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.

Work Balance

Balance, Routine and You in 2022

Our tips to creating a sustainable work life balance and routine.

Work life balance is not just a nice to have, it is essential if you want a productive and happy life. And it is becoming even more important with the shift in work situations, the blurring of work and home boundaries, new expectations, always on culture, and increasing work pressure. Part of creating a balance for yourself and those you work with is knowing why work life balance is important, what it is and what is it not. 

Often times people think work life balance is simply time management, but time really is not the issue. Creating a balanced lifestyle is actually about feeling content in your work, decisions, priorities and life choices. At the heart of it, a work life balance requires you to be clear on your priorities, take control of your career and simplifying the rest. It truly is not something you find but rather create through consistent choices.

It is important to remember that work life balance really is different for everyone. Research suggests there are generational differences in what we see as balance, it is not something as simple as the hours spent in the office. Both men and women value work life balance, they just use different language to describe their ideal. When asked what balance would mean for them, women focus on words like balance and meaning, men will use words like priorities and impact. From an organizational perspective being an employer of choice would mean creating a culture that promotes sustainable work practices and demands, while encouraging a healthy and well life. Your talent is more likely to remain at work, be productive and engaged if they feel their company and the leaders support their needs for a meaningful, impactful and fulfilled life.

The importance of finding balance and joy at work

Finding a healthy balance between work and your personal life has a number of implications for an individual, team and organization’s wellbeing. A healthy work life balance will not only affect health but also relationships, team dynamics, productivity and performance. On an individual level, when a healthy balance is created, employees are less likely to suffer from burnout, chronic stress, poor mental health, physiological health issues like heart disease, hypertension or body pain, taking sick leave, fatigue and poor productivity. On an organizational and team level lacking a balance in your workplace culture could result in high rates of absenteeism, high staff turnover, presentism, disengagement, poor quality work and a lack of creativity.

The Psychology of Routine and Balance

When we think of routines, we often revert to thoughts of monotony and boredom, the same thing every day with the same people in the same place. A routine could mean doing a different job every day, travelling to a different country or meeting new people. It’s not about what your routine consists of, but a sequence of actions that you follow regularly with expected outcomes. Because as humans we are wired to see uncertainty as a risk, having a routine allows us to find flow, be more productive and effective. Routine almost acts as a protective factor in our day to day, allowing us to rather focus on what is important. That is why a routine is a good factor to include when you are striving to create balance, having a set of behaviors that supersede circumstances allows us to pool all our cognitive and emotional strength towards what is demanding in the moment, to use all our excess energy to balance our life demands.

Tips to cultivating a balance in your organization

As a leader in an organization it is important to ensure you support work life balance and a happy work environment through identifying what it means to your employees and incorporating this into your ways of work. Some tips for you as an organization and leader could be:

  • Set a good example and live the balance you want to instill
  • Flexible work arrangements that allow employees to work and give their best at work around the demands they may have at home
  • Letting staff work from home when it suits their role and requirements
  • Bringing balance into the office whether it be opportunities for exercise or healthy food choices
  • Creating a comfortable work environment where employees want to be
  • Encourage breaks in the work day 
  • Create a culture of switching off, leaving work at work
  • Speak about and educate your employees about the importance of their wellbeing

Tips to Create your Own Work Life Balance

Accept that it is a balance, not perfection

It is not about finding the perfect routine or schedule, but rather striving for a realistic balance. Some days might require you to be more focused on work, others on your personal commitments. Remember it is a balance you create over time, keep the bigger picture in mind. 

Plan and take control of your career

Working in a draining job or toxic environment will take a toll on your, no matter how hard you try to create a balance. You do not need to, and in fact it is probably impossible, to love every aspect of your jo but on the whole you should find some sort of reward in what you do.

Clarify your priorities

At some point you will need to realize you cannot be everything to everyone. If you find yourself in a cycle of burnout, over extending yourself and just never creating a balance – maybe it is time to simplify and figure out what it is that is important to you. Once you know what those few things are that give you meaning and impact in life you can distill your choices down to support them. 

Make your health your focus

Your physical, emotional and mental health are so important, in fact without your health it is impossible to experience any type of quality of life. Make sure that you include managing your health as part of your choices and routine in creating balance.

Don’t be afraid to unplug

Switching off and creating some distance from all the noise around us can allow us to hit refresh from time to time, we all need to decompress and give ourselves some down time. There is no nobility in being always on. 

Set clear boundaries

It can be important to clarify and reinforce your boundaries. When are you going to work? What hours are work calls and emails priority? When do you need to focus on the other parts of your life? Remaining consistent with your boundaries not only allows you to find a balance but also sets expectations and creates clarity for others. Consistency helpful for both you and those you work with.

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. 

