Setting Yourself Up for a Year of Success – Advice from an Organisational Psychologist

Setting Yourself Up for a Year of Success – Advice from an Organisational Psychologist

Author: Amy Bands

The urge to take advantage of this time of year to come up with new goals, identify your purpose, set resolutions and start fresh with the clean slate of a new year is real. However, the reality is that just because the calendar has ticked over into a new year does not automatically mean we will feel refreshed and rejuvenated. In fact, you may even feel disappointed that this refreshed feeling does not automatically happen. 

More than that, we often dive into unhealthy ways of behaving and acting over the December period and overnight wish to change our habits in favour of strict and healthy alternatives come January 1st. We have high hopes that we will be our best selves in the new year – often referred to as “new year, new you”. However, it’s important to remember we are coming out of an end of year slump, a challenging 2022 characterised by readjusting after a pandemic, unemployment, economic woes, load shedding and readjustment to the office after working from home. In December we are making our money stretch further as we spend on gifts, feasts, holidays and sales. We renege on our boundaries as we spend time with family and friends, feel pressure and some may even feel lonely or disconnected.

What has the era of Covid-19 taught us?

One thing we have learned from the pandemic we faced and are still coming out of is that life is more uncertain than we ever thought it could be. For some of us the new year period could coincide with some misfortune, grief, hardship and despondency. We may have a rule of thumb that the new year is a time to refresh, reset and build for a year ahead. And so when the reality of our lives does not mirror that expectation, we can feel bad, disappointed or confused. Having self-compassion in these moments will assist us in managing and coping with the disconnect we may be feeling. Speak to yourself like you would to a friend or loved one to combat these feelings.

Rejuvenating for 2023, like most things in life, is not a quick fix. It is worthwhile to prioritise rejuvenation as a form of well-being that will set you up for success in 2023, and through intentional practices of rejuvenation, it will be possible to cope better with the challenges you inevitably will face. 

Success-focused habits to take with you into 2023 and beyond

1. Reflect often

We can engage in this activity where we look inward to learn about ourselves and build our self-awareness. It is important to look back at the year that was and see what worked (and what didn’t) so that we can take these learnings with us into the new year.

2. Examine your strengths

Wisdom from positive psychology encourages us to focus on and build on our strengths as opposed to agonising on and rectifying our weaknesses. Where do your strengths and talents lie and how can you enhance them?

3. Journal more

When we put pen to paper real transformation happens. We can look back on our writing and get a deeper sense of ourselves, our struggles and our hopes for the future. These writings act as a catharsis – where we can let go of what has been on our minds or as a record where we find messages from ourselves, written to ourselves.

4.   Clarify your values

Shining the light on our values regularly assists us in streamlining and sharply defining what matters to us and provides a clear compass with which we can make our decisions. Take time to zoom in on 3 to 5 values that will guide your actions, decisions and plans for the year ahead.

5. Consider a theme for the year 

Maybe it’s growth, to be a role model, or adventure. Consider how this theme will guide you in multiple aspects of your life – relationships, work, hobbies and health as some examples.

6. Create a vision board 

Making your purpose, vision and goals visual to consistently remind you of what you are setting your intention towards will provide you with regular reminders of why you are putting in effort and what you are striving towards. Choose a visual, a song, a passage, a poem, a photograph or a quote to capture the entirety of your vision that you can constantly hang onto – even when your energy wanes.

7. Take breaks 

Be intentional with scheduling your breaks, whether these will be during your work day where you regularly get up from your desk or requesting leave. Look at your calendar to ensure you are intentional with your time this year and look at the public holidays that you can take advantage of to schedule your time off – this way you will have more time without using as many leave days.

8. Dive into something today that your future self will thank you for 

Plan something that is just for you, that scares you or that meets your deepest desires. When we do something today that our future self will thank us for we are sure to shape our lives in ways that wow us! Write a journal entry imagining you are reflecting in January 2024 – what is that thing you did in 2023 that you are grateful for – add this to your intention for 2023. The year will pass by regardless of whether you have the experience, enrol in the course or make a move or not. If you choose to engage you will be left with more than just another year crossed off on a calendar.

 How can you apply this in the workplace?

Now, more than ever employees are prioritizing their mental well-being and considering what they want to do with their lives. Organisations need to prioritise the holistic well-being of their employees if they wish to remain competitive and relevant in the war for talent. Organisations can ensure ongoing rejuvenation and mental health for the employees by:

  1.   Empowering employees with mental health tools – training, practice and investing in these tools are crucial. P.S. Contact info@wellbecompany.com to see how Wellbe and our mental health team can support you and your organisation.
  2.   Take action towards improving the work-life balance of their employees – many organisations are experimenting with the 4-day work week and we could take the lead from European countries who are legislated against contacting employees outside of strict working hours.
  3.   Carefully consider hybrid working policies – consulting employees is crucial as employees no longer see the relevance of working in the office meaning that organisations need to lead the charge in redefining what it means to work in-office.
  4.   Employers would do well to recognize that it is no longer hours worked and input into work  that needs to be monitored, rewarded, and micro-managed but rather the impact and output of work that needs to be recognised and encouraged.

 Partner with Wellbe today to empower you and to shape a healthy organisation.

7 Refreshing tips to keep you rejuvenated this year

7 Refreshing tips to keep you rejuvenated this year

Author: Words We Write

The start of the new year is the promise of new beginnings. Thinking of the things you want to achieve, getting back into a routine and going back to work can be a little intimidating though. There is a lot of pressure to hit the ground running and make this your best year yet and by the end of January, you’re exhausted all over again. 

