Are you living in the present?

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 31 January 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

As the well-known saying goes; tomorrow never comes, there is only the here and now. Yesterday can’t come back and you can only change where you are now, in this moment. So what can you do to make sure you’re living in the present and not stuck in the future or the past?

How to tell if you’re future focused

If you’re feeling stressed, worried and anxious, the chances are you’re focusing on the future too much.

Focusing too much on your future can lead to you pinning your hopes and dreams on ‘what ifs’. You’ll spend your time saying things like ‘I’ll be happy when…’ and you’ll be holding back on living your life fully, until something that hasn’t yet happened, materialises.

The problem with this is the future isn’t actually here and it hasn’t been created yet – you’re worrying and stressing about things that aren’t real and pinning your future happiness on things that may not even EVER be real. Spending time planning your future CAN be productive and useful – if you use it in conjunction with the other steps listed below.

Is the past still capturing your attention?

Do guilt and remorse hold you back? Maybe you regret not taking a particular path or wondering what would have happened, if you’d just stuck with that guy or girl? Are you spending your time wishing you’d done things differently, had better experiences, support and/or education etc.? These are sure signs that you’re stuck in the past.

The facts on this are simple: the past is in the past. You can’t do anything to change it, or what happened in it. Work at letting the guilt and remorse go and, if you need to forgive or ask forgiveness of yourself and/or others, do it and move forward.

Why living in the present is the best solution

You know when you’re in the present, as you’re accepting life as it is now and not hinging everything on tomorrow. This doesn’t mean you’re stuck with ‘your lot’. It means you’re acknowledging where you currently are and how your decisions took you to this point – but you also know that any choices and decisions you make now, will shape your moments moving forward.

This level of acceptance calms you and eases worry and stress. You understand that the only moments you can change are the ones you’re in now and you can decide, at any moment, what your next actions are. You are in control and you make the decisions that affect your life.

How to live in the present

#1: Notice your thoughts

Accept your thoughts for what they are, without any judgement on them or yourself. This simply means being aware of what you’re telling yourself and deciding what to do with that thought. Do you want to keep it? Do you want to change it? But it all starts with acknowledging it’s there.

#2: Be aware of your actions

Notice what actions you are taking on a daily basis. Are they moving you to where you want to be or are they keeping you stuck and unhappy?

#3: Practice gratitude

Be thankful for everything you have, no matter how basic or small. Gratitude is the corner stone of acceptance and awareness. It’s about not judging what you have or haven’t got, but being happy to have what you do have.

#4: Forgive your past

Forgive yourself and others for your past. If it helps, write a letter to the person, asking for their forgiveness or giving them yours. Learn to see the hidden benefits you’ve received from any wrongdoing and let it go.

#5: Dream about the future

Take time to visualise how you want your future to be, using glorious technicolour. Then bring it back to now, by deciding on the action steps you need to implement, in order to get from here to your desired end result.

Find your future joy HERE.

Image courtesy of Yurchyk/Dollar Photo Club

Stand tall to feel happier

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 24 January 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

We know that our posture often reflects our mood. Feeling down? Your shoulders will go down, you’ll slump down on yourself a bit and hold your head low. Feel positive? Your head will be up, you’ll be more likely to make eye contact and your stance will be a firm but relaxed one.

But how many of you have heard of the philosophy of embodied cognition?

Embodied cognition

Embodied cognition means the relationship between our mind and body is a two-way thing. This means our posture and stance affect how we think – but also, that the way we think impacts our posture and stance.

So you could say you’re slouching down because you’re depressed, however it’s also true that you’re feeling depressed BECAUSE you’re slouching down.

What this means for your mood

This is a truly powerful concept, as it means you can work on both your mind-set AND your posture, if you want to change your moods.

So think about it for a minute. We all make assumptions about how mood is reflected in a person’s posture. For example, swinging your arms whilst walking can help you feel more positive and happier, so if we see someone doing this, we assume they’re happy. If we see someone walking tall, with their back straightened, shoulders back and head held high, we immediately think they’re confident and assured.

