Thursday, January 12, 2017

Maximize your 2017

Want to maximize your 2017? Try these 10 things today!

1.    One thing at a time.

In order to be successful we believe we need to be constantly busy. Multitasking is believed to be a way to increase productivity and ultimately success. People often pride themselves in their ability to properly multitask throughout their day. Guess what, multitasking is actually slowing you down!

Research in the field of neuroscience actually shows that our brains can’t handle more than one task or thought at a time. There is no such thing as true multitasking. When you think you are doing two tasks simultaneously you are really switching back and forth between both. The act of switching takes more time than if you focused on one task at a time.

If you need proof, here is a really simple test created by Dave Crenshaw, Author of “Myth of Multitasking” by clicking  here!  So, if you want to increase the odds of being happy and successful, ditch the multitasking and take one thing at a time.

2.    Stop comparing yourself to others.

It is so easy to do today with access into other people’s lives at our fingertips. Social media makes social comparison something that can be next to impossible to avoid. We know so much more about the day-to-day lives of everyone else by connecting digitally. That knowledge becomes the measuring stick we use to guide the way we think our lives should play out. To be happy and successful you want to stop comparing your life to the carefully constructed social media posts you see every day.

It is easy to forget that the comparison is apples to oranges, not apples to apples. What most people share in social media is a carefully captured moment in time that is not as reflective of the big picture of their lives. What we find ourselves doing is comparing our entire experience to that picture perfect snapshot.

That’s when the negative self-talk comes in and sabotages our happiness and success by downplaying our own accomplishments and successes. If you want to maximize your 2017, stop looking externally at others as your measuring stick. Set your own realistic expectations for yourself and remember that behind other people’s perfect post is a life equally imperfect, just like us.

3.    Get your zzzzz’s

Did you know that being tired and sleep deprived has a huge impact on how happy and successful we are? When we don’t get enough sleep at night we begin to see the world from a darker and more negative lens.

According to an article in WebMd sleep deprivation will actually hamper your cognitive process by impacting reasoning, problem solving and concentration. It also can contribute to depression and poor judgment, things that are important to staying happy and successful. Remember to get your zzzz’s.

4.    Surround yourself with positive people.

The types of people we surround ourselves with can have a huge impact on our emotions. When we surround ourselves with negative people we take in negative messages, view and complaints. These messages can have an impact on our own opinions and views of the world. If you want to maximize your 2017, seek out others with positive and optimistic attitude. You will start to see their happiness and success in you.

5.    Approach instead of avoid.

We are very good at knowing what we don’t want, but are we equally able to identify what we do want?  I understand it is important to plan and be prepared to handle problems that may come our way, however we often put a lot of focus on what we don’t want to see and not enough focus on what we do want to see. Take for example your kids. If they are jumping up and down on the furniture and you yell out, “stop jumping” you can often be ignored. It almost feels like they didn’t hear the word “stop”. The reality is, they may not have processed it that way. Instead if you say, “Put your feet on the ground” they are more likely to stop jumping.

If we want to increase the likelihood of reaching our goals, it helps to stop thinking in terms of what we don’t want to see and focus energy on what we want to see. Stay in the affirmative and create a clear vision of what success looks like and you will be more likely to get there.

6.    Practice a Growth Mindset.

Stanford University Psychology Professor and Author Carol Dweck has extensively researched mindset.  She found that people with a fixed mindset are those that believe that things like intelligence or skill in a particular area are fixed traits responsible for one’s success or failure. People with a fixed mindset don’t like to take risks or try new things, they stay in their comfort zone in order to avoid failure as they see it. Moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset can help you to be happy and successful.

A growth mindset is the belief that success and new abilities can be developed through practice and exposure to new ideas and things. This belief encourages a love for learning and fosters growth and leadership. For a short video further explaining the benefits of cultivating a growth mindset check out this video here.

7.    Food as fuel.

Nutrition is a crucial part of overall wellbeing and wellness. Not only does a diet filled with processed junk food contribute to obesity, it also negatively affects our emotional health and well-being. Healthy eating is an important part of overall health and happiness. Think of your body and mind as being fueled by what you give it.  Creating a healthy eating habit provides your body the vitamins, nutrients and fuel you need to boost your mood and overall health.

