It’s a new year and with that comes the desire to transform ourselves with lofty goals and resolutions. But as anyone who has previously set New Year’s resolutions will know, sticking to these big plans can be tough. You might be so overwhelmed that you don’t even start, or you might meet a hurdle after a few days or weeks which throws you off your stride, so you give up completely.
Luckily, making positive changes that will impact your mental health and physical wellbeing doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s simply a matter of taking small steps that build over the course of the year. These are a few examples of easy resolutions you can make for a happier and healthier future.
Take a digital detox
Social media is addictive, and it can take up a big chunk of the day if you’re not conscious of your usage. Not only does this waste time during the day, but it can also lead to you becoming anxious, angry or frustrated if you’re following accounts that trigger these emotions in you. An easy fix that boosts your mental health considerably is to carry out a detox and unfollow or mute accounts and channels that make you feel uncomfortable.
Focus on your relationships
Investing in the relationships in your life is always time well spent, whether that’s prioritising friendships, spending more quality time with your kids or taking time out of your busy schedule to reconnect with your partner. And it doesn’t need to be complicated – use your commute to call a friend for a catch-up, for example, or have a ‘no phones’ rule at the dinner table so you and your family can talk and have a meaningful conversation. It can reduce stress and helps you to improve communication with those around you.
Improve your sleep routine
Sleep is essential to so many aspects of our lives, from our ability to focus throughout the day to our anxiety and stress levels. Establishing a healthy sleep routine is something that’s relatively simple to do but the impact on your physical and mental health will be huge. One way to make it easier to drift off at night is to move your smartphone to a different room – the lights and notifications on your phone can keep you distracted and make it harder to fall asleep. Wind down an hour or so before you head to bed by reading a book, keeping a journal or listening to calming music to help your mind slow down and prepare for sleep.
Practice CBT techniques
Mental health has been more of a focus for so many people in recent years, and combatting negative thoughts is one way to aid your mental health journey. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, techniques can be effective in tackling negative thoughts and anxious thinking. You can practise these techniques using CBT apps or by working with a CBT therapist who can help you identify the triggers for your negative thoughts and techniques to help you break the pattern. CBT can help you to redirect your thought processes to a place of gratitude and positivity, focusing on the present rather than the past, which can put you in a more positive, healthier mental state.
Small steps can lead to big changes
New Year’s resolutions can often be overwhelming – we feel as though we need to completely overhaul multiple areas of our lives at once, and that can be difficult to keep up with. But making small changes that will help you work towards a healthier mindset and a more positive lifestyle feel a lot more manageable and easier to stay on top of. These changes are great to adopt at any time of year, not just on the 1st of January.
At KlearMinds, we offer a range of services which can empower you with effective tools to make positive changes for your mental health; from life coaching and career guidance to CBT and counselling. Get in touch with our friendly team today to find out more.
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.
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.
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 a 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 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 segments 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.
Did you know that spending time outdoors can benefit your physical and mental health? You don’t even have to be exercising energetically to reap the benefits. Simple everyday activities such walking to work, taking the dog out or having an after dinner stroll can really improve the way you feel.
We all know that a good walk in the fresh air can help you collect your thoughts, let off steam or simply relax, particularly when you’re experiencing high levels of stress. But it’s more than that. Walking can positively affect your overall wellbeing, and even help fight depression.
Here are just a few good reasons why it pays huge dividends to get outside more.
Walking, just like any other physical activity, releases endorphins. These are the ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain that are responsible for improving your mood and reducing anxiety and stress.
Regular walking can help improve your sleep patterns, leading to better quality and more refreshing sleep.
It is a well known scientific fact that people with active lifestyles have a lower risk of suffering from clinical depression.
It is a recognised benefit that spending time in contact with the natural environment – perhaps by walking in local parks, green spaces or woodland – can boost your mental health.
Regular physical exercise has been shown to be at least as effective a treatment for mild to moderate depression compared to taking antidepressant medication. What’s more, all the side effects of exercise are positive!
According to a recent clinical study, being surrounded by nature gives your brain a break from overstimulation, which can have a restorative effect – increasing your vitality, boosting energy levels and heightening your concentration.
Discovering your local area on foot is a great way to make you feel more at home. It gives you a greater sense of belonging, and makes you more likely to make contact and establish friendships with people who live close by.
A welcome by-product of regular walking is that you will feel fitter and may lose some weight. This can enhance your body image and improve confidence.
Group walking is a sociable activity that can make you feel more connected and overcome social isolation – all helpful in boosting your mental health.
Even if you don’t go for a walk but simply spend time outdoors, this will still improve your wellbeing. Why not take your lunch break on a park bench, or watch the children play in the playground on a sunny day?
Autumn is here, no doubt about it. And as the days get shorter and the temperature drops, it’s often harder to keep the mood light and positive compared to the sunny summer months.
Colder, longer evenings mean that many of us spend more time at home, becoming less active and less sociable too. And if your child has just started school, or flown the nest to go to university, there may be an empty nest to cope with too. (more…)
We all experience stress from time to time; it can affect us both emotionally and physically. Are you feeling tense and moody, overwhelmed by the demands of your family or find it difficult to switch off? If you’ve been suffering from low energy, digestive problems or loss of libido, it’s worth checking with your GP to see if stress could be the cause. (more…)
Your personal values are the beliefs you hold important in life. Understanding your personal values and letting them guide the decisions you make about your life can help you create a life that you love.
Think of your personal values as a compass that points you to your “true north”. It can be difficult to find your way without a compass, and understanding your values can reveal one of your greatest guides in life – you. (more…)
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