Home » #anxiety

Tag: #anxiety

2020 Reflections – A year of paradox

A Reflective Space

This has certainly been a year of paradoxes. During those initial stages of hearing about the emergence of this virus, along with the other natural disasters that had occurred e.g. the Australian bush fires , the Indonesian flash floods, the volcano in the Philippians, the locusts in Asia-East-Africa-India-Middle East and the earthquakes that rocked China-India-Iran-Russia-Turkey-the Caribbean, left me feeling a little like a reprimanded child being sent to her room for an extended time out. Except, it felt like we were all being sent to our rooms by a really angry mother who was just done talking, when the virus hit.

I really likened the various levels of lockdown around the world to that.

I remember when raising my own children, I would talk and shout and yell and eventually my patience and sense of humour would fail and they would be sent to their rooms. Like all parents who has raised more than one child will attest; there is always one child who is more defiant and more stubborn and less compliant that the others. This is kind of how I have viewed what the world has experienced this 2020.

 

As with all families, big and small we have seen the varying levels of compliance and petulance [globally]. We have seen some come out of their rooms to resume life, only to fall back into miscreant behaviour and sent right back. We have seen the school yard bullies grab and  refocus  our attention for their own purposes, and we have headed the call for help from those less fortunate among us.

 

Frustration levels have inched up as fatigue sets in [doesn’t that sound a bit like the holiday season at your house]. We love our family but sometimes they leave us wondering if the same blood runs through their veins as does ours. Sometimes their thinking and attitude and behaviour gives us pause to wonder who these people are and how they can think the way they do?

 

So here we are! 2020 has rattled us all in ways we could never have imagined could happen. The foundation of our lives has been called into question and many of us have found ourselves reflecting on the things that are important to us and digging deep to find levels of resilience we were not sure existed.

 

For some of us this year has been filled with opportunity for others adversity. I think and really want to believe that either way we have all learnt lessons about ourselves and others that we would otherwise not have learnt. So, I would invite you to reflect on those lessons and not let them be in vain – we owe it to ourselves and to those who have gone before us.

As we prepare to bid farewell to this year I invite you to reflect with me on some of the lessons I have learnt and perhaps you had similar lessons.

My Reflections

We are not in charge: probably a lesson we all learn at some point in our life, and probably know intuitively, yet somehow we live our lives contrary to this. When mother nature loses her sense of humour and snarls and father time stands back and lets her – we the children of the universe need to take a minute to heed these parents.

 

None of our orientations matter when we face ourselves: Our money or lack thereof, sexuality, religion, political affiliations or any other differentiator we have come to believe separates us, means nothing when we face our own mortality. Death is the ultimate leveller, and it is a solo journey we must all travel.

 

Everything is about the perspective we have: If you were asked five years ago “where you thought you would be today” – I can guarantee you got it wrong; we all did. All our plans, hopes, dreams & aspirations for what this year would be like have all been upended. Reprioritization was the order of the day, and for some this was viewed through the lens of opportunity for a do-over and for others it was viewed through the lens of catastrophe and loss. Whichever lens you used to view the world, ultimately, some things will have changed for you and now the view you have is very different from what it was in January.

 

Gratitude keeps a positive attitude: Trials and tribulations we know are part of life. However, when our lives are thrown into disarray and we have no-one to lash out to or blame for the circumstances we find ourselves in. When those meaningless rants about whose fault it is, falls on deaf ears and we realise that no matter how many times we wag our finger at “those people” who brought this to our shores, we eventually stop and recognise that “we are were we are” and no about of ranting is going to change that. In these moments we learn that there are those who have lost so much more than we have, and still they smile and face their days with grace and gratitude – so what is our problem anyway?

 

Reflection keeps us real: For many of us, reflection is very difficult because through the humdrum of our busy lives we just never learnt how to do this in any meaningful way. No matter how you take time to reflect ,whether it is in the shower, on a run/walk, through journaling or any other space, take some undisturbed time to just think about you and your day that is either ahead of you or behind you. Reflect on the good moments and the moments of frustration. Reflect on what brought a smile to face or the contribution you made to someone less fortunate than yourself and remember how that felt. Then go and repeat that – for it is in those moments of service to humanity that we feel most alive and most valued.

