.pb.unizin.org/spanish001fa16/

English/ESL
Communication Beginnings – http://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/BookDetail.aspx?bookId=502
Athabasca University – http://eslau.ca/e.php

French
Français interactif – https://www.coerll.utexas.edu/coerll/project/fran%C3%A7ais-interactif
Liberté – http://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/BookDetail.aspx?bookId=194

German
Deutsch im Blick – http://coerll.utexas.edu/dib/

The Fun Part

If you’ve read this far, I’ve hopefully convinced you that learning a language requires a major time commitment, and there’s no avoiding learning some basic grammar.  Like a lot of things, the hardest part of learning a language is getting started.  So you have your textbook and you’ve looked through the introduction, maybe learned greeting or even a few basic sentences, now it’s time practice.  Anything you do in a foreign language is helpful, so pick things you enjoy.  Just try and be sure to practice all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Listening

Got Netflix?  Netflix is our first global on demand TV station, so they have lots of multilingual content, especially their original content.  Depending on how you watch, you can either set the language of the audio and subtitles before you start the program or via an icon bottom right after you start.

No Netflix, no worries.  The web is full of sitcoms from around the world.  Sneer if you like, there’s no better language learning tool than a predictable yet enjoyable sitcom.  If you’re learning German, search for MediaThek.   Otherwise YouTube is the way to go, search for “Episode” in your language of choice and filter for length.

Speaking

Find a language partner.  Especially for English speakers, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone who is looking to practice their English in exchange for equal time helping you.  At Dickinson College, we created “The Mixxer”.   We use it for our own students, it’s completely free and pretty self-explanatory.

Reading

The whole web, whatever you like.  If you’re just beginning, you may want a little help, though.  There are several plugins that will translate a word with one click.  Google Translate (free), Readlang (free but limited), and Word Reference all have one.  I prefer Word Reference since it provides a dictionary definition.  Your call.

Writing

Remember “The Mixxer”?  It has a writing section, too.  Write a paragraph or two, submit, and a native speaker will correct it.  Return the favor and correct someone writing in your native language.  You can also send written messages back and forth if you prefer a penpal.


Todd Bryant is the language technology specialist at Dickinson College.  You can follow him on Twitter @bryantt

You’ve read Learn a Language Online and on Your Own, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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Too Stressed to Sleep? Here’s How to Relax

This fast-paced modern world often keeps the mind whirling long after it should be asleep. Finding a balance between work, family, and other obligations bring stress that can keep you awake late into the night. But, there are yoga and meditation techniques you can use to release stress and bring the mind to a state of calmness.

Yoga and Meditation Relieve Stress

Yoga and meditation have been proven to decrease inflammation, reduce blood pressure, and improve moods. Both use breath and body together to focus on muscle groups that may be holding tension. As your mind focuses on your body, it is more likely to put those things that are causing stress in the background where they have less power over you.

Stress causes muscles to tighten and shorten often resulting in painful knots. Yoga and meditation let you slow your busy life down and target your problem areas, which often include the neck, shoulders, or back. Start by creating a relaxation routine before you go to bed. Try a few different techniques and poses until you find a sequence works for you.

Meditation for Better Sleep

There are many types of meditation, some of the most successful sleep-promoting techniques include:

  • Abdominal (Deep) Breathing: You can perform abdominal breathing lying down or sitting in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and take a deep breath from the diaphragm. At first, it might be beneficial to place one hand over your belly button. Your hand should rise when you breathe in letting you know you’re doing the technique correctly. Slowly let the air out. Focus on the in and out movement of air.

  • The Count Down: Lay down in a comfortable position and take a few deep abdominal breaths. You can look at the ceiling or close your eyes, whichever is more comfortable. Start counting down from one hundred. Use each breath to picture the numbers in your mind. As you move to the next number, relax one part of your body. Gradually relax from your head down to your toes.

  • Guided Imagery: The brain has the power to make your body believe it’s somewhere else. Get comfortable and pick a place in your mind where you feel safe, calm, and relaxed. Breathe deeply and imagine this place in as much detail as possible. Use all your senses to bring your relaxation location to life so that every part of you believes you’re there. With the mind occupied, the body is free to relax into sleep.

Yoga to Release Tension

There are many yoga poses that promote sleep. Some can even be performed from the comfort of your own bed.

  • Child’s Pose: This classic pose can be performed on a firm bed. If that’s not comfortable, you can use a mat next to your bed. Sit on your knees with the top of the feet flat on the floor, fold your torso over your thighs and extend the arms in front of you (you can also place them at your sides if that’s more comfortable). Take five deep abdominal breaths and release.

  • Legs up the Wall Pose: This fun pose sends blood back to your center and heart. Lay on the floor with your legs extended straight up the wall pointing to the ceiling. Arms should be extended out to each side, but relaxed. Breathe deeply for five breaths and let your legs and back relax.

  • Supine Spinal Twist: Lie with your back to the mat with one leg out straight and bring the other knee to your chest. Gently cross this knee over your body while turning your head in the opposite direction. Breathe deeply for five breaths and repeat on the other side.


Mary Lee is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She specializes in sleep’s role in mental and physical health and wellness. Mary lives in Olympia, Washington and shares her full-sized bed with a very noisy cat.

You’ve read Too Stressed to Sleep? Here’s How to Relax, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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