2020 has been a tough year, there is no doubt about it! I for one am running out of steam, motivation is low and I´m wondering whether this pandemic will ever end and if it does what will be at the other side of it? I´m noticing the lows are coming more often and lasting longer, and I know I´m not alone. And that´s okay. We are human beings dealing with an unprecedented level of uncertainty and change and we don´t have our usual stress-busting outlets available to us so we can expect things to feel a but more challenging at times.
As we head into winter in the Northern Hemisphere things are about to get a little bit tougher. The days are getting shorter and colder and for a lot of people adding SAD to f*cked-off will be the final hooray for 2020. The weather, the pandemic and the amount of daylight are all out of our control but we can still prepare for what´s coming. Here´s my three steps for how to plan for when the winter blues threatens our last ounce of sanity in the year we´d rather forget.
Make a plan
Business and public buildings all have emergency response plans because they know that when the sh*t hits the fan and we face a crisis our executive functioning goes offline and things like flexible thinking, planning and prioritising, self-monitoring and impulse control become less available to us. The same thing happens when we slip into a funk and the reason it feels like we can´t think straight it´s because our amygdala has taken over and we basically turn into toddlers with complex emotions. And that my friend is why we need to have a contingency plan in place.
We all know the things that make us feel better but we tend to forget them when we need them most, so plan for the shitty days ahead. Think of ways to sooth and nourish yourself ahead of time, write them down and stick that list somewhere you can see it. If it turns out you don´t need to use that plan great, but if you do then you have an arsenal of resources at your fingertips when thinking is just too much.
When you are thinking of your plan, think both in terms of things that create energy for when you´re low or dissipate energy for when you´re anxious, there are no hard and fast rules here, you know what works best for you. Some activities are balancing which means can be both energising or calming like going for a walk or a cycle, great to have on your plan for when you´re not quite sure what you need.
Here are some ideas of things to include:
Know your Signs
We all have tell-tale patterns and signs that let us know we need to up our self-care a little. For me, I know I need to pay attention when I start putting the things that keep me in balance further and further down my priority list. My journaling habit goes out the window, I exercise less and start eating way more simple carbs usually in the form of toast- because it´s fast and easy. Other people stop listening to music or withdraw from the people they care about, the thing is we all have different modus operandi and the important thing is to become aware of what yours are so you can put your action plan in motion when the first signs start showing up.
It can be hard to spot your tells at the beginning but stick with it. You may even need to look back after you´ve been in a funk to begin to notice the warnings. Reflect on what was going on the last time you felt off, what changes did you notice in the run up to it? It may take a bit of practice to really catch yourself at the beginning of a downward spiral but before long you´ll notice you´re jumping to correct it faster and bouncing back better than ever before.
Remember- it´s not about never feeling low, or fed-up or anxious ever again, we are human after all, it´s about being better able to spot the signs and support yourself through these spells so you spend less time there.
I know I am always banging on about the importance of self-compassion, well that´s because I can´t stress it enough- learning self-compassion can change your life. We all know the theory of treating ourselves with unconditional kindness yet when it comes to putting it into practice we falter.
W berating ourselves for falling into a depressed mood, fill our self-talk with shoulds and should nots and fear that if we are not hard on ourselves we will fall into a pit of self-pity and complacency. It never happens! I have worked with a lot of clients on develpoing self-compassion and not one of them has become lazy or self-indulgent, most of them actually achieve more. Why? Beacuse they learn how to treat their failures as opportunities and how to recognise when they need to slow down and take a little extra care of themselves. So the next time you are struggling with something check in with yoursefl and see if you are treating yourself and talking to yourself with the same care and kindness you would give to someone you love dearly, and if you aren´t adjust your behaviour so you are not being so hard on yourself, you´re not talking to yourself in a deplorable way and your expectations of yourself are not excessively high.
We all have days when things get on top of us, but with a little self-awareness, self-compassion and preparation we can make sure those days don´t turn into weeks. We can learn to support ourselves in a way that´s life giving and sustainable and it doesn´t need to cost the world.
Got any interesting or unusual self-care practices? Share them in the comments!
When we think of being a good partner, parent, or friend one of the first things that spring to mind is being supportive when things go wrong or when times are tough. We pride ourselves on how well we help our loved ones through the sh*t that life slings at us, which is of course hugely important, but did you know that how you respond to good news could actually be damaging your relationships?
We rarely think about how we show up for other people when things go well and life is good but recent research shows that how we respond to life´s joys and triumphs, especially when others share theirs, can be just as important as how we show up for life´s struggles.
Dr Shelly Gable a professor of Psychology at the University of California whose research focuses on motivation, close relationships and positive emotions has discovered how we respond to our loved ones when they share the good stuff has a huge impact on our relationships, often to their detriment. She identified 4 response styles, 3 of which negatively affect our interpersonal relationships and only one that strengthens them. So, if you would like to build more closeness, intimacy, and trust in your relationships it might be time to pay attention to how you respond to good news when it´s shared with you.
