Posts Tagged ‘good habit’

Breaking Bad Habits Now

April 4, 2017

Habits form when we repeat an action and often they are very helpful to us. We form bad habits because they have short-term benefits, and we ignore the long-term consequences for this momentary payoff. The more enjoyable the instant gratification, the harder the bad habit is to break.

When behaviors are enjoyable, even if they’re unhealthy, they can release a chemical in the brain called dopamine. The habit becomes even stronger, and we continue doing it regardless of how we feel afterward (i.e. overeating, obsessively checking social media, etc.).

STRATEGIES TO BREAK BAD HABITS

Along the path to better habits, we must start by making a choice. Here are several strategies to break bad habits:

GETTING STARTED

  • Identify purpose – Perhaps the most helpful strategy is to understand what purpose the bad habit serves. If you weren’t getting something from it, you wouldn’t keep doing it.
  • Identify progression – What actions typically lead up to your habit? Disrupting the progression of events that trigger your bad habit sets you up for greater success.
  • Identify motivation – How would you assess your commitment to change? Feeling a deep connection to your “why” helps make difficult choices worth it.
  • Identify influence – Try to avoid individuals who are linked to dangerous habits like excessive drinking or drug use.

MOVING TOWARD GOOD HABITS

  • Plan ahead – Don’t trust your strength in the moment. Making a plan ahead of time for dealing with temptation prepares your mind to resist the urge.
  • Change environments – Be mindful of situations and temptations where it might be easy to continue in your behavior. This will help to eliminate the potential for a slip-up.
  • Practice mindfulness – Pay attention to your mind and body. Be mindful of the emotions you’re experiencing and what’s going on in your body.
  • Replace with good – Trade out your bad habits for good ones. For example, swap out the time you once spent overeating and use it to exercise.

POSSIBLE SETBACKS ALONG THE WAY

  • Not alone – You don’t have to do this alone. Find someone wanting to quit one of his or her bad habits and team up.
  • Forgive – If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up. Change takes time. Some days you might take a step back before you keep moving forward. Forgive yourself and keep trying.
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Stress Stoppers: Stress Stretch

February 14, 2017

When you are under stress, tension accumulates in your neck and jaw. Take a minute to gently and slowly move your head from front to back, side to side, and in a full circle. For your jaw, stretch your mouth open, and slowly move your lower jaw from side to side and front to back. (NOTE: If you notice any pain or if you have had any injuries to your back, neck or jaw, check with your doctor first.)

Set a Goal (and Achieve It!)

Unrealistic goals that never seem to be reached add to your stress level. Try setting one goal for yourself this week. Pick one small goal and write it down. Can you count it or check it off a list? Is it realistic? If not, make it smaller. Decide how to reward yourself when you reach your goal. Set a specific, realistic date to finish or achieve your goal.

Comedy Break: Laugh at Stress

Set aside some time for laughter, your body’s natural stress release mechanism. Rent your favorite comedy video. Tape a TV show that you know makes you laugh and keep it on hand for stress emergencies. Go to the library and borrow a book by an author who can make you laugh. Read the daily comics in the newspaper. Or, phone the funniest person you know!

Walking Breaks

Walk away from stress. Instead of sitting down for another cup of stress-inducing caffeine on your coffee break, lunch hour or when you’re at home … try going for a stress-relieving and energizing walk. If you don’t like walking by yourself, try forming a walking club with two or three of your friends or coworkers.

Sleep Solutions

October 31, 2016

Most adults need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. We spend about a third of our lives asleep, but most people know very little about it, even though it’s as important as food and water.

It’s estimated that sleep disorders affect more than 70 million Americans. When you get less sleep than needed, you fall into “sleep debt.” If the debt becomes too high, then physical problems and daytime drowsiness can occur.

THREE KEY INGREDIENTS

Three key ingredients to good sleep are temperature, light, and sound. A hot bath or shower raises your temperature then rapidly lowers it to help you relax. If the room is cool, you’re likely to get better sleep. To control light, consider dimming the light an hour or two before you go to sleep. Don’t look at computer or TV screens right before bed, so the hormone melatonin can flow. If your neighborhood is noisy, consider wearing earplugs to keep the sound out.