 

Remember who you are: Being true to who we are and what we believe is often our greatest struggle. We get caught up in the priorities of life, work, raising a family, launching a career. Our lives hurtle by and we look at our children and wonder when they grew up. You know you were there but somehow the passing years have faded into a blur of activities. One day you stop and realise that those cuddly, sweet smelling little bundles are all grown up; and you are that many years older; and for the life of you, you cannot remember when or how it all happened.  Take time to ask those tough questions – Did I use my time wisely? What is stopping me from achieving my goals? What went well today? What did I learn today ? What did I teach today? Do I have negative emotions today – what are those and Why?

Truly think about these before you answer.

 

Learn and grow: I used to tell my students “We are always a student and sometimes a teacher” especially when they were feeling either despondent at not being able to grasp a skill I was teaching or when they were helping someone else practice a new skill. You see I have found that we should strive to learn 1 new thing everyday, no matter how random or arbitrary it may seem. Learning helps us to stretch our thinking and expand our curiosity and when we are curious we learn best. Wisdom is not reserved for the select few but rather is something we can all give ourselves by reflecting on doing things better, giving ourselves insight and learning how to be better and live more fulfilling lives.

 

Become who you needed: This was a tough one for me but incredibly valuable when I finally got it. We often spend many years agonising about relationships that did not go quite as we had hoped for. We lash out at parents or siblings or any other family members for what they did or did not do for us. We resent teachers who told us what we would or would not achieve. Then one day we realise that we are not that person anymore. We have achieved, we have the relationships we want, and the anger we harboured towards family members has dissolved, often into some form of tolerance or perhaps indifference. ON reflection we realise that we became the person we needed when we were growing up and we find we make very different decisions, which are often contrary to the ones we were raised on. Be proud of those changes because you are consciously making different decisions which serve you better. Self-awareness is a thing.

 

Leaking pipe or irrigation system: This was another incredibly illuminating moment for me. I always considered myself a fixer and proudly so. Always working from the premise that things are broken and therefore in need of fixing. Peoples’ thinking , their decision making, their capacity for progression. This was, for many years my job – to help people make informed decisions about their career and their future. I likened this to a water pipe and consistently felt as though I was fixing leaks along this pipe and I felt exhausted. I could no longer rally the emotional capacity to continue doing this. Then, one day, I was invited to consider an alternative view – I was invited to consider that perhaps this life was in fact not a water pipe that needed fixing but rather an irrigation pipe that needed to have the holes in it, to allow the water to drip/spray out. It took a minute to consider this and after a short time of consideration and recalibration I felt the relief. In that moment I realised that not all things need to be fixed and more importantly not all things that appear broken are broken.

2020 is rapidly coming to an end and as I reflect on the year that has past and share my lessons with you I wonder as I am sure you do too what 2021 holds in store for us.

I foresee a year of opportunity ahead for those who chose to see the opportunities, which for now may lie hidden. We have been given a chance to reflect and recalibrate and evaluate the things that are most important to us – our loved ones, the time we have to live, learn and serve humanity, the opportunity to be kind and generous to those who are in need of it. We have an opportunity to heal our world and repair the damage we (humans) have done to oceans, rivers, lakes, forests, air and all other areas of our environment. We have the chance to look into the mirror and realise that this world will flourish without us here, so maybe it’s time to dial back our arrogance and realise we are guests on this earth and start behaving as such.

Mother nature and Father time remain our loving universal parents BUT we have not been reprieved of our wrong doings.

What have you learnt from this year and what do you foresee the year ahead being for you?

lady mountaineer

Why Believing in Yourself Matters

lady mountaineer
I can do this

When facing a challenge, do you feel like you can rise up and accomplish your goal or do you give up in defeat? Are you like the famous little train engine from the classic children’s book (“I think I can, I think I can!), or do you doubt your own abilities to rise up and overcome the difficulties that life throws your way?

