Sunday, 19 November 2017

6 Ways to Overcome a Soul-Crushing Life Challenge

It was never in your life plan, certainly never predicted in your high school yearbook.

And yet, here you are. You’ve gone through a soul-sucking life experience and are suffering from the collateral consequences. Uncertainty, fear and disbelief rule the day. You keep waiting to wake up and find out this was all a bad dream.

The problem is that wishing, wanting and waiting don’t help. Whether you’re still in the midst of the storm or idling in the aftermath, the truth is that you have to reach down and make the decision that although you may have had no control over what happened to you, you do have control over how you respond and move forward. These six tips will help start you on that journey:

1. Don’t Compare Your Blooper Reel to Other’s Highlight Reel
At times it may seem like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Social media exacerbates this perception because people tend to show only their green patch of lawn and not their backyard full of weeds!

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see someone’s perfect vacation pictures captioned: “Don’t know how we’re really going to pay for this; We’re up to our ears in debt! The kids got carsick and puked in the rental car, and Jack and I haven’t had sex for weeks! Wish you were here!”
The grass isn’t always greener. Everyone has something in life they wish they could undo, redo or erase. They just don’t post it on Facebook.

2. Realize That Sometimes You Have No Control Over What Happens to You
Like the saying goes, life is what happens to you when you are making other plans. I truly believe that things happen for you rather than to you to nudge you into growth. When something unexpected happens, ask yourself “What’s the lesson here?”

3. Surrender to Your Situation
Surrendering doesn’t mean giving in; it simply means you stop fighting the fact that the situation happened. Accept the fact that it occurred, that it sucks, and that yes, it probably was unfair and undeserved.

When you continually try to fight against a situation, it’s like trying to swim against a rip current. You can fight it and end up exhausted and pulled out to sea, or you can accept that it is done, swim parallel to it and overcome it. You cannot change what has already occurred but you can change how you respond to it. This is the tipping point to taking your power back.

4. Understand That Your Coping Mechanisms May Be Holding You Hostage
It is natural to feel disbelief, anger and sadness, and to want to blame others for what you are going through. These coping mechanisms are designed to help you deal with the situation at hand. They are also a defense mechanism, a way to push back on the reality of the situation.

The problem is, when you get stuck defending, denying, and blaming, you form an endless loop of negative thoughts that won’t stop spinning in your head. The part of your brain that is controlling the loop is your ego. When you learn to harness your ego, you can transform the way you think and move past these self-destructive thoughts.

5. Harness Your Ego
Your ego is part of your consciousness, and it competes with your higher self, or spirit, for control of your thoughts. Your ego is fear-based and your higher self is love-based. The two cannot coexist because the higher self simply does not recognize fear. Think of the ego as the darkness and the higher self as the light switch; once the light goes on darkness cannot exist.

The ego thrives on fear and separation in order to control your thoughts. It causes you to think you need to be better because you’re not good enough or are lacking in some way. The egoic brain creates this fear of inferiority and you react by putting others down as a way to raise your sense of self-worth up.

You can recognize your ego at work when you are critical or judgmental of others, when you take on the role of victim, or when you blame others rather than looking inward. When you feel self-important, when you feel the need to be right, and when anger, jealousy, and self-importance take center stage, that’s your ego, and it isn’t helping you. It creates a false sense of self.

Once you are aware that your ego is talking, you have begun the process of winning the mind chatter war in your head. Your awareness helps you realize that you no longer have to react to the fear it is creating. Your thoughts are not you but are of the ego. Remember that your ego and your higher self cannot co-exist; When you recognize the ego it has to take a back seat to your higher self. You then can move above these thoughts and shift your perspective from negative thoughts to ones that serve you positively.

6. Create Calm and Gratitude
The ego loves for you to focus on your past, on what you lost. What if you shift the way you look at your situation and focus on what you gained as a result?

What did you learn as a result of the trial? Are you more compassionate, less judgmental? Is your house calmer or cleaner? Did you start taking better care of yourself emotionally or physically? Are you finally putting yourself first?

Focusing on what you are grateful for instead of what you lost is a mindset that creates a calmer, happier you. And that is something to be grateful for!


Saturday, 18 November 2017

6 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

Life can be a lot to deal with at times, here are a few ways that can help you handle the stress.

