Tuesday 16 July 2024

The Stress Relieving Value of Accepting Your Differences


Were you ever teased as a child? A lot of us were. Some kids will make fun of others who are fatter or skinnier, taller or shorter, or different in some other way. They, unfortunately, learn this behavior from adults who likewise chastise their colleagues, friends, and others for nothing more than being different.

 

This becomes a big problem when several children attack another child and declare some difference to be negative. When this behavior is ongoing, the different child can begin to feel low self-worth. After all, if everyone is telling her that she's different and that her differences aren't good, they must be right.

 

Why else would they all be saying the same thing? That child becomes upset with the person she sees in the mirror. Why is she overweight? Why is her skin different from others? Why wasn't she given the intelligence that all her friends have? This leads to self-doubt, low self-esteem, and in some cases, risky and unsafe behavior.

 

Stress Is a Killer, but It Doesn't Have To Be

 

Obviously, that's a very stressful scenario. Unfortunately, this is a common situation for not just children but teens, young adults, and even older grown-ups.

 

It causes so much stress, both physical and mental. The stress starts to build up because the differences are seen as negative. The marvelous, unique individual that was created is not allowed to be who they really are. They try not to be themselves.

 

On the physiological side of the equation, this chronic stress produces chemicals that lead to anxiety, depression, and other negative feelings. Ask any doctor, and they'll tell you stress is related to most chronic illnesses and many major causes of death.

 

Your differences don't have to be stressful. They shouldn't be. When you embrace who you are, you realize you have much to offer the world. You're fine just like you are right now. This leads to confidence and less stress. You aren't as anxious about trying to please others by fitting into some silly idea they have of who you should be.

 

Your confidence and self-esteem go up when you accept and love your differences. 

 

You'll also find that certain people in your life want to manipulate you rather than accept who you are. Perhaps you should move on from these people and spend more time with supportive individuals who encourage your uniqueness.

 

Be happy with who you are. You're the only "you" that will ever be created. There will never be another human being exactly like you. When you embrace that fact and look at your differences as advantages, you'll suffer less stress and anxiety and enjoy more self-love, fulfillment, and success.

 


Friday 12 July 2024

How Avoidance Actually Creates More Stress


When you have an especially difficult or stressful task on your plate, it can be very tempting to avoid completing said task. Or if you don’t like to think about a subject because of an experience, it can seem easier to just not think about that topic. Both of these situations are known as avoidance, and though it may be tempting to engage in this behavior, it causes more stress than it relieves. 

 

You Won’t Stop Thinking About It

 

If you’ve ever experienced trauma, it can be tempting to avoid all thoughts of things that may remind you of the trauma you experienced. Although this may be less painful in the short run, the truth is, long term, this will stress you out more because the thoughts of your trauma will always return until you genuinely learn to deal with them rather than avoid them. The same holds for certain physical tasks. You may put them off because you don’t want to think about them, but this will only stress you out more because you will have to keep thinking about the task instead of simply completing it now.

 

You’ll Run Out Of Time

 

When you put off a task, you may momentarily relieve your stress by telling yourself you will complete the task later. But this is worse than doing the job now because later you will experience more pressure as you are faced with a fast-approaching deadline. This is especially true if you haven’t left yourself enough time to complete the task and have to rush at the last minute. 

 

Avoidance Creates Conflict

 

Maybe a coworker is waiting for you to complete your work so they can get started on theirs. And if you didn’t leave yourself enough time before the deadline, you may cause them to be late on meeting their deadline as well. This can cause a conflict between you as your coworker may be upset that you made them late. And when you experience conflict in your relationships, this only adds to your overall stress level rather than lowering it.

 

Although it can be extremely tempting to avoid certain tasks or put them off, this is a flawed approach as it will only cause you more stress in the long run. This is because avoidance doesn’t solve any problems. Instead, it just creates conflict, which leads to increased stress in the future.

 


Tuesday 9 July 2024

If You Want Less Stress and Anxiety, Learn to Empathize More


Stress is a killer. You might hear someone say, "The stress at my job is killing me!" They could be overstating the situation. In many cases though, stress can quite literally kill you.

 

Chronic stress is related to the six leading causes of death. It's believed that more than 75% of all trips to the emergency room or a doctor are stress-related. So the next time a friend tells you stress is killing him, you might want to take that statement seriously.

 

Ask anyone you know and they'll tell you of a stressful situation they experienced recently. This is an unfortunately common occurrence. You might have too much stress in your own life.