SLEEP TIPS

  • Be consistent – If you can go to sleep and wake up at the same time, even on the weekends, you’ll sleep better.
  • Create a routine – You can train your body to recognize when it’s time to sleep if you stay consistent with habits. Maybe read a book. or take a warm shower. Perhaps lay out your clothes for the next day.
  • Get up if you can’t fall asleep – If after 15 minutes you don’t fall asleep, get up and do something rather than worry. Consider reading a book or listening to soft music.
  • Limit your naps – It might feel good to snooze for an hour in the afternoon, but anything over half an hour might keep you up at night.
  • Consult a professional – If you need to get more info or guidance on your sleep habits, talk to your primary care physician.

Reducing Stress By Getting Organized

September 30, 2016

Be honest. How many times do you search for your car keys? Lose a store coupon or misplace that one paper? If you’re known to call your workspace “organized chaos,” you’re not alone. And since we’re being real, let’s just tackle the car, house, and garage too.

Organization is key to accomplishing our goals. Minimizing clutter and waste allows us to succeed at what matters most. While organizational skills are necessary, everyone is slightly unique with what system works best. You don’t need a complicated, color-coded system for life if something else works better for you. Identify your best organizational strategy by addressing the following areas.

Waste Removal – Keep track of your activities for one week. What activities tend to waste your time? How can you minimize or eliminate these from your schedule?

Long-term Goals – Have a clear vision and goal for the long-term. Does the way you spend your time reflect this goal? What are daily and weekly tasks to help you reach the long-term goal?

Optimal time – Identify the time of day you are most productive. Are you a morning or night person? As much as possible, use your optimal time to maximize your efforts.

Tips to Stay Organized

Plan for the day – You can avoid morning confusion by planning for your day the evening before. Consider laying out your clothes, packing your lunch, or gathering needed files and books.

Weekly checkup – Have a weekly cleanup where you discard, file, or recycle papers and other materials. This will keep your area less cluttered, and you won’t lose valuable time searching for misplaced items.

Stick to one – We tend to praise multitasking in our culture, but this can actually prevent you from being organized. Focusing on one task at a time is best and produces a better result.

Regardless if your organization skills are an inherent strength or a learned behavior, their benefits help you maintain order, peace, and a less-stressed lifestyle. As an added bonus, you might know where your car keys are. Happy organizing!

Escaping Financial Stress

August 12, 2016

We know our minds and bodies are connected, but did you realize they’re also linked to our bank accounts? Financial stress can have a large impact on your physical health, thoughts, and relationships.

The largest obstacle between financial wisdom and lowering our stress is our attitude. In our quest to make the right decision, we can become scared about the wrong one. Sometimes we assume if we try to make wise financial choices we’ll just end up failing. However, it would be better to take the risk, and even possibly fail, than to never make a move.

Tips to Alleviate Financial Stress

The pinch on our bank accounts and the ever-changing market isn’t something to take lightly. The following tips may help ease the financial stress and strain on your wallet.

Adjust your perspective – Often times, when we have failed in the past, success seems farther out of reach than it actually is. Perceptions can easily be flawed. Our attitudes about what we have control over and what we don’t control can impact our level of success.

Stick to your budget – Knowing how to track your money is critical. Establishing a clear budget shows you exactly how much inflow and outflow you have. If you’re unsure how to make a budget, there are online tools and mobile apps available to teach you.

Identify unhealthy emotions – If you’ve made a poor financial choice this doesn’t mean you’re destined for failure. Guilt is rarely a helpful emotion. Instead, focus on what you can change  rather than beating yourself up for your prior financial mistakes.

Know your weaknesses – Avoid places, people, or situations that will tempt you to spend money you don’t have. For example, if you make impulse purchases after a stressful day at the office, try taking a walk and avoiding the mall. Practice saying no to people who pressure you to spend too much money.

Seek help – Look to the experts for help if you need it. Speaking with a legitimate professional can answer your financial questions and guide you toward a specific, attainable goal. Why not benefit from their expertise?

