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Stress Management And Future Uncertainty: The Stress-Less Game Plan

TSA Footballer Soccer Cartoon Stress Management

Who Knows What the Future May Bring?

It’s an exciting thought, but also the source of much stress for many people. We live in an age of opportunity. And, although the socio-economic status of our readers varies greatly, you have internet access, so you’re already at a huge advantage! Vast opportunity is generally seen as being positive, although it can bring with it a degree of uncertainty. Who knows where you’ll end up in 10 years time? What if you haven’t progressed? What if you pursue the wrong opportunity, and it was all for nothing???

Put Your Stress to Rest… But not all of it.

A degree of stress can motivate us towards achieving our goals. It’s normal, and necessary. But if we succumb to it, then it can hinder our ability to capitalise on opportunities when they present. The ability to think clearly in stressful situations, comes from a general understanding of the internal (or micro) and external (macro) environment (a business analogy, where YOU are the organisation). The internal environment includes the things we can control, whereas the external environment covers the things we can’t control. Stress that stems directly from the external environment is generally unnecessary. This will only slow you down. Although it is good to be aware of external environmental factors, so that you can adapt accordingly. Your ability to adapt, refers to how well you manage your internal environment. These are the issues that you have the ability to change. So, exercise your control.

Exercising Your Control.

If there is an issue in the external environment causing you stress, consider what changes you can make internally to better cope with this issue. This is the process of exercising control, or explained simply, putting yourself in the driver’s seat. Lets use this theory in an example. Perhaps your employer has increased your hours, without a pay rise. Definitely a stressful situation. Whilst you can’t decide on your own pay increase, you can control your response. So lets focus on this. Perhaps you (diplomatically) express your disenchantment to your employer. You negotiate, however an agreement is not reached. You could strike, you could wait, you could find a new job. But, you can’t increase your own pay (external environment). Of course, you could take control of your own pay, by starting your own business. A difficult and extreme solution to the original issue, yes. But still within your control (internal environment). The lesson here, is that there is always a course of action that you can take within your internal environment, to influence the external environment.

The Stress of Uncertainty, and Taking Your Opportunities.

It’s easy to get caught up in the stress that is presented by the uncertainty of one’s future. For a student, the question might be “what career will I choose to work in for the rest of my life?”. A scary thought indeed. But the reality is that you don’t have to get it right the first go. Whats more important is your ability to recognise a worthwhile opportunity when it presents itself. Sometimes, you won’t know whether or not it is worthwhile until you give it a try. Whatever doesn’t work out, will serve as a valuable experience for the next opportunity. There is a very solid lesson here also, and that is that opportunity breeds opportunity. That’s not a typo, every opportunity that you engage will present another opportunity. Somewhere, somehow… You just need to be looking for it. It might present as a valuable lesson. Or perhaps be the refinement of your goals. Maybe it’s the career opportunity you’ve been searching so hard for. Eventually, all of these opportunities will lead to something special. Not taking your opportunities, is the only mistake that won’t teach you a lesson.

The Stress-Less Game Plan.

Lets outline what a stress management plan might look like if it were a game of football. At the end of the day, life is but a game. Success and stress go hand in hand. So tag it out of the game early, and reduce it’s negative impact on your life. Remember, there is no ‘I’ in team. The entire field must work together if you (the coach) ever expect to hold the premiership cup.

Offense

The best form of defense is offense! In other words, be proactive. Don’t wait for your stress to mount. By developing a firm understanding of the internal and external environment (what you can control vs what you can’t control) you’ll be well equipped to deal with stress when it does start to impact your game. So, critically analyse your environment, and sort the internal from the external. Beat stress before it makes it’s way into the back half!

Defense

In a football match, there are ebbs and flows. The ball simply cannot stay in your forward half forever. The same can be said of life. So, when stress does get on top, you need to exercise your control, and fight back. Put the external environment aside. Focus on what you can control. Make a positive impact by actioning the areas that can influence the external environment. Send a nice clearing ball into the forward half…

Midfield

Always involved in the play, this line represents the resilience, determination and accountability that will get you through the hard times. The midfield must help out the defense when they are under attack. They also have to create the zone, to make sure the ball doesn’t easily find it’s way out of the offensive half. This is an attitude towards life. A midfielder’s job is never done…

Final Note

The undertone of most of our articles is ‘accountability’. It’s all about self-help, in the direction of self-improvement. Back yourself, it’s never over until you say it’s over. Don’t yield to stress, follow the steps to manage it better, and allow yourself the opportunity to take your opportunities. Thanks again for reading, feel free to leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Financial Stress: 6 Simple Management Strategies.

Monopoly financial stress

The Pressure of Financial Stress.