Part of becoming Resilient is learning to Believe in Yourself

What Is Self-Efficacy?

Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular situation. Psychologist Albert Bandura described these beliefs as determinants of how people think, behave, and feel.1

Self-efficacy plays a role in both how you feel about yourself, as well as  whether or not you successfully achieve your goals in life. Self-efficacy is part of the self-system comprised of a person’s attitudes, abilities, and cognitive skills. This system plays a major role in how we perceive situations and how we behave in response to different situations.

Albert Bandura, suggests that self-efficacy is “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations and belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation.

Self-efficacy can have an impact on everything from psychological states to behaviour to motivation.

Why has self-efficacy become such an important topic of discussion. As Bandura and other researchers have demonstrated, our belief in our own ability to succeed plays a role in how we think, how we act, and how we feel about our place in the world.

Self-efficacy also determines what goals we choose to pursue, how we go about accomplishing those goals, and how we reflect upon our own performance.

Virtually all people can identify goals they want to accomplish, things they would like to change, and things they would like to achieve. However, most people also realize that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple.

An individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached.

People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:

  • Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
  • Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments
  • View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered

People with a weak sense of self-efficacy:

  • Avoid challenging tasks
  • Believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their capabilities
  • Focus on personal failings and negative outcomes
  • Quickly lose confidence in personal abilities

How Does Self-Efficacy Develop?

We begin to form our sense of self-efficacy in early childhood through dealing with a wide variety of experiences, tasks, and situations. However, the growth of self-efficacy does not end during youth but continues to evolve throughout life as we acquire new skills, experiences, and understanding.

There are four major sources of self-efficacy:

Mastery Experiences

“The most effective way of developing a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences,” Bandura explained. Performing a task successfully strengthens our sense of self-efficacy. However, failing to adequately deal with a task or challenge can undermine and weaken self-efficacy.

Social Modeling

Witnessing other people successfully completing a task is another important source of self-efficacy. According to Bandura, “Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises observers’ beliefs that they too possess the capabilities to master comparable activities to succeed.”

Social Persuasion

Bandura also asserted that people could be persuaded to believe that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed. Consider a time when someone said something positive and encouraging that helped you achieve a goal. Getting verbal encouragement from others helps people overcome self-doubt and instead focus on giving their best effort to the task at hand.1

Psychological Responses

Our own responses and emotional reactions to situations also play an important role in self-efficacy. Moods, emotional states, physical reactions, and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about their personal abilities in a particular situation. A person who becomes extremely nervous before speaking in public may develop a weak sense of self-efficacy in these situations.

By learning how to minimize stress and elevate mood when facing difficult or challenging tasks, we can improve our sense of self-efficacy.

Examples of High Self-Efficacy

So what exactly does high self-efficacy look like? You can probably think of some examples from your own life including areas where you feel a great deal of efficacy.

Some examples of strong self-efficacy include:

  • A man who is struggling to manage his chronic illness but feels confident that he can get back on track and improve his health by working hard and following his doctor’s recommendations.
  • A student who feels confident that she will be able to learn the information and do well on a test.
  • A woman who has just accepted a job position in a role she has never performed before but feels that she has the ability to learn and perform her job well.

Self-efficacy can play an important role in how people manage their health, nutrition, and illness. For example, having a strong sense of self-efficacy can help people who are trying to quit smoking stick to their goals.

Maintaining a weight loss plan, managing chronic pain, giving up alcohol, sticking to an exercise schedule, and following an eating plan can all be influenced by a person’s levels of self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy can benefit a person’s sense of well-being in a number of ways. For instance, remaining optimistic and confident in your abilities, even when things become difficult.

Individuals with high self-efficacy tend to look at difficulties as challenges rather than threats. They tend to be more intrinsically interested in the tasks they pursue. Difficulty and failure don’t mean defeat; instead, these individuals double their efforts and look for creative and innovative new ways to overcome.