It doesn’t have to feel like that though. We’ve done a little digging and found some pretty nifty ways for you to achieve everything you set out to while still feeling rejuvenated throughout the year. 

Don’t get us wrong, there will be days when you’re tired and need a rest, that’s normal. Our goal is for you to use these tips to create a sustainable lifestyle that will keep you going all year round.

Why is a sustainable lifestyle so important? 

Burnout is real and pretty common. Building healthy habits that you follow and implement into your daily life will assist in avoiding high-stress levels and feelings of total exhaustion. 

By maintaining a healthy and sustainable lifestyle you won’t be trying to crawl through the last months of the year with your holiday just out of reach. You’ll continue to feel fresh and rejuvenated to take the year on and finish strong while achieving your goals.

How to stay rejuvenated this year

1. Set boundaries

This has been a tough one, even for us but we can’t express how important your boundaries are. Your boundaries are unique to you, and you can have specific boundaries for work, friends, family, and even yourself.

The important thing is to make sure that you stick to your boundaries once you’ve decided on them. They won’t be helpful to you if you keep trying to enforce a boundary and then give up soon after. 

Explore: How to beat cognitive fatigue to re-energise

Examples of boundaries you could implement:
  • Sticking to the working hours stipulated in your contract
  • Only watching TV for an hour a day or going on social media for a certain amount of time in a day
  • Saying no to people (especially if you’re a people pleaser)
  • Choosing not to be around friends or family that constantly put you down

2. Start the year slowly

As we mentioned, there is this unspoken pressure of getting into the new year and being the most productive, smashing goals left right and centre and letting nothing get in your way. 

While we commend people for wanting to start the year strong, it can lead to fizzling out pretty early. Think about a marathon for example, if you come out guns blazing and sprint as fast as you can for the first few laps, the longer the race goes on, you don’t have the energy to keep the same momentum going. 

A year is a marathon, never a sprint. Take your time to reflect on the past year, sit and figure out what you want to achieve this year and game plan for how you’re going to do it. Most importantly, remember that you don’t need to achieve everything in the first 3 months. 

3. Prioritise your sleep routine

You have probably heard this a billion times in your life but we can’t stress how important sleep is. Set yourself a bedtime and stick to it. If you need to wake up early, go to bed early. 

Make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night so that you are performing at your best.

4. Take care of your gut

Choose foods that will nourish your mind and your body. Life can get busy and it might be easy to quickly stop at a drive-through on your way home rather than cook but we advise against doing this regularly. 

Make this the year where you plan your meals ahead of time and make conscious decisions about what you put in your body. Foods high in added sugars and processed foods can make you feel sluggish.

5. Practice being still

Whether it’s sitting outside for 20 minutes, meditating or laying on your bed, being still can improve your brain function, reduce stress and anxiety and aid in productivity. 

A few minutes a day where you sit with no distractions and let your mind and body completely relax. 

6. Set new goals 

Goals and intentions are important. We’re not calling them New Year’s Resolutions because there’s a connotation around resolutions that no one ever sticks to them. 

We prefer goals and intentions. As we mentioned above, figure out what you would like to achieve this year. But most importantly, indicate HOW and WHEN you’re going to achieve these goals. Being specific and having an action plan is vital to achieving your goals. 

7. Practice gratitude

Lastly, be thankful. 

Yes, life is difficult, work can suck and we would all rather be on a beach somewhere. BUT you have a job, you have friends and family, you have a home and food. There is so much you have in your life that someone out there wishes they had. Life isn’t going to be perfect and there are going to be days when things seem impossible but we encourage you to find something to be grateful for every single day, no matter how small it may seem.

Before you know it, you’ll be reminded of all the positive and amazing things surrounding you.

To feel rejuvenated throughout the year is to practise small things daily that remove you from the hustle and bustle and remind you to take each day as it comes.

How to beat cognitive fatigue to re-energise.

How to beat cognitive fatigue to re-energise.

Author: Amy Bands

What is it about this time of the year that makes us feel so tired? Everyone you speak to, shocked that the year is nearing a close! Where did the year go? Time flies… when you’re having fun? We have not been having such a fun time as a nation or as a globe. Emerging from a more than two year unprecedented pandemic has fundamentally changed us as people. We are not the same people who left 2019 for the upheaval of 2020 and beyond. Many of us are struggling to recall when we last saw each other. Thinking back to ‘last year’ only to realise that was two years ago. The lockdown years are a blur. All melding into one. 

Organisations are failing to notice that their people are fundamentally different. Re-looking at their lives, their work, their organisations, their priorities and their boundaries. Many organisations are doing a forced return to the office without consultation on what their people really want and need. The rationale behind the return to office is feeling weak for many. Organisations are finding tremendous push-back on their carrot and stick methods of ‘collaboration’.

Returning to the office has been a major shift for organisations and their people. Organisations are failing to notice the fundamental change in priorities and expectations of their people. This failing could cost organisations in the war for talent, where even South Africans are participating in the Great Resignation. Returning to the office comes with its peripheral challenges. Traffic, loadshedding battles making it worse where we are consulting multiple timetables of stages of loadshedding throughout the day, multiple areas on differing schedules along our routes and ever more agitated drivers on the road. The other planning that needs to take place is also reinstating childcare, transport for kids, and giving up the hours we have come to use productively, instead, for time spent in traffic. Not to mention how all of this hits our pockets, including the fuel and transport costs, temptation to buy food in the office, and the expenses to again manage our home lives while we are not there. 

