Change Your Life

How to change negative habits for healthy ones

by Katey Kerr-Peterson

Negative habits can creep into our lives and our routine, and before we know it they become part of our default behaviour. Often we know better than to make that extra cup of coffee, stay up late watching TV, engage in office gossip, or make unhealthy food choices. But we struggle to do better and know exactly how to turn our good intentions into our reality. 

We are all only human, and can’t be expected to make perfect choices everytime. But if you are honest with yourself, and know there are some positive shifts you would like to make for your own physical and mental well-being, then read on. As Magaret Moore, co-director of the Institute of Coaching at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital puts it – ‘engaging in habit changes for self-improvement is key to vitality and well-being at all ages’!

The good news is that you are the author of your life. Your life is made up of the choices you make, and you have the power and ability to bring about positive change. Change begins with you and you can start  today.

Here are our 7 steps to change unhealthy habits:

Identify the habit(s) you want to change

It all starts with awareness. Take the time to review the areas of your life as an observer, and notice the behaviour you want to shift. It can be anything from wanting to spend less time on social media, to engaging in more positive self talk, or even prioritizing physical health through more regular excercise. Be kind to yourself during this process. There is no need to feel ashamed, or to beat yourself up for not being where you want to be. Jot down a few of the changes you wish to make, and be proud of yourself for taking this first and important step towards change. 

Identify your triggers

Every action is initiated by a trigger. For example, if you’re standing in front of the fridge looking to eat yet another snack, pause to notice why you’re there/what has triggered you being there. Are you really hungry, or are you actually enjoying taking a small mental break from work? If you’re constantly reaching for your phone to surf social media, what causes this impulse – are you simply bored and looking for some entertainment? Becoming aware of your triggers can help you pause before you act, and you may find it easier to consider other, more positive, options.

Replace the negative habit for a better one

In this above example, instead of reaching for more food, you could opt to drink a large glass of water instead, or walk outside for a 10 minute mental break. Instead of scrolling through Instagram, try engage with a colleague in the office. These simple shifts will make you feel more energized, focused and connected, which are all hugely beneficial. Ask yourself – how do I really want to feel, and what (better) choice can I make to take a step towards this?

Change the narrative

Instead of justifying your negative habit, try and flip the script of you inner dialogue. For example, instead of pouring that extra glass of wine, or eating an unhealthy dessert saying ‘I deserve it, it’s been a stressful week’. Affirm to yourself ‘I love feeling in control of my health. I love feeling good, and right now I am satisfied just as I am’. It may feel un-natural at first, but when you start to feel good, it will get easier to shift to the healthier choice, and you will enjoy a positive cycle of thinking – feeling – and being.

Visualise

See yourself throwing away the twisp or buying healthy food or waking up early. Whatever the bad habit is that you are looking to break, visualize yourself conquering it, smiling, and enjoying feeling good. By holding this new identity in your imagination, the easier it will be to show up as him/her – bringing you closer to your ultimate goal.

Small steps are still progress

Let go of the ‘all or nothing” mindset. If you set out to do 1 hour of exercise, but have a work deadline that you need to prioritize – set aside 15 minutes to workout. You will feel less guilty about skipping it all together, and will reap the positive effects from reinforcing the habit regardless. Small steps in the right direction, is still progress.

Give yourself time

In our culture we want to see instant and immediate results. However lasting change takes time. Commit to the process, and offer self compassion when you slip up. Remember that everything in life is a choice, and every moment is a chance to choose again. Life is yours for the taking, so set your sights on your goals, and enjoy the journey on your way there.

Benefits of office culture

How to positively lead change in the workplace

Change is a constant in today’s work place but that doesn’t make it any easier for us humans to deal with. When facing change employees look to their leaders to see them through, and as leaders we have the opportunity to make change positive for our people. Workers may be loathed to leave the familiarity of their daily routine and comfort zone, and be hesitant or fearful that they will not be able to cope. It is with a positive attitude that leaders will persuade staff to embrace change and gain much.

“A LEADER IS ONE WHO KNOWS THE WAY, GOES THE WAY AND SHOWS THE WAY”-LAOTZU.

Change is complex and challenging but a work place that does not evolve cannot be competitive, successful or thrive. Change under the correct leadership can be the catalyst to innovation, improved organizational functionality, increased competitiveness, higher financial performance and greater customer satisfaction. For employees change under correct leadership can enhance skills development, performance and personal growth. Positive, innovative and visionary leadership result in sustainable change.

The role of leadership in organizational change

“OUR CHIEF WANT IS SOMEONE WHO WILL INSPIRE US TO BE WHAT WE KNOW WE COULD BE”-RALPH WALDO EMERSON.

More than ever, the role of leadership is of tantamount importance. Organizational leadership plays the   key role in the evolution and growth of a business. A good leader helps employees face and embrace the challenges of change, while working towards organizational goals in a worthy way.  The strategic role of a leader in change can include: allocation of resources; alignment; vision; deciding on the future focus of the business; gaining commitment and motivation from the team; and achieving sustainable growth. Successful change is reliant on effective and intelligent leadership. A leader’s foot prints should be everywhere.

Since 2019, COVID changed the way we live and work. Even without a global pandemic other organizational changes could be things such as different reporting lines, restructuring and changes in the number of employees. Many structural changes are being implemented as companies adopt a hybrid workplace where employees rotate in and out. This has, and will, transform a company’s culture, engagement and the way business gets done. Demographics have also changed with innovations in health care resulting in an increased multigenerational workforce. It is essential to adapt and be innovative in creating productive and united teams. There is also a focus and prioritization on diversity and inclusion in the workplace to combat discrimination and cultural bias.

Technological advances, changes in legislation, shifts in customer expectations and service, business decisions and diversification, all bring change that need to be responded to by leaders and their strategic initiatives. A “positive change strategy” results in rewards being reaped despite organizations being in uncharted waters.

