Whether or not you’re in favour of committing to New Year’s Resolutions, the beginning of the year offers a great opportunity to review not only your physical health but your mental health too. Are there positive changes you would love to make this year?
Psychotherapy can give you the capacity to improve your life in many ways. Discover how to manage difficult issues with greater ease, create better relationships and take your life in a direction that gives you more personal fulfilment.
Therapy can be an incredibly useful tool to help with a range of issues – from depression to post traumatic stress (PTSD) to career change and much more. Even if you can’t quite put your finger on what’s causing your general sense of unhappiness, and there’s nothing ‘wrong’ as such, therapy can help.
Perhaps you can relate to one or more of the statements below. If you do, the KlearMinds team of experienced counsellors, psychotherapists and life coaches is ready to help you achieve positive lasting change and provide you with a confidence tool kit that you can rely on for life. Why not get in touch today?
1 – You are suffering from unexpected mood swings.
If you’ve experiencing a persistent shift toward a more negative mood or thought process, this could be a sign of a mental health issue. With the help of a therapist, you can open up about your thoughts and feelings in a safe, supported environment to explore why you are unhappy and get to the root of the problem.
2 – You are undergoing a big change in your life.
Whether you’ve moved to a different part of the country, just had a baby or started a new career, all new ventures throw up challenges that you may need guidance and support with. If you can work with a professional who has a neutral perspective, s/he can help you identify goals and develop plans to achieve them while managing your life’s stressors.
3 – You are having negative, harmful thoughts.
If you are harbouring thoughts of self-harm or suicide, we highly recommend that you seek help straightaway. Fortunately, both are entirely preventable with treatment by a licensed professional – but you do need to tell someone NOW. For emergency situations, call The Samaritans on 116 123, Papyrus for under 35s (HOPELINEUK 0800 068 4141) or CALM (0800 585858) for men.
4 – You are withdrawing from things you used to enjoy.
Loss of motivation could be a signal that something is wrong. If you are normally an outgoing type of person but you are suddenly pulling away from socialising with your friends or family, your mental health may be suffering. A trained therapist can help you uncover why you are choosing to withdraw and how to deal with the underlying issues.
5 – You feel isolated or alone.
Many people experiencing mental health issues feel that they’re the only person in the world dealing with their experience. Individual and group therapy could help with you recognise the validity of your feelings and discovering that you’re not alone. The realisation that your problem is understood and shared by others can bring about a sense of comfort and hope.
6 – You are using a substance to help you cope.
If you are turning to alcohol, drugs or worse as a way to deal with issues in your life, it may be time to seek help. Addiction and substance abuse are medical conditions that can be treated. Going to see a therapist will help you understand and appreciate the issues surrounding your illness, enabling you to get treatment.
7 – You think you may have a serious mental health condition.
According to the charity MIND, around 25%of people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Warning signs include severe nervousness, apathy or intrusive thoughts. If you have not been feeling right for a long time, it’s time to reach out. Psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia are treatable.
8 – Your relationships feel strained.
Relationships can be hard work, especially when you keep miscommunicating with your partner and end up annoying each other instead. Therapy can help you explore better ways to relate to each other and deal with issues together effectively. Couples therapy can be beneficial to you, even if your other half doesn’t attend the sessions.
9 – You just need to talk to someone.
There’s nothing at all wrong with seeking professional help with your health, physical or mental. If you feel the need to speak to someone about your inner world, your emotions or what’s going on in your life, then do it. Talking therapies are not only perfectly normal, they’re a valuable experience that have a wealth of benefits.
While some people seem to be born lucky with an innate sense of purpose, for most of us this is simply not the case. But whether you’re 27 or 72, it is possible to shape your own path in life, and living it authentically and full of happiness.
Discovering your inner passion may not happen automatically, but if you give your inner voice a chance to be heard, you’d be surprised at what it might be telling you. Unfortunately, many of us are so used to shutting down our gut instincts with negative thinking that our inner confidence may never get a chance to develop fully.
