Posts Tagged ‘self-motivation’

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.

Growing Self-Esteem

December 16, 2016

Self-esteem is a loaded concept. We don’t have enough, or we have too much. Maybe it causes flashbacks of awkward teen years, or reminds you of someone who thinks to highly of himself.

Growing self-esteem means fostering confidence in yourself and your abilities. It reflects an overall sense of value or worth and filters our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Self-esteem impacts our physical, emotional, and mental health, and it plays a role in our relationships and jobs.

If you are someone looking to better your self-confidence, here are some practical steps to take inventory of your thoughts.

Triggers – First, identify what or who triggers negative thinking. A difficult coworker? Checking your bank account? Interactions with certain family members?

Self-talk – Next, listen to your thinking, or “self-talk.” What do you tell yourself? is it based on fact or emotion? Rational or irrational? Perhaps you are simply assuming the worst-case scenario.

Accuracy – Are your thoughts true? If not, challenge them. Often times our thoughts are influenced more by perception than reality. We jump to conclusions, downplay the positive, or overgeneralize.

Positivity – Finally, replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Avoid thinking of “should have” and “could have” scenarios. When mistakes are made, forgive yourself. Give yourself credit for good things and small wins.

Taking Care of Yourself

A health self-esteem translates into accepting and valuing yourself for exactly who you are, even your flaws. Rearranging your thoughts and prioritizing emotional self-care takes time and practice. The more you challenge your negative thoughts and habits, the greater the pride you can take in yourself. Remember, there is only one unique you, and you are valuable to this world!

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!

Smile as You Work Through Difficult Challenges, Failure and Tragedy

April 7, 2016

Author Andy Andrews has determined that there are seven characteristics that each successful person has in common. He strongly believes in “the butterfly effect”: even the smallest action can have dramatic consequences. It has been found that the flap of a butterfly’s wings is inexplicably intertwined with the birth of a hurricane around the world.

Using these seven principles can make positive changes in your life:

  1. Be responsible – make a decision. Harry Truman signed his name on a sheet of paper that authorized the atomic bomb used to end World War II.
  2. Seek wisdom – listen to the guidance that is offered from people you trust. Napoleon lost at Waterloo because he failed to listen to his troops.
  3. Be a person of action – seize the moment. Bill Gates decided to drop out of Harvard to build a computer system that would one day become Microsoft.
  4. Have a decided heart – ignore rejection; let your passion be your guide. Thomas Edison tried and failed over 1,000 times before creating the incandescent light bulb.
  5. Choose to be happy – put a smile on your face. If there are two prospective employees with the same qualification but one of them complains, and the other one smiles and is happy, whom would you hire?
  6. Forgive! Forget anger management – use anger resolution. Joshua Chamberlain was chosen by President Lincoln to accept the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. There, Chamberlain stunned the world with a show of forgiveness: he ordered his troops to attention, saluting General Robert E. Lee and the defeated South.
  7. Persist without exception. Nelson Mandela sought to transform a country filled with racial oppression into an open democracy. His qualities of forgiveness, patience and persistence were revealed to the world after he was released from prison.

(Source: Mastering the Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success by Andy Andrews)

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

The Power of Self-Talk

March 30, 2015

Our thoughts have the power to turn the ordinary into extraordinary, for it is our thoughts that fuel our words and behavior. Thinking well makes life less stressful, motivates our behaviors, and can improve our physical health with less risk of depression, heart disease, and even the common cold. Thinking well does not mean we need to ignore reality when life is hard; rather, we must simply reframe what’s happening to stay positive in the situation.

The best way to think well is to evaluate our self-talk. Self-talk is what we tell ourselves about the events that happen to us and around us, being comprised of facts and our interpretation of those facts. Herein lies the power. We can evaluate facts and stay positive, or we might walk into one of these four negative self-talk snares.

Black and white thinking. This is the “all-or-nothing” thought process. Life is either awesome or awful. There’s no in-between.