Pressure and stress can be factors that motivate us to work hard. But, if they’re not properly managed, they can hinder our ability to perform at a high level. Not only can this make it more difficult to appropriately manage our finances, but it can also be the cause of many stress-related health issues. There are a few simple ways that we can better manage financial stress, starting by simply taking a seat, and pulling out a pad and pen… Budgeting is the most obvious strategy, and we’ll discuss that in more depth later. However, one strategy that is often over looked by many people who suffer from financial stress and pressure, is the insatiable desire to compete with their neighbour. That’s why we’ve included this strategy at the top of our list:

6 Simple Management Strategies for Financial Stress

1. Ignore the Competition

Monopoly. Dubbed ‘The Game of Life’. Sadly, it’s a truth that is all too real. Many of us lose track of why we set out to earn in the first place, and tend to measure our financial achievements against those of our friends and family. Do you live to work, or work to live? What are your priorities? Before you start looking at how you will spend your money, or how you can save more money, you need to consider the why. You may not need all of the lovely expensive things that your wealthy friends have. Don’t put yourself under severe financial stress, and over-extend so that you can achieve somebody else’s financial goals. So, before engaging the following 5 strategies, put the competition aside, and focus on what suits your lifestyle. 

2. Set Financial Goals

Goals provide us with the direction and motivation needed to succeed. Of course, it does take a little more than simply setting goals in order to succeed (mental toughness for one). But it certainly is a great place to start. Set a long-term goal, and then a series of short-term goals that will act as ‘stepping stones’ towards achieving that long-term goal. To break it down further, you can brainstorm some daily, and weekly activities that will help you in reaching each goal you set. For example, if your long-term financial goal is to purchase your first home in 2 years, a short-term goal might be to save $10,000 in six months. Your daily/weekly activities might be cooking everyday, instead of eating out, or counting and reviewing your expenditure every week. 

3. Create a Budget

The absolute staple of every financial planning/management article you’ll ever read. Budgeting is important, as it helps you to set realistic financial goals. It’s also a great way to consider how your finances can best serve your lifestyle/priorities. Using the example above, perhaps purchasing a home in 2 years is a goal for you, although you are unwilling to sacrifice regular brunch dates. Thats fine, if thats what fulfils you, although you may need to reconsider the time frame you’ve set to purchase your first home. Depending on your circumstances, you might like to use a budgeting template, or just create a very simple one yourself. Make sure you track your in-goings and outgoings, and ensure that you have a realistic savings goal so that you always put money aside. 

4. Enjoy Without Spending

The advertising industry has you convinced that you can’t have fun without spending money. It’s a lie, but for some reason, we all believe it. Usually, the lies we believe are the ones that are convenient for us to believe… But this lie is extremely inconvenient! So, instead of subscribing to this common misconception, find something fulfilling that you can without spending money. Can you converse with your friend whilst walking in the park and eating a banana, instead of sitting in at a cafe and eating poached eggs with avocado? Probably. We won’t ramble on any longer about all of the great things you can do for free, but to immediately relieve some of that financial stress, go and find something!

5. Live Within Your Means

Living to excess in any facet of life can be dangerous, and a major contributing factor to financial stress is excessive spending. Credit card debt, personal loans, and crippling mortgages won’t make life any easier. Each of these examples of over-spending are usually quite avoidable, simply by exercising some restraint. Once you’ve sat down and budgeted, you’ll have a better idea of what you can and can’t do financially. Your goal will one day be to make a significant outlay in order to satisfy a ‘want’, and that’s fine. But excessive spending in the mean time will not help you to get there any faster. So, be smart, and be disciplined. It will pay off. 

6. Consider New Opportunities

This is a step that might not suit everyone, but it can’t hurt to add it in. Opportunities for new revenue streams are a click away these days… I mean hey, you could start a blog! If it’s something you are passionate about, it might also double as your new ‘free’ hobby. You could be creating a new opportunity to earn, and saving yourself money at the same time. Of course, there are a multitude of opportunities out there for those who are actively seeking them. If supplementing your income is something you’ve always been interested in, why not do a bit of research? But don’t wait until tomorrow, it may never come… 

Final note…

Financial stress is bound to strike at some stage, so be proactive in your approach to stress management. Check out our previous article about managing stress, and get across ‘The Stress-Less Game Plan’. As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

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Get Physical With Mental Illness: 5 Mental Toughness Tips

Get Physical with Mental Illness

Mental Illness and Over-Diagnosis.

If you didn’t read our previous article about depression and over-diagnosis, then you may not be aware of the growing epidemic in current psychiatric fads, and the damaging effects they can have on our society. In this article, we will explore the link between mental illness and physical health, and how we can improve both by taking full responsibility for our own wellbeing. In particular, we’ll focus on how exercise and mental toughness can improve our mental health.

Mental and Physical Health are Interdependent.

We rely so heavily on our minds, that we often forget to pay attention to what our bodies need. The stress of ordinary life can distract us from some of the most basic tools we have to combat mental illness – exercise and a healthy diet. Neglecting these basic tools only increases one’s level of unhappiness, leaving us in a state of poor mental and physical health. However, when we do engage in regular exercise (even when we don’t want to) and eat properly (even though doughnuts), studies have indicated that symptoms of anxiety and depression can decrease greatly. The issue remains, that in a society filled with band-aid solutions it can sometimes be tempting to seek out an easier alternative. So, the need to recognise and accept that there is NO ALTERNATIVE for regular, sustainable exercise and a healthy diet is imperative.

Exercise Can Build Confidence and Self-Esteem.