Issues with Low Self-Efficacy

People who are low in self-efficacy tend to see difficult tasks as threats they should avoid. They also tend to avoid setting goals and have low levels of commitment to the ones they do make.

When setbacks happen, they tend to give up quickly. They don’t have much confidence in their ability to achieve and they are more likely to experience feelings of failure and depression. Stressful situations can also be very hard to deal with and those with low self-efficacy are less resilient and less likely to bounce back.

Evaluating your Self-Efficacy Strength

There are a number of different scales that are used to evaluate levels of self-efficacy.

For a quick, informal assessment of your own self-efficacy levels, consider the following questions:

  • Do you feel like you can handle problems if you are willing to work hard?
  • Are you confident in your ability to achieve your goals?
  • Do you feel like you can manage unexpected events that come up?
  • Are you able to bounce back fairly quickly after stressful events?
  • Do you feel like you can come up with solutions when you are facing a problem?
  • Do you keep trying even when things seem difficult?
  • Are you good at staying calm even in the face of chaos?
  • Do you perform well even under pressure?
  • Do you tend to focus on your progress rather than getting overwhelmed by all you still have to do?
  • Do you believe that hard work will eventually pay off?

If you can answer yes to many or most of these questions, then chances are good that you have a fairly strong sense of self-efficacy. If you feel like your self-efficacy could use a boost, consider some of the following strategies for improving your sense of efficacy.

Building Self-Efficacy

Fortunately, self-efficacy is a psychological skill that you can foster and strengthen. Start by looking for ways that you can incorporate these sources of self-efficacy into your own life.

Celebrate Your Success

Mastery experiences play a critical role in the establishment of self-efficacy. This is the single most effective way to create a strong sense of self-belief.

When you succeed at something, you are able to build a powerful belief in your ability. Failure, on the other hand, can undermine these feelings, particularly if you are still in the early phases of building a sense of personal efficacy. The ideal sorts of successes, however, are not necessarily those that come easily. If you experience a lot of easy success, you may find yourself giving up more readily when you finally do encounter failure. So work on setting goals that are achievable, but not necessarily easy. They will take work and perseverance, but you will emerge with a stronger belief in your own abilities once you achieve them.

Observe Others

Vicarious experiences obtained through peer modeling is another important means of establishing and strengthening self-efficacy. Seeing others putting in effort and succeeding, as a result, can increase your belief in your own ability to succeed. One factor that plays a key role in the effectiveness of this approach is how similar the model is to yourself. The more alike you feel you are, the more likely it is that your observations will increase your sense of self-efficacy.

Seek Positive Affirmations

Hearing positive feedback from others can also help improve your sense of self-efficacy. By that same token, try to avoid asking for feedback from people who you know are more likely to have a negative or critical view of your performance.

For example, your doctor telling you that you are doing a good job sticking to your diet plan can be encouraging. Feedback from friends, mentors, health practitioners, and people who you respect can help you feel greater confidence in your own abilities.

Positive social feedback can be helpful for strengthening your already existing sense of efficacy, but negative comments can often have a powerful undermining effect. Social feedback alone is not enough to build your self-belief, but it can be a useful tool when you need a little extra encouragement.

Pay Attention to Your Thoughts and Emotions

If you find yourself getting stressed out or nervous before a challenging event, you might feel less sure of your ability to cope with the task at hand.

Another way to boost your self-efficacy is to look for ways to manage your thoughts and emotions about what you are trying to accomplish.

Do you feel anxious? Looking for ways to ease your stress levels can help you feel more confident in your capabilities. Do you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts? Look for ways to replace negativity with positive self-talk that promotes self-belief.

Developing a strong sense of self-efficacy can play an important role in almost every aspect of your life. Life is full of challenges and high levels of self-efficacy can help you better deal with these difficulties more effectively. Your belief in your abilities can predict how motivated you feel, how you feel about yourself, and the amount of effort you put into achieving your goals.

