Positive Emotions.

During my coaching training we completed modules on positive psychology. Standard psychology = broken people need fixing. Positive psychology = focusing on the positive aspects of human life and how to enhance them. The world definitely has a need for both but 2020 has highlighted to me so far that there is a special need for positive psychology in the general population at the moment. So far this year has been scary to say the least, a lot has happened, a lot IS happening and it is easy to get sucked into a downward spiral of worry and fear. 

Broaden and build theory suggests that emotions are very functional. Where negative emotions serve a purpose by limiting our thoughts and behaviours allowing us to act more decidedly in times of stress, positive emotions broaden and build our conscious awareness. When you are in a bad mood, you are very closed off & stuck in negative thought patterns. When you are in a good mood you are more curious, sociable, creative & healthier. You become better at problem solving and are able to persevere longer at tougher tasks. More importantly right now, your immune system works better!

On a personal level, we should be looking to nourish and increase positive emotions in order to get the above benefits, but also on a company level. For any business, big or small, i fully believe in the importance of looking after the mental health and overall well-being of your employees. In coaching we look at each person as a whole. We understand that in order to feel satisfied, fulfilled and happy, one must have balance in key areas of their life. If one of your team members is not performing well, instead of focusing on their current lack of achievement, have you thought about the possibility of something outside of work that might be affecting their performance? If they feel unfulfilled in life, the negative feelings and thoughts will seep through in to their work life. If they are having trouble at home, or if they are having health issues, the same thing will happen. When our lives feel balanced and fulfilled, we can increase positive emotions and in turn improve our lives even more creating an upward spiral.

A meta analysis study by Lyubomirsky, King & Diener in 2005 on positive emotions shows that positive emotions have the following results within a company – 

  • Lower turnover at work.
  • Better reports of customer service.
  • Better supervision evaluations.
  • Lower emotional exhaustion.
  • Higher job satisfaction.
  • Better organisational citizenship behaviour.
  • Fewer work absences.
  • More social club involvement.
  • More volunteerism.
  • Perceived by others as being friendlier more assertive and more confident,
  • Higher annual salaries,
  • Higher longevity.
  • Lower incidence of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Faster recovery from illness or injury.
  • More likely to resolve conflict through collaboration.
  • Increased motivation.
  • Better decision making efficiency.

I have just provided you 17 good reasons to work on interventions to help increase positive emotions in yourself and in your employees.

Business hats to one side though, couldn’t we all use a little more of this? I know my anxiety has started to creep up on me the past few weeks and with the current COVID-19 pandemic i know i can’t be the only one. From the fires across Australia devastating the native wildlife, to multiple deaths & tragedies, now countries going in to lock down due to the coronavirus, what a year so far. I think of myself as a very positive and open minded person and i tend not to get worried or sucked in to things that we have no control over, but even so i can’t help but feel overwhelmed at how the year has started. 

So this post is just as much for me as it is for you. Whether you apply this just to yourself, or if you are in a position where you can apply this to your company and employees, let’s look at some interventions to increase positivity and get ourselves into that upwards spiral.

We’ve all heard of ‘name 3 things your grateful for’, right? I want to take it a step further. 

Although studies show that naming 3 things your grateful for each day does in fact increase positivity, they also show that people tend not to stick to the practice after the study has ended. It just doesn’t feel worthwhile enough for people to continue long term. In coaching, we focus on creating long lasting habits so i’m going to suggest gratitude to you, but in a slightly different format. 

At the end of each day, instead of naming 3 things your grateful for, i want you to think about it in a bit more detail. Keep a journal of this and ask yourself questions that focus on the positives such as – 

  • Who supported me today?
  • What were today’s successes?
  • What did i do well today?
  • What did others do well today?
  • What was the highlight of my day?

Keep this up for at least 1 month, it should only take a few minutes each night, you will be surprised at how much you notice. Make sure to leave your journal somewhere you will see it each night so that you don’t forget. It might also be helpful to think of a trigger such as brushing your teeth before bed or getting changed in to your PJ’s, so you know when i get changed in to my PJ’s each night i will take a few minutes to write my journal. This is a great way to integrate it into your routine and form a new habit. 

If you are in a business environment, you could also do this as a team at the end of each work day. Ask your team to reflect on these questions and write them down, either individually or as a group. 

