Archives for science

Alternatives to Medication for Anxiety and Depression

Meditation by Mitchell Joyce of Flickr

 

Two weeks ago I spoke to job seekers about forming habits, and I would be remiss if I did not address the emotional and psychological obstacles we often face to forming good job transition habits, including depression and anxiety. Though I did not ask anyone to speak up if they were suffering from anxiety or depression, several heads were shaking in affirmation and a few hands rose when I broached the subject.

The risk of depression and anxiety are very real during any life change, including job loss. I am not a licensed psychologist, but my relationship with my clients does often border on therapist, and I have to understand my limits and know where to turn my clients when I have reached the limitations of my capabilities and they need more help.

Why am I addressing this now? My daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in February. The learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, as well as stubbornness that run rampant through my husband’s family led many down a path of self-medication that did not end well for several of them. I have needed to explore all options and learn as much as I can about the side effects, primary and secondary, short-term and long-term of medications for all of the above. Of course, this research will be life-long.

Whatever I share with you today could be negated by new science tomorrow. The take away that I feel is most important for you, is to explore ALL of the options and educate yourself vigilantly before you take anyone’s recommendation, including a doctor. Just because it is prescribed, does not mean it is the best solution. What works for others, may not work for you. Your family or personal history may mean that even if a medication could ease the symptoms, it can lead to worse dependencies or risks of mis-dosing or overdose.

With the recent tragic loss of Chris Cornell to suicide and the public announcement of his wife that it was caused by an overdose of anxiety medication, many conversations this weekend revolved around pharmaceuticals, advertisements, side effects being worse than the condition, and class action suits.

I am not sharing conclusions, and do not claim to have conclusions or recommendations for anyone else, but I came across some significant findings in my search that could help you if you start to recognize signs of depression or anxiety in yourself.

First, HERE is a website that discusses the efficacy of various drugs treating General Anxiety Disorder based on response, remission, and adverse events.

You may find that the efficacy of alternatives to medication may not seem as strong when it comes to response, and the scientific studies on those alternatives do not seem to test based on all three measures of efficacy.

Some, however, have proven to be almost just as effective as anti-anxiety medications, including cognitive behavioral therapy. If it alone is not optimally effective, medication can be prescribed as a compliment, but be aware that some medications can actually decrease the efficacy of simultaneous psychotherapy. For many of these medications, you are NOT advised to withdrawal without the direction of your doctor and gradual decreasing of dosages, so if you find the side effects intolerable, you cannot just stop taking it.

Though this study of 37,333 patients found that medications were more effective than psychotherapies generally, but certain psychotherapies had higher than average efficacy, including mindfulness therapies (such as meditation).  Exercise proved effective, but not as effective as a placebo, and I could not find studies (among the surface search results) that tested exercise plus therapy, but if you are concerned about the side effects of medications, considering the health benefits of both, it seems worth trying first.

Here is another study, one of many, that purports that meditation is an effective way to ease symptoms of anxiety. Yet another study followed up with anxiety patients who had participated in an 8-week outpatient meditation-based program three years later, and found that the program had long-term benefits for participants, even for those who discontinued meditation, though most did not.

I also found a small study that proved spiritual healing was effective in treating depression and anxiety with just 10 minutes for three consecutive days, but the measure and scale the efficacy was presented in was different, and I would love someone who understands these studies better to shed some light on a scale-to-scale comparison.  I suppose that insurance would not cover this type of treatment, which may discourage you from trying it. Finding a trustworthy provider may also prove to be a challenge.

Studies that used music as a therapy across the board had inconsistent results for coronary heart disease patients, but had more consistent positive results when the patients chose the music.

This article obviously is not the result of exhaustive research, and, as I mentioned, results of new studies are released nearly every day. At a minimum, you can see that there are viable alternatives to medication for depression and anxiety.

An issue, however, that I must mention, is that too many people who suffer do NOT seek out any help, in spite of the options. Like the loved ones I lost, too many fail to seek out help or choose to supplement, translate or ignore a doctor’s recommendations in harmful ways. Reasons can include the need to be self-reliant, a fear of doctors, a stigma against getting such help, or an unwillingness or inability to sacrifice vices for wellness. As we have seen, it can have tragic outcomes.

 

For those we have lost, those we are losing, and to those we have yet to lose, I can only hope it is not in vain, and that others may find hope and healing where you could not, and rest in eternal peace.