If you want to know about how to build your own Self Efficacy pop over to the contact page here and book a free chat with me.

Resilience – Super Glue of the Psyche

tree of hope

You know you are having one of those months when the crow’s feet have turned into vulture’s claws, when your sense of humour has completely failed you and you feel like you are stuck in some bizarre combination of the twilight zone and groundhog day.

You get times like that don’t you? My current blame du jour are the retrogrades, that those in the know predicted would throw all unfinished business and all that has been emotionally papered over, into deep fractures.

Change is one of life’s inevitabilities and as much as we are digging the vintage vibe or doing the ostrich thing to the stuff we can’t bear; change is the only constant.  We are all having to dig deep these days. Not just profoundly into our pockets but into our psyches too, to help mend and make do and get through in these volatile and uncertain times.

Redundancy, relationship crises, health issues and financial worries are becoming an increasing life burden for all of us. When the future is foggy, we struggle to find an anchor to keep us from feeling like we are drifting aimlessly and uncontrollably. We want black and white answers when those 50 rainbow shades offer an overwhelming and altogether unsexy prospect.

So, the buzzword to hold on to is Resilience.

Simply put, it is the ability to dig deep within ourselves to find that reserve of energy and resolve we need to help us through the tough times. Resilience is a skill and it can be practiced just like practicing to play a musical instrument or a sport.

Easier said than done for many, especially when you feel like jelly and you find yourself on shaky ground. Where is that strength you need to draw upon?

It is right there at the core of your being. You must have faith in your own instincts and abilities which will help guide you along the way. Digging deep into hitherto unknown reserves of self is what Japanese author Haruki Murakami writes about in his book on spirituality, philosophy and marathons What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Keeping the goal in mind and consistently reminding yourself that things will get better; as you take baby steps each day towards it. Coaching is great for this. Ordinarily we seldom, if ever, need to dig that deep for our everyday lives. It is however, worth creating systems which you can turn to when you feel the ground shaking and your nerve is heading for the Exit with someone else’s coat.

Here are a few coaching tips to help consolidate Resilience.

  • Maintain good relationships with your family and friends. Accept their help in times of stress. Offer help to those who are less fortunate than you are – and YES there are always others in a worse situation than you are. Give generously and earnestly, especially when you feel you have little to give. We feel at our best when we are able to help those less able than ourselves. The smallest act of kindness done in earnest will open the door of abundance.
  • Try to look at the big picture of life and avoid viewing difficult times as insurmountable. Take small steps toward your goals and take one day at a time. Avoid the pitfall of trying to solve tomorrow’s problems today. Deal with what you can deal with today, do it well – tomorrow is not guaranteed. Stay focused on what you can manage today, right here, right now. Remember there are things you can control and there are things you cannot. So do what you can do, manage what you can manage and keep moving forward.
  • Accept that change is a part of life and acceptance of what is – is key. Keep working toward your goals every day, and keep asking yourself “What can I do today to move in the direction I need to go in? Small consistent acts in the right directly get results.
  • Maintain a positive view of life and visualize what you want. When we feel like our resolve is fading, often times our energy levels tend to wax and wane as well. It is critical at these points to take care of yourself. Eat well, sleep and exercise to keep yourself healthy – even if you only do a quarter of what you would normally do. This is especially important during times of stress. There will always be an obstacle or hurdle that we will need to navigate in our lives. Learn to navigate these hurdles with confidence in your own abilities is key. Fear and anxiety will always rear their heads – it’s perfectly okay to recognise that you are fearful or anxious. The trick however is to not allow it to paralyse you into inaction.
  • Make the Decision to Prevail. This too shall pass. As the Good times come and go so too, do the Bad times. Nothing is permanent – as sure as day follows night these periods of volatility and uncertainty will pass.

 

Being resilient does not mean that we do not experience difficulty or distress, emotional  pain or sadness. Resilience involves the behaviours, thoughts and actions that we can learn and develop to navigate the emotional distress. Learn and practice self-compassion and recognize that everyone suffers. Being gentle and kind to yourself is a much more effective road to healing. If your best friend were going through a rough time you would be kind and gentle with them; NOW go and do the same thing for yourself.