 

For a number of reasons, you can benefit from stressing less and relaxing more often. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, just learn to empathize more.

 

How Empathy Leads to Less Stress and Depression

 

An empathetic person can place themselves in the emotional experience of someone else. That's the first part of empathy. The part of the empathetic process some people forget is responding in a way that's helpful.

 

You see a coworker has a huge workload. She's stressing out and you know there's no possible way she can hit a proposed deadline. You communicate to her that even though her productivity is excellent and she's a great worker, you don't know how she's going to get everything done. 

 

You just paid her a compliment. You saw her emotions were frazzled and she wasn't in a good place mentally. So, you said something nice about her ability on the job.

 

The next thing you can do after you identify with her situation is to provide assistance. Offer to help her tackle some of her responsibilities. When you do, your coworker will thank you. She'll experience less stress, and science tells us that you'll also have less stress, anxiety and depression.

 

When you learn to recognize that someone else is experiencing negative emotions, you want to help. This is the response for most people. What also happens is that you subconsciously recognize that you're not in that situation. You can understand your coworker's emotional stress, but you aren't experiencing the same thing yourself.

 

Dr. Jamil Zaki is a psychology professor and the director of the Social Neuroscience Laboratory in Stanford. He says empathy can help you see past the many differences people have. It helps you move past prejudice or bias. These are negative emotions. They can produce a stress response in your body. Empathy doesn't allow that to develop.

 

Dr. Zaki also says empathy makes people happier in their relationships and even more successful at work. Studies show us that an empathetic person learns how to process his or her own emotions properly by being able to recognize the emotions other people are going through. That means being more empathetic in your life cannot only help others, but it can also give you a wonderful boost of less stress and more peace of mind.

 


Friday 5 July 2024

A Simple 3-Step Process to Practice More Empathy


An empathetic person can identify with what someone else is experiencing. They may have had the same experience before. This isn't necessary to practice empathy. You might just be very good at putting yourself in another person's mindset.

 

Someone tells you they lost their job. They're going through so many different negative emotions. They're concerned about their mortgage payment and other financial issues.

 

A person that loses a dream job could start wondering what happened. It took them a long time to get the job they always wanted. They might have been a great employee. Then something occurred that was out of their control. Perhaps the company went bankrupt.

 

This individual could start questioning his own role in the failure of the company. A ton of different negative emotions might be experienced. The empathetic person is able to fully embrace the emotions the other person is going through even if they've never lost a job before.

 

You might want to help your friends and family members by displaying more empathy. You care about them and want to help them when they're in need. If that's the case, simply put into practice the following three-step technique for showing empathy.

 

Step 1 – Listen Actively

 

You might be a good listener. But are you an active listener? Do you just sit there with a blank expression and take in everything that's being said?

 

An active listener uses body language, facial expressions and eye movement to let the person speaking know that they're engaged and present. They are truly and deeply listening. 

 

You use open-ended questions to try to get more information from the speaker. Active listening uses anything at your disposal to get the speaker to share more information. You communicate to that person that their feelings are understood.

 

Step 2 – Validate the Experience

 

People often tell you what's on their minds because they want you to validate what they're saying. They need to know that it's okay to have certain feelings or think a specific way. When you validate a tough situation, someone's experiencing, you let them know they're not alone.

 

You validate an experience by adopting the same feelings and emotions. Tell the person that you're sharing the experience with them and that it's okay. They should recognize whatever emotions are happening. Then the empathetic person tries to figure out what can be done to fix the problem.

 

Step 3 – Offer Advice

 

Empathy is a two-part process. You take on the perspective of another person. You develop an understanding emotionally of what that person is going through. The second part involves action. You provide assistance of some kind. You try to help the person with their struggle. 

 

One way you can do this is by offering smart advice. Remember to think about their situation and not yours. Don't include any bias or judgment. Put yourself in their shoes and then give them advice to help them out of their problem.

 

Showing empathy means you care. It tells people you're putting your own interests aside for a while. The three-step process we just covered can help you show empathy to the people you care about. You'll find that you benefit as much as they do by making an emotional connection.

 


Tuesday 2 July 2024

8 Techniques That Stop Anger in its Tracks


You can’t believe they did it. Of all people, turning on you this way. You want to react in kind, drawing on the anger flowing through you to lash out. Make the other person hurt every bit as much as you do right now.

 

Wait a minute. You can’t. You’re not that person. You don’t want to BE that person. You’re better than this.

