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Positive Thinking: How To Be More Optimistic

Positive Thinking The Short Advice

The Benefits of Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is contagious, the same way negativity is. However, negativity is born with the upper hand… The human brain tends to have a negative bias, and so we need to work particularly hard to overcome this bias and be positive. Introducing positive thinking into our lives must be a focus if we are to overcome our natural relationship with negativity. So, how can you start being more positive? And why should you start being more positive?? The why, is that positivity breeds positivity, and the how has been outlined for you below…

Use Positive Language

It has been suggested that positive language actually has the ability to change the way you think, modifying brain functions and increasing motivational activity. In contrast, negative words may inhibit your ability to manage stress. Positive self-talk is one particular strategy that refers to the language you use, both in thought and verbally, to speak to yourself. Using positive phrases like “I can”, and “I will” can in time increase self-esteem and decrease negative thinking. So, next time you’ve made a mistake, let yourself know that you’re in it together with some positive self-reassurance!

Focus on Positivity

Placing a greater focus on your most positive attributes can in-fact produce improved results. A 1982 study required bowlers to rate their performance, with one group focusing solely on what they did well, and the other group focusing on not making the same mistakes twice. The first group showed significantly greater improvement. The conclusion, is that positivity can be a greater motivator towards success and improvement than negativity, but you probably guessed that already… If positive thinking and reflection will drive you to improve, why not try it?

Dance Your Way to Positivity

Movement and exercise has been linked to happiness, known to release endorphins that can make us feel great. Dr Peter Lovatt, or ‘Dr Dance’, suggests that one can ‘dance themselves happy’, which follows the above principal and builds on the relationship between exercise and positivity. Maybe you’re not a dancer, and that’s fine. The message really is to move, and generate positivity through action. Exercise has a number of other benefits that can contribute to one’s ability to be positive, like building confidence and resilience.

Balance Your Emotions

Negative emotions can’t be ignored if you expect to live with sustained positive thinking and optimism. Whilst there is a fine line between realism and pessimism, it is important to understand the purpose of negativity in order to create an acceptable balance. Our emotions all serve a purpose that can generally be linked to survival and pro-creation (which ultimately is the survival of our species). Fear can stop us from hurting ourselves, guilt can stop us from repeating poor behaviour and love can keep our families safe. So, positive thinking doesn’t mean you should ignore negativity altogether, but rather create a better balance between the two.

Reinforce Positivity

Challenge yourself and achieve a goal by applying an optimistic outlook to your situation. Fear and negativity are the greatest barrier in the way of achieving your goals on the road to success. Incorporate the positive thinking strategies outlined above, and put a plan into place. After all, one of the best ways to reinforce learning is through experience. Reflect on past situations, and consider the different outcomes and level of satisfaction you have achieved through positive thinking, as opposed to a negative bias.

Final Note

With our brains naturally inclined to lean towards negativity as a protective mechanism, it’s any wonder that positive thinking is a challenge. It’s sort of like having great posture. You have to actively think about it. When it leaves the forefront of your mind however, you might start to slouch. But, if you make a conscious effort to pull your shoulders back and stand up straight… Well, it just might become habit. Apply this principle to positive thought, and habitually engage in positive thinking – without even thinking about it! If you’ve got anything to add, please feel free to leave a comment below… Hopefully a positive one ;). As always, thanks for reading.

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Losing A Loved One: 5 Guiding Points

Losing A Loved One The Short Advice

Losing a Loved One is Hard.

The below 5 tips are not a definitive list or professional opinion, but rather a general set of guiding points to help you deal with losing a loved one. The sort of loss we are discussing in this article specifically is death, and if you’ve ever lost somebody you love, then you already know how difficult it can be. Coping with loss, in it’s many forms, is a topic that has been researched thoroughly, as loss has been known to cause illness if not properly dealt with. Medical research suggests that professional advice, or simply a hug, can assist those who are trying to cope with losing a loved one. So, don’t deny yourself a life of happiness… That is the last thing your loved one would want for you!

1. Allow Time to Grieve

Cry. Don’t cry. Be sad, be angry, ponder the future. Everybody will have their own different experience with grieving, and thats okay. Allow yourself to experience the emotions that you need to, in order to rationalise, and make sense of the very difficult and trying circumstances that losing a loved one presents. It takes time, and there are a number of stages in the grieving process that you may need to experience in order to move forward with your life. Also, while you are grieving, make sure you consider your own wellbeing too, as stress can mount during this time.