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

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

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TIME: 5 MINS
SERVES: 1-2

A serving of antioxidant-rich fruit that doubles as a delicious dessert!

INGREDIENTS

  • 6-8 medium strawberries
  • 2 squares dark chocolate of choice (70%
    cocoa)

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRIES

METHOD

Use 20-30 sec intervals to melt the chocolate in a small microwave-proof cup. Dip the strawberries in the
chocolate and place on a plate. Refrigerate until set.
Use vegan or dairy-free chocolate to make this recipe either vegan or Paleo-friendly.

DOWNLOAD YOUR CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRIES RECIPE HERE

Mindfulness & Career

How you can bring mindfulness into the workplace and work relationships

By Jessica Brownlee

What exactly is mindfulness, how can you practice it at work and in the professional interactions you have?

Mindfulness may not be a new concept, in fact in recent times it has been a bit of a buzzword. It is a popular tool or practice which is pretty accessible to everyone and offers a myriad of benefits. Mindfulness itself has a lineage in human history extending beyond 2500 years ago. And while it has taken on new forms and practices, the essence of mindfulness has stood the test of time. With its earliest roots in Buddhism, the modern practice can be understood as a form of mental training. And what the ancient and old did thousands of years ago is finally getting some of the spotlight in modern science, proving itself again and again.

As humans we are hardwired to always strive for the next thing and never be satisfied, it is the nature of our consciousness. The appeal of mindfulness is that it slows us down and brings us into the present. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of modern mindfulness is quoted as saying, “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little”.  And that is the crux of it, the world passes us by while we tweet, Instagram and email. We miss the little things in the moment which are actually the sum total of our lives.

The power of mindfulness is it is always available to you whether you are dealing with disappointment, stress, loss or personal challenge. It is a way to remove yourself from the human condition and acknowledge what you are going through and grow through it. Research shows many benefits of mindfulness including reducing stress, physical health improvements, enhanced cognitive function, positive social outcomes and even possibly living a longer life.

Mindfulness is certainly a valuable tool for you to utilize to help you WORK WELL. Let’s face it, work is an integral part of our lives, and as much as we love our jobs and that we can pay the bills, it can be a significant source of stress. With any job there will be more pressurized days, deadlines, anxiety provoking situations and difficult conversations. And that really is where mindfulness can help. 

What exactly is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is simply about paying attention to the present moment, in a non-judgmental way. Mindfulness is the ability to stay in the present moment and to focus your thoughts on what is happening in the here and now. It’s our ability to not think about the past or the future but to instead observe what is happening right here and now. Mindfulness can equip you to not be yanked around by your emotions. It is simple and effective, allowing you to get the most out of every moment. With the changes in the workplace, innovation, always on tech and the fourth industrial revolution it is more important for us now than ever to disconnect, take control of our anxiety and be present in the moment.  As Emily Dickinson said, “Forever is composed of nows”.

Apart from being an appealing way to live your life, mindfulness has some science backed advantages. Various studies have found so many benefits, including:

  • Frequent mindfulness or meditation practice actually changes parts of your brain on an MRI in your amygdala. 
  • Harvard researchers have shown a positive impact of regular mindfulness practice and depression.
  • Mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety, reducing cortisol and resulting in a physical reduction in the body’s stress induced inflammation response. Blood pressure and improving stress-induced physical conditions.
  • Mindfulness can increase your resilience and promote emotional wellbeing, making you less depressed, reactive and prone to negative thoughts while increasing your coping skills.
  • Practicing mindfulness can increase your self-awareness, acting as a trigger for many positive changes in your life. 
  • Mindfulness using focused-attention meditation is like weight lifting for your attention span. It helps increase the strength and endurance of your attention, enabling you to better redirect and maintain attention.
  • It can boost your mental clarity and memory, keeping your mind young.
  • Mindfulness can positively impact your relationships, making you more likely have positive feelings towards yourself and others, acting in a kind and compassionate manner.
  • It can be a useful tool to control pain and improve your sleep. Who doesn’t want more, better sleep?

Ultimately, mindfulness is a great tool to cultivate a well, meaningful, and happy life at work and home.

Mindfulness at work

Being mindful at work

Look past your thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of This Moment.” – Rumi

Practicing mindfulness at work is so easy, accessible and practical because it is something that can be done in a short space of time, in any setting. While it’s not something that comes naturally for us especially with the many distractions at work that demand our attention and focus, there are many ways to bring yourself into the present moment. Instead of being bombarded by information, jumping between texts, emails and notifications we need to carve out some time to check in with ourselves, connect and be content with the present.

