Simple things that make for a happy, long-lasting relationship

September 23rd, 2014

Simple things that make for a happy, long-lasting relationshipWe explore the little things that can help reinforce connections and keep couples happy.

Seeing elderly couples together with 25 years of marriage under their belts can be quite astonishing, but when you look closely often these relationships have survived because of the little things couples do to keep the spark alive.

Below we explore five things that can help to reinforce connections and keep your relationship happy and strong for many years to come.

1) Express gratitude for your partner

In a previous blog post we explored the importance of gratitude – particularly for strengthening relationships. Ultimately, your marriage vows shouldn’t be the only occasion when you express how much you are happy and grateful for having your partner in your life. Make an effort to show how much you care on a regular basis.

2) Check in with each other

A busy lifestyle can often mean communication between couples starts to falter, but happy couples tend to be those who regularly text and call each other during the day. This simple act is a strong sign that you are thinking of your partner and that you care.

3) Work on something together

Working as a team is a great bonding activity, and whether you are training for a marathon, decorating a room or sharing an obscure hobby – doing something together will really help to bring you closer.

4) Support each other’s ambitions

A happy relationship requires a mutual understanding and respect of each other’s needs, dreams and goals. Happy couples care about each other’s hopes, listen to each other’s thoughts and feelings and are there for each other during difficult times.

5) Have fun

Taking life and a relationship too seriously will affect your happiness, and the most content – and resilient – couples tend to be those who are not afraid to laugh at each other, invent their own silly language and take life as it comes.

Life coaches understand that couples may need help at some stage in their relationship to rediscover the romance and strengthen bonds. To find out more about the advice and support they can offer to get your relationship back on track, please see our relationships page. 

View and comment on the original Mind Body Green article. 

Express gratitude and change your thinking

September 19th, 2014

Express gratitude and change your thinking With World Gratitude Day around the corner, we explore ways to show more gratitude and feel more positive.

Sunday 21st September marks World Gratitude Day – a day that allows individuals and organisations across the world to celebrate what gratitude means in a variety of ways.

In particular, this annual event aims to highlight the benefits of gratitude – and how expressing appreciation and positivity for life can have profound effects on our well-being, health and relationships.

Unfortunately, in our busy and chaotic lives it can be hard to find time to give gratitude. There are many moments when we may feel stuck and fed up, but taking time to appreciate the good things, and what we are grateful for, can be life-altering.

Benefits of gratitude:

  • Helps us to realise what we have, which takes the focus off what we don’t. This can lessen our need for wanting more all the time.
  • It can put situations into perspective – seeing the good as well as the bad can help us to feel less stuck.
  • Research has shown gratitude improves stress levels, relationships and overall mood.

How to cultivate gratitude:

  • Keep a gratitude journal – Write down what you are grateful for on a daily basis to help your mind focus more on the good things in life rather than the bad.
  • Switch from negative to positive – If you identify someone or something with negativity, switch this in your mind to a positive trait.
  • Dish out compliments – Giving out compliments on a daily basis will not only make others feel better but will have benefits for you too. You can also share your appreciation of things, such as how nice the journey to work was.
  • Sound genuinely happy to others – If someone calls or messages you, make an effort to seem really happy and pleased that they have done so. This will make them feel valued and will also help lift your mood.
  • Avoid complaining and criticising – Vow to not complain, gossip or criticise for a couple of days and notice how your energy wasted on negative thoughts and feelings diverts to focusing on better things.

Life coaching is valuable for helping you to see the positives rather than the negatives, and develop to become more productive and successful in all aspects of life. To find out more about the benefits of life coaching, please see our Life Coaching Areas page. 

View and comment on the original UnStuck article. 

Walking or cycling to work boosts well-being

September 16th, 2014

Walking or cycling to work boosts well-beingA recent study reveals that those who walk or cycle to work rather than drive have an improved sense of well-being.

Active commuters reportedly felt better able to concentrate and felt less strained than those who travelled by car say researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA). It was also found that those who travelled by public transport felt happier than those who drove.

Looking at 18,000 UK commuters over a period of 18 years, this study suggests we should leave the car at home to boost our sense of well-being.

Of the 18,000 participants, 73% travelled to work by car, 13% walked, 3% cycled and 11% used public transport. To analyse levels of well-being, researchers looked at a variety of factors including sleepless nights, unhappiness and feelings of worthlessness.

After taking into account any external factors (such as income, having children and relationship changes) the results found that those who had an active commute had higher levels of well-being than those who didn’t.

To prove their point, researchers asked a small group to switch from driving to walking/cycling – and participants were found to be happier after the switch.