 

5 Problems with Teaching People How to Fish

Fishing by Christopher Irwin of Flickr

 

As the new administration decides where to make cuts and where to allocate funding, heated debates continue on both sides of the political spectrum. Don’t worry, as usual, this post is not political. (I personally find that many of the issues that need a resolution would be better served if politics were left out of those said issues.) I am much more interested in co-creating meaningful solutions to significant problems than I am finding more ways to separate myself from my fellow citizens.

The intention of this post is to open a discussion on what is a popular approach to alleviating many of society’s woes, teaching people to fish.

I do not mean literally. Though, I know from watching all the shows about Alaska and people living off of the grid that survival literally means catching fish for some. I am talking about proverbial fish, your ability to take care yourself and your family.

I really do not want to discuss whether people need government handouts, whether they abuse them, and who loses when that happens.  Let’s just focus on the real challenges and viable solutions to helping people become self-reliant and empowered in their own survival, and then we can eventually move on to happiness.

Someone in my Facebook community was pleading with people to stop complaining about this healthcare issue, and to just go get a better job that pays better benefits.

Raise your hand if you think this is so easy. (I imagine many, if not most, hands raised.)

Raise your hand if you happen to love your work, feel you have found your calling, and can now not imagine doing anything else. (I imagine very few hands are raised, but those that are belong to people who would be doing a disservice to the world to get a new job simply because it has better benefits.)

 

So, that’s challenge #1 with teaching people to fish: The fish are small

Some people have careers that just are not associated with great benefits and high paychecks, like social service and teaching.  These people know how to fish in that they have jobs, their jobs are necessary, and for the most part they work hard in spite of not being paid as well as other equally valuable professions.

 

Possible self-managed solution: Supplemental income, aka the “side hustle” 

Yes, this would require people to invest time outside of their already full-time jobs.  This means potentially they would have to take time away from their families. If these income-producing activities, however, were related to interests, hobbies, or causes that were already important to them, carving out time would feel less like a sacrifice and more like an investment. Then it is really just a matter of making sure that these activities actually produce income, which usually means finding the right teacher and/or system.

Some, but not all of these activities may require an upfront investment.  Examples include home-based administrative services, real estate investing (bird-dogging and wholesaling require no up front money, and where I live there is an organization that has monthly meetings where you can get educated and find a mentor for FREE!), fitness coach, selling crafts, beauty products, clothes, hand bags, wine, and most anything else you can imagine.

I have walked this walk, and can tell you that while many of these opportunities preach being able to make a good amount in a little bit of time, it takes a significant investment of time to get your systems up and running, and investing money in tools or training can accelerate the income production lifecycle, but it is not necessary.

 

Challenge #2: No proximity to water (jobs)

With the evolution from an industrial age to an information age, some professions will die, and if the hubs of those professions do not move into the new age swiftly enough, large employers fail to create new jobs for people dependent on those jobs.

 

Possible self-managed solution: Online training and remote work

In many counties in many states there are programs that will fully or partially cover training for people who qualify. Qualifying usually just means that you have a basic level of intelligence and aptitude to learn the new skills and that you are willing to fill out paper work, attend meetings, and find or pick the appropriate institution.

What if the government cuts these programs? We are lucky enough to live in the age of crowdfunding. I have walked this walk, too. I raised $5K to build a prototype for a job search mobile game. 25 people in my inner circle and 51 complete strangers helped me fund this project. It took a concerted effort, but I was truly humbled and very pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support.

As long as there is a need for that skill, be it a trade or a professional skill, then the challenge that potentially remains is the next one.

 

Challenge #3: Inefficient tools or inability to understand how to make or use tools

There is a reason I’ve been business for over ten years, and for that same reason my mentors have been doing this twice as long. Not everyone is an effective writer, and even if you are an effective writer, when the subject matter is yourself, it is very challenging to understand how you could make yourself look good to the people who you feel have your fate in their hands.  Furthermore, résumés have a lot of rules and are meant to be very concise. Writing using short business speak is a whole different skill set compared to writing long form for comprehension. What separates the best résumé writers in the world from the rest is the ability to concisely, clearly, and powerfully convey what makes a person unique – the softer qualities, but in hard business terms.

 

Possible self-managed solution: Self-teaching

Assuming you do not have the resources to invest in engaging a professional like myself who can create master-crafted tools for you, which will run you up to four figures if you include a LinkedIn profile, there are plenty of resources out there that will teach you how to craft your own branded content. We have the best: http://epiccareering.com/diy-content-builder/

There are plenty of FREE guides, as well, but I can only stand behind my own. Yes, YouTube is a great free DIY resource, just be wary of the advice you take. You can trust our channel, which has had over 45,000 views and is chock full of free trainings on cover letters, networking, résumés, and more. We also have some great motivational playlists.

