23 results for Self-help
Setting goals and intentions is one thing, but how can we ensure we keep them up? As we move ahead into the rest of 2021, it may feel like we’re leaving that New Year energy in January, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
This month we teamed up with RED January to bring you a series of midweek motivational webinars to help you kick the year off on the right foot. In the last of our webinars, we sat down with life coach Alex Bowman to discuss keeping great habits going, the importance of celebrating your achievements and how we can all embrace progress over perfectionism.
Who is Alex?
Alex is a coach who works with a variety of clients who have two things in common – they’re ready to make a change in their life and they want to have fun in the process. Alex tells us coaching has always been ingrained in his career, right from his early days as a personal trainer in the fitness industry. This was a melting pot of the human condition he explains, a place to see how people motivate themselves and set goals.
“Then I moved onto the more educational phase in fitness, so teaching people to become personal trainers. I progressed through that side of the business into management and leadership and… became stuck.
“And that’s where I employed a coach myself and something clicked. Something resonated in me that I wanted to be the person on the other side of the desk or screen, empowering people to get them unstuck.”
Now offering coaching through his business Clear Water Coaching, this is exactly what Alex does. So, looking at the theme of keeping habits going we started our conversation with a chat about recognising our achievements and why we can find this so difficult.
Why is it so hard to celebrate our achievements?
“It’s human nature not to give yourself a pat on the back,” Alex explains.
“We can be quite finish-line oriented, so we don’t want to give ourselves a pat on the back until we’ve reached that shiny goal, but more to the point it feels uncomfortable. As Brits we’re super humble, we don’t like praising ourselves at all – and I don’t mean splashing our achievements all over social media, I mean genuinely feeling like we have the self-worth to give ourselves a high-five or a pat on the back.”
Noting that, especially right now, we may well be our only motivator, Alex tells us it’s important for us to get comfortable with self-praise. We need to give ourselves permission to recognise our achievements without judgement and this is where our inner critic can show up.
“A big part of coaching is realising that we’re always going to have that inner critic, that self-saboteur, that voice in your ear that is effectively your ego pulling you back to your comfort zone. It’s basically saying ‘don’t do this’ because it’s scared of change and it thinks it’s keeping you safe, whereas what it’s actually doing is stifling your progress.”
Real courage is hearing that inner critic and saying ‘thanks for the input, but I’m going to celebrate anyway’.
Alex also suggests breaking goals down into milestones and to never have a milestone too far away so we can keep rewarding ourselves and keep that motivation high. Keeping track of how we’re doing so we have something to look back on is important and then setting aside time to reflect, “Set a reminder on your phone – it will be uncomfortable at first, change always is, but it’s worth it.”
What stands in the way of our goals?
Coming up against an obstacle as we work on our goals can be disheartening. Asking Alex which obstacles come up often for his clients, he tells us time is a big one. However, when you dig a little deeper it’s usually less about time itself he says, and more about clients giving themselves permission to take the time to put themselves first.
“We get this opinion that it’s selfish to take time for ourselves, but I see it as selfless – it’s a complete perspective change. We tend to put ourselves last as some kind of humble sacrifice for the greater good, but for me that means the world’s missing out on your true impact.
“So figuring out what you need to feel fulfilled will feel uncomfortable at first, but the gains that you will experience and the impact you will have on those people around you will be massive.”
Lack of accountability is another common obstacle and while coaching can be a helpful tool here, there are other ways. Voicing your goals and asking those around you to hold you accountable in a gentle way can be a big support.
Another obstacle mentioned was lack of clarity and Alex told us this can be caused by ‘analysis paralysis’ where we don’t want to take a step until we have everything mapped out.
“This is actually a form of perfectionism, but really things don’t become clear until you start taking steps. It’s the opposite way round – you have to start taking steps towards things that feel like they could be a good fit and then course-correct.”
What can we do if we feel we’ve veered off-track?
Alex notes that this can often happen if we have unrealistic expectations or perhaps if we’re comparing ourselves to where we think we should be (or to others). Reminding us that it’s OK to tweak our goals, Alex explains the importance of coming back to our motivation behind the goal.
For example, sometimes we may set a goal like running a marathon because we want to get healthier. For some this type of motivation works well, but for others the pressure is too much and it would be more beneficial to focus on building a new habit. Is our goal coming from a place of self-love or punishment?
Sometimes, the most helpful thing you can do is step away from your goals. Alex tells us how his coach encouraged him to take a month away from his routine after noting that he was becoming very regimented.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve done in years, but what I got out of that month was a sense of freedom and I got space to think, I got creativity and clarity which meant that I came back to my goals and my regime being twice as hungry but with a gentler approach, a much kinder to myself approach.”
Progress over perfection
Perfectionism is a trait many of us share and in our poll during the webinar, 66% of respondents said they believe perfectionism holds them back. Understanding where this drive to be perfect comes from is essential.
“You need to get clear on what perfectionism is giving you and more importantly where that drive to be perfect comes from. So usually, speaking from mine and my clients’ experience, this drive comes from how you feel about yourself or, more often, how you feel others see you. And I’ve got news for you – you cannot control how others think about you, you’re fighting a losing battle.”
Some of us can also fall prey to the ‘empty finish-line/hollow victory’ effect too, where we think we’ll feel a certain way when we achieve our goal but in fact, nothing really changes. So then we set ourselves more extreme goals to chase that elusive feeling.