 

But how do you stop anger in its tracks before it gets the best of you?

 

Take a Walk

 

The physical act of walking will burn off some of the adrenaline while getting outside, giving you a distracting change in scenery. And it works even better if you’re walking away from the object of your anger. Sometimes all you need is some space.

 

Pay Attention to your Muscles

 

Like walking, exercise is good. Also, anger tends to tighten you up, so a good stretch, or even better practicing progressive muscle relaxation, will knock the tension out.

 

Say Something

 

Choose a pet phrase or mantra which calms you. Say it several times, slowly, and deliberately to put your focus elsewhere.

 

Visualization

 

Escape somewhere else. Remove yourself from the situation that has made you mad and find a quiet place where you can visualize something peaceful. Build in as much detail as you can to make it as real as possible. Stay in this vision until you feel yourself start to calm down. 

 

Do Something Grand

 

Take your anger and turn it into activism. How can you use this to change the world? Sign (or start!) a petition. Volunteer. Get involved in the community and make the world a better place. 

 

Write About It

 

Journaling can help you to work through your emotions in a way that might even help prevent you from getting mad the next time around. Understanding what it was about the event which triggered you will help reshape the trigger entirely.

 

Switch Perspective

 

It can be hard to use empathy when you’re upset. But if you can see things from their perspective, it might help you to calm your response. Many times, anger comes from misunderstanding the situation.

 

Forgive

 

This technique falls under expert level of anger management. By being the bigger person and forgiving the other, you’ll find you no longer have reason to be mad at all.

 

The key to all of these is simple: don’t let anger take control. The last thing you need is for you to fall under the power of negative emotion. Use the anger to make a better place or let it go entirely. In the end, you’ll be happier you did.

 


Friday 28 June 2024

5 Techniques for Using Affirmations to Enhance Your Relationship


Affirmations are powerful positive statements. You may be aware of them as a tool for self-improvement or to help you reach your goals. Did you know that affirmations can help improve your relationships with your partner, family, friends, and even your colleagues?

 

By choosing your words carefully and meaningfully, you can improve relationships in every area of your life. 

 

1. Show Empathy

 

You can use affirmations to show the other person that you see their feelings and acknowledge them. Affirmations can be used as a component of active listening. Listen to what they are saying, without interrupting, and when you do speak, you reflect back what they said to you. You acknowledge where they are and give them space to vent or celebrate or just get their message across. 

 

The key to showing empathy is to make sure you don’t contradict or negate their feelings. Don’t offer advice or give a contrary opinion. Just stand with them in their space. 

 

2. Be Authentic

 

Make sure your affirmations are coming from a place of sincerity. Don’t say things you don’t mean. Keep your affirming messages to the point and focused on the other person. 

 

Affirmations that are economical with the truth or speak out of character will undermine your relationship, not build it. Make sure you speak from the heart. And you don’t have to use flowery language, just be nice. 

 

3. Tell Your Loved Ones They’re Loved

 

Saying I love you early in a relationship is easy. But as time goes on, it’s easy to let endearments slide. Get into the habit of telling your partner, your children, your family, your friends how much you love them. Don’t take it for granted that they feel loved, make sure they know it!

 

4. Say Thank You

 

When was the last time you said thank you for a home-cooked meal? Or for proofreading your job application? Or even for taking the garbage out?

 

No act of kindness should go unacknowledged. Show your family and friends and colleagues that you appreciate what they do for you. Affirm their role in your life. 

 

5. Give Public Praise

 

Sometimes the best affirmations come in the form of public acknowledgment. Give credit where it’s due to your team members, your partner, and your kids. Show them you're grateful and proud of them. Make it a point to acknowledge the extra effort and exceptional achievements.

 


Tuesday 25 June 2024

Beyond the Number: Practical Steps to Embrace an Age-Positive Life


We've all heard the saying, "Age is just a number." But how do we translate that sentiment into everyday life? How do we dismantle ageist stereotypes and cultivate a genuinely inclusive mindset for ourselves and those around us?

 

The good news is, it's not magic; it's action. Here are some practical steps you can take to embrace an age-positive life:

 

Challenge your own biases:

 

  • Awareness is key. Take time to reflect on your own subconscious biases about aging. Do you associate youth with energy and potential while linking older age with decline and limitations? Recognize these thoughts as internalized stereotypes and actively work to challenge them.
  • Flip the script. Instead of focusing on perceived limitations, consider the strengths and wisdom that come with experience. Consider older adults as mentors, resource pools, and valuable societal contributors.