This can have an enormous impact on our overall mental health. These two attributes shouldn’t be solely based on our perceived level of physical attractiveness, but rather on our physical and mental ability. We are all born with a predisposition for various strengths/weaknesses, but much of our mental/physical capabilities can be developed. If we are to be resilient in the fight against mental illness, then we should be building our resilience through exercise too. But what does this mean exactly? Well, exercise presents challenges both physical and mental. Overcoming the physical challenges, is largely attributed to our ability to ‘push ourselves’, which could also be defined as the mental challenges of exercise. The ability to push ourselves encourages the development of ‘mental toughness’. This gives athletes a competitive edge in the sporting arena, but also the confidence to face the challenges presented in their personal lives too. This principle is not exclusive to elite athletes, but rather for anyone willing to learn.

How Can I Be Mentally Tough?

The road to becoming mentally tough is a long and arduous one. In fact, the thought alone will scare most people away. That’s why so many of us are stuck in a loop, looking for the shortcut that isn’t there. So once you have accepted the fact that there is no alternative for hard work, what follows? Being mentally tough is quite an abstract concept. You can be mentally tough during stressful situations, and you be mentally tough when your body is under extreme exertion. However you look at it, your mental toughness is generally in response to performing a physical action. This being the case, let’s explore how we can develop strength of mind through regular, challenging exercise, which can then be applied to situations of mental stress too.

1. Start Exercising.

Regardless of your physical capability and level of experience, you can still challenge yourself with exercise. Everyone has to start somewhere, and the only way to understand what you are truly capable of is to get into it. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, its a good idea to chat with your doctor to understand limitations and precautions.

2. Find Your Mode of Exercise.

Mental illness presents in many forms. In the case of depression and anxiety, exercise is thought to prevent the onset, and possibly even treat symptoms. If you are new to exercise, or just getting back into it, there are an abundance of resources online to get you started. Perhaps you’re interested in functional training programs? Or yoga? Or martial arts? It’s also a great idea to engage in group training sessions, to ensure you are performing exercises correctly. Watching other people push themselves might also encourage you to do the same.

3. Find an Activity You Enjoy.

This is an important one, but it may take some time. As you become more active and aware of your capabilities, you can begin to explore some physical activities that interest you. This is a great way to motivate yourself during training, as it gives purpose to your blood, sweat and tears. When the reason for your physical exertion makes sense to you, it will be far easier to block out the voice in your head that is telling you to stop.

4. Set Yourself a Physical Goal.

This goal might relate to your new-found passion. Or perhaps reconnect you with an old one? Either way, goal setting is a great way to stay motivated. But don’t chase the horizon… Set realistic short-term goals. As you achieve these goals, you’ll begin to recognise the value of your hard work. These short-term goals will be the road to attaining your long-term goal. Keep your goals in the forefront of your mind as you continue to push yourself, both mentally and physically.

5. Positive Self-Talk.

Don’t beat yourself up! When your mind tells you that you can’t do it, shift from this negativity and fight back with positive self-talk. This should be practiced consistently, in order to remodel your self-talk strategy from negative to positive. You may lapse from time to time, but that will only highlight the effectiveness of your positivity. Next time you’re in the dirt, let it be you who picks you back up.

Final Note

Reading and writing about mental toughness is easy. It will be much harder in practice, but don’t let that get you down… All good things take time, so allow yourself some! As always, thanks for reading our article. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Depression: Over-Diagnosis And Management Strategies

The Short Advice Depression Post

Depression and Over-Diagnosis

Depression, along with other mental illnesses like ADD, has been in the media spotlight for some time. According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression, although some experts consider many of these diagnoses to be somewhat inflated. Allen Frances MD states that over-diagnosis of mental illness is making normality an ‘endangered species’, and threatens to increase the already alarming percentage of the population diagnosed as having a mental illness. So, with diagnostic inflation in mind, how can an individual presenting symptoms of depression know for sure whether they are diagnosable, or are simply facing the inevitable challenges of everyday life?

The Dangers of Self-Diagnosis

The internet can be a wonderful place. After all, it did bring you The Short Advice… There are a plethora of helpful resources online that offer support for various conditions, and can assist in making a diagnosis for mental illness. Whilst finding advice online isn’t totally unadvisable, it’s generally a good idea to confer with an expert before concluding that you have a medical condition. As stated above, over-diagnosis is currently considered an ‘epidemic’ by some medical professionals, and self-diagnosis has been highlighted as a contributing factor. So lets say you’ve done some online research, and decide to pay a visit to a psychiatrist. They tell you that, based on your symptoms and behaviours, you likely have depression. Let’s not forget now, that over-diagnosis by medical professionals has also been cited as a contributing factor to the epidemic… So who do we trust? Well, that’s a difficult question, and unfortunately there is no answer. Although, if you do agree that over-diagnosis is real, then anybody diagnosed should not rule out the possibility that perhaps their diagnosis is a stretch.

Depression vs Ordinary Life

So perhaps you are exhibiting some common symptoms of depression. It can be difficult not to be caught up in the hype of psychiatric fads. Yes, it is a mental illness. But, with the over-diagnosis of depression, it could also be considered a fad. Sometimes, trusting a diagnosis as widely-accepted and de-stigmatised as depression, is an easy way to explain, label and justify one’s suffering. Of course, de-stigmitisation is largely viewed as a positive outcome for patients. But it might also encourage others to buy into what is already an epidemic of over-diagnosis. So before you choose to medicate, take the time to engage in some critical self-reflection – at least make the pharmaceutical companies sweat a little… Lets start with 5 simple questions:

  1. Can you identify what exactly is causing you to feel depressed? i.e. Work pressures, bereavement, relationship woes, uncertainty about the future.
  2. When did you begin to feel depressed? (This might help to answer question 1)
  3. What (if any) changes were present in your life when these feelings began?
  4. What changes has your mood/current mental state caused in your life?
  5. Have you taken any steps to improve your situation? What are they?