This is such a small step and will only take a few minutes each day, you have read the amazing effects of increasing positive emotions, we could all use a little boost right now i’m sure, so let’s all do this together. Let’s start today!

 

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References – 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/positive-psychology

Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching – Robert Biswas-Diener.

 

 

1 year Cancer free.

It has been exactly 1 year since I got the all clear and what an amazing year it has been. I completed my coaching diploma, started my yoga teacher training course and most importantly I completely transformed in so many ways.

It’s amazing how when you get a life changing diagnosis every other worry you had becomes obsolete. That person in work who annoys you. That project your behind on. Any conflict with your significant other. Money worries. Self limiting beliefs. Everything else just disappears and you suddenly realise how it wasn’t really important in the first place. Suddenly you realise that the only thing that ever mattered was your health.

This is something that has really changed my perspective on the world. In the years leading up to this I suffered with auto-immunity and arthritis so I already knew that if your suffering with a chronic condition and with chronic pain it takes over completely and can be so hard to get into the right headspace to break free from the cage of being trapped within your condition. Being diagnosed with cancer allowed me to break free from that cycle.

From the date of my first surgery, through my diagnosis, getting the all clear, getting the ‘not actually all clear’, to a second surgery and the final all clear it all happened so fast and was such a whirlwind experience. I can’t even begin to put in to words the pain and deep soul felt sobs that happened during that time. Every single second of every day I was praying to God to heal me of this and visualising the outcome that I wanted and thanking him for all of the blessings in my life so far. I realised during this time of uncertainty that the things that would usually bother me suddenly didn’t bother me any more. In work, at home, in general – if something happened that would usually cause me to get stressed out, I just accepted it and moved on, it didn’t matter.

After getting the all clear this shift in perspective really stayed with me and because of this I began a complete transformation into a happier, healthier and more free version of myself. I realised the things that truly matter and let the things go that didn’t. Of course i’m only human and slip back in to worry and anxious thoughts from time to time, don’t we all? But i’m very quick to recognise it now and bring myself back in to a more positive and uplifting mindset. This change in mindset not only helped me achieve freedom from anxiety and my self limiting beliefs, but on a physical level I feel better than I have done in years. I actually forget some days that I have an autoimmune disease at all, i’m too busy loving every minute of life and thanking God that I am healthy enough to live it. I still suffer with chronic pain but I am no longer consumed by it. I still have an autoimmune disease but the autoimmune disease no longer has me.

This past year has been amazing for me and I know that this is just the beginning. I have always wanted to help people become better versions of themselves and help them to improve their mental, physical & spiritual wellbeing. After living and breathing such a transformation myself I now know that the rest of my life will be devoted to helping others achieve the same kind of freedom in any way that they need it. I am here to serve.

What is self care and why do we need reminders?

Self care seems to be becoming a bit of a trend at the moment & this is one trend i am 100% on board with. One thing i have noticed though is that i see a lot of self care hashtags and promotion, but not a lot of information or detail explaining why self care is so important, or why some people struggle with self care.

Self care is something that has to be learned and is not an ‘automatic instinct’ like one might think. Your self care habits are often learned from adults in your family growing up and this can cause quite a lot of issues. If you are coming from an abusive household, self care will be so far down on your list of priorities that it could even be completely non existent. By abusive i don’t just mean physical abuse, i also refer to neglect, mental abuse, emotional abuse, manipulation, narcissistic abuse and all other types. Some people might not even be aware that they have suffered abuse, it can be so subtle and sneaky that many adult children of abusive families will suffer without ever realising why or without ever realising that what happened to them was wrong. This can also happen as an adult in abusive / codependent relationships. When in an abusive relationship often the abused will be trying so hard to keep the other person happy or to meet their partners needs that they will completely forget about their own self care and eventually end up a broken shell of the person they once where.

But lack of self care doesn’t always come from this. There are many people who come from happy households, have loving families & have never been in an abusive relationship, but they also struggle with self care. Maybe their loving parents were working long hours throughout their childhood to support them, but this left little room for support growing up and little time to observe and learn about SC. Maybe they are motivated and want to do well in work and progress their career, so they think that by focusing all of their time and energy on education and work they will improve their lives and get that job position they have always wanted. Maybe they have low self esteem and so SC is not something they actually care about.

