Simply because it affects your overall health and happiness.
As a teacher and therapist of many years I see first hand how important wellbeing is for people to thrive. See what the World Health Organisation has to say about it.
I have learned that everyone has a story and none of us move through the journey of life unscathed. Some people suffer anxiety from past or current events and other’s live with emotional scars. And whilst some live with physical traumas, everyone has to deal with loss at some time in life.
It’s Not Happens To You, It’s How You Deal With It.
It offers simple exercises and is packed full of opportunities to program positive thinking and wellbeing into your mind and body.
There are 5 main components to Wellbeing
Loneliness is an epidemic and there are many reasons for it, technology not being the least. People who feel lonely often talk about feeling isolated too. Whilst this isolation is actual, in that they may have stopped going out and connecting to others, it can also show up as a physical numbness, an inability to feel. In therapy we discover that this usually forms part of a much bigger picture of grief. Grief can come from all kinds of scenarios such as a childhood where parents are absent because of divorce, death or just ‘unavailable’ because of long working hours. Grief and isolation can also stem from periods of bullying at school or in the workplace. The lonely person can feel cold, numb and shut-down.
The remedy is to connect, learn to trust again and reach out for connection. Finding just one person to talk to or discovering a small group that you could join. You can develop connection by taking up a hobby.
2. Be Active
It’s so important to stay fit and healthy. The stress hormone cortisol goes up when you feel lonely and this can compromise your immune system and affect your heart adversely. Psychologically this could be because ‘affairs of the heart’ will have you thinking in negative cycles spiralling into anxious and depressed thinking. Serotonin, Oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins all help us to feel happy and most are released when doing things we love and enjoy … so find the exercise you love and boost your wellbeing. So many people talk about a sense of ‘coming home’ for example, when they discover the joys of yoga.
3. Keep Learning
Keeping your mind active by discovering something new learning something different from your usual daily routine will boost your wellbeing. It could be something technical or a musical instrument or online courses that teach you how to think differently such as Wellbeing In A Week.
Remember there’s always help at The Stresshacker to deal with things that threaten to derail you or negatively impact your wellbeing.
Yes! believe it or not giving to others makes us feel great! Develop an attitude of gratitude to boost your happy hormones. Think back, when was the last time you helped someone out? The last time you made a random act of kindness? If you can’t think of anything try doing something by the end of today to help someone out. You will be helping yourself too.
Being mindful means being present in the moment here and now.
Try this exercise, stop right now and centre yourself by observing 3 things that you can see, 3 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel without moving too much and 3 things you can smell and taste.
How was that? How long did it take. It was easy wasn’t it! And do you know what’s even easier? Go to ‘freebies’ section in The Stresshacker shop and download your free audio guides for mindfulness. Let me know how you like them.
Interestingly sometimes the smallest change in your routine, your thinking or habits can have a massive positive impact on your health and wellbeing. Investing in self-care is probably one of the most important things you can do to maintain a good sense of self and wellbeing.
Do you avoid doing jobs because the thought of it stresses you out? Do you give up on your health regime after that first glass of wine? Are you late for things simply because you didn’t leave on time? Chances are you’re letting your inner child take control of your life…
I know, I know, you start out with really good intentions at the begining of the week. You’re going to eat sensible, healthy foods. And yet by Tuesday you’re on your second take-away.
Have you ever considered that your inner child has taken over and is running the show!
What Happens When You Let Your Inner Child Rule
That inner whining often goes something like this: “it’s not fair, I’m tired, I don’t want to work, I can’t be bothered to go shopping, I need a treat now, I deserve it!” And giving in to it means that you – the adult – are no longer in charge. Let’s face it if you were, you might be able to have a more grown-up conversation with yourself!
Your inner adult might say something like: “I know you feel like you deserve a treat, but if you do eat those crisps or drink that extra glass of wine, your workout at the gym will feel even harder and ultimately the dress you want to look stunning in next weekend will feel tight and uncomfortable. You’re just hungry let’s get something yummy and healthy to eat right now and if you still want crisps after you can have them!”
International Women’s Day (IWD) aims to raise awareness of issues of inequality and the marginalisation of women around the world. It celebrates the social, cultural and political achievements of women globally.
I grew up in a family with very strong female role models. Both grandmothers had a strong work ethic and believed themselves to be powerful and in control of their lives. Mum worked hard so that she could pursue her passion of travel, sometimes running 3 jobs at a time to afford our holidays.