Positive benefits of change in the workplace.

With change, you must anticipate that people are going to resist. As humans, we are wired to resist change, preferring the status quo, routine and a sense of security. A change results in psychological and physiological reactions in people. The unknown is uncomfortable, and our brains will tend to seek familiarity. If employees are not supported in change it can lead to demotivation, resistance, resentment, loss of talent, job insecurity and poor performance.

 It is the leader’s role to make, implement and drive successful change. Change can have a positive impact by adding value or transforming situations and people. Research indicates that an adaptable individual can flex their personality to continue to perform in a changing context. Adaptable employees can tap into the behaviours and mindsets needed to be both disciplined and creative, thoughtful and expressive, spontaneous and logical. These characteristics of being agile, flexible or versatile bring benefits not only to themselves, but also to the whole team. Critically studies show that adaptability is something that we can learn, develop and grow.

So what can you as a leader do to make your people, teams and business adaptable and flexible? Some key behaviours to implement successful change for leaders should be:

  • Have a vision and innovative approach

Having a clear vision of where the organization is heading, aligning the team and clearly mapping the destination clearly gives direction and motivation to your people to face and conquer the challenges of change.

  • Effective communication:

Communication is always key. Without clear communication and repetition of core messages, many will struggle to positively involve themselves in change. Communication elicits better employee engagement and relations. You need to communicate the WHAT and the WHY of the change.

  • Lead authentically:

To be truly authentic is to behave in a way so that needs are met. It’s a dance between staying true to values while being flexible and malleable. By leading with clarity and authenticity you can build a strong work culture and climate.

  • Celebrate small wins:

 Leaders who celebrate and appreciate goals achieved by their employees and subordinates motivate their teams. Frequently give recognition and rewards, to maintain enthusiasm and boost confidence.  

  • Be proactive about change: 

As a leader you have to always be fit for the future, the onus is on you to be a forward thinker. Develop a futuristic mindset that scans the horizon for change. One needs to be proactive and preempt the changes before they occur. Looking back and applying past experiences and predicting the future shifts will put you on the front foot. Keep current, fail fast when appropriate and recover quickly.  

  • Collaborate and include employees in change:

As a leader you need employees to trust and respect you so you can inspire and motivate. Scout out the innovative thinkers in the organization and collaborate with them including them in change plans. Empower the employees to act consistently with the new vision and help sustain commitment to it. Encourage them and adapt your strategy to suit your employee’s needs.

  • Find change agents and champions: 

Change agents can be internal such as managers or employees. It is the individual or group who takes the task of initiating and managing change in an organization. As a leader you need to identify change agents as they are vital to successful transformation. The following traits are desirable in change agents: experience, expertise, access, flexibility, representative characteristics, enthusiasm, organizational knowledge and influence

  • Foster psychological safety:

Leader-Member relationships are key to the success. Trust is earned and as leader you need to attract employees and subordinates. A supportive management style, not a dictative style, would give the desired result. Grow your empathy by putting yourself into other’s shoes. People working in psychological safe environments feel: included, accepted and respected. When people are respected they give more than their hands or the day to day grind, they are invested and give their minds and heads as well.

  • Create mechanisms for support and feedback:

Throughout change make employees feel supported. Make time for open discussion of problem areas, things that are going well and honest questions. Offer formal coaching and access to counseling. Informal support may involve a cup of coffee, regular check ins, practice active listening and have an open door policy. Be available, be approachable. Effective feedback is critical and helps people grow, adapt, and become better versions of themselves within change.

  • Reinforce job security:

When things change people feel insecure, leaders must reassure them that their jobs are not under threat. Job security is knowing that your job is safe and having the assurance that you will be able to work in your current employment for the for seeable future. As an employer you can increase job security for employees. Encourage learning and development, upskilling, lead with pragmatism and resilience. 

Conclusion

If you are a leader that understands the need for and benefit of change and the value of your people, you will be the organization that stands above competition and you will succeed in the ever changing environment of business. Take bold steps and foster your ability to be an agent of change. This is an ever green skill you can develop for yourself and your organisation. 

Overeating

Binge eating and restoring balance: The expert’s guide to balanced eating

Did you know that there’s a difference between bingeing every now and then and an actual binge eating disorder? The term ‘binge eating’ is thrown around often but there’s so much more you need to understand.

Many people complain about their relationship with food and attribute this to binge eating. There are different types of binge eating though. There’s the Friday night binge after a long, hard week where you just need some takeaways, a dessert, chips, some choccies and maybe even a couple of biscuits. 

Then there’s the more serious side to binge eating. Binge eating disorder (BED) is a type of feeding and eating disorder that’s now recognised as an official diagnosis. 

Everyone has experienced some form of binge eating but that doesn’t always mean you have BED. Let’s take a deeper look into this. 

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

What is binge eating? 

Binge eating is when you eat even when you aren’t hungry and continue to eat until the point where you are over-full or feel physically ill. 

Binge eating can be something you experience periodically but it can also turn into a disorder where in addition to eating large amounts of food in excess and to the point of discomfort, you also feel out of control when eating and have a sense of shame or guilt.

Binge eating more often can have serious implications on your health and wellness and it’s important to restore a sense of balance to your relationship with food. 

The psychology behind binge eating 

Bingeing behaviours extend beyond food. Bingeing can include eating, drinking, shopping and more and all types of binge behaviours actually have similar causes. 

According to clinical psychologists, bingeing helps people deal with their negative emotions that they can’t deal with rationally.  

Many of us have had a moment of self-indulgence when things just feel too tough but when does the occasional overindulgence become an actual problem? 

Well, according to clinical psychologists, bingeing can become a full-fledged disorder when characterised by feelings of powerlessness, secrecy, shame and isolation. 

When you start to feel that you need to hide away and binge in private or you need to schedule your binges around work and social plans, then you may need to dive a little deeper into why you’re doing this and figure out whether or not you need to ask for some help. 