Making Sense of Our Emotions

Hopefully you’ve been able to pinpoint some of the events in your life that have caused you to feel depressed. In this case, we are using the word ‘depressed’ as a temporary emotional state, rather than an illness. If we allow these issues to go unaddressed, what should be a temporary feeling of depression could turn into something far-less temporary. When we don’t properly deal with our emotions, and allow ourselves to fall into a ‘rut’, we get a snow-ball effect of poor decisions. These decisions only contribute to an elongated period of feeling depressed. And so, the hole gets deeper. A more effective management plan would be to address our emotions as they arise. Consider why you are suddenly feeling depressed. Is it an abstract concept, like fear of the unknown? Or perhaps something more concrete, like a fight with a loved one? Understand when you feel this way, and note other times you have felt the same.

Management Strategies for Building Resilience

Whatever the reason for your negative emotions, you need to develop strategies to counter this. It’s all part of ‘earning happiness‘, and developing resilience. If we immediately succumb to the challenges that are posed by ordinary life, and choose first to seek a diagnosis, it is almost as though we are ducking responsibility for our own emotions. So, the first and most important step is to:

1. Take accountability for your situation, and the improvement thereof.

Now you can start taking positive action to combat your negative emotions. It’s normal to feel depressed from time to time. We can’t always be happy. But falling too deep into self-pity is a trap that almost everyone can relate to. So feel sad, and pay heed to the negative experience. Understand the cause, and consider how you can minimise the effect of this should it happen again. This is a necessary process that helps us better manage our emotions the next time round. But, after you’ve focused on yourself, and improving your situation, the next step is to remind yourself how valuable you are. The best way to pull yourself out from under the blanket of self-pity is to:

2. Do something meaningful for somebody else.

Perhaps a family member, or friend, or maybe even a stranger. Helping others can be a humbling experience, that takes our mind away from our own problems. It is of mutual benefit for both the person helping, and the person in need of assistance. You might even be able to relate to some of the challenges that others are facing, and find that those challenges are indeed a part of ordinary life. Through helping others, you might also be helping yourself to find solutions to your own problems. Our third and final step for today’s article is an important one, which focuses on resilience:

3. Embrace the challenge.

Nothing worth doing is ever going to be easy. Accept the reality that you will not immediately find your happiness again overnight. You will have ups and downs, but the quest for happiness presents amazing opportunities to explore new avenues towards achieving a better balance. Your experiences, both positive and negative will continue to shape you, and your response to such experiences will define you. If you have experienced immense sadness, then moments of euphoric happiness await if you choose to work towards them.

Final Note

Diagnosing clinical depression is difficult. There is no blood test or scan that can give conclusive evidence. Whilst there are many legitimate cases, there are also illegitimate ones. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should consider engaging in professional consultation (counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist, GP). However, never waive the responsibility that you have over your own wellbeing. If you have been diagnosed, it may be worth seeking multiple opinions, or simply engaging in a management plan (developed by yourself and/or a professional), rather than medicating. The choice to medicate/accept diagnosis must be your own.

As always, thanks for reading and we’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

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Decision-Making Skills: Influential Factors And The 5 Decision-Making Markers

Decision Making Skills The Short Advice

What Influences Our Decisions?

Your entire life you have been influenced by your environment, circumstances and the people surrounding you. Your genetics may have pre-disposed you to developing particular traits and tendencies, but ultimately, your personality, views and opinions have been moulded by that place you call ‘home’. Each decision you make is influenced by these factors. Consider how damaging this could be for someone who has been placed in a negative environment. The main factors influencing their behaviour and ideals may be particularly misleading. The further ingrained these ideals become, the less likely they are to change. That is why it is important to consider how we have been influenced over the course of our lives, and by whom/what. Arguably, the strongest influence in the life of a developing young mind is our parents.

BREAKING: Your Parents Are Not Always Right.

What we want for our lives might be significantly different to our parents’ expectations. So, we begin to question things that they’ve had us believe, and attempt to recount influential childhood moments. This is all part of developing our independence, and a sense of self-worth. It doesn’t mean that your parents are wrong as such, nor does it mean that they have tried to mislead you. But much like yourself, your parents are not perfect. Maybe it’s time to consider if some of the opinions/views that you’ve adopted from your parents are right for you? We’re not saying you should trash every piece of advice they’ve ever offered. We’re just saying that they’re not the masters and commanders of the universe. So as with any advice you are given, you should consider whether or not it is right for you. Ultimately, each decision you make should be your own.

Take Control of Your Decisions.

You won’t always make the right decision. That’s okay. Accept your mistakes and learn from them. You are responsible for your failures, as much as you are for your successes. You cannot have one without the other. This is how you will navigate your own experiences, and re-program the way that you develop your views and opinions. For example, perhaps you’ve acted in a manner that you have been taught to act in, with a negative result. This negative result might encourage you to reconsider that behaviour, or perhaps change your point of view. Through this process, we develop independent thought, that can often challenge the influential factors of our past. The next decision you make will be better informed. Not only will it be based on a lifetime of various influences, but also on your own personal experience. This should be a regular process of endless refinement.

