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Worried that someone will call you on your bravado? If you're honest and confident in your own presence, the worst that can happen is someone else will develop a problem with you - it's not your issue. They have a problem and you cannot solve it. They need to do that for themselves. Parties are tough and the fact that as you get older, they tend to require a certain degree of etiquette certainly doesn't make any of it any easier. So, when it comes time to go to a party, make sure you do a little research before coming in. If you're going to a mixer at a bar or someone's loft, the odds are that there are no "rules". You should ask about bringing food or drink, but beyond that just try to look nice and make sure you don't drink too much. Giving someone permission to ask about the health goals we set for ourselves makes sense. Accountability partners don't "make" us do anything. They don't even tell us what to do. They check in and ask us how we are succeeding at the things we say we want to do. And sometimes that can make all the difference in the world. When it comes to your health, you're in charge. No one knows what you are experiencing as well as you do, and you are also the person with the greatest access to the decisions and behaviors that can have the most significant impact on how you feel. No one can do this for you. By accepting responsibility for your wellness, you will be on your way to optimizing your physical health, and your mental and emotional health too. For more than thirty years, my team and I have seen the whole-person approach work time and time again -largely because people have taken the responsibility and summoned the courage to ensure their healing and wellness. Only 3% of us have our act together because we're not willing to go to war with ourselves to improve and become the person we're capable of being. The person we're meant to be.

The person left behind once the nonsense is destroyed. We're not willing to go to battle and fight for the mentality, behavior, habits, and life we want. We're not willing endure the pain, separation, and loneliness of the path to getting better - the path very few take. We're not willing to attack our limiting thoughts, beliefs, emotions, behavior, and habits and destroy them. We're not willing to engage, conquer, and dominate the enemy - ourselves. Declaring war on yourself is anything but fun. It's hell. It sucks. It's painful. It's unforgiving. You're in a foreign land, the enemy doesn't want you there, and you quickly discover there's no place for hesitation, feelings, complaining, excuses, or a lack of effort. Every minute of every day you're faced with making the right decisions, choosing the right path, and taking the right course of action or you will lose the war and the part of you you're trying to destroy, the enemy, wins. Be attentive to your sleep cycle. Keep the same bedtime and wakeful hour schedules to make sure you don't sleep in too much. Also, try not to overextend your wakeful states when you don't feel sleepy. Sleeping patterns have a large role in affecting mood disorders, so it's important to keep a predictable sleep cycle.7 Having too little sleep worsens mania, whereas too much sleep aggravates depression. Sometimes adjusting your medication, changing the dosage or time you take it, can help create a healthy sleep cycle. Be vigilant of your caffeine intake from soda, chocolate, coffee, and tea--and modify the timing of their consumption. Avoid stressful activities like paying bills or making big decisions at night. And for goodness sake, unplug from electronics, especially from computers and cell phones in the evening!

I had a variety of side effects that bothered me, including insomnia, when I first started taking Prozac. My psychiatrist suggested moving my dosage from the morning to the evening, which relieved my sleeping problems straight away. Fatigue, a residual symptom of my depression, is an ever-present experience for me so I catnap daily. I monitor my midday snoozes to be sure they don't last longer than a half an hour. More than that interferes with my nighttime sleep. There's no caffeine after three o'clock in the afternoon for me or I'll find myself up all night. The tackling of administra-tive, financial, and social decisions is done in daytime hours because I need nighttime to be as calm as possible. Be a keen observer and notice how your habits and behaviors relate to the architecture of your sleep. Adjust your routine so you can get the kind of rest that keeps depression manageable. If sleeping issues remain difficult to manage consult with your healthcare professional to consider holistic measures (i.e., melatonin supplements, aromatherapy, massage therapy), behavioral techniques (i.e., meditation, relaxation training, self-hypnosis) or additional prescription or over-the-counter medications to help you get a good night's sleep. First, you have to talk to a lot of people. Second, most of those people are perfect strangers. Not a fun prospect for someone just learning the social skills needed to impress people. But, luckily for you, there are ways to get around this constant, seemingly unrelenting sensation of "what do I do now?" We've already gone through a number of coping strategies - the tools used by those psychologists to calm your mind and prepare it to enter that situation. By reducing stress, preparing conversation pieces, and building an approach that allows you to be confident in yourself, you're prepared to tackle that which scares you most - strangers. Now it's time for progressive exposure - the process of slowing putting yourself into increasingly scary situations. Here's an example (apologies in advance if you're afraid of spiders). Say Will has arachnophobia and is therefore terrified of spiders - not just a little creeped out, by physically terrified to the point of full blown anxiety attacks. So, it would be a bad idea to lock Will in a room with spiders to "get over" it. Yes, you're supposed to confront your fears, but having a heart attack sure isn't going to help.

