Mind

How To Deal With Work Stress

Who isn’t stressed at work these days? Whether it’s the people you work with, your work load, long hours or wanting a better job in an unstable job market, it’s no wonder that most of us dread Mondays the way we do.

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So, how can we effectively deal with work stress? Follow these proven stress management techniques.

First, identify what stresses you out at work. Is it your two-faced co-worker? A lazy boss? The unbearable noise coming from the construction area beside your office? Knowing what makes you so stressed at work allows you to address and start working towards fixing the problem.

Second, recognise manifestations of excessive stress levels at work. It is normal to experience some stress from work since the pressures of responsibility are always weighing on you. However, getting burned out quickly, drinking after work, arguing with your partner and having sleepless nights are a good sign you’ve exceeded that normal stress threshold. Remember, you work to live, not live to work.

Third, take care of yourself. Restoring a positive work-life balance is key.If work is causing you to be unhappy, balance it by making the most of your non-work hours. Treat yourself to a massage after a stressful work week or.  Eat a heart diet and exercise regularly. Both methods boost your mood and outlook in life plus they ward off diseases.

Fourth, manage your time and workload responsibly. Plan in advance and prioritise your to-do list. Make a time to check and answer your email instead of constantly flicking between your inbox and other tasks. Complete projects and tick them off instead of having multiple projects on the go at the same time.

Fifth, bring a positive, healthy energy into the workspace. Don’t complain about other employees, or your boss – you never know when it could back to bite you. Turn that negative energy into positive, trying breathing techniques and smile when you feel yourself getting angry. Take a walk at lunch instead of eating at the computer. Swap your double latte for herbal tea, your mid-afternoon sugar hit with yoghurt and a handful of nuts.

September 14, 2015

Workplace Bullying: How To Stand-Up To Your Boss

Recently, my housemate filed an official complaint against one of her managers for bullying in the workplace. After making a simple mistake on a financial document, her 50-something year old boss took it upon himself to condemn and humiliate her for doing so in front of an office full of fellow employees.

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Interestingly and rightly so, she didn’t take it on the chin. However, not all of us have the courage to stand-up to authority, particularly in the workplace. HR consultant and people management specialist Karen Gately says that it’s important to know that if your boss repeatedly behaves in a way that causes you to feel humiliated, intimidated, threatened or belittled, then you are being bullied.

If you are dealing with this kind of situation, Karen insists that you have two choices; stand up for yourself, or leave. If you do choose to confront the situation but aren’t sure how to go about it, here are her top tips on how to take action.

Be prepared

Don’t go in guns blazing. Take the time to think about what you need to say and how you will go about it, says Gately. “Ask for the advice and support you need from other leaders, HR people on the team, your colleagues, or people outside of your organisation,” she adds. What’s more, be prepared for how your boss may respond. Preparation is key here, ladies.

Hold the bully accountable

There is no justification for workplace bullying, so act with conviction, says Karen. Just because an employer is in a position of power doesn’t mean that they’re permitted to undermine or disrespect you. The HR expert recommends: “Take a firm stance and speak with confidence when you ask your boss to take responsibly for the unnecessary and damaging impact their behaviour has on other people.”

Raise awareness

An important factor to take into consideration is that the person may not be aware of the impact that their actions are having. Karen insists that you help your boss to understand why their behaviour matters and discuss alternative approaches that they could take.

Be constructive

Being bullied does not give you the right to reciprocate. In fact, this is neither appropriate nor effective. Instead, maintain your behaviour as a standard that you can be proud of, says Karen. “Your aim should be to influence your boss’s thoughts, feelings and ultimately actions by delivering honest feedback with respect and sensitivity.  A support person in the meeting may help keep things on track.”

Be honest

Talk openly and honestly about why you’ve raised the issue. Maybe it’s upsetting you; maybe it’s causing you anxiety and/or impacting your health and wellbeing. Whatever the reason, it’s important to explain why you or other people have felt bullied and arrive at an outcome that you want to see, recommends Karen.

Avoid personal attacks

As with anything, it’s all in the delivery. Therefore, “avoid criticising your bosses character; rather focus on the impacts of their behaviour,” insists Karen. “Remain objective and communicate your desire for a positive work environment that will enable the whole team to thrive.”

Images via Screencrush.com

August 26, 2015

7 Quick Ways To Simplify Your Life

Most of us have too much going on in our lives. Demands on our time come from all directions and we keep on adding new things to do, while trying to hold on to everything else that’s already there. Sooner or later it becomes impossible. Are you wondering how you could simplify your life to make space for more of what you want? Here are some quick ways to get started.

RELATED: How To Create More Time In Your Day

1. Say no more often

Is “yes” your automatic answer to everything? Become more selective and consider each request that comes your way before you answer. Do you really want to do it? If yes, go for it. Otherwise, say “no”.

2. Ask for help

You won’t get a medal for doing everything on your own and who wants a medal anyway? It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help and you won’t bother people (if you do, it’s up to them to say “no”). Even if you outsource one little thing a day, it’ll add up and you’ll feel the difference.

3. Declutter your home and your work space

Start with the areas where you spend most of your time – your desk, the living room, the kitchen. Once your space looks more organised, you will feel more organised and won’t be spending time looking for things.

4. Limit your media use

There’s no need to miss out on your favourite TV show, but if you find yourself mindlessly staring at a screen only because it’s there, turn it off. All of a sudden you have ample free time to meditate, go for a walk or get creative.

5. Buy less

Shopping therapy is a popular way to combat stress, but is it the most effective one? Very unlikely. When you buy less you spend less money, less time and have less stuff to make space for.

6. Be selective who you spend time with

Choose to hang out with people you love and avoid those who complain and drain your energy. Don’t agree to catch up just because you always do or because you feel obligated. You can choose who you give your time to and still have friends.

7. Slow down

It might be counterintuitive, but when you get enough sleep, make time for yourself and meditate, you will notice that everything else in your life happens with less effort.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things you could do to simplify your life, don’t be. Pick just one thing and do it today.

Image via Pixabay

July 12, 2015

Could Meditation Be Bad For You?

While meditation Experts state that even a couple of minutes of meditation a day can do wonders for our brain functioning, sleep patterns and stress levels, recent reports have challenged this and highlighted the potential dangers of meditation. Some experts suggest that meditation can actually take us too far into the recesses of our minds and do more harm than good in the process. However, one of Australia’s leading meditation experts and clinical psychologist, Dr Paula Watkins, argues that these occurrences are rare and that for most people, regular meditation is a safe practice that everyone can benefit from, when practiced correctly.

“Meditation helps to give us access to parts of the mind we may not have regular contact with.  The theory is that in doing so, some people may become overwhelmed with feelings of depression and anxiety as a result,” says Paula.  “Research shows that even the smallest amounts of regular meditation can result in significant benefits to a person’s wellbeing, but it is still crucial to recognise that no one form of meditation works equally well for everyone.”

“Individual circumstances and personality must be considered to determine whether a certain style will be positive for that individual,” she says. “It’s also vital that we have realistic expectations about what meditation can bring to our lives.  It isn’t an instant panacea for everything that’s going wrong, but rather a way that we can better explore our minds, our feelings and our true selves.”