In our world of information overload, extraordinary expectations, catastrophes and more, it’s no wonder stress is wreaking havoc on people. Between the opiod epidemic, obesity numbers, and heart disease, it’s sad that while we’re one of the most developed nations in the world, we cannot seem to keep our people healthy. And make no mistake, this is a global crisis.

Here are 6 easy ways to reduce your stress levels:

Breathe. That’s right, simple and easy. Take deep breaths. Reconnect with the magic art of breathing. A simple technique that will help is a 5 second inhale, hold your breath for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, hold your breath out for 5 seconds, and repeat. You can repeat 3 times for a 60 second breathing exercise that will immediately show results. Start getting up to 9 times through for 3 minutes and the benefits will amplify.

Be Present. Take Time. When I’m rushing around from appointment to appointment, I try to stop and take an extra moment before I walk into a session. It gives me time to block out all the distractions and be present for the client I’m working with. You can use your breathe, any sounds, music, your sense of touch. All of of those things will help you come back to the present if you’re preoccupied and unable to stay focused.

Laugh. One of the greatest stress relievers is laughter. Go watch some funny comedy or hang out with an old friend who makes you laugh. Go to a laughing yoga class. Something to give you a reason to be silly. Hang out with children and make them laugh, it’s contagious.

Meditate. I know, it can be a lofty thing, but it’s actually not all that difficult. The three fundamentals are simple. Sit with a straight spine, have an even, relaxed breath, and pick a focal point with your mind. Your focus can be the beach, the top of a mountain, your third eye center, anything that allows your chatty brain to come back to one point. Eventually, all the distractions will slow down. You’ll become more peaceful. Allow yourself time, this doesn’t happen over night. Meditation is a practice, but trust the process and you will reduce your cortisol levels.

Exercise. Yes, until I am blue in the face, I will remind you to exercise! Move your body 5-6 days a week. Everyday is fine too, but 3-4 days is not enough. The benefits are too great to go without. You’ll reduce stress, get stronger, be healthier, and yes, live longer. There is no excuse not to move.

Build a toolbox. This has been something I’ve been doing for over 30 years. I realized long ago that if I wanted to live a great life that I had to string together a whole bunch of really great experiences. Pretty simple, right?! Well, not as easy as it seems. It takes work and planning and consistency, and dedication. The more things you enjoy doing, the easier it will be to do things you enjoy. For instance, going to the movies, hanging out with my family, going for a run, walking on the beach, making love to my wife, spending time with friends, going for a bike ride, traveling, my list goes on and on! Yours should too!

I’ve found that in my life, the more things I found that I like to do, the more things I naturally seek out that are enjoyable. Now I find myself moving toward fun things to do, thus my stress levels are pretty low. When life throws a curve ball at me, I can handle it with the tools in my life tool box. Remember, I’m always here to help. Find me on social media @teddymcdonald.


Friday, 17 November 2017

How to Forgive Yourself after Divorce

Divorce guilt comes in all sorts of mutating forms. It is normal for many of us to feel like we are somehow to blame for the divorce.

Culturally, we are taught that keeping the household and marriage successful was our responsibility, without so much a thought that it takes two people in a partnership. And naturally, because there was a lot of pressure on us to be perfect, when the marriage unraveled, our reaction was to blame ourselves for it.

It is time to knock it off. In order to overcome guilt, you must forgive yourself.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. It’s a gift that we are usually generous in giving others, yet for some reason, we don’t give ourselves the same luxury. For some reason we think our actions, especially divorce-related ones, are somehow reprehensible and we feel like the worst people in the world for letting everybody down.

Accepting responsibility and working to avoid mistakes in the future is one thing. But constantly blaming yourself for things in the past is neither helpful nor healthy. So why not put that energy you spend on feeling bad about the past into something better, like creating the good life you deserve?

Forgiving yourself is challenging right now because you are looking at the divorce with warped vision. Right now, you are looking at it with 20/20 hindsight, where you have the luxury of picking your past self to pieces. And that’s just not fair.

Sure, you have made mistakes in the past. But who hasn’t? Remember that it takes two to tango in a marriage. You must accept that you did everything within your power at the time to make the marriage work. And even if you, for some reason, have still convinced yourself that you didn’t, the past cannot be changed anyway.

When a wave of guilt hits you, remember that guilt is a gray, looming fortress (like the Tower of London) where you feel trapped. Here is the crazy part, though: all the doors are unlocked, there are no guards, and there’s no reason for you to stay there. So why not leave?