Tips for Relaxation

July 15, 2016

Stress is everywhere. Good or bad, without proper self-care, stress can feel like it might swallow us alive. Why? Any time a change occurs causing an adjustment or interruption in our life, stress results. We then produce physical, emotional, and mental responses. However, certain exercises can activate the body’s natural “relaxation response,” which slows breathing, lowers blood pressure, and makes for a calmer and healthier you.

RELAXATION BENEFITS

Relaxation techniques are helpful to reduce stress and improve our quality of life. We can even benefit our overall physical and mental health by reducing chronic illness, pain, anxiety, and depression. Practicing relaxation can also:

  • Improve concentration
  • Minimize feelings of anger
  • Lower heart and breathing rates
  • Reduce muscle tension and pain
  • Minimize fatigue symptoms

RELAXATION TECHNIQUES

Let’s practice on relaxation technique known as progressive muscle relaxation. To begin, slow tense and relax individual muscles. Start with your feet and work up your body to your head. This helps you become aware of muscle tension when you are stressed.

There are a variety of other relaxation techniques, such as meditation, art therapy, massage, yoga, and deep breathing. These activities can be done alone or with the help of another person. Consider downloading an app or free guided exercise. You may find one technique does not work well for you. Be persistent until you connect with one yielding results.

Relaxation techniques may not completely eradicate the stress in your life, but they can lighten your stress load. They are often low-cost, low-risk for injury, and easily performed almost anywhere. So, why not try it? There’s everything to gain and nothing to lose, except maybe some extra stress.

Don’t Let Restaurant Foods Doom Your Diet

January 21, 2016

It’s no secret – most Americans love eating out with friends and family. After a busy day on the job or at home, sometimes it’s nice to sit back, relax, and enjoy each other’s company as well as some good food. Unfortunately, once you walk into a restaurant, your healthy eating habits can walk right out.

The smells and sights of the food drive your senses crazy, and you usually end up eating more than you should or would normally eat at home. But the good thing is, you don’t have to let your diet be ruined when you eat out. It is possible for you to remain in control of what you eat.

Use these pointers to help you stay on the right track:

  1. The calories can quickly add up when you eat appetizers, which are often loaded with calories and fat. Therefore, if you are going to order an appetizer, look for low-calorie selections such as a fruit cup, vegetable soup, etc. In doing so, you can save your appetite for a healthy, low-fat main course.
  2. Some restaurants offer chips or hot bread while you wait for your order. Just because something is free, doesn’t mean it is calorie-free. Ask the server to remove the food after yo have eaten a small portion. Better yet, request that it not be brought at all.
  3. Start at the fruit and salad section when going through a buffet. By filling your plate with low-calorie choices first, your plate will not have room for the less-healthy foods. Also, eat your meal before getting dessert. You will take less if you do this because you already be full.
  4. If your vegetables are going to be seasoned with cheese, butter, or almonds, ask that these be left off. Request that butter and sour cream for your baked potato be placed “on the side”.
  5. Many restaurants are making attempts to incorporate healthy choices into their menus. But, just because it is a salad, doesn’t mean it is low-calorie, or even healthy. Pay close attention to the list of ingredients – if there are cheese, nuts, bacon and breaded chicken, the salad could be more packed with calories than a burger! Salad dressings can be full of hidden calories too. Ask if there is a low-calorie or light choice of dressing available. If not, request the salad dressing “on the side”.
  6. You can usually have higher calorie items replaced with healthier choices. When in doubt, just ask! You are paying for your meal, you may be able to request whatever you want.
  7. Finally, if you haven’t’ noticed, portions seem to be getting bigger and bigger. Don’t take the chance of eating an entire huge portion. Request a carryout container right as your food is delivered. Split your entree in half and box it up. You’ll eat less and have a great lunch for the following day.

By following these helpful tips, eating out while eating healthy is possible – not to mention enjoyable.