Locally and globally we are dealing with the fallout of the pandemic, economic woes, political upheaval, warring nations, radically different social norms, loss, grief, fear and worry over when it could all happen again. The loss we faced in Covid-19 violated our social ways of losing loved ones. Hospitals barred from visitors, funerals conducted online and guilt for those who survived. Some of us also faced our own mortality in contracting the virus and continue to experience health effects related to Covid-19. 

Outlining all of this is important to highlight that we are carrying a lot at the moment. For us to realise the cognitive load we are dealing with. To pause and notice that we are in cognitive overload. 

What is cognitive load and how have we been pushed into cognitive overload?

Cognitive load is the capacity we have for holding short-term and long-term information in our minds. The brain has a designated capacity to take in stimuli. There is only so much we can think about and focus on. We begin to feel a cognitive overload when we are over stimulated, That is more stimuli and information coming into our awareness and thinking than we can manage. Our cognition – as in our ability to take knowledge in and understand it, no longer functions optimally when we are in cognitive overload. Prolonged experience of this can lead us into cognitive fatigue. This is a constant and prolonged strain on our cognitive processing. All the stress and strain we are facing and trying to juggle mentally is causing us cognitive overload, putting us at risk of cognitive fatigue. 

What cognitive fatigue can look like:

  1. Difficulty concentrating
  2. Forgetfulness
  3. Irritability
  4. Simple tasks becoming a struggle
  5. Feeling overwhelmed
  6. Difficulty sleeping
  7. Physical symptoms of stress such as headaches, tension, and a racing heart
  8. Feeling disconnected from the world in a dreamlike or foggy state
  9. Experiencing a mental block – where you can’t engage in thinking

How do we regain our energy?

There are ways to tackle the cognitive overload and fatigue we are facing. Considering what is in and outside of our control will assist us in taking action where we can, and putting boundaries in place to help us say yes to more of what we enjoy and feel energised by and saying no to more cognitive load. This also allows us to use our energy productively on that which we can control. Letting go of unnecessary thoughts of what is outside our control. 

Some further ways to re-energise include:

  1. Reduce the task load you are taking on – give yourself permission to tackle less while you are overloaded mentally
  2. Give yourself more time than usual to do the same tasks
  3. Let go of perfectionistic standards in favour of completing the task and receiving feedback to improve, that way you keep the flow of work moving
  4. Planning and scheduling tasks – compiling these plans and managing our schedule puts the load into our control
  5. Delegate tasks where possible
  6. Put boundaries in place and stick to them – saying no to more if we cannot realistically take more on
  7. Taking on enjoyable tasks will not increase your cognitive load
  8. Take responsibility for your wellbeing – eat well, put good sleep habits in place, ask for help when you need it
  9. Organisations can also put shorter work days in place, introduce flexi-time and encourage their people to take regular breaks.

Moving into the final stretch of a year where we are adjusting to life where hybrid work is taking shape, socialising is coming back, and where we are dealing with a lot mentally, we can start to re-energise by giving ourselves a break. It’s time to gear down for the end of the year in the ways that we can. Putting less pressure on ourselves to perform at a high level will give us a chance to take a breather before the festive season, allowing us to have the energy to tackle the change of pace coming our way. Gaining energy is not always about digging deep but also balancing our ‘doing’ with resting. If we do not make time for our wellness we will be forced to make time for our illness.  

Allow me to leave you with this final thought:

How to recharge and eliminate what’s sapping your energy

Author: Words We Write

How to recharge and eliminate what’s sapping your energy

We’re reaching the end of the year and this is usually when we start to feel drained, unmotivated and simply exhausted. Finish this year strong by using these simple ways to recharge both your body and mind. 

Have you ever tried using your phone with less than 15% battery? Your apps are slow, your phone freezes, and it can cause a lot of frustration.  Well, humans are pretty similar. 

When your battery is low, it’s difficult to do even basic tasks at your best. Silly mistakes are easily made, and it can begin to take a toll on your mental health. This is why it is so important to create habits that help recharge you inside and out. 

Things that might be draining you 

It’s not only towards the end of the year that you can feel depleted. This can happen at any time when you’re constantly surrounded by or engaging in things that drain your energy. 

These are just some of the things that could be sapping your energy;

1. Too many processed foods 

We’re all pretty aware that too much processed food isn’t doing us any good. This time of the year is go, go, go so it might be easier to grab a takeaway or snack on some crisps rather than prepare something. 

And there’s nothing wrong with that… in moderation. Grabbing something convenient in a time crunch is perfectly fine, the problem comes in when you make it a habit.

2. Too little sleep 

We often underestimate how important our sleep schedule is. Whether you aren’t sleeping due to stress, trying to meet deadlines or anything in between, it is vital that you prioritise at least 8 hours of sleep a night. 

3.  Toxic relationships 

Having people around you who demand from you and that don’t lift you up is exhausting. Take note of who you’re spending your time with and how you feel afterwards. 

4. Clutter and disorganisation 

Trying to find things or remember where you left things is tiring and draining. It’s easy for things to get cluttered when you’re busy or feeling overwhelmed but take some time to clear out your space, it will do wonders for your mental state. 

5. Lack of exercise 

We bet you don’t get tired of hearing this one. But yes, lack of physical activity actually drains you. Being active gets those endorphins racing and re-energises you but find activities you actually enjoy. 

6. Your own attitude 

If you wake up every morning thinking “ugh, I’m so tired”, “I really don’t want to do this” or “I’m over this day already” then you are preparing yourself for a really draining day. 

Your mind and your attitude are very powerful, and the thoughts you put out there are what you will experience. Try making a conscious effort to change your attitude when things are tough. 

Habits that will recharge you 

Apart from changing the things we mentioned above, there are a few things you can do that will recharge your body and mind. It’s a great idea to try to make these simple things regular habits in your life.