Whether you keep telling yourself that it’s too difficult to become a teacher, too late to learn an instrument, too scary to start your own business, too silly to want to move to another country, or use any number of self-sabotaging statements to talk yourself out of what you would really love to do in life, it’s time to do something about it.
1. Discover your passion
At KlearMinds, we offer Life Coaching sessions to help you identify and clarify your goals, then devise strategies to help you realise your life’s ambitions. We recommend this exercise to start unlocking your potential and get your mind thinking along the right lines.
Start by making a list of your personal values, i.e. the ideals you believe in and that engender a sense of happiness and peacefulness when you live by them. Examples are creativity, integrity, honesty, adventure etc. Use them as touchstones for keeping you aligned with your own truth.
Next, write down a list of all the things you love to do. Explore and daydream, creating a scrapbook with words and images of everything that sparks joy for you. Notice the areas you find most exciting and that you want to explore further. These are the areas to focus on.
2. Take small steps forwards
Once you are clear about where you want to go, begin to experiment with your newly identified passion by engaging with the areas that interest you most. Perhaps read books by people who have done what you would love to do, and check out blogs or websites for ideas and strategies to take you there.
As you take more baby steps towards your chosen area, you will slowly start to build experience. Be careful not to run before you can walk so as not to trigger your usual ‘yes but’ self-sabotaging behaviour that can put a spanner in the works. Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
3. Practise positivity and persistence
Research has shown that positive thinking and visualisations can have a powerful effect on personal success. The more you can encourage yourself along your chosen path, the better. Practice visualisation techniques at the beginning and end of every day to picture yourself having achieved the outcome you want, then get your feelings aligned with your vision, so you feel happy and satisfied in your new role.
One of the habits of successful people is that they simply don’t give up in the pursuit of their dreams. When things get difficult and success is at its most elusive, their refusal to throw in the towel means they can weather the storm, their determination to succeed seeing them through. Use the power of positive thinking, give yourself a pat on the back for what you have already achieved, and don’t doubt that a positive outcome is just around the corner. Practice and persistence will pay off.
4. Reframe problems as opportunities
Your path to personal success may not run smooth. In fact, it’s a given that you will encounter problems and failures along the way, and you should be expecting them. But rather than feeling down in the dumps about anything that goes wrong, doubting your confidence and abilities, take each challenge as a positive opportunity for learning.
Did you know that Thomas Edison experienced 10,000 failures before he discovered how to create the light bulb? He put it this way: “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That’s the way to look at it.
5. Surround yourself with positive support
Sad but true, there are always going to be people who will undermine you. Sowing the seeds of doubt can be doubly powerful when it comes from people who are close to you – at home or at work – and especially if they mean well. You must protect yourself against negative voices who will tell you what can’t be achieved, why you’re not the right person for the job, or why your dreams are doomed to failure.
If successful people took notice of such negativity, would we have electricity, computers, and most of the brilliant inventions of our world? Do yourself a huge favour and surround yourself with those who give you praise and support. Seek out like-minded people who will be able to encourage and support you in your endeavour, and keep the doubters away.
6. Practise gratitude
Another important habit that successful people have is that they practise gratitude in thankful appreciation for what they have. It’s a way to acknowledge goodness in life, and you should be doing it too.
Make it part of your daily routine to note down the good things that have happened to you every day. Give thanks for your health, your eyesight, the beautiful weather, a person who helped you, a lovely experience… keep it simple and write it down. By focusing on noticing positivity in your life, you will attract more, and boost your own happiness.
Sometimes, despite your best endeavours, it is possible to get stuck and the changes you would love to achieve remain out of reach. This is when an experienced Life Coach, Career Coach or counsellor can be useful to help you regain momentum and move forward. Armed with new tools and strategies, you will be able to remove blocks to success and move confidently towards your goals.
Get in touch today to find out more, or book an appointment.
Did you know that being friendly can make a profound difference to the well-being of others and ourselves? One of the most fundamental human needs is connection. Being friendly supports this and more, making people feel appreciated and respected. Acts of kindness actually have a positive physiological effect on the body.
As the late poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, once said, “People forget what you said and what you did. But they never forget how you made them feel.”
What is Be friendly in February?