Another sure-fire way of developing some psyche superglue is to hire a coach. Book your 30-minute trial telephone session today by emailing me at renatafester@career-coach.co.za

 

 

How to build resilience and cope with stress

Resilience is not ignoring your situation

What is Resilience?

We all demonstrate resilience in some form or the other at some point in our life. This is a very ordinary and normal process we all go through when we need to rebuild our life.

Being resilient does not mean that we do not experience difficulty or distress, emotional  pain or sadness. Quite the opposite the road to resilience is often paved with considerable emotional distress.

Resilience involves the behaviours, thoughts and actions that we can learn and develop to navigate the emotional distress.

We have all dealt with the death  of a loved one, loss of a job, serious illness or some other traumatic event that has left an indelible mark on our life. These are all very challenging  life experiences and many people react to these circumstance with a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty. Eventually though they adapt well over  time to these life-changing situations and stressful conditions. What enable s them to do so? It is resilience –  the ongoing process that requires time and effort and taking a number of steps to enhance and build their resilience.

Here are Six Strategies that can help you Build resilience

Change the narrative

When something bad happens, we tend to relive the event over and over in our heads. We step onto this merry-go-round and we rehash the pain the event has caused. This process is called rumination; it is the proverbial cognitive spinning of the wheels, and it doesn’t move us forward toward healing and growth.

The practice of Expressive Writing can move us forward by helping us gain new insights into the challenges in our lives. It involves free writing continuously for 20 minutes about an issue exploring your deepest thoughts and feelings around it. The goal is to get something down on paper. You do not necessarily want to create a memoir-like masterpiece.

Research conducted back in a 1988 study found that participants who did Expressive Writing for four days were healthier six weeks later and happier up to three months later compared t those who did not write or those who wrote about superficial things. The act of writing allows us to slow down our thinking and forces us to confront ideas one by one and give them structure, which may lead to new perspectives.

 

By doing this we are actually crafting our own life narrative and gaining a sense of control. We are also able to find the Finding Silver Linings which requires us to list at least three positive things about the experience or the lessons we learnt through this process. This helps us to become more engaged in our life post the event and increases our optimism over time. This in turn reduces our depression levels suggesting that looking on the bright side is something we have to practice regularly.

 

BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE

 Face your fears

The practices above are helpful for past struggles, ones that we have gained enough distance from to be able to get some perspective pn. What about those knee-shaking fears that we are experiencing in the here and now?

The Overcoming a Fear practice is designed to help with everyday fears that get in the way of life, such as the fear of public speaking, heights, or flying. We can’t talk ourselves out of such fears; instead, we have to tackle the emotions directly.

The first step is to slowly, and repeatedly, expose yourself to the thing that scares you—in small doses.

For example, people with a fear of public speaking might try talking more in meetings, then perhaps giving a toast at a small wedding. Over time, you can incrementally increase the challenge until you’re ready to nail that big speech.

This kind of “exposure therapy” helps us change the associations we have with a particular stimulus. If we have flown 100 times and the plane has never crashed, for example, our brain (and body) start to learn that it’s safe. Though the fear may never be fully extinguished, we will likely have greater courage to confront it.

Practice self-compassion

Fears and adversity can make us feel alone; we wonder why we are the only ones feeling this way, and what exactly is wrong with us. In these situations, learning to practice self-compassion and recognizing that everyone suffers, can be a much gentler and more effective road to healing.