 

Embrace lifelong learning:

 

  • Curiosity is ageless. Never stop learning, growing, and exploring new interests. Whether taking a class, picking up a new hobby, or simply engaging in stimulating conversations, keep your mind active and receptive to new ideas.
  • Become a mentor. Share your knowledge and experience with younger generations. Volunteering as a tutor, coach, or community leader can be mutually rewarding, fostering connections and breaking down age barriers.

 

Combat ageism in everyday life:

 

  • Use inclusive language. Avoid ageist terms like "senior citizen" or "over the hill." Instead, use respectful and person-centered language focusing on individual identities and contributions.
  • Challenge ageist assumptions. Stop making assumptions about what someone can or cannot do based on their age. It would help to treat everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of their years on the planet.
  • Advocate for positive change. Speak up against age discrimination in the workplace, healthcare system, and other areas of society. Support age-inclusive policies and initiatives that promote fair treatment and opportunities for all.

 

Build bridges across generations:

 

  • Seek out intergenerational connections. Spend time with people of different ages, from young children to older adults. Share stories, learn from each other, and celebrate each generation's unique perspectives.
  • Organize intergenerational activities. Participate in events or programs that unite different age groups, such as community service projects, cultural celebrations, or intergenerational learning initiatives.
  • Embrace family connections. Cherish relationships with grandparents, parents, children, and other family members across the age spectrum. These bonds offer invaluable support, love, and a sense of belonging, regardless of age differences.

 

Resources for your age-positive journey:

 

  • Books: "Younger" by Alexandra Robbins, "Disrupt Aging" by Aubrey de Grey, "The Longevity Book" by David Sinclair
  • Websites: The National Center to Reframe Aging, The Global Coalition on Aging, The MacArthur Foundation's Initiative on Successful Aging
  • Organizations: AARP, Eldercare Locator, The National Council on Aging

 

Remember, embracing an age-positive mindset is a continuous journey. There will be stumbles and challenges along the way, but every step you take towards breaking down age barriers and fostering inclusion makes a difference. Let's celebrate the richness and diversity of human experience, regardless of the number on the calendar. Together, we can create a world where age is truly just a number, and everyone has the opportunity to thrive at any stage of life.

 


Friday 21 June 2024

Age is Just a Number: Shattering Stereotypes and Embracing Life's Full Potential


There's a phrase whispered like a mantra throughout our lives: "Age is just a number." But how often do we genuinely internalize its meaning? We watch time march on, counting birthdays like milestones on a dusty road, often associating them with limitations and decline.

 

But what if age, that seemingly linear progression, is instead a mosaic? A vibrant collage of experiences, wisdom, and potential, far richer and more dynamic than a single number can represent.

 

In truth, the statistics paint a compelling picture. Forget the image of the forgetful grandparent struggling with technology. Consider Johannes Mallow, the 48-year-old world memory champion, or the countless older adults mastering new languages with impressive fluency. Studies even show our brains retain their remarkable plasticity, the ability to adapt and form new connections, throughout our lifespan.

 

Our physical ability, too, can defy expectations. Marathon legends like Fauja Singh, who tackled the London Marathon at 100, are testaments to the human spirit's enduring strength. And Ernestine Shepherd, who became the world's oldest competitive bodybuilder at 86, proves that physical peak performance can blossom even in life's later chapters.

 

The world of innovation and achievement follows suit. While we often glorify youthful entrepreneurship, the average age of successful startup founders sits closer to 40 than 25. Experience, it seems, trumps youthful energy when building high-impact companies. And let's not forget the late Bloomers, individuals who find their creative voice or professional calling later in life. Helen Frankenthaler, who redefined abstract expressionism at 50, is a powerful example.

 

Even happiness, that elusive butterfly, seems to take flight with age. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that people over 85 reported higher levels of life satisfaction than their younger counterparts. Perhaps wisdom's gentle hand helps us understand what truly matters and appreciate the richness of each passing moment.

 

But these statistics are merely stepping stones to embracing the "Age is Just a Number" philosophy. It's about dismantling the ageist narratives that infiltrate our society, from hiring practices based on arbitrary dates to the limiting expectations we place on ourselves and others.

 

It's about recognizing that a 25-year-old can be a seasoned artist, a 60-year-old can still be an agile athlete, and an 80-year-old a tech-savvy entrepreneur. It's about understanding that potential knows no age, and limitations are often self-imposed.