Yet with all this power and self-belief cursing through my genes I found myself in extremely disempowering situations whilst growing up. I later realised that to feel truly in control, powerful and strong I had to find peace. Interestingly the earliest documented International Women’s day was on 8th March 1909 when women in Russia demonstrated for peace, oh and bread!
Hopefully we know by now how important it is to support other women but how do we support and empower ourselves?
To be truly empowered I believe we need to be SCABT! And not necessarily in the following order
Support Women Around Us
We need to give ourselves the support and care that we would be willing to give someone who we truly loved. That would mean listening to ourselves, to what we really know deep down inside. Making time to hear our inner truth about our lives, situations, relationships and health challenges for example.
That support might be in the form of caring for ourselves in simple ways, like taking time to languish in a candlelit bath rather than a quick shower. Or maybe by engaging the help of a professional or taking some time away alone.
Congruency – In Harmony
What’s that I hear you ask? You’ll know that you’re congruent when you’re confident and comfortable with yourself where ever you are and pretty much in any situation. For many this comes naturally with the wisdom of age, if you’d rather get there sooner do some work with a therapist or counsellor.
Ask yourself this powerful question “What has to happen for me to feel more comfortable with myself inside and out where ever I am” keep brainstorming this question until you arrive at some good quality answers. Then take your own advice!
Alignment – Of Heart & Mouth
When we’re in alignment everything flows naturally, life becomes easier and we feel balanced and centered. Alignment translated means, a straight line or in correct relative positions. If your heart is aligned with your mouth and mind you will be to speak your truth comfortably and to express your own ideas without fear of judgement. If you’re aligned and in tune with your gut instinct you’ll trust that over and above what you might be being told for example.
Are you sufficiently aligned to express your thoughts or emotions when necessary or do you feel you have to hide how you’re really think and feel?
Struggling with this? Then get my hypnotherapy audio guide support, Assertiveness Now and take the short cut to feeling more at home with your truth. You will also find that a regular yoga practice helps with physical alignment, which in turn encourages more harmony in your mind and body.
Owning our truth and growing ourselves up emotionally can be a daunting journey and we need the bravery of a warrior to do so.
How do you become brave? One tip I’ve always used is to look at the worse case scenario. Take yourself mentally to the absolute worse thing that could happen and then explore how you would cope with that. What steps would you take next to deal with the most awful outcome? Often we realise that although not ideal, we could manage that next stage so long as we are true to ourselves.
I often remind clients that if they only had themselves to rely on for the rest of their lives, they will probably be fine!
Truth and Time
To find peace, to be congruent and comfortable, assertive and strong, we need to spend time alone with ourselves to listen in. This can be in the form of simple quiet time without reading, watching or listening to anything and allow inner thoughts to float up to the surface. It might be by using the ‘daily pages’ technique that Julia Cameron proposes in her best seller The Artist’s Way. Meditations and repetitive exercise can provide the space to hear your truth.
Whatever you choose, enjoy moving toward a more empowered you and do please share your thoughts here for others to learn from.
When depression descends it‘s not easy to shake yourself out of it and for some just not possible at all, so if that’s you, you might want to stop reading now.
Many people who experience depression say that as part of it, they feel helpless and hopeless and it’s understandable as it can leave you feeling stuck and impotent. Anyone can be hit by depression at any time in life and it’s important not to judge.
It’s also important to know that it’s not your fault and doubtless you have done and are doing the best you can. It can be very irritating if not downright annoying to have people tell you to snap out of it and I wonder if one of the reasons is that for some, depression is an inward expression of anger. To have well meaning people lay unhelpful platitudes on you, can triggers more frustration and can make the depression even more intense.
My personal experience of depression and that of working with others is that it invariably strikes people who are highly thoughtful, sensitive and usually kind and caring. They ‘feel’ deeply and can struggle with boundaries, because they are used to picking up on the emotions of other’s but aren’t used to protecting themselves from it. Like a sponge they unconsciously mop up negative energy from those around them.
Developing a supportive inner voice can help. Over time I learned to tell myself that ‘this will pass’ and for me it did and thankfully I did not remain in a permanent state of depression. Knowing that it would pass I was able to use this knowledge to help myself. I would sit in the same place each time – in my case my wicker meditation chair and remind myself that nothing stays the same and that it would pass. When you’re in the midst of it however you can be forgiven for thinking it wont!