The Independent Thinker.

You’ve begun the process of deconstructing your ideas and past decisions. Some are relevant, and everlasting. Maybe some are outdated? Others might be plainly wrong. This is a constructive process that further develops your sense of self, and ability to be an independent thinker. You will still be influenced by your environment, and the opinions of people you respect. That is totally fine. In fact, it is a good thing. But rather than simply believing/adopting these opinions, you now have your own process of weighing each thought against the values and principles that you’ve developed over time. These values and principles can then be applied each time you are faced with making an important decision.

The 5 Decision-Making Markers.

It sounds simple, although in reality, most of us will be faced with a multitude of difficult decisions in our lifetime. So, lets summarise some important elements in the process of making sound-decisions:

1. List the Pro’s and Con’s.

Take your time (where possible) and consider the various outcomes of each decision. What are the possible positive and negative impacts?

2. Apply Your Values and Principles.

A principle should be black and white, and unwavering. Your decisions should not compromise them. Apply your values and principles to every decision you make. Ask yourself, “is it the right thing to do?”

3. Commit to Your Decisions.

Once you’ve made up your mind, trust your good judgement and see your decision through. You won’t always get it right, but that’s okay – keep reading!

4. Manage the Outcomes.

Prepare for the various outcomes of your decision, and manage these accordingly. If you make mistakes, understand why, and learn from them. If you’ve reached a positive outcome, you can apply this to future decisions too.

5. Review the Process.

Re-evaluate the values and principles by which you measure your decisions. Do these need adjusting? Is there a principle that you have overlooked that might be contributing to a pattern of poor decisions? What factors motivate your decisions? Reflect on the process and refine where necessary.

Again, even following the above thought process, you may not always make the correct decision. Whatever situation you find yourself in, trust the process. If you are unhappy with your decision making process, you may need to refine some of the above elements. Reassessing the values and principles against which you are measuring your decisions is a great place to start. Perhaps you skipped some important steps in the process? Be less certain when approaching important decisions.

Final note…

Like any area of self-improvement, developing sound decision-making skills will be an ongoing process. Mistakes provide us with valuable opportunities to learn and re-evaluate. Our successes provide a benchmark on which to weigh our next decision. If you have any questions or comments, about this post we’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading!

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Change Dynamics: Creating Sustainable Change

Change dynamics

Firstly, don’t change for anyone else.

Change must come from within. Sure, someone or something might prompt you to make a change, but unless you truly believe that there is need for change then it won’t be sustainable. Perhaps someone you care about is particularly disenchanted with something you’ve said or done. Maybe they have highlighted this as being a recurring issue that you need to address. If this encourages you to reflect on your behaviour, and you conclude that there is indeed need for change, great. But ultimately, it must be your decision. Just remember, you may not be the only one that stands to gain from your positive change. So be wary of who you allow to influence your decisions, and make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

So, you’ve established the need for change.

Good start. Critical self-reflection is indeed a sign of intelligence. And as a contrast, one of the biggest cop-outs is “everyone should love me for me!”. Well, that may be true in many cases, but not if you’re a selfish, nasty individual. So anyway, you’ve highlighted an area of your life that you believe could use some improving. Is it an area that you have direct control over? Hopefully. Relying on other people’s change in order for yours to be successful is not a wise move. This should be a consideration before you embark on your important and life-changing journey. Okay, you’ve established that your change is necessary and in your direct control. Now you need to develop a course of action that will help guide your change.

What does your area of change physically look like?

That is to say, what actions are you trying to change? Your area of change will likely relate to a particular pattern of behaviour, so you need to understand specifically what actions you need to change. You should also consider the situations in which you are likely to perform these actions, so that you can be aware of when these negative behaviours are most likely to strike. Once you’ve considered that, you then need to consider those actions that will embody your new and positive change. Consider why these actions are important to your overall success, and the resulting positivity that will come of them. Now all you need to do (in a nutshell) is sub-out the bad actions for the good ones…

Is sustainable change really that simple?

You probably already know the answer to that question, so we won’t patronise you by saying ‘no’. In our article about laziness, we noted that creating a new habit can take some time. Changing or breaking a pattern of behaviour can also be challenging, and won’t happen overnight. It will take hours of critical self-reflection, and possibly some foreign and uncomfortable situations. Whilst we are speaking quite broadly, these feelings of discomfort/uncertainty are generally a pretty good sign that you’re on the right track. After all, it can be quite confronting to reflect on a situation from your past and realise just how far you once were from the person that you are trying to become. There may even be times when you once again find yourself making the same poor choices that you have been consciously trying to avoid. Absorb the negative emotions that come with this, and accept the consequences. Remember the disappointment and use it to motivate you. There is an element of trial and error in most things we do in life. So, do not judge yourself on your mistakes, but rather on the way in which you respond.

Accepting past mistakes (and their consequences).