 

So, how do we genuinely internalize this transformative message? It starts with a shift in perspective. Let's view age as a spectrum, not a rigid ladder. Let's celebrate the wisdom gained with each passing year while nurturing the curiosity and spirit of adventure within us all. Let's champion lifelong learning, embrace new challenges, and redefine what it means to "age gracefully."

 

Most importantly, let's replace the tired figure of decline with the vibrant narrative of continuous growth, boundless potential, and a life that explodes in color and possibility, regardless of the number on the calendar.

 

Because, my friends, age is just a number. It's time we started living like it.

 


Tuesday 18 June 2024

5 Steps to Shift Your Limiting Beliefs for Good


How are you your own worst enemy? We limit ourselves so much. We live in our heads and come up with all these ways to keep us from getting anything accomplished. Even though deep down we know we're good enough, and how much we're fully capable of getting things done. 

 

The only way to get past these self-sabotaging behaviors is to take active, intentional steps to remedy your thinking. Let's look at 5 steps that will shift your limiting beliefs for good. 

 

Stop

 

Wait a minute; what were you thinking? If a thought feels off about something, it's time to stop and examine this idea much closer. Is this perhaps a self-limiting belief? 

 

Think About What You're Saying

 

Where is the lie in this thought? You've already figured out there's something wrong with it, or you wouldn't be going through this process. This means something about it is not ringing true. When you understand where the lie is, it becomes easier to know how to counter it. 

 

Look for the Proof

 

Is there any proof this self-limiting thought is true? Let's examine the part you feel is a lie. Here's where you need to take a step back from the situation if you can and look very impartially at what's going on. Is any grain of truth in what you're thinking? 

 

Take Control

 

If what you were thinking is a lie, it's relatively easy to counter the false aspects of the statement with the truth. But what if this thought was at least partially true? You start by reminding yourself this isn't always the case. For example, you might be thinking you are always late. Maybe you are, in fact, late sometimes. To perform this step, you would need to recall various instances when you were on time. By countering the lie, you are taking control of the situation, and not allowing the limiting belief to have any sway over you. 

 

Get Help

 

Sometimes it can be challenging to remove limiting beliefs by yourself. In these instances, it can be beneficial to talk to a friend, or even a counselor, to help you see the truth. There is nothing wrong with getting help, especially from someone who is in a position to be impartial.

 

Self-limiting beliefs don't have to control your life. By examining your thoughts, especially those that seem to hold you back, you will find it much easier to move forward toward your goals. Soon you will realize success.

 


Friday 14 June 2024

5 Steps To Defeat Perfectionism Once and For All


We all have moments where we fall into perfectionism. For some of us, this might happen kind of often. For others, it's reserved for those special occasions where we have a project where we can't rest until we get it right.

 

While occasional super-attention-to-detail is okay, it’s when we make perfectionism a way of life where it becomes a problem. Those are the times where we finally need to take charge of our lives and learn how to let go.

 

Try this:

 

Start at the Core

 

Why are you so wrapped up in perfectionism? Are you truly trying to become a better person somehow, or are you just trying to impress someone else or meet expectations from those around you? Neither of these reasons is very healthy, and both need to be addressed.

 

Drop the “Should”

 

The moment you start using this word in a conversation, especially regarding your action, you're already driving yourself crazy. Remind yourself you don’t need validation from anyone. You’re good just by being you.

 

Rewrite the Script

 

What are you telling yourself as you throw yourself into perfectionism? Do you think this is the path to success? Or do you have other unrealistic expectations of the outcome? Here's where you switch up your self-talk to get out of any negative spaces and unrealistic outcomes.

 

Drop the Comparisons

 

Speaking of self-talk, just who are you holding up as role models? Has this too become unhealthy, going from "I want to be more like them" to "Why can't I have everything they do?” Wouldn’t it feel better to celebrate where you are right now and all the effort you’ve been putting into things?

 

Show Some Mercy

 

Perfection never allows for excuses. If you can't succeed, you're automatically a failure. By chasing imperfection, you learn the value of self-forgiveness and the ability to let go of your mistakes in favor of embracing the lessons you can learn from them.

 

You wouldn’t think these steps are all so very important at first glance. After all, is chasing imperfection worthwhile?

 

The answer is a resounding, "Yes!" Perfection is what pulls us away from others and gets us so tangled up inside with worry and stress about getting things right; we negatively impact our mental and physical health. 

 

With this in mind, isn’t it time to let go and enjoy life once and for all?