Be friendly in February is a calendar of suggestions set out by Action for Happiness (see more about this organisation below). The February calendar offers a suggestion for each day of the month to encourage us to take action and be friendlier to others in our everyday lives.
So, what is the point exactly? Let’s take a look at what Action for Happiness represents.
What is Action for Happiness?
Action for Happiness are a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society. They believe there is a need to prioritise the things that cause happiness, including building positive relationships and looking after our mental health (both important contributors to happiness).
Every month Action for Happiness publish an action calendar based on a theme to encourage people to make a greater contribution to bringing about better, more caring communities. This month’s calendar is a humble reminder that it doesn’t take much to be friendlier towards family, friends, colleagues and even strangers.
Why be friendly?
There are so many benefits to being friendly, and such kindness doesn’t have to be limited to the people we know. Treating everyone you meet in the same way as you would like to be treated will add meaning and significance to your life.
There are many people experiencing relationship problems, feeling despair, and some who are lonely and/or suffering from anxiety or depression. Being friendly to someone, whether you are aware of any problems or not, can make such a difference to their day. A small act of kindness could do much more than you think.
Being friendly makes you feel good and boosts your own happiness, as well as others. Generosity is hard-wired to the reward mechanism in our brain. Being kind to others is actually good for our own well-being. Altruistic behaviour releases endorphins (chemicals in the body that heal wounds, calm you down and make you feel good).
One study by the Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley, found half of participants felt stronger and more energetic after helping others, and many felt calmer and less depressed.
A report by Random Acts of Kindness states that perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population! Being friendly isn’t just good for those on the receiving end, it’s good for the instigator too.
Action for Happiness believe that helping others is the route to stronger communities and a happier society. Friendliness and kindness can have a domino effect. Why not take up the challenge and see what benefits being friendly in February can bring to you and those around you? It costs nothing, it could bring you the happiness you are searching for and it will have a positive impact on your physical and mental well-being.
Talking to someone when you feel overwhelmed can be really helpful. If you’d like to speak to one of our experienced counsellors about any problems you are experiencing, get in touch today.
The New Year has begun! Whether you’ve planned your resolutions for 2019, or don’t have anything in mind, the start of the year is a great time to start thinking about the year ahead. Finding something new to try in the New Year can not only help you relax, but can also help to improve your mental health. Learn a new skill, or find a new way to relax – focusing on something new can help make positive changes that can help make 2019 a happy New Year. Take a look at these five tips below:
1 – Write down all the positive things that happen
Making a note of the good things that happen to you each day can help to create a positive mindset, which will also benefit your overall mental wellbeing. Start a gratitude diary, or keep a note of positive things that have happened so you can look back on them. Try and write a few things each day. These don’t have to be huge, life changing events, they can just be simple things that happened in your day. Maybe you had a nice time with friends or family, got some good feedback at work, or went for a nice walk. Writing these moments down will not only help you to remember them, but can reinforce a positive mental attitude.
2 – Try something new
The New Year is a perfect chance to try out something new and exciting. Maybe there’s something fun that you’ve always wanted to try, or even an old hobby that you’ve been meaning to revisit. You could try and learn a new skill, or maybe you’ve been wanting to learn a new language. No matter what you decide, learning something new can be a great way to build confidence, boost your mood and maybe meet new people. Remember to have fun and enjoy the experience of learning. If you find that you’re not enjoying it anymore or feeling stressed, its fine to take a break and come back to it another time, or maybe try something else that interests you more.
3 – Try out mindfulness and meditation
Practicing mindfulness and trying out meditation can help you relax and give your mind some much needed downtime, as well as helping you in your day to day life. It is easy to learn, and there are many simple guides online to help you practise. A lot of the apps and guides available online also offer short sessions, so it doesn’t have to take up much of your time. Find a guide that works for you, then try and fit in a couple of meditation sessions each day.
Not sure where to start? Fortunately, there are some great mindfulness and meditation tools available for free. Here are just some of the apps that you could try:
Looking after yourself is important, and taking some “Me time” to relax and enjoy some time alone can help reduce stress and improve your mental wellbeing. It can also help you recharge and to prepare for the next day, helping you perform to your best ability. Remember that “Me time” doesn’t have to be something big, even taking a little time for yourself can help. Do something that you enjoy, or maybe take some time to try out some meditation. The important thing is that you get some time to relax.