Personalizing. This thinking assumes everything is about you. (Ex: If you don’t get the job, the employer didn’t like you. A friend cancels plans? They don’t want to hang out with you.)

Generalizing. When you generalize, you presume you will always fail based on one mistake. (Ex: if you ask someone on a date, and they refuse, you will die all alone.) These thoughts leap to failure.

Catastrophizing. Here you expect the worst-case scenario always. (Ex: Forget your umbrella on a rainy day? It’s the start of something awful.) Catastrophizing always assumes the worst.

Self-talk can alter the outcome of many situations in our lives. Consider making small changes in your self-talk and watch your behavior follow suit.

Breaking Bad Habits

January 30, 2015

Do you typically think about every step involve din your daily routine? Probably not, thanks to habits. When we develop habits from our repeated action, it frees up our brains to focus on other tasks. The more enjoyable the instant gratification, the harder the bad habit is to break.

Why is it so difficult to change our vices? 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.

Strategies to Break Bad Habits

It is possible to break bad habits, and humans are good at learning how to exercise self-control. Along the path to better habits, we must start by making a choice. Here are several proven strategies to break bad habits.

Identify purpose. What purpose does the habit serve? If you aren’t getting something enjoyable from it, you wouldn’t keep doing it. for example, maybe you smoke to help calm you down or you overeat for comfort. When you identify the needs behind the habit, you can look for healthier alternatives.

Identify progression. What actions typically lead up to your habit? Disrupting this progression of events can help set you up for greater success.

Identify motivation. Why do you want to change? Feeling deep connection to your “why” helps make difficult choices worth it. Be specific for greater motivation.

Tips for Changing 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. Try calling a friend or someone to hold you accountable.

Practice mindfulness. Pay attention to your mind and body. Be mindful to the emotions you’re experiencing and what’s going on in your body. This will help you take better care of yourself.

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. Create healthy, daily routines to help fill the need or craving of your bad habit.

As with any difficulty, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Find a therapist, support group, or organization to help you get started on learning more about yourself. The encouragement could steer you toward the best strategy to break your bad habits and change them for good. After all, Who wouldn’t want a healthy lifestyle to be second nature?

Mood Lifters

February 7, 2014

Not feeling your usual positive self? Try these pick-me-ups.

Re-wire what you say and think. Instead of saying things like, “This day it shot” or “I’m not good at this,” or thinking things like, “This is really a downer” or “I feel terrible,” make a conscious effort to talk and think positively. I can get over this. I can do this, and I feel great. Things are going to work out just fine. It’s amazing how just a few words can make such a big difference.

Play your winners. Winners are things that almost always make you feel good or lift your spirits. At work, keep a photo from a recent vacation or of the car you’re rebuilding or display a craft project or one of your child’s drawings. Other winners include a favorite book or video that always makes you laugh.

Help others. To help someone else is probably the last thing on our minds when we feel we need help ourselves. But reaching out to someone in need has so many positive emotional benefits. The good feeling that comes from volunteering at a soup kitchen, youth clinic, shelter or other venue can naturally lift sagging spirits.

Step into the light. More people seek help for depression in the winter than in the summer. Many researches believe it’s because there are fewer daylight hours in the winter. The condition is called Seasonal Affective Disorder. Look for ways to work sunlight into your day just as you would exercise or any other healthy behavior.

Exercise. Exercise releases a chemical in the brain that naturally elevates mood. Athletes sometimes refer to this effect as a “physical high.” Take a brisk walk, shoot some baskets or whatever else you enjoy that your doctor recommends as appropriate for your state of health.

Stay away from alcohol or other drugs. Relying on chemicals to feel better is a common practice. But it doesn’t work. Alcohol or other drugs only cover up painful feelings that may need to be addressed before lasting, positive change can take place.

Ask for help. It isn’t always possible to easily rebound from an emotional down like a relationship breakup or job change. In such cases, try what hundreds of thousands of people do each year – reach out for help.