The next time you are feeling guilty and are unsure of how to forgive yourself, ask yourself this one question: “How will this guilt serve me in the future?” If you are coming up with a blank, that’s the point. Guilt does not serve you, so you must forgive yourself and let go.

Guilt speaks the language of “maybe, should have, would have.” These are not action words. They are passive words that your guilt is using to make you create a false past reality that doesn’t exist. The next time you find yourself with those thoughts, nip it in the bud with compassion for yourself. Take a look at the following example.

Guilt thought: I feel guilty because maybe I should have suggested we go to couples therapy sooner.
The forgiveness mindset: We went to couples therapy when we thought we needed it, and did everything in our power at the time to fix it. You were brave to try it, and should not feel bad about any of that.

Guilt thought: I feel guilty because maybe I should have brought up the fact that we weren’t communicating anymore.
The forgiveness mindset: It takes two people for a marriage to work and you were not responsible for both of you. You did what you could with the strength you had at the time. Be proud of yourself for that.

Now it’s your turn. Write down the specific things that are making you feel guilty, then neutralize them with the compassion you deserve. Do this whenever the guilt sneaks up on you. As long as you are mindful and consistent with this practice, you can keep the guilt monster at bay.

The road to forgiving yourself and overcoming divorce guilt can be a long one, but showing yourself much-deserved compassion will ease that journey.


Thursday, 16 November 2017

Why Women Should Rethink Their Finances After Divorce

Your budget is likely to take a big hit when your marriage ends.

Getting a divorce stands to be as budget-breaking as it is heart-wrenching, especially for women.

"The dynamic is changing a little as more women are staying in the workforce and continuing and accelerating their careers, but typically, divorce hits women harder than men," says Nicole Mayer, a certified divorce financial analyst and partner at financial planning firm RPG Life Transition Specialists in Riverwoods, Illinois.

Indeed, marriage tends to offer some financial advantage. Married women's median weekly earnings were about 20 percent higher than those of women of other marital statuses, including never-married, divorced, separated and widowed, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They even earn 9.6 percent more than unmarried men (but 23.4 percent less than married men). After divorce, specifically, women's household income fell by 41 percent, on average, almost double the loss men experience, according to a 2012 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Why is divorce so much more detrimental for women financially?

One reason is that women overall earn less than men. Based on median weekly earnings, for every dollar men earn, women make just 82 cents, according to the BLS – and the disparity can be much greater for certain races, as well as job types. For example, in the first quarter of 2017, white men earned a median $977 a week while white women made $790 a week and black women earned just $645 a week. By job, personal financial advisors have the biggest gap, with men earning a median $1,714 a week compared with women's $953 a week.

While income inequality is a much more deeply seated cultural and societal issue, traditional gender roles play a big part of the problem, says Chris Chen, certified divorce financial analyst and CEO of Insight Financial Strategists in Waltham, Massachusetts. Specifically, the demands of caregiving, which tend to fall on women whether it's for children or aging parents, contribute to lowering lifetime earnings. Taking time away from the workforce to do the job of a caretaker means fewer hours at a paying job, which also leads to lower Social Security benefits or opportunities to save in general.

"With regard to women, the pay gap has been narrowing, but it's still there," Chen says.

And the impact of those traditional gender roles goes beyond the numbers. Women were often not in charge of their household's overall finances; money management was the husband's domain.

Here’s how to protect your money when your marriage is falling apart.

"Traditionally, women end up taking on a lot of the household duties, [which] might be paying the bills and doing some of those kinds of things," Mayer says. "But they never really handled the finances."

So divorcing your income-providing, money-managing spouse is bound to do damage to your bottom line – and force you to make a change. Taking an optimistic point of view, uncoupling presents you with an opportunity to step up your independence and flex your own financial power.

"The silver lining [to divorce] is that most women feel much more confident, much more in control of their finances after the divorce than before," says Natalie Colley, an analyst at financial planning firm Francis Financial in New York. "That's because they're finally the ones in control of their finances."

How can you get going on your fresh start?

First, you need to do an inventory of your current financial situation, including your income, expenses and assets, as well as your financial goals and future plans. And remember, much of this will be all new post-divorce.

Going from a dual-income household in marriage to a single-income household is a big change. And if your spouse was the sole or primary breadwinner, you may need to step back or up in your career. Even if you get spousal and child support, you can't rely on it for the long term, and it's better to adjust to not having that extra income sooner rather than later. "Alimony and child support are not forever," Chen says. "You have to plan for when it ends: Continue advancing your career to progress from a lower-paying job, and make sure your expenses are lined up at the right level."