We thought we would share some mindful practices that would be particularly useful in the workplace. Try carving out 60 seconds throughout the day to practice some of these, pick and choose what feels good to you and make some space for it in your day:

  • Practice gratitude: by practicing gratitude we can bring our focus onto things that are good in the here and now. And focusing on the present positives lets us cultivate a more positive future.
  • Check in with your body: your body is the vehicle you experience life through. Take a moment to pause and feel bodily sensations – they are all little signs of your experience. Where are your aches or pains? Do you feel light or heavy? Where are you holding tension?
  • Fire up your senses: one of the simplest ways to be in the present moment is to observe what is going on around you and within you. Work your way through your 5 senses and fully take in the moment.
  • Focus on your breath: focus your mind and bring attention to your breath and notice how you are breathing. Take a moment to observe it before you try to do 5 deep belly breaths, focusing on the inhale and exhale.
  • Observe your thoughts: here’s a fun game – stop what you’re doing and start observing your thoughts. Can you do that? What do you notice? Try it and see what happens!

As you become more comfortable practicing mindfulness, try to do so more frequently throughout the day to reap the benefits for you.

Tips to being more mindful with co-workers

It is important for you to understand how mindfulness can benefit your relationships at work and how to be more mindful when you interact with others. When you are mindful, you are more emotionally balanced, allowing you to react to others in a more professional and empathetic manner. Let’s face it we are social beings and the workplace is one of many social situations where we have and need relationships. In-fact relationships are critical to work. 

Here are some tips to assist you in building more mindful interactions with others:

Be aware of your ego

Often our reactions or unhealthy relationship tendencies stem from our ego, an unhealthy one. An unhealthy ego can mean we take things too personally, become defensive, arrogant and play the victim. Using mindfulness to grow your self-awareness you can cultivate a healthy ego with positive self-talk and reacting from a place of genuine empathy rather than fear. Be aware of the feeling when your unhealthy ego wants to kick in. A mindful/healthy ego can observe what is happening to them, not react, and return their attention back to the other person, fully listening and not conjuring up their response.

Start meetings with mindfulness

Begin meetings, whether in person or online, with 60 seconds for everyone to really arrive and center themselves. This gives people the opportunity to bring their best selves to the meeting, both mentally and emotionally. It gives you the opportunity to clear away the clutter of the day and be really there.

Practice mindful listening

Mindful listening goes beyond active listening, it is the act of shutting out noise and distractions to give someone your full attention. As Jon Kabatt-Zinn said, when mindful it is about “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”. The average person only remembers a quarter of what was said in a conversation, the goal of mindful listening is to silence your own internal noise and external distractions to hear the entire message. Try to be present, aware of your own triggers and cultivate empathy.

Give others your full attention

Embody mindfulness and pay full attention to others, that means minimizing distractions and making a point of focusing on them. Wouldn’t you like to feel heard and validated without someone taking calls, texting or surging on social media in your presence. Stay present and practice non-judgement in your interactions.

Accept yourself and others

It sounds like a lot of work, accepting yourself. But once you do, it becomes easier to accept others. Acceptance is the fundamental building block of trust in a relationship and fosters understanding between you and others. If you interact with others in a judgmental way, it’s likely they will resist your points of view and probably disregard the valuable insights of any interaction with the judgements.

Show coworkers’ appreciation

In order to appreciate others, we need to show them we appreciate them which in turn enhances and deepens our relationships. At work this can look as simple as praising and showing confidence in someone else’s point of view or a piece of work. Try to find ways to praise someone aside from performance, such as their positive attitude on a project or their other contributions at work. By showing appreciation you can build trust and respect.


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

Mindfulness

Be Ever Present: The Art of Mindfulness

We often get consumed by the hustle and bustle of daily life. We find ourselves going through the motions every day without being too conscious of it. This often leads to feelings of burnout or unfulfillment which is why mindfulness has become such an important art to master. 

When people say the word ‘mindfulness’, a variety of thoughts may cross your mind; “has this got to do with spirituality?” “Do I now have to start meditating?” “I really don’t have time to add another task to my day”. And most importantly, “what does mindfulness do and does it work?”

We’re highlighting the importance of mindfulness and showcasing how easy it is to add it to your daily ‘To-Do List”.  This blog is going to take you through the journey of mindfulness – from what it is, all the way to how you can practice it. 

What is mindfulness?

Simply speaking, mindfulness is being 100% present in every moment. 

The Mindful Blog describes it as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”.

Mindfulness is something innate in us that we are all fully capable of doing but due to our busy lives and the allure of social media, we easily forgot to be present in the moment. This makes mindfulness something we need to practice daily.

If you ever catch yourself really noticing what your senses are experiencing or you’re deeply aware of your emotions and your thoughts, you’re being mindful. The art of mindfulness includes learning breathing methods, using guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind. In the long run, these practices will help calm your mind, body and soul. 

