Tag Archives: Mindset

10 Practical Ways To Handle Stress

Stress is inevitable. It walks in and out of our lives on a regular basis. And it can easily walk all over us unless we take action. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to minimize and cope with stress. Here are 10 ideas for handling stress without causing more strain and hassle.

1. Figure out where the stress is coming from.

Oftentimes, when we’re stressed, it seems like a big mess with stressors appearing from every angle. We start to feel like we’re playing a game of dodgeball, ducking and darting so we don’t get smacked by a barrage of balls. We take a defensive position, and not a good one at that.

Instead of feeling like you’re flailing day to day, identify what you’re actually stressed about. Is it a specific project at work, an upcoming exam, a dispute with your boss, a heap of laundry, a fight with your family?

By getting specific and pinpointing the stressors in your life, you’re one step closer to getting organized and taking action.

2. Consider what you can control—and work on that.

While you can’t control what your boss does, what your in-laws say or the sour state of the economy, you can control how you react, how you accomplish work, how you spend your time and what you spend your money on.

The worst thing for stress is trying to take control over uncontrollable things. Because when you inevitably fail — since it’s beyond your control — you only get more stressed out and feel helpless. So after you’ve thought through what’s stressing you out, identify the stressors that you can control, and determine the best ways to take action.

Take the example of a work project. If the scope is stressing you out, talk it over with your supervisor or break the project down into step-wise tasks and deadlines.

Stress can be paralyzing. Doing what’s within your power moves you forward and is empowering and invigorating.

3. Do what you love.

It’s so much easier to manage pockets of stress when the rest of your life is filled with activities you love. Even if your job is stress central, you can find one hobby or two that enrich your world. What are you passionate about? If you’re not sure, experiment with a variety of activities to find something that’s especially meaningful and fulfilling.

4. Manage your time well.

One of the biggest stressors for many people is the lack of time. Their to-do list expands while time flies. How often have you wished for more hours in the day or heard others lament their lack of time? But you’ve got more time than you think, as Laura Vanderkam writes in her aptly titled book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

We all have the same 168 hours, and yet there are plenty of people who are dedicated parents and full-time employees and who get at least seven hours of sleep a night and lead fulfilling lives.

5. Create a toolbox of techniques.

One stress-shrinking strategy won’t work for all your problems. For instance, while deep breathing is helpful when you’re stuck in traffic or hanging at home, it might not rescue you during a business meeting.

Because stress is complex, “What we need is a toolbox that’s full of techniques that we can fit and choose for the stressor in the present moment,” said Richard Blonna, Ed.D, a nationally certified coach and counselor and author of Stress Less, Live More: How Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Can Help You Live a Busy Yet Balanced Life.

6. Pick off the negotiable tasks from your plate.

Review your daily and weekly activities to see what you can pick off your plate. As Vanderkam asks in her book: “Do your kids really love their extracurricular activities or are they doing them to please you? Are you volunteering for too many causes and so stealing time from the ones where you could make the most impact? Does your whole department really need to meet once per week or have that daily conference call?”

Blonna suggested asking these questions: “Do [my activities] mesh with my goals and values? Am I doing things that give my life meaning? Am I doing the right amount of things?”

Reducing your stack of negotiable tasks can greatly reduce your stress.

7. Are you leaving yourself extra vulnerable to stress?

Whether you perceive something as a stressor depends in part on your current state of mind and body. That is, as Blonna said, “Each transaction we’re involved in takes place in a very specific context that’s affected by our health, sleep, psychoactive substances, whether we’ve had breakfast [that day] and [whether we’re] physically fit.”

So if you’re not getting sufficient sleep or physical activity during the week, you may be leaving yourself extra susceptible to stress. When you’re sleep-deprived, sedentary and filled to the brim with coffee, even the smallest stressors can have a huge impact.

8. Preserve good boundaries.

If you’re a people-pleaser, saying no feels like you’re abandoning someone, have become a terrible person or are throwing all civility out the window. But of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, those few seconds of discomfort are well worth avoiding the stress of taking on an extra activity or doing something that doesn’t contribute value to your life.