On the other side of the equation, your expenses are likely to eat up more of your income. "You're really supporting, in some aspects, two households, so you feel like you're living on a lot less," Mayer says.

Looking forward, your dreams and goals are probably different now. For example, your vision of retirement might completely change from what you had been thinking with your spouse. And the path to getting there is certainly altered. "You always assumed there'd be two of you and maybe two 401(k)s and two IRAs, and that's now all changed," Mayer says. "So now it's really updating your picture as a whole, your long-term picture."

Of course, while starting over can be exciting and refreshing, it can also be daunting. Don't let that stop you from charging into making your new financial plan.

"The biggest mistake I see people make is they don't start the process immediately after divorce," Mayer says. "They wait five or 10 years – when child and spousal support stops – and then reality hits. Those first few years are really transitional years, and you have to tackle them head on."

The best way to overcome any fear you might have about taking the reins on your financial life is to get educated. Do all you can to better understand money matters in general and your own financial situation specifically. That might mean continuing to read articles like this, maybe taking free or low-cost classes on the subject or working with a financial professional. Whatever route you take, learning more about what you fear can help you realize you had nothing to fear at all.

"Once they feel they have a good handle on these things, women become much more confident and then much more aggressive in their portfolios," Colley says. "And they can lean into their financial lives even more."


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

50 Self-Care Ideas For Stressed Out People Pleasers

“In case of the loss of cabin pressure, put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.”

If you fly on commercial planes, you've heard this statement from a flight attendant many times, instructing you to take care of your safety first so you have the ability to help someone else.

This is necessary for survival on a flight, but it's also an essential practice for daily life — take care of yourself first. It sounds nice, but in reality it's difficult to practice.

Like most of us, you probably hit the ground running when the alarm clock rings. Whether it's tending to kids, racing off to work, or going to school, your day starts early and is filled to the brim with tasks and obligations.

There's always something on your list of things to be done, a list that keeps expanding no matter how hard you try to get ahead of the curve.

Your digital devices keep you constantly plugged in and distracted, worrying that you are missing something important and dragging you into a vortex of information overload.

In Western culture in particular, we equate our self-worth to productivity and hard work. 
Many of us (women in particular) feel we are being selfish if we don't put the needs of others ahead of our own all the time.

We become addicted to people pleasing in order to feel validated.

But all of this productivity, multi-tasking, and people pleasing comes at a cost –your mental and physical health. Not only do you jeopardize your health, but also you miss out on the joys of fully experiencing life.

Can you give yourself permission to step back and reclaim some of your life? Are you willing to take better care of your own physical, mental, and emotional needs so you have the energy for the people you love, your work, and your life obligations?

If you need some inspiration, here are 50 self-care ideas to help you put yourself first for a change:

1. Let go of perfectionism.
It's hard to take care of yourself when you set your standards impossibly high. You will never be satisfied, and will feel you must work harder and harder to reach your perceived definition of perfect. You'll never reach that, so let it go. Allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect.

2. Reassess your priorities.
When you are so busy and distracted, everything seems like a priority. You're just spinning your wheels trying to get it all done. Just stop for an hour, and contemplate what is most important today, this week, this month, and in your life in general. Where are you spending time that isn't really contributing to these priorities?

3. Amend your diet.
What you eat makes such a difference in how you feel about yourself physically and mentally. What is one small change you can make in your diet to improve it? Trying dropping one bad item from your diet and replacing it with one good item (like a fruit or vegetable).

4. Make time for exercise.
You know that exercise is good for your mind, body, and spirit. There is so much research supporting this that it can't be denied. Don't make the excuse that you're too busy. Work the rest of your life around your exercise program.

5. Practice meditation.
Meditation is one of the best self-care habits you can practice. It reduces stress and anxiety, improves memory, decreases pain, and improves your sleep. You can learn the steps to a meditation practice here.

6. Take a daily walk.
Get out in nature, somewhere quiet and peaceful, and take a long walk. Listen to the sounds, watch the sky, smell the grass. Being in nature soothes your soul and helps you process your thoughts and feelings.

7. Prepare and eat a meal mindfully.
One of the unfortunate consequences of our busy lives is the slow disappearance of the family meal time. We've become dependent on meals on-the-go and fast food, rarely taking the time to savor what we eat, much less the food preparation. Make the choice to prepare and eat a meal mindfully, at least once a week.

