Do you have toxic people in your life?

Unfortunately toxic relationships affect us all at some point in our lives. When it comes to relationships we seem to be pretty well attuned to spotting this toxicity yet let it slide with others. We can verbalise reasons why a relationship didn’t work – selfishness,  lack of understanding, not able to be yourself, and list goes on…

So why do we allow these traits or situations manifest in friendships?

To live our most happy lives we must be surrounded by those that lift us up. Since we are supposedly the sum of the 5 people we spend the most time around, it’s imperative to  choose wisely! It can be difficult to spot negative and toxic traits, especially when you’re in the thick of it. I’m certainly guilty of being oblivious at the time then looking back and spotting and reflecting on negative traits and situations. Captain hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh?

Reflecting on those traits in my personal experiences as well as talking to others I noticed a few key traits and commonalities.

Negative energy

I think this might be the biggest for me. I tend to absorb people’s feeling quite easily and  always notice a negative vibe straight off the bat. Some people are just terribly pessimistic and their glass is always half empty and whilst it’s not necessarily your problem it’s definitely not nice to be around. If you notice that you come away from being with someone always feeling negative, pulled down or a bit bleak, perhaps that person has had an effect on you. Maybe you cannot put your finger on it. I’d suggest re-assessing your time spent and the situation with them. Everybody goes through a bad patch from time to time and if it’s a close friend you might not mind spending a bit of energy trying to lift them up, but nobody needs to be around a constant stream of negative energy. It might start rubbing off on you. Not nice.

Lack of respect

An unwritten rule of any friendship is a mutual respect for one another. A lack of respect can come in many forms from you feeling used, your values not being respected or feeling pressured into something. On a more subtle note, is the person actually listening to you? Do they sit on your phone whilst you’re talking, do they talk over you or do you feel like you have to hold back for fear of offending? Do they constantly take and never give? In reality we all have differing options but you should never be made to feel as though you’re tiptoeing around someone or as though you’re not able to be your true self. True friends accept you for who you are.

Emotional abuse

The word abuse is such a loaded term because it can have serious implications, which makes it difficult to acknowledge. Over time, emotional abuse really impacts on your self-esteem and self-worth which is why it is important to cut it out of your life. It might be that you’re constantly put down, criticised or ridiculed by that person. Other signs to look out for are snide comments, being made fun of or not being listened to. These factors can seriously hurt and affect the way in which you view yourself and can lead to serious self-esteem issues.

What signs do you notice?

Lianne

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Motivational Monday: Kick start your morning for a productive day

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Morning is probably the favourite part of my day as it sets the tone for what is about to come. Kicking off in a positive way carries good karma for the day; whereas a bad start definitely does not result in a productive day. There are so many self sabotaging bad habits, whether these are unhealthy for your body, cluttering your mind or just generally overwhelming yourself.

Habits are a funny things. Bad ones are easy to get in to and hard to break… whereas good ones are difficult to maintain and easy to break.

However, since I have adopted the following positive habits my life has improved ten fold. I get more done in the same amount of time, I have a healthy mind and body, meaningful connections and live a more fruitful life.

RE-HYDRATE

Water! Whether it’s hot or cold or flavoured with cucumber, lemon or lime. Whatever way you have it, aim for around a pint before doing anything else. It’ll wake you up, start your digestive system and get your body ready for the day.

I also recommend a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar to improve circulation, detox your body and really get your digestive system fired up.

MOVE THAT BODY 

Exercise, gym, dance. Whatever you like to do, don’t over think it, just move.

There are countless reasons to exercise and it should be a priority to get a regular amount of exercise. Most importantly to protect your heart, but also to wake you up (the extra oxygen in your muscles) and to boost your mood (endorphins released from exercise absorb extra serotonin, the feel good chemical).

Some people see exercise as a chore but it doesn’t need to be. I believe there is a form of exercise for everyone but it may just take time to find something you enjoy. Whether it’s the gym, yoga, a dance class or simply walking the dog.

I personally cycle to work because it wakes me up and gets me motivated for the day, or I’d pop to the gym for a quick class. Don’t have that luxury? YouTube! These can be done anywhere, anytime. My personal favourites are The Body Coach, Blogilates or Yoga with Adrienne.

DITCH THE SUGAR & NOURISH YOURSELF

Eating something high in sugar first thing is probably the worst thing you could do from a health perspective. It reaps havoc on your blood sugar levels, causing you to peak then crash soon after. Ever wonder why you’re starving at 11am or craving sugary or junk food all day? Probably because you ate the wrong breakfast, probably laden in hidden sugar or fat. It’s time to ditch the cereal, granola and fry ups.

It is essential to eat a good balance of macronutrients at breakfast! Aim for a good source of carbs, protein and good fats. Slow release carbs (e.g. oats) provide sustained energy, protein keeps you fuller for longer and good fats will fill you up and prevent overeating. Oats, eggs on toast, avocado, fritatas, full fat/greek yoghurt with fruit are all great options. If time is not on your side it’s not an excuse PREP the night before. Overnight oats, yoghurt and berries are such easy options, or have some hard-boiled eggs ready to go with some toast. Probably taking the same amount of time as pouring that cereal.

