Do you experience stress on a daily basis? Do you often forget important tasks or where you kept things? Are you experiencing stress in your relationships? Do you experience difficulties in regulating your emotions? Are you having trouble losing weight despite having tried all diet and exercise versions? Are you striving to know the real you?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, this article is for you.
In the rush of things today, we often find ourselves multi-tasking. You may be talking to your kids while reading the newspaper, folding your laundry with an eye on the television, or calculating the monthly expenses while talking to your mother on the phone. Amidst all this rush to get everything completed on time, you may be losing out on your connection with the present.
Are you actually aware of what you are doing and how you are feeling? Or do you just go through each day without an awareness of what is happening? Did you notice that little puppy wagging its tail at you during your morning walk or the fact that you woke up feeling a bit lightheaded? Or did you rush out of bed owing to the alarm’s buzzer and then went off on your daily routine without a pause to think or feel?
If this is how each of your days looks like, it’s time to turn to mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of consciously focusing your attention on the present and accepting it without being judgmental. Mindfulness nudges you to let go of the past and the future and be aware of only the present moment.
Often enough, we find ourselves lamenting on the past and wishing things could have been different or dreaming about the future. But in doing so, we let go of the present as the moments tick by without our being aware of them. Mindfulness helps us by slowing down the pace of our thoughts, letting us focus on each thought, in turn; giving us a clear head and helping us relax.
That is all good, you say, but why should I practice mindfulness? What does it have in store for me?
Well, here are 6 basic reasons why integrating mindfulness into your life is helpful.
1. Reduces stress
Know that thing which makes your heart rate rise, makes you sweat profusely, and unable to focus on anything with that unsettling feeling inside of you? Yes, that’s right.
The everyday stress and worry that hounds you all day can be gone with a poof with mindfulness.
Have I got your attention now?
Researchers now prove that mindfulness is associated with decreased level of the stress hormone cortisol. In addition, mindfulness has been seen to increase positive affect and decrease negative affect, as well as anxiety. The research findings suggest that mindfulness brings about a shift in people’s ability to use emotion regulation strategies resulting in their experiencing emotions selectively and processing them differently. Another manner in which mindfulness reduces stress is by helping people with accepting their experiences, including negative emotions, rather than reacting to them in unhealthy ways like avoidance or aversion.
2. Boosts memory
Do you often forget where you kept your car keys or why did you open the refrigerator? Or forgot about important deadlines or missed scheduled meetings? This is another problem mindfulness can help you with. We have endless deadlines these days and even with multiple to-do lists, it is difficult to keep track of everything, including your kids’ parent-teacher meetings.
Research has found that those who underwent an eight-week mindfulness training had a stable working memory unlike those who did not undergo the training. The memory capacity was also seen to increase with the practice of mindfulness.
3. Improves relationships
If you’re looking to work on your relationship with your spouse, family, or friends, mindfulness is the answer for you. Mindfulness equips you with the ability to respond well to relationship stress, enhances your skills in communicating your emotions and protects you against the emotionally stressful effects of relationship conflicts. Research findings support that mindfulness is seen to predict relationship satisfaction.
4. Helps you regulate your emotions
Many clients these days come to me with complaints of being hypersensitive. They say they get emotional easily; even cry, and they would like to be stronger and not get upset so easily. Mindfulness acts as a wonderful antidote to this. It begins by helping you recognize your patterns, like when you ponder on why your ex cheated on you two years ago, or when you find yourself thinking about how you are not climbing the career ladder as fast as your contemporaries. Mindfulness helps you recognize this repetition in your thoughts.
Then it helps you label this thought or emotion. You begin to recognize that you are having the thought about not climbing the career ladder as fast as your contemporaries. This helps you recognize your thoughts and feelings for what they actually are.
The third step then involves accepting these thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness helps you accept them without being judgmental while at the same time not resigning yourself to negative thoughts and emotions. You pay attention to them and experience them without responding to them. The last step involves acting not out of emotion or an impulsive thought but on your values, the place of long-term conviction that you hold. This is important because your emotions are ever-changing while your values are stable.