Change your stance to change your mood

It’s been said that it only takes two minutes to change the chemistry and hormones in our body. We could therefore work on changing our posture IN ORDER TO feel a different mood.

Try it and see. For example, right now straighten your back, pull your shoulders back and hold your head higher and switch your focus to something slightly higher than eye level. Hold this stance, whilst you breathe steadily in and out. Feel calmer or more content?

Another good example is hugging. It’s amazing how hugging makes us feel safe, protected and warm – but did you know that hugging yourself has a very similar effect on your feelings?

Make the choice

The important thing to remember is to acknowledge whatever mood you’re feeling, but state it as a choice, not a definite. ‘I am sad’ has a different feel to that of the statement ‘I choose to feel sad’. ‘I choose to feel happy’ feels even more special than ‘I feel happy’.

So make a choice to feel the mood you want to feel. If you want to feel happy, choose that mood – and then stand tall and act happy. Smile, grin, skip, dance or jump on the spot if it helps, but make the decision AND take on the stance of happy person – and you WILL start feeling happier.

Discover your happiness at: http://thejoyscientist.co.uk/index.php/ways-to-feel-great/the-joy-journey

Image courtesy of ZydaProductions/Dollar Photo Club

Stop beating yourself up!

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Monday, 08 February 2016
Written by Sarah PJ White

We can be our own worst critic. When we do something wrong, silly or just plain thoughtless, we find it so easy to chastise ourselves so harshly, using words and tones we wouldn’t even dare to speak to others – so why do we find it so ‘normal’ to do this to ourselves?

The way we talk to ourselves can have a lasting and damaging effect on everything, from our confidence and motivation, right through to our mood and general health. Our inner self-talk can talk us out of, or into, anything!

Why? Well the root cause of our self-talk is to actually keep us safe. It wants to prevent us from getting hurt, being hurt and generally suffering. But it’s operating from a sense of fear and is constantly anxious for us – and thrives on drama.

Everything is so easily expanded on, blown out of proportion and exaggerated, when self-talk gets involved – both for the better and, in this case, the worse. We then listen to it, as we feel there’s an element of truth there and, if left unchecked that too, will get exaggerated. That little criticism of ourselves becomes bigger, that feeling of disappointment becomes a massive feeling of failure and it all becomes second nature to us.

So how can you stop beating yourself up, with this negative self-talk?

Catch it early

Negative self-talk can quickly go on a downward spiral; the more you focus on it, the worse it gets. So stop it in its tracks, as soon as you notice it happening.

Give your inner critic a name

Preferably a silly one and, even better, give it a squeaky, high-pitched voice. It’s so much harder to take it seriously this way!

Acknowledge and thank it

Thank it by name, for bringing this fear/worry/thought to your attention – after all, that’s what it’s trying to do; get your attention.

Put it into perspective

This is important, as it may have already been exaggerated. Get to the root facts behind the negativity.

Question it

Once you notice what that inner self-talk is saying and have put it into perspective, now question the truth in it. Is there any truth there? What references is it using? Whose voice is it using – and how much faith do you put in the owner of that voice?

Choose another thought

Once you’ve thanked it and questioned it, make the decision to choose another, more empowering thought and option.

Make a decision

Now you can make a decision to replace the negative thought with the new thought, moving forward. If it helps, write down this small victory, along with how it made you feel to choose this new thought. You could even turn it into an affirmation and use this to retrain your inner critic to think of this new thought permanently.

Image courtesy of Allen Penton/Dollar Photo Club

Yoga for flexibility

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

Yoga is an excellent way to increase flexibility, no matter how flexible you already are. Most people who need to improve their flexibility however, tend to mistakenly shy away from yoga, as they think they need to be flexible in order to do it!

Yoga is the perfect way to stretch all of the muscle groups. It also improves your overall flexibility and posture. It’s a well-known fact that yoga can be effective for those people suffering from stress and anxiety, as yoga helps you focus and calm your mind – this is why it’s also great for your concentration too.

