Tag Archives: tips

Procrastination: Tips to Stop Waiting and Start Doing!

Infinity time spiral 15267876“I”ll do it later.” – the anthem of the procrastinator. Too often later never comes around or we wait so long that we have to scramble to get things done. Procrastination can be the monkey on your back that you feel you just can’t shake off. The best thing to do is to understand why you are procrastinating and work from there.

There can be numerous reasons for procrastination. One may feel as though they do not have the skills or tools needed to complete the task, so it is put off. The task could also seem unimportant, thus lacking the motivational qualities for you to start working on it. Another common reason for procrastination is a fear of the outcome. You may have been in the same situation before and things turned out poorly, so, you are avoiding the outcome by avoiding the task. On the other hand, it may be that you have no clue what the end result will be, thus you are steering away from the potentially perilous unknown. What is important here is to note that the act of procrastination varies between tasks and people. We don’t procrastinate on everything and we don’t always procrastinate on the same thing in the same way. So how can you decrease the possibility of procrastination? Know yourself.

One of the best things to do is to NOT label yourself a procrastinator. We tend to act in self-confirming ways. So if you think you’re a procrastinator, you will procrastinate. The second thing to do is to recognize why you are procrastinating and correct the issue. If you think the task is too boring, find meaning in it. Yes, the 12 page essay on cyberbullying may be tedious, but consider all of the information you will gain that will help you keep your future children protected from it. If you feel like you are lacking a skill, see this as an alarm to spring into action and find the proper resources to solve that issue.

By changing your perspective of procrastination so that it is an alert rather that a barrier, you can change your slacker ways into proactive ones.

Practising Mindfulness in Everyday Life

mindfulness-imageIt’s easy to live our lives on autopilot, going through the motions without ever being fully present in our experiences. We can find ourselves always waiting for what’s next and never fully appreciating the here and now. For example, we may find ourselves always waiting for our meeting to be over or waiting for the end of the day. When we are not living fully in the present, we miss the magic in the simple moments. If we do this for long enough, we miss our entire lives. After all, life is made up of moments.

When we think of mindfulness, we often think of yoga or meditation. While these can be wonderful ways of incorporating mindfulness into our lives, we can also be mindful in the simple moments.

First Thing in the Morning

When we are mindful, we purposefully ‘tune in’ to the present moment. Take some time when you first wake up to notice your surroundings, along with the infinite potential that your day holds. Notice the softness of your sheets, the sun shining through your window or the gentle patter of raindrops on your windowsill.

Commuting to Work

Notice the colour and smell of the flowers, the crunch of newly fallen snow under your feet or the way your boots splash in the puddles as you walk. If you drive or take transit, notice how the steering wheel feels in your hands or the shape of the clouds in the sky.

Mealtimes

Meals are a prime time to practice mindfulness. There are numerous benefits to mindful eating, so take a moment to truly savour the colour, texture and flavour of your food.

Conversations

When you’re speaking with someone, instead of being focused on how you’re going to respond or the meeting you need to be at in five minutes, really focus on what the other person is saying. What emotions are being conveyed, what is their body language telling you?

Doing the Dishes

Some people say they find doing the dishes to be therapeutic, and it really can be! When you’re cleaning up after dinner, notice how the warm water feels on your hands and the gentle scent of the soap bubbles.

These are just some examples of how we can incorporate mindfulness into our everyday lives. None of the above may be particularly extraordinary in and of themselves, but through mindfulness ordinary moments can begin to feel purposeful and special – as opposed to only “exciting” or “extraordinary” events being meaningful. The more we incorporate mindfulness into the simple moments, the more we open ourselves up to experiencing the beauty and magic that exists in even the most ordinary of moments.

By: Jenny Gomez

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Workplace Conflict I: Assessing the Problem

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At one point or another we all encounter difficult relationships on the job. Taking a proactive approach to on-the-job conflict is essential to our emotional and mental health, in addition to our performance. Due to modern technology and around the clock work demands, today’s workplaces are already stressful enough without having to deal with uninvited conflict. The good news is, there are easy steps anyone can take to nip workplace conflict in the bud.