Scientifically proven and backed by years of research, Paula has shared the five things people should be aware of when meditating, in order to develop a safe practice that can be enjoyed for years to come:

Meditation doesn’t cure all

“Traditionally, meditation was used for spiritual development and considered a tool for deepening your perception of yourself and the world. Now, it is often called upon as a remedy for all our first world woes,” says Paula. She suggests that the key is to always be aware that the practice is not a cure to all our problems. “We need to be realistic. Meditation will not somehow eradicate negative thinking or problems from our lives. But research shows that it can help us change the relationship we have with our own thoughts and with the experiences of our daily life so that we are less reactive and resistant to them. We no longer enter into such a battle with reality” says Dr Paula.

Beware of intensive retreats

“When meditating, you are tuned into your physical, mental and emotional senses, and so you may start to release all sorts of pent up issues,” says Dr Paula. “People who visit intensive meditation retreats after years of blocked and suppressed emotions can sometimes experience a rude awakening. It’s crucial to know that meditation on these intensives is not all bliss. It can be kind of like a psychological boot camp. Proper guidance is crucial here. It’s also important that you research the technique and the teacher first to explore whether that particular retreat is likely to be a good fit for you”.

Meditation is not a substitute for therapy

“Many people look to meditation as a quick and easy fix for all their problems and get confused as to how to use it correctly” says Dr Paula. “While meditation may help with certain issues, I recommend not solely relying on this if you are mentally vulnerable and in need of emotional support.” It is always important to seek help or see a therapist to address any underlying problems, and Dr Paula urges meditation teachers to be upfront and honest about this when working with their clients.

It’s not a one size fits all approach

While people often ask Dr Paula which meditation technique she thinks is best, she stresses that there is no straight up answer for this – “I recommend trying a few styles and then practicing what feels right for you,” she advises. If you have a specific purpose for meditating, then it will be much easier to make the right choice. “For example, if you’re looking to relax then choose a style that deeply soothes you. If you want to deal with negative thoughts especially – mindfulness approaches are the best practice to take.”

Meditation is not for everyone

“We’ve become increasingly aware from years of research that for some people, mindfulness can trigger anxiety, depression or flashbacks to past traumas,” Dr Paula states. As a clinical psychologist herself, she advises that although meditation can be beneficial to happiness and wellbeing, it should be performed under guidance if you are working through any emotional or mental issues.

Dr Paula has recently launched a nine week online course which offers weekly training modules that include easy-to-follow videos introducing you to the technique for the week. There is guided audio to help you practice, e-books that share the psychology and neuroscience behind the techniques and workbooks, journals and calendars to help you track your progress and stay committed to your meditation practice.

Dr Paula will also be hosting a live workshop of the course at the InYoga Studios in Surry Hills from the 9th – 30th August. For more details please visit www.inyoga.com.au/whats-on/event/calm-conscious-connected-1 Membership to Dr Paula’s Calm, Conscious and Connected course costs $199 as a one-off payment, or $55 over four instalments.  This fee provides six month access to the course, as well as the exclusive members-only forum where people can interact with Paula as well as other participants. For more information or to sign up, visit: www.calmconsciousconnected.com

June 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Instant Confidence Boosters

There are many ways to exude confidence in your everyday life – and here are just a few of them.

Love yourself

Close your eyes and think of a person you love and trust and who you know loves you. It could be your best friend, your sister or your lover. Think about all the things you adore and appreciate about this person, and notice how wonderful that love makes you feel.

Now turn it around the other way. Imagine you are your friend, sister or lover feeling that same fee love for you. Believe in this love and really feel it. Try to see yourself the way this other person sees you. Even if you can only do it for a moment you will experience a warm flow of confidence.

Be good to others

React to others are you would like them to react to you. If you wait for others to behave in a particular way before you do so yourself you may well be waiting forever. For example, if you want someone to be affectionate toward you, make a point of being as affectionate as you can to them. You don’t have to have a reason and don’t expect any payback. Similarly, react to co-works in the way you would like them to react to you. If they are rude or unfriendly don’t automatically take your cue from them. It’s up to you to set the tone yourself.

Compromise, compromise

Saying ‘no’ to someone who wants you to do something can be very powerful, but it does not have to be unhelpful. You can always suggest a friend or co-worker who might be able to help out, or ask if they have considered such and such as an alternative.

You could also put forward a compromise such as ‘I could do it for you next week when I am not likely to be so busy’.

TIP: Snack Sensibly. Snack on dried fruit and nuts rather than chocolate or junk food for a long-lasting confidence boost. You may crave sweet things, but all you will get is a quick sugar fix that won’t last long.

What is your favourite tip for instant confidence?

June 25, 2015

5 Ways To Manage Anxiety

Many people experience periods of anxiety when they are under stress, or going through major changes, such as moving home or jobs. For the majority of us, anxiety plays out by worrying about what may or may not happen, feeling tense, irritable and reactive. It can cause you to feel tired and have difficulty relaxing and/or sleeping as you struggle to deal with challenging life experiences.

Many people find that these symptoms of anxiety are transient and disappear after a few days or weeks as worries subside, and life gets back to relative normality. The old adage applies here: ‘A problem solved is a problem halved’.

However, for others these symptoms of anxiety do not disappear after the stressful event has passed. They may continue to feel anxious and worried, sometimes without any specific event triggering the feelings.

If these worries, fears about the future, and physical symptoms, such as fast heart rate and sweating, become severe enough to interfere with your ability to cope with daily life, you may be suffering from anxiety. For whatever level of anxiety you may suffer, it is possible to manage the symptoms. Here are some techniques that can help:

Understand the nature of anxiety

We all experience anxiety; it is a natural human state and a vital part of our lives. Anxiety helps us to identify and respond to danger in either ‘fight or flight’ mode. It can also motivate us to deal with difficult challenges.

However, there is another side to anxiety, a side which, if not addressed, can cause significant emotional distress and unmanageability. An anxiety disorder can lead to a number of health risks and it’s important to understand its nature in terms of severity, triggers and behaviour. Anxiety can be exhibited through a variety of behaviours including panic attacks, phobias and obsessional behaviours. Anxiety at this level can have a truly debilitating impact.

Gain awareness of underlying factors of anxiety

Some life experiences that are stressful or traumatic, such as family break-ups, ongoing bullying or conflict at home, school or work, abuse, or traumatic events, such as car accidents, can make people more susceptible to anxiety. These extra stress factors may be more than a person’s normal coping mechanisms can deal with comfortably, and may leave them vulnerable to experiencing anxiety.

Anxiety disorders, such as panic, phobias and obsessive behaviours, may be triggered by a range of specific external or internal stimuli. These could include traumatic memories, specific objects, particular situations, physical locations, or a persistent general worry that something bad will happen in the future.

If the anxiety is triggering to the point of a panic attack, part of the process of understanding our anxiety involves being curious about our developmental history, and also learning to regulate our physical state.

Set healthy limits for communicating and developing relationships

The lives of those with the most severe forms of anxiety can become completely dominated by their condition, and often their anxiety can impair their ability to sustain healthy personal relationships. People with anxiety may start withdrawing, they may stop attending social functions, they may become snappy, irritable and irrational, or they may worry unnecessarily that something negative is going to happen.

The first step is to start to identify our ‘reality’, in particular some of our thoughts and feelings. This can be very difficult when anxiety has been present for a while as we generally feel overwhelmed by our emotions. Identifying them can be hard. However, being able to share in our relationship that we are dealing with anxiety and having an ally you trust can be very helpful.

