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  • Rebecca Ray | StressSight

Is it really that easy to discover a positive attitude? Anxiety, depression may not listen, at first

Updated: Jul 3, 2019

NPR story may make it sound too easy to cope with depression, anxiety or overwhelming stress by using coping skills--but there is a key component: connection

The story is hopeful—and it shares 8 tips for creating joy in your life. NPR recently reportedon a new study with caregivers (see “From Gloom To Gratitude: 8 Skills To Cultivate Joy”). The program looked at teaching participants 8 skills for coping with stress.

The stress skills include: finding a positive event in each day, writing in a gratitude journal, identifying your personal strengths, setting a daily goal, reframing an event in a more positive light, and doing an act of kindness.

What did they find? These coping skills can help.

For some, though, it might seem very hard to believe.

Your thoughts may go to….how will writing in a gratitude journal really help me. My life is a mess. I lost my job. I lost my best friend and partner, and I’m never going to find someone to love me. I have no hope for my future. I got pregnant and I don’t have any health insurance. I am in debt for thousands of dollars, and I don’t know how I will ever get free of it. Nothing I do matters. Nothing is going to change for me, ever.

When we are in a very dark place, it’s hard to see how anything will help us to break free, especially something as simple as an act of kindness or reframing a negative experience.

I believe that something was probably a part of this program that doesn’t come through as clearly in the story. It was the importance of connection provided for participants.

· They were contacted by someone with a welcoming message: you are in a rough place and we want to join you there, and understand it, and help you with it.

· When we find ourselves in an overwhelming place—this is vital: We must find connection.

If we cannot find it from our families, our partner, our relatives – when we feel isolated and alone with a situation, connection is key. It’s the reason I believe that the Millennials are the first generation of individuals to be OK with therapy on a large scale.

They realize that they need connection to survive and thrive. (Maybe social media can help, maybe it can hurt. Studies have shown mixed results.)

Connection in my use here, however, refers to several components: acceptance of where you are, right now. Validation of what you’re feeling—yes, it’s legitimate. You have the right to feel this way. And awareness that places you on a point on the map.

· You know that feeling you get when you’re Google-mapping your directions and you’ve lost your own dot on the map…? It’s crazy how disorienting that can be.

If you can figure out where you are, then you can see where you want to go—and—this is very important—where you don’t want to go.

Authentic, genuine connection is the beginning because it helps create the awareness (with the help of someone else) that anchors you.

Find yourself on the map, first. Then let’s take a look around…

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