“So getting clear now on the feelings that you’re searching for with these goals or these habits and being able to articulate them is really important. Because once you get clear on what they are, you can figure out how you can get them into your life now rather than putting them around an imaginary finish line.”
You can still work towards the goal, but how can you bring these feelings into your life now?
How can we overcome fear of failure and let go of perfectionist tendencies?
Alex admits that he hates making mistakes too, it’s totally human to be afraid of these things. Fear, he says, stands for ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’ and this is why we can work ourselves up and think about what could go wrong, but what would happen if you allowed yourself to imagine what could go right?
We can get caught up in control, so relinquishing it and playing with that can be helpful. Adding play into our lives can be key with this, make your goal fun again and even reward yourself for not being perfect Alex suggests.
“We’ve got to have fun, if we become so tunnel-visioned and so end-goal focused then all the good stuff is going to pass us by. We’ll be so focused on that end result and if it becomes a hollow victory, the treadmill starts again.”
In a time where good stuff can feel hard to come by, this feels more important than ever. Get experimental, be kind to yourself, communicate with your inner critic, celebrate every win and keep going… take a break if you need to and keep going again. This is only the beginning.
If you’d like to listen to this webinar, you can do so here:
If you’re looking for accountability and support with your goals, find a coach near you or online today.
If you’re well initiated into the world of self-improvement and personal growth, you’ve probably heard the word ‘boundaries’ being thrown around. While they may conjure up images of barriers keeping things out, in reality, they’re a line in the sand which protects you and your energy.
Having healthy boundaries allows you to take care of yourself, gives you time to do what you truly care about and improves your overall well-being. But how do we know when our boundaries need some work?
There are various hints your mind and body can give you, but here are 10 common signs that you need better boundaries.
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1. You feel burnt out
When you don’t have strong boundaries in place, you may find you take on a lot of work, tasks and responsibilities. Perhaps you describe yourself as a people pleaser, saying yes when really you want to say no. This puts a strain on your energetic capacity and, after a while, you may feel burnt out.
Burnout can feel like pure exhaustion – like you want the world to stop turning for just a moment. You may have feelings of overwhelm or even feel paralysed, like you can’t take one step further. This is a sure sign that you a) need to take a break and b) need to work on your boundaries.
2. You feel resentful
When you don’t feel secure enough within your boundaries, you may start to resent those who do. Perhaps a colleague says no to a task request because they have too much on their plate so you say yes, even though you don’t have time either. Instead of being honest with whoever is requesting the task, you take on the role of martyr and feel resentful towards your colleague.
This resentment is often, at its core, jealousy that they have strong boundaries and communicate them clearly.
3. You’re irritable most of the time
Taking on so much from other people and allowing them to cross your boundaries can start to grate on you over time. This can lead you to feel angry and irritable a lot of the time. Perhaps you notice these emotions spilling over from time to time – maybe when you snap at a loved one or have an outburst over something seemingly small.
This ongoing sense of irritation is a sign that something isn’t right and may be trying to tell you to improve your boundaries.
4. You find it hard to make decisions
With weakened boundaries, you can find yourself ‘going with the flow’ often – saying yes to whatever other people want. Over time, this can make it difficult for you to make up your own mind about what you want. You might find yourself looking to other people to validate your choices or rely on others’ opinions before making a decision.
5. You let people take advantage of you
Do you ever get the feeling that people in your life walk all over you? Perhaps your people-pleasing nature has led some people to believe you’ll say yes to anything and, therefore, they come to you whenever they need something.
This can develop into a toxic relationship, where you are giving far more than you’re taking. This can be a tricky one to spot as often we think being a good friend/colleague/partner means supporting them and helping when you can – which is true to a point, but it should never be to your detriment.
6. You have a never-ending to-do list
When you wake up in the morning, do you feel a sense of dread when you think about your to-do list? If it feels never-ending, consider the tasks on there and who’s asking you to do them. You may find a lot of them have been put on there by other people or you may have put them all there yourself.
When we don’t have strong personal boundaries, we often don’t respect our needs or our time. This can lead to us filling our time with tasks that feel ‘more important’ than taking time for ourselves.
7. You don’t ask for what you need
Without healthy boundaries in place, it can be hard to not only recognise what you need but ask for it. The people-pleaser in you may worry about being a burden or asking too much from others, so you stay quiet.
Not getting your needs met over time can have a detrimental effect on your mental health and well-being, leaving you feeling low and unwell.
8. You struggle with your identity
If you spend a lot of time agreeing with others and allowing them to make decisions for you, it can be easy to lose your sense of identity. You may find it hard to know exactly who you are and what your core values and beliefs are.
This can take its toll and leave you feeling unfulfilled, unhappy and lost.
9. Your relationships are often one-sided
If you don’t have strong boundaries within your relationships, you might notice them becoming one-sided. This could be where someone constantly comes to you for advice or to help them with something, but never offers the same in return.
Relationships should be balanced, where you get as much as you give. If you don’t feel this is the case for you, it’s probably time to think about setting clearer boundaries.
10. You feel responsible for other people’s feelings
This is often the case for those with people-pleasing tendencies. If someone close to you is struggling or unhappy, you might take this on yourself and feel like it’s your responsibility to make them happy. You might put your own needs on the backburner and dedicate everything you have to them.