Funny thing is, even some of my closest friends may be surprised to discover that I’ve wrestled with depression and the reason for this is that I’m not a lover of labels, so I’ve chosen to not say that I have had depression. My concern was that it would become ‘my’ depression and I certainly never wanted it to be mine!
Here are a couple of things that have helped me in the past and others I’ve worked with.
Sit with a trusted friend or therapist and investigate the last 3 or 4 episodes of depression with a view to identifying what the triggers were. Aim to recall what happened the day or the night before. What did you eat or do, what time did you go to bed, what were you watching, who did you see, what activity were you participating in before the depression started? Aim to unearth the patterns that lead to the depression and make them more conscious.
When we throw light on something that has previously been unconscious i.e. in the dark, it usually has the effect of de-potenising it, taking away some of it’s power.
Don’t do this on your own, because you obviously don’t want to trigger an episode.
Once armed with a knowledge of the patterns or people that seem to trigger the depression you can start looking at things to put in place to avoid those triggers. For example if you realize that depression can start when you lay in bed thinking about things for too long, or listening to the news, train yourself to get up within 5 minutes of waking up, or make the decision to turn off the news and choose something more positive to listen to.
You can use stick thinking i.e. “If I lay here any longer I know I’ll end up with that sinking feeling in my stomach that leads to me feeling really stuck and miserable” or carrot thinking… “If I get up now I can get on with… or meet up with so-and-so to walk her dog, or to just make a nice cup of coffee and listen to the birds singing”
Commit to becoming vigilant and aim to catch the depression as it starts, imagine you’re a spy and your brief is to watch and wait to ‘catch’ it before it takes hold so that you can interrupt the pattern it takes.
Make a decision to do something different until you notice a change no matter how subtle. Even a tiny shift can make a huge change to the way you feel.
That shift might be an arrangement that you strike up with a trusted friend to call them the minute you feel the depression starting so that they can come over to support and motivate you to do something different. This is of course by prior agreement.
Whilst we know that exercise is a great way to combat depression, it isn’t always easy or possible for everyone to join a gym however one simple step that you could take is this.
Stand with your feet hip width apart and raise your arms up slowly up into the air as you breathe in. Then slowly breathe out through your mouth like you’re blowing air out with a long sigh as you bring your arms back down. Do this at least 10 times – longer if possible. Do it several times a day on a bad day.
You are lifting your heart and lungs with this simple movement, engaging your cardio-vascular and respiratory systems which change your breath, your mental state and of course your physiology. This can be done sitting down too.
Depression isn’t just a state of mind; it can also be a feeling that emerges somewhere in the body or just outside of it.
Depression has been described by some as a heavy weight, a black hole or a dark cloud hovering over them. Others say it starts as a sinking feeling in their stomach and some say that it’s like having someone or something sitting on them. No wonder then, that people can feel stuck or disempowered.
It can be helpful to externalize the feelings and one way to do this is by drawing or painting your feelings on paper. No rules, you don’t have to have any artistic skills, nobody else will see this – unless you choose to share it.
When you’ve finished drawing, bin it, burn it or bury it but get rid of it. By doing so you’re making a powerful symbolic statement – to your unconscious mind- that you’re taking action to erase it.
Another powerful thing to do is to write, by hand, letters to people who you feel have a part in your depression whether past, present, dead or alive. I’ve worked with many people with depression who have been bullied in the past and when they’ve done what I suggest here they have been amazed at the results. You really will feel lighter when you do this.
Write to the bullies, tell them exactly what you think of them. Let the people who have played a part in the way that you feel, know your truth, tell them exactly how you feel. When you’ve finished the letter bin it, burn it, or bury it but definitely get rid of it permanently, this is the most important step. I do not advocate sending the letters – this is for you, it’s your therapy.
Your unconscious mind believes whatever is put into it, so it willbelieve that you’ve sent the letters, even though you know at a conscious level you haven’t.
This might sound ridiculously simple but it really can take care of unfinished business in the back of the mind. Don’t take my word for it try it yourself to find out that this powerful exercise really does work!
Anything that you can do to empower yourself will be helpful
So the next time you’re feeling brighter write a list of the things that lift you and allow you to feel glad to be in the world. Put that list on the inside of a cupboard or on a mirror where you can see it to remind yourself to take tiny steps toward a better day.
