Tips for living in the now

One thing I’ve learned about being too wrapped up in the past and/or future is that it conjures up emotions of guilt and anxiety, respectively. Overthinking about something in the past can lead to feelings of resentment and guilt; whilst being too focused on the future is a breeding ground to invoke anxiety or fear. It’s self-destructive yet startling to see the number of people who live this way.

I’ll refrain from throwing around overused quotes such as Live for the now or You might not get tomorrow because whilst true there overuse waters down their meaning, in my opinion …But being absentminded isn’t productive and certainly doesn’t lead to living a fruitful life full of happy thoughts.

Living in the moment and being focused on the now stems from teachings of mindfulness, and if there was one book I would recommend  Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now. This book really changed my thinking around creating a more mindful approach to my everyday life.

Why?

Increase your joy for things happening around you in the moment, find the extraordinary in the ordinary and simply starting to love life for what it is – and not resenting it for what it’s not. It’s the idea of living a fulfilling week rather than waiting for the weekend.

Increase your self belief  Doing rather than thinking about doing  is much more fruitful for squashing those nagging feelings of self-doubt. People often worry about things in the future because they waste too much time worrying about what could happen.

Learn to love what is by letting go of what was and not focussing too much on external goals.  The more time spent ruminating over something that caused grief, the longer the time spent wrapped up in a cycle of negative thinking. On the other hand, focusing too much energy on end goals stops you appreciating life now. Goals are great to have but don’t kid yourself into thinking that you will suddenly become happier when you lose that weight, buy that car or land that job. When you get there, if your mindset is still future focussed you’ll feel a sense of dissatisfaction and end up simply yearning for the next goal. Sure as hell not reaping the rewards of all of the work paying off.

My top tips for focussing on the now:

  • Practice gratitude: what are you grateful for?
    • Practice being grateful. Gratitude has been shown to boost feelings of happiness. Simply start your day with taking note of something that you’re greatful for, be thankful or text somebody you appreciate. It needs to be genuine though and not forced. It could literally just be that the sun is shining. You’ll start to appreciate things in your life a lot more and actually start to feel grateful for who you are and the great people you have in your life.
  • Pay attention: to other people, to your thoughts, to your feelings and the environment
    • Delete the crap from social media. Seriously stop wasting your time scrolling(!). Life is busy and those hours spent absent-mindedly scrolling Instagram or Facebook add up. Imagine actually using that time on being productive or taking care of yourself, instead of investing time reading about what everybody else is doing.
    • Be mindful. Do you notice what’s going on around you? Do you look up when you’re walking? Smell the fresh air? Or put your phone away when you’re in a meeting/with friends?(!) The amount of time I see groups of people looking at their phones rather than chatting to each other in cafes is startling! I notice this because I look around 🙂
    • Smile at strangers. Simple but effective. We are social beings, so make eye contact with people. Connect. In real life.
    • Eat slowly and taste your food! It takes your brain 10 minutes longer than your stomach to notice feeling full.
    • Check in to your body. Meditate and be mindful of your body, move with purpose, notice areas of tension and learn to slow down.
    • Breathe. Deeply.
  • Practice acceptance
    • The 5 minute rule. Something that’s caused grief? Give yourself 5 minutes to be upset and have a pity party, then tell yourself no more!
    • Stop worrying. A simple tip. If it will not matter 5 years from now do not waste for that 5 minutes worrying about it.
  • Be spontaneous 
    • Remember the last time you were spontaneous, how great did you feel? You don’t need to go booking a crazy spur of the moment trip (especially not if you’re using a credit card) but stop, breathe and ask yourself what would make you feel happiest in that moment.
    • Stop waiting for the weekend. It’s great to have things to look forward to but don’t focus all your energy and effort waiting that you forget to appreciate what you’re doing right now.

Hope this brings a little positivity to your day! x

 

 

 

Thursday Thinking: loving yourself

It was World Mental Health on Tuesday but it still feels that we are a long way off reducing the stigma that surrounds issues of this kind. However, raising awareness and generally pushing people to open up more is a big step in the right direction.