The number one thing to remember when a co-worker is getting under your skin is not to take it personally. How people show up in one area of their life is usually how they show up in all areas of their life – so you can bet you are not the first to encounter the behaviour in question. By not making the behaviour about you, you will be in a much more balanced state to address the situation than if you were to interpret it as a personal insult.

Next it’s important to keep things in perspective. Is this the first time the person has done something like this? Are one or both of you having a particularly stressful day? Is your preferred outcome a “need-to-have” or is it more of a “nice-to-have”? Or, on the flip side of the equation, is this behaviour that you have already addressed repeatedly, and shows no signs of going away? Egos are at their strongest in the workplace, so it can be difficult not to rush in to correct a perceived injustice. However, the more we can hold off on reacting, the more we can prevent ourselves from getting “hooked” into responding in kind, and saying or doing something we may regret later.

If you’re not sure whether a particular situation requires you to take action, then give yourself some time to reflect on it. Find a way to clear your head – exercise, meditate, or if all else fails, sleep on it. They key is to approach the situation from a balanced frame of mind. And then trust your instincts to point you in the right direction. If you’re still not sure about what to do, then talk to a trusted mentor. And always remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So as hard as it may seem, trust that there is a benefit to taking the time to contemplate your best course of action.

If you are confident that intervention on your part is required, then you’ll likely want to assert yourself. Stay tuned for the next installment in our workplace conflict series, which provides easy tips for how to confront co-workers while maintaining amicable professional relationships.

By: Kelly Pritchard

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Tips for Relieving Anger

kmaAnger. It’s an emotion we all feel, but often don’t know how to cope with effectively. We live within a culture where expression of anger can be taboo, and may times we aren’t taught how to constructively and healthily deal with it. Here are a few tips on how we can harness our anger.

Relax. Anger is a physical and mental state of arousal, so the best way to relieve it is to dissipate the feeling.  Find your happy place. I know it sounds cliché, but it works. You can do this by counting to ten or focusing on your breath. There is a wide range of self-help books that teach relaxation techniques.

You can also choose to find a hobby that relaxes you. Many people think exercise is a good way to release anger, but it all depends on how much. Since anger is partly an aroused physical state, exercise can increase this arousal, thus not alleviating it, but rather increasing it. However, if you exercise to the point of being tired, it can help because you have removed the state of arousal.

Change your perspective. Rather than getting mad at someone being late, give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe there was a delay on the transit, or an unexpected road closure. Instead of jumping into anger, try to look at things logically and rationally. Getting angry won’t make you feel any better about things, so try and re-evaluate the situation so that you’re not upset about it.

You can also alter the situation in order to avoid triggers. For example, if you find yourself constantly getting upset when grocery shopping, be it because of long lines or crowded isles, try going at a different time or on a different day. To some extent, we must be proactive about avoiding what makes us angry.

More to consider. A lot of us think that venting will help relieve our anger. But venting can often lead to the opposite effect. By spending excess amounts of time talking about the incident, you are reliving it and just reliving the anger. Think of it as adding fuel to the fire. It’s best to avoid ruminating about the event, and to accept and move on. This isn’t to say that you should bottle it up. Holding in your anger can be very unhealthy and has led to documented cases of heart disease. This is why it is so important to accept your anger and face it head on, rather than brushing it under the rug.

Let’s not forget that anger can be positive. It can motivate us to stand up for what we believe in; puts that fire in our bellies. But when it comes to the point that where we find ourselves being frequently perturbed, it may be time to try some of these tips or even see a therapist if you find that it is affecting your everyday life.