8. Enjoy a quiet cup of tea.
Make yourself your favorite cup of tea and curl up in a comfy chair to enjoy it without any other distractions.

9. Get a monthly massage.
A massage is amazingly therapeutic both physically and emotionally. The massage therapist can work out all of the built-up tension in your body, which in turn allows you to release any stored emotional pain or anxiety.

10. Give yourself a digital detox.
Turn off all of your digital devices for an hour, a day, or even a week. The world won't end. But you'll regain some of your sanity.

11. Read a novel.
Read something just for the pure pleasure of reading. Or listen to an audiobook if that's your preferred way of consuming a great book.

12. Create a bath ritual.
Fill the tub with water and add bath salts. Dim the lights and light some candles. Put on soothing music. Grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea, and slip in the tub. Ahhhhh.

13. Purge toxic people.
Are there people in your life who are draining your energy and creating stress? Are you doing all of the work to maintain the relationship with little in return? Back off from people who drag you down and make you feel bad.

14. Create and enforce boundaries.
Don't allow the people around you, especially those you love, to take advantage of you or cross your personal boundaries. If you don't know what they are or how to set them, check out this post.

15. Define your values.
Your core values are the the guiding principles for your life. They are the guideposts that help you make decisions and live within your personal integrity. Once you define them, do your best to align your life with them.

16. Communicate your emotional needs.
Does your spouse or significant other meet your emotional needs? If not, it may be because you haven't fully communicated them. Let your partner know what you need to feel loved, respected, secure, and appreciated within your relationship.

17. Go to a movie by yourself.
Take yourself on a date to a movie theater, get a bag of buttery popcorn and a soda, and enjoy a great flick all by yourself.

18. Test drive a sports car.
Indulge a fantasy about owning that shiny red convertible, and go take your favorite sports car for a test spin. Turn up the radio, let down the top, and enjoy the ride.

19. Go to the beach or mountains.
Nothing soothes the soul like time at the ocean or in the mountains. Take a long weekend by yourself or with your favorite person and just relax. Leave your computer and work at home. Take along your favorite book, a bottle of wine, and some great food to cook.

20. Get rid of clutter.
Physical clutter in your home or work space can make you feel more stressed and overwhelmed. Pick one small area that is getting out of hand, and start purging and organizing. It will feel like a burden lifted once the space is clean.

21. Seek out your passion.
If you're working in a job you hate, you are spending the vast majority of you days in a negative environment. Figure out what your passion is and how to make it work for you and your life. Spend your days doing what you love.

22. Catch up on your doctor's appointments.
Are you skipping your annual physical or dental appointments? Are you up to date on recommended procedures? Don't neglect your physical health by putting off these important appointments. No, they aren't fun, but get them out of the way, and you'll feel relieved.

23. Sleep late.
When you've had a particularly rough week or a very late night, allow yourself to sleep in. Call in sick to school or work if you really need to catch up on some sleep.

24. Get a babysitter.
You love your kids, but being a parent is draining and demanding. You and your spouse need time for yourselves and each other. Hire a babysitter once a week so you can have a much-needed break.

25. Prepare the night before.
Think about how much stress you feel in the morning trying to get ready and out the door for work, school, or some other obligation. Make your morning routine less stressful by preparing the night before. Choose the clothes you want to wear. Get your breakfast lined up. Put everything you need to take with you in the car.

26. Get your car cleaned.
Are you riding around in a trash-mobile? Is your car filled with fast food containers, old papers, coffee cups, and part of your wardrobe? Clean out your car and get the interior and exterior cleaned.

27. Hire a housekeeper.
If your life is so busy that you have no time to clean your house, hire a housekeeper. This is an indulgence, but perhaps your time is worth more than the cost of the cleaner. Certainly your peace of mind is.

28. Go to a therapist or coach.
We all need help and support when going through a difficult time or trying to move our lives forward in a positive direction. Don't try to solve complicated life challenges on your own. Find a professional you can trust to help you.

29. Delegate.
If you're trying to be Super Mom or Super Dad, in addition to being Employee of the Year and winning Yard of the Month, perhaps you're overextending yourself. Delegate some of your chores to your kids, your co-workers, or other people in your life.