Lead researcher, Adam Martin from the UEA’s Norwich Medical School said the following:

“Our study shows that the longer people spend commuting in cars, the worse their psychological well-being. And correspondingly, people feel better when they have a longer walk to work.”

The fact that those who used public transport were happier than drivers was surprising to Adam:

“You might think that things like disruption to services or crowds of commuters might have been a cause of considerable stress.

“But as buses or trains also give people time to relax, read, socialise, and there is usually an associated walk to the bus stop or railway station, it appears to cheer people up.”

We all know that physical exercise is beneficial to both our physical and mental health, so it comes as no real surprise that those who exercise on their way to work are generally happier.

How do you get to work? Try walking or cycling all or part of your commute and let us know how you feel on our Facebook page.

View and comment on the original BBC News article.

Be happy in the office whatever your mood

September 11th, 2014

Be happy in the office whatever your moodOn a bad day, using certain words will help lift your mood and perk up the entire office.

We all have bad days where we really don’t feel like being happy in the office or making an effort to be nice to everyone.

However tempting it may be to rant to your colleagues or adopt a sulky attitude, using negative words can actually make you feel worse.

Making an effort to be happy and engage in conversation using joyful, positive vocabulary, however will help lift your mood, perk up the office and make you more enthusiastic for the day ahead.

Motivated

This word conveys a positive attitude and a positive mind, and thus saying it will instantly make you feel happier and more proactive. Communicating it to a colleague will also help boost your confidence – particularly in your ambitions and your job.

Perfect

Using this word when agreeing with a plan or idea – particularly as a single word response – is a great way to spread good feeling and encourage synergy between you and another person. Furthermore, the sound of ‘perfect’ when it is said is in itself very uplifting.

Relish

‘Relishing the opportunity’ to get involved in a project or task at work immediately suggests enthusiasm and commitment. People who ‘relish’ tend to be happy with life in general and are likely to embrace everything that comes their way.

Joyful

Joyful- which means ‘full of joy’ – conveys feelings of happiness directly, and thus could really help improve your mood if you say it. It will also encourage people around you to feel uplifted and more positive, which in turn will make you feel better.

If it is your career that is making you unhappy and dissatisfied in the office you could benefit from speaking to a life coach. For more information, please see our career page. 

View and comment on the original Inc article. 

Are you keeping yourself stuck?

September 9th, 2014

1n4yygCIf you’re feeling stuck in a rut, simple changes to your thoughts and behaviours could make a big difference.  

At some point in our lives, most of us will feel stuck in a rut – like we’re on a never-ending hamster wheel of the same mundane routines.

As human beings we are naturally creatures of habit, and routine and structure is important as it provides a framework of security and confidence.

However with so many choices open to us nowadays, we are under pressure to make the most of every single day. We fear missing out and wasting time, and this can leave us feeling dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

To improve your situation, however, you first need to change your mind-set. We share some tips below on how to remove the fears, false beliefs and unloving behaviour that are making you feel stuck.

Stop negative self-talk

If you are prone to judging yourself and putting yourself down, you are never going to make positive changes and achieve personal growth. Saying things like: “Nothing will ever change”, “There must be something wrong with me”, and “I will never be good enough” will eat away at your confidence and make you feel worthless. Aim to be kinder to yourself and you will feel more optimistic about your abilities and worth.

You don’t need to ‘fix’ yourself

Believing that something about you needs fixing before you can take positive and loving action on your behalf is counterproductive to progress. You need to be accepting of who you are and embrace your true self to escape your rut and feel really happier. 

Don’t be afraid of failure

You need to recognise that it’s fine to fail so you can break out of your comfort zone. Failing at something doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means there is more to learn and discover. Every successful person has experienced failure, but rather than dwelling on their mistakes, and being overly critical, they use it to their advantage.

Listen to your own inner guidance 

Being afraid of rejection and feeling unable to trust yourself will prevent you from moving forward. Trust your own instincts rather than dwelling on the negative and you will feel more confident about making changes and taking risks.

Take action

During times of crises it can be beneficial to stock up on self-help books and attend personal growth seminars and workshops. However, you need to realise that while these things can provide direction and inspiration, it is ultimately up to you to take action and make important changes. You need to be ready to commit yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually in order to achieve personal growth.

Life coaching is valuable for achieving personal growth and development in all areas of life. To find a professional coach near you who can help you make positive changes, please use our advanced search tool. 

View and comment on the original MindBodyGreen article. 

Never think you’re too busy to take a break

September 5th, 2014

Never think you're too busy to take a breakWe explore the benefits of taking a break and how you can start prioritising time-out during the day.

Regular breaks during the day has been scientifically proven to make people happier, more focused and more productive.

