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.

 

 

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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My First Float.

 

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If you read my previous blog post you will know that for my 25th birthday i was heading over to Kildare for the day to experience my first ever float session in a sensory deprivation tank.

I went to Sli Beatha in Naas, Co. Kildare and was not disappointed. The whole experience from start to finish was absolutely wonderful, so much so that i decided to pay for two further sessions so i can go again in the next few weeks.

First of all i would highly recommend going to Sli Beatha Float House if you are going to try floating. If you don’t live in Naas don’t be put off by having to travel as i promise it is worth it. I got the 126 bus from the Happeny Bridge in Dublin city centre which took roughly 40 minutes & it was only 10 euros for a return ticket. The bus dropped me right outside just across the road from the Float House (ask the bus driver to tell you when your at the stop before the post office in Naas and get off there).

The whole place was very beautiful inside and felt very relaxing & ‘spa’ like. Laura was very welcoming and made me feel very comfortable right away. I was sat down in a little cosy area to watch a video about how the tank works & a few need to know things. I was then given some earbuds to keep & offered a bottle of water and then Laura took me upstairs to my private float room.

I have to say the full place from top to bottom was absolutely gleaming and spotless, such a beautiful space throughout and lovely decor & a calming atmosphere. Laura took me in the float room and explained everything to me and showed me where everything was and how to use the tank and then she left me to enjoy.

I was delighted that in your private float room you have absolutely everything provided for you so you don’t have to bring anything at all. A lovely fresh towel and a turbie towel for your hair are provided, plus you have your own shower in the room for before and after the float. I quickly had my pre float shower, put my earbuds in place and climbed into the tank.

I was a little bit nervous about doing it as i have had a terrible fear of drowning for the past 10 years ever since one of my friends i went to school with sadly drowned. I used to be quite a strong swimmer up until that happened but afterwards i would have nightmares every night for years to come and wake up in floods of tears every night. After that the fear of drowning was just to overwhelming for me that it took me 8 years before i would get back in the water again. I’m glad to say that i finally came to peace with it and started learning to swim again at the age of 24. Better late than never right?

I was surprised when i climbed in at how bouyant I was. Relief rushed over me straight away as i realised theres no possible way i could drown in here, i could barely even sit on the bottom to get in place thats how floaty it was in there. I pulled the top of the tank dow completely straight away as although i had been a bit worried before about drowning or feeling claustrophobic those fears were now gone. I floated so easily and comfortably and the tank was so big that i just wasn’t worried at all now.

For the first 10 minutes of the float they play some beautiful calming music directly into the tank & the light in the tank is still on. The light is like a beautiful pastel mood light with really warm glowing colours, enough to light up the tank inside but not bright enough to kill the mood, just right. You can turn the light off yourself when you get in if you like but since it was my first time i kept it on for now. Laura had advised me that when i get in the light will automatically turn off after 5 minutes and that the the music would fade away and turn off after 10 minutes. For the first minute or two i was just finding my most comfortable position to float in which was with my arms up by the side of my head instead of by my sides. I had a little bit of anxiety worrying about being able to breathe properly in here and was worried would i freak out when the light and music turned off so i decided just to concentrate on my breath. I practice pranayama breathing techniques regularly so i just focused on a techique i know to calm the nervous system & relax .

When the light turned off i was actually surprised as straight away the sense of being inside a tank just vanished. The floating sensation coupled with absolute darkness made me feel as if i was floating through a vast open space it was a very freeing and wonderful sensation. Any anxiety that i had felt previously completely disappeared, i did not feel enclosed or as if i was in a tank at all and it was absolutely pitch black in there i could not see a single thing. There were a few times throughout the float when i actually didn’t know if my eyes were open or closed as it made no difference either way. My neck & traps felt very achy and uncomfortable at first which i knew could happen from watching the video before hand. When there is no other sensation to focus on except your own body any aches or itches or rumbles just feel magnified times 10. Even though the aches in my neck were very prominent at first i was still extremely relaxed and comfortable and after the epsom salts in the tank started to soak in (about 20 minutes in) the muscle aches and tension eased away completely.