30. Buy the shoes.
Do you love them? Are they wildly expensive? Do you have the money? You only live once. Buy them!!

31. Get a manicure and pedicure.
Bitten down fingernails and gnarly toes do not scream self-care. Take care of your personal grooming and enjoy a relaxing hour of nail services.

32. Take a nap.
If you are having a hard time concentrating or keeping your eyes open during the day, you are probably sleep-deprived. Close your door, turn off your phone, and take a ten to fifteen minute cap nat to perk you up.

33. Make peace with your flaws.
Most of us are highly self-critical about everything from our appearance to our likability. The good news is that you aren't alone with your self-criticism. Everyone is flawed — that's what makes us human. So make peace with your flaws, and focus your thoughts on the positive instead.

34. Help someone else.
Nothing makes you feel better about yourself than helping other people. This may seem like a counterproductive approach to taking care of yourself, but when you are focused on helping someone else, you aren't as focused on your own problems or worries.

35. Use essential oils and aromatherapy.
Using essential oils may reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, alleviate physical ailments, improve sleep, help digestion, and have many other benefits. The aromas of your favorite oils are soothing and calming, especially in your bath or on your pillow.

36. Listen to inspiring podcasts.
Take a break from scanning social media or binge-watching Netflix and listen to an uplifting, inspiring podcast. Check out The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes, The Minimalists Podcast, or Optimal Living Daily.

37. Cuddle.
Physical touch is healing and calming. We all need it, more than we might think we do. If you aren't getting enough cuddling from your partner, ask for more. Just sit on the couch and hold each other. It feels great.

38. Take a yoga class.
Yoga is a form of meditation in action. It increases your muscle tone, flexibility, and strength while calming your mind and giving you more clarity and focus.

39. Learn to say “no.”
This is a hard thing to do for people-pleasers, but you'll find the more you practice saying no, the easier it becomes. You'll feel more in control of your time and more confident about yourself.

40. Dial back your expectations of others.
One of life's biggest energy sucks is expecting the people around us to be something other than who they are. When you struggle to change someone or hold unrealistic expectations, you cause yourself suffering, and you diminish your relationship with this person.

41. Ask a friend for support.
Don't carry every emotional burden or challenge by yourself. Reach out to your friends and ask for a listening ear or support when you feel down or anxious. Allow your friends to be there for you.

42. Drink more water.
Water keeps your body temp in normal range, lubricates your joints, keeps your organs functioning, and helps you eliminate waste. Most people don't drink enough water throughout the day. Men need about 15.5 cups of fluid a day, and women need 11.5 cups. You can get fluids from food and other beverages, but try to make the majority of this intake pure water.

43. Cut back on alcohol.

Drinking alcohol not only impairs your judgment, but also it impacts your sleep, affects mental health, adds weight, dehydrates you, affects concentration, and can contribute to the risk of having a host of diseases. Cutting back is a great way to take care of your body and mind.

44. Take up a creative hobby.
We often avoid trying a creative hobby because we fear the results of our efforts will be crappy. Don't focus on the results. Focus on the joy of a creative endeavor. Creative hobbies reduce stress, protects your brain function, improves your mood, and can enhance your social life.

45. Get a pet.
Taking care of a pet does add to your responsibilities, but it can also have many emotional benefits that offset the work involved. A pet can decrease feelings of loneliness, offer soothing physical contact, and help keep us active.

46. Journal.
Journaling is an excellent way to process your emotions, clear your mind, and solve problems. Studies confirm that the emotional release from journaling lowers anxiety and stress, and improves physical health.

47. Cancel plans when you feel bad.
Do you feel obligated to follow through on plans with friends or family when you feel depressed or ill? Do you always try to push through because you don't want to disappoint others? Of course you want to be reliable, but when you feel off, put yourself first and be willing to cancel to take care of yourself.

48. Deal with your baggage.
Whatever emotional baggage you carry from the past will inevitably impact your current relationships and perceptions of life. Make the decision to heal your past so you can fully enjoy the present.

49. Work on your personal growth.
Be proactive in exploring your own inner world and learning new ways to evolve and grow as a person. The more self-aware you become, the happier and more content you will be.

50. Meet new people.
An excellent way to grow and expand yourself is by meeting new people who may be different from your typical crowd. Seek out people are growth oriented, positive, and adventurous, and you'll discover a well-spring of new interest and opportunities for yourself.

There are a myriad of ways to practice self-care and show compassion and love to yourself. Any action or endeavor that feels soothing, relaxing, enriching, and joyful will fit the bill. What does self-care mean for you? What have you done to put yourself first so you can be more available for others and energized for your work and other obligations?


