Affirmations

Choose two or three positive mantras or metamessages that contain information for what you want to believe (e.g. I am a confident person, today is going to be a brilliant day) and if done repeatedly, you’ll trick the mind and help erase some of the negative soundtrack.

Breathing

Slow, rhythmic, calm diaphragmatic breathing has massive benefits both physiologically in terms of oxygen distribution but also in terms of emotional and cognitive processing. Take time out to do this. It is often recommended to punctuate our day (start, middle, end) with breathing checks.

Control (self)

Remind yourself that you are in control of much of what you are thinking, feeling and doing. I often get clients to imagine they are in a control room and have the capacity to turn down/switch off the negativity and turn up/switch on the positivity. One can be quite creative with imagery and use dials and buttons.

Dream diary

Our dreams (even the fragments we recall) are the best form of self-therapy there is so keep a dream diary by the side of your bed and write down what you recall immediately as this will be both cathartic and helpful in your self-understanding.

Exercising

This doesn’t have to be a full-blown 10K run at all but regular physical exercise releases endorphins and will make us feel better.

Forgiving

Though this may be far more complex for some people, it can also be liberating if we manage to free ourselves from the pain, anger, resentment and negativity that we may carry around. This may be forgiving both people in our life who have harmed us and ourselves for mistakes we’ve made.

Godiva chocolate(!)

In order to inspire and motivate ourselves, we often need to overcome obstacles and can help ourselves if we think about the goal we may desire more (e.g. chocolate) whilst we focus on the goal with the lesser desire (e.g. cleaning the house). One of the most simple ways of helping overcome anxiety associated with flying is to think about the end destination/holiday!

Habits

We often only think of habits as addictive patterns that we want rid of as in biting nails or smoking, but we can also cultivate new habits in the same way (e.g. meditating, waking up early, going to salsa class).

Imperfections

We all have imperfections in one form or another but rather than feeling weighed down by them, try embracing or accepting them, and realising they may be part of your make-up and contributing towards your specialness. Certain imperfections can be flipped over and actually be perceived as strengths!

Joy

Though it sounds so obvious, we often neglect the lighter and even hedonistic urges in ourselves. Find the time to ensure that however busy life is with work and family commitments, that you have the time and space for more primal activities that are less about ‘doing’ and more about ‘being’. Laughter is one of the most potent remedies and research shows we are doing it less!

Knowing oneself

We all know how we are more preoccupied with our weaknesses and ignore our strengths and talents. We have many. Try focusing on these strengths daily and even list them so you can build your life around them.

Love (self)

We neglect appreciating ourselves whether it’s being able to comment positively on our appearance, giving credit where due and talking ourselves up. Time to change the record and act towards ourselves how we would want to be treated by others. If we can master self-love, we can transfer this across to all our relationships.

Mindfulness

This is a powerful and popular self-help strategy with huge benefits that have a strong evidence base. It allows us to tune into the present, something we fail to do enough of, and move forward with the future. Something as simple as sitting on a park bench and noticing the sensations around can be amongst the most grounding activities.

Negative language

Remove the negative words (i.e. no, not, never, should, can’t) as these will insidiously eat into your sense of who you are. Become conscious that the language you use is positive and motivating rather than doubting and limiting.

Overcome blindspots/fears

We all have fears and doubts which may be limiting in terms of our everyday lives. If we start to recognise that those fears represent areas of growth that maybe we’ve neglected, we can start to gradually confront. There is nothing better than overcoming a fear that we’ve held on to whilst there is something very debilitating about avoiding situations that may elicit some anxieties.

Posture

You can change the way we use your body with amazing effects. Try standing tall, not slumping, holding yourself with pride, making eye contact and smile

Quiet

Increasingly our lives are becoming clogged up with technology, stressful commitments and complex interactions. It is even more important to unplug ourselves from the pace and intensity of our lives and find that quiet space, seize back control and allow ourselves to replenish. Try switching off screen time. It has been shown that exposure to artificial light including blue light from tablets and I-phones interferes with the quality of sleep.

Relating

Surround yourself with people who nurture you. If we withdraw from others, we are more prone to depression and distorted thinking. It is so helpful to touch base regularly with those family and friends who satisfy our ego. And remember ‘relating’ can happen at several levels and with many benefits, whether it’s with our loved one(s) or a trivial interaction in a shop with a stranger.

Stay focused

We can remain focused on our goals and wishes, if we create lists as it helps structure our day and chunk down tasks into more manageable units. Essentially, we become our own life coaches and making lists will be useful even when we fail to accomplish everything on that list.

Triggers

We can think of triggers as those things which precipitate how we think and feel. We can become quite aware of what those negative triggers are and try to remove them (e.g. seeing a particular friend who makes us feel depressed). We can also think of positive triggers/anchors when things go well (e.g. a swim at the weekend), and use these to anchor good feeling states.

Under-thinking

The tendency to over-think/analyse can be exhausting and debilitating. We don’t possibly need to make sense of everything in our lives and need to learn to allow for life to unfold and for there to be a certain amount of spontaneity, fluidity and serendipity. If we are too much in the ‘over-thinking’ mode, we risk failing to be in the present.

Validitation

We can slip into living in a bubble and have blind spots. Validation from others around us can help break some of these behaviours. Simply this may mean asking friends or colleagues whether they’ve experienced something we may have become preoccupied with. We may want to get feedback about ourselves from others which invariably will be a positive. If we fail to do this, we risk having a very limited perspective on ourselves.

Will power

Finding that will power and zest is not always easy, however, motivation and energy will help us move forwards. We will act positively if the desire and intention is in place. Try setting yourself some short term (e.g. I’m going to call an old friend this week), medium term (e.g. I’m going to find a good evening class) and long term (e.g. I really want to visit the Galapagos islands over the next few years).

X factor

We are all unique and special individuals and often have untapped resources. We may need to dig deep in order to discover these qualities that will help us move forwards and leave behind old habits. Our ‘X Factor’ may be obvious and something we are already involved with, however, it may well be something which we need to find out through self-discovery and trying out new activities.

You

Remembering you are unique and not simply a benchmark to compare with others. If we constantly make such comparisons, we lack appreciating ourselves for who we are. We all have our own journey and narrative which has peaks and troughs. We don’t know others’ journeys and struggles and will often idealise their lives at the expense of our own.

Zzzzzzzz

Sleep is important for emotional and physical well-being. Sleep deprivation can have a very negative impact on our ability to handle stress, be productive and function. And remember both power napping for a few minutes and meditative resting can be beneficial.

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