Learn relaxation techniques to calm your stressed nervous system

Anxiety and depression are among the most common conditions cited by those seeking treatment with complementary and alternative therapies, such as exercise, meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga. Several studies have demonstrated therapeutic effectiveness superior to no-activity controls and comparable with established depression and anxiety treatments.

Use distress tolerance and mindfulness skills

Mindfulness focuses on changing the relationship between the anxious person and their thoughts, rather than changing the thoughts themselves. We become a witness to our process, we become aware.

Meditation can help people break out of the ‘automatic pilot mode’ that leads to negative ways of thinking and responding. Carl Jung stated that unless we make “the unconscious, conscious, it will direct our life, and we call it fate.” With the help of therapy, we can interrupt this unconsciousness, truly becoming aware of the way our environment triggers our physiology, and thoughts and the emotional states it then triggers.

Anxiety can be debilitating condition and can impact many facets of your life. Whether it’s brought on by stressful situations or you have a genetic predisposition to anxiety, the effects of anxiety can be managed. The first step of acknowledging there may be a problem is often the darkness before the dawn.

By Steve Stokes, Program Manager at South Pacific Private, Australia’s leading mental health and addiction treatment facility offering inpatient and day programs to treat anxiety disorders, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, behavioural addictions, alcohol addiction and substance abuse. 

June 25, 2015

The Essential Life Skill Of Successful People

Stress is primarily what takes over when you don’t have effective time management skills. It’s highly valued and millions of people find this skill is thoroughly tested toward the end of the year. For example, at work everyone wants everything yesterday, social engagements are ample, interactions with others increase substantially and if you’re lucky enough to have an upcoming holiday planned, add that variable as well!

If you have kids, triple that load. They have their own social calendar and end-of-year events, plus the long summer holidays are at your doorstep. Without effective time management skills, you are at risk of making yourself physically and emotionally sick, plus you won’t have the capability or capacity to accomplish anything.

Luckily, that doesn’t have to happen and it all boils down to perfecting this essential life skill. You can use it all year round and the beauty is, the more successful, busy and responsible your life becomes the better it works!

So, what’s the secret? How do successful people manage to consistently meet deadlines, have high-pressure jobs and breeze through periods which would have most peoples brains in a tangle and stomachs in a knot! Lists. Lame right… But very effective!

As lame as you may think the proposal of lists are, just think what life would be like for CEOs, executives and professionals without organising appointments, having a vision and being able to break things down to achieve their objective. They brainstorm detailed ways in which to work toward some of the incredible things they envisage and are able to keep stress at bay whilst achieving it.

Why then should avoiding stress and getting the most out of each day look any different for you? Here’s a tip,  it doesn’t! You might have career aspirations, run a home and family, have a job and a thriving social life and be in the midst of organizing events for the family. With this effective tried and tested skill, you can do it all without overwhelming, self-destructing stress rearing its ugly head!

Now, successful people have more than one list. They generally have a life plan of things they hope to achieve. Can you imagine Richard Branson’s list! Take over the financial sector, initiate a global warming solution – there’s nothing some people can’t achieve. This is the primary list. It includes aspirations, goals and always  includes a deadline. It might have 100 things on it or 1000. You can add and remove items at will and make adjustments.

When you visually see what you want done, it can be overwhelming. Imagine if you had all that stuff on your mind each day, without a plan of attack. In effect, that’s what millions of people have going on at the finalé of each year. Talk about a road rage recipe and mental breakdown!
This is where list two, three, four or more, come into play. Breaking the primary list down into small achievable parts, based on priority is the key to achieving anything. Successful businesses have a plan and develop several others which provide guidelines for achieving it.

Breaking  items down into yearly, monthly or daily tasks enables several things:

  1. Work out priorities of a goal
  2. How much of the load to take on yourself
  3. How much of the load to allocate to others
  4. Avoid overload
  5. Avoid stress and stress related illness.

The ultimate goal is to achieve and remain healthy. Highly ambitious people can often burnout, take on too much and succumb to stress-related illness.

The ultimate thing to remember about time management lists is this:

They are reminders of your primary focus and based on priority.

That folks is the essence of success!

Image via Virgin.com

June 22, 2015

Why You Need A F*#k It List And Not A Bucket List

It’s likely that you’re already familiar with the bucket list, but have you ever considered creating a f*#k it list? While the nether is great for listing all the goals and dreams that you hope to one day fulfil, it doesn’t take into consideration the now – which, according to numerous spiritual gurus, is where all of our power lies. So, dear reader, what exactly is a f*#k it list and why should you be ditching your trusty bucket list in favour of one?

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The FU list is ultimately about letting go of anything that might hold you back from reaching your full potential and achieving your goals. This could be anything from caring too much about how others perceive you, to not saying how you really feel. In essence, it’s about taking back control of your life in order to get to where you want to go; saying “f*#k it” to the things that really don’t serve you a purpose.

Let me ask you this: how many times have you withheld an idea or a comment in fear of being wrong? How many times have you not acted on something – like giving that cute stranger your number – because you were afraid of looking foolish? And how many times have you looked back on that moment only to be filled with some type of regret? The point is that if you act out of fear, doors are less likely to open up for you and you’re less likely to be open to life. As the saying goes: it’s better to say ‘oh well’ than ‘what if.’

So, on that note, ladies, here’s the top 5 f*#k it’s to include on your list!

  1. F*#k it, I can’t be liked by everyone.

It’s a fact: you can’t be liked by everyone. And if you were, it would be a damn exhausting job people pleasing 24/7 – because let’s face it, that’s exactly what you would have to do. According to an article by the Huffington Post, if “about 85 percent of the people you meet like you, you are probably doing something right,” and on the contrary, “if much more than 85 percent of the people you meet like you, you are probably doing too much to get along.”

This isn’t to say that you’re not a likeable person, it just means that not everyone has the same likes or holds the same values as you do. If you find that you rub people the wrong way or vice versa, let it go. Instead, cherish the wonderful friendships that you do have.

  1. F*#k it, I’m going to say what I feel.

This is something that a lot of people struggle with, and surprisingly, it can do a lot more harm than good. In an article by The Guardian, a palliative nurse who had counselled the dying revealed the most common regrets that they had in their final days. Interestingly, not saying how they truly felt was among the top five.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others,” the article read. “As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

  1. F*#k it, it’s okay to fail.

Getting knocked back or failing at something is a part of life. But just because you fail once doesn’t mean that you’re destined to fail for the rest of your years. Some of the most successful people in the world, including Walt Disney and J.K. Rowling, were told no several times – and low and behold, they found their way to a big fat yes.

Let us all take some advice from Thomas A. Edison the next time things don’t go according to plan: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

  1. F*#k it, I’ll worry about it if and when it happens.

Did you know that 85 per cent of the things that we worry about never happen? Let me repeat that number: 85 per cent! Yep, research conducted by the University of Cincinnati proves it. What’s more, the study found that 79 per cent of us actually surprise ourselves in our ability to handle the 15 per cent that does happen.

This is incredible considering we spend a good part of our lives worrying about all of the things that could go wrong. Can you imagine what could happen if we were to put that energy into thinking about all of the things that could go right? Oh the possibilities!

