Who is your role model, Mummy?

Two years ago, this brilliant question from my eldest, came, as they do out of the blue and totally stumped me. I stuttered er I’m not sure- let me have a think… who is your role model?

So naturally this has bugged me ever since but raised its head again last week when my son was looking for a footballer’s autobiography to read. A bit of a minefield for a relatively sheltered 10 year old. So the conversation went along these lines- so it’s got to be someone who you can look up to, who has the same values as you- someone who’s a good role model. So Beckham but definitely not Rooney- now my footballing knowledge is not extensive but after a bit he said “Ok mum I get it.”

In coaching when prompting a client to think of a range of possible options, one useful question can be “What would your role model do?” This can be a great question to encourage us to think more widely and more creatively but equally a very challenging question if we’ve lost touch with who our role models are.

Some time ago I was delivering coaching training to a group of teachers and posed this question. One teacher’s response was “ But what if you don’t have a role model?” This was similar to my response when my son first asked this question a couple of years ago, I thought that we as adults need to get better at figuring out who our role models are if we want to encourage our children to follow and emulate their role models.

So which qualities do I look for in a role model?

1 Inspiration
People who are positive and who take action. Deliciously Ella and the Hemsley sisters are on my vision boards, not just because they inspire me to exercise and to eat healthily but because I’m inspired by their positive attitudes, unfailing enthusiasm and passion for the work that they do.

2 Tenacity
I was hugely inspired by Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah in the 2012 Olympics. I was super excited to be running (way behind) Sir Mo at the Great North Run last year. Reading Jessica Ennis’ brilliant autobiography and Chrissie Wellington’s fantastic book A Life without Limits inspired me to push myself do to more and although my attempts at sprint triathlon are miles away from Chrissie Wellington’s Iron Mans, they pushed me to do more than I thought was possible.

Similarly I am inspired by those who overcome adversity, refuse to make excuses and go on to achieve great things. Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou are long standing heroines in my life because they both experienced significant trauma and challenges as children- childhood rape, poverty and racism. Yet they didn’t make excuses and went on to serve and achieve incredible things.

3 Values
I have been very lucky to have great family role models- my mum and my Nanna both set fantastic examples as mothers and grandmothers; they both worked hard and served their communities. The drive to make a difference is without doubt inherited from my mum.

4 Authenticity
I need my role models to be real and relatable. I’ve been very fortunate to have been trained by some incredible coaching experts at The Coaching Academy but the most inspiring for me is an amazing coach and trainer Pam Lidford. Part of the reason I can relate to her is because she came from an education background and exemplifies for me the idea that change is possible.

Shaa Wasmund, entrepreneur and author is hugely inspiring for me also as she is real- she’s a single mum and achieves what she does by taking action and not making excuses.

5 A step or two ahead in their journey
Much as it may serve us to ask What would Beyonce do? sometimes it helps to have a role model who is just a step or two ahead of us in their journey so that the jump that we need to make isn’t quite so huge.
When we’re struggling to achieve our goals, it’s human nature that our brains start to tell us these stories: It’s easy for her because she’s got loads of time/ money/ support but when we look at people who have achieved in spite of challenging circumstances, we can start to put those excuses to one side.

Now I’d love to hear from you…
Who are your role models? Where do you get your inspiration?

To carry on the conversation and join a supportive and inspiring community, please join my FB group here…

Positive Mental Health

This week the mental health charity MIND have published the results of their research which shows that half of all employees have suffered with poor mental health and half of those who have suffered with stress, anxiety and low mood are reluctant to discuss it with their employers.

There is still stigma around mental health, particularly in the work place. We fear speaking out and being judged. According to the report, fear, shame and job insecurity are the reasons employees are reluctant to speak out.

In his brilliant book The Whole Brain Child– Daniel Siegal provides an image of mental health as a river: on one bank there is chaos and on the other rigidity. If we veer too close to one bank our mental health is put at risk. This image appeals to me as it suggests that we can take responsibility for creating positive mental health and start to recognise areas in which we are drawn towards the two extremes of chaos and rigidity.