It really should be a priority to take care of ourselves and look after ourselves our minds. Loving yourself is part of that parcel.

You should go and love yourself. Yes I did just quote Bieber 🙂

Working on your self-esteem can be great for all aspects of your life. You feel better in your own skin and actually start to believe in yourself and in turn this translates to a more improved, healthier and happier you. Even the notion of feeling positive can have such a vast impact on improving your quality of life. Who doesn’t want to feel more positive, happier in their skin and be in better health?

What actually is Self Esteem?

From a psychological point of view, self-esteem is the subjective feelings that a person attributes to themselves about their own worth or value. People with high amounts of self esteem believe they are good, worthy and deserving of love and good things, whilst people with low amounts believe the opposite to be true. Of course this is over-simplistic as we fit somewhere along the continuum,  and as with all aspects of our lives it’s more intricate and interconnected with the context, time and situations changing how a person views themself.

We all have a self-esteem lens through which we see the world based on psychological makeup, life events and our upbringing. We are inclined to interpret the world in line with our beliefs we seek out those examples that provide evidence to support our views and disregard those that do not fit our biases. For example, the person who is inclined to think negatively might received 10 compliments and 1 piece of criticism (or what they may interpret as such) yet ignore the praise and be fixated on the negative. It fits with their perception of their self.

Whilst self-esteem is somewhat learned from being a child you can help yourself if you feel like you want to boost it. However, replacing negative views or a negative lens does not happen overnight. Building self-esteem is the same, it’s all part of an ongoing process of self-development. As with any process of building any new habit, it takes time, determination and process. But trust that process. Believing in yourself is SO IMPORTANT for a healthy and happy life.

Below are my ways to boost self-esteem.

Talk about believable positive affirmations.

Positive self talk and affirmations are powerful tools that relatively easy to implement. But the key is whether you believe them or not. Telling yourself something unrealistic such as that you had a great day when you feel down in the dumps will not make you feel better. Telling yourself you are beautiful when you don’t truly believe it only leads to feeling worse! The key is to remove the permanence in the statement and you might be more inclined to believe it. e.g. replacing ‘I am beautiful’ to ‘I look OK/good/great today, I particularly like my x/y or z today’. Don’t kid yourself into positive self talk that you simply do not believe. Be more realistic.

Making lists about yourself is a good start. Write down qualities that you believe to be true and start there. Make a list of your strengths: are you friendly, creative or caring? Or list your greatest achievements, or things you admire about yourself. Are you really stuck, merely list 5 things you could do to help someone else. Re-read these lists. These lists can be your positive self talk.

Accept compliments.

This might be a learning curve but when you receive a compliment, write it down. Not all the time. But when you receive a compliment that makes you feel good, or is about something that you don’t usually feel positive about or that has taken you by surprise. Re-read your list/book of compliments and try to find extra evidence! Better still, turn these compliments into positive affirmations because they are based on real life evidence. You might not believe your own thoughts but I bet you’ll believe in other people’s words.

Challenge negative thoughts. 

When you find yourself slipping into negative talk, e.g. I’m useless, I did a bad job, I look terrible write these down.  Imagine that your best friend/partner/mother said this about themselves, what would you say back? What would a more reasonable thought be? If you feel comfortable share these with others and get their objective views. Replace the permanence and subjectivity with a temporary statement or find the objective evidence. This can help you to take a step back and realise where your disordered thoughts lie. It might be that objectively speaking really are not fat, or last week you received praise ‘My boss said thanks on that job, so it must have been good’. Find the evidence in the world that you might have overlooked. You really are not a failure and you are not useless. Do you have a job, a degree, certificate in something, friends, family or a roof over your head? You really are not a failure.

You have power to boost your self-esteem and choose to think positive thoughts 

Replace bad habits with good ones

You always have a choice of feelings

🙂