Although I would never say I’ll never be depressed again, I do feel fortunate to be free of depression these days. I have used all the tools and tips I write about and whilst I appreciate that they may not be for everyone, I sincerely hope they help someone.
I sometimes feel that I sit down for too long… but that’s the nature of my work as a Psychotherapist and Life Coach, thankfully I’m able to balance some of that by teaching yoga, walking and swimming. A sedentary lifestyle is not good if you want to stay healthy moreover, it’s ageing too. Scientifically proven as one of the 5 components that make up Wellbeing, exercise and keeping on the move is a must if we want to stay healthier, happier and youthful.
I’m often heard singing the praises of yoga. It really is more than just exercise, it’s a system of health. Other Eastern philosophies such as Chinese Medicine, subscribe to the notion that we have an emotional body. According to these approaches the emotions reside in the organs. You can hear it in language such as “I felt gutted (stomach) or choked” (throat) or “… he had some gall” referring to the gallbladder that is said to process anger, along with it’s partner the liver.
I definitely recognise the existence of an emotional body in my own style of teaching yoga and also when working one-to-one coaching clients. As a client or student of mine you’ll be on the receiving end of my ‘nagging’ or as I like to think of it, encouragement! Prompting you to direct your attention to the tightest or most uncomfortable part of your body and then breathe deeply into it whilst stretching. It facilitates a beautiful release and expansion that often alleviates pain and discomfort. You just feel great afterwards!
I’m often reminded of my favourite saying that the body will express what the mind is concerned with It’s true and I’ve been interested to observe my own body in the last 3 to 4 weeks whilst going through a particularly stressful and emotional time. Although I’m doing the same amount of yoga practice as usual, I’ve really noticed how tight and stiff my muscles and ligaments have become, in fact my body has been aching and tense. I realise that at times like this it’s more important than ever to keep up my yoga practice (it would be so easy to let it slip)! I have found the gentle long held yin poses have been particularly useful in releasing toxic energy (a build up of negative emotions such as fear and anger).
Some years ago my colleague and friend Sabine Smith and I created a lovely CD also available as a download called Movement Now. This is a gentle yoga program that we designed for people who haven’t done any exercise at all for a while, people who want a quick easy stretch program, people who are stuck at their desks all day long and people recovering from illness or surgery. It’s really easy to download to your laptop then pop onto your phone then you can practice anywhere anytime. Click here to buy.
The short program is a real energy boost and you’ll also notice that it creates a nice peaceful state mentally and emotionally.
So if you’re going through one of life’s testing times remember to keep up your practice. If you don’t do yoga then walk, swim or do some exercise and keep the demons at bay!
Yes it’s that time of year again! Tips For Revising For Exams
Many teenagers are revising at the moment and we all know how stressful that can be, so this week’s blog contains top tips for revising and staying cool, calm and confident through the revision period and beyond.
Create a timetable of study
Set short achievable tasks for your revision. It’s important to ‘chunk’ down. After all you can’t revise the whole thing in one go! So break things down into small chunks.
For example, you could revise in 20-minute chunks, set your phone (or alarm) when it goes off, change your activity for at least 5 minutes. Get up and stretch. Go and get a drink. Play with the dog! Then go back to revising. Naturally if you’re on a roll and studying well, you can skip a break and continue on for the next 20-minute chunk.
Look at the week and decide where, when and how you are going to revise. If you’re unsure, find someone who seems to revise well. Pick their brains and find out what they do to revise, where they do it and how, then copy that formula!
On The Day of Your Exams
Plan a good routine for the day. It might sound daft but it’s important know exactly where you’re going, it has been known for people go to the wrong place, out of sheer panic! Not you though. If you have to travel to your place of exam, do a dummy run a week before if necessary. Give yourself as much chance as possible to feel confident.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!
Even planning exactly what you’re going to wear so that you’re in charge of your own temperature will give you a sense of control (Layers are good).
Aim to be early and be prepared. Have your bag and any items that you might need, ready, well ahead of the exam day.
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Drink plenty of water during study periods and the exam; this has been linked to improved memory power. According to a study at the University of Wales (D.Benton, N Burgess – Appetite, 2009 – Elsevier.) ‘Recall was significantly better on the occasions when water had been consumed’.