Self-compassion involves offering compassion to ourselves: confronting our own suffering with an attitude of warmth and kindness, without judgment. The Self-Compassion Break, is something you can do any time you start to feel overwhelmed by pain or stress. It has three steps, which correspond to the three aspects of self-compassion:

  • Be mindful: Without judgment or analysis, notice what you are feeling. Name it and acknowledge it.  Say, “This is a moment of suffering” or “This hurts” or “This is stress.
  • Remember that you are not alone: Everyone experiences these deep and painful human emotions, although the causes might be different. Say to yourself, “Suffering is a part of life” or “We have all felt this way at some point in our life” or “We all deal with some kind of struggle in our lives.”
  • Be kind to yourself: Put your hands on your heart and say something like “I give myself compassion” or “I accept myself as I am” or “I will be patient with myself during this time.”

If being kind to yourself is a challenge which it can sometimes be. Consider how you would respond if your best friend were going through what you are going through. How would you respond and support your best friend; what would you say or do for your bestie? Now go and do that for yourself.

Once we start to develop a kinder attitude toward ourselves, we can crystallize that gentle voice into a Self-Compassionate Letter. Just as yo would write words of understanding, acceptance, and compassion towards your best friend write those same words to yourself in a letter.

In the letter, you might remind yourself that everyone struggles, and that you are not alone; if possible, you could also consider constructive ways to improve in the future.

Meditate

As mindfulness gurus like to remind us, our most painful thoughts are usually about the past or the future: We regret and ruminate on things that went wrong, or we get anxious about things that will. When we pause and bring our attention to the present, we often find that things are…okay.

Practicing mindfulness brings us more and more into the present, and it offers techniques for dealing with negative emotions when they arise. That way, instead of getting carried away into fear, anger, or despair, we can work through them more deliberately.

Strong feelings tend to manifest physically, as tight chests or knotted stomachs, and relaxing the body is one way to begin dislodging them. There are thousands of meditations techniques and practices available.The Body Scan is one of the many you can use to focus on each body part in turn—head to toe—and can choose to let go of any areas of tension you discover. Being more aware of our bodies and the emotions we are feeling might also help us make healthier choices, trusting our gut when something feels wrong or avoiding commitments that will lead to exhaustion.

 

Cultivate forgiveness

If holding a grudge is holding you back, research suggests that cultivating forgiveness could be beneficial to your mental and physical health. If you feel ready to begin, it can be a powerful practice.

Both Nine Steps to Forgiveness and Eight Essentials When Forgiving offer a list of guidelines to follow. In both cases, you begin by clearly acknowledging what happened, including how it feels and how it’s affecting your life right now. Then, you make a commitment to forgive, which means letting go of resentment and ill will for your own sake; forgiveness doesn’t mean letting the offender off the hook or even reconciling with them. Ultimately, you can try to find a positive opportunity for growth in the experience: Perhaps it alerted you to something you need, which you may have to look for elsewhere, or perhaps you can now understand other people’s suffering better.

If you are having trouble forgiving, Letting Go of Anger through Compassion is a five-minute forgiveness exercise that could help you get unstuck. Here, you spend a few minutes generating feelings of compassion toward your offender; s/he, too, is a human being who makes mistakes; s/he, too, has room for growth and healing. Be mindful and aware of your thoughts and feelings during this process, and notice any areas of resistance. Research suggests that letting go and forgiveness rather than ruminating on negative feelings or repressing them cultivates compassion, more empathy, positive emotions, and feelings of control.

That is an outcome that victims of wrongdoing deserve, no matter how we feel about the offenders.

Develop mental agility

It is possible, without too much effort , to literally switch the neural networks with which we process the experience of stress in order to respond to rather than react to any difficult situation or person. This quality of mental agility hinges on the ability to mentally “decenter” stressors in order to effectively manage them. “Decentering” stress is not denying or suppressing the fact that we feel stressed, rather, it is the process of being able to pause, to observe the experience from a neutral standpoint, and then to try to solve the problem. When we are able to cognitively take a step back from our experience and label our thoughts and emotions, we are effectively pivoting attention from the narrative network in our brains to the more observational parts of our brains. Being mentally agile, and decentering stress when it occurs, enables the core resilience skill of “response flexibility,” which renowned psychologist Linda Graham describes as “the ability to pause, step back, reflect, shift perspectives, create options and choose wisely.” We often tell our children who are upset to “use your words,” for example, and it turns out that stopping and labeling emotions has the effect of activating the thinking center of our brains, rather than the emotional center a valuable skill in demanding, high-performance workplaces everywhere.