How to Change an Emotional Relationship with Food

5-Tips-for-Heart-Healthy-Snacking-700x395Bored? Stressed? Waiting? What do many of us do when this happens? EAT. Many of us tend to fill time with eating or use it to relieve stress. Often we’re not even hungry or we choose to snack on easy but unhealthy choices. These choices can make our self-esteem plummet, and can even result in us feeling guilt, remorse, or depressed. Here are a few tips and tricks to try and change an emotional relationship with food.

Drink water. Carry a bottle of water around and if you have an urge to snack, drink water first. It’s easy to misread our body’s signals and think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty. By avoiding eating unnecessary or last-minute foods, we also avoid feelings of guilt and remorse, which helps reinforce our confidence to make positive and healthy decisions.

Be mindful. There’s a bowl of chips in front of you and before you know it, it’s empty! We’ve all done this. We at times unconsciously snack when it is immediately available just because it’s there. Stop and be aware. Stay in tune with yourself and your senses, rather than going on autopilot.

Understand your urge to much. Part of making healthier decisions is understanding what is driving us to certain behaviours in the first place. If you find yourself relying on eating to fill time, your urge to much may be coming from boredom – in this case, one tactic is to try to find something else to do. If you’re eating to relieve stress, it may be time to explore another stress-relieving activity such as yoga or walking. Once you’ve identified your personal weak-spots, be prepared for situations that challenge you: Keep a book in your bag, so you read rather than munch. Have nothing to do? Go for a walk instead of making a sandwich.

Understand that Change Takes Effort: An emotional relationship with food doesn’t just change overnight or with a lazy approach. It’s a process that can take months and even years to understand and implement. And this change takes effort and preparation. For example, If we arrive thirty minutes earlier than expected at our destination, many of us will stop at a corner store or shop and pick up something to snack on in order to kill the time. By carrying a healthy snack with us each day that we’ve prepared in advance, like a bag of nuts or some chopped up celery, we can prevent ourselves from picking up that chocolate bar because we already have something to snack on.

A lot of the challenge we face lies in the fact that it is easier to buy that bag of chips than to cut up those peppers. Change isn’t always easy. Just keep in mind that at first it may be a nuisance, but eventually it’ll seem like you have always lived like this. New behaviours practiced often become habits, so by choosing the right behaviour just a few times, we can create a pattern that will lead to a whole new series of healthier choices.

5 Tips to Help Deal with Sassy Kids

kids-on-grass-2It seems to be that there comes a time in every child’s life when they transition from a cute and loving child, to a snarky and sassy tween or teen.  In this phase, kids go from good-natured to short-tempered, accommodating to resisting, happy to hold your hand to embarrassed to even be seen with you.

 

Let the eye-rolling begin.

Some parents roll with this change with remarkable good humour and grace; the rest of us may end up resorting to less-than-helpful responses to our kids.  If you think you may fall into that second category, here are five tips for getting your relationship back onto a better path.

1. Take a deep breath and don’t take it personally. 

Yes, it’s true that sometimes our kids can find just the right thing to say to cut us to the quick.  But they’re not necessarily trying to wound us that deeply, they’re often just trying out different ways of relating to others and seeing which ones give them a feeling of control and confidence.  It’s ok to respond calmly with something like, “That was very disrespectful.  I don’t like being spoken to that way, and I’m going to leave the room until we can agree that we’ll speak to each other more pleasantly.”

2. Harness the power of role modelling. 

As much as parents like to joke about the “do as I say, not as I do” method of parenting, children don’t tend to see the humour in it.  While there’s no doubt they can quite effectively push our buttons, a part of them is watching us to see how we’ll handle it.  Our kids look to us to learn how to behave in the world, and if we respond to them with anger, or an attempt at control by trying to put them in their place, then they learn that this is an effective way of responding to someone who is upsetting them.  While it might not seem like it in the moment, continuing to model respectful behavior towards our kids (and ourselves) does give them a blueprint for how to stand up for themselves appropriately and how to navigate difficult conversations.

3. Take a time out. 

We often get into the habit of believing that every parenting issue must be dealt with immediately.  But the reality is that sometimes we all need space to cool down, before we can get a real handle on the situation and think about the big picture.  It’s ok to tell your children, “We’ll talk about this later,” and then follow through and do it.