Breathe deep then eat
Many students say they feel panicky prior to exams and suffer from anxiety. Many performers feel nervous before they perform and there’s at least one scientific study that says that nerves can help you to perform well, so maybe your anxious feelings are a good thing and they are going to help you to perform well!
Anxiety can sometimes make your tummy tense and your chest tight though and that’s not great. So try this, sit upright and rest one hand on your heart and one hand on your tummy. I call this the ‘Vagus Hug’ as it puts you in touch with a powerful nerve that runs from the brain through the heart to the gut and it is a powerful communication channel. Close your eyes and breathe in and count to 3 hold for a couple of seconds and as you breathe out to the count of 5 imagine your hands becoming warm and soothing to your tummy. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the tension melts. Don’t take my word for it, practice it and see for yourself.
Once you feel more relaxed ensure that you eat something prior to the exam. If you feel uptight make sure it’s something easily digestible. Protein is always good and can be easily digestible if it’s something light like an omelette or scrambled eggs. Plan what you will eat on the day – have everything ready.
Are your thoughts serving or sabotaging you?
Watch out for your thoughts they can either be helpful and positive or negative and damaging. Do NOT project negative thoughts into the future… that’s just daft since the future hasn’t happened yet!
You have a choice. What are you saying to yourself about your ability to study? What are you saying to yourself about the exam itself? Modern psychology and hypnotherapy knows that it is possible to ‘future pace’ suggestions.
An example of a good future paced suggestion is “I now revise easily, effortlessly and concentrate with focused attention whenever I revise.” Or “On the day of the exam I feel confident and relaxed. My recall is sharp and accurate I breeze confidently through each question.” Notice the suggestion is phrased in the ‘here and now’ which is important, since the subconscious mind doesn’t have a sense of past or future, so it prefers suggestions as if they’re already happening.
Obviously if you haven’t done the study or the revision in the first place, this can’t come true but if you’ve done the work – then trust your subconscious mind to serve you. You could be amazed by the results.
Finally, listening to Stress Free With Confidenceevery night will definitely help you to remain calm and to feel more confident. I suggest listening for a month leading up to the exam and also through your revision period. Listen on ear-phones each night as you drift off to sleep and let it work for you.
Good luck with your exams and remember you are still a wonderful unique person whatever your results.
You know those days when you’ve planned to do all kinds of things but when you wake up you feel ‘little’ and it’s about as much as you can do to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other let alone tackle anything more challenging.
Has your inner child – you have many – taken over?
Here are just some of the symptoms you might recognize when your inner child has taken over:
You have a feeling of inner collapse.
You feel stuck.
You have ‘the fog’ your brain feels as if it’s been swamped in fog and you can’t think straight.
Your voice has a different quality, quiet and childlike.
You can’t get on with anything and even the simplest tasks seem overwhelming.
You have a wobbly, shaky feeling inside or a heavy weight in your stomach/chest.
You don’t want to engage with anyone let alone go to work.
You don’t feel in control
One or any of the above is an indicator that you’ve morphed into child mode and you can stay stuck in this state for minutes, hours and even days.
How did this happen?
There can be many things that flip us into child mode, for example a dream from the night before, a film that you recently watched or an item in the news that has triggered you emotionally. Sometimes an argument with a family member, a run-in with a work colleague or a falling out with a loved one can be the negative trigger that awakens your inner-child, even hearing someone shouting can be enough for some people to trauma trigger their inner-child.
Does it even matter what caused it? We can get hung-up on trying to discover the trigger, which can cause other issues such as avoidance behavior, which in turn creates other problems such as phobias and addictions.
So what do you do? How do you get out of this state?
Firstly there’s some homework to be done. On a good day when you feel adult, and a bit more optimistic about life and yourself in general, make a list of what is going on around you that allows you to feel this way.
I’m wearing bright colours.
I’ve been for my run.
I’ve spent time with good supportive friends this week.
I’m eating sensibly
I’m sleeping well because I haven’t been watching the news.
I’m meditating regularly or listening to an audio programme
I’m planning to go to my yoga class.
I’ve been listening to music
I’ve been reading/watching positive thinking material/sites
I’ve spent some time in nature, been to the park or the coast
Revisit this list regularly if it’s in your notebook or stick on the inside of your wardrobe or cupboard where you see it daily and it can work on you in a subliminal way.
Read this list out loud on a day when you’re stuck in ‘child’ and aim to apply as many of the things on your list as possible.