1. Live mindfully

Don’t just go through the motions in life. Think about everything you’re doing, what you want to achieve, and what you already have achieved. There is so much more to life than just getting through it. 

Take a look at this awesome blog on mindfulness for a deeper understanding. 

2.Take a break from technology 

The online world is a massive energy drainer. From being inundated with world news to comparing your life to a stranger’s, you can physically feel the light being zapped right out of you. 

Set a date once a week or twice a month when you limit your social media usage or stop using it completely for a day or week. Whatever feels right for you but we highly recommend this. 

3. Create manageable to-do lists

This time of the year is manic, and it can leave you feeling completely depleted. Rather than trying to keep up with everything, create to-do lists that you’ll be able to keep up with. 

By doing this, you can share your energy across these tasks rather than trying to take on everything all at once. 

4. Prioritise fun 

Life is busy, there is almost too much to get done in a single day. Often, we focus on the work aspects and family commitments and fun falls by the wayside. 

Start scheduling time for fun into your days, whatever that may be. Fun takes on many forms, from going for a walk to visiting a friend or reading a book. 

5. Spend time outdoors

Fresh air and some sunshine do wonders to recharge your body and soul. Try to spend at least 10 – 15 minutes outside each day. Use this time to silence your mind, be mindful and take a breath. 

6. Be thankful 

Life is just as beautiful as it is chaotic. When you’re run down, it’s difficult to see the positive, but it’s so important to sit back and reflect on all the good you have in your life. 

You can even write down everything you’re grateful for so that you see it in front of you. By being cognisant of what is good, you will start to fill your energy levels with positivity and in turn, re-energising yourself. 

 

Mental Health in South Africa

The role of the Work Environment plays in your mental health

October is Mental Health Awareness Month in South Africa. This is not to be taken lightly, as South Africa is in a mental health crisis. Without even including statistics on those living with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder among others, the prevalence of anxiety, depression and substance use challenges in the South African context is sitting at one in six according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG). 40% of people living with HIV in South Africa have a diagnosable mental disorder. Dr Eugene Ellers a South African Psychiatrist believes that up to 6 million South Africans live with post-traumatic stress disorder. This research speaks to statistics in South Africa prior to the lockdown and pandemic.

We are a country plagued by generational trauma from a violent and oppressive political regime in our past, poverty, unemployment, inequality, racism, economic woes, lack of service delivery, load shedding, crime, gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS, and xenophobia in our present. Consensus is that Covid-19, lockdowns and the pandemic have had profound effects on the mental illness faced by people in South Africa.

The World Health Organisation has determined that South Africans have had a 36.4% increase in anxiety disorder as well as a 38.7% increase in major depressive disorders since the pandemic. As mental health goes into decline and mental illness becomes a crisis, so does the prevalence of suicide increase and become a growing reality as a last resort for those who have nowhere else to turn. Suicide is the fourth most common cause of death among young people worldwide. Companies like Instagram try to hide the increase in suicide among young people, as a result of, using their platform. We need awareness about this reality, as the more we deny the problem, the less we talk about it. The less we talk about it, the greater the stigma. This will take a greater toll on people’s lives, deepening the crisis we will have on our hands. 

Men in South Africa are four times as likely as women to commit suicide, however more women are diagnosed with depression than men and that is not to say that women are more depressed, just that women are seeking help more than men, according to SADAG. South Africa has 23 suicides every day and 20 attempted suicides. That is one per hour. We have the third-highest suicide rate in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation. Suicide is the leading cause of death in young South Africans aged 15 to 29. It has been found that 70 percent of people who commit suicide have a mental illness. 75% of people globally will not seek help for their mental illness. The South African Medical Research Council has examined the statistics on suicide from a demographic perspective finding that white men are most likely to commit suicide followed by African men, Indian men and Coloured men. In terms of women it is White females, followed by Indian females, Coloured women and then Black females with the lowest rates.  

These are staggering figures pointing to a mental health crisis in South Africa. Although we have touched on the contributing factors such as unemployment to the mental health crisis, there are other citizens in the population who are actively employed. These people are just as likely to be suffering from mental illness due to many of the factors plaguing the South African psyche, however one differentiating factor is their ability to work and earn a living. Is the workplace a salve for mental illness, or is it yet another factor dragging us down?

The workplace can be a double-edged sword – contributing potentially to both mental wellness and mental ill health. Let’s look at the factors contributing to each side of the coin.

When work helps us thrive:

Being employed, doing work and earning a living can be a circumstance under which people will thrive. It is a resource financially and socially, our work feeds our identity, it boosts our self-esteem, self-efficacy and gives us a sense of purpose. 

When work has a dark side:

On the other hand, the workplace, the work we do, and the benefits associated may be found lacking and contribute to mental illness in the population. This could be through poor working conditions, toxic workplace cultures, remuneration and benefits that are found wanting and over identification with work – making work the central organising factor in our lives leaving no space for any other areas of our lives to thrive. 

We spend 80% of our lives working. This is why organisations, workplaces, and roles need to be better equipped to provide the kinds of environments that lead to thriving and deriving healthy benefits from work. Organisations that are not paying attention to mental health are failing to see the changes and disruptions brought on by Covid requiring more attention to mental health, the clear need for mental health interventions, and are waiting in vain for the world to return to normal. These organisations will get left behind. They are failing to change and attend to the real and pressing societal focus on mental health (Ratangee, 2021). 