One thing I’ve noticed about productive, happy people is that they’re very protective of their time and having their boundaries crossed. But not to worry: Building boundaries is a skill you can learn.

9. Realize there’s a difference between worrying and caring.

Sometimes, our mindset can boost stress, so a small issue mushroom into a pile of problems. We continue worrying, somehow thinking that this is a productive — or at least inevitable — response to stress. But we mistake worry for action.

Clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D., talks about the idea of worrying versus caring in his book, The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. Worrying is an attempt to exert control over the future by thinking about it, whereas caring is taking action. When we are caring for someone or something, we do the things that support or advance the best interests of the person or thing that we care about.

LeJeune uses the simple example of houseplants. He writes: “If you are away from home for a week, you can worry about your houseplants every single day and still return home to find them brown and wilted. Worrying is not watering.”

Similarly, fretting about your finances does nothing but get you worked up (and likely prevent you from taking action). Caring about your finances, however, means creating a budget, paying bills on time, using coupons and reducing how often you dine out.

Just this small shift in mindset from worrying to caring can help you adjust your reaction to stress. To see this distinction between worrying and caring, try this activity where you can list responses for each one. For example:

Worrying about your health involves…

Caring about your health involves…

Worrying about your career involves…

Caring about your career involves…

10. Embrace mistakes—or at least don’t drown in perfectionism.

Another mindset that can exacerbate stress is perfectionism. Trying to be mistake-free and essentially spending your days walking on eggshells is exhausting and anxiety-provoking. Talk about putting pressure on yourself! And as we all know but tend to forget: Perfectionism is impossible and not human, anyway.

As the researcher, Brene Brown writes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth and it’s not self-improvement.”

Nothing good can come from perfectionism. Brown writes: “Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life-paralysis [‘all the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect’].”

Plus, mistake-mistaking can lead to growth. To overcome perfectionism, Brown suggests becoming more compassionate toward yourself. I couldn’t agree more.

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How To Overcome A Painful Break-Up?

It goes without saying that breaking up with someone you love is not easy. And the more you like someone the more painful it will be when you have to stop seeing someone who you really like and care about, and if your to be ex-partner is the kind of person you think you are not going to meet any time soon because there aren’t just many individuals out there, who will be that special to you. Losing a loved one inevitably breaks one’s heart and learning how to heal that broken heart is very important to our emotional health and to our ability to return to enjoying dating life promptly.

Indeed, we often have no choice but never see each other again, and therefore it’s worth knowing how to get over those break ups and continue moving forward with our lives with the right mindset, and not continuing drowning ourselves in self-pity or indulging in any kind of self destructive post-break-up behavior for too long after.

Here are the steps you can and you should take in order to get over any break-up quicker and in a more healthy manner:

1. Avoid harboring hope that you and your ex-partner will get back together. This is the crucial time when you must demonstrate strength and reluctance in letting those thoughts get into your head. Being strong now will most certainly pay off in the future.

2. Stop reminiscing on the wonderful times that you and your ex had while you were together. Such wonderful memories are great to have, and you should be thankful that you had those great experiences and feelings. However, at that most painful time, right after breaking up, these thoughts do nothing good to you and only aggravate your pain and prolong your recovery by making you feel that you sustained a major loss.

3. Stop thinking that your ex was one of a kind person. No matter how special he/she was, you own future dating life will show that your next love will be also very special in his/her own, unique way – this is just the reality of how love works.

4. Realize and truly believe that whatever happens, happens for a reason and for your own best. This includes break-ups. Think about it – every time you have to throw away a great pair of old, worn-out shoes that felt more comfortable than any other shoes you have ever had, your next pair of shoes is often even more comfortable. Most people who lose a job eventually find a better one. This is a far reaching analogy, but the same applies to relationships. If you were taken out of your recent relationship by some great force, perhaps that force is trying to take you out of that relationship and put you back into the market, so that you start looking for and eventually find a partner who is even better for you and more compatible with you on all levels.