2. Celebrate Life

Sadness, devastation, shock, grief, despair. All emotions commonly associated with losing a loved one, and rightly so. You don’t have to suppress these emotions, but it’s also important to remember the good. As difficult as it is, these emotions are the perfect example of balance. To be so unfathomably upset in loss, the presence of your loved one must have brought much elation. So don’t be afraid to reflect on this happiness, and speak their name. Smile, laugh, joke and marvel at the priceless memories they’ve created. You’ll have negative emotions surrounding the loss itself, but you can also be thankful for your time together.

3. Honour The Memory

Losing a loved one is hard – but why? What was so fantastic about this person that makes their loss so difficult to bear? Consider their best attributes, and how you can add value to your life, and other lives, by being the embodiment of their great qualities. In doing this, their legacy can live on through you. The impact and influence that your loved one has had on your life, can continue doing good for you, and others, even after they’re gone. Were they strong? Summon this strength when you need it the most. Were they compassionate? Take the time to selflessly help somebody, as they would have.

4. Find Meaning and Purpose

When you lose somebody, particularly earlier than their due time, the common question one asks is “why?” The answer to this question is something we may never find out, similarly to the meaning of life. But we can find meaning and purpose in their passing if we choose to, although easier said than done. Is there something you can do to ensure that your loved one’s passing could save another’s life? Can you raise awareness for a charity, or donate, or simply urge friends and family to have the difficult conversations that so many avoid? Perhaps you can find purpose by embodying their best attributes, as stated above.

5. Accept

Sometimes its hard to believe that it has really happened. Shock and confusion is a normal part of losing a loved one, and often precedes the grieving stage. And, part of the grieving stage is trying to figure out how to move forward, without the presence of your loved one. Acceptance is a hurdle that needs to be overcome in order to move forward with your life, and be happy again. It is also considered to be the final stage of the grieving process. Nobody expects to be happy about what has happened, or even be okay with it. But in order to continue living, and remembering the good, and honouring the memory, one does need to accept the difficult realities of losing a loved one.

Final Note

Loss can take many forms, and each presents its own challenges. Losing a loved one can create a sense of hopelessness, which makes it seemingly impossible to continue your life as you used to know it, and you probably never will. Because the reality is that the experience has changed you forever, but it’s not all bad. Remember your loved one, and all of the great things about that person that caused the pain of loss in the first place. Honour their memory, and celebrate their life. It’s never as easy as it sounds when it’s written, and everybody will have a different experience. Remember that there are people to talk to, and others struggling with similar circumstances. You are not alone.

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How To Be More Assertive At Work: 5 Assertive Actions

More Assertive in The Workplace The Short Advice

Assertive VS Rude

There is a difference. A big difference in fact. But too many people are unwilling to explore this difference, and end up becoming the victim of unmanageable workloads, and sometimes even workplace bullying. From a managerial perspective, it can mean giving instructions firmly, fairly and confidently. Being more assertive isn’t quite jumping on your desk and booting the computer across the room (as pictured above). But then again, your boss probably isn’t a Yeti… Rather, assertiveness is the ability to be heard with confidence and conviction. It’s standing up for yourself, and it’s getting things done that need to be done. In contrast, throwing insults around the workplace when you’re not getting your way would of course be rude!

Why You Need to be More Assertive in the Workplace

The workplace can be a stressful environment, and part of managing this stress is being more assertive. You have a workload to manage, same as the rest of your colleagues. But the reality is that some people manage this better than others. A manager needs to be assertive when giving instruction and ensuring deadlines are met, and protocols are followed. A team member needs to be assertive when their manager and colleagues are trying to handball their unwanted workloads off to somebody else. Whatever your role, it pays to stand up for yourself. Our 5 points below will help you to better understand just what that looks like…

1. Say ‘No’

We’ve started with this for a reason. Too many people feel rude saying ‘no’, when really, they’re helping themselves and others in the long run. If you bear the load of others too frequently, it might not be sustainable. It could cause you to be highly stressed over time, and even lead to burnout. Of course, we all want to help people. But, we need to put ourselves in a position of strength and power in order to be most effective for those we wish to help. Be more assertive, and empower yourself with the ability to say ‘no’ when appropriate, but do it politely. You’ll still be an effective team member, perhaps even more effective now that you’ve got the time to complete all of your tasks to the best of your ability.