While supporting others is a key part of relationships, we cannot control other people’s feelings. Taking on too much of this from others is often a sign you need to work on your emotional boundaries and protect your energy.
If you found yourself nodding along to these signs, please know that you’re not alone. Setting and maintaining boundaries can be difficult, especially if we’ve had certain experiences that affect our self-worth. Recognising that they need work is an excellent first step.
A good way to think of overwhelm is like a backpack you have on while walking. Every now and then items get added to your backpack. Perhaps you’re adding them yourself, or maybe other people are stopping you for a chat and adding items while they do so.
After a while, you notice the backpack is getting heavier and soon, putting one foot in front of the other feels impossible. You need to put the backpack down and rest, but you have to keep walking. The weight is crushing and you feel paralysed with no idea what to do.
Sound familiar? I think all of us can relate to this feeling. Various things can trigger this feeling, but often it’s when lots of things build up that make you feel stressed. When we’re stressed, our logical ‘thinking’ brain shuts down and our primal ‘animal’ brain takes over, putting us into fight, flight or freeze mode. Because of this shift, it can be hard to make decisions and think about a plan to tackle overwhelm.
This is why, where possible, it can help to put plans in place before you reach that point of overwhelm. One place to start with this is noticing what triggers overwhelm for you.
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Noticing what leads to overwhelm
Think back to the times you’ve felt overwhelmed recently – what do you think triggered it? Is there a particular area in your life where you experience this more – for example work or life admin? Or is it often a collection of little things building up from all areas of your life?
Keep the bigger picture in mind when thinking about overwhelm. What’s going on in the world that could be contributing to these feelings? For example at the time of writing, we are going through a global pandemic. Even if we’re not actively worrying about it, it’s an underlying threat that our mind is aware of.
Try to recognise the way overwhelm feels so you can spot your red flags.
Perhaps it affects your sleep or you find you have more headaches? It might affect your thinking, leading to fast non-stop thoughts. Try to build up your self-awareness using tools like meditation, mood tracking (note how you feel each day or use an app like daylio) or journaling to help you spot your red flags.
When it comes to tackling overwhelm there are lots of approaches you can take. Here I want to share some steps that can help, but experiment with these and see what’s the most helpful for you.
This is a great place to start. You might find it helpful to write a list of all the things you need to do (or the items in your backpack!) and decide what is essential and what’s not. Something I recently did that helped was make a board in project management platform ClickUp and allocate different priority flags to different tasks so I can work through them methodically, focusing on the high priority tasks. If you need help with this in the workplace, it can help to chat to your line-manager.
Break tasks down into manageable chunks
This is about making those items fit a bit better in your backpack. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the size of a project and don’t know where to start. By chunking it down into manageable actions we can focus on one step at a time and feel more present, calmer and more capable.
Maintain your boundaries
Our boundaries are often the first things to slip when we feel overwhelmed. We start to work longer hours to try and get everything done or perhaps we’re saying yes to people when we should say no and this is leading to overwhelm.
A couple of thoughts that can help here are:
- If you can’t complete your work in the allocated hours, something needs to change. Speak to your line manager and get more ruthless with your prioritisation.
- If you are saying yes to other people, you are saying no to yourself. And this will only make things more difficult for you in the long-run.
Communicate with others
When we’re walking our path with a heavy backpack, it’s easy to feel isolated. If you look up and around though, chances are you’ll notice others on the path, heading in your direction. Tell other people how you’re feeling, share tips and communicate your boundaries with others. This alone can help make your backpack feel lighter.
Delegate and ask for help
It’s very easy to think ‘this will be easier/quicker if I just do it’, but every time we do this, we’re adding another item to our backpack. Instead, pause, look around and see if someone else can carry this item for you or help you carry it. This may be your team-mates at work or family and friends at home. Asking for help feels sticky for some of us, but when we do it, the weight that gets lifted from our shoulders is incredible.
Make space for rest
I know you think you have to keep walking with your backpack, but I promise you can put it down and rest. If you do this, you’ll feel stronger, more resilient and able to walk further when you get back to walking, you might even feel strong enough to help others with their backpacks. Self-care is vital, especially when you feel like you don’t have time for it.
To help you make an action plan for the next time you’re overwhelmed, we’ve created an overwhelm helpsheet. Print this out, fill in the prompts and keep it somewhere safe so you can refer back to it when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
With everything that has happened this year, it can be tricky to feel inspired on a daily basis, especially when you’re working from home. However, you know that when you are inspired, then you are able to inspire and support everyone else: family, friends, colleagues and clients.
So, it is worth getting yourself into an inspired state, and here are 10 ideas to help you feel more inspired fast:
1. Praise yourself and celebrate
Celebrate every little thing that goes well, and everything you achieve each day. Recognise it, post about it and share your pride with a close friend or partner to embed it in your memory. You don’t have to wait until you’ve achieved the big goals. Even doing something like reading this article is worth celebrating.
2. Feed and water yourself intentionally
Some of us have used lockdown as a chance to cook and eat more nutritious food. Others have indulged in comfort eating. I’ve done both – sometimes on the same day! We know all about the effects of healthy eating and good hydration. This is just a reminder.