Avoiding Burnout

December 4, 2015

There are many “outs” in life. We can be stressed out, worn out, and maybe even need a time out. As passionate as we may feel about our work, we are all susceptible to burning out if we fail to exercise good self-care and relaxation techniques. Burnout is a constant feeling of exhaustion and pessimism in the workplace, which usually results in a decline in performance and passion.

There are several early warning signs of burnout. Do you dread coming back from vacation? Despise work tasks you one enjoyed? Is your overall attitude pessimistic toward your coworkers and your performance? The answers to these questions can all be indicators of workplace burnout.

However, burnout is preventable; consider these simple tips:

  • Take small breaks – Failing to take short breaks negatively impacts your overall performance. Concentration wanes after too long, so take a quick five or ten minutes. Your brain will thank you.
  • Evaluate – Take a step back to see how you’re using your time. Where and when are you most productive? How is the quality of your work? Being efficient does not equal being effective. Take inventory and prioritize your time.
  • Set vacations in stone – If you are financially able, plan that trip today. It will give you something to anticipate. Alternatively, consider doing a “staycation” and rewarding yourself with some rest and relaxation.
  • Engage new passions – Look for a new hobby to catch your interest during the week. Often new activities reignite passions for old ones.

Taking care of yourself with proper rest, exercise, and nutrition is essential to reducing your risk for a workplace burnout. You will have more energy, productivity, and passion for what you enjoy most.

Meeting Your Health Goals

October 23, 2015

Every day we make choices about how to care for ourselves. From what we’ll eat to how active we’ll be, every decision has costs and benefits. Choosing healthy goals can feel intimidating, especially when we’re lacking the “New Year’s Resolution” momentum. Making specific, measurable, and attainable goals sets you up for the life you desire.

Goal-Setting Tips:

Specific – Many times, our goals are vague and too broad. This fails to inspire and motivate us to make a lifestyle change. Instead, clearly describe what you would like to do and with what specific behavior.

For example, you might say, “I want to get fit.” But how often are you going to exercise and for how long? There’s a big difference between, “I want to be healthier,” and “I want to go for an hour-long run, three times this week, so I will have energy to play with my kids.”

Measurable – In addition to specificity, goals should be measurable. Writing down our behavior or tracking it wan an app will offer clues as to why we’re moving toward or away from our goals. For example, if your goal is to lose 15 pounds, this might involve counting your calories or tracking your daily percentage of vitamins and minerals.

Attainable – Goals should be realistic, given your time, finances, abilities, etc. Set small, attainable steps toward the larger goal. These might be daily, weekly, or monthly. Besides offering encouragement, small and attainable goals provide opportunities for rewards along the way.

Setting health goals are best done in community. Surrounding yourself with supportive peers pursuing similar goals is very helpful. Also, say your goals aloud. Tell people what you’re working toward and how you’ll get there. The more you speak out your goals and why you’re doing this, the more you’ll believe you can actually achieve them. There’s no time like today, even if it isn’t January 1st.

Turn the Negative to Positive

May 5, 2015

We all experience negative events and emotions. Unfortunately, it’s part of life. The important thing is what we do with those emotions. We can let them bring us down, get the better of us, or use them for good. They can help us to become better people and play a positive role in our well-being. Which do you choose to do?

Use challenges to gain perspective. The challenges we face in life are opportunities for personal growth and development. These adversities help bring out valuable lessons and expected gifts. They can help highlight what’s truly important in life.

Discover compassion through shame. when we experience shame or humiliation, we often avoid connecting with other people, fearing they’ll see the flaws we’re trying to hide. However, when we’re able to work through these emotions, it can help us connect with others and become more compassionate and empathetic.

Find gratitude after a loss. Often we don’t realize how valuable something is until we lose it. Experiencing a loss can help us feel grateful for what we have now and not take it for granted.

Turn anger into creativity. University researchers found that when creative professionals began their day with a negative emotion, they had greater creative output. They were able to channel their anger into their work. They were also able to focus longer while brainstorming.

Spur determination from jealousy. When we become jealous of someone, it can drive us to better ourselves. Envy can help us figure out what it is we want in our own life and then place us on the path to achieve it.

Source: huffingtonpost.com