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Image taken from Daniel Siegal The Whole Brain Child

In September and October I’ll be delivering Talk to Your Teen to parents of children and teens about the stigma around mental health and how we can use coaching tools and techniques to improve communication with our children. Boys are particularly vulnerable as they are still consciously and subconsciously given messages such as ‘Big boys don’t cry’, ‘Man up’ etc which mean that when they have a problem it’s very difficult to talk about it. Teach your children it’s ok to express emotion- both positive and negative. Help them to recognise their emotions by naming them. Boys in particular tend to have a very limited range of vocabulary to describe emotions which can limit their self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Talk about your feelings, emotions and mistakes and foster a resilient mindset by encouraging the belief: Mistakes make me stronger. 

We are beginning to realise that we need to look after our mental health in the same way we do our physical health. I like to think of well-being as being like a table with 4 legs. Each of those legs is a supporting pillar. For me those four pillars are:

  • Sleep- we can’t be resilient without sleep. It underpins everything else. See Arianna Huffington’s Thrive and Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep here
  • Exercise outdoors- the release of dopamine, seratonin and endorphins is increased when we exercise outside and we get a dose of Vitamin D which reduces depression.
  • Meditation- I’m a longstanding fan of Headspace. I’ve also heard great things about Calm and a new addition to my morning routine is Tony Robbins’ priming exercise which incorporates gratitude and visualisation too. 
  • Connection- we live in a hyper connected world- which is amazing but sometimes we get overwhelmed and miss the real face to face time with loved ones which we need for our emotional  wellbeing.

The added bonus of course is that many of these things support our physical health!

So what do you need to support your mental health? Is it something you need to give more of your attention?

NB Coaching is not suitable for those suffering with mental health issues. This requires advice from medical professionals who may direct you to other forms of support.

September Goals- Five ways to make healthy eating happen

I don’t know about you but we definitely over-indulged this summer and when we were on holiday it seemed our four year old survived on a diet of chips, crisps and ice cream. But September is here and we’re ready to get back to our routine  and when I get food, exercise and sleep right, this makes all the difference to how I feel, how I function and the energy I have for other people. 

Last week I went to see the food blogger Deliciously Ella at her book launch in Hertford. She spoke very openly about her struggle with auto-immune disease and how after the medical profession had exhausted all possibilities of a cure, how she began to research and use food to cure herself. Ella also spoke about the challenges she has faced in growing her business and becoming a public figures, as well as her passion for encouraging others to adapt a plant-based diet for health and environmental reasons. 

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I’ve been following Deliciously Ella for some time- both for her amazing recipes but also because she speaks a lot about how food and health support a positive mindset and mental health. I have an image of Ella on my vision board to inspire me on a daily basis to eat healthily. Some of my favourite Deliciously Ella recipes are her hummus; veggie shepherd’s pie here; amazing chocolate mousse and my children’s favourite, her date shake.

However in reality healthy eating can be a struggle in a busy life. We know what we SHOULD do but making it happen can be a challenge.It’s so easy to neglect ourselves and survive on sugar and caffeine. 

So I’ve focused this week on getting back to a healthy eating routine and here are some tips that work for me:

1 Online Shopping

Supermarket shopping with 3 kids is not my idea of fun. Online shopping forces me to plan ahead. We are also fortunate to have an amazing market in St Albans and I head there at the weekend to stock up on fruit and veg. 

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St Albans market

2 Weekly Meal Plan

We don’t always stick to it but we have a plan and because it’s there my husband can sometimes we persuaded to make prepare a mid week meal ahead of time! My lovely friend Anna Horne publishes a weekly blog and menu plan. This also helps reduce food waste because I buy the ingredients required for each meal, not a random selection!