Related: Are you an emotional overeater? Here are 5 ways to help you overcome it

Why do we feel the need to binge? 

There are a variety of reasons why you may seek comfort in binge eating. Some of these can be;

Psychological

As we mentioned above, feelings of unhappiness, frustration and the like can be “numbed” by binge eating, even if for a limited time.

Sadly though, what often happens is the pain and guilt in the aftermath of a binge can trigger stress which may lead to another binge and the cycle can continue. 

Explore: Managing stress and how to make it work for you 

Chemical

You know that feeling of euphoria after biting into a delicious meal or dessert? Binge eating can give you a similar chemical reaction. 

Often people overindulge because it feels great (until they begin to feel guilty). Our brains release the feel-good neurotransmitter of dopamine in high quantities when we eat something that brings us joy.

You can imagine what happens next. Once your brain gives you that euphoric feeling during a binge, that feeling can become a physical addiction. You’re then more likely to binge more often because you crave that same rush of chemicals.

Sociocultural

Society can be tough and cause feelings of self-consciousness and like you aren’t good enough. The need to fit in can lead to bingeing in many different forms. 

Managing the guilt around (binge) eating

The guilt associated with a binge can be crippling. And it can feel like it’s impossible to get over. 

These are some of our tips that should help you manage the feelings of guilt: 

Spot your “should”s and “shouldn’t”s

Start paying attention to how often your inner dialogue includes the words should or shouldn’t. How many times do you say “I shouldn’t eat that” or “I should be doing that”? The second you start saying I should or I shouldn’t, you’re immediately making yourself feel guilty.

Be more mindful

Actually think about what you’re eating and how much. It’s so easy to get caught up in your feelings and trying to find a quick fix but really think about what you want and what will serve your mind and body. 

Eat slowly and think about how you feel. Remain in tune with your body, it will tell you what you need and even if your mind is yelling “more!”, your body is probably begging you to stop so pay attention.

Unfollow accounts on social media that are triggering

Social media can be a very triggering environment. From “what I eat in a day” posts to the never-ending posts about hustle culture, it can leave you feeling less than adequate. 

Unfollow accounts that trigger negative emotions in you and cause you to use binge eating as a coping mechanism. 

Talk to yourself like you’re talking to a friend

Be kind. You’re your own worst critic and we can be so hard on ourselves. Change the thoughts you have about yourself. Think to yourself, “would I say this to one of my best friends?”, if the answer is no then why would you talk to yourself like that?

Building a balanced relationship with food

This isn’t an easy thing to do. Many of us struggle with food. Whether we’re worried about gaining weight or if something is healthy or not, our minds are constantly dissecting food. 

When you feel the urge to binge, take a step back and acknowledge how you’re feeling, as difficult as it may be. Truly think about why you feel the need to eat right now. Consider questions like;

  • Am I hungry?
  • How will this make me feel later? 
  • Does this serve what I am trying to achieve? 
  • Do I need to eat or am I trying to hide my feelings? 

The best thing you can do is be conscious about what you’re doing and why. If you feel like you’re really struggling, please never feel ashamed to reach out for help. 

Goals for 2022

Things we’re going to START and STOP in 2022

2022 is the year to say goodbye to New Year’s Resolutions and say hello to Start and Stop Lists. We’ve identified a way for you to achieve your goals and make this year the best one yet!

A start and stop list is very similar to your run of the mill new year’s resolutions and they both have the same strategy in mind – to help you achieve your goals. January is the perfect time to stop and reflect on the year that just passed. Think about the highs and the lows and take note of exactly what you want to change to have a better new year. 

What is a stop and start list? 

It’s as simple as it sounds. A stop and start list is all the things you’re going to stop doing or accepting in 2022 and all the things you’re going to start doing to have a better year. 

Before creating this list, take a moment to sit back and reflect on everything that happened in 2021 – the good, the bad and everything in between. 

Think about the things you’d like to stop doing going forward, some things you’d like to begin doing and what you’d like to continue to do. 

Then create your list of everything you’d to;

START:  What will you START doing to be more effective and accomplish your goals?

STOP:  What will you STOP doing to free up time, resources and create greater focus? What will you stop letting affect you or keep you from achieving your goals? 

CONTINUE: What will you CONTINUE doing that’s working well and serving you and the life you’re creating?

New Goals

Some things to stop and start in 2022 

What to stop 

Procrastinating – It’s so much easier to put things off and get to it later but procrastinating only leads to more stress and is a hindrance to you achieving your goals. 

Comparing yourself to others – Social media has given us a snapshot into everyone’s seemingly perfect and fun lives. Remember this is a heavily filtered peak into a very small portion of someone’s true reality.

Putting off trying new things – Ever wanted to try yoga or start a journal or go mountain biking but talked yourself out of it? 2022 is the year to do at least one new thing and stick to it! 

Regularly binge-watching tv series – Honestly, this is more of a note to self but it’s a good thing for all of us to stop doing. Netflix has given us all the opportunity to binge-watch multiple series on end but this year, try to restrict how much tv you’re watching and still your time with some more productive or meaningful.

Filling all your free time with social media – If you really think about how much time you waste mindlessly scrolling through TikTok or Instagram, it’s actually quite scary. Maybe think of setting a limit on when or how often you can go on any form of social media in a day. You’ll probably find that you have a lot more time in your day.

What to start 

Looking after yourself and putting yourself first – Self-care is your top priority in 2022 because if you aren’t properly taking care of yourself, you can’t help those around you and you’ll struggle to achieve your goals. 

Making a list of goals and sticking to themNow, this isn’t a new year’s resolution like “I will start going to the gym”. These are specific things you want to achieve that will help you become a better you and get you to where you want to be in life. Thus your fitness goal would be something more specific like; “I will go to the gym 3 times a week before work”. 