4. Catch them being good. 

You may have heard this phrase before; it’s something of a staple in parenting.  If we catch more flies with honey, than we want to be on the look-out for opportunities to acknowledge and appreciate those times when our kids express themselves assertively while still being respectful.  They don’t have to be talking to you; if you happen to overhear a conversation between two of your children, or one of your kids and a friend, it’s ok to pull your child aside later and quietly let them know that you thought she handled herself very well in that difficult situation.

5. Keep a healthy perspective.

While you may worry that the attitude demonstrated at home may be transported out there into the world at large, you can breathe easy knowing that it typically isn’t the case.  Kids generally reserve their worst behavior for family (lucky us), and they have a pretty good idea of what would and wouldn’t be considered acceptable with friends and other adults.

These little moments may not be the best part of parenting, but hang in there.  Keep in mind that a strong relationship is your best insurance against the dismissive and disrespectful attitude from our children, so don’t lose touch with them.  Find opportunities to chat and share, create little moments of connection, and soon the scales will start to tip in the other direction.

 By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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Mat Leave Over? 10 Tips to Keep Your Sanity When You’re Headed Back To Work

 20131019_Mother_Baby_0442It can be tough to watch the days tick away in your maternity leave.  Many moms I’ve worked with feeling a growing sense of anxiety and dread as their return-to-work date approaches.  But there’s lots you can do – before and after you’re back at work – to smooth the transition and tame those anxieties.

1. Feel confident in your day care arrangement.

This one might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many moms feel pressured to make a day care decision, for any number of reasons, and have a gnawing discomfort with the decision they’ve made.  You might never love the idea of being away from your little one for eight or more hours a day, but at least make sure that you’re not spending your time at work fighting the feeling that something just isn’t right.

2. Plan ahead.

If you’re like most moms, you probably took care of the bulk of the cooking, cleaning, and other home-caring while you were on maternity leave.  Many women then find themselves in the position of trying to continue to do all of it, even when they’re back at work full time, simply because they and their husbands have fallen into the habit of assuming that she’ll take care of it all.  If you can have this conversation before you even go back to work, that’s great, but it’s never too late to sit down with your husband and do some planning and problem solving about how all of these jobs will get done once you have two people out of the house for most of the day.

3. Talk to your husband – a lot.

Maybe you’ll find that your carefully laid plans just aren’t cutting it once D-Day comes and you’re back on the job.  Don’t trap yourself into feeling that you’ve got no options – at the very least, put aside some time to chat with your husband, your partner in this big game of life, and let him know how it’s going.  Don’t make assumptions about what he’s thinking or what he would or wouldn’t be willing to do; you owe it to both of you to be honest about how you’re coping and what might be falling through the cracks.  This is also the time to acknowledge just how great a man you’re with, and recognize the efforts he’s making.

4. Be prepared to compromise, and accept that you can’t do it all.

This flows from the last point.  Not only will you have to accept that you’ll probably have to cut some corners when it comes to getting things done the way you like them, but if you want to retain your sanity, you’ll have to also accept that your husband may not do things exactly the way you’d do them.  And that’s ok.  As long as what needs to be done is getting done, you’re much better off just going with the flow than trying to insist that certain protocols be followed.  Let each of you figure out the best way for you to do what you need to do, and let that be ok.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Here’s the truth about having a baby and returning to work: your life is going to be different now.  That might seem obvious, but I think we all have a tendency to try to fit our “old”, pre-baby life into our “new” baby-filled life.  You might have to readjust your priorities and simply let go of some of the assumptions or habits or preferences that just bog you down in your new schedule.