2. Know Your Role

Job titles can be quite ambiguous, so it’s worth understanding exactly what roles and responsibilities your title comes with. From a managerial perspective, it’s also worth being explicit when providing these details, so that each team member is aware of the requirements of their role. Simply knowing your role will help you to be more assertive, as you can make better judgements on where you should focus your energy, and when you need to say ‘no’. It will also help you to justify ‘no’ as an appropriate response, when your more pressing responsibilities are clearly outlined for you.

3. Anticipate Problems

This refers to being aware of your environment, and the pressures and issues that can arise. In other words, you shouldn’t be surprised that other people will try to take advantage of the ‘yes’ man as frequently as possible. Sometimes they themselves are so unassertive that their stress and workload has them asking others for help so often. Being aware of this destructiveness will help you to identify it, and rise above it. You don’t want to find yourself stuck in either situation, so have your assertive actions prepared in advance.

4. Value Your Time

If you don’t, nor will anybody else. This is actually a great supporting argument when it comes to saying ‘no’ more often. If you are seen as the ‘yes’ man, people may perceive you to have an exorbitant amount of time on your hands, and respect your time less. Little do they know, your mountain of work is piling up. If however you place value on your time, and agree to help only when you are ‘able’ to, people will respect your time more, and tend to ask for favours less frequently. By placing greater value on your time, you are supporting your ability to be more assertive. If the mountain of work continues piling up however, maybe it’s time to checkout our time management tips!

5. Manage Expectations

If you are doing the right thing at work, and working hard towards your targets, then you have nothing to hide. You produce a high level of output, and are efficient in your duties, although your manager’s deadlines are still near-impossible to meet. In this case, questions need to be asked about your role and responsibilities, realistic deadlines, and breakdown of hours for a given task. If the expectation is that you slave away, take work home, get in early and stay late, and are underpaid, is this an expectation you’d like to continue supporting? Probably not. Being more assertive means negotiating more reasonable and realistic expectations for a sustainable/happier workplace environment. Stand up for yourself!

Final Note

There are many ways in which you can be more assertive and they are all a far-cry from being rude. Assertiveness can help you to be more helpful, manage your time more effectively, and even increase job (and life) satisfaction. Approach situations confidently, knowing you are prepared for the pressures of your environment, and become a more effective member of your organisation in doing so. With the above assertive actions, you’ll be free to get on with your own work. As always, thanks for reading!

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5 Great Songs To Help You Deal With A Break Up

How to deal with a break up The Short Advice

How To Deal With a Break Up

There is no definitive set of guidelines to help you to deal with a break up. Each relationship you have is unique, and you and your partner are both individuals. But you can draw some wisdom from relatable situations. That is to say, you’re not the first to experience a break up, and you won’t be the last. The lyrics we hear in a song can help us to make sense of our own situations, and sometimes encourage critical reflection. It can be comforting to know that other people have felt what you’re feeling, and have still managed to move on and find happiness. You will be sad, and so you should. You may feel guilt, you may feel insecure and vulnerable. These feelings and emotions help us to learn and grow. So don’t ignore them, but rather, try to understand them.

Our ‘Deal With a Break Up Mixtape’

The list of songs below aim to help you make sense of your emotions while you deal with a break up. You’re not the only person in the world feeling the way you are, and sometimes it can help to share your experience with the musicians performing these songs. Some of them are from the perspective of angry, fragile minds. After all, it’s okay to be angry and upset. Others focus on gratitude and moving forward. Notions that we can all benefit from. We’ve tried to include a range of genres, and eras. So be open minded as you share your emotions with the artists listed below. Please note, the title of each song is a clickable link that will redirect you to youtube. Enjoy!

Is This Love by Cake

This track explores the anger and denial that can arise when you are trying to deal with a break up, and it does it quite well. At one point in the song, the artist confesses that they are wishing for their estranged spouse to actually be dead! Immoral, and not recommended, although it certainly paints a picture. The anger, and feelings of hurt and rejection are relatable, and sung over the top of a running bass line that is anything but sad and somber. It’s a great way to reflect on your own situation, without being a tearjerker.