5. Perceive your recent break-up as a great opportunity to learn how to deal with such experiences and become a stronger and a more mature individual. Like any other challenging experience that pushes your emotional levels (such as employment termination, loss of a loved one to a terminal illness, etc…) breaking up and losing love today will “condition” you and will make your recovery from similar experiences in the future easier.

6. Do not perceive a relationship as an investment and your lost relationship as a waste of time. Be grateful! Be grateful for having been granted the joy of love and affection of your former partner as long as your relationship lasted and don’t forget that some things are probably just not meant to last. There is no insurance against breaking up whether you have been together for one month or for 20 years. Just look around you. I surely don’t need to tell you how high the divorce rate is. Some people perceive it as a very negative by-product of the modern, western culture, but I would like to suggest to you that it is quite normal and even natural. Most people simply do not belong with each other in a romantic relationship. Most relationships end, most people who are dating, are bound to break up. There is nothing wrong with it – it’s an inevitable selection process and we all participate in it. Accepting it as a natural part of dating life is very important and can be quite effective in helping you overcome a painful break-up.

7. If you believe that you made certain mistakes in your recent relationship, whether they were the ones that caused the break-up or not, make sure you learn from those mistakes and move forward as a person who possesses a better understanding of himself and his interactions with romantic partners, and make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes in the future.

8. Lastly, continue living! Pursue your professional and social goals and don’t leave much space for boredom in your life. This is not the right time to “relax.” You will have plenty of time to relax once you are over your ex and perhaps once you met someone new.

Breaking up is hard, but it can be a positive experience if you allow it to be. It can make you grow and become a stronger and a more attractive person. Make sure you take advantage of those valuable life lessons!

Further, it is important that you remember that the pain of breaking up is an emotion, and as such, it will not go away overnight. It will take time for your feelings to go away. But with conscious effort of keeping in mind the above points, you can make the process of overcoming and recovering from the break-up much faster and easier.

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3 Tips For Dealing With Disappointment

Sometimes things just don’t turn out how we want. It could be anything—a project, a relationship, a job. We enter into these situations with high hopes, and often, when our hopes are dashed, we feel intensely disappointed.

Here Are Three Tips to Help Ease the Sting of Disappointment

So that the next time things don’t go your way (and trust me, there will be a next time) you’ll be able to bounce back more easily.

1. Trust.

Many times, when things don’t work out as we planned, there’s actually something bigger and better on the horizon. You’ve probably experienced this before—you get all worked up because you didn’t receive a job offer or something like that—only to realize, in hindsight, that if you’d been offered that job, you never would have moved across the country and met your soul mate. At the time, you probably felt angry, sad, and disappointed. But in retrospect, you can see how everything was working out with perfect timing.

When things don’t go our way, it’s important to learn to trust that the universe has our back. Even though your situation might look bleak at the moment, there’s something better coming. I truly believe that when we think in this way, we actually create these bigger and better things. Call it a shift in perspective, a self-fulfilling prophecy, or the law of attraction. However you want to think of it, there’s a mountain of evidence attesting to the fact that, in all areas of life, mindset matters.

Cheryl Richardson, the best-selling author of The Art of Extreme Self-Care and You Can Create an Exceptional Life, often tells the story of her experience with the Oprah show. One day, Cheryl got the call that many people dream of—Oprah wanted to have her on her show. Cheryl was elated, until she received another call a few weeks before the show was to air. It ended up that Oprah didn’t want her anymore.

Cheryl was devastated, but after some initial mourning, she kept following her passion of being a life coach and author. Then, a year later, Oprah called again. This time, Cheryl got on the show, and she did so well that Oprah turned her into a regular guest on her Life Makeover Series.

The moral? Cheryl says that if she had gotten on the show the first time around, she wouldn’t have done as well, because she didn’t have enough media experience to nail the interview. The extra year gave her time to hone her craft so that when she did end up on the show, she knocked it out of the park.