Again, our mistakes do not have to define us. But whilst you’ve been on your journey towards enlightenment (good for you), your mistakes of the past have not been erased. Nor will they. Ever. Whilst it would certainly be convenient to simply say ‘I’ve changed, therefore I should not face consequences’, it may not seem particularly fair to the person/persons that you once wronged. Imagine a system where inmates could be paroled on account of their personal belief that they had changed (Australia circa 2050 if our justice system continues to head in the current direction). If you are truly committed to positive and sustainable change, you need to understand the following dynamics of control: The control that you have over your actions, and the control that you do not have over the consequences of your actions. Take responsibility for your mistakes, and rectify them/seek forgiveness where possible, but never deny them. This is an important learning mechanism that can be a major driver for sustainable change.

A final thought…

Be the change that you want to see in society. Lead from the front, and don’t be afraid to stand up for what you know to be right and true. Absorb the negative emotions that come with each of your inevitable failures. This must happen before you can experience true success, just ask MJ. Have the strength to be accountable for your actions, and remember that it is okay to adjust your behaviour and your views, as you learn more about the world and your environment. And, whilst you embark on your journey of change, your idea of what success looks like might also change too. Finally, you will make mistakes, so pride yourself on how you respond to them.

Thank-you again for reading! We really hope that some of today’s post was of benefit to you. Perhaps you’d like to leave us a comment below? Until next time…

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How To Live A Happy Life Starting Today

Being happy

Is being happy a basic human right?

No. Although, it would be fantastic if we were all inherently happy by nature, and could live happily ever after in our pineapples under the sea. But unfortunately (and fortunately) happiness is something to be earned, much like anything worth having. So where does the ‘fortunately’ part come into it? Good question. We are fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to earn our happiness. Some people have greater opportunity to achieve a state of relatively steady happiness, whereas others may have to work much harder to find this…

So, how do I find my happiness?

Another great question. It is easy to dwell on the aspects of your life that you may deem to be unfair. It is also easy to consider the trials and tribulations you’ve had to face as a result of being born in the time, place and environment that you have found yourself in. Naturally, we tend to compare our situation to that of others who are quite privileged and well-off. A much harder thing to do though, is to be grateful for the opportunities that we have been given. If you choose to focus on this, then you’ll be one step closer to earning that relatively steady happiness that we mentioned earlier.

Okay, so to be happy, I need to be grateful… Then what?

When we choose to focus on the opportunities that are accessible to us, we begin to realise just how vast the possibilities are. What is it that you want? And don’t say money. Woops, you already said money, didn’t you? Okay, let’s back track then… What is it that you need? If you’re accessing the internet to read this article, then it’s likely your primary needs as a human being have already been met. Fantastic! That is definitely something to be happy about. So now lets pretend that all you have is the bare minimum to survive. Food, water, shelter. What is the next thing that you want? (Probably some clothes) But as you start to acquire more of the things that we as human beings want, rather than need, your priorities begin to change. And so, your list of wants becomes greater… Now lets throw the internet into the mix. All of a sudden, you can Google P-Diddy’s yacht party or some exotic travel destination, or every other amazing thing in the world that you don’t have/haven’t done. What a disaster! Now you have become an absolute beast of wants with an insatiable appetite for more, and the happiness that was waiting just around the corner seems miles away. What you need readers, is a reference point to gauge your happiness. These reference points are more commonly referred to as goals.

You need to set goals and have clear priorities.

How you choose to do this is entirely up to you. You can write them down (recommended) or you can simply verbalise them. Your goals can relate to any aspect of your life, so try not to focus solely on financial goals. Perhaps friendship is an area of importance to you? Maybe you would like to spend more time with your family? These may be your priorities, and a specific goal may be to visit your grandparents every week for dinner. Our relationships with those we love are a good place to start. This is something we have direct access to, to make a positive impact right away. The next step is to separate your goals into two categories; short and long term. For example, if your goal is to be a rockstar, then you might be sorely disappointed at the end of the year, when you are still blogging about rockstars in your parents’ basement (we do not blog in anyone’s parents’ basement). So instead, it is a good idea to have smaller goals like ‘become proficient on the guitar‘. Now you have the ‘what‘, so all you need is the ‘how‘. Using our guitar proficiency as an example goal again, we might break it down into tasks like ‘learn the major scale‘ and ‘practice fingering exercises‘. These tasks are realistic, yet challenging. They will provide the motivation needed to progress towards the ultimate goal of becoming a rockstar.

When should I begin my quest for happiness?

Today! Happiness is waiting just around the corner for those who choose to get out there and earn it. That is to say, happiness is a choice. Your friends will probably tell you that you deserve to be happy, and you might want to believe them. But if you’re not willing to take action, despite the vast opportunities that you have been gifted, do you really deserve to be happy? Don’t answer that question. Instead, start building your happiness now, brick by brick…

As always, thanks for reading. If you have any comments about this article, we’d love to hear your say in the comments section below.

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Building Resilience in Children: 5 Strategies

Building Resilience in Children The Short Advice

What is Resilience?

Resilience is the ability to find solutions in difficult situations. It can help us to manage stress, deal with change, and work through the harsh realities that life sometimes presents. Building resilience in children is about creating a culture and environment that supports them towards supporting themselves. Creating strong and independent thinkers might even help to reduce the over-diagnosis of mental health conditions, and over-prescribing of potentially damaging/addictive anti-depressants. In the current state of mental health awareness, never has there been a better time to promote the development of resilience in children, in order to support good mental heath in the years to come.