Storms by Fleetwood Mac

In contrast to our first track, this one is sad and somber. Sadness, and self-pity are no stranger during the break up process, and Stevie Nicks definitely feels your pain. The real strength of this song in helping one deal with a break up, is the reflective nature of the lyrics. Stevie notes that whilst she would like to leave the relationship amicably, she’s never been quite so composed. “I’d like to leave you with something more… But never have I been a blue calm sea… I have always been a storm”. So, learn from this line, and don’t act regretfully. You can communicate your emotions, of course. Just try to do it as ‘blue calm sea’, rather than a ‘storm’.

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head by BJ Thomas

Ahhh the good old days… Too corny for some perhaps, but the message is one that can be applied to many of life’s trials and tribulations. Regardless of what negative experience you’re facing, “…Crying’s not for me, ’cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complaining”. BJ Thomas goes on to sing about how grateful he is to be alive and free, despite facing a challenging circumstance. The same principle can be applied when you deal with a break up. A trying time, yes. But you still have so much to be grateful for, so don’t allow yourself to despair for too long.

Love’s Been Good To Me by Johnny Cash

Originally by Frank Sinatra and Rod McKuen, this song is another reminder about being grateful for the experience. The end of anything good is always going to be difficult to accept, but the truth to remember is that it was good. Johnny Cash’s version is also great as it is performed in his later years, and sung with experience and nostalgic tones. Hopefully it encourages you to accept the end, but still be grateful for the good times that you shared with your old flame. Everything has an end, but hopefully upon reflection, “Once in a while, along the way, loves been good to (you) me”.

Caught Out There by Kelis

Kelis’ ‘Caught out there’ speaks of her hurt, denial and anger towards an unfaithful partner. Sadly, too many people can relate. Like the first track on our list, Kelis doesn’t hold back when addressing these emotions, stating quite plainly “I hate you so much right now!”. Her words are simple and honest, although her path of destruction not advisable. So listen and relate, but try to exhibit slightly more composed and logical behaviour when managing your emotions as you deal with a break up. Theres also a pretty raw and amusing film clip to match, so check it out!

Supplementary List

Song For Mutya by Groove Armada ft. Mutya Buena

Another fun break up song. Up beat and Groove Armada-ry, this track confronts the reality of seeing your ex-partner with a new person. The great part about this track, is that Mutya is being coached by the voice in her head to act responsibly despite her emotional fragile state “don’t panic (panic) Mutya, don’t act erratic”. Good advice inner-self!

Beautiful World by Coldplay

A melancholy tune, this gem by Coldplay encourages reflection on the fact that despite things not being perfect, we still live in a beautiful world. And to exist in it, is grand. When you deal with a break up, this is something that you might forget to remember… So look toward to tomorrow, and the opportunities of this beautiful world!

Final Note

Music heals all wounds. It is a form of communication that can evoke a different response from each listener, as they interpret it in a way that makes sense to them. There is a song for every situation, and the above list is just a few that hopefully you haven’t heard before (or in a while). If you have any songs that have helped you deal with a break up in the past, please share them with us in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

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Avoid Burnout With These 5 Strategies

Avoid Burnout

What is Burnout?

Burnout is the by-product of continuous hard work, mixed with a lack of wellbeing, often served with a side of repetition. It can be brought on by prolonged emotional strain, and/or physical exertion. Sometimes life throws a curveball that sends us into a spiral of endless stress and anxiety, in a desperate attempt to keep up with the pace of our responsibilities and aspirations. Perhaps it’s the monotony of your daily tasks that has you questioning your mundane existence… Or maybe you’re praying for a boring, mundane existence after an extended period of hard work. Whatever the case, the road to success is not supposed to be easy. So, simply giving up isn’t a healthy way to avoid burnout. Instead, like anything, it needs to be managed. There are a variety of strategies that you can implement in order to avoid burnout, so we’ve listed 5 to get you back to being the highly effective individual that you are…