The next time something doesn’t go your way, close your eyes and say to yourself, “I trust that everything in my life is happening in perfect, divine timing.”

2. Release.

In modern life, we often place far too much emphasis on the outcome of our actions, as opposed to enjoying the journey. We have a picture in our mind of exactly how everything is supposed to work out: we’ll have this relationship by this age, this job at this point, this much money in the bank by this year, this many children, this car, this house, and on and on.

Unfortunately, this isn’t how the real world works. Of course, it’s always nice to have goals and a vision of what we want in life, but if we attach too strongly to that vision, we end up feeling crushed when things don’t go according to our five (or forty!) year plan.

We need to loosen our grip on the outcome and learn to enjoy the process. We try so hard to control our lives, while the saying, “Man plans, god laughs” is utterly true.

Let go of your attachment to the outcome. All you have is this moment, right here, right now. This is it! Enjoy it as best as you can. If this moment is difficult, return to point one and trust that something better is on the way.

3. Expand.

When we’re working toward a goal, we often have on blinders. These blinders cause us to see a very narrow picture of the outcome that we desire. Unfortunately, this tunnel vision results in a very close-minded approach that can actually stifle our motivation and creativity.

A practice that I like to use is to ask the universe for what I want, but to keep an open mind at the same time. For example, you can visualize the outcome that you desire, and then affirm to yourself, “I trust that I am being guided toward this or something better.”

Access Consciousness recommends a fantastic question to help reduce narrow-mindedness. The next time you catch yourself obsessing over a very specific outcome, ask yourself, “What else is possible?”

The trick here is to avoid searching for an answer with your logical mind. We tend to overemphasize the capabilities of our rational mind, when in fact, research shows that we actually make poorer decisions when we rely on logic. Many times, our emotions, gut feelings, and unconscious minds lead us to better decisions. Creativity is not logical.

You’ve probably heard many examples where people came up with solutions to problems, inventions, and beautiful pieces of art through dreams or other unconscious means.

When we find ourselves getting too preoccupied with an outcome, we need to let it go for awhile and expand our mindset. Go for a walk, spend time with a loved one, or meditate. Continue to ask yourself, “What else is possible?” But don’t go searching for the answer. Let it percolate. The guidance will come exactly when it’s meant to.

Disappointment as a Gift.

In the end, life’s disappointments often bear hidden gifts. The trick is to shift our perspective so that we can see these blessings for what they are.

In his book The Gift of Fire, Dan Caro talks about how a horrible childhood accident that left him disfigured and near death was actually a gift. Dan learned early on how to make adversity work for him, and you can too.

Just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and trust, release, and expand.

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How To Improve Your Bad Habits & Develop Healthier Habits?

To develop healthier habits you must improve on your bad habits. Bad eating habits, or lack of exercise can revolt into bad health. Also just cutting out bad habits in your daily life, to improve your mental health is important as well. Bad habits can have it’s way of effecting your entire life. Sometimes we just get lazy, and that can contribute to bad habits. Having a set plan and following through it as a routine can help break bad habits. That way you can habituate healthy habits.

I think one way to help eliminate bad habits, is giving yourself rewards. However, finding the motivation and keeping it can help you develop better habits into your daily life.

1. Develop better eating habits.

Eat healthier foods and get a balanced nutrition into your diet. This is so difficult, because sometimes finding healthy foods to satisfy our taste buds can be difficult. Don’t eat foods high in saturated fats. I’ve heard that eating foods high in saturated fats convince your body to eat more. Developing healthy eating habits takes time. Try to substitute bad eating habits, with better ones. However, still allow yourself the occasional snacks, just keep them limited. Or when you do eat something that isn’t exactly healthy, you compliment it with foods that have good sources of proteins, vitamins and antioxidants in them.

2. Welcome daily exercise into your life.

Making a habit of exercising is one of the better ways to develop healthier habits. It’s not just about losing weight, or getting into better shape. It can just help you develop a better mindset. Working out is extremely healthy for your entire body. Make exercise a routine, not just a phase. You don’t have to do it everyday, but it should be weekly.