Building Resilience in Children

The 5 strategies for building resilience in children listed below describe some of the ways to improve a child’s ability to manage their emotions, difficult circumstances and challenges they may face. Other strategies for building resilience and self-confidence from a military perspective are listed here in a previous article, which may also be relevant.

1. Encourage Physical Activity

Exercise is an obvious place to begin building resilience/mental toughness in children as it can force individuals to operate, and pursue success, outside of their comfort zone. Physical activity provides challenges that can be equally as (if not more) mentally demanding as they are physically. This crossover between competitive sport and real life challenges can be seen as a valuable tool in the development of resilience. Challenges presented in sport can instil values of hard work and courage, encouraging individuals to overcome positions of (relative) adversity. The analogy that this provides for everyday life and it’s many trials and tribulations is invaluable. In this environment, children can learn to appreciate the value of their own hard work, and their ability to succeed if they are persistent in their approach.

2. Breed Independence

Decision-making, independent thought, critical thinking. All things that should be encouraged when building resilience in children. The ability to problem-solve can be a pre-determining factor of resilience, highlighting the importance of independence. Adults can assist the development of such independence in children by allowing the freedom of trial and error. As adults, we need not solve all of our children’s problems immediately, but rather let them solve them on their own where possible. It also helps to positively reinforce these problem-solving skills by giving praise, highlighting the effective skills that the child has demonstrated. In short, let kids make mistakes (within reason). AND let kids solve the problems arising from their mistakes. The perfect segue for our next point…

3. Teach Accountability

Accountability is pivotal to a resilient mindset. If you are in some way responsible for your decisions, responses and circumstances, than you have the power to change them. On the contrary, if you are led to believe that these things are out of your control, then resilience goes out the window along with accountability. You are powerless, and can only hope for your problems to disappear… Teaching young people to own both their successes and their failures is an important step towards building resilience in children. You did it, now you fix it. If you can’t fix it, you can seek assistance to help fix it. But what you don’t do, is give up and wait for a solution to appear. Mistakes have consequences, the same way inaction has consequences.

4. Talk About the Tough Things

This doesn’t mean that you need to sit your 6 year old down and tell them that you’re going to die one day, just like grandma did. However, there will be times throughout a child’s life when they are faced with some of the more harsh realities of life. It is important that adults help children to make sense of these difficult concepts, like death and dealing with loss, rather than avoiding them. But it’s not just life and death, its everything in between too. Whether you like it or not, children will be competing for jobs, partners, houses and all the rest. And nobody said it better than Mick Jagger… “You can’t always get what you want”. A concept that the toddlers of the world are currently struggling to understand. Stand your ground, parent!

5. Lead by Example

One of the most important considerations of a positive culture and environment is leadership. If you are able to demonstrate the above attributes, than the children who look up to you have a better chance of doing the same. Resilience is the product of many positive attributes. It’s more complicated than it seems, and so developing it takes many experiences and years of good practice. The understanding is developed over time, and solidified by the continued displays of resilience exemplified by the actions of a great leader. Before we begin building resilience in our children, we must first develop it ourselves.

Final Note

Nothing happens overnight. Building resilience in children is something that should be practiced throughout childhood, and hopefully adopted by the child as they transition into adulthood. Creating an environment for your child that is conducive of a resilient mindset is the first step towards fostering a generation of independent and empowered problem-solvers. Be sure to head over to our article on expert fatherhood tips as well, for more info on the importance of parental leadership. Thanks for reading!

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Laziness: How To Overcome It In 4 Simple Steps.

Laziness: How To Overcome It In 4 Simple Steps.

“But exercise is hard!

It’s not laziness, it’s because I have a job… I have friends and a family and a partner – I’m too busy. How will I find the time to take care of myself? And what about all those delicious things that I love to eat? And all of those really easy things that I love to do?”

It’s true, it is easy to do easy things.

But they’re often the things we need to do less of. But why should we stop doing these easy things if they make us happy? Because they deliver short term happiness. Quite often, these easy things can simply be a form of escapism, helping us to avoid our responsibilities. It’s unsustainable, and will not bring you long-term happiness.

To give you the short story…

People are lazy because it is easy to be lazy. If fit, healthy and respected were the steamed broccoli, then laziness is the chocolate bar. We all WANT to eat the chocolate bar, but the broccoli is what we truly NEED. There is no shortcut, you can’t take a pill to fix the problem. So now, let’s have a look at our 4 simple steps to defeat laziness…

The 4 Simple Steps to Overcome Laziness

1. Identify Areas to Change

Be honest with yourself. You know the ways in which you can be lazy. List these bad habits, and short-term plays for happiness. Then, set yourself some goals, some things you would like to achieve, or simply ‘get done’. As with any process of change, the first move is to identify where we have gone wrong, and accept that there is need for change. If you are not willing to commit to the idea, your change will be unsustainable and simply will not work.

2. Create Good Habits

We are creatures of habit. Now that you have identified areas to improve, you need to implement a plan to kick these bad habits, and exchange them for positive ones. Maybe you sit on the couch every night watching reality tv and eating ice cream… We’re not saying give it up for good, but exchange some of this time for a positive habit. Perhaps some exercise? Schedule this into your week, as a way of countering your bad habit. Do this for each short-term play for happiness that you have listed above… Maybe you could learn a language? Clean your apartment? Visit your grandparents? Sometimes the things that seem the most tiresome and difficult are things worth doing (We didn’t mean it like that, grandparents). But don’t give up after a few days, studies suggest making/breaking a habit takes approximately 66 days.