8.    Keep moving.

Just as important as healthy eating, exercise contributes to mood and well-being. Set realistic goals for yourself and make moving a priority. Even if it is a few minutes a day, keep moving. If starting an exercise routine is a bit daunting, then start by walking a few minutes a day and slowly increase. It matters less what you do and matters more that you keep on moving.

9.    Get outside.

Did you know that the sunlight is actually good for you? In moderation of course, the risks of sun-damaged skin is widely known however getting outdoors more often and soaking in the sunlight can be beneficial. Sunlight is believed to increase the hormone serotonin, which affects mood. Low levels of serotonin are related to depression. Spending time outdoors exposed to sunlight can also boost our vitamin D levels in our bodies, which is good for our bones and other health benefits.

Connecting with nature is also a great way to recharge and reset. If you practice meditation or mindfulness you may want to go outside and sit within nature for your practice. Feeling stressed at work, get outside on your break and take a walk. Just like devices work better when they are unplugged, so can you. Take some time away from your desk during the day and soak up a bit of sunlight.

10. Stop believing everything you think

There is a misconception that just because we have a thought, it must be true. So often we have automatic thoughts that come from years of negative messages. We get caught up in the belief that these thoughts are truths and can feel unhappy and stressed. In 2017, remember that you do not need to believe everything that you think! Become aware of you thoughts throughout your day and identify which ones contribute to your happiness and success and which ones don’t. Just because something is in your head, does not make it real or valid. A great way to begin noticing your thoughts is through mindfulness practice. Take a few minutes to focus on your breathing and observe your thoughts as they come and go. Don’t connect, judge or get caught up in any thought, just observe them come and go. Practice this a little bit each day can help create space between thoughts and emotions allowing you to stop believing everything you think.

Monday, January 9, 2017

F**** Perfect Parenting

I used to think that being a good mom meant sacrificing my needs at all costs. I know many moms believe that to be true. Now, I think that this kind of thinking derails us from the peaceful and happy moments that we hope to have with our children.

Today my parenting is less about being perfect and more about being real. That has made me a better parent. Not perfect parent, just better.

Here are three simple changes I believe made me a happier and more confident mom! 

F**** "Perfect"

Letting go of my need to be perfect allowed me to let go of the guilt I felt when I took care of my needs. The old saying, "put on your oxygen mask first" not only helps me be a better parent, it also allows me to be a role model for my children. I don’t want my kids to grow up and feel overwhelmed and stressed because they ignored her own physical, emotional and mental health trying to be perfect. I want them to know that it is okay to make mistakes and keep striving. Embracing imperfection motivated me to write ​"Lose That Mommy Guilt" and has continued to remind me how the drive to be perfect made motherhood so much harder. I am more forgiving of myself and of my children. I accept my imperfections as I strive to improve. I recognize the negative effects that my perfectionism had on myself and on my family. I see how much added stress my negative judgments caused me. My negative self-talk and inner dialogue did not motivate me to be better. Only accepting myself did.

Practice Gratitude

It is so easy to get caught up in all the negativity and focus on what isn't going well in life. Instead, take a few minutes to recognize what is working and what is going right. What we focus on tends to be what we recognize. Our minds are selective and put more importance on what we consciously focus on. If we are always looking at and thinking about what is wrong or negative, we will see more of it. So take some time each day to reflect on what is going right! This is a great habit to start doing with our children. My kids and do a practice I call "Fill Your BAG Happy". We imagine a BAG that collects negative energy, stress and other problems from our day and we visualize dumping it out and refilling it with answers to three questions that spell out the word BAG. B- What is the Best and Brightest part of my day? A - What did I Accomplish? G - what am I truly Grateful for? 

Practice Mindfulness

Allowing my thoughts to come and go without holding on to them or pushing them away allows me to not get caught up in believing my thoughts. I can now more often recognize when perfectionistic thoughts drive my emotions and actions in an unhelpful way. Mindfulness taught me to be more patient and created a distinction between “reacting” and “responding.” If you are new to mindfulness, it does not have to be overwhelming. Just a few minutes a day can have an impact. There are some really great phone apps that can guide you. My favorites are calm, headspace and insight timer.
Self-care looks different for different people, but for me it is about embracing imperfection, gratitude and mindfulness for a happier, healthier and more productive me!