The workplace, due to the amount of time we spend there and its nature, exposes us to stress. When we are exposed to stress, we can develop mental illness and that in turn breeds more stress which impacts further the intensity of our mental illness, and on it goes in a cycle. It is critical that as individuals we manage our resilience and stress and also that organisations and workplaces put steps in place to mitigate the stress impact, paying real attention to mental health. Organisations must deliver resources to employees that deal with stress management and employee mental health and wellbeing. This is non-negotiable. 

Reach out to Wellbe and Company today to put these steps in place that your employees critically need. 

We are here to re-imagine wellness in the workplace. We are a corporate wellness consultancy that uses workplace initiatives to improve employee health, organisational well-being and overall corporate culture. We’re on a mission to inspire change and instil a culture of health and wellness in daily corporate life, while improving team productivity and business performance along the way.  

We are here to partner with you to address the critical need of fostering resilience in your workforce to mitigate the effects of the mental health crisis in the workplace. Our services to address this includes: stress management and mental health interventions, wellness days, employee counselling and support, and executive wellness amongst others. 

Contact us today to ensure you have the resources in place that your employees want and need.

 

Practical ways to prioritise your mental health that will change your quality of life.

Practical ways to prioritise your mental health that will change your quality of life 

As we near the end of the year, you may be feeling run down and burnt out. It’s important to take care of your mental health during this time – and always. 

Ever heard the saying “health is wealth”? Possibly one of the most accurate statements out there. And of course, your mental health forms part of your overall health. How much have you been prioritising your mental health? 

As the year draws to a close, exhaustion and burnout come creeping in. Make sure you’re focusing on your mental health now, and always. If you feel like you do prioritise your mental health but then can’t actually think of how or you feel like you just don’t have the time to focus on your mental health, keep reading. 

There are simple and practical ways to prioritise your mental health that will change your quality of life without taking too much thought or time. 

The importance of mental health 

When we think about our health, we usually think about our physical health and what we should do to improve it. This is most likely because you see and feel when your physical health isn’t where it should be. And others can see any changes in your physical health and make comments about it.

Your mental health is less noticeable to you and those around you. It’s easy to make excuses about why you feel a certain way than to face it straight on. 

Mental health is vital as it impacts every area of your life. The importance of good mental health ripples into everything you do, think or say. 

Some benefits of taking care of your mental health can include:

  • Improved mood
  • Reduced levels of anxiety
  • An enhanced sense of inner peace
  • Ability to think more clearly
  • Improved relationships
  • Increased self-esteem

Simple ways to prioritise your mental health

We promised some pretty spectacular and easy ways to prioritise your mental health and we promise, these won’t disappoint. 

Prioritising your mental health doesn’t always mean taking days off of work or seeking therapy (although, these are some pretty great things to do when you need it). There are some things you can do every day that won’t impact your daily life but will have a massive impact on your mental health.

Often, prioritising your mental health can come in the form of a little self-care and doing things that put you first for a few minutes a day. Doing these things won’t magically improve your mental health but over time, you’ll start to notice the positive effects these new habits will have. 

30-minutes of daily exercise

Just a disclaimer here: If you HATE exercise, and absolutely detest it, forcing yourself to do it every day is not going to help your mental health. 

We get that exercise isn’t for everyone. But with that being said, we highly advise that you find some form of movement that you love be it dancing, walking, or stretching. There are ways to exercise other than going to the gym or running for 30 mins straight. 

Find something you love and do it for 30 minutes a day. Physical exercise releases feel-good endorphins and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being.

Conscious breathwork 

If you struggle with anxiety, conscious breathing exercises are a must. 

When you feel your anxiety levels begin to rise, take a step back and focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and think about how you are breathing without changing it. Then begin to take deep breaths noting how they feel as they enter and leave your body. 

Alternate between shallow and deep breaths while consciously thinking about the air entering and leaving your body. 

If you are unable to do this level of breath work then simply close your eyes and breathe in for 5 seconds and release for 5 seconds. Do this a few times and you take note of how it feels. 

Feed your brain

What you eat influences your brain chemistry and your gut health. Recent studies have shown that your gut acts as a “second brain”. This means that your gut can trigger an emotional shift. The gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system that trigger mood changes and may contribute to mental health disorders.

Make sure you’re:

  • Reducing foods that are processed or high in sugar
  • Taking prebiotics and probiotics or eating more fermented foods 
  • Checking if you have food intolerances and removing them from your diet
  • Eating more fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods 
  • Consuming a high-fibre diet

7- 8 hours of high-quality sleep

The length and quality of your sleep highly impact how your mind and body function. High-quality sleep enables better thinking, learning and memory. 

Having a low quality of sleep can worsen mental health disorders including depression and anxiety. 

Make sure you prioritise your sleep by:

  • Having a consistent “bedtime”
  • Not being on your mobile devices directly before you sleep
  • Not watching TV directly before you sleep 

Daily mindfulness or meditation and rest 

Your mind is a powerful tool. Make sure you’re giving it the rest it deserves. 

Practice mindfulness or meditation by:

  • Finding a quiet place where you won’t be distracted or disturbed
  • Starting with a 2-minute meditation and building up to 5, 10, or 20 minutes each time you do it
  • Setting a time of day (morning or before bed) to meditate every day
  • Trialling different meditation techniques to determine which style works best for you

Resting your mind gives you a break from the hustle and bustle of the world around you. It is important to “switch off” for a few minutes a day. But this doesn’t mean scrolling endlessly through Tik Toks or bingeing a series. You need to focus, be mindful and release your mind of any thoughts. 

These are some simple and practical ways that you can put yourself first and prioritise your mental health.

 

Spring Cleaning: It’s time to clean up your digital clutter.