  1. F*#k it, it’s okay not to have all of the answers.

Life is full of uncertainty. You’re guaranteed to keep your job no more than you’re guaranteed to live for the next fifty years. So, why is it that we feel control over circumstance equates to stability and happiness? Because quite often, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, it leads to frustration and disappointment.

It’s okay to make the wrong decision, adjust it or learn from – you weren’t to know the outcome. Besides, sometimes it’s the wrong decisions in life that ultimately lead to the right ones. As Tony Robbins once said: “The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.”

What would you put on your list?

June 17, 2015

How To Say NO Without Being A Bitch

Are you a people pleaser – you know, the type of person who finds it difficult to say no? And when you do, does it comes out like a roar because you’re so overloaded? Well, you aren’t alone. Interestingly, there’s an epidemic of us out there and I used to be one of them. Even though I continued to overload myself, saying no just never felt like an option.

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Learning when to saying NO

Learning when to say no is a very powerful tool in stress and time management. Loads of women find this exceptionally difficult, while men (obviously not all men) seem to find it much easier. This potentially has something to do with the way females are raised, therefore many of us have had this trait from a young age.

A key thing to remember is that you could spend your entire life saying yes to others and it won’t necessarily make their lives any better, nor will it make yours all rosy, either. In many cases saying yes constantly can, and does, make life worse. We just don’t see it like that at the time.

Why we need to say no

The next thing to establish is why you need to say no. Ultimately, you need to look after your needs and health first. This is so important as someone who is burnt out is really no good to anyone – not at work, not at home, nowhere. Therefore, if someone asks you a to do something, you really need to remind yourself that you have a choice. It’s been your choice in the past to say yes and it’s your choice in the future to say no.

It sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Well it is, and it’s as easy as reminding yourself that only you can make that decision. No one can do it for you. You might get a bit of opposition at first but be prepared to work through it to reach the other side.

How to say no assertively

One of my biggest problems when saying no was my tone. It was aggressive. Sometimes very aggressive. This was usually when I felt under pressure, but continued to want to please everyone. Instead of looking after my needs first, I’d look after everyone elses and once I’d reach breaking point, all hell would break loose. My inability to say no assertively was getting me into some seriously trying situations.

Being assertive is very different to being aggressive. It’s in the tone and language we use. A great skill to have is looking at the reaction of the recipient of our messages. For example, when someone is spoken to with aggression they often physically take a step back.

Additionally, people spoken to with aggression will get a hurt or angry look on their face. This is when their protective wall goes up; if you look closely, you’ll usually be able to see it happening. You see, assertion, on the other hand, evokes a different reaction.

If you aren’t sure if you are being assertive or aggressive, use a successful boss or supervisor as a role model. They need to delegate and say no often, so when they speak they often do so with pleasantness, conviction and earnestly. Something like: “No, you won’t be able to take next Monday off, but I’ll check the roster and see what we can work out.” Although you don’t get the exact answer you’re hoping for, there is a degree of positivity in the way that they speak.

An aggressive boss or supervisor in the same situation would bark something like: “No, I need you. You can’t do that.”  There’s nothing positive offered in response and it can instantly make you feel bad. You often see parents in supermarkets doing this to their kids, and if spoken to the same way, they’d probably feel like screaming too.

Mastering assertion

Being able to say no in a positive way is something which needs to be mastered. It won’t happen instantly and you’ll need to practice. Keep in mind that it’s bound to feel uncomfortable at first as others will be expecting you to say yes as you’ve always done in the past. Remember above all else, saying yes or no is a choice. Therefore, avoid taking on any guilt in doing so – this is how many of us have become people pleasers in the first place.

Image via heatherwaxman.com

June 4, 2015

Using Sex As A Simple Stress Relief Technique

While sex can be the last thing on your mind when you’re highly stressed, it may be exactly what your body needs. Stress builds up tension and a great way to get rid of it is having a quickie – or two. Preferably a quickie with a happy ending!

RELATED Ooo Yes! How Women Can Orgasm Every Time

Why a quickie instead of a long seductive session, you ask? Well for one, stress lowers the libido, so you probably won’t feel like going at it for too long. Secondly, all you really need to do is reach orgasm and share some body contact – this encourages the body to release positive endorphins which will help you to cope better with stress in the long-term. Finally, having a quickie when you’re stressed will actually help to improve your libido, leading to longer love making sessions and generally a better sex life.

There’s been a fair few studies on stress and sex and interestingly partnered sex is far more effective than solo masturbation. It might be the physical connection we experience with another person, or sharing mutual satisfaction with your partner during times of turmoil. It might even have something to do with the fact that both partners get some stress relief. This can make your environment less stressful as well as make your body feel better.

There’s also evidence that regular sex makes us more resilient to stress when it arises by basically acting liking a buffer when things start to go off track. You see, instead of blood pressure rising significantly in stressful situations, people who have sex more often are said to have a lowered heart rate in similar situations.

Apparently it doesn’t only effect blood pressure, but can also have a positive impact on cortisol levels. This makes sense because cortisol is also known as the stress hormone and is secreted when adrenaline arises. It’s function helps to control blood pressure and our immune system among other things.

When stress arises cortisol release can have a positive effect on memory function, pain sensitivity and gives us that kick when our body needs to get into fight or flight mode. Long-term release can be really harmful, however. It can negatively affect cognition, thyroid function, blood sugar levels, our bones and muscles, give us high blood pressure and lower our immune systems. Therefore, when stress levels remain high over prolonged periods of time it has a derivative effect on our overall health – everything begins to suffer.

Using sex specifically as a stress reliever can reduce the impact this has on our bodies. It’s also a great way to keep your body working efficiently and your household functioning better. Plus, it’s far safer than tablets, pills and potions and way more enjoyable than a trip to the GP or therapist! Try it next time stress begins to impose on your life and feel the benefits it brings to you both in the short and long-term.

Image via Mens Health

May 22, 2015

How Colours Influence Our Mood

What is your favourite colour? It’s one of my most dreaded questions as I find it hard to answer. My favourite colour depends on the context: Is it interior design? Fashion? Cars? It varies, and one explanation for this might be the fact that colours influence our mood up to the point of manipulation.

RELATED: How To Add Colour To Your Wardrobe

Ever wondered why red is such a popular colour for kitchens and restaurants? The colour red is a stimulating colour, it can increase our heart rate and also our appetite. It is a bold colour that grabs our attention and is therefore one of the most popular colours in marketing. Just think of all the food brands that use red logos such as Coca Cola, KFC, Kellogs etc.

Colour Psychology is also very helpful when it comes to painting and decorating a room. Blue, for example, acts like the opposite to red. It has a calming effect, can bring down our heart rate and relax us. This is why blue is very popular in bedroom design as it can support a good night’s sleep.

We associate green with nature and health, which is why it can be found a lot in the health food aisle in supermarkets or on skincare products. It’s also a very balancing colour that’s said to make people feel at ease and create a harmonious atmosphere.

Yellow is the ‘happy colour’ and can lift our spirit and help with a positive attitude. We associate yellow with the sun and warmth, therefore it is well suited for small or dark rooms.

Orange is a colour that has a motivating and energy-boosting effect. The biggest proof of this is the fact that it is used so much in workout gear and active wear. Orange can also support creativity, which makes it a good colour choice for schools and offices.