5. Helps you achieve your weight-loss goals
Have you changed your diet, started an exercise regime and still aren’t losing any weight? Mindfulness might help. A survey by American Psychological Association involving 1328 licensed psychologists revealed that they find mindfulness training to be a good approach to losing weight. They reported emotional factors are important not only in causing weight problems but they also pose as a major barrier in overcoming them. Mindfulness training helps in training people to allow negative thoughts and emotions to come and go without dwelling on them. It focuses on enjoying the present moment. Doing so helps with weight reduction when teamed up with proper diet and exercise regime.
6. Helps you know the true you
Mindfulness helps you go beyond those black or rose tinted glasses and see the real you. It helps you analyze yourself objectively. It helps you conquer blind spots which amplifies or diminishes your own flaws in your eyes. Mindfulness lets you observe without being judgmental and increases your capacity to attend to stimuli. It lets you get to really know yourself without feeling any negative emotions towards yourself.
How do I start practicing mindfulness?
Well, it’s not that hard. For starters, try to stay present and to pay attention to your physical senses and your surroundings. Here’s a basic mindfulness meditation procedure to give you a little push.
- Sit in an upright posture in a relatively quiet space.
- Close your eyes.
- Focus on your natural breathing or a word (for example, ‘Om’).
- Repeat it silently.
- Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment.
- Return your focus to your breath or the word.
Why don’t you begin practicing mindfulness and let me know the benefits that you experienced?
Are you very critical of yourself? Do you often tend to focus on your negatives rather than your accomplishments? Are you often comparing yourself with others? Do you engage in negative self-talk? If you said yes to one or more statements above, you may have a low self-esteem.
Self-esteem refers to thoughts, feelings, and beliefs we have about ourselves. However, it is not something we are born with, so it is amenable to change. When we think negatively about ourselves, it lowers our self-esteem. How we feel and think about ourselves extends to how we look and behave. Having a high self-esteem helps us overcome difficulties and obstacles with ease while having a low self-esteem makes us focus on our weaknesses and mistakes setting us up for failure. Sometimes it can help your self-esteem to just treat yourself to something that would improve your appearance. A friend recently had their teeth whitened at tooth whitening manchester and being able to focus on that improvement really helped her snowball some positivity into her life.
Nothing is more important than how you think and feel about yourself. Having a self-esteem ensures you are more stable, faces difficulties with courage, have a healthy social life and are happier in general.
There are a myriad number of causes of low self-esteem. It could be due to difficult experiences in childhood, negative life events, past relationships, stress, negative thinking patterns, discrimination, loneliness, trauma or abuse.
However, no matter what the cause, its impact is the same. Low self-esteem leads to negative thinking which might, over time, even lead to mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Low self-esteem limits your career and social development.
Changing the way you think about yourself changes the way you feel about yourself. Having a high self-esteem literally changes your life for the better.
So how do we go about increasing our self-esteem? Here are 5 easy tips:
1. Positive Self-talk
How you think about yourself marks the cornerstone of your self-esteem. If you constantly tell yourself you’re no good, you might start to believe it. If you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, it is time to change that. Self-talk is your inner voice, your thoughts that you don’t say out loud. Negative self-talk makes you feel bad about yourself. It could be something like ‘I look fat in those jeans’, or ‘everyone thinks I am dumb’, or ‘everything is going wrong with my life, nothing is going to change’. These statements act to bring you down. Over time, you start to believe them as if they were true. This results in negative thinking which opens the door for further problems including mental disorders.
Ok, But How Do I Counter Negative Self-talk With Positive One?
In order to bring about a change in your self-talk, the first step is to notice what you have been saying to yourself so far. Hear what your inner voice is saying. If needed, even write it down. Once you have started listening to your inner voice carefully, assess it.
- Are you engaging in more positive or negative self-talk?
- Are you keeping things in perspective?
- Is there an actual evidence for what you’re thinking?
- Can you try to look at it differently?
- If a friend was in a similar situation, what would you say to him or her?
- Can you change the situation somehow to feel better about it?
Once you have monitored and assessed your self-talk, you need to change it. Counter negative thoughts with positive ones. Omit ‘should’, ‘must’ and ‘ought’ from your self-talk. These words put unnecessary pressure on you to perform. Do a quick reality check when you encounter a negative thought. Assess the truth in the statement.