September means spring is here! Spring brings in the possibility of new beginnings and of course, spring cleaning. Now, we’re not here to tell you to clean your cupboards or disinfect your fridge. We’re focusing on spring cleaning your digital clutter. 

Digital clutter? Yup, you read that right. Many people don’t realise how messy and overwhelming their digital space is. 

Just like in your home, things in your digital space pile up, become out of date, get lost, are no longer needed or need some TLC.

Let’s dive right into how you can give your digital clutter a spring clean. 

Related: How to build better habits (That will actually stick)

Top tips for decluttering your digital space

From your laptop to your phone, you spend the majority of your day on some type of mobile device. Even though you’re using these devices multiple times a day, you might not realise how cluttered they’ve become. Here’s how you can fix that. 

Maintenance 

    1. Delete unused apps 

You may have downloaded an app that you used once and never touched again. Go through your phone and laptop to see if you have any apps that you don’t use. Delete all the apps you haven’t visited in the last month. 

Trust us, you don’t need them. 

2. Update your devices

Now that you’ve gotten rid of all unnecessary apps, update your devices. Make sure you update the operating system as well as the apps you use. 

3. Remove unnecessary information

If you have saved credit cards or old documents in your storage that you no longer use – remove them. Take a look at your saved passwords and remove the ones you no longer use. 

Lastly, clean out your old emails, files and downloads. And remember to empty your trash when you’re done. 

4.Back up your files

When you’re spring cleaning, it’s important to make sure that you’ve backed up the files of everything you want to keep. It can be easy to accidentally delete something you never intended to.

Use a cloud storage site or an external hard drive to safely store all your important goodies. 

Read: Things we’re going to START and STOP

Refresh

    1. Mailing lists 

Have a look at the emails you’re subscribed to and unsubscribe from everything that no longer serves you. 

2. Delete, delete, delete 

Remove old photos, videos and even contacts that you no longer need. Are we the only ones with hundreds of screenshots of things we thought we’d need? 

3. Decide what no longer serves you 

As you’re spring cleaning your digital space, make conscious decisions about what you really need and don’t need. 

If you’re removing apps that are no longer valuable to you, are there apps you need that would serve you more? For example, is it time to remove the many games you have on your phone and perhaps get a time management tool if that’s something you’re struggling with. 

4. Update your security software 

This is mostly for your laptop but it is one of the most vital steps. Do you have antivirus and security software on your device? If you don’t, make sure you get one. And if you do, make sure it’s still running optimally and be sure to set up automatic checks and updates. 

Viruses and malware can destroy all the information on your digital devices so it’s better to be safe!

5.Make a change

While you’re at it why not give your devices a new look and feel? Update your wallpapers and screensavers. Go from light mode to dark. Recatagorise your apps into helpful folders. 

Find ways to make your digital space more inviting, calmer and a soothing place to be. 

Explore: Everyday hacks to keep you calm and focused for a busy day

Social media 

In a realm of its own, we decided to leave social media until last. Social media platforms are where most of us spend our time so it’s important that we clean them up every now and then. 

    • Take the opportunity to refresh your presence: Change up your bio, get a new profile picture, or archive some of your posts that you no longer like.
    • Review your privacy and security settings: Accounts are constantly getting hacked. Make sure your accounts are properly protected with a password you remember. 
    • Unfollow accounts that no longer serve you: Go through your “following” list and unfollow the accounts that offer you no value or people who make you feel bad about your life. Social media shouldn’t be a place that is overwhelming and hurtful. The great thing is that you have COMPLETE control over your own social media. 
    • Ask yourself the following: Do my social media accounts reflect who I am? Do they add value? Are they negatively impacting my life? These are important questions to ask to figure out whether you should maybe relook at your entire online presence, or perhaps take a break from the social media space.

We spend so much of our time on our devices and online, make sure you’re spending just as much time making them a safe, stress-free space!

Period Power

Period Power: How to tailor your workouts to your menstrual cycle.

Have you ever noticed how one week you can power through an entire workout easily, and then the next you’re struggling through it? This could be due to what phase of your menstrual cycle you’re in.

Did you know that the term “menstrual cycle” doesn’t only refer to when you’re on your period? It actually refers to
the various phases that your body goes through throughout the month.
 

Every phase that you go through has an impact on your energy levels, hormones and even your motivation. But there are some fabulous ways for you to maximise your workouts by tailoring them to your cycle.

Little PSA before we get into it, this isn’t going to be one of those blogs that tell you to put the chocolate down and make sure you train every day of your menstrual cycle. A little bit of indulgence and self-love can be the best thing for you during your time of the month. 

But if you’re looking for ways to keep active and get the endorphins flowing, then we’ve got the best tips for you.

Everything you need to know about menstrual cycles

Most of us have experienced a complete menstrual cycle but do we understand them and what our bodies are going
through? Let’s take a look.
 

Generally, a healthy menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days, varying here and there from person to person. Some cycles range from 23 to 35 days, it all depends on your body. The first day of your period is the start of your menstrual cycle, followed by the next 27 days until you begin your next period. The start of one period and the start of the next count
as a complete menstrual cycle.

Every cycle is unique, but they all have the same phases:

    Menstrual phase

    Follicular phase

    Ovulation

    Luteal phase

 These phases make up each full month of your menstrual cycle, and every phase comes with its own side effects.

The cycle breakdown

The menstrual phase is from when your period starts until it ends (this can be from about 3-7 days, but this can vary). During this phase, your oestrogen and progesterone hormone levels decrease.

Next begins the follicular phase, which starts on day one of your period and continues until ovulation, which is usually about 16 days. During this phase, the follicle-stimulating hormone is released. Once the follicular phase is complete, your ovulation will begin. During ovulation, the luteinizing hormone is released in response to the follicular phase’s rise in oestrogen levels. You may notice your body temperature increase during this phase.