3. Exercise even when (especially when) you don’t feel like it
If you need to feel inspired quickly, get your circulation going, and more oxygen and blood going to your brain and other vital organs. It’s precisely when you don’t feel like it that you need to get yourself moving. Then praise yourself and celebrate (see point one).
4. Get some fresh air
At some point during your working day at home, find time to take a walk outside. You can multitask, for example listening to music or audiobooks while you are walking. You can even catch up with friends, your boss, team or clients while walking outside. Just make sure there’s minimal noise from cars, children, dogs etc.
If you can’t get outside easily, or the weather doesn’t behave, at least open the window and breathe deeply.
5. Watch your language
How are you talking to yourself and others these days? Powerful, positive language can work very quickly to change your mood. Here’s how you can enhance the experience by getting more of your senses involved:
- Write or type up a message or affirmation (kinaesthetic).
- Print it out, put a drop of essential oil on it and breathe it in (olfactory).
- Then read the message out loud (visual and auditory).
6. Have fun and smile!
If your resting face is not naturally smiley, or you often forget to smile, put Post-It notes on your laptop and your mirror saying ‘Smile!’. A smile is proven to improve your mood and help you to feel inspired. Take some selfies where you are beaming.
Some people have stopped taking selfies because they’re not going out as much (or at all) and they are missing the chance to smile and share their smiling face online. So smile, snap a selfie and share some positivity with your network.
7. Bring back the memories
Next time you’re on your phone, go through your photos – as many as possible. Delete any that you don’t need and ones that don’t make you smile. Add more good ones to your favourites folder. Facebook can also help by bringing up your old posts. Share the good ones again and enjoy the good feelings.
8. Inspire someone else
Yes, we are meant to be talking about inspiring yourself. However, it can be counterintuitive sometimes. You don’t have to wait until you are inspired. Helping and giving advice to someone else can be a catalyst to your own well-being and self-esteem. It also helps you forget about your own problems or worries while you focus on the other person.
9. Read back positive feedback from your boss, colleagues or clients
Whenever you need a boost, these can remind you of how great you are and of everything you’ve achieved.
10. Read and write – fiction and non-fiction
When you keep learning, you create more connections in your brain, which in turn keeps your brain active and curious. Keep reading to learn, but not just on your go-to topics. See how many different subjects you can explore and read more of what inspires you. You can also read fiction, which helps you to escape, relax and use your imagination.
I hope these tips help you to feel more inspired. Please find me online and share your thoughts and ideas. I get a lot of inspiration from interacting with positive people – so you will make my day as well.
I started journaling before I knew it was journaling. I was 13 and writing Dear Diary in any notebook I could get my hands on, spilling my teenage angst onto its pages. When I started having mental health problems, my journals felt like my only safe space, they helped me untangle my thoughts and process what was happening.
I did get the professional support I needed and recovered, but the habit of journaling stuck. My practice has evolved and changed over the years, from using guided journals to free-writing and I’m always excited to try something new. So when Sam Topley, founder of Dear Writer got in touch and asked if I’d like to try a sample of his new journal, I jumped at the chance.
Sam’s love of journaling started after he experienced a mental health crisis in his mid-twenties relating to an addiction he’d been battling and trauma experienced during the London Bridge terrorist attacks. Putting pen to paper helped him reflect and make sense of his feelings, a tool he’s now keen to share with others.
Launching via a kickstarter campaign, the Dear Writer six-week journal was a project born out of lockdown. Combining elements such as a gratitude practice, free writing exercises and (my personal favourite) Haiku prompts, the journal offers an easy and structured way to delve into the world of journaling.
While after many years the practice has now become akin to brushing my teeth every day, I know for beginners it can be tricky to make journaling a habit. So who better to go to for tips than Sam? Keep reading to learn more about common stumbling blocks and top tips for making journaling a beloved practice, not a chore.
Hi Sam! Can you tell us a little more about what you personally get out of journaling and why you think it’s so beneficial?
My opinion on writing, before I learned about the power of journaling, was that it was only for work and keeping a diary was the domain of school children. I learned about journaling as a tool for good health in my mid-twenties and immediately it clicked with me. Around that time I was at the beginning of a new journey, recovering from some unaddressed mental health issues I had been living with. I went to therapy and support groups, which were invaluable and safe spaces. I had always enjoyed writing for fun so journaling was a natural way of complementing the other work I was doing and helping me in my recovery in my own time.
At its simplest, it gave me a healthy way of having a dialogue with myself, a private space and time for me to explore and find words for things which previously had none. It gave me the daily opportunity to look at what was going on inside without judgment and get my feelings out on the table.
Daily journaling for me now is about building on and maintaining the progress I have made. Through the act of writing daily and keeping track of where I am my days are mostly calmer and when I’m anxious or busy at work they help me organise my thoughts before the day starts.
What stumbling blocks do you find people come up against when trying to make journaling a habit?
Building a journaling practice or habit is much like building any other habit. The most common stumbling block I hear is people having the intention to start but not finding the time to write, or not having the energy to start when planned, then feeling guilty for not doing it.
As with all habits, some general good advice I’ve heard is that everyone is different and what works for one person won’t work for someone else, there’s no best time to do it, no best way to write, no best length to write to, there’s only your way. So don’t be put off before you start by the fear of not doing it properly, because however you write is right.
What tips can you share to help people make journaling a habit?