Prioristing your health – If you don’t live a very active life, find some form of physical activity you love doing and make it a habit. Think about the nutrients you’re consuming and how you can eat better for your body. Consider eliminating unhealthy habits like smoking and ordering too much takeout. 

A new hobby – Make it a fun mission to do something new this year whether it’s painting, running or journaling. There are so many new things to try out there and it’s a great way to fall in love with this year. 

Planning for the future – When you’re thinking of the goals you’d like to achieve this year, start thinking about how these goals will help you get to where you want to be in the future. Work towards that promotion you’ve been thinking about, plan a budget that will help you save as much as possible for a future trip or to buy a house.  

 

Explore: 5 simple habits to improve your health and investments

Things to continue 

Taking care of yourself – You deserve to be loved by yourself first. Spend time with yourself and spoil yourself! 

Working towards your dream job – Don’t just talk about the dream job you want, continue working at making that dream a reality. 

Loving the people around you – The people in your life have helped you get to where you are, continue to show them the love and appreciation you have for them. 

Being kind to yourself – The year is going to have its ups and downs. It’s important for you to give yourself a break when things get tough. You’re doing the best you can. 

 

Just saying “2022 is going to be my year” won’t make it so. You have to actively work at making this the best year for you. There are some things you need to leave behind in 2021 and some things you have to push yourself to start doing this year. These are only a few of our suggestions, make your stop and start list personal to you and your goals. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve in 2022.

Christmas Lunch

6 Simple tips to avoid overeating this festive season

The holiday season is upon us and with all the fun festivities comes an abundance of delicious food! It’s definitely the time to indulge a little bit but there can also be too much of a good thing. Our top tips will have you loving the festive food without bingeing. 

In many households, a good holiday season is often associated with an abundance of food from large meals to snacks and desserts. We become accustomed to thinking that it’s perfectly fine to overeat during December and we’ll get back to our healthy ways in January. But many of us start the new year feeling lethargic, bloated and just uncomfortable. 

As much as we love good food, delicious drinks and great company, there really can be too much of a good thing. You don’t want to binge and overindulge to the point where you feel ill or unhappy. 

Our tips will ensure you enjoy all the festivities without feeling the need to binge or overeat. Sound a little impossible? Keep reading, we’ve got you!

Something important to keep in mind

Please remember that this is not the time of year to think about a diet or feel bad about yourself or nitpick at every single thing you’re putting into your body. 

This time of the year is for you to focus on your loved ones, think about the year that you just thrived through (yes, we say thrived because even if you don’t think so, you’ve accomplished SO much this year) and it’s a time to have FUN! 

But while you’re loving life and finally getting the relaxation you deserve, don’t let your health take a backseat. Even though we fully support you living it up and indulging here and there, you still need to have some form of control over what you’re consuming. 

This is why we’ve highlighted some simple ways to avoid bingeing and overeating this festive season. 

Explore: How to practice mindful and intuitive eating during the holidays.

Tips to avoid the festive binge

Think about it like this – rather have 1 mince pie in one afternoon instead of 4. It’s small changes like this that will easily keep you from bingeing and feeling bleh.

  1. Ever thought about a festive food goal? 

Now, we know this may sound a little restrictive but it doesn’t have to be. When we say a festive food goal, we mean something like choosing to have one sugary treat a day. This could be one chocolate from your advent calendar or one serving of dessert. You choose what your treat is but just make sure it’s only one a day (while still keeping tip 3 in mind).   

This way you won’t be eating multiple treats with no sense of control. We know the mindset of “Ugh, it’s Christmas” or “But it’s the holidays” is tempting to use as an excuse to eat whatever you want but by setting small food goals for the festive season, you’ll feel better and it will be better for you in the long run. 

 

Christmas Feast

2. Eat smart and plan ahead

If you’re going out to a party or meeting up with friends, eat a nutritious snack before heading out. This will ensure that you’re not starving when you get to where you’re going so you’ll be less inclined to over-order or overeat.

 

If you’re going to your aunt’s house and you know that she’s not a big veggie eater, offer to bring a  dish and make a nutritious veggie bake. This way you have a little control over the nutrients you’re giving your body. 

There are little adjustments you can make by simply planning ahead. 

3. Think about those portions

Now this is the trickiest tip of them all! Restricting the amount of peppermint crisp tart that you’re quite literally drooling over, is no easy feat. 

But this is one of the easiest things for you to do. When dishing up for yourself, rather go for a little less, if you’re still hungry, you can still go for seconds but you’ll probably find that your eyes are always a little bigger than your stomach. 

You’ll find that if you have a smaller portion of each food offered at a meal and wait 10 minutes after eating, you’ll actually be satisfied. And you’ll have a little extra space for dessert too!

 

Discover: Simple holiday exercises 

4. Don’t forget your veggies 

It’s so easy to immediately pile all the roasted potatoes on your plate or the different assortments of bread and before you know it, there’s no room for veggies or salad. 

Make sure you’re still eating enough veggies. Veggies keep you fuller for longer and will keep you from sneaking to the fridge for a midnight snack later. 

5. Be mindful 

Actually think about all that you’re eating. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the food that surrounds you but really think about what you want and what will serve your body. Eat slowly and think about how you feel. Remain in tune with your body, it will tell you what you need and even if your mind is yelling “more!”, your body is probably begging you to stop so pay attention.  

6. Be kind to yourself 

Like we mentioned, this is an amazing time of the year and it’s not the time to be hard on yourself. But you really don’t want to feel uncomfortable or unhappy so by simply being more mindful and having a tiny bit of self-control, you’ll go into the new year feeling refreshed and satisfied! 

Related: 8 Health hacks to stay healthy and fit this festive season

We’re not even going to lie to you, this blog has us thinking about those mince pies and delicious meals that await us so we’ll leave you with this – you deserve this break, you deserve the treats and delicious food and you deserve the time with your loved ones so enjoy it to the fullest! 