3. Don’t excuse yourself

You will be too tired. You will be too busy. You will be any number of things that will stop you from engaging in your new good habits and leaving your negative ones behind. Simply being aware of these excuses will help you recognise when you are falling into old habits of laziness. So now that you are aware, the next time you hear yourself excuse your laziness, push yourself (see mental toughness) in the right direction, rather than giving in to the easy option. It sounds simple enough, but thats not always the case. This means the level of satisfaction you will get when you are strong enough to challenge yourself will be even greater.

4. Evaluate and Refine

Success will look different for everyone. Measuring your success will depend on your initial reflection, and goals that you set for yourself. An evaluation of your success means an honest reflection of how you have been working towards these goals, and how well you have been able to commit to the action of breaking your bad habits, and forming new ones. This step should be happening throughout the process of change, with constant evaluation. It’s also good to formally sit down after a period of time (maybe a few weeks), to note how you’re tracking. You should also take note of how your change is making you feel (better, we hope!).

Final note…

Nothing happens overnight (thanks Dad). Give it some time, you may lapse, but don’t use that as an excuse to quit. Commend yourself for each small victory, and marvel in your ability to create positive change… Also, if you feel so inclined, we’d love to hear what you think in the comments below. Thank-you, and good luck!

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How To Stop Gaming Addiction

Gaming Addiction The Short Advice

It’s 8-bit of a Problem…

According to the World Health Organisation gaming addiction, or ‘gaming disorder’, is actually a disease. Open for debate perhaps, but it’s obviously attracted the attention of a few medical professionals. Whilst it does only affect a small portion of individuals who play video games, it has raised some interesting points about gaming habits. In particular, how gaming addiction can potentially draw attention from important life experiences and responsibilities. So, whatever your game of choice, it might pay to check out some of our points below to ensure you don’t fall into the trap of gaming addiction…

… But It’s Not All Bad!

Contrary to the popular belief of an ageing population who didn’t have video games ‘back in my day…’ (- Your Grandpa), video games can have an upside. Whilst navigating your way through all of those crazy sci-fi plot lines, you can develop some valuable life skills too. One study suggests that video game players might actually make for handy unmanned aircraft operators! Provided gaming addiction is not present, could the realism of modern gaming actually be preparing gamers for real-world tasks? An interesting thought, although as it usually does, the solution often rests in the hands of our first point…

1. Aim for Balance

Gaming addiction, like any other addiction, is an imbalance. When you’re delving into a virtual reality, you’re going to be missing out on your actual reality for a period of time. But of course, one could argue the same for films, books or other leisure activities. They obviously have their benefits, but too much of anything is generally a bad idea. So enjoy your games – learn, relax, be entertained. But don’t over do it. If you serve your immediate wants too frequently, you won’t be serving anybody else’s needs, including your own. Balance is the key to achieving sustainable happiness…

2. Solo to Social

Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a binge-gamer (a level of gaming addiction). It’s easy to shut yourself off to the world and get stuck into the latest release, but try not to let it keep you from being social. So, instead of getting in front of the screen yourself, perhaps try making your gaming experiences social ones. Not just online with friends, but physically with friends. Positive relationships are a major part of being a happy and healthy individual, so perhaps gaming with real friends might be a great way to kill two birds with one stone…

3. Re-Engage

If you know you’ve been spending too much time wrapped up in an animated reality, perhaps its time to reconnect with the wonders of your own world. Challenge yourself, set goals, find something interesting and pursue it as relentlessly as you’ve pursued your animated character’s interests. It’s easy to take it all for granted and forget about some of the amazing opportunities that you’ve been gifted – the world is full of them. If you really commit to the idea, your desire to spend hours in front of a screen might start to fade as you re-engage with the real world. Gaming addiction gone.

4. Take a Break

Abstinence has been recorded as a possible effective treatment method for gaming addiction. Going cold turkey on the console for a little while might help you to realise whether or not you do have a gaming problem. This could be a good method to identify the issue, and allow you to take steps in order to combat it. Taking a break from the screen will also provide health benefits, particularly ocular ones. Eyestrain and irritation can be caused by prolonged gaming, due to a lack of blinking and harmful blue light from screens.

5. Seek Professional Advice

Gaming addiction may be a hard pill to swallow for many, but addiction is often more about the individual and their personality than the subject matter itself. Impulsivity, the need to seek the most immediate reward, has been found to be a predetermining factor of addiction in adolescents. Seeking the advice of a mental health specialist may help to shed some light on addictive patterns of behaviour in other areas of your life and help you to understand more about the decisions you make. The holistic benefits of such an experience may be invaluable to your personal development.

Final Note on Gaming Addiction

Call it what you will. Gaming addiction, laziness, impulsivity, the need for immediate reward… Whether you choose to believe it is a disorder or not, there is clearly an issue. So, if you or somebody you care about is spending too much time gaming, address it! Don’t let the virtual world develop into a real life problem. Follow some of our simple steps above, and re-engage with your fellow earthlings. Level up!