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Low Mood? Here Is What To Do About It

We all have those days, weeks and even months where we are enveloped by a dark cloud and low mood kicks in. Life seems to have taken a turn for the worse and all we can see is negativity after negativity. Everyone experiences this at some stage in their life, whether it be on a regular basis or now and again. Everyone experiences ‘the blues’ in diverse ways and everyone will have their own set of habits they revert to when the low mood strikes. One common habit is over-thinking and berating oneself. Suddenly we grind to a halt and exhaust ourselves with mulling over again and again why we are such failures and how everything that has gone wrong for us and the world for that matter, and it is all our fault. Ok, so this sounds rather dramatic, but our minds love a bit of negative drama if we allow it to get hold of it. Why do you think that a sizable percentage of the nation is addicted to soaps!

When we are in the thick of the blues, we are most in need of some comfort and who better to get this comfort from than the person who knows us best: ourselves. Giving ourselves comfort in a low mood can be near on impossible because of our negative mindset (fixed mindset). So, we need to call on ourselves when we are in a positive frame of mind (growth mindset) to offer the comfort that we need during a stage of low mood. The Rainy Day Letter (Dolan, 1998) is a great way to do this.

The Rainy Day Letter:

Write a letter to yourself when you are in a good frame of mind that includes the following:

  • A reminder of your strengths, abilities, talents and interests
  • A reminder of the things that give you meaning
  • A reminder of things that make you happy
  • A reminder of your hopes and dreams for the future, and why you can achieve them.
  • A list of activities that you enjoy or find comfort in
  • A list of supportive friends and family with their contact details
  • A special message of advice and comfort for yourself

Keep this letter in a place that you can easily access when the blues strike and you need some consolation. Or if you are already in a state of low mood then write this letter using the pointers above as guidance. It may seem tough, but answering just one or two of the points above will help lighten your mood. A little self-comfort goes a long way!

I must point out at this stage that ‘the blues’ or low mood that I am referring to in this article is more transient than depression. If you are suffering from long-term depression, this exercise will still help, but please do seek advice from your medical professional or therapist. If you are reading this and unsure if you are dealing with long standing depression, then I do advise you to speak with your doctor.

If you would like further help on how to develop a positive and successful mindset, then please do contact me on the contact tab above. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Warmest wishes,

 

Verity

Ease the Stress; How to Make Stress your Friend

Stress, who would have it! It can cause many unwanted, and in some cases debilitating mental and physical symptoms, which can have huge negative impacts on our lives. So who would want stress and how can we be rid of it for ever? Well I am here to answer this question and the answer is everyone should want stress and you cannot and should not strive to get rid of it. You are probably thinking I am absolutely mad but please do read on so I can explain what I mean. Much research has shown that stress is bad for you and quite clearly confirms the negative effects it has on your health and well-being. However, Health Psychologist Kelly McGonial in her 2013 Ted Talk ‘Make Stress Your Friend’ explains it is our mindset on stress that dictates how we respond to. And our response dictates whether it has a positive or negative effect on us. And not only that, but stress can actually be healthy for us if we learn to handle it the right way. It is a fascinating talk and explains the biological processes that our body goes through in times of stress and why our mindset is so important.

Changing our mindset is not always easy, especially when we are in the thick of it, but the tips below should help you to make a start to a blossoming friendship with stress.

Finding abundance in your life and creating a gratitude attitude increases happiness, which in turn makes it easier to deal with life in a positive manor. When you start to feel like your world is going to stop spinning, ask yourself the following question; ‘What is going right for me in my life at the moment and why am I grateful for it?’ Write your answer down in a journal so you can remind yourself on a daily basis. Creating a gratitude attitude takes practice to begin with, but the effort is worth the positive effect it has on dealing with your stress. Try writing in a journal everyday three things that you feel grateful for. So get counting your blessings however great or small.

Finding perspective and having an eagle eye view of your life will help you see the wood for the trees, find solutions and respond to stressful situations with clarity. Take the problem away from your inner being by asking yourself the following question; ‘If a friend came to me with the very same problem, what advice would I give to them?’. This will help you to detach from any negative feelings, get perspective on your situation and become more solution orientated. When we create solutions, stress becomes a motivating factor, rather than a debilitating one.