- Do you have evidence for the thought?
- What about the evidence against the thought?
- Are you jumping to conclusions, negative ones at that?
Try to look at alternative explanations for the situation.
- Can you try to look at the situation from a different perspective?
- How would an optimist look at this situation?
Put the situation into perspective. Look at the bright side.
- What best can come out of the situation?
- Will this matter in a years’ time? Five years’? Ten years’?
Jump into action mode. Make goals to counter the thinking.
- How do I solve this problem?
- Have I learned something from the situation?
- Will this learning help me in the future
2. Assertiveness Training
Oftentimes, it is others who bog us down. They say nasty, cruel things making us feel bad about ourselves. We believe their words which start resonating within and become our inner voice. This needs to change.
Being assertive means you value yourself and set clear boundaries. Here’s how to go about being assertive-
- Use ‘I’ statements. Say statements that start with ‘I’ such as ‘I think…’ or ‘I feel…’. Statements starting with ‘you’ are often misinterpreted leading to an argument or fight. Avoid saying statements that start with ‘you always…’ or ‘you never…’.
- Let go of guilt. Are you that person who wants to do everything for everyone and always wants to be there for everyone? Yes, this tip is especially for you. You can’t. You can’t do everything, you can’t be everywhere and you can’t please everyone. So stop feeling guilty when you can’t attend your child’s recital, can’t bake a cake for your husband’s birthday or couldn’t meet a friend who was in the city for only a day. You don’t have to do it all to be a better person. You already are one.
- Express your feelings. Be honest and tell others how you feel or what you want. Be clear, specific, honest and respectful. Focus on the real issue and say it out loud. For example, you might be cribbing about the towel on the floor but the real issue might be that you want your spouse to spend time with you. Say it loud clearly.
- Learn to say no. You aren’t being selfish when you’re saying no; you’re simply setting healthy limits. Identify your boundaries, be it physical, emotional or mental. Know how far you can go and tolerate. Stick to these boundaries and don’t let anyone transcend your limits.
- Agree to disagree. Having a different point of view doesn’t mean you are right and the other person is wrong. Talk it out. Respect the other person’s point of view. You might not agree with them but it doesn’t mean you are right in what you think. Be tolerant of other viewpoints.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others
A great deal of low self-esteem comes from the fact that we compare ourselves with others who are better off than us. We don’t have that limo, that bungalow, that job or that petite figure. Social media sites heighten this social comparison where we nag our spouse about the fact that our colleague went on a vacation to a country miles away while we haven’t gone on one for so long.
Stop doing that! Stop comparing yourself to others. Compete against yourself. You don’t know that person, their life or what is it really like to be them. And even if you do, you are not that person. You have a different life and different set of priorities. Compete with yourself on how you can better your grades, lose weight, get that salary package or simply eat healthy. Take a step ahead from where you were earlier; engage in a healthy competition with yourself instead.
4. Set realistic expectations
If you plan to lose 11 pounds in a week, you are setting yourself up for failure. Having unrealistic expectations makes you feel worse about yourself. Set realistic goals that are achievable. Setting expectations from others also sets us up for failure. Wishing your spouse won’t criticize you might not work until you tell him or her so and make sure he or she works on it. Check your expectations if they keep disappointing you. There’s a chance you have set them too high.
5. Take a 2-minute break
Break from what, you ask? Break from putting yourself down. Take a 2-minute break to highlight your accomplishments and to appreciate yourself. Every day, set aside 2 minutes to ask yourself what 3 things you appreciate about yourself. It could be something you mean to your family, friends or colleagues or it could be a skill you are good at. These don’t have to be big things. Small but meaningful things work the best. Write down these three things every day in a journal. An added benefit of this exercise is that you can go back and look through it when you are feeling low. This little break will help you put everything in perspective and rev your mood.
These tips work great when you actually get down to practicing them in your real life. However, let me warn you, since it’s become a habit for you to put yourself down, this will take some time and lots of practice. Don’t give up though. There’s sunshine at the end of the night. Keep trying and you will get there.
On the last note, I personally think you are awesome!