And then lastly you’ll enter the luteal phase where there is a rise in progesterone and a slight increase in oestrogen levels (the complete opposite of what happens during the menstrual phase). As this phase ends, these hormones will decrease. This is when you’ll experience all those fun PMS symptoms like bloating, headaches and cravings (trying out every product in the Chuckles range probably sounds like the best idea right about now). 

Training and your period

Some weeks you feel on top of the world, some weeks you’re exhausted or feel weak. This is all due to the change in your hormones throughout the month. Sometimes, working out is the absolute last thing you feel like doing.

Any form of exercise can have a small or big impact on your menstrual cycle, depending on how your body reacts to physical activity. Everyone reacts differently, and some have a more severe reaction to their hormone change than others. 

What many don’t know though is that you can maximise your workouts by simply going with your flow. According to various studies, you can adjust your exercise routine to your cycle. By doing the right workouts at the right time of the
month, you’ll still smash your workouts throughout the month.

How to maximise your workouts

As we’ve mentioned, your hormone levels change throughout your menstrual cycle which in turn makes you feel strong, tired, energetic or moody – it all depends on the phase of your cycle.

The beginning phases

Firstly, high-five for even thinking of doing a workout while on your period because it can be tough. 

This stage of your cycle (when you’re on your period) is when your progesterone and oestrogen are at their lowest. This may cause your energy levels to decrease, and your emotions could go a little wild. Make sure you listen to your body during this phase and see what it needs and what you feel like doing. 

 If you’re really struggling with your energy or motivation, try doing slower forms of workouts like going for a walk, doing yoga or even just hopping on the treadmill for a little. By doing low-impact activities, you’ll still increase your endorphins and keep your body moving (which can often help alleviate any cramps you experience).

 If you feel like doing something more, though, strength training is a fabulous option during this phase. Some studies indicate that strength workouts during the follicular phase (days 1-14 of your cycle) can result in higher muscle strength compared to when you train during the luteal phase (days 15-28 of your cycle).

The middle phase

When you’re halfway through your menstrual cycle (during ovulation), you might find your energy levels increase as your oestrogen and testosterone levels increase again. The ideal time to focus on high-intensity workouts and even some heavyweight training.

This is the time to take full advantage of your strength and energy!

The final phase

Lastly, you’ll enter into the luteal phase, which will cause your progesterone levels to rise while your oestrogen
decreases. To be very honest, this is the most problematic time of the month, as this is when you begin experiencing the majority of your PMS symptoms.  

The couch and Netflix are going to start calling your name, and the gym will seem like a very distant memory. But don’t give up on your physical health completely. 

Opt for shorter workouts, low intensity, or keep your workouts the same but use lighter weights for fewer reps. Be
realistic about what your body needs, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not performing at your best.

Exercise is not the epitome of looking after yourself, though. Self-care is a holistic journey which includes eating nutritious meals that are satisfying and filling. 

Menstrual cycles are a frustrating but equally wonderful part of our lives, don’t let them take over, though. 

Make your flow work for you, and remember to put your needs and your wellbeing above all else.

 

 

 

Habits

How to build better habits (That will actually stick)

Have you ever tried to build a new habit but by week 2, you’ve almost forgotten this habit existed? You’re not alone. We’ve got some impressive tips on how you can build better habits that you’ll actually stick to. 

Building habits is sometimes akin to your “New Year’s Resolutions”. It sounds good in theory but in the back of your mind, you already know that these new habits probably won’t last. 

It doesn’t have to be that way though. We’ve used some of the principles from Atomic Habits by James Clear to identify the best possible strategy for building better habits. 

Why building healthy habits is important 

Good habits are essential to a healthy life. They can make it easier for you to achieve and maintain a great and healthy lifestyle. 

Habits are often confused with goals or even a routine. Goals are aspirations you have that you’d like to achieve in a certain amount of time. Habits are things you do every day that contribute to the life you want to live. 

The difference between a habit and a routine is your awareness. Habits and routines are both repeated actions but habits run on autopilot while routines are intentional. 

Routines need active practice or they’ll eventually die out but habits occur with very little thought. 

Think about it like this, if you want to start journaling every morning, you have to intentionally make the effort to do it but if you have started the habit of smoking, lighting a cigarette first thing in the morning is done on autopilot. 

A habit then becomes a routine that is done frequently and automatically. Small changes make a massive difference over some time. 

This is why you need to create good habits rather than fall into the ease of unhealthy habits.  

6 valuable principles from Atomic Habits 

Atomic Habits shares some invaluable tips on how to create habits that are sustainable and that will serve you best in the long run. We picked out 5 of the top principles from this book. 

1. Don’t focus on goals, focus on systems of change

Rather than solely focusing on the goals you want to achieve, think about HOW you’re going to achieve them. 

Think about it, many successful people have the same goals. Olympic runners all want to win the same race but only one can actually win. And it’s about what that one runner had to do before that moment to have the ability to win. 

The same can be applied to your life. Think about the goals you have but focus on what you’re going to do every single day to reach those goals. If you don’t have the correct systems in place, you will never achieve what you set out to.  

2. Motivation is overrated. Environment often matters more

You aren’t always going to be motivated to do a particular thing. But if you create an environment that encourages productivity and has visual cues that trigger healthy habits, you’re more likely to be successful. 

You should also do your best to avoid negative temptations within your space and create specific areas for specific purposes so that you’re able to get the most out of your habits. 