Just remember to pace yourself, think about what your body needs and be kind to yourself because you deserve it!

Happy holidays from all of us at WellBe & Co!

Gratitude

Planting positivity – what you need to know about the art of gratitude

In a world as unpredictable and crazy as ours, it’s easy to forget to be grateful. We go about living our lives the same way each day but did you know that actively practising the art of gratitude can change your life? 

Actively expressing gratitude has been proven to improve levels of anxiety, depression, stress and it changes your way of thinking where you no longer dwell on the negative but start to focus on the good in your life. However, having an attitude of gratitude is more than just saying “thank you”. 

What is the art of gratitude? 

The art of gratitude goes hand in hand with living a more mindful life. When you focus on being mindful, you are trying to be more present in all that you do. By being more present, you slow down your daily routine and you’re more cognizant of your life and the people around you.  

When you practise the art of gratitude, you also slow down and focus on the good in your life and the good in the people you surround yourself with. 

The art of gratitude, at its core, is simply living a happy and fulfilling life. It’s where you regularly take the time to be thankful for all that you have, to thank those around you and share in the abundance of life. The more you do this, the more good you start to attract and by just practising gratitude, you are planting the first seed of positivity. 

Related: Living With Gratitude: How To Make Every Day Count

How to practise the art of gratitude 

This isn’t a difficult task. There are no major changes you need to make. The main thing is to slow your day down and focus on what you have to be thankful for. You can do this by;

Journaling 

Create a gratitude journal, nothing fancy, a notebook will do just fine. 

Every morning or every evening, hide your phone away for a little while and sit in a calm and happy space (my favourite is outside on the patio with a cup of Rooibos tea). Now take the time to reflect on your life, the people in it, your achievements and write down a list of things to be grateful for. 

Some examples could be; your furry companion, your health, the job you have or even that you made it out of bed that day (this is a very important one if you’re going through a tough time). 

You can list as many things as you want to but we recommend at least listing 3-5.   

Saying thank you

This sounds obvious but have you ever held a door open for someone or let them into your lane during heavy traffic and not been thanked? It’s not the best feeling. 

Now you don’t have to throw a parade for every person that does something nice but simply acknowledging that someone helped you goes a very long way. Take the time to actively thank those who have made your day a little easier. 

If you have a friend or family member who has been a ray of sunshine in your life recently, send them some flowers or even a text letting them know that they’re appreciated. 

Making others feel good has a direct response to how you feel. 

Having daily affirmations 

You can use your gratitude journal or simply do this in front of the mirror but as much as you’re grateful for all that you have, you need to be equally grateful for all that you are. 

Some self-love can drastically change your perceptions and feelings. Be thankful that you are here, that you are an incredible person, a good friend and someone who is valued. 

In the same way that you’d take some time to write in your journal what you’re grateful for, take the time to pause and be grateful that you are you.

Meditating

Similar to being mindful, meditation and focusing on your breathing is a great way to practise being grateful. 

During mindful meditation, you are focused on the present moment without any judgement and often during this time while you focus on your breathing you think of a word or a phrase like peace or happiness. With the art of gratitude though, you can focus on what you are grateful for and let those beautiful thoughts manifest in your subconscious. 

Take a look at how to master meditation here

Planting Gratitude

How planting positivity can change your life 

Planting seeds of positivity and letting them flourish into multiple facets of gratitude can transform your life in a variety of ways. Listed below are some of those ways; 

Gratitude shifts your focus

You begin to see the positive rather than the negative and as you begin to master the art of gratitude, the negative in your life won’t have a great hold over you and you will navigate your way through it better. 

Being grateful makes you feel happier

The more grateful you are, the more you start to realise how good your life actually is. 

You’ll be less materialistic

This doesn’t mean that you won’t have the drive to acquire all that you want in life but you won’t be as focused on getting the next best thing. You’ll be satisfied and grateful for what you have been blessed with. 

You’ll be less likely to experience burnout

As you use mindfulness and the art of gratitude to navigate your way through life, you’ll begin to live a slower-paced life that will feel more manageable. You’ll begin to prioritise important tasks and work through them in a much calmer manner.

You’ll improve your physical health

You’ll start to sleep better and feel more in tune with your body and its needs, encouraging you to be more physically active (through yoga, going for walks etc) and have more time to focus on your and your needs. 

You’ll begin to develop patience, humility and wisdom

As you slow down and focus on the good in your life, you’ll begin to feel more at peace and more inclined to enjoy the smaller things in life and all it has to offer. 

The art of gratitude is another way of practicing self-love and getting more out of this life. Life gets busy and with all that we have faced during the pandemic, it is so important to actively seek the sprouts of positivity all around you.

Career growth

How to Bloom Where You Are & Succeed

By Jessica Brownlee

Even if you feel your life circumstances are less than desirable right now, you can choose to bloom anyway!

It can easily feel like life is throwing you some pretty nasty surprises, or just keeps dealing you a rotten hand of cards. While you can’t change certain things and just need to play the cards you are dealt, you can in the midst of less than ideal situations choose to make the best of your circumstances and bloom anyway.

With spring in the air a popular mexican proverb comes to mind, “they tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds”. You may have had a particularly difficult past few months, I think most of South Africa and the Global population has faced some sort of challenges, and naturally on some days it feels like we are a little seed buried deep in the dark soil. One thing we don’t want is for you to be all cavalier and ooze toxic positivity about your challenges, because they do matter. What you feel and what you’ve been through matter. But with Spring upon us we want to encourage you and help you find ways to leverage your enduring human spirit, boost your mood and bloom in the midst of it. 