With the light switched off i got this indescribable feeling throughout my whole body like a mixture of relief and elation. I often struggle to calm myself or relax around other people & as i get older i become more and more introverted. The theme of my week so far had been ‘God please give me 5 minutes of peace and quiet before i lose my shit or have a panic attack’. When the music went silent in that tank i just though to myself FINALLY! Absolute silence and alone time, no distractions, nobody to have to make conversation with or answer to, no anxiety, no jobs to do or places to be, no rushing, just pure joyous bliss.

The next 50 minutes were absolutely wonderful i can’t even begin to describe. I realised a long time ago that even though anxiety is internal, for me my anxiety always revolves around other people. Always trying to people please, worrying about what other people are thinking, trying to make conversation to please other people even though i just want quiet, putting other peoples needs before my own, carrying other peoples worries as my own, fear of other people wanting to hurt me. I always find any social situation extremely draining and even though i will always be smiling and i truly do want to be there, it can just get a bit overwhelming for me at times. It was like getting some time alone in this tank to relax was an answer to my prayers. I honestly must have been radiating gratitude from every single inch of my body whilst i was in there for getting the chance to have this experience.

I let the good feelings flow in and the bad ones flow out and let my thoughts come and go exactly the same way. I didn’t try to control my thoughts or stop them or direct them, i just let them come and go without really fixating on them. Just being aware of what was drifting in and out. Being present and completely letting go of everything.

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For the majority of that 50 minutes i would completely forget where i was, i almost felt like i was in a dream or floating through the universe or just completely absorbed in consciousness. Actually i think the way to describe it would be all of those things at once.. i was awake but dreaming, floating through the universe, completely immersed in consciousness with no attachment to my physical body. It was such a beautiful and humbling experience that words do not do it justice. One thing that i was very happy about as for a while now i seemed to have ‘writers block’ and couldn’t seem to come up with things i wanted to write about any more. My thoughts became so crystal clear in that tank that the ideas just came flowing to me one after another, but gently and softly. There was never a rush of thoughts or a bombardment of thoughts. Infact i don’t know how it’s possible but i’m pretty sure the thoughts were gently flowing and coming to me but at the same time my head was completely clear and silent. Well one thing i have learned this far in life is that ANYTHING is possible. The mind is a complex and fascinating thing. All of the ideas that came flowing to me about writing and about my life seemed so perfect that it was as if God had just planted them there himself. At the same time though these thoughts and amazing ideas i was having weren’t like an epiphany. No. They were from inside me, i already had these thoughts but with the business of every day life and the outside noise it’s hard to make sense of your own thoughts or let them surface.

And then i felt grateful to myself. Grateful for following my guides, for following my intuition, i felt grateful for allowing myself this experience, grateful for me to listening to my body and practicing yoga, walking, for meditating, for allowing myself to heal, for my ayahuasca journey, for my journal. All of these things that i had brought into my life that are just for me. For taking care of myself, mind body and spirit. (Feeling nostalgic referencing back to my first ever blog post here). I promised myself in this moment that floating was going to become a regular part of my life from now on. As did yoga, meditation, journalling, so will floating. I made a comitment to myself right then to float once a month and give myself this time to let go of everything and allow myself to heal. From the inside out.

After my float was over i had a lovely hot shower in the float room before heading through to the dressing room to get myself together. I had brought towels and shampoos, brushes etc with me in my bag but it turns out none of them were needed. The shower had the loveliest smelling shampoo & conditioners of all time & the shower gel left me all silky smooth and smelling gorgeous after washing away all of the float salts – note, make sure to rinse out properly inside your ears just in case any salt water got in, as if it dries on your eardrum it could cause some discomfort. In the cutest dressing room ever there were loads of toiletries and amenities to choose from. Cleansers, moisturisers, body butters, argan oils, hair serums, deodorants, hair brushes, a selection of gorgeous perfumes, hair bobbles & clips, they literally had everything.

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After i spent a slow & lazy 45 minutes drying my hair and getting myself together i took a seat on a cosy orange elephant chair and had a browse through the guest book. It was lovely to read the messages left by all of the people who had visited before me. So many people saying they had also had similar experiences to mine, joyous, calming, the feeling of connection and oneness. My personal favourites were ”it’s all connected” & ”ooh ahh sli beatha, ooh ahh sli beatha”. So anyways i left my own message in the guestbook thanking them for a wonderful experience and then i went down to the reception and paid for my next two floats to come. No hesitation there. I already can’t wait to go back and i will keep blogging about each floating experience and how it evolves for me.

Healing the mind body & soul, one float at a time.

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