Here are 5 tips:
Find what works for you: Journaling is an umbrella term and there are many different ways of writing, just like there are many different types of physical exercise. The only right one is the one that works for you. If you haven’t done any journaling before, buy a guided journal where you’ll find some structure and encouragement to write, you can build your own practice or way of writing out of that.
Make it a priority: Just like with all habits, if you don’t make it a priority the habit will keep falling down the list of things to do. Something will come up in the morning, or afternoon when you planned to write and get in the way. There will always be distractions and reasons not to write. If you make it a priority for you, you’re less likely to drop it for something else.
Embrace your imperfection: Journaling is only for you. Know that you will never do it perfectly and have no fear of that. Whatever you write, even if you don’t like it at the moment you are writing it, know that it is exactly the right thing to be writing and sometimes the words themselves are not as important as the things they uncover.
Be kind with yourself: I always advise that a writing practice is approached with an attitude of self-compassion and self-care. Writing can bring up difficult emotions as well as good ones. Having some clear structure is really important and useful if you’re new to journaling. However you write, approach the page with compassion and understanding for yourself. You can make a contract with yourself too before you start and say something like:
‘I approach this writing with an awareness that I need to care for myself. If I feel uncomfortable then I can stop and seek help. I will not judge myself for any errors or for the way things sound and will accept what comes up as what it is.’
Have fun: Journaling is a creative way of looking after yourself and it’s important to have fun with that creativity. I like descriptive journaling where I can add my own personal flourishes to my writing, and writing short-form poetry. They mostly remain private but I can edit them in a way where I am comfortable to share them with trusted friends. Sharing safely with trusted friends can be a rewarding and encouraging thing to do.
Hopefully armed with these tips you’re now feeling inspired to pick up a pen and get started. Follow Dear Writer on Instagram for more updates and check out their free prompts to get those journaling juices flowing. If you’re looking for more support in your personal development journey, use our search tool to find a coach.
Conventional medicine often tells us that our genetics are primarily responsible whenever we become ill. Yet, by acquiring this state of mind, we then find ourselves paying little attention to other factors that are proven to have a huge influence on overall well-being, such as nutrition, exercise, environment and our own emotional state. For example, well-known psychiatrist, Kelly Brogan argues that every disease carries a message.
Unfortunately, too many of us have been raised to see our bodies and minds as two entirely separate entities. By learning how to spot messages present in our emotions, we can decode them. This will allow us to break those bad habits while reducing the impact on our mental and physical well-being.
Emotions are a valuable form of communication
While emotions can tell us a lot about our sense of well-being, many of us have learned to repress them over our lifetime. Instead of living through the emotion of loss, shame or guilt, we constrict them. The result is that these then become a part of us and part of our psyche. In turn, we do not deal with such emotions but proceed to bottle them up and push the bad stuff deep down further inside us each time.
However, there’s only so much the human body can take before it starts to respond. This presents itself in both self-sabotaging behaviour and the appearance of various physical health problems.
The key is in seeing emotions as a form of communication with underlying messages that direct us and encourage healing to achieve an improved state.
How our mental and physical health pays the price when we ignore our emotions
We repress our emotions
Rather than deal with the issue at hand, some find that choosing to avoid or even numb certain feelings are the best way to keep them at bay. This is prevalent when we’ve had a negative experience in the past and refuse to address it years later.
We act on impulse
When we pay little attention to our emotions, the urge to act rushed or be indecisive becomes a compulsion. This leaves us ill-prepared, feeling worse afterwards and we’re more prone to repeat our mistakes.
We become blocked in life
We can feel lost and unable to move forward when we ignore emotions, leading to bouts of depression and worthlessness with no inclination to move on.
We are more inclined to emotionally or verbally abuse those closest to us
When emotions are suppressed, they don’t disappear; instead, they simmer away. Thus, when events occur that bring them to the surface, unfortunately, it’s those closest to us that suffer as we often lash out at those we care about.
We experience frequent feelings of anxiety, grief, fear, or pain even though there’s no clear reasoning behind them
Immensely problematic are those emotions that go left unchecked but reappear to cause issues when we least expect it. This is the body’s coping mechanism and way of dealing with repressed emotions.
Our bodies release chemical reactions
When emotions are left unresolved, the body can release adrenaline and excess cortisol. Such unsettled feelings also work to suppress our digestive enzymes.
We find ourselves stress-reacting to many events
Often because of repressed emotions, anxiety builds to a state whereby we become so accustomed to it, it becomes a regular occurrence.
Our physical structure changes
Plenty of people see emotional repression show itself in the form of hunched shoulders or back, leg, and hip pain or commonly via chronic headaches.
Blood and lymphatic flow are restricted
At its worst, by ignoring our emotions, our immune system can be placed in jeopardy through stress and tense muscles.
To decode your emotions, start by raising awareness
If you are prepared to stop and take time to listen to what your emotions are telling you, both body and mind would benefit.
All emotions pose a different message – it’s a case of first becoming aware of their presence and then asking yourself: what is the message behind it?
For example, you may find yourself experiencing headaches every time you have to confront a specific situation at work. If so, before you next reach for the painkillers, ask yourself how this situation makes you feel.
Perhaps you struggle with persistent colds every few weeks and find it increasingly difficult to fight them off. If so, look at what events are happening right now. Look outside of the physical factors. What is that you might be avoiding? Paying close attention requires asking yourself, what is wrong? Why do you feel that way at that moment in time? And what is it that this particular feeling is trying to tell you? How is it helping you?