2. Get some light into the room you’re in, open your blinds/curtains.
3. Nurture yourself, prepare some comforting food and a warm drink, have a warm bath and massage yourself gently with body lotion. Or gently scrub with a loofah both of which can help you start feeling again.
4. Sit down with a pen and paper and write down some questions to ask your inner child such as “What do you want or need so that you can feel better”
Listen intently for the first answers that form in your mind and write down the answer which may be something like, “ I want to feel safe, or I want to be loved” Ask next , “What can happen now so that you can feel safe or loved”?
Develop a written dialogue with that part of yourself until you can a) feel a difference and a healthy distance between you and the inner child and b) have an idea of what that part of you needs in order to feel better.
Aim to meet the needs of that part of you maybe with an imaginary cuddle or you may decide to cancel your visit to the family party because that part of you would benefit from some quiet time instead.
5. Call a trusted friend and see if they can help you to morph back into ‘adult’.
6. Do something that will help you to feel grown up and back in control. Perhaps do some gardening, baking or some yoga.
If this is something that happens more often than you would like, maybe it’s time to engage the help of a professional and help your inner-child to grow up. Talk to a counsellor or therapist. Perhaps a personal development course would give you some tools for dealing with these feelings when they surface. Remember too in the shop here at thestresshacke.com there are lots of audio guides, to help you get the best out of yourself.
One thing is for sure, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got so do something different and help yourself to feel better.
This self-care will contribute to a better sense of wellbeing and confidence. Take good care of you because you do matter.
Have you ever been around someone seemingly bright and knowledgeable only to notice them behave badly in a childish manner? Chances are something has stopped them growing up emotionally…
Collectively we still fail to understand the difference between intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence. While we grow up intellectually and chronologically, we do not always grow up emotionally. We can have gaps in our development for all kinds of reasons, but it’s often due to something that happened in childhood. For example, a child — let’s call him John — has has five blissful years on the planet when his father suddenly dies. His mother, in her grief, plummets into a depression that she never really recovers from.
John is effectively orphaned at that point. With neither parent there to attend to his emotional needs. This trauma and loss will likely effect John’s ability to learn. Unless that’s picked up at school, he could remain in that ‘state’ for the rest of his life. His development stunted, much like a scratch on a record, or a rogue program that keeps replaying. Years later, John is unresponsive and unemotional toward his partner, going through the motions but never fully connecting.
Have you ever missed your train, your stop, your appointment? Do you find time passes and you don’t know where it went? Are you spacing out?
Where and when did you learn to do that?
By the sheer nature of the fact that as children we spend a lot of time being told what to do – and when and how – we have internalised that ‘parent’ part that even today may nag, criticise or even bully us to do certain things. But it also may be that as a child you were left to your own devices for hours on end with very few boundaries or guidelines. In that case, your parent part might be vacant or spaced out with little input.
To know and understand your parent part you will need to spend some time remembering analysing and recalling your early messages. I explore this in more depth in my book, I Just Want To be Happy.
Zoning out can be a way of coping
Your inner child part is very much determined by your parent part. For example, if you were nagged, told off a lot or – worse – bullied or abused, how did you deal with that? One way that children ‘cope’ is to dissociate, disappear, take off and ‘space out’. I remember doing this as a child in a maths lesson, I was bored and disinterested and spent most of my time in the clouds floating about. Needless to say this in turn got me into more trouble!
So what is spacing out? Clients have often described it as that lovely timeless feeling: you’re there but not there. You have that sensation of drifting in thoughts, like bubbles, smoke, or like feathers or leaves floating away.
But now it’s time to zone back in
Now this is all very nice and perhaps a great way for us to cope as children, but is it useful as an adult? Probably not. When yet another day has passed and you haven’t delivered the goods, met the deadline, painted the bedroom. When you’ve missed the stop for the fourth time this week, or been late to pick the kids up. Well, it’s just not serving you any longer is it.
It’s a bit like an out-of-date program left running on a computer: it’s just taking up unnecessary space that could be used for something better.
So how do you stop spacing out?
Grounding. Grounding. Grounding. Stop taking off and get back into your body. Feel the sensation of your feet in your shoes. If possible be barefooted so you can really “earth”. Instead of getting out of your head, get into your body. You won’t become enlightened if you’re not embodied!
Then start the reprogramming.