3. Join a group 

We are a specifies that loves to feel connected and seek approval from like-minded individuals. 

A great thing you can do is join a group that exhibits the same traits that you want to emulate. People do well when surrounded by successful individuals that we wish to be like. 

Pro tip: Habit tracking (you can use a calendar or a journal) and accountability partners are wonderful ways to create good habits or stop unhealthy ones.

4. Focus on repetitions

To master something, you simply need to START. 

Aiming for perfection right out the gate almost always leads to failure. Rather focus on repetitive behaviours. You’ll notice that the more you do something, the better you become. 

Focus on making your habits quick and easy in the beginning. Don’t do it for longer than 2 minutes. Once you have gotten into the habit (see what we did there?) of doing the action, you can then focus on optimising it or increasing the time you spend on it. 

5. Make good choices automatic and unhealthy choices difficult

The best way to create healthy habits is to make them as simple and easy as possible so that you don’t even have to think about it. 

So for example, buy a large water bottle and set reminders to drink water every few hours. Remove the TV from your bedroom so you don’t stay up all night watching your favourite series. 

Setting reminders and making healthy things easy for you is the best way to form habits. Making unhealthy things difficult for you to do is the best way to break bad habits.   

6. Embrace feeling bored 

Habits that become everyday routines can start to feel mundane and boring. Don’t fall into the trap of changing things up! 

Welcome the feelings of boredom and stick to something even when you’re not in the mood to do it. The greatest threat to success is often thought to be failure but it’s actually boredom. 

Go back to number 1 and remember that it is the journey and not the destination that you need to focus on!

Remember that a habit is created over a period of time and your main focus should be never giving up!

Building Confidence

The how-to guide on building up your self-confidence

Have you ever found yourself feeling like you’ve seriously lost your mojo? Well… Same. That’s why we’ve come up with the ultimate guide for you to find your confidence again! 

Feeling down in the dumps and like things just aren’t going your way can have a ripple effect. When one thing hasn’t worked out and then another and another, it can quickly pile up until you’re left feeling completely defeated.

Once you’re in a bad headspace, it can be pretty difficult to pull yourself out of it and focus on all the things that are amazing in your life and all things that you’re great at. 

We know it can be tough sometimes but this ultimate guide will have you hyping yourself up again in no time!

Why it’s important to focus on your confidence 

Having self-confidence gives you the ability to take on the day and kick butt! 

When you’re confident, you are more likely to move forward with people, relationships and opportunities. You won’t second guess yourself and move away from potential experiences. 

And when things don’t work out the first time, your confidence will propel you to try again. 

How to hype yourself up  

1.Be kind to yourself 

First things first, don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re allowed to have days where things don’t seem to be going the way you want them to. It’s okay to have a day where things honestly just suck. 

BUT, just give yourself that one day. Then get back to being the amazing, strong and motivated person you are! 

Remember to change your inner dialogue to celebrate yourself rather than tearing yourself down. 

2. Create a to-do list 

When you’re in a funk, simply doing things can seem too difficult. Start your days with a to-do list. The list can include things like “do laundry” or “write in my journal” rather than just work items. 

Your to-do list can evolve into a little schedule for the day. You’ll be amazed at how motivating it is to cross things off the list as you go about your day. This will also help you establish a maintainable routine and give you control of your life.

3. Get active 

Don’t get us wrong, getting active doesn’t mean you need to sign up for a gym contract and start working out 6 times a week. 

But it’s important to keep your body moving. Physical activity is good for both your body and mind. Start by going for daily walks to get yourself out of the house. Or take a moment to do a home workout (depending on the weather, you could do this outside too). 

Find ways to move your body in ways that work for you!

Discover: The importance of gut health – plus the best and worst foods for your gut

4. Stop comparing yourself to others 

Do you, boo! Comparison is the thief of joy and with social media, comparing yourself to others is inevitable. 

Don’t focus on what others look like, what they’re doing or where they’re going. Focus on yourself and your own progress. Every individual is on their own path but at the end of the day, life is a journey, not a race. You have time to do all the things you want to do. 

If necessary, unfollow those that you compare yourself to on social media and work on being genuinely happy for those around you when they achieve things. 

5. Create the ultimate ‘hype’ playlist

This is our favourite step!
If you’re having one of those days when things just aren’t going your way, use your hype playlist to bring you out of your funk. 

Lizzo has some incredible hype tracks and so does NF if you prefer rap. Find the songs that make you feel invincible and play them as loud as you can and on repeat. Maybe even bust a move while you’re at it!

Explore: Everyday hacks to keep you calm and focused for a busy day 

6. New look, new you!

Get that new haircut you’ve been mulling over or treat yourself to new hair colour or highlights. Maybe add something new to your wardrobe or try out a new look. 

When your confidence is low, changing up your physical appearance and seeing yourself in a new light can really help. Building on your inner self-esteem is often complemented by a revamp of your appearance. 

The combination of working on yourself inside and out will catapult you into a whole new direction!

7. Be your own hype man/woman

Don’t wait around for people to tell you that you’re doing a great job. Tell yourself! Be your own hype man especially when it feels like no one else is going to hype you up. 

You’ve got this, you know you do!

Here’s the thing…

We have very little control over how others see us or what they think and say about us. But you can change your own narrative on how you see yourself and how you talk to yourself and there’s no better time than when you’re feeling less than great about yourself. 

The only thing we have control over is ourselves and often, others treat us the way we carry ourselves. We attract situations that mimic our beliefs about ourselves and what we think we deserve. If you truly want the life you crave, it starts with seeing yourself for who you are and who you want to be. It’s about the baby steps you take that lead you to exactly where you want to be.