3 The Slow Cooker

This is literally a life saver especially on those days when the kids have after school activities and we struggle to find time to cook. My favourite recent discovery is this- recipes where you bag up and freeze the ingredients to be transferred straight to the slow cooker. Last night we had sweet and sour chicken and thanks to the sweetness of the pineapple the kids loved it!

4 Prep ahead

When we’re really on a roll- food prep at the weekend. There is nothing I love more than home made soup and I eat it every day in the winter months. At the weekend I roast loads of veggies- butternut squash and celeriac are my favs, blend and freeze- super easy, warming and healthy. Also the kids love making granola, crumble, flapjack to keep us going in the week. 

5 Cutting corners

And where I cut corners…sometimes mid week it’s ok to have tinned soup, beans on toast, ready made pasta. 

80/20 is key- you can’t be good all the time so we relax at the weekend and Friday night is pizza night. 

My 10 year old makes his own packed lunch and this means sandwich and a bag of crisps every day but he includes fruit and he’s making it himself so that’s ok. 

Packs of pre cooked rice and lentils in the microwave mean I can spoon out of the slow cooker and straight onto the plate. 

How do you feel about healthy eating? How do you get the balance right in a busy life? 

Starting School: What I’ve learned from the Pre-School Years

My youngest starts school this September. She’s more than ready to go. As the youngest of three she’s been at the school gates practically since birth and because she’s little, cute and sociable everyone makes a huge fuss of her.

So Alessia is ready. She has tiny school dresses age 2-3, new school shoes and a PE kit. I’ve spent the summer clearing out her baby toys, books and little pink blankets to make space for school uniform.

Am I ready? I’m not sure. They say the years go quickly and that falls on deaf ears when you’ve been up all night and spent the days chasing toddlers. But yes, the old ladies are right- this September, after 10 years of having pre school children at home, they’re all in school. For one year all there will be in the same place before our eldest moves on to secondary school.

So for what is worth here’s what I’ve learned:

1 Get the balance.

If you are lucky enough to have a choice re working or not working make the right choice for you. This isn’t about what your mum or your best mate thinks, this choice is yours for your family. If you’re happy, your family will be happy too. For me I had to work but part time was the right choice for our family. I love being with my children but I also need mental stimulation, interaction the opportunity to grow and contribute. At one stage my earnings post childcare was £200 per month. It was barely worth being at work but it was the right choice for me.

2 It takes a village.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have my parents close by. My mum has appeared like an angel on Friday afternoons so I can let my youngest sleep rather than being dragged out on the school run. When the kids have been sick, she’s been there. In the early days when my husband was working insane hours as a junior doctor, I couldn’t have done it without my mum’s support.
I’ve also had an amazing childminder who has had all three of my children, the younger two from babies. She’s has cared for my children in her own home, alongside her own children and they have been part of a family of children of all ages. The friendship and security they have had from this has been incredible.

3 Find your tribe.

I’m a huge fan of NCT. With mu eldest and my second we moved to a new area when I was pregnant and the NCT provided me with an instant support network which was invaluable in the early days when comparing how much sleep we’d all had and how the babies were feeding. Having a friend to grab a cuppa and take the babies for a walk was an invaluable source of support.
We are also incredibly fortunate to have great friends and to be part of a supportive community. There is no way I would choose to do this without daily contact without friends in the same boat to laugh, cry or share the everyday minutiae.

4 Focus on gratitude
Years ago when my boys were little a local blogger published a weekly post entitled It’s the little things. This focused on her recording weekly moments of joy with her tiny children and photographing and posting them. This inspired me to find joy in the little things and focus on the joy. For several years I have used my Happiness Planner and used this to record daily gratitude as well as encouraging my children to use a gratitude jar.

