Monday, November 30, 2015

Building Resilience in 8 Simple Steps

Resilience is a daily practiceby Coaching Positive Performance:

Building resilience improves your ability to cope with stress and pressures; as and when they arrive. If you only think about stress when it occurs; you are already fighting an uphill battle.

However, if you take the time to implement some coping strategies in your life, you greatly reduce your exposure to stress.

The following are some simple strategies for building resilience, reducing stress, improving your health and increasing personal effectiveness; which you can implement in your everyday life:

Accept your imperfections

Nobody gets everything right first time; as long as you learn from your mistakes, you will continue to move forward in life. Resilience building requires that you accept yourself for who are, and accept that you will make mistakes.

Schedule some time for yourself each and everyday 

By learning to enjoy your own company, and taking time for the things that are important to you, you will increase your sense of self-esteem. Building resilience is a key defence against low self-esteem and it’s associated problems. By creating boundaries around your time, others will develop more respect for you and your time.

Turn off the technology

For at least one hour per day, switch off all technology. This time might be used to complete mundane tasks; to read; or simply to relax. Throughout history, man has been able to cope without the technology we have become accustomed to. There is no reason why you cannot cope for one hour per day.

Exercise every day

If possible, always strive to start the day with exercise - whether it be a gym workout or a short walk (it doesn’t have to be strenuous). Either way you start the day feeling good and with a sense of already having achieved something positive. This positivity will help to carry you through the most difficult of days.

Ensure that you get sufficient sleep

When it comes to building resilience, sleep is one of the most important aspects. Sleep is the body and minds way of recovering from a hard day and building up the required strength and resolve for the days to come. Go to bed a little earlier and if necessary get some advice on how to improve the quality of your sleep. By doing so, you will start the new day with more energy and a more positive mindset.

Choose your friends wisely

As Jim Rohn stated, you are the average of your five closest friends. The people you spend time with help to determine your mood and your attitude to life. By choosing friends who are supportive and whose company you enjoy; you will be more confident in your ability to cope with whatever life throws your way.

Laugh out loud

Laughter is one of  the most effective resilience building activities known to man.Identify the things that make you laugh and schedule them into your life. With the internet, there are an abundance of sites designed to make you laugh, in addition to the vast number of comedies produced for TV, Cinema and Stage. With so many resources available, there is no need to wait for laughter to come your way, you can go get it.  Adding just a little more laughter to your life, will lead to amazing results for your health and happiness.

Remember that tomorrow is another day

Life is a cycle. Good times and bad, come and go. While today may look like a dark day, tomorrow can bring a whole new perspective. When having a bad experience, remind yourself that this too shall pass and brighter times lie ahead.

If you feel that you may be experiencing stress, check out Stress Free Living.

Don’t wait for stress to knock upon your door. Focus on building resilience today. By taking a little time to make simple changes to your attitude and your schedule, you can significantly reduce your stress levels, improve your effectiveness, and increase your overall enjoyment of life.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Norwegian Secret To Enjoying A Long Winter

Photo: Flickr user Mark Robinson
by , Fast Company:

As the days get darker and colder in much of the northern hemisphere, it’s easy to indulge in gloom.

For the next few months, you’ll be shivering. You’ll be battling foul weather. Thanks to daylight saving time there will be no chance to see the sun after work.

The gloom leads to a common question: What can I do to cope with the dark and cold? If you truly want to be happy during winter, though, this is the wrong approach to the season. Changing your mindset can do more than distracting yourself from the weather.

That’s the takeaway from research done by Kari Leibowitz, currently a PhD student at Stanford University, who spent August 2014 to June 2015 on a Fulbright scholarship in Tromsø in northern Norway. Tromsø is so far north that from late November to late January, the sun never climbs above the horizon. Leibowitz went to study the residents’ overall mental health, because rates of seasonal depression were lower than one might expect.

At first, she was asking "Why aren’t people here more depressed?" and if there were lessons that could be taken elsewhere. But once she was there, "I sort of realized that that was the wrong question to be asking," she says. When she asked people "Why don’t you have seasonal depression?" the answer was "Why would we?"

It turns out that in northern Norway, "people view winter as something to be enjoyed, not something to be endured," says Leibowitz, and that makes all the difference.

Lessons From The Far North 

To be sure, there are some aspects of the near-polar culture that might be hard to emulate elsewhere. Small Norwegian communities are tightly knit, and strong social ties increase well-being everywhere. That said, there are lessons that can help anyone think differently about cold weather.

First, Norwegians celebrate the things one can only do in winter. "People couldn’t wait for the ski season to start," says Leibowitz. Getting outside is a known mood booster, and so Norwegians keep going outside, whatever is happening out there. Notes Leibowitz: "There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing."

Norwegians also have a word, koselig, that means a sense of coziness. It’s like the best parts of Christmas, without all the stress. People light candles, light fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets. There’s a community aspect to it too; it’s not just an excuse to sit on the couch watching Netflix. Leibowitz reports that Tromsø had plenty of festivals and community activities creating the sense that everyone was in it together.
Photo: Flickr userJan Fredrik Frantzen
And finally, people are enamored with the sheer beauty of the season. Leibowitz grew up near the Jersey shore, and "I just took it as a fact that everyone likes summer the best." But deep in the winter in Norway, when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon, multiple hours a day can still look like sunrise and sunset, and against the snow, "the colors are incredibly beautiful," she says. "The light is very soft and indirect."

A Mindset Shift 

Most likely you can’t cross-country ski straight out of your house, and while Norwegian sweaters may be catching on, restaurants and coffee shops in more temperate climates don’t all feature the fireplaces and candles common to the far north. Still, there are little things non-Norwegians can do.

"One of the things we do a lot of in the States is we bond by complaining about the winter," says Leibowitz. "It’s hard to have a positive wintertime mindset when we make small talk by being negative about the winter."

This is easy enough to change; simply refuse to participate in the Misery Olympics. Talk about how the cold gives you a chance to drink tea or hot chocolate all day. Talk about ice skating, or building snowmen. Bundle up and go for a walk outside, knowing that you’ll likely feel warmer and happier after a few minutes. Better yet, go with a friend. Social plans are a great reason to haul yourself out from under the covers.

But overall, mindset research is increasingly finding that it doesn’t take much to shift one’s thinking. "It doesn’t have to be this huge complicated thing," says Leibowitz. "You can just consciously try to have a positive wintertime mindset and that might be enough to induce it."