Therefore, no matter how busy you are, or how packed your to-do list is, you need to learn how to prioritise taking a few minutes every day to escape your work load and relax your mind.

Below we have a few quick tips to help you get into the habit of taking breaks, and some insight into why this can help to improve your health, well-being and productivity.

Take a walk

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, go outside and have a quick stroll. Just 20 minutes of walking can have numerous benefits, not to mention improved creativity and cognitive performance. Walking also helps to enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits which can combat age-related declines.  

Doodle

Take a few minutes to grab a pen and paper and let your mind wander. Research shows doodling can stimulate new ideas and improve concentration, and the daydreaming element can help relax your mind.

Listen to music 

Make an effort at least once a day to pop in your headphones and listen to some music. This simple activity has been shown to significantly improve motor and reasoning skills and is also linked to happier mood. 

Google cute animals

One particular study explored the impact of cute baby animal photos on productivity. Interestingly participants performed a lot better on a variety of tasks after spending a few minutes looking through photos, so treat yourself to a search on Google every so often to lift your spirits and recharge your mind.

Exercise your eyes

If you spend your day looking at a computer screen, aim to stick to the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes a break every so often. Every 20 minutes, take a break for at least 20 seconds and look at objects that are at least 20 feet away from you. This will give your eye muscles a much-needed stretch.

Life coaching can develop and promote changes in all areas of your life, and is particularly beneficial for helping you to strike a balance between life and work. To find out more, please see our work/life balance page.

View and comment on the original Fast Company page.  

Kat’s Happiness Project – August

September 2nd, 2014

Kat's Happiness Project - AugustAs summer draws to a close, Life Coach Directory blogger Kat reflects on a spiritual month.

Hello1 as I write this Britain is clinging onto summer and while I’m hopeful for a few more days of sun, it is safe to say autumn is on its way. And as I head further into my yearlong project I am becoming increasingly reflective – which, this month, was in fact the goal. I wanted to consider my more spiritual side with the following resolutions:

1. Meditate more often

I certainly didn’t meditate as much as I wanted to this month, but I did try to use mindful techniques when I felt stressed or overwhelmed (I found it calming to focus on my breathing with my hands on my stomach, noting the movements). I recently re-installed a mindful meditation app and am planning to kick-start a daily practice this month to make up for a distinct lack of meditating in August!

2. Make some keepsakes

This month I added to a scrap book I started when I first met my partner. Pictures and scribbled annotations record our relationship highlights and already serves as a wonderful keepsake.

3. Learn more about the spiritual side of yoga

I have recently signed up to an online resource for yoga where I can partake in classes and read up on the spiritual side of yoga. I have read a few articles and have so far found it fascinating. I’ll continue to read these articles alongside my practice as I feel it really enhances my experience.

4. Figure out where I want to be in 10 years

This is something I’ve naturally begun to realise the last few years as the bigger things begin to fall into place (career, relationship, living arrangements etc.), however giving it some real thought felt rejuvenating. I have written down a few hopes for myself in 10 years with total awareness that life may well have other plans. It’s nice to have a picture of what you want your life to look like in the background though – it gives you something to aim towards.

Goals for September

For September I am following the Happiness Project book with the writer’s resolution of ‘pursue a passion’. A big passion of mine is writing, however I have decided to steer away from this as I am lucky enough to do it full-time at work. Instead, I want to explore my other passions:

  • do yoga more regularly
  • take more photographs
  • read some fiction
  • discover some new music.

Are you taking part in your own happiness project? Let me know on our Facebook page.

Read through past Happiness Project blogs.

How to make mornings happier and easier

August 29th, 2014

How to make mornings happier and easierStruggling to get off to a good start? We have some tips to help you feel brighter and more alert in the morning.

At 7am many people consider it lucky if they’ve found the energy to reach for a cup of coffee.

Mornings can be a struggle, especially for those who function better in the evening and don’t usually get to sleep until 12am.

Yet as the saying “the early bird gets the worm” suggests, being a morning person has several perks, and numerous studies have linked it to improved health and enhanced productivity throughout the day.

In order to reap the benefits of getting up early, we have some great tips to help you feel better about embracing the morning light:

Clear away clutter

Scientists in America have found that stress levels are linked to how tidy your house is. This tends to affect women more than men, but clearing away bedroom clutter can be beneficial for anyone trying to get up earlier. If mess is the first thing you see when you open your eyes in the morning you are guaranteed to feel grumpy about getting up. Make an effort to clear up before bed to ensure you sleep well and wake up happy.

Listen to the birds

In the early hours the birds will be enjoying their morning chorus, but rather than shutting your windows to block the sound, embrace it. Listening to bird song has been found to make you feel happier, and chanting has been used for thousands of years to lift mood.