DISCONNECT 

STOP scrolling your Facebook feed, DONT check emails and DONT respond to messages!

Mindlessly reading updates on social media is an unproductive activity that merely fills your head with other people. On others, not you. Focus on you and your goals by starting your day with a clear mind. Empty your mind in the morning and start with a blank slate for a positive and fruitful day. I personally have do not disturb on my phone in the morning (and night!) and I sure as hell am not checking emails or messages until I’ve got to work. My morning is purely for me.

TAKE A MINDFUL MOMENT

Connect to yourself and your body. Take 10 minutes to stretch, do a bit of yoga or listen to some feel good music. 10 minutes is probably the same amount of time you spend on social media, so you do have time. Even just 5 minutes of gratitude, meditation or clearing your mind can work wonders for your motivation and productivity for the day. How you feel in the morning will have a knock on effect for the rest of the day, so make sure you de-clutter your mind.

I like to take a moment to live in the now, read about why here.

TAKE ACTION TO PREVENT PROCRASTINATION

Action comes before motivation!

Just because you might not feel motivated to do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Just do it anyway. Procrastination evokes a huge feeling of boredom which has been shown to decrease happiness, satisfaction and productivity. Don’t put something off that you’ve been meaning to do.

Write a quick to do list! What are three things you can achieve or need to get done today. Don’t think, pick the easiest and just do it. I’d also recommend listening to motivational ted talks/podcasts/upbeat music, recognising and replacing negative self talk with positive mantras, and/or standing in a power pose like this.

What are your morning habits?

Lianne

Turning a bad day around

Those days when you just wake up in a funk and feels as though everything is going wrong and everybody is against you. It is so easy to allow thoughts like this to snowball and before you realise you’re wallowing in a tomb of self-pity. But you can fix a bad day.

Stop and breathe. Take 5 minutes to allow yourself a bit of self-pity (you are human after all) but then stop this unhelpful thought because wallowing in self-pity and catastrophizing really is going to ruin the rest of your day.

I recommend reading Don’t sweat the small stuff by Richard Carlson if you haven’t read it. His book is full of positive thinking approaches to squashing the little worries we all have and at its core the book provides advice for not over thinking or blowing problems out of proportion.

However, it’s ok to not to be ok sometimes. There will be bad days. But just remember the following:

This too shall pass

If you have decided that you want to turn that bad day around, there are so many things you can do to help yourself. My favourites:

IMG_8939_lsExercise

Move your body. Get your heart pumping.

It might feel like the last thing you want to do but trust me, a bit of exercise will give you an instant pick up. It releases endorphins and serotonin (the feel good hormone) and reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) so added benefit if your bad day is stress or anxiety related. It’s written in the science and you can’t argue with that. You don’t have to slave away in the gym for hours, but a simple 30 minutes sweat fest can be the difference between prolonging the crappy feeling or turning the day around.

Personally, I like to do a 20 minute high intensity (HIIT) workout or listen to a podcast whilst running. HIIT workouts are SO easy to structure. Just pick your fave body weight exercises and an interval that works for your fitness level and off you go. If that seems daunting, my fave YouTube workouts to follow are the body coach, fitness blender or blogilates. I’m a gym bunny and use exercise as a preventative measure. I might write a separate post about structuring workouts if you are interested.

IMG_4010Self indulge

Particularly powerful is to just STOP and ask yourself what would make you most happy in that exact moment. Remember the last time you were spontaneous, how great did you feel? What would boost you in that exact moment?

Take time out and treat yourself to a bit of me time. This is personal but it could be having a hot bath, reading a book, watching some TV, ringing a friend, going to the cinema, having a massage or a pamper session. Indulge in the way that feels right for you. Regarding food, it’s tempting to reach for junk food or alcohol and if that is what would make you happiest in that moment then indulge. But don’t feel guilty afterwards! Listen to your body and thoughts. Personally I feel worse after junk food, so 9 times out of 10 I’ll avoid it if I’m in a bad mood and instead I’ll nourish myself with healthier (but equally tasty) food. If I want treats, I’ll eat them. And that’s fine too. Just ask yourself how you’ll feel after because you don’t want to cause unnecessary guilt.

 Mindfulness and living in the now is powerful and proven to boost your mood. Read my post about it here.

IMG_1644Challenge your thinking  

Write down the negativity. What was the situation or event that caused you to feel that way? What was the event/trigger/situation and how did you feel. Describe as thoroughly as possible and then try to identify the following: your thoughts about the situation/event, your response, your emotions, feelings and physical response (e.g. heart racing). Whilst we cannot control external events we can control our response to them.

When you have identified as much of the above as possible, try to think of alternate ways to perceive the event/situation. Could you calm your body down to stop the panic, think more kindly towards yourself or take a moment to calm the feelings? If you have unfavourably compared yourself to somebody else stop right now. Remember people only share their best bits and you actually have no clue what goes on behind the facade.

What are your go to’s for a bad day?

Lianne

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

🙂