5 Don’t compare
There is so much pressure surrounding parenting and judgement of individual choices which didn’t exist a generation ago- breast feed vs bottle feed; home made puree vs jars etc. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to follow my instincts and to not compare. Boys are different from girls; each of my three children is different due to their position in the family. I’m not the same parent I was 10 years ago. So don’t compare. Give yourself credit for doing your best. Choose to be happy and you will have happy children.

Judgement Detox

Last month I attended a talk at Hay House by Gabby Bernstein entitled Judgement Detox.

A pretty challenging title. Judgement is so embedded in our culture and psyche that we aren’t even aware of our judgement. But, motherhood and judgement seem to be inextricably linked.
We are judged as mothers even before we conceive- with unsolicited questions from interested parties asking when we’re going to conceive. During pregnancy our bodies appear to be public property and a target for random strangers to comment on the shape and size of our growing bellies.

And parenthood full of judgements: how we give birth, feed, parent and our choices around when to return to work. All of these choices are subject to judgement, not just from friends and family, but also from strangers, health professionals and the media. It seems inescapable.

Gabby Bernstein is a spiritual teacher- she teaches meditation and kundalini yoga in a very accessible way. She is very honest in what she shares.

Some of the key messages I gained are here:

1 Judgement becomes an addiction like smoking to drinking and it’s so pervasive that we are hardly aware of it. It makes us feel disconnected and we lack compassion towards ourselves and others. It’s certainly challenging to let go of judging others but perhaps even more challenging to let go of judging ourselves.

2 Vulnerability- not being vulnerable in a naive way buy having the ability to be open and honest with each other is a way to break down barriers between ourselves and to help and support each other. Gabby’s message here is to be real, share your truth with others and have the confidence to speak more authentically.

3 Imposter Syndrome
In the Q&A an audience member asked Gabby if she had experienced Imposter Syndrome, to which she responded Of course! We can’t step into the light of who we want to be unless we feel the discomfort that gets in the way. Gabby recounted how a year ago she had been a workaholic- telling people to meditate and relax but totally stressed out herself. But today she is a brand new person as she has recognised the imposter syndrome and moved through it.

4 Judgement and discernment
There were few male members of the audience but their questions were around vulnerability: does not judging mean letting people walk all over you? Gabby’s response was that some people and some situations are toxic and negative and it’s absolutely fine to remove yourself from the situation. This does not serve my highest good and walk away with love and grace. In other situations we might look at a person who triggers us and ask: What is my resistance to this person revealing to me?

If you’re not familiar with Gabby Bernstein I would highly recommend her books Judgement Detox and The Universe Has Your Back. For something lightweight her video for using meditation with your children is here.

Two mantras to help you along the path of judgement detox are:

I choose to judge nothing that occurs

It’s good to feel good.

What do you think? Is it time for a judgement detox?

The Five Languages of Love

What is your language of love?

Valentine’s Day provokes mixed emotions. Some of us will be loved up and ready to embrace it; others resist the commercialism or sense of exclusion.

The first thing is to start with self love. How are we speaking to ourselves? What negative thoughts or beliefs are we telling ourselves? How can we replace this with positive thoughts or affirmations instead. One affirmation that I use and share with my clients is “I am enough” or “I am good enough”. What are you saying to yourself?

How can we spread some kindness this week? Going out of our way to do something kind for others is a win/win. We get to feel good as well as doing something good for others. In my coaching group we are taking part in Random Acts of Kindness week which encourages us to perform small acts of kindness throughout the week through small acts such as: posting something positive on social media, leaving a bigger tip than usual or making a handmade card to send to someone special.

Random Acts of Kindness

Tony Robbins speaks about investing in our relationships and states that if we do everything we do do at the beginning of a relationship, there won’t be an end to the relationship. At the beginning of the relationship we do everything and nothing is too much trouble, whereas as time passes it’s easy to become resentful or unwilling to invest our time and energy in the relationship.