It’s so easy for us to stay connected with people, whether it’s someone we met on vacation or a friend who’s moved away to another part of the country; it’s no wonder there’s an increase in long distance relationships. When I talk about a long distance relationship I’m referring to any romantic relationship where there is a great deal of geographical distance between you and your significant other.
Here are my 5 tips for those of you who are in a long distance relationship now or pondering whether or not to keep one going.
Lesson 1: See It as an Opportunity
How your mindset is as you enter into a long distance relationship will play into how you either keep the relationship strong or drive it apart. If you see the chance as an opportunity to keep in touch with someone who means a lot to you, then you’ll do what you can to keep the relationship blooming. Use the opportunity as a way to learn more about each other and build a solid foundation for the rest of your relationship. Dr’s Julie and John Gottman from the Gottman Institute talk about building a Sound Relationship House in your relationship. And the platform for success is having a solid foundation – this means having a solid marital friendship, the common courtesy, and affection that is the basis for all subsequent interaction.
Lesson 2: Set Some Ground Rules to Manage Expectations
Usually, when conflicts happen it was because of either: a miscommunication on an issue, or the assumption that your partner was doing something and you thought otherwise. Taking some time and communicating face to face (if possible – can also be done through Skype) about how you both see and envision the relationship will avoid some heart and headache later on. Asking assertively questions like: Are you two exclusive? Is it alright for the other person to go on dates? What is your commitment level? It’s better to be open with each other about all these things.
Lesson 3: Don’t Over-Talk, But Connect Meaningfully
Usually, when there’s a great amount of distance between you and your partner, someone in the relationship wants to talk more frequently. Have you ever done the 5 Love Languages quiz? As you complete it you’ll discover that you may, or may not communicate love differently. Do you prefer to express your words? Does spending quality time mean more to you? Once you know your needs more clearly you’ll be able to make your communication time more meaningful because you can express what you need and try to address what your partner needs more clearly.
Lesson 4: Flirt!
Flirt with each other! When there’s distance between you no doubt the sexual tension arises, but that doesn’t mean your sexual relationship has to completely die. Although you’re not able to touch each other physically, have some fun playing with each other by either some dirty talk or by the occasional provocative picture (be aware of where those photos go!). Not only is sex a biological need, it is an emotional one as well. Keep the flames hot and burning!
Lesson 5: Have A Goal
Ask yourselves some of these questions: “What do we want to achieve at the end of the day?” , “How long are we going to be apart?”, “What about the future?” These are the questions you two need to ask yourselves. I’ve often seen long distance relationships go on for longer than they were meant to, where one partner was comfortable with the lack of “real” relationship, but the other wanted something more meaningful. The truth is, no couple can be in a long distance relationship forever. Eventually, you may want to settle down.
If you’re finding that the goal of coming together just isn’t working out, and you’ve tried all you can do, ask yourself some tough questions. “Can I make this relationship work the way things are going?”, “What does my ideal life look like?” If you’re married, you might need to contact a Chicago Divorce Lawyer to help sort your divorce out, but make sure you’re certain it’s the right thing to do.
If you can make a plan with each other, give it a try. Consider doing a timeline, making goals with end dates will help ensure everyone follows through on what they said they were going to do… which is coming together.
Long distance relationships aren’t easy. They take a lot of trust and communication. But, sometimes long distance love is worth it.
This past weekend was the Squamish Music Festival, where over 200,000 people join to celebrate summer, enjoy good music, and have fun with friends.
A female reporter from CBC News was doing a live report when a man came up behind her and kissed her on the cheek. Since then, she has filed a complaint with the RCMP sharing she was “rattled” by the unexpected behavior and felt like the man was interfering with her ability to do her job.
I have tried to put myself in the reporter’s shoes and think about both sides. I thought about the message that she sends with her actions. If she had left the incident alone and let the kiss slide, what message does it send compared to filing a complaint to speak her discontent?
My Thoughts About the Incident
Overall, I look at it from the perspective of women’s rights. Although there may not have been any “sexual intent” behind the kiss, if you let it slide, what message does it send? Does it let society know that it’s okay to touch women without their permission? By not expressing her discontent, I feel it sends the message “yes”.
What do you think? Do you think it’s part of the “risk” of doing her job?
Leave your comments below!