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

The art of mindfulness is not merely focusing on the benefits of it. The goal is to practice it daily and slowly begin to notice the changes your mind and body will experience. 

When we solely focus on the benefits something can have for us, we often forget to completely immerse ourselves in the journey. That being said, there definitely are a variety of benefits to mindfulness. 

When you’re mindful, you are able to reduce your stress levels, gain insight and awareness of not only yourself but the world around you and enhance your performance in everyday life. You are able to gain a completely different perspective into your life and the lives of those closest to you. A perspective that is free of judgement, prejudice and full of positivity

According to the Mayo Clinic, mindful meditations have shown to minimise: 

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

Mindfulness has also proven to: 

  • Improve attention
  • Decrease burnout
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve diabetes control

Mindfulness

How to practice mindfulness 

Now that we’ve explained the beauty mindfulness has to offer, it’s time to dig into how you can practice being mindful every day. There are a variety of simple techniques to use so we’ve listed a few. 

1. Pay attention

This sounds slightly obvious, if I’m living and doing tasks then, of course, I’m paying attention. 

Well, not necessarily. 

Paying attention means more than just being there and doing something. It’s about slowing down and actively noticing the world around you through all 5 of your senses and really thinking about how it makes you feel. 

2. Live in the moment

This means putting your phone away and being present. Don’t think about how cool this would look on Instagram and snapping a selfie as a result. Instead, be intentional with what you’re doing. Be open and accepting of all that is around you while being completely aware of your thoughts and feelings. 

Living in the moment also means being truly appreciative of what you have and those around you. 

Of course, you are going to be battling with fighting off plaguing thoughts that naturally enter your mind. But the trick is to accept and acknowledge those thoughts, and then let them go as you release them. 

A good way to look at your thoughts is as though you are sitting on the side of a busy road, watching the cars pass you by. Your thoughts are the cars. And you can either choose to pick a car to travel in – aka – a specific thought – or you can simply sit and watch them go by. This is the practice of peace and being present. It is the art of not allowing your thoughts to control and take over your mind. It is giving you the ability to control which thoughts you focus on and which ones do not deserve your attention. 

3. Accept yourself

If you don’t accept yourself, you will feel less inclined to be mindful because mindfulness opens you up to being vulnerable and taking a deeper look into yourself. You need to practice self-love and self-acceptance and truly love yourself like you would a close friend. 

4. Focus on your breathing

If you are feeling negative or anxious, you need to take a step back and fully focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath in and close your eyes, focus on your breath as you breathe out and pay attention to how the air moves through your body. Carry on breathing in and out focusing on the feeling of your breath. 

There are more advanced ways of practising mindfulness like through meditation where your breathing and your thoughts come together but for now, we’ve left you with the basics to get started. 

Some facts about mindfulness

  1. Mindfulness is not something that’s unfamiliar to you, it’s something we all know how to do. Life just has a way of taking over in some moments. 
  2. You don’t need to change who you are to be mindful but it requires you to use simple practices to open yourself up completely.
  3. Anyone can do it. From children to the elderly, this is something that is so easy to master and will truly transform your life.
  4. Mindfulness is something you need to be conscious of as often as possible. You need to train your brain to actively be mindful. 
  5. Being mindful can assist you at your job as well as in your personal life. When you’re mindful, you have a higher chance of being innovative and finding effective solutions to difficult problems. 

Take a moment now to truly be mindful. Sit back, breathe in and focus on your senses. In a short amount of time and with practice, you will truly transform your life.

WALNUT BANANA BREAD

WALNUT BANANA BREAD

DIFFICULTY: EASY

TIME: 70 MINUTES
SERVES: 8-12

Both bananas and walnuts are great sources of healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Walnuts are also rich in anti-inflammatory Omega-3’s.

INGREDIENTS

  • ⅓ cup r extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ½ medium or 2 large bananas, ripe and mashed
  • ¼ cup milk of choice
  • 1 tsp baking soda (NOT baking powder)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon, plus more to swirl on top
  • 1 ¾ cups (220 grams) whole wheat flour ½ cup chopped walnuts

WALNUT BANANA BREAD

METHOD

Preheat oven to 165C and grease a loaf pan.In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then whisk in the mashed bananas and milk. Add the baking soda, vanilla, salt and cinnamon, and whisk to blend. Using a big spoon, stir in the flour, just until combined. Some lumps are ok!
Fold in the chopped walnuts. .Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.
For a swirled effect, run the tip of a knife across the batter in a zig-zag pattern. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (+/- 60 minutes). Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for at least 10 minutes. You may need to run a butter knife around the edges to loosen the bread from the pan. Carefully transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool before slicing.

DOWNLOAD YOUR WALNUT BANANA BREAD RECIPE HERE