Just like a wildflower blooming in the spring, you too will go through stages. Getting to a place of happiness, satisfaction and genuine optimism is a process. As Wellbe, we want to share some tools and tips with you to help you bloom and attract what you desire in life. Just like that wildflower you walked past in the park or the one growing in the cracks of the paving outside your office, it all starts with a little seed. Here are some practical little seeds for you to plant to allow yourself to bloom:

Bloom where you are

Shift your mindset

Too often we think that happiness or fulfillment will be attained if we can just get there or do this or be more like that. We want to challenge you to acknowledge that you already have everything you need to be happier, more content and to fulfill your potential. Perhaps this spring you need a mindset shift, from scarcity to abundance. A scarcity mindset is rooted in the belief that there is not enough. For example, you may believe you do not have enough time, money, resources, work and opportunities to achieve your goals or be more content. But the truth is that your inability to see the abundance around you is what is limiting you. You need to try shift to an abundance mindset, one which focuses on surplus rather than limits. By focusing on abundance, or what you have enough of, you will feel calmer, be more resilient and set yourself up to bloom. Next time you find yourself dwelling on what you do not have enough of, shift to focusing on what you do in fact have plenty of and see how your life changes.

Tune in to your physical health

It is almost impossible to live your best life if you are feeling under the weather and lacking vitality. You can truly thrive by tuning into your physical health and your physical needs, as much as you do your emotional or social needs. Remember managing your physical health may look very different to your friends. Try new things and focus on what works for you, if it’s a daily walk over HITT or eating more carbs than fats, do that. Get back to basics focusing on balancing blood sugar, moving and sleeping. Our bodies are all unique and it is never a one size fits all.

Be Proactive about your goals

All too often we get caught up in the here and now and we neglect to take actionable steps towards our future desires. An important part of feeling content, and blooming where you are, is deliberately working towards something meaningful for you. In fact, psychologists call this the happiness of excellence, it is kind of happiness that comes from the pursuit of something great. Find something that you want to work towards whether it is a fitness journey, a personal growth goal, redecorating your patio or replanting your garden or a new skill for your career and take proactive and measured actions towards it.

Build your social connections

Joy is increased when it is shared. You cannot bloom, grow and thrive without healthy and fulfilling social connections. By genuinely bonding and connecting with others you are meeting many important basic human needs. Take time this spring to spend some quality time with one or two people who build you up. Do something nice for someone else and enjoy their feelings of joy and gratitude. When life is challenging it is easy to focus inwards, but by focusing outwards you are allowing yourself better perspective on your challenges and sharing the load.

Take time to do the work and get to know yourself

Often we are motivated and content when we are doing things in alignment to our core values and interests. Take some time this spring, before genuine silly season sets in, to explore your strengths, values and what makes you truly happy. You could spend time doing a journal, a vision board, speak to a trusted advisor or just set time aside to reflect on who you are and why you value yourself. Getting in touch with yourself can be immensely rewarding, build your self-esteem and enhance every area of your life, as you genuinely come to know what you want.

Perhaps when working through these tips and tools you can identify a few more little seeds that you can plant or habits you can water that will bring you more contentment, joy and thriving, right where you are. Spring has sprung, take the new season and the warmer weather as inspiration to start fresh and live a more fulfilled life. 

 

 


 

About Jessica Brownlee

Jessica is an industrial and organizational psychologist specializing in learning, leadership, talent, neuroscience and wellness. A self-proclaimed wellness geek, Jessica writes The Humble Humanologist blog to inspire, motivate and uplift others on their work and wellness journey. She is her own boss, running a consulting company, Psychology360 (www.psychology360.org) and consults globally to some of the leading organizations. Jessica also strives to find balance and is an avid yogi and yoga teacher (who is yet to master a hand stand).

Instagram: @thehumblehumanologist

Facebook: Psychology360

Website: www.psychology360.org

Exercise

Maximise your workouts by tailoring it to your menstrual cycle

Your menstrual cycle plus exercise can often equal misery, right? Everything your body is going through is enough on its own, who wants to add exercise to that equation? We’ve all been there at one time or another but there are definitely some perks to exercising while you’re on your period. 

Now, this isn’t going to be one of those blogs that tells you to put the chocolate down and make sure you workout every day of your menstrual cycle. We completely understand that a little bit of indulgence and rest can be the best thing for you during your time of the month. But if you still want to exercise and get your endorphins flowing, then keep reading! We are diving into everything you should know about exercising while on your period.  

A little bit about menstrual cycles

Before we get into it, let’s briefly discuss menstrual cycles.  

Generally, a full menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days, with a little bit of wiggle room. Some cycles can range from 23 to 35 days. 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 counting as a complete cycle.

Every menstrual cycle is unique but they all have the same phases – the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase. 

These phases make up each complete month of your menstrual cycle and they can make you feel differently throughout the month. 

The menstrual phase is from when your period starts to when it ends and your estrogen and progesterone hormone levels decrease during this time. It usually lasts for about 3-7 days but it can vary. This begins the follicular phase which starts on day one of your period and continues until ovulation and it’s usually about 16 days. During this phase, the follicle-stimulating hormone is released. 

During ovulation, the luteinizing hormone is released in response to the follicular phase’s rise in estrogen 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 estrogen levels and then as this phase ends, these hormones will decrease. This is when you’ll experience all those fun PMS symptoms like bloating, headaches and cravings (large Cadbury bar anyone?).  

How does working out affect your period (and vice versa)?  

While you’re on your period, your body and hormones often feel like they’re going through the most! 

Any form of exercise can have subtle or extreme influences on your menstrual cycle depending on how your body reacts to physical activity. Your body is controlled by your hormones and physical activity can impact your hormone levels which is why your period can affect the way you workout. 

Want to know a secret though? You can maximise your workouts by simply going with your flow. According to Women’s Health advisory board member Stacy T. Sims, PhD, you can tailor your exercise routine to your cycle and you can find a way to perform at your best throughout the month.

 

Exercise

How to maximise my workouts 

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

Your menstrual cycle causes your hormone levels to change throughout the month which in turn makes you feel stronger, more tired or moody depending on the time of your cycle. 