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

7 Financial Management Tips For Anyone Who Just Went Through A Divorce

A divorce is painful, that’s a given. And anybody who has gone through a divorce would admit that if there were anything that would have kept their marriages off a divorce court, they would have readily done it. Divorce obviously affects the children in the union negatively. But apart from that, it affects the couple emotionally, psychologically, mentally and of course, financially.

Yes, divorce hurts the finance and leaves too many loopholes to be filled. Everyone wants a break after a drawn out litigation battle; a break from lawyers and dates and paperwork. But there are still a few things to be done if you want to breathe easy after a divorce.

Life is never really the same after one is freshly single and there will always be those things that remind you of the good times and the bad times you had with your ex, moving on becomes a little difficult, but move on you must! So here are a few tips that could be very helpful to get you to move on while securing your finance as well:

1. Revisit Your Insurance Broker

Contact your insurance broker and update your umbrella liability coverage. Screen Your list of assets scheduled on your homeowner’s policy and screen out the things your spouse received in the divorce also screen them out if they were sold. There is no sense in paying insurance premiums for assets you do not own.

2. Apply for a new credit card

Depending on your situation, it may make sense to apply for new credit cards before you cancel joint accounts. Especially if you have marginal credit and don’t have an emergency reserve of cash.

While credit cards are generally not very good financial helpers, comparing its downsides to what can happen in the short-term if someone does not have sufficient funds to cover their core bills can make it not only desirable, but a priority. A Credit card can provide a temporary bridge fund for you while you get on your feet after a divorce.

Again, you need to make a list of the accounts you had while married, and seek to replace them as soon as possible; Savings accounts, Investment accounts etc.

3. Re-title Your Assets

If you owned any assets jointly with your spouse and that asset was retained by you or received by you in the divorce settlement then you need to re-title them. For instance if you owned your house in a trust with your spouse, you’ll want to re-title it in your name personally or in the name of a new living trust you create.

4. Get familiar with Your Investments

This will apply where your spouse handled the investing, there may now be things you own that you aren’t familiar with or that perhaps aren’t right for you.

You need to do a deep analysis of all your investments to see if it is prudent and beneficial to you financially at the present. Sell off investments that will not help you and retain those that are potentially or presently rewarding.

5. Sell Off Some Valuables and Move On

This tip is reasonable not just because it makes financial sense, but because it also helps you move on while securing your financial future. There might be a few things that you owned jointly that you may need to sell off even if they have or had sentimental value. Resources like makes selling off such valuables more reasonable by giving you a financial advantage.

There are also a few suggestions about what to do with your engagement ring after a divorce for instance, especially if it is the kind of ring either of the Kardashian sisters received which was worth thousands of dollars! You may need to think of selling it and moving on.

6. Consider Moving

Moving from a family house is often an emotional decision, but deciding not to move on the basis of sentiment is “...often the beginning of a very difficult situation because it costs a lot of money and the house is not liquid,” says Pilz.

Since you’ll have to pay for this home with one person’s income, if your budget’s tight, moving to a less expensive home or renting may be a good option to consider. You need to approach it as an investment asset, and you need to make decisions from that context as well

7. Get a new everything

In addition to getting a new account, you might need to make a number of other changes. Divorces can mess up your finance and you will need to re-evaluate your finances in general; what comes in and goes out and what are assets and liabilities, what taxes you now qualify to pay.

You may need to change your will, get a new filing system, and perhaps even get a new name if that will help you sleep better at night.

The point is that a divorce is a major (and sometimes devastating) life change and the earlier and faster you can get back up and on track, the better for you.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Turning Negative Thinkers Into Positive Ones

Most mornings as I leave the Y after my swim and shower, I cross paths with a coterie of toddlers entering with their caregivers for a kid-oriented activity. I can’t resist saying hello, requesting a high-five, and wishing them a fun time. I leave the Y grinning from ear to ear, uplifted not just by my own workout but even more so by my interaction with these darling representatives of the next generation.

What a great way to start the day!

When I told a fellow swimmer about this experience and mentioned that I was writing a column on the health benefits of positive emotions, she asked, “What do you do about people who are always negative?” She was referring to her parents, whose chronic negativity seems to drag everyone down and make family visits extremely unpleasant.