In my LIVE this week I spoke about Dr Gary Chapman’s brilliant book The Five Languages of Love. In this he explains that we respond differently to acts or expressions of love and lists five dominant languages of love:

Receiving gifts may be a significant love language for some and therefore very important, whereas others respond more to other forms such as physical touch or words of affirmation. In the book Dr Chapman cites examples of relationships which have struggled in spite of both partners’ best efforts because they did not understand each others’ languages of love. One man expressed his love through acts of service by doing tasks in the house but his wife was lonely and felt unloved because her dominant love language was words of affirmation, which he failed to give.

There are quizzes for adults and children. We have a tendency to treat our children the same, with some allowances for age, assuming that they need the same things. We’ve got this wrong. My youngest at 3 is too still to little to take the quiz but my sons, aged 10 and 7 absolutely loved it. Interestingly, receiving gifts came low down the list for both of them. The dominant love language for our eldest son is quality time. This made us stop and think. As the eldest he is the one who is the most demanding of our time and attention. This is a challenge in a family of five. He also has the greatest responsibility in terms of chores, independence and helping with the youngest. Knowing that quality time is his dominant love language can help stop us criticising him for being demanding and build in the quality time he needs. Our middle son has a dominant love language of words of affirmation. At home he’s independent and rebellious and a true superstar at school. Every time I write in his reading record he wants to know exactly what I’ve written- he thrives on those words of affirmation. Just having this knowledge is incredibly powerful- do take the quiz and let me know what you discover.

To carry on the conversation, please come and join my private group.

 

Health Is The Greatest Wealth

It’s so easy to take our health for granted. We don’t always notice when we’ve let the exercise slip or got into unhealthy habits until we get a wake up call. This could be in the form of struggling to get our jeans on or could come in the form of a serious health scare. It’s when our health is in jeopardy that we stop taking it for granted. To live our best lives we have to put health first.

In almost every personal development book I’ve read, the message is consistent. To live our best lives, we have to be at our physical peak and that means being in great health: eating well, sleeping well and exercising.

Speaking to a friend who is an NHS consultant, the first focus of her leadership development is physical fitness. Why? Because when she’s fit and well she is able to lead well. Similarly the conference I attended last week for entrepreneurs dedicated the entire afternoon session to exercise and nutrition. Shaa Wasmund, the conference leader and business guru urged the audience to treat themselves as racehorses as we need to be in our best physical health if we wish our businesses to flourish.

I spoke to the officer responsible for well being at Herts Police last week and she said for her the foundation for good mental health is exercise and I couldn’t agree more. Exercise benefits our physical health, making us stronger and less prone to illness and injury. It gives us more energy and releases endorphins which have a positive impact on our mindset.

It can also improve confidence and resilience. Training for my first triathlon got me out on my bike, swimming in freezing cold water and pushed me out of my comfort zone in a way which nothing else could.

Eating the right foods also has a huge impact on our well being. Planning meals in advance and removing temptation from the house are two tricks that keep me on track. Willpower alone is not enough.

Please don’t assume this healthy stuff comes easy to me. It doesn’t. I was a very timid child. I had asthma and allergies. I was afraid of jumping off the beam in the gym. I have clear memories of my mum stating in no uncertain terms: “We are not a sporty family”. But somewhere after having my first baby I started setting out with the pram for a daily walk because I knew it made me feel better. After my second child the weight was harder to shift and I realised action was required so I started using the NHS Couch to 5K podcasts and yes, miraculously, this did what it said on the tin. Some time later I ran my first 10K which seemed impossible at the time and last week I took part in Cancer Research’s Winter Run and achieved a personal best of 53 minutes- not bad for a non sporty non runner. Taking up triathlon and running two half marathons last year saw me stretching myself further and I was delighted in September when I outran my fitness guru Davina by a very narrow margin!

So change is possible and the benefits are worthwhile. We’d like to be doing more so what stops us? Everything else gets in the way.