Finding a happy balance between your commitments and fun time helps to keep negative stress from tipping you over the edge. Start by introducing balance points into your day. Positive Psychologists have found that small and frequent times of happiness during your day leads to an overall stronger and consistent feeling of fulfilment. A sure fire strategy to responding well to stress and buffering any negative effects. A balance point is time spent actively engaging in an activity that gives you a sense of harmony or happiness. It may be a cup of coffee, a 10 minute meditation, a daily conversation with a friend, eating good food or reading a book. Anything that you can do easily and gives you pleasure. You may like to read further tips to creating a work / life balance.

Finding habits that support you and making the time to practise them so they become unconscious positive habits. These habits help build resilience and tackle stressful situations with determination over fear. A good way to start doing this is to write down 10 healthy daily habits that you are willing to commit to right now. These may range from cooking a healthy meal everyday, doing some stretching whilst brushing your teeth, cleansing your face every night, writing a gratitude journal before bed or setting balance points at certain times of the day. When you have committed to 10 then diarise when you will carry each habit out throughout the next day. Do this daily for at least a month (yes it takes that long to create a new habit) and before too long you will realise you are carrying out all these highly supportive habits without a second thought, freeing up more headspace and building resilience. So ban negative stress through creating positive habits!

Finding meaning in your life is wonderful way to reach out the hand of friendship to stress. It is well known in the Positive Psychology field that doing activities that promote meaning in our lives leads to greater fulfilment and in turn increases longer lasting feeling of happiness. All of which will help us keep that positive mindset on stress. If a lack of time is an issue for you right now add a small meaningful activity into your 10 daily positive habits, it doesn’t need to be volunteering in far off war torn country necessarily for it to have a powerful effect.

For more information on coaching for stress management then please do get in touch. I would be more than happy to talk this through with you.

Productive Strategies for a Work/Life Balance

Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony

Do you sometimes feel like the work / life scales are a little lopsided and however much you tell yourself that you will get them to balance up one day, the scales just keep getting heavier on the work side. Don’t get me wrong, work can be very rewarding in life, but can become a lot weightier on your time without a personal strategy to keep it in check. One thing is for sure, just telling yourself those scales will balance out one day will not work, you must take a pragmatic and committed approach to a work life balance. Below is a step by step approach to developing a strategy that creates the balance that is right for you:

  1. Work out what balance means for you. Getting some clarity on what balance means to you as an individual will help you know what you are aiming for. I have found working with my clients that this means very different things to different people. Ask yourself what a balanced life would look like and put it in writing to remind yourself of what it is you want.
  2. Establish and diarise balance points during your day. A balance point is time spent actively engaging in an activity that gives you a sense of harmony. This maybe a 10 minute walk outside, daily conversation with a friend, daily journaling, affirmations or regular exercise regime. Regular balance points throughout your day will help you clear your mind, energise your soul and help bring some order to an overwhelmed mind.
  3. Control technology rather than letting it control you. You know the time when you suddenly come round from a Facebook coma and you realise that quick glance of your feed turned into a solid hour of looking at photo’s of people’s lives that you barely know anymore. Or the times when you have a quick glance at your work email before bed and come across something that you feel you have to deal with right there and then, which results in you going to bed in the wee small hours of the morning. Well these times are complete work / life balance destroyers. Make sure you use technology constructively to reach your goals and enhance your life. Limit your use of social media to a certain amount of time per day and schedule in time to your diary where you check your emails. Put all technology away 30 minutes before bed or turn phones onto plane mode if you use it as an alarm clock. Planning strategic activities with technology and blocking time out to carry out these activities will guard against your time being consumed with the urgent but unimportant.
  4. Deal with your stress. Symptoms of stress can include ill health, lack of energy, feeling of anxiety, being overwhelmed, indecisiveness, procrastination and how lot of other time rendering modes of being. Stress takes up much of your valuable time, energy and thinking space which in turn makes it even harder to create a work / life balance. So take the time to find out what the root cause of your stress is. This might be something you can do on your own via self-development books or YouTube channels. If you find yourself getting stuck or hitting a road block, you may want to think about working with a coach to help you unearth any negative beliefs or habits, and create new supportive ones. You might like to read Ease The Stress for tips on how to reduce stress.
  5. Set strong boundaries and learn the art of saying ‘no’. Set strong boundaries at work and at home. Let yourself and others know what these boundaries are, so if you are leaving work at 5pm to see your children into bed, then let your boss and colleagues know this is what you are doing. Don’t take on too much because someone has asked if you would do it, so look after the cake stall at the village fete, but don’t say yes to baking all the cakes for it too! Learn the art of saying ‘no’ politely but firmly. This will help you to manage your time more effectively, allow you the time to do the things outside of work that you want and keep you from having to bake 100’s of fairy cakes on a Friday night when you had planned to go out with your girlfriends.