Purple is considered a very rich, luxurious colour. It is associated with royalty and sophistication, especially the darker hues like eggplant.

With this bit of colour coding in mind you can make a more educated decision next time you want to decorate a room, choose between two products, or even manipulate your mood.

Image via empiricalzeal.com

May 17, 2015

Helping Young People With Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety is a massive problem. Living in a technological age, there are plenty of teens and young people who spend more time alone than with others. And while many are connecting online and have virtual friends, out in the physical world they often struggle and feel out of their element.

RELATED What It’s Actually Like To Live With Depression

This is when social anxiety can take hold, and for many teens and young adults this feeling becomes completely overwhelming. This is also when social isolation leads to major mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, which if untreated can sometimes result in thoughts and attempts of suicide.

Sadly, some of these young people do want an active social life in the physical world but are very self conscious. Therefore, hiding behind their screen where they fit in is much more within their comfortable zone.

I’ve known young people who’ve experienced this and who have felt trapped inside their online existence. Over time they withdrew more and more from their physical world, until their online persona became their entire lives. Eventually, they were no longer able to attend school, university or work because they feared the world outside of their homes or bedrooms.

When this occurs someone needs to step in and help. Supporting young people in this situation is the only way they will overcome the problem. If it’s not treated as soon as possible, the condition only worsens. To offer assistance, begin by taking them to a knowledgeable GP who understands mental health issues, or seek a referral to a psychologist, counselor or behaviour therapist.

Please be aware that not all GP’s or mental health specialists offer effective assistance, so finding a good one is essential. Having first contact with an uninterested health care professional is often why people don’t seek help, so please don’t let this deter you. There are good ones out there, so keep trying until you find one.

Ideally, they might offer Cognitive Behaviour Therapy combined with Exposure Therapy to tackle the problem. I’ve used this technique in the past and have been able to effectively assist young people with chronic social and generalised anxiety. With a little bit of hard work and plenty of support from loved ones, a young person can begin to change their life in a matter of weeks.

This illness is a growing problem and young people who are suffering with it, or look like they are at risk, need help before it takes over. It doesn’t go away on it’s own. Therefore, offering support is a great place to start and often taking an interest is the first step to healing.

If anyone would like to share details of a good GP or therapist who understands social anxiety, please share in the comments below.

Image via experienceproject.com

May 13, 2015

5 Tips For Starting A Daily Meditation Practice

Are you struggling to establish a daily meditation practice? You might feel that you don’t have time for it; it’s boring, it’s not for you, or you simply forget. Yet, the benefits of meditation are profound: It relaxes your nervous system, brings clarity, increases your vitality and connects you with your intuition. Who wouldn’t want that in their lives?

RELATED: How Yoga And Meditation Can Fix Us From The Inside Out

1. Start small

If the thought of spending 20 minutes meditating seems daunting, try 5 minutes. Everyone has 5 minutes a day that they can invest in themselves, whether it’s immediately after you wake up, in your lunch break or just before going to bed. As you get used to meditating regularly, you can gradually increase the time.

2. Choose what works for you

There’s no one right way to mediate. You can focus on your breath or a mantra that you’re saying to yourself, listen to a guided meditation, or try a walking meditation. Experiment with different ways to meditate and choose what you enjoy the most.

3. Everyone can meditate

Are you concerned that you have all kinds of thoughts in your head and that meditation is not working for you? It happens to all of us and it doesn’t mean you can’t meditate. Simply acknowledge your thoughts as soon as you notice you’re thinking and go back to your focus – whether it’s your breath, your mantra or the movement of your body.

4. Create a routine, but don’t get attached to it

If you’re able to pick a time to meditate every day, great! It’s much easier to remember your practice when it’s on your schedule and it’s easier to turn it into a habit. But sometimes things will happen that disrupt your schedule, or you might be struggling to create a routine in the first place. Don’t let that take you out, just watch out for the next available time and use it for your meditation.

5. Don’t give up

Feeling bad that you’ve missed a day or two? Not many people will stick with it every single day. Don’t be harsh on yourself about it; simply return to your daily mediation practice on the next day or as soon as you can.

Image via Pixabay

May 11, 2015

5 Habits That Are Killing Your Productivity At Work

Do you feel that your work is taking a lot longer than it should? There’s no need to resign yourself to late nights at the office, have a look at your habits instead. Here are some things you might be doing that are killing your productivity at work.

RELATED: The Secret To Exceptional Productivity

1. Checking email as they come in

You receive a new notification and your curiosity gets the better of you. You jump into your inbox just to see a new email from a client. Since you opened the email anyway, you might as well reply, so you forget what you were working on before that and start typing. Then another email arrives. Before you know it, the day is gone and you haven’t completed anything.

Unless you’re in customer service and it’s your job to answer emails all day, checking your email constantly is disruptive and distracts you from your real work. Turn off your notifications and schedule time for email instead, whether it’s once a day or once every couple of hours.

2.    Spending time on social media

Checking Facebook for 5 minutes while you’re taking a break is harmless, but if you get sucked in and find yourself still on Facebook half an hour later, then it’s a habit that’s not working for you. Just like emails, unless it’s your job to be on social media all day, turn off notifications, schedule time for it and stick to your designated time (use a timer to remind you)!

3. Taking too many breaks

Do you always give in to the desire to get a snack, get a drink, go for a walk and/or have a chat with a colleague? You’re procrastinating. Recognise that all these breaks are not necessary and ask yourself what you’re trying to avoid. Once you’re clear on the real reason why you’re doing everything but working, it’s much easier to address it.

4. Not taking enough breaks

You may be thinking you’re gaining precious minutes when you’re having your lunch at your desk, but the reality is you need to take breaks to recharge. Your productivity goes down when you’re not looking after yourself. Don’t believe me? Experiment with it. Try taking regular breaks for a day or a week and notice how much more you’ll get done.

5. Saying “yes” to everything

It’s fantastic that you want to help people, but you can’t do everything. Focus on your most important tasks and view all requests that are coming in through the filter of your priorities. Is this task helping you achieve your goals, or is it setting you back? Of course, you can’t always avoid meaningless tasks when you’re working for someone else, but you can do your best to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Start by saying “no” to one request per day and you will see your productivity at work improve immediately.

Image via Pixabay

May 4, 2015

5 Ways To Fall In Love With Mondays

It’s Monday morning. You hear your alarm and you hit the snooze button. Then you hit it again. Eventually you manage to get out of bed, get dressed and out of the house. You grab a coffee on the run and start counting the days left before the weekend… Too many. While most of us are familiar with this scenario, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can fall in love with Mondays and here’s how.

RELATED: Supercharge Your Day With This Simple Morning Ritual

1. Get enough sleep

We have a good time until late on the weekends, sleep in, then stay up late again. No wonder getting out of bed on Mondays is a struggle. Treat yourself to an early Sunday night instead and you will wake up with renewed energy.

2. Have a morning ritual

Do something in the morning that helps you feel the way you want to feel – whether it’s calm and grounded or excited and wanting to take on the world. Your morning ritual could include exercise or meditation, but it can also be as simple as singing loudly along to your favourite song on the radio.

3. Schedule something fun for Monday

Why do we leave all the fun things for Friday nights? Why not have fun every day? Schedule a lunch date with a friend or a dance class after work and you will have something look forward to.