Whether you´re trying to break out of the cycle of living pay cheque to pay cheque or you´re ready to up level your income to 5, 6 or even 7 figures one thing is certain, you need to work on your mindset as well as incorporate practical strategies to create more abundance in your life.
Most of us have limiting beliefs around money that we need to clear out before we can lean into what is truly available to us, whether we buy into the old axioms that money doesn´t grow on trees or money is the root of all evil or have an inner sense that affluence is for other people and making real money is beyond your reach, we can all benefit from doing a bit of work on our money mindset.
All three books challenge us to look at how we view money and how we relate to it, they encourage us to take back our power around money and move from fearing it to appreciating it for all it allows us to do.
Here, in no particular order, are my top 3 money mindset books.
I thought I was handling the lock-down well, here in Spain we are already in our third week of full lock-down, only being allowed out to go to the supermarket or walk the dog, and only when absolutely necessary. I was getting on with things, keeping positive, trying to hold on to some semblance of a routine until I couldn´t access a streamed yoga class I wanted to attend and things fell apart.
I cried, not the usual tears of frustration that sometimes flow when I can´t get a handle on technology, but tears of sadness, a sadness that had been just below the surface for days. Oh I had noticed it there, but I had been so busy working and being a container for other peoples experiences that I wasn´t allowing space for my feelings. On reflection I´m not surprised- I´m grieving, we all are!
Communication is the cornerstone of all relationships and yet we pay very little attention to it until it goes wrong. Whether it´s the family member expects you to read their mind or the boss who is clumsy at giving feedback, we all know someone who could do with a crash course in communication skills.
But how often do we take the time to reflect on our own communication skills and styles? And how often do we take those reflections and use them to inform our next difficult conversation or to actively build deeper connections?
Not very often, and the thing is, by paying a little bit of attention to how you communicate and making small changes you can make a huge impact on your relationships.
In this post I´m going to look at 4 powerful yet simple ways to communicate better so you can have deeper, more meaningful connections.
Every year there is a mad dash to make promises on New Year’s Eve, New Year, new me and all that jazz, and every year begins with a spate of broken promises, some new start that is. This year there is the added stress of the turning of the decade, social media is rife with it, talk about pressure. So this year I suggest you throw New Year’s resolutions out the window and here´s why.
Whether 2 months or 20 years have passed, when you’ve lost a loved one Christmas can be hard. We are sold the myth that we get over grief and can be caught off guard when a sudden wave of emotion comes over us and leaves us feeling like we have been transported back to an earlier part of our grief journey. These waves can happen at any time and often unexpectedly but they are perfectly normal. Here are 5 simple things to do to help you get through the festive season when you are feeling the absence of someone you love.
We live in an increasingly complex world and with digitalization and information overload we are in a constant state of distraction. When we feel stressed and overwhelmed the added pressure that comes with the holiday season can be enough to tip us over the edge. The greatest gift we can give ourselves this year is the practice of mindfulness: the gift of attention, of being fully and non-judgmentally in the present moment.
With its origins in Buddhist philosophy the practice of mindfulness has been around for thousands of years. The benefits are wide-ranging and no longer anecdotal with prestigious universities such as Harvard and Oxford adding to the growing body of empirical data that shows that practising mindfulness can lead to stress reduction, increased focus, emotional resilience and a greater ability to respond rather than react. It increases creativity and empathy and our overall well-being; physical, emotional and mental. The best thing about it is you don’t need anything other than your full attention to start building it into your routine or your festive activities.
Deciding to hire a coach is a big decision. Whether you are feeling stuck and unsure where the ‘stuckness’ is coming from or you want to work on a concrete topic like communication skills or stress management or you are looking for accountability to get a new business moving forward consistently, partnering with a professional can be daunting- but it doesn’t have to be. If you are considering working with a coach, here are some tips to help you make the best choice for you.
Understand what coaching is
Coaching has a positive impact on your thoughts, behaviours and emotions allowing you to move forward in new ways using internal resources that were previously unavailable to you. There are many highly trained coaches out there using research based methodologies to facilitate this, however it is not therapy and is not designed to help you overcome trauma. And while we are happy to share information that will allow you to further your growth we do not teach you how to develop your skills in a specific area in the way a mentor would, nor do we give advice like a consultant. Coaches use different enquiry techniques to help you develop awareness, grow personally and professionally, access your potential and design and move towards a future that is the greatest expression of you as an individual in every area of your life. If that´s what you´re looking for read on.
I was speaking to someone recently who lamented the fact that no matter how much inner work she does she never seems to be finished. She wasn’t impressed when I told her the inner work would never be finished!! But that´s a good thing, and I´ll tell you why.