General tips before you get started

If you’ve read about the benefits of yoga and want to use it to improve your flexibility, make sure you follow these simple tips:

Tip #1: Use it daily

As with anything, you want to make it a habitual thing. In order to get the very best out of yoga, look to implement some (or all) of these poses on a daily basis.

Tip #2: Hold each pose

The idea behind yoga isn’t to rush through the poses as fast as you can – take the time to get maximum benefit from each of the poses. Hold yourself in each position for at least 5 – 10 steady, even breaths. If you can hold each pose for several minutes, that’s even better.

Tip #3: Be patient with yourself

As with any form of exercise, it takes time to see results. Be patient and gentle with yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard, too fast, otherwise you’ll end up giving up, before you’ve started to see any of the benefits.

If you’ve never exercised before or have any concerns about your health, make sure you consult your local GP, before you start any new form of exercise.

Yoga poses for flexibility

There are masses of great yoga poses to help you improve your flexibility. Take a look at this list and look to add them into your daily yoga routine!

  • Downward dog pose
  • Child pose
  • Chair pose
  • Tree pose
  • Plank pose
  • Bridge pose
  • Locust pose
  • Warrior poses – particularly Warrior 2
  • Triangle pose
  • Eagle pose
  • Forward bend
  • Straddle pose
  • Mountain pose
  • Legs-up-the-wall pose
  • Wide legged standing and forward bend pose

Remember to cool down at the end of your yoga session. The Shavasana pose is a perfect one to use at the end of your yoga workout, when you’re ready to cool down and relax. As with all yoga poses, it can look deceptively simple, but it will be creating a benefit to your overall health and wellbeing.

For more Yoga info, visit us at http://thejoyscientist.co.uk/index.php/ways-to-feel-great/dru-yoga

Image courtesy of wavebreak media micro/Dollar Photo Club

Journaling – welcome to a happier you!

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Tuesday, 02 February 2016
Written by Sarah PJ White

Journaling is often seen as simply writing down what you’ve achieved or seen throughout your day. But, if it’s done right, it’s so much more than a summary of your day – journaling can help you come to terms with events and situations in your life, to get clarity and to clear negative, stuck emotions – leading to a happier, more positive you!

What does journaling do for you?

The act of writing uses the left side, or analytical and rational part, of your brain. This leaves the right, creative, intuitive and emotional side, to do what it does best – create, make links and unravel emotions. This makes journaling the perfect way to increase these right-side traits.

Journaling therefore helps you to clear any mental blocks you have, around events and situations you have been in, whilst also freeing blocks in your creativity and intuition.

The importance of clearing thoughts and emotions

Journaling helps you make sense of the thoughts in your head. It unravels them and enables you to better understand the attached feelings and emotions you have linked to them.

Bottled up emotions are never a good idea, but we are notoriously bad at letting them out. Writing enables you to gently take the lid off them, to clarify what those emotions are and to acknowledge and let them go in a safe, constructive way. This will help you feel calmer, more centred and less stressed.

Defuse and resolve

If you’re currently experiencing a disagreement with someone or have a problem you want to solve, journaling can help. As mentioned earlier, it frees the right-side of your brain – and this is the side that can work through problems and possibly come up with a solution. It also helps you to understand the other side of the argument, potentially defusing those disagreements and arguments.

So how do you correctly use a journal?

When it comes to writing in your journal, you need to be honest with yourself – and be prepared to dig deep. You could skim over your day’s events, but you won’t reap the benefits. Don’t be afraid to write about your feelings, thoughts and moods.

Set aside 5-10 minutes each morning to write in your journal – either first thing in the morning or last thing at night.

Don’t censor your writing. Write quickly and don’t edit it as you along – just go for fast and forget about spelling and punctuation.

Finally, remember there are no rules! You could pick a theme for the day (such as anger or emotion) or just go with the flow – there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way – just get it down on paper.

Image © Alexandra Thompson/Dollar Photo Club