4. Appreciate your work

No work situation is perfect and it’s easy to let our attention go to all the things we dislike. If you notice yourself going down the negative spiral, stop and remind yourself of all the things you appreciate about your work, instead. Maybe you’re working on a new and exciting project. Or you have a client you always enjoy talking to. Or you get free coffee. At the very least, you have an income that pays your bills. There’s always something you can appreciate.

5. Plan for change

If none of the above ideas help you fall in love with Mondays, you probably need a change. Spend some time figuring out what’s working and what’s not working for you in your current situation. Brainstorm things you can do to make your work more enjoyable or start looking at other opportunities.

Image via Pixabay

April 27, 2015

Why Do We Love Procrastinating?

Have you been keeping busy all day and avoiding the real work? There’s no need to feel guilty about it, everyone does it. We all have moments (or hours, or days) when we spend our time doing everything else, but what really needs doing. So, why do we love procrastinating so much?

RELATED: How To Stay Motivated And Reach Your Goals

It’s easy

Procrastination can seem a lot easier than getting things done, especially things that are somewhat difficult and important. But what if you took a long-term view? Would your life be easier in a week, a month, or a year from now if you were to keep doing what you’re doing now: procrastinating?

If you answered “yes” to this question, then it’s a good idea to look again at your priorities. If the thing you’re avoiding is not contributing to your life in any way, then it’s time to cross it off your list and move on to something else. You won’t be making a whole lot of progress on your projects, you’ll feel stressed out, guilty and dissatisfied with yourself if you don’t.

It’s comfortable

The idea of working hard goes against our love of comfort. It might lead to discomfort or even pain, so we’re reluctant to step outside of our comfort zone and often do just enough required of us that we can get away with. But what will happen if you look at your comfort zone from a long-term perspective? Will you still be comfortable in the future?

It’s safe

Our brains are wired to keep things the same. The habits we reinforce have kept us alive until now, so why change anything? The meaning of safety is not the same now as it was thousands of years ago. Nowadays we feel unsafe to try something different out of fear we might fail, but what we don’t realise is that in most cases it’s not going to lead to anything fatal. So what are you afraid of?

There’re no right or wrong answers to these questions. Sometimes procrastination can be good for you – it’s a sign that you’re not on the right track and that you need to reassess your priorities. But if you’ve realised that you’re at ease, safety and comfort aren’t contributing much to your future happiness and fulfilment anymore, so it’s time to stop procrastinating. Take one small action step, then another one. You’ll create momentum and soon you’ll get into the flow of getting things done.

Image via Pixabay

April 18, 2015

5 Ways To Shut Your Brain Off Before Bedtime

Isn’t it ironic how sleepy you can be throughout the day, only to find that when your head finally hits the pillow you’re miraculously (and frustratingly) wide awake. If you’re one of these people who finds it difficult to switch-off at bedtime, here are a few remedies that will help to calm your mind so you can finally get that good night’s sleep you crave.

Drink tea

Sitting down to a warm cup of herbal tea before bedtime can help you to unwind and relax as it raises body heat. Chamomile tea is a great option because it contains no caffeine and is reported to have a sedative effect – it also has a slightly sweet after-taste, so it’s the perfect post-dinner drink.

Start a journal

When you take your worries or to-do list to bed with you, you’re bound to be up all night stressing and over-thinking them. Try starting a journal and set aside 10 to 15 minutes each night before going to sleep to write down your thoughts and concerns. By making the time to address your thoughts, you’re mentally checking them off as ‘dealt with’ or ‘dealing with.’

Create a  sleep schedule

Research demonstrates that getting up and going to bed at the same time every day (yes, even on weekends) promotes good sleeping patterns as it stabilises your body clock. And while it may take a few weeks to discipline your body, not only will it result in regular REM sleep, you will also be more productive throughout the day as a result.

Ban electronics from the bedroom

How many times have you been at the cusp of falling to sleep, only to be woken by an incoming text message or call? And how many times have you found yourself awake for an extra hour trawling Facebook or playing a game? Not only does late night interaction keep your brain stimulated, but the light from the screen actually keeps you awake, too. Several sleep experts say this is because exposure to bright and intense light late at night can inhibit the body’s secretion of melatonin.

Get in some exercise

Getting in some physical exercise throughout the day can significantly improve the ability to fall asleep, according to research. It decreases anxiety and depressive symptoms and can act as a stress-buster if you’re feeling under the pump. Also, if you workout late afternoon, the post-exercise drop in your body temperature is said to promote better sleep.

Image via the Huffington Post

April 17, 2015

Staying Organised For The Rest Of The Year Ahead

Even if you don’t really agree with them, we all make new year resolutions – whether it’s getting into shape, spending more time with your loved ones or something small like cutting down your daily caffeine intake.

For some, getting organised might be at the top of the list, so we’ve come up with some simple and effective ideas to help you keep your resolutions and stay motivated to be organised not just for January and February, but also for the rest of the year!

Go, go, go can equal forget, forget, forget!

Never before has it been so important to be organised. In this day and age when we’re always on the go, it’s impossible to remember every little detail. Keep your to-do list in check with a brand new diary, which you can pick up from a store like Typo. And while you’re at it you might as well stock up on note pads, desk organisers, files, you name it!

If you’re not one for the hard copy diary we suggest using your Smartphone calendar and making lists in Notes!

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Your wallet could do with a tidy-up

Nothing says organised like a new, clutter-free purse. Your wallet’s biggest enemy is the dreaded receipt so, in the cleaning out process, make sure you file these away in a folder or place you find easy to remember. A tidy wallet is great, but not when receipts you need have gone walkabout.

We suggest choosing a wallet based on your needs. On the go? Try something that can also fit your phone inside, and if your wallet lives inside your handbag, opt for something smaller (and keep the colour in mind when making your selection).

With a range of stores such as Mimco, Bags To Go and Strandbags you’ll be hard pressed not to find yourself the perfect wallet for 2015!

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No excuses – pack your gym gear

Keeping motivated to get fit can be challenging at the best of times, so why not make it a littler easier on yourself and get organised to be energised. If you tend to hit the gym first thing in the morning, get your workout gear ready the night before so all you have to do is get up and go. No excuses!

Still feeling the early morning/after-work gym routine is passing you by? Get some new gear from Nike, adidas, Asics and some other sporting retailers to help you get motivated. We all know that when you look good in new gym gear, you feel good and you’ll be that much more inclined to get out and into spin class.

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These tips are brought to you by a range of retailers at Uni Hill Factory Outlets, Melbourne. For more information and a list of retailers head to www.uhfo.com.au or follow on Facebook or Instagram @unihillfo

April 14, 2015

How To Get The Ultimate Night’s Sleep

Counting sheep yet staying up all night? Sleep expert and Chairman of the Sleep Health Foundation, David Hillman, shares his top tips to help you get the ultimate night’s sleep!

1. Set the mood for slumber

Your room should be quiet and dark. Before you go to sleep, be sure to turn off the lights and any other stimuli such as the TV and completely close your blinds or curtains.

2. Sleep in a clean and pleasant environment

You know the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’? Well, a mess-free and uncluttered room will help aide a clear and undistracted mind. Spend just a few minutes each night tidying your bedroom before you get into bed. Instead of throwing your clothes on the floor, hang them up or fold them neatly in a pile to be put away properly later.