I came across Tim Ferris @tferriss a few years ago when I read “The Four Hour Work Week”. For any of you who haven’t read it, I’d highly suggest it. By far one of the most inspiring books out there to help you automate your life and live the “new rich” way @4hwwapp.
I follow Ferris on various social media outlets, and paid particular attention to his blog post this morning, “How to Cure Anxiety — One Workaholic’s Story, Six Techniques That Work”.
Rather than trying to paraphrase his whole article, I’ll let you read through it here: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/02/19/anxiety-attacks-2/
My Short Review of Ferris’s Article
My thoughts as a Registered Clinical Counsellor are that a lot of his suggestions sound appropriate. Evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) suggest that this type of therapy gives you a new way of understanding and thinking about your problem. It also provides you with the skills to deal with the issues that you are struggling with right now. Additionally, it’s also nice to practice more mindfulness, to help you “get out of your head” and enjoy more of the here and now.
While reading through Ferris’ list, my favorite is his first suggestion is this:
Enjoy Guilt-Free Play with Friends.
When was the last time you got out there and played with your friends? As Ferris contends, exercise is a great way to reduce anxiety, and of course, it doesn’t always have to be the formal “gym” exercise. Why not throw a frisbee around? Yesterday I went to the beach with friends and we threw around the waboba ball – what a great way to be present, enjoy time with friends, and be outdoors.
Overall, it’s important to find and learn techniques that work for you. Stick with them! It takes patience, practice, and positive attitudes.
Are you the type of person who needs to do everything in a particular way? Or perhaps things need to be “just so”. It can be tough to let it go and let things just be but maybe it’s time to give it a try! New research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology shares that perfectionism may lead to stress, burnout, and potential health problems. The researchers took a look at the results of 43 studies, over the past 20 years, and found that concerns about perfectionism can sabotage success at work, school, or on the playing field.
When we think about it, those with perfectionism tendencies have a hard time accepting flaws. They can be hard on themselves, as well as others, because everything needs to be perfect. If you’re never pleased with your work, then things will never be good enough for you. It will be very difficult to stop working because you’ll always wish to make things better.
To work on reducing perfectionist tendencies, try setting realistic goals. Also, accept failures or less than perfect standards as learning opportunities that help you improve for the future. Most importantly, forgive yourself when you fail, and reframe failure as a growth opportunity, rather than defeat.
I was browsing through my Instagram feed tonight when I came across the profile of one of my colleagues in Atlanta, Georgia. One of his blog posts about self-love caught my eye, because many of the clients I’ve worked with have had similar issues.
Rather than trying to rephrase his posting, I’ll quote it for you. He says it best.
Chasing the Cheat’a
May 23, 2015
Solomon E. Stretch
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now and I just hadn’t been inspired, until one of my beautiful friends posted this quote to her Instagram feed. “Don’t let the mixed signals fool you. Indecision is a decision”.
Why do we play the fool? Apparently, everybody does it.
Why do we choose to waste our time on people who don’t choose us?
Now that’s a question for you! Seriously?! I bet it’s a pride thing, something that Freud would say stems back to our dismissive caregivers. I’m sure there was something lacking that our parents OR our first love (boyfriend, girlfriend, crush, or someone we casually stalked and never caught a charge for) didn’t give us. But us being prideful humans are determined to make that void whole- even if it kills us.
3 C’s of Your Addiction:
Control: Trying to make someone love you
Compulsion: Having the need to do all the things you said you weren’t going to do. Yup, you compromised who you are
Consequence: hurt feelings, wasted time, and you just might look like an ass
Self-love is so important. Clearly understanding your values, what’s important to you, and being confident with your own boundaries will help you create healthy relationships in your life. Be patient with yourself. If you don’t have all these yet, slowly work towards improvement little by little. Surround yourself with a supportive and empowering circle of people. If you don’t have many of those around, consider professional help.
Give yourself some love. It’s one of the most important things you will do in your life.