6. Make time for your marriage.

You’re going to have a lot of demands on your time, but don’t fool yourself into believing that your marriage can wait.  The number one contributor to marital breakdown today is not spending enough time together; don’t kid yourself into thinking that your marriage is the last on a long list of priorities.  Invest even just a little time now, and save yourself a lot of heartache later.  Don’t let yourselves to be reduced to just co-workers in the business of running your family.  Even a quick 10 minute daily chat over a glass of wine or cup of tea goes a long way toward keeping the two of you as more than just roommates.

7. Make time for you, build in downtime for yourself.

This is a ridiculously easy one to put at the bottom of your list, and a ridiculously hard one to make time for.  But it’s critically important.  You can’t give away what you don’t have, so if you’re burning the candle at both ends, you’re setting yourself up for a crash.  A few minutes a day of quiet time, such as reading, taking a bath, or connecting with a friend, is a long-term investment in your mental health and ability to cope with the day-to-day challenges that are thrown your way.

8. Ask for and accept help.

You don’t have to go it alone.  If someone offers to take the kids for the afternoon or to pick up some of your groceries, accept it!  We tell ourselves that everyone else seems to be able to pull off this whole working-parent thing, so we should be able to as well.  But the reality is that we never know what’s going on behind closed doors, and sometimes we need to be honest with ourselves instead of trying to live up to some lofty ideal.  We are among the first generations in recorded history to raise our kids without the benefit of a “village” of family members and neighbours to help share the load, so if someone wants to be a part of your village, let them.

9. Remember that there’s a time for everything.

We live in a land of opportunity.  From camps and lessons and experiences that our kids can have, to Zumba and book clubs and job promotions available to us, there’s a lot we could be doing.  Remember, though, that while you can do it all, you probably can’t do it all at the same time.  This might not be the time to tackle a new project; perhaps in order to feel as though you’re doing well in all of the jobs you’ve currently got, you need to not take on anything new.  That’s ok.  Don’t beat yourself up thinking that you “should” be able to do more, be more, have more.  Time is our the resource that can’t be recouped once it’s spent, so invest this precious resource in only the areas that truly matter in your life today.  Just feel good about where you are right now, and enjoy the time you have with your family as it is, right now.

10. Keep the big picture in mind.

You are stretched thin at this moment.  That’s a fact.  Raising little ones and working is a lot to juggle.  You’ve got a lot going on in your life, and it’s easy to get swept up in the day-to-day of it all.  Build in time for fun with your family and remind yourself that your best is good enough.  Take time to step back and love what you have.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers Andrea Ramsay Speers

Letting Go of Negative Emotions

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Are you feeling upset with your best friend? Maybe you didn’t get the job promotion you had anticipated and are feeling angry? Emotions that cause us to feel badly about ourselves and others often create problems in many areas of our lives.

Although these emotions often cause us pain, within the right circumstances, they are completely normal. Negative emotions signify that you care about your wellbeing. You care enough about yourself to feel badly when you are wronged.

There is so much we can learn from in the moments when we feel sad. When negative emotions do arise, you may want to practice a few exercises. First, ask yourself if you are trying to suppress the negative emotion. When we try to dull negative emotions, we consequently stop ourselves from being able to fully feel positive emotions as well. Allow yourself to feel that emotion fully and completely. Try not to judge your negative emotion. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Perhaps you can ask yourself why you are feeling this emotion. This is a time to check in with yourself and see how you are really feeling. Often, our negative emotions are not as bad as we anticipate. Our negative emotions may lose their grip on us the second that we let go of trying to control them.

Emotions are like waves – you have the crest of the wave representing the rising emotion you may feel, the peak of the wave which signifies the most intense feelings experienced, and the fall of the wave as it returns to its beginning state. Similarly, our emotions rise up, and eventually fall away. This cycle in emotions is so natural and rhythmic, but we often feel that our emotional states are going to remain the same.

By allowing yourself to feel your emotions fully, both the good ones and the bad, you open yourself up to new positive emotions. You have the complete capacity to experience joy in minor daily tasks that can often go unrecognized or overlooked. Remember, to be kind to yourself and even treat your negative emotions with kindness. This may decrease the hold that they have over you.