 

Sunday Night Syndrome

Do you spend half of Sunday night staring at the ceiling or counting sheep(or other animals). Are you tossing-and-turning and just getting more frustrated at the prospect of facing Monday and the week ahead.

Here is what it looks like:-

You’ve had a great weekend. On Saturday morning your kid’s team won their sports match game, you had a great  dinner out on Saturday night, spent some time relaxing with friends you haven’t seen in a while and even got that cupboard purged – you know the one that you have been putting off for six months. You look at the wall clock and it is 4:30pm on Sunday afternoon, and a feeling of anxiety comes over you.

Almost immediately your mood turns to impatient, worried and stressed. Over and over, you mentally calculate how much time you have left before going to bed, which you dread because you know you’ll toss and turn as you restlessly try to fall asleep.

From Free and Relieved on Friday to Miserable on Sundays. The Sunday Night Syndrome does not necessarily start on Sunday night it can begin as early as Sunday morning.

While it is NOT a medical or psychiatric disorder, it is a collection of normal feelings and challenges that many people experience. It entails the 3 S’s of Sundays: stress, sleep problems, and sadness, and can be a sign of anxiety about your job.

The resulting anxiety affects your last hours of relaxationfamily time, Sunday night dinner, and sleep routines. It makes those tough Monday mornings even tougher.

I used to suffer from The Sunday Syndrome. Sometimes it even hit me on Saturday nights. I even got to a point where I would dread Fridays because these were closer to Mondays.

I’ve learned how to manage it, and I’ve helped my clients make Sundays more fun and productive. Here is my five-step solution to the Sunday Syndrome:

  1. Straighten up your work area as you leave on Fridays to remove the stress of Monday morning catch up. Remind yourself on Sunday that your desk is clean and tidy and chaos free for you. Picture a clean start, beginning the week feeling refreshed and up-to-date with no outstanding work to catch up on.
  2. Schedule your errands, work and fun activities without leaving all the stressful ones for Sunday. People typically over-schedule their weekends or don’t schedule anything. Instead, plan the tough stuff for Saturdays, motivate yourself to get those done early on a Saturday and leave Sundays for the fun and relaxing stuff.
  3. Set the alarm for the same time everyday including Saturday and Sunday. People who sleep later on weekends frequently experience Sunday Night Syndrome when they cannot fall asleep on Sunday night. If you want to sleep in on the weekends, make it no more than 30 minutes. Or let Saturday be your sleep in day and be sure to wake up at the same time on Sunday as you would on Monday.
  4. Savour Sundays by planning an enjoyable activity for yourself or your family. See it as an activity that marks the end of a good and productive weekend. A late Sunday lunch or sun-downers with the family can mark the end of an enjoyable weekend.
    People get depressed and dread the end of their weekend often because they have not mentally prepared for it to end. Establish a family ritual that marks the end of the weekend. Whether it is a family meal or drinks or school and work preparations like setting the weekday meal menus or sorting out school uniforms and scheduling the weeks activities; you will find the mental preparation helps to settle the anxiety and replaces dread with excitement. Make sure it is something that is enjoyable, relaxing and soothing.
  1. End your Sunday preparation ritual with a relaxing bath or shower before bedtime. Avoid a heavy meal before bedtime and any beverages which may affect your sleep patterns. Switch off TVs and video games and maybe add some relaxing music as well and just get ready for a relaxing quiet evening. Once in bed, pick up a book if you need to. I find my night time reading is a necessity,however I always choose a book I have already read so that I can skim the pages with very little actual engagement and this works wonders to induce sleep. Turn the clock out of your sight-line to remove the reminder of your Monday morning 6 am alarm worries. I personally don’t keep a clock in my room. Give yourself permission to relax knowing that the weekend was good but its over and the work week ahead is planned and will be absolutely fine.