 

Challenge #4: Knowing locations, times of day, the right bait, which fish are edible, how to clean, cook, store, etc.

Having effective tools like branded résumés and LinkedIn profiles are great, if they are seen, but the statistics are against being able to be found, seen and considered when you apply for jobs online. That leaves a big “what then?” question. Then, once you are being considered by a company, you have to know how to keep yourself at the front of a pack you cannot even see to secure an offer, and then negotiate an offer that works with your lifestyle so that you can actually sustain your life.

 

Possible self-managed solution: The Dream Job Breakthrough System

You can actually get the DIY tools above PLUS training in the activities that get the best results, forming good habits around those activities, interviewing to get the offer, and negotiating the optimal offer as a partner to your employer, PLUS many other bonuses by investing just $151 more. If that is still outside of your means, our previous posts below do not give you all of our tricks and tips, but they should give you some really great techniques to get your JoMo (Job Momentum) kickstarted. Feel free to explore the 140+ LinkedIn posts and blog posts available on a wide range of subjects.

Plans A Through D for Getting Noticed by Employers

Pro Hacks to Get In Front of Your Future Boss

2 Common Networking Mistakes and a Formula to Train Your Network to Be a Job Lead Generation Army

 

Challenge #5: They’ve been taught it’s too hard and they are no good at it

We have written many blog posts about how fundamental beliefs can go completely unnoticed as they make decisions for us that limit our future. I agree with Marisa Peer’s assertion that the major reason and cause of suffering worldwide is actually the easy to form, hard to break (without hypnosis) belief that you are not enough. Additionally, our meaning-making brains translate criticism very harshly. We can absolutely be our own worst enemy.

If you cannot relate, then it would be hard for you to understand how the effort to change can seem futile, as though destiny shunned you and you are bound to fail, not matter what, so why try. You are lucky that you do not have to contend with such self-deprecating thoughts.

Positive thinking has failed many people who have tried. That is because the thoughts are just a symptom of a belief system that can be reversed, but not without tricks and a regimen.

I continue to unravel a lifetime of self-limiting beliefs, so that I can allow myself to accept a better position in life. It has taken many teachers, tools, and tricks. It has meant constantly, as in several times daily, checking in on my mindfulness state, interrupting bad patterns and replacing them with better ones.

I have invested tens of thousands of dollars, and I will continue to make this investment until I stop breathing. I love learning new hacks for success and wholeness, and I love teaching them to you. I find this world fascinating, and my coaching effectiveness has evolved exponentially because of what I have discovered. However, I had to understand the science behind it before I could find a credible means of change, and that took significant time and research.

 

Possible self-managed solution: Daily personal development/self-help

Some people have claimed that hypnosis was a cure-all for them, but that does cost money, and what if it doesn’t work for you?

At least once a day, feed yourself awareness of your greater potential. First, read The Miracle Morning, as it will help you understand the benefits and overcome some of the challenges of making self-care a priority every day. I can also point you to Mel Robbins, who easily explains some of the neuroscience behind why we stop ourselves from creating meaningful change. Ultimately, your goal is to form a fundamental belief that you CAN fish. In fact, you can be a master fisherman or woman!  In my house, there is no can’t; only I don’t know how yet.

 

Most of these solutions require a person to make an additional investment of time/money. The reality is for some that there is no additional time and there is no additional money. For some, it is just really challenging to shift priorities and they do not see the way out yet, but I have had clients working 80+ hours with kids at home who some weeks did not have ANY extra to give. They were educated, smart, and being taking for granted and underpaid for their work. For this, I wish there were an organization that could put a company on a public probation of sorts. If the government was to interfere by imposing sanctions on executive pay, I wish there were a way to raise awareness without repercussions for workers and then a way to apply social pressure to change the systems and policies that allow talented, hard-working people to be psychologically abused and trapped.

I am very interested in hearing your challenges and solutions. Please share them with us.

 

10X Your Everything in 2017

Swirling Sky - Happy New Year Everyone by Steward Biard of Flickr

Swirling Sky – Happy New Year Everyone by Steward Biard of Flickr

 

Let’s pretend that the current global economic conditions have no effect on us whatsoever. Let’s pretend, while we’re at it, that regardless of who is president, what tax laws may benefit us or harm us, or if anyone else in the world accepts us for who we are, we can create an ideal future for 2017 and beyond.