By taking just a few minutes to listen to what our emotions are saying, we could, in fact, pave the way for longevity and prosperity. Most importantly, to decode our emotions, we have to face facts and confront them head-on. This is vital if we’re to ensure we act emotionally intelligent when moving forward.
Janelle is an author and celebrity spiritual coach, learn more on her website.12th November, 2020 Read more
The internet is a modern marvel – that much is beyond dispute. If you could go back through time and tell someone in 1970 about the interconnectivity of the world in 2020, it’s hard to fathom how they’d comprehend such advancement. If the human race endures for millennia to come, there will be great value in separating life before the internet and life after it.
It’s similarly clear that the online world has proven a massive benefit during the challenges of this wearisome year. Without the ability to freely talk and do business through computers and smartphones, people would have struggled so much more from the lockdown limitations. But every advancement in human history has introduced problems, and the internet is no exception.
People were already addicted to their social media feeds before the events of early 2020, and now things are even more concerning. Remote working makes it easier for us to make bad decisions about how we spend our time. The inability to socialise conventionally drives us to the internet, which can lead to comparison and make us feel bad about ourselves.
The internet itself isn’t the problem. It’s how we use it that brings such frustration. What we must do now is work to build positive internet habits, putting in the time and effort to bolster our motivation despite the social isolation. Here are some tips for doing just that:
Get help with controlling your vices
If you’ve turned to questionable habits this year, you’re definitely not alone. Many of those left in a rut by the COVID-19 pandemic have scrambled to find ways to cope. Some have seen their health-promoting habits fall apart, others have leaned on the e-commerce world or even online gambling.
Now, to be clear, these habits aren’t inherently damaging if they’re handled responsibly. For example, if you want to play poker at some online casinos, you can do so in a safe and responsible way that doesn’t put your savings at risk. It’s just risky for most people because they don’t take precautions.
Thankfully, the internet offers plenty of ways in which you can get help with self-control. You can find health and nutrition tips on sites like Healthline or Nutritionist Resource. And if you want to get into poker, there are advisory sites like Online Casinos that offer everything from casino reviews to guides on how to gamble safely and affordably. However you feel about your vices, remember that you can do something to address them, and there’s help out there if you’re willing to reach for it.
Place social media into proper context
We use social media so much that it can feel oppressive and omnipresent, particularly since it so often brings out the worst in people. Anonymity, story filters and relative freedom from consequences combine to create tribal echo chambers that only reinforce and embolden what you already think — they never challenge.
This is such a threat because it’s fun at first. You feel at home around people who share your beliefs and care about the same things you do. But the more time you put into reinforcing material that backs your existing stances, the more you’ll see, and the less often you’ll be exposed to any arguments or opinions that might cause you to reconsider.
Soon enough, this leaves you feeling angry and anxious. You know that other opinions exist, but you’ve lost the willingness to try to figure out why, and you settle on the conclusion that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is a bad person and a fool. This leads to petty online squabbles that can cause immense frustration and dissatisfaction.
The solution to this is to place social media into context. Not everyone uses social media, and it’s highly likely that only a small percentage of those users are responsible for most of the posts (with an even-smaller percentage accounting for the most incendiary content). Remember that it doesn’t really reflect everyday reality, and regular life isn’t so polarised. If you met the people you argue with online in person, you might well be quite friendly with them – so pull back from the internet debates, take a deep breath, and get out of your bubble.
Spend a good amount of time offline
One of the most positive internet habits you can master is spending less time using it. You can always have too much of a good thing, and the internet is more of a neutral thing when it comes to how it makes people feel (social media is a big part of this). You might not be able to do much in the wider world, particularly if you can’t even leave your area (lockdowns are far from over for many people), but you can still be active.
You can take more walks, for instance. Walking is hugely beneficial for general motivation. It makes you fitter, settles your mind, and grants you perspective. You can read more books, whether through physical books or e-readers (the latter being very useful when you’re trying to avoid other people for sensible reasons). You can sit and listen to music.
You can even call your friends. Admittedly, it isn’t technically spending time offline if you use a VoIP solution like FaceTime or Skype, but it allows you to get away from the worst elements of the online world and focus on person-to-person interaction (even if only virtual). Why not give someone a call and take a walk as you talk to them? Mobile data is fairly cheap these days, and having something that approximates taking a walk with a friend is far better than nothing.
It isn’t easy to use the internet in healthy ways, particularly now that so many of us feel stuck at home, but it’s possible if you take sensible actions. By concentrating on these three core tips, you can significantly improve the quality of your internet use and lift your spirits across the board.
The winter months can feel long, dark, and isolating. And with many of us working from home indefinitely it’s important to find ways to stay motivated and productive when you don’t have the everyday interactions of the office. We take a look at five key skills you can focus on while you’re working from home this winter.
You might not have the usual office distractions of coffee breaks and catching up with colleagues when you’re working from home but there are still plenty of things to interrupt your concentration.
Focusing on improving your concentration is essential to being more productive and staying motivated in the winter. To start with, organise your desk space so that it’s easy to keep tidy, with nothing that takes your attention away from work.
