self care

How to turn your dreams into reality; Part Three

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So you have set your goals, now what? All too often we can create goals and fail to account for the unexpected in life. Major life events such as getting married or a new job can easily take over and distract us from the pursuit of our goals but we must avoid the tendency to feel like we have failed. True goals need to be flexible and open to adjustments. When we review our progress, or return to our goal after a major life event, it is the perfect opportunity to reshape our goals, reorganizing our time and resources. This may mean shifting the timescale to make it more realistic and achievable. In line with our new priorities we will feel more optimistic about achieving what we set out to and, as a result, will feel more empowered to do the daily tasks necessary for us to stay on course and reach our goal.

 

 

Although setting goals can take a lot of thought and planning the benefit of setting them is two-fold. Not only do we gain enjoyment from participating in an activity we are passionate about (which improves our quality of life) but we start to gain a sense of progression and advancement which is central to lasting happiness. The more we recognize our achievements, the more drive we have to advance further and a virtuous cycle of happiness is created. So the next time you feel like you are running up and down the field and not scoring – set goals, turning your dreams into reality – and hit a home run on the field that is life.

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How to turn your dreams into reality; Part Two

 

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So what are S.M.A.R.T. goals? Let’s explore the meaning of S.M.A.R.T. in this context further…

 

Specific goals identify what we want to achieve on a practical level and are often grounded in weekly participation of your chosen pursuit. For example, a vague goal would be to become a pop star. Although becoming a pop star is an admirable goal we need to think of how we are going to achieve that and add these interim steps to our main goal. A specific goal in order to achieve chart success might therefore be to take weekly singing lessons and practice singing exercises for thirty minutes a day. Once we have specific goals we immediately feel energized as we know on a practical level what needs to be done.

 

Goals also need to be measurable; ideally goals should be measured in the short-term and medium-term. For example, you can easily measure whether you have been attending weekly singing lessons and practicing each day. Every six months you can review whether you have made progress by seeing if you have attended any open mike nights or have started writing your own lyrics. The main objective is to outline how and when we will measure our progress. This helps us adjust our goals when necessary and keeps us motivated down the line.

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How to stop operating on auto-pilot and live for the moment; Part Three

If after practising these mindfulness exercises you find you would like to integrate mindfulness into your weekly routine, you can explore the field of mindfulness further by purchasing a more in-depth CD. One of the best audio CD’s available is from Jon Kabat-Zinn, whose teachings have led to the Western worlds recognition of mindfulness as a beneficial practice in helping patients to cope with stress, anxiety, pain and depression. As an introduction, his ‘Guided Mindfulness Meditation’ series is excellent, with each exercise typically lasting forty-five minutes. Each CD in the series comes with a full programme that helps you to structure your mindful practise and is designed to assist you in integrating mindfulness into your life.

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How to stop operating on auto-pilot and live for the moment; Part Two

Last week we looked at the vast array of benefits mindfulness brings. Now you can try these simple and quick mindful exercises as your very own introduction into mindfulness:

 

The Three Minute Breathing Space

 

Sit in an upright position with a straight posture. Breath in and out slowly, your belly rising on the in-breath. Examine your body sensations from your toes to your head. What emotions are present? What thoughts are you aware of?

 

Return your focus to your breathing. Feel your stomach rise slowly on the in-breath and fall on the out breath.

 

Become aware of the entirety of your body and the sensations within it whilst slowly inhaling and exhaling.

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How to stop operating on auto-pilot and live for the moment; Part One

According to the Office for National Statistics last year one in five UK citizens rated their anxiety levels as being at six or more out of ten. In today’s world, where calls and emails flood our phones, appointments are crammed into tight schedules and our workplace constantly micro-manages us, it is natural to feel as if we are going through the motions when we go about our day. However, when I think back to my happiest memories they all have one thing in common. In each and every one I was completely immersed in the moment. I was fully absorbed to the point that I lost all self-consciousness. Without even thinking I was left utterly engaged in the here and now. Just to be clear, these weren’t childhood memories but they did have a childlike quality to them, because I was so consumed, it was as if I was experiencing things for the very first time.

 

Whilst at one of the worlds best facilities in 2009, I was introduced to something called mindfulness. Mindfulness is a form of meditation which has gained great medical recognition and is designed to cultivate an experience of living in the moment. However, to stop there would be to sell mindfulness short.

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Sick of over-extending yourself? Learn how to say No; Part Three

Like any new skill, it takes time to develop the ability to say no. Keep in mind that any failed attempts are still worthwhile and contribute towards good experience and practise. Remember to be patient with yourself. It will be unfamiliar territory at first and may even be scary but if you are persistent it will become easier with time.

 

An excellent way to improve your confidence in this area is to note down the details of every time you successfully say no in your first month. When the month is finished look back on all of your successes. Reward yourself by going out for a meal or watching a film at the cinema. Every time you have a setback read through this list again. Looking over your success stories in this way will serve not only to boost your confidence, but also give you the resolve to keep going.

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Sick of over-extending yourself? Learn how to say No; Part Two

 

When we continually say yes to other peoples requests we are like a house that has left its door unlocked. It invites intruders in to our lives to lay even more demands on us. In learning to say no to the burglars of both our time and energy they may continue to try and intrude but they will soon realise a new alarm system has been installed and leave to find someone else who has left their house vulnerable.

 

Essentially, when we say yes to others we also say no to ourselves. Every yes requires time and energy which could otherwise be spent on our objectives, goals and dreams. The next time someone approaches you with a request, take a few moments to realistically assess if you have both the time and energy to fulfil what they are asking of you. In honestly answering these two fundamental questions, you will know when it is wise to say no. When you say no you may think you are being selfish however by saying no you are simply practising self-care and learning to value yourself and your time.

 

Of course saying the word no can seem to many of us as abrupt and harsh, but there are many ways to soften the blow if we feel uncomfortable.

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Sick of over-extending yourself? Learn how to say No; Part One

It is Saturday afternoon and you have just finished cleaning the house, preparing lunch for the family, have finished off your report due first thing Monday morning and are sewing on a button to your sons football shirt, after which you need to start studying for your business diploma. As you prick yourself on the needle your other half then pops their head through the door and asks you to go to the shops with a long list they have prepared. You don’t have nearly enough time but you smile and say ‘Sure.’ Does this sound familiar?

 

All too often we struggle to say no when we are completely stretched and cannot really afford to say yes. If we say no we may feel we are letting others down and might even feel we are less likable or less recognised in the workplace as a result. In contemporary culture we are taking on more roles, often having a full-time career as well as being the main care taker of the home and family. With so many roles to contend with we can easily fall into the superwoman, or superman trap, feeling that we should be able to manage everything at once. When being a parent, partner, full-time worker and student is normal, how do we learn to judge what is, and is not, reasonable to take on?

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