So how can we make it work?
1 Start early. Setting the alarm for 5:30 or 6 and just do it. Then nothing else can get in the way.
2 Have your equipment ready to go- exercise kit by the side of your bed, trainers by the front door.
3 Keep it simple- running is free; you tube has a wealth of resources. My favourites are Yoga with Adrienne, Fitness Blender and The Body Coach. Not to mention my old time favouries- Davina and Jillian Michaels.

Don’t make excuses. As the Nike slogan goes: JUST DO IT

 

Back to Work….

Last week I was invited to Hatfield Police Station to attend a drop in maternity session for police service women who were pregnant and due to go on maternity or who were due to return.

Initially I was a little intimidated by stepping into a different culture but quickly recognised the public sector similarities, shared by the education sector, in which I work, and the NHS in which my husband works. What runs across all sectors is lack of funding, increased work load and a workforce that can feel threatened by constant change. The downside of that is an increase in stress and anxiety, often exacerbated by a culture in which people find it hard to admit when they are struggling.

For the women due to return from maternity leave their concerns were the following;

  • Lack of clarity about the job to which they were returning
  • How they could find childcare to accommodate irregular shift patterns
  • Concerns about the demanding nature of the job
  • Getting to grips with change that had occurred during their absence.

What particularly concerned the women was an absence of communication from their line managers, leaving them feeling undervalued and in the dark.

This maternity drop in session was exceptional within the area. The women were able to access support from an HR rep, a Unison rep, a Police well being officer and myself who had been invited as a coach specialising in this area. The women were encouraged to bring their babies, were warmly welcomed and made to feel comfortable. Significantly the day counted as one of their Keeping in Touch sessions, which they were happy to attend, while being invited to return to the workplace leaving the baby in childcare would be far less appealing.

As I spoke to the women there concerns were absolutely understandable but their requests quite simple and offer consideration for all employers-

  • Begin the discussion about work life balance early so that the women have time to make suitable childcare arrangements.
  • For the line manager to proactively make contact with the woman on maternity leave, solely for the purpose of keeping in touch.
  • For the woman returning to work to be assured that what she needs to do her job is in place, whether that be computer logins, police radios, doctors bleeps etc.
  • For the employer to offer keeping in touch sessions, which are just that, keeping in touch sessions in which the woman is welcome to bring her baby.

Surely it is worthwhile for an employer to accommodate these simple requests, rather than allowing women to return to the work place, being left to sink or swim and then reactively picking up the pieces resulting from lost work days as a result of stress and anxiety? Parents or not, we are all members of teams whether that be a family, a community or a work force. We have a shared interest and a joint responsibility to facilitate a smooth return to work, increasing staff retention and ensuring well being.

What are or were your main concerns about returning to work? What can employers do to facilitate this process?

If you have concerns about returning to work that you’d like to discuss. please get in touch here.

Five Ways to Create a Clear Vision

The practice of visualising or mentally rehearsing future events is a powerful one. As sports psychologists have known for years, the brain cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imagined therefore if you train your brain to visualise success in a given situation it will be primed and ready to deliver.

Visualisation comes naturally to some but less easily to others. The key is to practice this regularly and to find a form of visualisation that works for you.

In Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning, visualisation is one of the six key habits he suggests you practice each day.

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One method is to begin the morning by visualising your ideal day. This really helps to sharpen your focus on your priorities and get you primed for a calm and productive day. In my vision board workshops I take my clients on a journey through their day, from the moment they wake up the moment they go to sleep, visualising every aspect of the day from their environment, what they are eating, how they are spending their time and who they are with. This really helps my clients to set their intentions for making their vision boards and helps to put them in touch with what is really important.

Creating your own vision board is time well spent. Once you have set your intentions, selecting images and words that inspire you and represent what you want from your future is very powerful. As part of my morning routine I use my vision board, looking at each image, thinking about why I selected it and the emotions it produces. Again, this clear visualisation helps me to keep focused on my goals, on what is important and helps me set my intentions for the day as well as giving me the motivation to take action.