3. Change your routines.

The same routines can often cause bad habits. Doing the exact same thing can trigger your subconscious into the exact same scenarios. Whether it’s eating, lack of exercise, or just the way you manage your time. Too much of one thing can be bad. Being able to adapt to new routines will help you embrace new habits, and break your old habits. It will take an adjustment and willingness to do these things.

4. Eliminate alcohol use.

Drinking a lot of alcohol is one of the better ways to cause bad habits in your daily life. Alcohol in general is bad for your mental stability. Alcohol is often linked to depression, which can explain a lot of bad habits a person obtains in their life. Cut back on usage of alcohol, and give yourself specific rules when drinking it frequently. If you can’t manage your drinking, then you have a problem. Go to AA and don’t be afraid to get the help needed.

5. Bring more joy and pleasure into your life.

Just simply enjoying life more can allow you to feel more motivated to improve your bad habits. A good mindset is obviously needed if you’re going to break bad habits and develop healthier ones. So to do that, take time to experience new things or try to do things you enjoy. If your bad habits are the things you enjoy, then try new things. Find other ways you can enjoy yourself, that aren’t becoming bad habits. For example, bad habits might be something as simple as watching too much TV. It’s easy for something to become a bad habit, even if it’s not extremely harmful to begin with. Try picking up a book instead. It’s not healthy to be so involved into one, or two things all the time.

6. Make a list of the daily things to improve on and give yourself set rules to follow.

Make a list of your bad habits, and then develop goals to improve on. It’s good to make yourself a schedule to follow. It’s easier when you have a set plan, and rules you give yourself. Keeping your bad habits organized, and making a blueprint on improving will help you out. Sometimes one has so many bad habits, it’s hard to keep track of them. Develop a methodical approach. Let there be self rewards you give yourself, that gives yourself satisfaction when breaking through on your bad habits and developing better ones.

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How To Develop Your Lateral Thinking Skills?

Lateral thinking is a special form of “thinking outside the box.” Technically it is a way of intentionally coming at a topic or problem from a different point of view. But it also is creative way of thinking you can develop as a background habit.

As with anything you want to do well, the more you practice lateral thinking, the better you will be at it.

1. Emulate lateral thinkers.

A major part of lateral thinking is experience, and the first step of experience is seeing it in action. However, most of us don’t notice when others are doing it. You have to pay attention and look for it. When someone comes up with surprising answers or seems to think differently from others, pay attention to what they say and do. You can ask them questions about how they come up with their answers, but even just noticing that they are doing it is the first step.

2. Study subjects you know nothing about, especially if they involve skills.

Part of lateral thinking is being able to get into another mindset. If you are used to numbers and spreadsheets, read about creative writing, or poets. If you are a poet you can benefit by reading about mathematicians and physicists. You don’t have to become one, but when you open your mind to just learn about how others think — what issues and problems and tools they use — you prepare your mind to think in different ways.

3. Practice your lateral thinking with creativity exercises.

Spend some time each week, or better yet each day, pushing your mental envelope.

Lateral thinking in particular is all about bringing together things that are seemingly unrelated. So start with a topic or problem, and then find random objects or words or concepts to relate to the topic. Or you can push the envelope of your thinking in other ways by making a list of things that are outlandish versions of the problem or issue – exaggerate it, make it bigger or smaller. If something is straightforward and objective, like making coffee, find moral and emotional issues related to it. Get ridiculous, get silly. The key here is, though, to get DIFFERENT.

Use very exercise you find, but also invent your own. You need both outside and inside input to think in a lateral way.

4. Look for ways to apply what you learn in everyday life.

Lateral thinking, like any skill, takes time to learn. And as with any skill, you learn more by applying it to real problems than you do by just doing exercises. After you get good at the exercises, start collecting issues and problems in your real life to start thinking laterally about, and set aside time to think about it. It could be anything from your need to find more time to spend with your kids, to how to decide who to vote for, to how to get a promotion or better job.

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