3. Get the room temperature right

There’s nothing worse than a freezing cold bedroom at night. An hour before you’re ready to hit the sack, get your room temperature right by closing the windows and adjusting the air conditioner or heater in winter. You’ll sleep better when you have the balance right.

4. Avoid interruptions

Switch your phone to silent mode so if it rings or you get a message you won’t be woken. If your partner is noisy then ear plugs can help block out the snoring or restless noises. Similarly eye masks are a great sleep companion whether at home or away, to help eliminate light and movement.

5. Choose the right bed and bedding 

It’s essential to have the right bed and bedding. Have an expert help you pick your mattress and pillow. You’ll be surprised what a huge difference this can make!

6. Manage jet lag 

If you’re travelling across time zones, help your body clock adapt more quickly to the time at your destination by adjusting your watch and phone as soon as you get on the plane. Try to eat meals and sleep as you will in your new time zone as soon as you can to make the adjustment process easier.

7. Bring a piece of home with you 

For some, sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings is difficult, no matter how comfortable it is. Keep to familiar routines. Bringing a few personal items from home (e.g. a photograph, a mug, reading material) may help you to relax and bring familiarity to your new location.

8. Wind down and relax before bed 

Have a buffer zone before bedtime. Sort out any problems well before going to bed. This may mean setting aside ‘worry time’ during the day. Use this time to go over the day’s activities and work out a plan of action for the next day. Try to avoid using your computer within one hour of bedtime, instead pick up a magazine or book to help take your mind off any problems. Exercise is fine, but not too late in the evening. Find a relaxation technique that works for you.

9. Spend the right amount of time in bed

Most adults need about eight hours sleep every night. Many poor sleepers spend much more than eight hours in bed and this makes fragmented sleep a habit. Except if you have lengthy sleep requirements, limit your time in bed to no more than eight and a half hours. If you often take hours to fall asleep, go to bed later or try reading to help you drift off. Remember that children need more sleep than adults.

10. Things to avoid… 

Alcohol may help you to get off to sleep, but will disrupt your sleep during the night. Caffeine (tea, coffee, cola drinks) and the nicotine in cigarettes are stimulants that can keep you awake. Instead, choose special blends of herbal tea that encourage sleep. Steer clear of sleeping pills except in exceptional circumstances and as advised by your doctor, they won’t fix the cause of your sleeping problem.

What’s your best tip for a good night’s sleep?

April 8, 2015

Why You Need A Stop-Doing List

Have you ever gotten through a busy day just to discover that your to-do list is still a mile long? I have, too. It doesn’t mean that you and I don’t do enough or that we don’t do it fast enough, it simply means that our to-do list is unrealistic. One way to start redesigning your to-do list is to create a stop-doing list.

RELATED: The Art Of Saying No

Why do you need a stop-doing list?

  • To make time for what’s important. As much as we’d love to do everything, we can’t. To make space for the things that we really want to do, we have to say “no” to something else.
  • To make it easier to say “no”. Automatically saying “yes” to everything is a difficult habit to break and that’s where the stop-doing list helps. When the thing you’re asked to do is on it, a light of recognition flashes as soon as you hear the request and it’s enough to make you stop, think and respond differently.
  • To feel better about yourself. When you’ve thought about it beforehand and you’ve figured out what’s important to you and what isn’t, there’s less room for questioning every decision you made. You can move forward with confidence and the more you accomplish, the better you’ll feel about yourself and your ability to do things.

What could go on your stop-doing list?

Look through your current to-do list. Are there any tasks there that you don’t want to do, but you couldn’t get out of? Or tasks that you don’t even know why they’re there? Put them on your stop-doing list.

What about things that you do as a matter of habit but they don’t add value to your life, like checking Facebook every 5 minutes or staying up late? Add them to your list, too. Consider updating your stop-doing list every time you find yourself asking: “Why am I doing this?”

So, what will you put on your stop-doing list?

Image via Pixabay

March 29, 2015

3 Fun Ways To Beat Procrastination

Are you finding yourself daydreaming, checking your email, getting something to eat, doing anything but what you know you need to complete? Try some of these fun ways to beat procrastination and get that important task done.

RELATED: Why Procrastination Can Be Good For You

Give yourself a time limit

What’s a realistic timeframe to complete that thing you’re avoiding? Set your timer, ready, go! Competing with the timer and turning it into a game can be enough to motivate you. If it’s not, book something for after you’re finished – a meeting, an appointment, a class, anything. I always get my work done faster if I know I have to be at my yoga class. On the days when I say to myself: “I don’t feel like going to yoga today,” the same amount of work takes a lot longer.

Rename your task

If you’re procrastinating because you need to complete something you hate doing, why not give it a new fun name? For example, you might be procrastinating about cleaning your house – it’s boring and hardly the job most of us want to be doing. What if you renamed your task to ‘bringing sparkles’? It sounds silly, but it can put a smile on your face and all of a sudden, you feel like a fairy who makes everything around her sparkly and clean.

Set aside time for play

The reason why I usually procrastinate (and I suspect I’m not alone) is because I’m tired, I haven’t had time to myself for a while and I simply can’t fit in the things that I want to do, so they sneak on me at the wrong moment. The best way to deal with this is to give in and set aside time for yourself.

If you enjoy Facebook, but it distracts you from the task at hand, put time on your calendar to get busy with Facebook updates. If you keep on ‘accidentally’ turning on that game on your smart phone, schedule some time to play later.

These are some strategies that I use to beat procrastination and they may work for you, too. Something else you can do is simply ask yourself the question: “How can I make this more fun?” It’s always easier to complete a task when we’re enjoying the process.

Image via Pixabay

March 22, 2015

5 Ways To Find More ‘Me’ Time

We’re all so busy with work, school, family and home that it seems selfish to even dream about more ‘me’ time, let alone make it a reality. Yet, when you take enough time for yourself, you find that you’re happier, more productive and have more patience for the people around you, so everybody wins. But how exactly do you fit ‘me’ time into your day?

RELATED: Time Alone: The Ultimate Extravagance?

1. Ditch the guilt

Easier said than done, but what if you run an experiment? Take some time out for yourself, then pay attention to how it changes you and your interactions with others. Are you coming up with more creative ideas at work? Are you managing to stay calm when your kids are pushing your buttons? No doubt, you’ll collect proof that ‘me’ time is good for you and good for everyone else, so there’s no reason to feel guilty about it.

2. Accept that you can’t do it all

Occasionally, I’d unexpectedly get some time to myself and instead of enjoying it, I’d find myself frantically going through my to-do list trying to complete as much as I could. Of course, the list wouldn’t get any shorter and I’d miss out on a precious opportunity to relax and do something fun. Does this sound like you, too? If you’re as busy as most of us, it’s rare that you’ll ever get your to-do list down to zero, so instead of stressing about it, accept that you can’t do it all and make ‘me’ time a priority.

3. Ask for help

You’ve managed to ditch the guilt and accept that you can’t do it all, but there are still times when life is so busy that ‘me’ time goes out of the window. You don’t have to do it all alone. Ask your other half or a friend for help, or hire help if you’re desperate.

4. Use pockets of time

When we have 15-20 minutes of free time, we often discard it as insignificant and fill it with meaningless tasks like checking Facebook or folding laundry. Instead of looking for distractions, ask yourself, “What would I like to do?” and start doing it. You’ll be surprised just how much can be done in a short amount of time, plus completion is not the point here. You’re not trying to finish a project, but to engage in an activity that makes you happy and energises you.