To some people this might come so naturally that when they see ‘self care’ posts, or ‘tips on self care’ articles they might wonder, why would anyone need tips on that? But the truth is that it does not come naturally to us all & there are many different reasons why one might struggle with SC.

I myself struggled a lot with SC up until the age of 22/23 when i ended up in counselling and psychotherapy for other reasons. I genuinely didn’t know that SC was an issue for me until i’m sat in the chair face to face with my therapist and she asks me ‘what have you done for yourself this week?’. Well i didn’t know what to say or how to answer her. I didn’t even really know what she was asking me. We talked and talked and she was asking me a lot of questions like ‘when was the last time you pampered yourself, when was the last time you had a massage, when was the last time you had a hot bath and read a book, when was the last time you had your hair done, when was the last time you had a girls night or a movie night, when was the last time you cooked yourself a really nice meal, what’s your daily routine like?’ Most importantly.. and this is the one that changed my life in a massive way was she asked me ‘when was the last time you said no?’

Try this little exercise –

Step 1 – Fold an A4 piece of paper in half length ways. On the left side, make a list of all of the things you have done for others this week. Such as, giving somebody a lift, helping a colleague with a difficult task, collecting something for your partner on your way home, helping get your younger siblings ready and off to school, a few hours overtime to help out at work. Anything at all that you have done for others, add it to your list.

Step 2 – Now on the right side of the paper, i want you to make a list of all of the things you have done for yourself this week. Such as, a hot bubble bath with candles, saying no to working late because you were tired, asking for help with something if you need it, cooking your favourite meal instead of everyone else’s favourite meals, trying out a face mask and soaking your feet, reading a novel.

Step 3 – Now compare both sides of the paper. Are they even? Remember that although it is important to help others when you can & it feels nice to give and to do things for your loved ones. It is is even more important to help yourself & to ask for help if you need it. Let others do things for you sometimes, but most of all do nice things for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so ensure that your own cup is full before doing things for others so that your not left running on empty. Find a good balance between giving to others & also letting them return the favour and give/help you.

Self care doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Sometimes self care can be ‘treating yourself’ but sometimes self care can be the simple daily things that we sometimes forget to do when we are feeling down, such as washing our hair or drinking water.

See below my go to list of self care options/reminders, let me know if you have any other ideas that i can add to the list –

  • Hot bubble bath with salts & essential oils.
  • Epsom salt foot soak.
  • Clay face mask & skin care routine.
  • Say NO to things you do not want.
  • Switch your phone off and stay off social media.
  • Read a good book (not a self help book – get lost in a novel).
  • Buying fresh socks & pyjamas.
  • Have a hot chocolate with cream.
  • Cook your favourite meal.
  • Meal prep.
  • Ask for help !
  • Put some music on, sing, dance & be playful.
  • A walk in nature.
  • Go to bed early. SLEEP is the best medicine.
  • Meditate.
  • Yoga.
  • Talk to someone. A friend, a colleague, a pet, a therapist.
  • Write / journal. There’s nothing better than getting it all off your chest.
  • Floatation therapy. This one is my absolute favourite.
  • A cup of herbal tea. Drink it mindfully.
  • Watch your favourite childhood movie.
  • Pamper yourself at home.
  • Get a massage.
  • Wash your hair, cut your nails, moisturise your body.
  • Put some music on and do your chores / clean. This sounds like a weird one, but for me personally i always feel great when everything is clean and tidy and the chores are finished. However if you are already worn out and drained, the chores can wait.
  • Reassess your priorities.
  • Throw out that ‘to do list’.
  • Go to the gym or exercise at home.
  • Drink water.
  • Breathe. Take a few mindful deep breathes, practice some pranayama.
  • Get a reiki treatment, or even try taking the reiki level one course so you can give yourself reiki.
  • Watch or listen to something funny (The Ricky Gervais Podcast is my go-to).
  • Take yourself for a nice day out / meal / or weekend trip.

There are so many ways to practice self care and a lot of people won’t need a list or reminders. I need them. I often get caught up in work / my career & doing things for others and forget to take time out for me. So this post is for you, whoever needs it, but also a little reminder for me so i can check back regularly and make sure i am ticking a few things off this list. Now take some time out and celebrate you, you deserve it.

 

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