Keep a notepad and pen close by and write down any errands or non-work related thoughts that crop up during the day so that they don’t distract you and you can deal with them later. Get into the habit of taking half an hour at the end of each day to clear up and do any little chores that you’ve thought of in the day so that they don’t start to pile up.
Meditation practices such as mindfulness and breathing techniques can also help with improving your concentration. Mindfulness is designed to help you pay more attention to the present. The idea is to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings in that moment and worry less about past or future things. By learning to focus your mind you should be able to improve your concentration.
Breathing techniques can also be helpful for dealing with stress and refocusing your mind when you’ve got lots going on.
Getting outside and doing some exercise will also make a big difference to your focus. It’s another way to relieve stress, and fitting in a run or workout in the morning will make you less likely to switch off half way through the day.
If you’re not in the same office or building as your colleagues, it’s really important that you’re able to communicate effectively with them.
Working from home involves a lot more emails and instant messages, so spend some time focusing on your written communication skills over the winter. Brush up on your spelling and grammar, and even look at widening your vocabulary so you can communicate more clearly with your coworkers. Reading books is a great way to improve your language skills, plus it’s good for taking your mind off work at the end of the day and unwinding so that you can get a better night’s sleep.
Working from home often makes it harder to resolve problems that arise. It’s not as easy to quickly grab one of your colleagues for five minutes and get their opinion or advice. So to stop small problems from becoming bigger blockers to your day you should focus on your problem-solving skills.
Whether it’s completing a jigsaw or solving a Rubik’s cube — try to do something that challenges you and keeps your mind sharp. As little as 10 minutes each day filling in crosswords or even playing solitaire (or similar games) will help improve your problem-solving skills and keep your brain engaged.
4. Time management
When you’re working from home without colleagues or managers keeping an eye on you it’s your responsibility to make sure you stay focused and on-task.
Being able to successfully manage your own time is a valuable life skill. And as most people have started to settle into working from home for the foreseeable future and the winter months mean dark mornings and gloomy afternoons, it’s easy to lose some of that time management motivation and let the day slip away.
Experiment with different time management methods to find one that works for you. For example, try out the Pomodoro technique where you pick a task and try to get as much done as possible in 25 minutes. Then have a short five-minute break and start on another 25 minute work session. This can help you to focus and stay motivated while avoiding distractions like checking emails.
5. Healthy cooking
Cooking might not be a skill that’s specifically relevant to your job but eating well through the winter months will help you to stay fit and healthy, plus it’ll also improve concentration and productivity.
It’s easy to get a bit lazy with your cooking, but ditch the takeaways and microwave meals and teach yourself to cook balanced meals from scratch. Challenge yourself to make one new recipe each week and incorporate more fruit and vegetables into your diet.
It’s easy to fall into bad habits and feel your productivity slip when you’re working from home. Focusing on these skills will help you to stay motivated and achieve your goals at work and outside of work.
Stevie Nicks is Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine – a website that covers the topics you care about.3rd November, 2020 Read more
I’ve been working in the personal development industry for a number of years now and an unsung hero in the pursuit of growth I’m drawn to again and again is self-trust. A lot of us focus our attention on mountains we want to climb in the distance, whether that’s becoming more confident, achieving goals or making big life changes. When we lock onto these in our minds, we’re forgetting something closer to home, something integral – self-trust.
When we don’t trust ourselves, when we don’t respect our opinions or true desires how are we expected to learn, develop and grow? How can we feel confident and believe in ourselves if we can’t trust the thoughts swirling in our mind?
Developing self-trust is essentially about building a better relationship with yourself. It’s showing yourself compassion, listening to yourself and giving yourself the space you need. If you don’t treat yourself particularly kindly, chances are your self-trust is off. Would you trust someone who constantly spoke down to you?
Before you storm head-first towards the mountain you want to climb, take some time to ensure your self-trust is intact, this will be a big help on your journey. If you need some help developing your self-trust, try the following suggestions.
Give yourself space to feel your feelings
When difficult emotions come up, it can be easy to avoid them, using our preferred numbing tool to keep them far away (my numbing tool of choice is scrolling on social media). When we do this, we’re not giving ourselves the space and time needed to process our feelings and move on. This can undermine our self-trust because we aren’t listening to ourselves.
Find a way to give yourself the space you need to feel your feelings. This may involve journaling, meditating or talking things through with someone you trust. Do this when you have decisions to make too, give yourself the gift of time to figure out what you truly want and listen to yourself.
Create a positive relationship with your inner critic
Most of us have a rocky relationship with our inner critic. We either take everything it says to heart and follow it’s direction without argument or we distract ourselves, push down its words and avoid it. Part of building self-trust is understanding that as nasty as our inner critic can be, there is a positive intention behind its actions. It’s trying to keep us safe.
When we’re able to see this and recognise it for the scared entity that it is, we can foster a more positive relationship with it. We can say “thank you”, we can appreciate it’s positive intentions, then explain that we’re not going to listen to it.
This can lead the way for positive self-talk as we create an inner cheerleader, encouraging ourselves and speaking more kindly to ourselves. This helps us trust ourselves as we’re not constantly being mean to ourselves.
Make self-care a priority
Every time we carry out an act of self-care we’re affirming to ourselves that we deserve this and we take care of ourselves. This nurturing relationship with ourselves allows self-trust to thrive. If it’s not already, make self-care a priority. Note down different self-care activities you can do and schedule them in. Treat them like you would any other important appointment and remember self-care helps you maintain the energy you need to support others so it’s anything but selfish.