In the beginning

During the beginning stages of your cycle (this is when you’re on your period), your progesterone and estrogen are at their lowest which can cause a dip in energy levels and cause your emotions to go a little haywire. This is a great time to really listen to your body and see what it feels like doing. 

If you’re really struggling then do a slower form of workouts like going for a walk, doing yoga or even just hopping on the treadmill. This will keep your body moving, increase your endorphins and you should be feeling a lot better once you’re done. 

If you’re up to it though, you should try and include some strength training in your workouts. Research has shown that strength training during the follicular phase (days 1-14 of your cycle) results in increases in muscle strength compared to training in the luteal phase (days 15-28 of your cycle).

The sweet middle spot

During the middle of your menstrual cycle (this is usually during ovulation), you might find your energy levels increasing as your estrogen and testosterone levels increase again. This is the best time for high-intensity workouts and possibly even some heavyweight training. It’s time to take full advantage of your power! 

The end is near

And then finally you’ll move into the luteal phase. This is when your progesterone levels rise and your estrogen decreases. To be quite honest, this is the most problematic time of the month and this is when you begin experiencing the majority of your PMS symptoms.   

This is probably when you’re going to feel like sitting on the couch working through your watch list on Netflix rather than working out at the gym. But don’t give up on your physical health! 

Try to go for shorter workouts or keep your workouts the same but use lighter weights and less intensity. Be realistic about what your body is going through and don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not performing at your best. 

Menstrual cycles can be frustrating but equally wonderful. They give you the opportunity to fully embrace yourself and all that you’re capable of. It’s just about making your flow work for you. 

Self Care

There’s more to self-care than you think

We hear words like self-care and self-love a lot lately. These words are thrown around so often that they begin to lose their meaning and we start to feel overwhelmed with what we’re supposed to do. 

Is self-care eating that extra-large slab of chocolate you’ve been eyeing or is it taking a day off of work to recharge? Let’s unpack what self-care really is, the different types of self-care and why it’s so important to actively practise self-care every day. 

What is self-care?

Self-care is far more than you may have originally thought. It’s not overindulgence, it’s not about being selfish and ignoring all your responsibilities, there’s a little more to it. Self-care is about taking care of yourself holistically

It’s looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally so that you are healthy in mind, body and soul to accomplish everything you need to and so that you can dominate each day.  

In order to achieve optimal self-care, there are 5 types of self-care that you should focus on. 

 

Self-care Tips

Different forms of self-care 

1. Physical 

The first step to self-care is looking after your body. Now, this doesn’t mean working out for 2 hours 5 days a week. It just means that you will make healthier choices so that your body can run efficiently. 

It’s important to remember that there is a connection between your mind and your body. In order for your mind to be healthy, your body needs to be healthy too and vice versa. 

To be physically healthy, you need to make conscious decisions about the food you’re eating, how much sleep you’re getting and the physical activities you love.  

If you’re new to physical exercise, give these tips a try at home!

2. Social 

This is often something we don’t think about as self-care but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear how important social self-care is. 

This involves having healthy relationships with friends and family. It can be easy to let close relationships slip, life gets busy and it can be exhausting trying to keep up. This is made even more difficult by a pandemic that limits your social interaction. 

It’s important to set aside time to maintain your relationships. Take a couple of minutes out of your day to check in with your friends, set up a video call or meet for coffee (when it’s safe to do so). There’s no right or wrong amount of time to spend with friends and family but it’s important to nurture these relationships. 

3. Mental 

Your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical wellbeing. Just like you exercise your body, you need to exercise your mind. 

Mental self-care includes doing things that keep your mind active. Find things you love to do like reading or even downloading apps that focus on keeping you mentally fit. 

Another way to take care of yourself mentally is by journaling. You can start by writing what you’re grateful for each day and some self-affirmations. This will help you develop a healthy inner dialogue. 

4. Spiritual 

Spiritual self-care is unique to everyone but it definitely aids in your self-care process. It involves finding something that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning and connection with the universe. 

You can do this by meditating, focusing on your religion and praying or discovering your own spirituality.

5. Emotional 

Your emotional self-care is so important. It is vital to find ways to handle difficult and uncomfortable feelings and emotions. 

Do you feel your emotions or do you have a habit of ignoring them? Confronting your emotions is necessary for your overall self-care so they don’t fester into something far worse. 

Find ways to process your feelings by maybe chatting to a friend you trust, going to therapy or writing your feelings in a notebook every day so you can process what you went through that day. Have a look at how you can live a more positive life here

Why is self-care so important?

As we said, self-care is not laying on the couch all day binge-watching series, self-care is putting your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing above everything else. 

We live fast-paced lives and it’s so easy to lose yourself in the hustle and bustle so you really need to slow it down. Start living a more meaningful life and be more cognisant of what you’re feeling every day and make sure you are actively looking after yourself.  You deserve it!

This is a life we should fall in love with not simply begrudgingly go through it.

Toxic Relationship

How to recognize a toxic relationship and practice self-care?

Sometimes you need a little help recognizing when something isn’t good for you, especially when emotions are involved. Here are some red flags that your relationship might be toxic and how you can care for yourself

As human beings we are wired for connection, we come into this world ready to connect. Relationships are such an important part of the human condition we tend to take them for granted. We all have an inherent desire to connect with others. Relationships are the glue that holds us together during stressful times, add meaning to our life, create stability, increase our emotional stability, allow us to learn and grow, give us a way to understand ourselves and add to our feelings of meaning in life. 

Healthy relationships are vital to having healthy emotional and mental health, just as toxic relationships can erode our sense of wellbeing. In fact, poor social connection and loneliness can be as detrimental to your life expectancy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. So while you are focusing on eating well, moving well, practicing self-care and pursuing a health work life balance, you could be undoing all your hard work by staying in a toxic relationship. 