5. Invest in your ‘me’ time

If you’re finding that you’re always skipping your ‘me’ time in favour of something else, schedule it in a more formal way and even put some money on the line. Book a class you’ve been wanting to do. Sign up for a workshop. Set up a session with a personal trainer. Then you’ll have a great reason to show up – if you don’t, you’ll have to pay cancellation fees!

Even a little bit of regular ‘me’ time can make a world of difference to your happiness, energy levels and relationships, so make it happen!

Image via Pixabay

February 25, 2015

Benefits Of Foot Reflexology

Did you know that certain reflexes found in the foot can help to stabilise the entire body?

Used for centuries all over the world, foot reflexology is a popular way to de-stress and improve circulation. Whether you are suffering from a nasty headache, experiencing monthly back pain, or simply in need of a de-stressing exercise, here are a few ways foot reflexology can help you out.

RELATED: The Guide To Acupressure For Stress Relief

How does it work?

Most therapists focus on stimulating the solar plexus which stores all of our excess stress. Once this sacred area is relaxed, then the entire body enters a serene state which seeks to eliminate all forms for stress.

When pressure is applied onto certain areas of the foot such as the heels are lower arch, this has a significant effect on the solar plexus. You will start to notice that stress levels have decreased, and your heart rate is beating a slower, more consistent level.

Circulation

As with all massage techniques, applying a certain amount of pressure onto one area of the body can help to improve bad circulation. This will help to clear the path inside the blood stream, and will better support the proper function of healthy tissues and organs. Massaging the feet holds great health benefits since there are so many nerves linked into this central location.

Pain management

Did you know that applying more pressure to the feet can decrease the amount of pain the rest of your body can feel? A rush of endorphins are released which help to minimise pain signals to the brain, and as a result, brings about a relaxing sensation. Next time you are experiencing a bad cramp or stomach ache, try massaging the area just below the arch of your feet to relax the entire body.

Techniques

If you want to try a few of these stress relieving techniques at home, start with these simple exercises which will surely make you feel better:

Thumb walking

A popular technique which helps to a tense feeling in the entire body. Use both hands to relax the foot, and then simply rub your thumb down the inside of both feet. This should take place from the tip of the big toe, down the length of your foot until you hit the heel.

Stroke

To improve your overall circulation, stroke the bottom of your foot with each thumb. This should be a short, fluid action which firmly applies pressure on the base of your foot. Once you reach the toes, apply less pressure since the tendons around this area are more sensitive.

Tips

Before embarking on your own foot reflexology, make sure to review some of our beginners tips which will help make the process so much more effective.

  • Drink as much water as you can before and after each massage. This will help to remove any nasties from your system, and can improve circulation.
  • Use a light oil to make the massage feel better. Never massage dry feet since the exercises won’t feel as effective, and it will only make your feet feel dry! Coconut oil is a great choice since it’s inexpensive, and melts quickly between your fingers.
  • Start off slow by massaging the top and base of your feet. Don’t apply too much pressure to areas which you’re unsure about. Even just massaging your toes, heels, and arch are enough to relax your entire body.

Image via Acupressure

February 9, 2015

Does Aromatherapy Actually Work?

Aromatherapy has been used for hundreds of years as an alternative medicine which boasts relief against stress, anxiety, general aches and pains all through the use of various scents.

But how does this age-old treatment work, and how can you use it at home?

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How does aromatherapy work?

This is the question which many people find baffling: how can just one scent change the way your body feels from the inside? Sounds kind of creepy, doesn’t it?

For many of years aromatherapy has been explained to stimulate the delicate receptors in the nose, then this sends a message through to the nervous system which reaches the brain. At this point, the brain declares whether this is a good or bad scent; if it is good, it can ultimately have a relaxing effect on the entire mind and body.

What are some popular scents?

If you want to try this out for yourself at home, first read our list of some popular scents and what they’re used for in aromatherapy. This will give you a better understanding of how everything actually works:

1. Lavender

Ideal for: stress

This is probably the most popular oil used in aromatherapy, mainly because of its calming effects. Sniffing anything with lavender is scientifically proven to decrease stress levels, even if you don’t actually like the smell in the first place!

2. Patchouli

Ideal for: antidepressant

Patchouli is a naturally uplifting oil which is used for a few different conditions. One of the most popular ways to use it is for people suffering from depression. The scent helps to release pleasure hormones such as seratonin and dopamine, which relieves sad or angry feelings.

3. Tea Tree

Ideal for: colds, antibacterial

While tea tree is mostly known for its antibacterial properties, it also has a calming effect when used in aromatherapy. The uplifting scent is perfect for those suffering from a chest cold or nasty cough. Rub gently over the chest to clear out the lungs, and leave your body with a sweet scent all day long.

4. Franklincense

Ideal for: spiritual

Used for centuries in the Middle East for a emotional and spiritual connection with a higher being, it is still used today during prayers. The gentle scent is also massaged into joints to alleviate aches and pain associated with arthritis.

Is aromatherapy scientifically proven?

While most essential oils are used to decease levels of stress, anxiety, and aches in the body, not much has actually been proven otherwise. Don’t count on this type of alternative medicine to permanently decrease a high blood pressure count, increased heart rate, or even chronic disorders. They can be used for extended periods of time to help relieve these symptoms, but aren’t strong enough to actually cure any long-term conditions.

Have you ever used essential oils? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Image via Wellness Today

January 26, 2015

How To Create More Time In Your Day

It seems that these days everyone is always on the go and always complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day. If you’ve tried all the traditional time management techniques and you’re still struggling, here are a few somewhat unusual, but easy and effective tweaks you can use to create more time in your day.

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Stop complaining about time

You can choose to believe that you have enough time and that time is on your side. Every time you’re about to complain how busy you are, stop yourself. Are you about to complain because you feel overwhelmed? Replace your thoughts with something positive instead. Do you intend to use the time excuse to avoid something you don’t want to do? Then it’ll be much more effective if you admit it to yourself why you’re avoiding a certain task and deal with the real reason.

It seems hard to believe, but the more you do it, the more you realise that you have a choice how you use your time and you start exercising that choice to your advantage. You also free up a lot of energy from worrying which you can now use for something more productive.

Focus

In her book “Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life”, Marney Makridakis identifies a number of circumstances that change our perception of time and make it flow slower or faster. Some of the ways to slow down time are not particularly useful (you don’t want to fill your time with experiences you don’t enjoy just to make the clock go slower), but there’s one way that is highly practical – focus on one task at a time. You’ll find time conveniently slowing down for you and your productivity shooting up!

Use pockets of time

Often when we have 5 or 10 free minutes here or there, we simply dismiss them. “We can’t complete anything in this time”, we think and we go on Facebook, turn on the TV or simply wait around for the next thing on our schedule to begin. Yet, if you just start a task and feel OK about not finishing it right there and then, you’ll be surprised how much you can get done in a short period of time. You can declutter a section of your house. You can write an important email. You can make progress on your passion project. You can even do a short meditation and feel peaceful for the rest of the day.

“We never shall have any more time. We have, and we have always had, all the time there is.” ~ Arnold Bennett

Image by geralt via pixabay.com

January 22, 2015
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