Month: June 2016 (page 2 of 2)

Seize the Reins! How To Take Control of Your Life

Life is scary.

Often it can seem like so much is beyond our control, that there are so many things we ‘have to’ do and it can feel like we’re not the driving force behind our own lives.

Luckily, there are some simple behaviours you can adopt to take control of your life!

Take the wheel: Learn to take control of your life

Take the wheel: Learn to take control of your life

 

Treat Yourself As You Would Treat A Friend

We’re often much kinder to our friends than we are to ourselves: we’re much more likely to say ‘it’s not your fault’ or ‘everything’s going to be alright’ to other people. We also tend to give our friends good advice, and help them to follow it, whereas with our own lives we tend to either ignore or be blind to the best course of action.

This is because when it comes to our friends’ lives, we’re not ruled by our emotions. We can offer an objective viewpoint that allows us to assess the situation and find the best solution to a problem.

But when it comes to our own lives, our emotions – fear, anger, desire – can overrule our rational minds, meaning that even if we somehow manage to discern our best options, we go against our own advice because of what feels good at the time.

Treating our problems like they’re our friends can be a helpful way of taking back control over our emotions. If you can learn to address them by stopping and imagining that the problem is happening to a friend, then imagine what advice you would give them as an objective party, you can help determine the best course of action.

 

Say “No”.

There’s often an immense pressure to do every favour people ask of you, particularly if you’re put on the spot. The problem is, once you say “yes” a few times, people come to expect it of you. You can become forced into the role of event organiser for your friends and colleagues, or being the one who always takes on the extra hours or projects at work. People start to assume that you’ll do it, and the pressure can build.

Try and remember that you have the right to say “no”, even if you said “yes” in the past. You don’t have to justify “why not” and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

It’s fine to do favours for your friends, or take on extra work once in a while, but once it becomes expected of you, these things are no longer favours or extras – they’re just additional stress.

Once people accept that you will say both “yes” and “no”, they will keep asking, but will accept your decision making. Plus, you’ll come across as more confident, which is a big bonus.

 

Do The Most Important Tasks First

We almost never wake up with just one thing we need to accomplish in a day, and sometimes it can be tempting to put off the more challenging or highest pressure tasks until ‘later’.

However, our energy wanes as the day goes on, and this can mean either that ‘later’ never comes, or the task takes even longer and is even harder because we’re tired by the time we get to it. This can leave us feeling like we’ve not achieved anything at the end of the day, or that we’ve not worked hard enough. Getting into a cycle of good intentions and then failing to meet them can be hugely damaging for our confidence and mood.

A good way of combatting this is by writing a To-Do List first thing in the morning, and organising your tasks in order of priority, with a section of those which can wait until tomorrow if necessary. Do the most important first, then work your way down the list in order. That way, the most important things get done when your motivation and concentration is at its best, and if you don’t finish the list, it’s only the things that can wait that have been left out.

Doing this will mean that you’re more likely to go to bed feeling accomplished and capable, which in turn will spur you on for the next day.

 

Don’t Obsess About Other People’s Opinions

Some people will like you. Some people won’t.

It can be tempting to focus on those who don’t like us – we might ask ourselves why, or try to change their opinion. But this is largely pointless as a course of action, and is a huge waste of energy.

Consider someone you don’t like. If they went out of their way to try and make you like them, you would more than likely find it irritating and off-putting. This is because we can’t force people to change their minds about us, and sycophantic behaviour is generally considered a trait associated with weakness of character, which is hardly appealing.

Yes, sometimes someone may change their mind about you, but if it’s going to happen, it will happen organically and not through a forced attempt on your part.

Try to accept that there will be people who don’t like you – more often than not, it’s not because you’re a bad person, and it’s not even a reflection on your character. Everyone has different personalities and not all gel well together, and that’s okay.

And anyway, wouldn’t the world be a very boring place if everybody was the same?

 

Take Some ‘Me Time’

Life today is very busy – almost all of us have very full schedules of work commitments, family events and social ties, which can leave very little time for us to take time for ourselves.

Set aside some time each week that’s just for you to do whatever helps you unwind – yoga, sports, art, music – it doesn’t matter what the activity is, just make sure that you do it.