The point of all this is that it works just as well for you and your fear of social interaction as it does for Will and spiders or Samantha and her roller coaster. The idea is that instead of saying to yourself "I need to be at this party for X amount of time so that I can develop a strong connection with all these people," and subsequently stressing yourself out about the prospect of spending so much time with strangers, you devote only a few minutes to it. This works just as well in conversation as it does in actually attending the party. Go into a party thinking "I will stick around for 15 minutes, and I will talk to at least one person I don't know." That's all you need to do - it's hard, but it's manageable and you can then get out of there and go hyperventilate in the comfort of your car. As it turns out, you'll find that 15 minutes and one stranger aren't that bad. You can still leave after 15 minutes, but the next time you go to a party, you'll be able to handle 30 minutes and 2 or 3 strangers. Another good tip from Lowndes' playbook is to take a friend with you to the party. This is a must in my opinion. Going to a party on your own is a sure- fire way to generate more stress than is generally considered healthy. You'll push yourself too far, feel the pressure to perform in front of people you don't know, and eventually become overwhelmed by the prospect of having to talk to more strangers. With a friend in tow, you have an anchor who you can return to when you grow uncomfortable. Make sure your friend is of the same sex, especially if you're currently single - you won't want anyone thinking you're unavailable if you really are. It completely changes the dynamic of your conversations and will make it very hard to connect with the opposite sex. Ideally, just walking through the door to your home would signal relaxation. But the reality is that most of us have lots of things on our personal to-do lists before we can relax. With that in mind, what types of cues do you need that will communicate to your body that it's time to unwind? Just as a symbolic glass of wine says, "Aaah, I did it," look for other special rituals to mark that time of day. What else can set the stage for you to demarcate the end of working time and the beginning of sober chill-out time? Like all new habits, repeating these behaviors helps you form associations between specific aspects of your environment and internal feelings of relaxation. Here are some suggestions.

You've probably thought now and then that maybe the root of your frustration with work is that you are working too many hours. The Happiness Research Institute, based in Denmark, looked into this claim and found mixed results, at best. In its annual survey of almost 8,000 Danes, the organization found lower job satisfaction levels among those who worked fewer hours. The researchers suggested this may be due to the fact that the respondents actually want to work more hours, or that they work fewer hours because there is less to do and their job is less stimulating than something more demanding of their time. We blame why we're not where we want to be in life, thinking the things we should be thinking, doing the things we should be doing, and living the life we should be living on situations, circumstances, and everyone around us - but in reality, our life is 100% the product of our decisions. 98% of everything "happening" in your life IS within your control and the other 2% of everything that is "inevitable", you still have the power to decide how it affects you and how you respond to it. You still have the power to prevent it from breaking you, getting you off track, and distracting you from what you should be doing. The enemy isn't your parents, your spouse, your kids, your boss, your friends, or your co-workers - the enemy is YOU. Music: Music can communicate to you that it's time to relax, whether playing softly in the background or reverberating through headphones or speakers. Change of Clothes: Just as exercise clothes can signal that it's time to get your movement on, changing out of your work clothes can symbolize taking your degree of professionalism (nay, perfectionism) down a few notches. Special Nonalcoholic Beverages: Soda water in a stemless wine glass, fresh cucumber water in a martini glass, home-brewed kombucha, or iced tea can cue your shoulders to relax and body tension to release. Just as pouring wine when you walk in the door can signal the end of a work day, over time, so can a special nonalcoholic beverage. Just follow the first sip with a deep breath and, as you drink, give yourself space to mentally unwind. Enjoy Your Meal: Oh, the joys of food. Maybe savoring your dinner can become the reward for a hard day's work. If this sounds like it might satiate your desire for a little celebration, make balanced eating your keystone habit. Eat wisely and well. Poor nutrition plays a significant role in depression. Eating too little or too much can worsen fatigue, effect cognition, and influence mood states. Dr.