5 – Get professional support if needed
If it seems like everything is getting on top of you and you’re struggling to cope, you may benefit from professional support. Our friendly and professional team at KlearMinds is made up of experienced counsellors trained to offer a range of therapies including counselling, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and life coaching and can provide advice on a range of issues. If you would like to get in touch with us, you can do so by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call us on 0333 772 0256. All information you provide is handled confidentially.
Ancient Greece may not be the first place you think of when considering the concept of resilience, which is basically the ability to bounce back from negative situations, but it is the home of Stoicism.
Stoicism was founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in early 3rd century BC and teaches us that we cannot control external events, only our mental and emotional responses to them. It explores how negative self-talk can intensify and prolong our suffering.
As the saying goes: ‘Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional’.
Psychology Today neatly sums up this approach: “By adjusting our thinking, and how we think about our thinking, we can change our emotional responses, the extent to which we suffer (or not), our level of tension and stress, and in turn, our experience of pain.”
But the Stoics are often misunderstood and equated with being unemotional and indifferent to physical suffering.
In fact, the Stoics did not recoil from feeling grief, anger or pain any other emotion. Instead they focused on cultivating a level of detachment and observing their own thoughts. They thought that human happiness could be found only in accepting the present moment, rather than by being controlled by the pursuit of pleasure or the desperation to avoid pain.
The stoics preached working collaboratively and treating other people fairly and with empathy. They stressed the benefits of logic, self control and inner calm, something most of us could do with a large dose of.
The philosophy contends that the way to be happy is to live a virtuous life and that you should judge somebody based on their actions much more than their words.
The Daily Stoic has this to say about Stoicism: “Stoicism doesn’t concern itself with complicated theories about the world, but with helping us overcome destructive emotions and act on what can be acted upon. It’s built for action, not endless debate.”
Modern self-help books talk about resilience and mindfulness colouring books fly off the shelves, but they are both really based on Stoicism.
One of the most famous Stoics was Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 160 to 180AD, and some of his quotes are inspirational reminders about living an ethical, self-disciplined and humble life and treating fellow humans with kindness and compassion.
Meditations, his only major work, contains some profoundly moving statements and exhortations to live the most virtuous lives we can.
Inspirational quotes from Marcus Aurelius
Many of his thoughts focus on the impossibility of mastering outside events and accepting them with grace instead.
“The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have.”
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.”
“How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life.”
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
On acceptance and action: “Objective judgement, now, at this very moment. Unselfish action, now, at this very moment. Willing acceptance, now, at this very moment – of all external events. That’s all you need.”
On wisdom: “You’re subject to sorrow, fear, jealousy, anger and inconsistency. That’s the real reason you should admit that you are not wise.”
Back in the days of Seneca, Epictetus and Aurelius (all good Stoics) philosophy was about finding practical ways to live life, it was not as a theoretical construct removed from the reality of people’s lives, as it is sometimes today.
Did you know that it takes 30 days to form a new habit, or break an old one? If you’ve been wanting to make a change in your life – large or small – why not embrace the idea of a 30-day-challenge to see if you can make a positive impact?
If you need a bit of help or a large dose of inspiration, we recommend watching the short Ted Talk above, given by Matt Cutts 5 years ago.
Committing to a 30-day challenge can make a huge difference in your life in so many ways. By setting aside just a small amount of time every day for a month to devote to whatever challenge you’ve set yourself, you can gain more self confidence, feel empowered, more adventurous or simply happier with yourself.
Rather than trying to overhaul all your bad habits at once or make a drastic change to your routine which will be hard to sustain, you’ll be making tiny, almost imperceptible but progressive changes one day at a time, building upon your successes day by day.
Here are just some ideas of the sorts of 30-day-challenges you might like to consider.