I lived for half a century with a man who suffered from periodic bouts of depression, so I understand how challenging negativism can be. I wish I had known years ago about the work Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, has done on fostering positive emotions, in particular her theory that accumulating “micro-moments of positivity,” like my daily interaction with children, can, over time, result in greater overall well-being.

The research that Dr. Fredrickson and others have done demonstrates that the extent to which we can generate positive emotions from even everyday activities can determine who flourishes and who doesn’t. More than a sudden bonanza of good fortune, repeated brief moments of positive feelings can provide a buffer against stress and depression and foster both physical and mental health, their studies show.

This is not to say that one must always be positive to be healthy and happy. Clearly, there are times and situations that naturally result in negative feelings in the most upbeat of individuals. Worry, sadness, anger and other such “downers” have their place in any normal life. But chronically viewing the glass as half-empty is detrimental both mentally and physically and inhibits one’s ability to bounce back from life’s inevitable stresses.

Negative feelings activate a region of the brain called the amygdala, which is involved in processing fear and anxiety and other emotions. Dr. Richard J. Davidson, a neuroscientist and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin — Madison, has shown that people in whom the amygdala recovers slowly from a threat are at greater risk for a variety of health problems than those in whom it recovers quickly.

Both he and Dr. Fredrickson and their colleagues have demonstrated that the brain is “plastic,” or capable of generating new cells and pathways, and it is possible to train the circuitry in the brain to promote more positive responses. That is, a person can learn to be more positive by practicing certain skills that foster positivity.

For example, Dr. Fredrickson’s team found that six weeks of training in a form of meditation focused on compassion and kindness resulted in an increase in positive emotions and social connectedness and improved function of one of the main nerves that helps to control heart rate. The result is a more variable heart rate that, she said in an interview, is associated with objective health benefits like better control of blood glucose, less inflammation and faster recovery from a heart attack.

Dr. Davidson’s team showed that as little as two weeks’ training in compassion and kindness meditation generated changes in brain circuitry linked to an increase in positive social behaviors like generosity.

“The results suggest that taking time to learn the skills to self-generate positive emotions can help us become healthier, more social, more resilient versions of ourselves,” Dr. Fredrickson reported in the National Institutes of Health monthly newsletter in 2015.

In other words, Dr. Davidson said, “well-being can be considered a life skill. If you practice, you can actually get better at it.” By learning and regularly practicing skills that promote positive emotions, you can become a happier and healthier person. Thus, there is hope for people like my friend’s parents should they choose to take steps to develop and reinforce positivity.

In her newest book, “Love 2.0,” Dr. Fredrickson reports that “shared positivity — having two people caught up in the same emotion — may have even a greater impact on health than something positive experienced by oneself.” Consider watching a funny play or movie or TV show with a friend of similar tastes, or sharing good news, a joke or amusing incidents with others. Dr. Fredrickson also teaches “loving-kindness meditation” focused on directing good-hearted wishes to others. This can result in people “feeling more in tune with other people at the end of the day,” she said.

Activities Dr. Fredrickson and others endorse to foster positive emotions include:
Do good things for other people. In addition to making others happier, this enhances your own positive feelings. It can be something as simple as helping someone carry heavy packages or providing directions for a stranger.

Appreciate the world around you. It could be a bird, a tree, a beautiful sunrise or sunset or even an article of clothing someone is wearing. I met a man recently who was reveling in the architectural details of the 19th-century houses in my neighbourhood.

Develop and bolster relationships. Building strong social connections with friends or family members enhances feelings of self-worth and, long-term studies have shown, is associated with better health and a longer life.

Establish goals that can be accomplished. Perhaps you want to improve your tennis or read more books. But be realistic; a goal that is impractical or too challenging can create unnecessary stress.

Learn something new. It can be a sport, a language, an instrument or a game that instills a sense of achievement, self-confidence and resilience. But here, too, be realistic about how long this may take and be sure you have the time needed.

Choose to accept yourself, flaws and all. Rather than imperfections and failures, focus on your positive attributes and achievements. The loveliest people I know have none of the external features of loveliness but shine with the internal beauty of caring, compassion and consideration of others.

Practice resilience. Rather than let loss, stress, failure or trauma overwhelm you, use them as learning experiences and steppingstones to a better future. Remember the expression: When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.

Practice mindfulness. Ruminating on past problems or future difficulties drains mental resources and steals attention from current pleasures. Let go of things you can’t control and focus on the here-and-now. Consider taking a course in insight meditation.