Look back at 2016, and, in spite of any disappointments or shortcomings, and regardless of anything we may still feel is lacking in our lives, see the successes of the past year as proof that we are able to make good things happen. Even if those successes seem insignificant or have not improved our overall status and the satisfaction of our lives, assume that they happened because there are forces conspiring for our greater good, even if logic tells you it is a pure coincidence.

Go even further now, and take those successes and project them into 2017, we will increase those moments ten times. What would your 2017 look like?

Yes, this may require you to suspend skepticism. It will definitely require you to abandon cynicism.

I will warn you that a voice will creep up, and it will say, “Earth to [insert your name here]. You’re dreaming, again. Don’t waste your time. You have earthly duties to tend to…bills and…cleaning…and yard work….and errands…”

On and on, it will try to interrupt, but you are in control, not that voice, who we will regard as “Norm.”

Norm makes sure you are consumed by your duties, and he is not all bad, because he reminds us of who we want to be for people and what we need to do in order to be that person. Sometimes, however, we need to tell Norm to shut up.  Once he is quiet, we can spend more time in deeper evaluation of who we want to be, who we are capable of being, and what we can DO as the better versions of ourselves.

Also, science has proven that imagining your ideal future is not a waste of time, and in fact has an impact you can SEE in your physical world. I am willing to wager that your heroes would most likely advise that if you have any inkling of greatness for your life, even if it seems relatively simple, that one of the MOST important things you can spend your time doing is imagining that greatness.

Take an inventory of your top 12 highlights of 2016, one in each of the following categories (borrowed from Vishen Lakhani’s Code of the Extraordinary Mind). Then make a new list for 2017 with the same categories, and write what you imagine the corresponding moment from 2016 would be like if it were increased ten times.

 

  1. Love Relationships
  2. Friendships
  3. Adventures
  4. Environment (Home, or anywhere else we spend a lot of time.)
  5. Health and Fitness
  6. Intellectual Life
  7. Skills
  8. Spiritual Life
  9. Career
  10. Creative Life
  11. Family Life
  12. Community Life

 

My favorite: In 2016, I was finally able to take a FULL week’s vacation with my family, including my brothers and cousins, disconnected from social media and e-mail.

In 2017, I would spend ten weeks disconnected.

Norm has already started in with his negativity, telling me that it is not viable. I mean, that is about two-and-a-half months OFF of work!  If you are not from the US, this probably does not seem so outlandish.

So, if my mission is to prove Norm wrong, all I have to do is ask myself how that could possibly happen, and a magical thing happens – another part of my brain starts filling in the HOW. Let’s call her Hope.  When I ask Hope how I could possibly make this happen, she lists the following:

  • Move to a country where 8-10 week holidays are standard
  • Hire and train a staff of people to take the torch and carry on my mission
  • Create residual incomes that work on autopilot so I make money while I sleep
  • Win the lottery
  • I could write off, or at least justify, some of that time and use it to write a book

I could actually implement most of these, if I decided my WHY was stronger than my WHY NOT.

 

Please share your favorite(s.)

 

17 Academically and Scientifically Proven Benefits of Practicing Gratitude Regularly

Gratitude by Sheila Craan of flickr

Gratitude by Sheila Craan of flickr

 

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is not about presents; it is about togetherness. It is the perfect kick-off to start reflecting on our past and planning our future. What science has proven time and time again is that if we want a brighter, happier, and healthier 2017, giving thanks is best done on a daily basis, not an annual basis. It improves mental and physical health. Even when practiced by individuals, the impacts reach far into families and communities.

Here is a list of the SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN benefits of being a thanksgiving practitioner, meaning having a regular regimen around practicing gratitude, such as including it in your meditation, prayer, or journaling.

  • Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More joy, optimism, and happiness
  • Acting with more generosity and compassion
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated
  • Better sleep (even for chronic pain sufferers)
  • Less depression
  • Stronger relationships, including marriages
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Higher likeliness to help others (aka pro-social behavior)
  • Better handling of adversity / greater resilience
  • Lower violence
  • Fewer complaints
  • Less sickness
  • More exercise (an average of 1.5 hours more per week)
  • Lower need for material possessions
  • More energy, alertness, and enthusiasm

 

Below is a non-exhaustive list including some of the studies done on gratitude, validating that many have deemed gratitude worthy of great investments of time and money.

Harvard Medical School

Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley

2006 study in the journal Psychological Science

2010 study in the journal Psychological Science

University of California, Davis & University of Miami

Department of Psychology, George Mason University, Western New York Veterans Administration Hospital, University at Buffalo, SUNY & University of Alabama at Birmingham