Tackle an unhealthy habit
Whether you bite your nails, eat too much chocolate or don’t get enough sleep, use the 30-day-challenge to help you get on top of your unhealthy habit. Take it one day at a time and promise yourself a meaningful reward at the end of the month for having stuck to the challenge. If you need to, tell yourself that it’s only for 30 days – you can always go back to your old habits if you really want to. At the end of the period, check in with yourself and see what you want to do.
Spend more time outdoors
Are you spending the majority of your days inside, either at work or at home, and possibly spending too much time in front of a computer screen? Fresh air and exercise can do wonders for your mental and physical wellbeing. Why not challenge yourself to get outside at least once every day? Whether you simply sit outside and fill your lungs with fresh air, go for a walk around the block or resolve to walk to work instead of taking the car, even small amounts of outside time will help you feel calmer and more centred.
Take a digital detox
From smartphones and tablets to social media, TV and computers, it’s easy to become used to the digital world. Make a conscious effort to reconnect with the real world by restricting your access to digital technology for 30 days. Try to use your smartphone for phone calls only, don’t watch TV and keep the computer switched off outside of work. You’ll be surprised at home much time is suddenly available for real life activities, hobbies, meeting friends and generally being more present in the moment.
Carry out acts of kindness
Making other people feel good is a sure fire way to put a smile on your face too. Spend 30 days doing a good deed every day, completing a random act of kindness or giving someone a compliment. If you’re not sure how to do this, take inspiration from the Pay It Forward Foundation or the Random Act of Kindness Foundation, both of which are dedicated to spreading kindness throughout the world to change people’s perceptions and experience and make the world a happier place.
Take more exercise
We should all take more exercise but often life (and lack of motivation) gets in the way. Setting yourself a specific, measurable goal for only 30 days may be the perfect way to break through the mental barrier and get moving. Whether you commit to 30 Days of Yoga, take the 30-day abs challenge, or simply add 30 minutes of exercise into your daily schedule, you will feel more energised and positive at the end of the month.
Declutter for 30 days
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of ‘stuff’ you’ve accumulated but feel unable to gain control, a 30-day-challenge may be just the thing you need. Resolve to get rid of one item every day – either sell it, give it away or throw it away. Start the process of freeing up space in your home and marvel at the difference a little bit of decluttering can make after only a month. You may feel so liberated that you decide to keep going!
Keep a gratitude journal
If you feel that your life is in a rut and nothing great ever happens, it’s a good idea to count your blessings. A genius way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. The idea is to think of at least one good thing that happened to you every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny thing (‘a nice sunny day’) or a big deal (‘got a pay rise’) – what’s important is to refocus your mind to see and appreciate all the good things that do invariably happen. Write it down in a journal and review all your positive experiences after 30 days.
Whatever you feel may need attention in your life, KlearMinds have a team of expert counsellors that have helped many people overcome a wide range of concerns, empowering them with the skills to maintain happier and more fulfilled lives. For a confidential chat or to book an appointment, please contact us.
Regardless of how much energy you dedicate to your job or to other people, you need to ensure that you don’t neglect yourself. Looking after Number One is often easier said than done, but it’s important to find the right balance to ensure your wellbeing.
We all lead busy lives with never enough hours in the day to get everything done. Stress and anxiety disorders are common complaints in our 24/7 Western society. Admitting that your needs and wants are just as important as any item on your to-to list is the first step to a sustainable way of managing your life. You can’t be a superhero all the time; you’re human, after all.
1 – Are you neglecting your basic needs?
Skipping breakfast once in a while because you’re running late is fine, but making a habit of it is not healthy. Nor is getting only 5 hours sleep a night, or working 14 hours a day on a regular basis. Over time, these and similarly unhealthy habits mean that you’re depriving your body and mind of vital nutrients and rest.
If you’re not eating or sleeping properly, you’re literally running on empty, sacrificing your own health for your career. Without the energy to perform at your best, you won’t excel at work. In fact, your productivity is bound to suffer.
2 – Do you feel as if you’re stuck on autopilot?
Do you work to live or live to work? If your life is a case of ‘eat, sleep, work, repeat’, you may be stuck in a vicious circle that just allows you to go through the motions every day – with nothing left in the tank for anything other than the basic necessities.