Taking time for yourself gives yourself time to think and focus on what you want without being distracted by the demands of everybody else around you. This is vital to taking control of your life, because how can you take control if you don’t know what you really want?

It’s easy to become convinced that what we want is what other people expect when we’re around them, but when you’re doing something that’s just for you, you have the time to reflect without all the external pressures and make decisions for yourself.

Plus, taking time for yourself will help reduce your stress and anxiety levels!

5 Tips To Improve Willpower

Struggling to stay on track?

When we’re trying to achieve our goals, it can sometimes feel like we’re constantly fighting ourselves. For example, when we’re on a diet, we might feel like we have to fight the urge to order dessert, or if we’re on an exercise training programme, we have to force ourselves to get up off the sofa and go for a run.

We call this ‘willpower’.

New.

Willpower is like a muscle – it’s not something that you have automatically, rather it’s something you have to train yourself to be able to do. It’s much easier to lie on the sofa watching TV than to go for 10 km run, but we force ourselves to do it because we know it’s good for us. If willpower were an innate ability, everyone would be able to get up off the sofa, but we know that’s not the case.

Plenty of people don’t force themselves to exercise because they don’t like it, or it’s hard – simply put, their ‘willpower’ isn’t strong enough to make them do something they don’t like, even if they know and want the long term benefits. This is not to imply that everyone should exercise (indeed, for some people it’s not safe to do certain things), or that anyone who doesn’t do it is lazy or weak – no one should be forced to do something they don’t want to even if it’s good for them. Rather, willpower is not an innate ability – it’s something that you have to work on.

So how can we improve willpower when it’s not as strong as we’d like it to be, or if we’re struggling to reach our goals?

1. Imagine Your Success

When building willpower, your imagination can be a powerful tool.

Whatever your goal, the temptation to stray from the path you’ve set yourself will come up along the way – so be prepared for it. Instead of ignoring the craving or temptation, address it. If you can imagine yourself as you will be when you achieve your goal, you’ll stimulate your desire to achieve it, which can help you overrule the temptation to ‘cheat’.

 

2. Diversion Tactics

No matter how hard we try, often negative thoughts can creep up on us. This is the little voice that tells us we ‘can’t’, that we’re ‘weak’, and that we should ‘just give up now’. One trick to improve willpower in the face of these thoughts is to train yourself to respond to them by focusing on something else. If every time you realise you’re thinking this way, you think of something that makes you happy, eventually it will become an instinctive response to distract you from your negativity.

 

3. Build Good Habits

Habits are notoriously difficult to break, so if you can form good ones when you’re feeling strong, it’s going to be easier to keep going when you feel like you want to give up!

 

4. Set Realistic Goals

It’s easy to get caught up in your ‘big picture’, overall goal, but often focusing on that might not be the best approach. Your end goal can often seem too far away or unattainable, particularly in moments when you’re not feeling as dedicated as you’d like. Instead, if you set smaller, more achievable targets, taking it one step at a time, you may find it easier to stay on track. For example, losing 1lb a week is easier than ‘losing 2 stone’.

 

5. Don’t Give Up When You Slip

This is the most important point on this list.

It’s so easy to feel like we’ve failed when we have a day where we don’t meet our own expectations, and it can be tempting to give up altogether. Diets are famous for this – you’re ‘good’ all week, then binge at the weekend and give up because you feel like you’ve undone all that good work.

No one is good all the time. Everyone has days where they don’t meet their goals. What separates the successful is that they don’t give up each time they mess up. They pick themselves up, promise to try again tomorrow, and set themselves back on track.

In the words of Scarlet O’Hara, tomorrow is another day.

Sleep Well: Tips to Improve Sleep

Most of us don’t get enough, good quality sleep – and it’s well known that this has a negative effect on our mental health and physical health.

When we don’t sleep well, our brains struggle to function properly, which exacerbates conditions such as depression and anxiety. Our bodies too suffer the ill effects of bad sleep, making us more susceptible to illness, lowering our pain thresholds, and affecting our diet and exercise choices, leading to potential problems with our weight.

So, with all this information telling us to improve sleep, the only question that remains is: how do we do it?