The inner dialogue could go something like this, “I am X years old. I can do this!” Be conscious and awake. It will help if you address your inner child directly, giving them some attention by saying something simple like, “I’m just off to a meeting and I don’t need you to come along. Why don’t you stay at home playing and I’ll go off and do the grown up things and see you later.”
It may sound twee (and a bit odd!), but don’t take my word for it – try it yourself. I know it works! You can also address the inner parent by saying to that part, “You know what? Thank you for all the nagging, but STOP IT NOW! I’m X years old and adult and I don’t need your incessant rules. I can do this, so GO AWAY!”
Richard Bandler, originator of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) would say tell that part to “Shut the f*@$ up!”. And it works – that nagging, parental part of you or that childish part of you will quieten down for a while.
We have to expose these parts and make this conscious. You’ll have plenty of time to practise since these parts pipe up time after time.
Are you having trouble hitting deadlines? Do you procrastinate when you should be getting things done? Chances are, no amount of time management tricks will fix this until you deal with the deeper issues holding you back.
This guide will take you through all the emotional reasons why you might be sabotaging your own time-keeping, and includes some practical tips on what to do to get you back into time-management heaven.
Take the following steps and surprise yourself at how quickly you can do it.
Five Simple Steps For Fixing Your Time Management Issues.
Step One: Send Your Inner Child to Bed
First off, it’s important to recognise that you’re making a choice. You can either get this done now in the quickest most efficient way or you can time waste, procrastinate, whine (inwardly or outwardly!) or make a million different excuses.
The reality is nobody cares.
Grow up and get on with it. A bit of mental discipline never hurt anyone.
Bit harsh? Thing is we have an internalised child part. For many of us the child part doesn’t want to work, the child might be fearful of ‘getting it wrong’ so wants to avoid, play or hide. Some people find it stressful even thinking about deadlines and so prefer just to do nothing rather than deal with the worry. If you let that child part of you dictate your behaviour you’ll never hit your deadline.
You are a grown-up! It’s time to remind yourself out loud how old you are. Say to yourself, “C’mon Julie, you are a 36-year-old account director” (obviously, fill in your own name, age and occupation instead!)
Tell that part of you that wants to procrastinate, that it isn’t helpful, that you don’t want it or need it. Tell it to go away and find a different game to play and remind yourself instead of how great you’re going to feel when the task is completed.
This is the most simple step, but by far the most important one. If you do NOTHING else, take this moment to send your child off to play and make it clear to yourself that your adult is in charge. Oh, and you can tell your inner parent to stop beating you up too – that’s not going to help you get things done.
If you’re driven by the carrot it might be good to tell your child part that when the deadline is achieved you can lie in a bath, watch that film, go shopping – or whatever the ‘reward’ is. If you’re a stick person, you’ll need to come up with something that will make it painful if you don’t succeed. Check out the article below which has tips for how you can visualise things to motivate yourself.
Take a moment and – with your adult head on – make a plan. I would hate to remind you of that old adage that if you fail to plan you plan to fail, but it is true.
First write a list of the steps involved. Do this by hand, that way you get the feel-good factor of ticking off the completed segments and the sense that you’re nearing the deadline. It will also make you feel adult and efficient.
Give yourself specific instructions, not vague to-dos. For example, if you write “start research by ringing X and ask the following questions” you’re more likely to feel inspired and get the job done than if you write something that feels too vague or over-whelming like “research book”.
Next, think about the deadline. Can you break it down into three parts or four parts? Chunking down into more manageable pieces makes it much easier to approach.
Another way is to write out everything you have to do to hit your deadline and then 1,2,3, 4, it. The highest priorities are ones, the next are twos and so on. Stick to the plan, get on and do the ones first.
Plan your space
As part of your planning, get everything you need in one place. You don’t need any distractions. If you have to keep getting up and down to get things, you run the risk that the child part might interfere and then you’ll wander off down the procrastination road again.
Less is more. Once you have everything put it into neat piles, on another desk or on the floor. Only have on your desk/table the things you need to complete the first stage of the assignment. Clear the clutter away, it’s distracting and you need every bit of help to stay focused. Don’t use that as an excuse to spend the next three hours re-organising your office, however. Limit your clean up time to 15 minutes. If you need a glass of water or a cup of tea get it now.