 

For more information on coaching to create a work / life balance then please get in touch. I would be more than happy to talk this through with you.

Solutions for Easy Decluttering

 

So, decluttering is the aim of the game and though you are excited about the benefits of decluttering your home, you feel a slow sink of despair as you open the door to the cupboard where you dump everything, and your whole life falls out at your feet in a jumbled mess. Everyone has this cupboard and some dedicated whole rooms to this space consuming habit. So you gather everything up, push it all back into that cupboard, shut the door and think to yourself ‘nice idea but maybe next year!’ The following tips are here to help you combat the procrastination, put yourself on a journey of effective and easy decluttering and enjoy your new organised life.

Can’t get started? – Then connect to your why. How will decluttering your space and organising your belongings benefit you and others around you? Close your eyes and visualise who you will be, how your life will look and the positive impact this will have for you and everyone else. Then imagine the reaction of people in need who have received your unwanted items and how this will help them in their lives. When you have visualised this, write down why you want to declutter and all the benefits that it will bring. This is your WHY. Connect with it whenever you feel stuck at the decluttering start line.

A little overwhelmed? – Then get organised. Break your decluttering project into small chunks of decluttering task such as concentrating on a particular area of your home or even as small as a certain draw in a closet. Break it down into as smaller task as you need, in order to make it feel more manageable for you. Then diarise when you can commit to doing each chunk of decluttering and this help you to find the time to do it. Breaking a task down into bitesize chunks and committing time to do them in advance is a great way to combat that overwhelming feeling that can often lead to eternal procrastination and clutter building up in your space.

Loss of focus and motivation? – Then make it fun. Why not ask a friend round for ‘dinner and decluttering’ or go on a decluttering journey with a friend and help each other out. Remind each other of your ‘WHY’.  Make sure to reward yourself for every completed decluttering task done with something you will really look forward to. We often forget to celebrate our successes, which in turn leads to lower satisfaction, and motivation for a project will dwindle. So make sure to reward yourself and have fun on the decluttering success road.

Getting side tracked by sentimental items? – Then follow the right order. It is so easy to lose focus on the job at hand when you come across old photos and before you know it hours have passed as you relive old memories. This is a very common slip-up. So follow this order: clothes, shoes, kitchen equipment, books, CD’s and DVD’S, papers and finally sentimental items such as photos. This way you can practice the skill of staying focused on less evocative belongings such as clothes.

Finding it difficult to decide what to give up? – then make up the rules. Make a set of simple rules that you can apply when deciding what needs to go and what can stay. A great rule to use is; if it hasn’t been used for two months, it is clutter and can go.’ Use a time frame that you feel most comfortable with and apply only to items that can be used all year around. Don’t be throwing your favourite winter jacket in the charity bag because you haven’t used it all summer. By using simple rules, you can declutter more efficiently because you are not constantly having to rethink every aspect of a decision each time you make it.

Can’t let go of things? – then get a professional in. Not being able to let go of belongings is very common and the reasons behind not wanting to give things up can be deep rooted. It usually evolves from fears such as not being remembered when we have gone, or fear of not having the means to acquire the things that we might need at a later date or fear of an uncertain future. Our past often feels very certain to us as it has already happened. We therefore often seek to surround ourselves with things that remind us of our certain past to find security in the now. If this is a problem for you it would be advisable to find a professional to help you overcome this block and declutter yourself to a more positive and organised future.

Left with bags of unwanted items after a decluttering spree? – then complete the task. The decluttering task is not complete until you drop off your unwanted items to their next destination. It is very easy to feel really good about sorting through your belongings and to be left with bags of unwanted items that you fling in the spare room thinking I will take them to a charity another day. Three months later they are still there cluttering up your room and you feel bad about it. Think about who would benefit from your unwanted items such as friends, charity or recycling centres, and organise to drop them off straight after each decluttering spree so that they are no longer cluttering your spare room.