Handsome guy sleeps in his bed.

 

Tip One: Control Your Sleep Environment

If you’re going to get good sleep, you need to have a good place to do it!

  • Keep your bed for sleep and sex – if it’s a space set aside for those things, your brain will find it easier to switch off in that environment
  • Block out light – invest in some thick curtains, and turn off any devices that emit light (that includes phones, tablets and backlit e-readers!)
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable for you – so this means a supportive mattress, the right number of pillows for you, and enough room to move in your sleep without causing problems
  • Bed time is quiet time – if you can’t block out all noise due to noisy neighbours or traffic, invest in some ear plugs to keep your sleep undisturbed
  • Make sure the temperature of the room is right – while the image of a nice warm bed is probably the most inviting, it might not be the best for sleep. Our body temperature drops when we sleep, so a nice cool environment encourages better sleep

 

Beautiful young woman sleeping in bed

Tip Two: Build Better Habits

If you’re in the habit of going to bed at a certain time, it will make it easier to get a good night’s rest consistently!

  • Have a bed time – humans are creatures of habit, so going to bed at the same time every day (around 7-8 hours before you need to get up) will help you maintain a good sleep pattern
  • And to that end, try not to sleep in at the weekend – if you keep a good pattern at the weekend, you won’t have that jet-lagged feeling on Monday morning!
  • Late nights happen, so if you’re going to an event take a controlled afternoon nap rather than sleeping in the day after. This way, you decrease your sleep deficit without interrupting that rhythm you’ve built up

 

Cute little ginger kitten is sleeping in soft blanket on wooden

Tip Three: Be Smart About Diet and Exercise

We all know healthy habits make for healthier minds and bodies (even if we ignore that advice now and again), but there are specific things to take into account when it comes to sleep.

  • Cut the caffeine – I’m not going to tell you to skip your morning coffee, and we all know that caffeine is a stimulant and not conducive to good sleep.  But did you know that caffeine can still be having an effect on your body up to 12 hours after consumption?
  • Studies have shown that those who undertake regular exercise have better sleep, although it can take up to several months for the benefits to take hold. Just make sure you don’t exercise from about 3 hours before you sleep to allow your body to cool down
  • Avoid having big meals late at night – leave at least two hours between eating heavy or rich foods before going to sleep to avoid disruption due to heartburn or stomach trouble.
  • And similarly, don’t drink too much in the evening  – this point is actually twofold. Firstly, avoid consuming too much of any liquid, as you don’t want to interrupt your sleep by needing the bathroom in the night. Secondly, while a nightcap might seem like a good idea to help you relax, alcohol consumption leads to poor quality sleep after you’ve nodded off.

5 Ways To Be More Confident!

Are you unsure of yourself?

Do you want to take control, and look and feel more confident?

This easy guide will tell you in 5 simple steps some tricks of the trade to help convince other people (and yourself) that you’re confident, strong and capable!

#SelfHelpWeek

 

superhero businessman looking at city skyline at sunset. the concept of success, leadership and victory in business.

 

  1. Act It! If you’re not feeling confident, your body language can give you away. So sit up straight, hold your head up high, slap on a smile, and look the person you’re talking to in the eye! Top Tip: If that makes you nervous, focus your gaze on the space between their eyebrows to give the illusion of direct eye contact!

2. Dress Up! You need clothing that makes you feel good and looks professional. If you’re in clothes in which you know you look good, it will help you feel it.

3. Talk The Talk! Concentrate on speaking confidently: keep a measured pace, an even tone, and don’t break the flow with lots of ‘um’s and ‘ah’s. Instead of those little interjections, leave a pause while you gather your next sentence – it gives greater emphasis on what you’ve just said and comes across 10x more confident and authoritative!

bigstock--125551211

 

4. Walk The Walk! Actions speak louder than words, so take the plunge and be the one to take action! Be the one to offer a solution to a problem, be the one who volunteers for a project, or be the one who approaches a stranger at a networking event! If you do it often enough it will become second nature.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It! Put all these techniques into practice, and you’ll seen that if you can convince others that you’re confident and capable, you’ll start to believe it to, and then you really will be more confident!

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