One tool I use with clients is the Future Pacing exercise. This works by first taking yourself back in time by five years and describing your life in the past tense. You then repeat the exercise in the present tense and finally take yourself five years into the future, still describing your life in the present tense. I’ve used this exercise with teenagers and this is incredibly powerful in helping them to understand how quickly time passes and that they what they are doing in the present will impact on what happens in the future. Similarly, using this exercise with mothers of very young children is impactful as it transports us to a life pre children when life was very different and projects us into the future, taking us out of the immediate and all encompassing moment of life with tiny children. As a tool to focus yourself on what really matters, this is a good one.

One of my favourite visualisations is by the amazing Gabby Bernstein. I often use this early in the morning and fills me with positive energy, ready for the day. Another excellent visualisation is from Tara Mohr’s Playing Big in which she uses a visualisation which projects you twenty years into the future, in which you visualise your future self and use them as a mentor to guide your actions in the present.

Finally in her confidence coaching CPD for The Coaching Academy the wonderful coach and trainer Pam Lidford teaches a visualisation to prepare you for an important event such as an interview or delivering a speech, in which you visualise approaching a confidence role model and request that you can borrow their outer body or protective shell, literally step into their shoes and visualise the event taking place in which all goes to plan.

Which of these visualisation techniques would you be prepared to try? Do you believe in the power of visualisation to create the future you desire.

My next vision board workshop details here

Group coaching programme including creating a clear vision, finding your core values see here

If you enjoyed this please come and join my wonderful coaching community here.

Five ways to January Joy!

This Monday, 15th January was dubbed Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year. The press were already busy reminding us that last Monday was the most common day for people to initiate divorce proceedings and this week we face cold short drizzly days and the arrival of the post Christmas credit card bills. So how can we find some JOY in January?

January can be a difficult time and this post is not to deny those undergoing significant challenges. However, we get to choose how we feel and we have the power to change our state to focus on joy, rather than indulging our misery.

Here are Five quick ways to boost your state:

  1. Focus on Gratitude- even if it’s a tiny thing like your morning cup of tea, a warm bed or a smile from a colleague. Notice it, acknowledge it and appreciate it. This will make you feel better.
  2. Be around people. Whether it’s phoning a friend, making plans with friends or joining a new club or exercise class- being around people, having a chat or sharing an interest makes all the difference. This year I’ve joined my local Toastmasters group and met some lovely inspiring people. I’ve also joined a new yoga class and reconnected with an old colleague from many years ago.
  3. Take action- doing something gets you out of that stuck state. Start with something small and achievable- clearing out your purse, painting your nails, sorting out a drawer. Taking action gives us a sense of accomplishment and makes us feel good.
  4. Move your body- every day I do something to get me moving, even if it’s only for 10 minutes- yoga, The Body Coach and Fitness Blender are my favourites. Sometimes going for a walk outside just for 10 minutes is enough to change your state.
  5. Listen to something inspiring. My children love to put music on after dinner and dance around- It’s a great way to instantly feel joy! Watching something funny or reading or listening to something inspiring. I love Audible and always have an inspiring book on the go. There are also some great podcasts- Tony Robbins, Marie Forleo, Tim Ferriss are some of my favourites.

Reading is also a great way to change your mindset. My incredible friend was diagnosed with cancer in July, just a few months before she was due to get married. It was an incredibly tough, gruelling time but instead of allowing herself to be a victim, she vowed to find the positives and has published an inspiring blog entitled Finding the Joy in Cancer.

Another favourite book of mine is Victor Frank’s Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl was imprisoned in Auschwitz during the Holocaust and living through the most unimaginable conditions he vowed to seek the good in his situation and set about helping others. His findings became the basis for modern psychotherapy. He states in the book:
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Frankl’s message is that in ANY situation, we may not control the situation but we can ALWAYS control our response.

So over to you- what do you do to bring the JOY to January? Please share!

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