Bin your bad thoughts

Waking up in a bad mood can hinder your ability to feel alert and ready for the day. In order to shake off worries or concerns, write down your thoughts on a piece of paper then bin it. A report published in Psychology Science suggests this can help to boost mood instantly – but only when it is done quickly and immediately after waking.

Check your social media

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth have found that scrolling through past photos and posts on your social media profiles can make you feel happier. This activity is similar to ‘reminiscence therapy’, which allows us to connect with our past selves while reassuring our present selves.

Drink fruit juice

Getting your juice fix first thing is great for tackling the early morning blues. Orange juice in particular contains vitamin B6 and folic acid – nutrients found to be lacking in people with depression. Just the smell of oranges can lift your spirits! Adding a banana to your cereal or porridge will also help as they are packed with potassium and mood-lifting carbohydrates.

If you feel drained of positive energy you may want to see a life coach. Life coaching can help identify what is draining your energy levels and develop strategies to manage these and restore your zest for life. For more information, please see our energy page. 

View and comment on the original Daily Express article. 

Tactics to help you avoid burnout

August 26th, 2014

Tactics to help you avoid burnoutFeeling overwhelmed and stressed? Take a step back with the following tips.

At some point in our lives, many of us experience burnout; this is when we have been pushing ourselves too hard for too long and the stress affects our mental and physical well-being. You may start to feel lethargic and run down, wondering desperately where the pause button in life is.

Sadly, there is no pause button. But that doesn’t mean you have to run yourself into the ground. When you start to recognise the fact that you are heading towards a burnout, there are a few things you can do to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Create an action plan

This will help you regain a sense of control, something we can begin to lose as we get overly stressed. If you have a million and one things on your to-do list, try to break it down into manageable chunks, taking one day at a time. Prioritise your tasks according to their urgency and keep your list somewhere you will see it everyday. If you are finding it difficult to remember your tasks, try setting a reminder on your calendar/phone.

Take a break

When you are incredibly busy, the idea of taking a break may seem counterproductive – but your health could well depend on it. When you start to feel overworked, book yourself a few days off. If you can, go away for a day or two and allow yourself the chance to really relax and unwind. Even if the only break you can take is during your lunch at work – don’t forget to take it. Even an hour to yourself can make the world of difference.

Look after yourself

Another key thing to remember is to keep yourself healthy during busy times like this. Ensure you are fuelling yourself with nutritious food and avoid high sugar or high fat foods. Take the time to fit exercise into your routine to promote well-being too. This will keep your immune system strong and will help you cope with stress better.

Tell someone

It is exhausting putting on a brave face all day, whether it’s in front of your family, friends or work colleagues. When you are feeling burnt out, don’t be afraid to tell people. If your friends are making you feel bad for turning down invitations, tell them the real reason. If your work is beginning to suffer, tell your manager and ask for help. Having limitations does not make you weak – it makes you human.

If you could do with some guidance to help with stress or time management, why not consult a life coach? Find one in your area using our search tool.

Coping with ADHD

August 22nd, 2014

Coping with ADHD Managing ADHD and the associated shame can be hard, but we have some pointers to help.

For people living with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), shame can be a big part of the experience.

Many will struggle daily with feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment as they try to cope with their condition and fit in with other people.

This pressure to act ‘normal’ however can be detrimental to their health and well-being, and many people with ADHD can end up developing depression and anxiety as a result.

It is unfortunate that there is a still a taboo associated with ADHD, but it is important for sufferers to remember that ADHD is not their fault.

Below we have a short guide to ADHD and how it can be possible for sufferers to live in harmony with their condition.

ADHD is not a personal fault 

ADHD is a genetic problem that affects one in 100 children. It is characterised by restlessness, inability to concentrate and lack of motivation, and as a result sufferers are often perceived as lazy and uncooperative. Although more prominent in younger people, ADHD can continue into adulthood, and this is when it can be particularly difficult to live with.

ADHD is not all bad

Although heavily weighted by negatives, ADHD does entail a great number of positive characteristics, including creativity, persistence, sensitivity, originality and enthusiasm. Individuals with the condition are usually very talented, yet can find it difficult to believe in themselves and embrace their strengths.

It’s OK to seek help

Having ADHD can be a very isolating experience, and many sufferers may feel people don’t understand what they are going through. There is however support available, and ADHD coaching in particular is considered highly beneficial for helping individuals to develop structure, focus and purpose in their lives. By giving them a greater sense of control over their condition, ADHD coaches can enable people with ADHD to feel more confident about the future.

To find out more, please see our ADHD coaching page. 

View and comment on the original Additude article.