The thing is it is not always easy to recognize when a relationship is toxic, especially with emotions involved. And relationships always have a context you need to negotiate and a dynamic you need to understand. A healthy or toxic relationship can be with a significant other, a family member, authority figure, work colleague or friend. A toxic relationship can be familial, friendly, romantic or professional. As part of being well, we at Wellbe want to encourage you to practice self-care in all facets of your life, including your relationships. 

What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship is any relationship which results in either party feeling unsupported, experiencing excessive negative implications and conflict and where one party seeks to undermine the other. Disrespect is usually a key feature. Yes, every relationship will go through ups and downs but what makes a toxic relationship different is that the negative impact outweighs the positive, causing emotional, physical and mental harm to either person. When one person in the relationship consistently undermines or harms the other, whether it is intentional or not, a relationship can be considered toxic. In fact, you may realize you are perpetuating the toxic behaviors without even being aware. Often times a toxic relationship may not even be a fault of either person, but rather because of an incompatible pairing. For example, a people pleaser might end up with someone who is stronger and more controlling, causing a toxic situation where the one person consistently sacrifices their needs to gain the approval of the other.

The other thing is, people who are toxic in a relationship may have very good reason to be, but that does not make the relationship ok. Essentially despite the cards you have been dealt, there are things you need to let go. Often times those who are abusive, toxic or bully others are modelling this toxic behavior on past experiences they have had. Sometimes the toxic individual is someone with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression or past trauma. Perhaps, the person on the receiving end of the toxic behavior will have experienced it in their childhood, causing them to accept the same themes as acceptable in their later relationships.

It is important to note that a toxic relationship may be an abusive relationship. And abuse is never ok. If you suspect your relationship is abusive you should reach out to someone you trust or get professional help. 

Toxic Relationship

What are the red flags of a toxic relationship?

When you hear the term toxic relationship, your mind probably jumps to a situation which is violent, abusive or involves harassment. The truth is most toxic relationships are subtler. Sometimes the warning signs can be missed and we end up staying in them for longer than we should, compromising our wellbeing. Here are some red flags to look out for in your relationships.

How does the relationship make you feel?

Reflect on how a relationship makes you feel, if any of the below describe how you feel most of the time in a relationship it may indicate it is toxic:

  • Consistent unhappiness: any relationship which makes you feel anxious, sad, frustrated or angry could be toxic.
  • Negative shifts in your mental health, personality or self-esteem: any relationship which makes you feel depressed, anxious, perpetuates an eating disorder, makes you feel worth less than you did previously or causes you to change and withdraw from your usual personality.
  •  Negative impact on other relationships or how you spend free time: any relationship which causes you to withdraw from relationships that usually bring you joy or if your relationship makes you feel guilty for pursuing things which usually give you joy. 
  • Feelings of guilt: if another person consistently makes you feel guilty or ashamed of who you are, what you enjoy or your lifestyle it may be toxic.
  • A worse version of you: if you find that you are becoming a version of yourself you no longer like and consistently display your worst character traits, it’s time to consider whether this relationship is healthy.
  • Drains your energy: sometimes after spending time with certain people we feel drained and exhausted, often avoiding that person if we can. This is a telltale sign that the energy in the relationship is likely toxic. 

Do you recognize any of these toxic behaviors?

Perhaps it is easier to identify a toxic relationship by looking out for behavioral red flags. The toxic relationship could be characterized by of the following patterns of behavior:

  • The other person only calls you or spends time with you when they need something
  • Time spent together is always focused on them or conversation centers around what they want to talk about
  • They put you down or make fun at your expense in front of others
  • You always leave time spent with them feeling negative, drained or worse about yourself
  • They are aggressively competitive towards you, often jealous and controlling
  • They bring drama into your life and behave in a way that makes you uncomfortable
  • They often disrespect you, forget to include you or exclude you from things
  • They gaslight you, making you question your feelings or perspectives
  • You have to walk on eggshells around them

How to practice self-care when you are in a toxic relationship

Depending on who the relationship is with, it can be very difficult to resolve, fix or end the toxic relationship. We want to encourage you, that part of caring for yourself is finding a happy medium between having healthy boundaries, healthy self-esteem and having healthy relationships. In fact, there is never a situation where it is ok to compromise caring for yourself to meet someone else’s needs. It brings to mind the lyric from a Jason Gladwin song that goes, “I set myself on fire to keep you warm”, and that is not ok. 

It is important to remember that there is a difference between toxic relationships and abusive relationships. There is never an excuse for an abusive relationship. If your relationship is drastically impacting your self-esteem, isolating you or causing severe physical and mental distress, we recommend you contact a professional and seek help. 

In a toxic relationship, whether you can fix the relationship or not, actually depends on both of you. The other person must also be willing to change and heal the toxic patterns. Here are some things you can do to ensure you take care of yourself:

  • Accept responsibility for your part in the relationship and letting the toxic behaviors become a pattern. 
  • Set healthy boundaries by recognizing when things make you uncomfortable or feel bad a make a point pushing back.
  • Learn to be assertive in a polite and kind manner letting the other person know when they are doing something you do not want to accept.
  • Don’t dwell on the past, start to focus on building new and positive patterns in your relationship.
  • Find support through a friend, support group or even therapy as sometimes you just need someone to encourage you and figure out why you let yourself get into this toxic pattern in the first place.
  • Practice healthy communication with a focus on how you speak to one another, tone of voice and your body language.
  • Heal individually to heal the relationship together, as we mentioned there is usually a reason people act the way they do and sometimes you need heal yourself before you can function in a healthy way in a relationship.

A word from WellBe&Co 

Through the sharing of knowledge and experience, we want to help build communities, organizations and individuals become the most optimal version of themselves, both physically, emotionally and mentally.  

Your health is your wealth so make lasting changes, one habit at a time.

The WellBe Team