What about your other needs? We all have emotional desires and social needs, and a drive for self-fulfilment. Crucially, we also need to get out there and experience all that life has to offer, rather than letting it pass us by.
3 – Are you always doing something for others?
While putting other people’s needs first can be a wonderful character trait, there are those who will take advantage of your good nature. If you’re a giving person, you will find it hard to say ‘no’ to others – but it’s essential for your own wellbeing to learn to define your boundaries.
You can’t give from an empty cup, as the saying goes. In order to stay strong, you need to protect yourself. Recognise when others are asking too much of you, and decline firmly but politely, putting your own needs first.
4 – Have you lost touch with friends or family?
When was the last time you met up with friends or family? If you’re spending too much time with co-workers who mean nothing to you on a personal level, your personal relationships with the people you love most will suffer as a result.
Make time for the people who matter to you. After all, which are you going to remember in 5 years’ time: the months you spent working late, or the times when you watched the kids perform in the school play?
5 – When was the last time you had fun?
When was the last time you left all your worries behind and just had fun? Perhaps you’re associating ‘fun’ with being a child, and feel guilty when you’re not working? Having a healthy work/life balance means that there should be regular time for enjoyment and relaxation in your life.
Make sure you ringfence some time for yourself and spend it on whatever makes you happy. Go for a walk in the country, eat an ice cream, take up a sport or a hobby, book a holiday.
6 – Can you remember who you are?
If you don’t take an active interest in yourself, then what are you left with? A humdrum existence that revolves around work and chores? Where is the person who once had hopes and dreams, who laughed and loved without the weight of the world on their shoulders?
Take some time out for yourself and find out what it is you need to do to get your life back on track. Life Coaching can be incredibly helpful to build confidence, overcome blocks to success and improve your quality of life. Call KlearMinds today on 0333 772 0256 or contact us here.
What do you read while you’re on holiday? The latest thriller or romantic novel? Perhaps an old classic or, God forbid, some work related material? This summer, why not pack something much more inspiring. We’ve come up with 7 excellent books of an altogether different nature – they’re all about finding happiness. Take your pick and happy reading!
1 – The Book of Joy by The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
When two of the most joyful people on the planet and self acclaimed ‘spiritual brothers’ get together to reflect on their own experiences of life and discuss the central question of how to achieve lasting happiness in a changing world, you’d be silly not to want to sit up and take notice. It’s an utterly joyful book about joy, peace and courage that we can all learn from.
2 – Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
What would happen if you said ‘yes’ to everything? Shonda Rhimes tried it for a whole year, accepting every opportunity that came her way, with revelationary and often humorous results. Read about her 12 months of learning to embrace, empower and love herself that has lessons for us all.
3 – Color Me Happy by Lacy Mucklow
Did you know that the simple, meditative act of ‘colouring in’ can reduce stress and help regain your focus? Art therapy and adult colouring books have soared in popularity over recent years. Color Me Happy along with its sister publications Color Me Stress Free, Color Me Calm and Color Me Fearless, will bring you back to the here and now in a heartbeat, channelling your problems into joyful creative accomplishments. Don’t forget to bring the crayons!
4 – The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
If you’ve never come across this enchanting novel and one of the best selling books of all time by acclaimed Brazilian author Paul Coelho, now is the time to pick it up and read it. The powerful story of Santiago, a shepherd boy, will inspire you to pursue your dreams and find the path of happiness that you were always meant to be on.
5 – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
This is a genius approach about decluttering your home and your life. Kondo will challenge you to reassess every item that you own with the question: does it bring you joy? Yes – keep it, no – get rid. It’s ruthless but you’ll soon find that space clearing will lead to a decluttered mind and the opportunity for joy.
6 – The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
One of the best books on happiness, a subject that has received huge attention recently, Rubin starts with the realisation that ‘the days are long but the years are short’. She gives herself 12 months to improve her life, focusing on what makes her happy and the things that really matter. It’s an eye opener.