Stuck for time? Try these six self-care rituals that fit in easily to your daily routine.
Choose your advice sources carefully
Listening to yourself sounds easy but, in truth, it can be hard. Other people’s opinions can quickly drown out our inner voice, leaving us more confused than ever. Where possible, try to spend time alone thinking about whatever dilemma is coming up for you. Consider what you want and need, and then if you feel outside opinion is necessary, choose your sources carefully. Ask yourself – who’s opinion do you really trust?
This is why I’m such a fan of coaching. Coaches won’t inundate you with opinions and advice, instead, they help you listen to yourself. Asking questions to encourage reflection and critical thinking, their aim is to guide you to the answers you already have within you.
Notice how it feels when you don’t trust yourself
Do you remember the last time you made what turned out to be a bad decision? Perhaps your gut was trying to tell you something but you ignored it? Take yourself back to that moment and try to remember how this felt in your body. What does it feel like? Where in your body do you feel it? What does it look/sound/smell like?
The idea here is to recognise when you’re not trusting yourself so you can identify the feeling when it comes up again in the future. When you feel the same sensations you’ll know this is a sign to pause, step back and listen to yourself.
Let go of habits/routines that undermine your self-trust
I’m a big fan of habits and routines, but I recently realised one of them was undermining my self-trust – writing extensive life admin to-do lists every day. While lists can be very helpful (I couldn’t manage at work without one!), I was putting things down that didn’t really need to be on a list. I realised not only did I not need the reminder I thought having a list would provide, but having the list hovering over me was making me anxious.
Letting go of this list was an expression of self-trust. I trusted that I knew what needed to be done daily and anything out of the ordinary could be set as a reminder instead of a looming to-do list. Other habits that might be undermining your self-trust include checking emails multiple times a day or working late.
The more you trust yourself, the more confident you’ll be in sharing your opinion and moving forwards towards your goals. We hope these suggestions are helpful and if you’re looking for support from a coach you can find one using our search tool.22nd October, 2020 Read more
Whether you’re looking to develop personally or professionally, we believe self-awareness should form the foundation of any growth work. Why? Because, put simply, if we don’t know ourselves, how can we know which goals to aim for and what will fulfil us?
“This is where self-awareness comes in.” Career and executive coach Charlie Warshawski tells us, “Understanding what’s important to us. Our drivers. Our values. And most importantly, ownership of our own thoughts!”
This may all sound simple, but when was the last time you really checked in with yourself and what you want? Charlie notes that in today’s world of endless choice and incessant advice, it’s easy to become distracted by other people’s goals.
“Those famous ‘shoulds’ come thick and fast towards us. If we know what’s important to us, that will help. If we know what our helpful and unhelpful tendencies are, that will also help. And finally, if we know what makes us happy, fulfilled and joyful, that will really help!”
Look at self-awareness as an anchor, keeping you grounded to yourself. Other people’s opinions and advice may come at you like waves in a storm, but with self-awareness as your anchor, you’ll stay where you need to be, rooted to your true desires.
So, how can we get to know ourselves better? Charlie stresses that we don’t have to study philosophy or psychology to do this but, instead, become more alert to our own needs, to our values and even to how those around us react to us.
A simple way to become more alert and aware is to practice self-awareness activities. Here are some to consider:
- Meditation or another mindfulness practice.
- Start a journaling practice.
- Go for walks in nature and let your mind roam.
- Talk things through with a friend or coach.
- Identify your core values.
- Listen actively during conversations.
- Learn more about your personality type.
Using self-awareness to supercharge your goals
When it comes to goals, Charlie says there are generally two pathways. “Either we aim towards something we have always wanted to achieve; or we aim towards something new, fresh, exciting. Either way, if we know ourselves, inside and out, we are far more likely to achieve the goal we set.”
When we know ourselves well, not only do we have a clearer picture of what we really want (not what we think we should want) but we can figure out how best to achieve the goal.
For example, if you’ve discovered through your self-awareness work that you’re more motivated to do something when you have accountability, you can factor this into your goal-setting process. You can make sure you’re gaining accountability every step of the way, perhaps by telling others about your goal, getting an accountability buddy or working with a coach.
Having this in place will make you far more likely to achieve your goals. You’ll also be more intrinsically motivated because the desire to achieve your goal is coming from within you. It will still take work and you may find you need to reconnect with your ‘why’ for doing something, but knowing deep down it’s what you want will help you on your way.
Charlie shares a simple way to start, “Ask yourself these two questions ‘what’s important to me?’ and ‘what do I want?’ and see what you come up with.”
To take this a step further, once you’ve clarified your goal and why you want to achieve it, ask yourself some follow-up questions:
Knowing what I know about myself, what measures can I put into place that will help me succeed? For example, getting external accountability, planning a reward for yourself or surrounding yourself with a support network.
Knowing what I know about myself, what obstacles might come up? For example, procrastination, self-doubt or boredom.
What will I do if these obstacles arise? For example, set yourself a deadline, remind yourself of past successes or incorporate milestones to celebrate along the way.
These questions help you utilise the knowledge you’ve gained during your self-awareness work to put you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. So now you know the power of self-awareness… what are you waiting for?