Plan your breaks
Do you know yourself? If you know that you will work better with a couple of breaks, schedule the breaks in on your list above. Other than a toilet break, stick to those breaks on your list and time them. I suggest 10 minutes is long enough to make a drink, look out of the window etc. Then it’s back to work. AVOID LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE! This is likely to be the biggest temptation and the strongest hook. Be disciplined, wait until you’ve hit your deadline.
Step Three: Make Your Workspace a Happy Place
If you’re feeling lethargic place some lemon oil somewhere in the room. Apparently, the Japanese pipe this smell through the air- conditioning in their offices as it is believed to stimulate mental clarity. A recent study also suggests it enhances your mood.
Put something brightly coloured near your work station. This might just keep the creativity flowing. I tried using a multi-coloured feather duster. I was amazed – it worked (and, let’s be honest, I would never use it to dust)! According to a study by the University of British Colombia, red in your workspace improves your attention to detail, while blue makes you more creative. (Further reading: Color in Office Environments [pdf]).
If you’re still feeling uninspired and uncreative step back and observe your thoughts for a moment. Are they helpful and supportive or negative and sabotaging? The most important things we ever hear are the things we say to ourselves. If you’re feeding yourself messages like, “I should never have taken this on, I can’t do it, It’s too difficult” what kind of a reaction would you expect? It’s far better to say to yourself “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this”.
Did you know that your unconscious mind has a massive storage capacity? Many believe it contains a record of every bit of information you have ever picked up from the moment of your birth. It’s where a hidden cache of information, memories, skills and talents reside. Use it. Ask your unconscious mind good quality questions in order to get good quality responses. So instead of , “I wish I’d never taken on this assignment, I’ll never do it in time,” say to yourself, “how can I get this assignment finished in record time?” You will be amazed and impressed with the solutions that begin to filter through.
Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.
The interesting thing is that whatever we believe becomes our reality. I’m going to say that again because it is so important.
Whatever we believe becomes our reality.
Successful people don’t wonder whether they will meet their deadlines, they know they will. Do you know why? Because they don’t entertain the idea of failure, it doesn’t enter their world. Successful people believe they will succeed.
To meet your deadline have the absolute total conviction that you can and will do it. When you have strong positive beliefs they strengthen your determination which then fosters your will power. Your will power supports a good sense of self and so your confidence grows. It’s an analeptic circle: in time you develop strong faith and a pride in yourself because you know you can achieve what you set out to achieve.
Step Four: Be Disciplined
Work steadily and allow yourself to get in the flow. You’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel as you begin to reach your deadlines more quickly.
Modern psychology, NLP, attributes the smooth running of successful businesses to the placement of good systems. Once you have a good system in place it runs on its own with very little need for maintenance. Getting up, going to the toilet, having a shower, cleaning your teeth, in that order, constitutes a system. After a while you haven’t got to think about it, that’s just the way you do it. It works!
In exactly the same way, once you have your way of hitting your deadlines in place, you won’t have to think about it. It becomes automatic. Having your systems in place leaves space for the creativity often required for the work and time for having more fun.
Step Five: Leave a Buffer
Leave yourself a little longer than you think you will need, especially the first time you set up this system.
At this point you are training yourself. Aim to get more done in less time. Set yourself chunks of time throughout the assignment and work conscientiously. Set the alarm on your phone and work consistently until the time you’ve allocated yourself is up. Then take your break.
Imagine you are the Managing Director of your company.
You are setting a good example to your other employees. Remind yourself periodically of Step 1 – you are not a child! Get on with it!
Part of developing this self-discipline is to get hold of your brain and gain mastery of it. The nature of the mind is unruly. It wants to be constantly on the move darting into the future – “what shall I get for dinner?”, “I wonder what John’s doing” – or flipping back into the past – “I can’t believe he said that”, “I wish I was still sitting in the Alps looking at the blue sky”.
Don’t go there; it’s lazy unstructured thinking and not the thinking we need for hitting those deadlines! Get in the now. Be present. Think only about the job in hand. Focus on what it is you want to achieve with this project/deadline.
This is a massive step to maturity, placing your attention on what you want. When you realise that you can concentrate your self–confidence takes another flying leap.
And do you know what? Look forward to it! Hopefully you are working your dharma: living the life you have chosen or at the very least working in a field that you want to be in. If not, you need to put some time aside and work out what you do want to do. Life’s too short to spend most of it in an occupation that you don’t like or enjoy. When you are working more from your heart and you have a passion for what you’re doing, it really should be as effortless being.