Finding time for yourself is essential for a happy life. Yes, being ambitious is important, finding time for family and friends also, helping others as well. However, it’s important to take a break and to give yourself some love. Only this way, you will have enough resources for everything else that you strive to achieve. Look at that as a time to refill and charge your batteries. You can’t use your phone when its battery is empty, right? It’s the same with yourself. So, here are 6 reasons why you should schedule time for yourself now:
1. You Love You!
If you’ve ever flown in an airplane, you know that before take-off during the safety demonstration the Flight Attendants remind you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping the person next to you. The same goes in every day life! You have to help yourself before you help others, which means unconditional, self-love, all the time.
2. You Have Hobbies to Enjoy
There’s something so exciting about scheduling into your planner that badminton class you’ve been thinking about all month that makes you feel giddy all over! Spending time doing hobbies; whether it’s working in the garden, sitting in the sun, reading a book, taking a class…whatever it might be you own it, and savour the time, for you.
3. Exercise is a Habit
Your exercise is such a habit that if you *don’t *schedule the time in to do it, you feel like you’re missing something. Your body feels like it’s missing the thorough work-out you give it 3 times a week.
Between work, friends, family, your iPhone, your relationship, you’re always on the go! Scheduling time for yourself includes locking your phone in your sock drawer, unplugging and putting away your laptop/iPad, and actually listening to the sounds of the birds chirping in the distance, or, going for a walk along a new path. Sometimes, there’s a need to just be by yourself, in more of a present, peaceful way.
5. Prioritize Time to Set Goals
You know it’s easy to get carried away with life. Often you say to yourself, “where has time gone!” You think back to the days of your early 20’s and say, “that feels like yesterday”. You know that setting goals in all areas of your life helps you succeed, and that taking the time to visualize and plan where you want to be in 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years is the key to your success.
6. Peace and Quiet
That’s right. Studies show that even today, women work as long as men and have more responsibilities around the home than men do. So, scheduling solitude for the tranquility that comes with quiet time helps you hone in on your creative skills, unwind, and find more pleasure in the present moment (which research says really does make people happier. If you want to find out more about mindfulness and great benefits of focusing on the present moment, read our article: “6 Reasons Why Integrating Mindfulness Into Your Life Is Helpful”. ).
You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.
Never assume exclusivity.
Assumptions are one of those thought processes that can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication in dating and relationships. We are in the era of choices and, unless you ask, you may find that your date is also dating other people.
But how to ask such thing? Here are 3 useful tips for handling the touchy subject of “exclusivity”:
1. Know What You Want
A confident, assertive woman is feminine, and assure of what she wants in her personal life as well as her professional life. If you’ve checked off all the “green flags” you want in your date, and you think he is worth getting to know better, then that will lead you to tip number 2.
2. Bring up the conversation of exclusivity
Express to him how you feel about him, and explore with open-ended questions how he feels about you. If you are finding that he’s closed off and avoids the conversation, then that may be a hint he’s not ready to commit to only you.
3. Make a Decision
After you’ve talked about exclusivity, shared your desires, and listened to his responses, it’s time for your conclusions about it. Make your own calculated decision about whether this guy is worth seeing more of. Don’t hang around if you aren’t aligned, and pay attention to those “signs” you feel on the inside. A women’s intuition is strong and, usually, right. Trust yourself! The right time to bring up the subject is when you, the confident, assertive woman, knows he’s worth keeping around. If you are feeling good about the way he treats you, and the way you treat him, then go for it!
It’s too late when you assume you’re exclusive and find out he’s also dating other people. Feelings of betrayal hurt, but can be avoided with open communication!
Yesterday I was waiting for the bus to take me downtown for a meeting. As I was waiting at the bus stop, a lady walked up to another woman and asked her if she could use a free pass. The lady being asked, looked a bit surprised, as if she was shocked to have somebody offer her something like this. Those little acts of kindness can have a huge impact on people on the long run, especially in relationships.
Random acts of kindness go a long way.
According to research by Dr. John and Julie Gottman, the positive perspective keeps the ship afloat. In romantic relationships, they say that it takes 5 positive interactions to weigh 1 negative interaction. In other words, if the ratio of positive to negative interaction during the conflict was greater than or equal to 5:1 then couples were more or less stable and happy.
If you want to learn more about the 5:1, you can watch Dr. Gottman’s video here:
Have you noticed the 5:1 in your life? How do you feel after a conflict? Do you notice it takes time to heal the wounds?
Why not embrace the positive and share acts of kindness today!