7 – The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway’s classic fable about an old man, a young boy and a giant fish is one of the giants of modern literature. The novella gives a unique vision of the beauty and grief of man’s challenge against the elements, and of not giving up. It’s compelling reading, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
The Wheel of Life, aka the Wellness Wheel, is a great exercise that can be used to help create more balance and success in all aspects of your life. It’s a tool routinely used by counsellors and life coaches, gently encouraging you to take a close look at each key area of happiness:
Take an honest look at your physical health and ask yourself how fit and healthy you really feel. What about your energy levels, stress levels, sleep patterns? Are you physically active and do you eat healthily? Are there any medical issues that need addressing? Feeling good physically is a key indicator of your overall happiness.
While we can’t all be brain surgeons or rocket scientists, we can all aim to be fulfilled in our chosen career paths. Are you good at what you do and do you feel a sense of job satisfaction? Do you feel valued by your employer for the contribution that you make in the workplace?
Friends and Family
Take a look at your family relationships and wider social network. Do you spend quality time with your loved ones? Do you feel accepted just as you are as part of the wider family or are there any issues? Are you close to those around you and feel connected to your community? We all need positive friendships and a sense of belonging.
Take a look at your immediate surroundings – is there clutter at home, mess on your desk or chaos in your car? It may be a reflection of what goes on inside of you. Make sure there is space in your life for new thoughts and things that serve you and get rid of old (mental and actual) junk.
We don’t all have the resources of the young Duke of Westminster’s £9.5 billion fortune, but we can all ensure that we live within our means. Are you in control of your finances, including making provisions for the future and for those closest to you?
Fun & Recreation
Joy and happiness go together like strawberries and cream, but as we grow older and life takes over, it’s easy to forget how to have fun. How often do you connect with your inner child? Do you laugh and play, dream and dare just because it makes you feel alive?
Life is more than a series of chores, so think about the activities that feed your soul. Whether you love creative pursuits such as singing or painting, you like the intellectual stimulation of learning a new language or playing chess, or you take an active interest in current affairs, it’s important to be true to yourself. Do you feel connected to a higher power or an inner optimism to keep you grounded? Your mental wellbeing will increase if you can stay curious and engaged with the world around you.
How happy are you with your current relationship status? Are you quite happy being single, looking for your soulmate or feeling secure as part of a loving and supportive couple with shared values?
Mark each of the 8 segment of your overall happiness ‘pie’ on a scale of 1 to 10 to create an individual map that is a visual representation of your current state of personal contentment. Now take a long look at the shape of the results.
Are you happy with the overall amount of happiness in your life? Which segments are strongest and do you appreciate what you’ve got in these areas? What about areas for improvement? Armed with a clear picture, you’re now in a really good place to devise a positive plan of action.
What could be easier than breathing? We do it all the time, and yet not all breaths are created equal.
Deep breathing can be a great tool to use when you’re in a state of anxiety, high stress or are dealing with a panic attack. The simple action of taking deep breaths is soothing and calming on body and mind.
If you want to use your breath to calm yourself, all you need to do is to stimulate the right part of the body’s nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system controls our rest, relax and digest response. When it is activated, the body is in a state of calm, with dilated blood vessels and lower blood pressure, a slow heart rate and calm breathing.
How to get there? Your outbreath needs to be slightly longer than your inbreath. This stimulates the vagus nerve, which runs from the diaphragm all the way to the brain.
There are many different breathing exercises you can try to put your body into a parasympathetic state, but the simplest is this one:
Find a comfortable place where you can sit quietly in a relaxed pose but with your spine upright. Close your eyes and begin breathing normally through your nose.
Next, take a deep, slow breath in through your nose counting to two, hold for one count, and exhale counting to four, then hold again for one count. Make sure you breathe smoothly and evenly.
If this feels too easy, you could try inhaling for 4 counts and exhaling for 6, or even 6 inhales and 8 exhales, just so long as it still feels comfortable.
On the outbreath, try experimenting with breathing our through your nose, through pursed lips or through your mouth to see what feels best for you.
Do this breathing exercise for a minimum of 5 minutes and notice a real difference in your state of mind.
If you find breathing exercises helpful to combat stress and anxiety in your life, you may wish to try these 3 video guided exercises:
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