Decrease Your Stress Levels

If you choose to challenge yourself, stress becomes unavoidable. Sometimes, it can motivate us to work harder, and improve our situation. Other times, it can create a feeling of constant anxiety, and contribute to burnout. So, take positive action towards decreasing your stress levels by learning how to manage it better. The first rule of stress management is ‘do not worry about what you cannot control’. As individuals, we have the ability to affect certain situations. These are the things that you should work to improve. However, some situations/actions are outside of our control. You can plan for various outcomes to alleviate your stress, although you may not be able to prevent them. So, do what you can, when you can, and worry not about what you cannot.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise has a number of proven benefits which make it a great all-round solution for many of life’s problems. Some of the more relevant benefits to help you avoid burnout are increased energy levels, improved brain health and memory, and most notably, it can make you feel happier! When you exercise, your body increases the production of endorphins, which can help to alleviate stress and anxiety. The other consideration of regular exercise is that it can help to improve sleep quality and relaxation. This is typically an area of concern for individuals facing burnout, with rest being one of our 5 effective strategies to combat the condition. So, grab your exercise guide and start your program today!

Maintain a Healthy Diet

What you put into your body will greatly effect what you get out of it. No, we’re not referring to the ‘ins and outs’ of the digestive system, but rather the relationship between energy and productivity. Maintaining a healthy diet can sometimes seem complicated, and the variety of choices at your local food store only makes matters worse. There are a variety of simple resources to help you make better food choices, which will in-turn contribute to increased energy levels, and increased general wellbeing. All of these benefits are combatants against burnout, and play an important role in increased mental and physical health.

Learn to Manage Your Time

Time management is another big consideration when it comes to avoiding burnout. Planning, organising, and prioritising are all considerations of effectively managing your time. They can help to decrease the stress and feeling of constant anxiety associated with burnout, and help you to use your time more efficiently and productively, alleviating time pressure. A common misconception when someone is under pressure is that there is ‘no time to plan’. But contrary to that statement, a good plan can save a considerable amount of time in the long run. As the saying goes, ‘if you don’t have a plan, then you plan to fail’.

Allow Yourself Rest

Similar to our last point, rest can seem like a luxury that one cannot afford when under immense pressure. But, without sufficient rest, we cannot expect to operate at our full potential. Decision-making, awareness, mood and overall productivity are all greatly affected by a lack of sleep and rest. So, it is important to ‘switch off’ and find the time to refuel your body and your mind. Taking steps to ensure you’re at optimal health will help you to better manage the stress and anxiety of pressure situations on a day-to-day basis, decreasing your chances of experiencing burnout.

Final Note

All of our above strategies are about being proactive, and recognising when you are most susceptible to experiencing burnout. Get on top of any stress and anxiety early, and take steps to decrease/manage it better. Don’t wait until a situation seems so unbearable that you’re ready to give up. Just remember, any task you undertake is compiled by a series of smaller tasks. Plan, prioritise, and give yourself the best chance of avoiding burnout by being proactive with your approach. Good luck on the road to success! As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to hear your experiences with burnout and the management thereof in the comments below.

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5 Reasons To Engage in Critical Self Reflection

Critical Self Reflection The Short Advice

Why Critical Self Reflection?

Critical self reflection is an essential, and necessary tool for the improvement of oneself. And it’s free! It can help us to improve across many facets of our lives, and plays an enormous role in achieving self-actualization. You can view the 12 characteristics of a self-actualized individual here. Included in this list of characteristics is the acceptance of oneself, particularly those attributes seen as weaknesses. In order to identify these areas, we first must engage in critical self reflection, and here’s why:

1. Awareness of Strengths and Weaknesses

Nobody is perfect, so don’t try to be. Sure, there may be some areas of your person that you would like to change, and that is fine. But however much you improve, you will never be perfect. And so, it is important to accept both our strengths and weaknesses. But first, we must be aware of what they actually are. That is where critical self reflection plays such an enormous role. Failed relationships, successful endeavours, job satisfaction and general happiness. Each scenario provides valuable lessons about our strengths and weaknesses, areas to improve, and sometimes the inter-dependent nature of our positive/negative attributes. That is to say, sometimes our greatest strength, can also be our greatest weakness. Consider how honesty, as a positive attribute, could also land you in some negative situations… But then, you are who you are.

2. Improve Decision Making Skills

Reflecting on past decisions can lay the groundwork for the next important decision. What outcome was I hoping for? What outcome did I get, and why? All important questions to ask yourself as part of the critical self-reflection process. Over time, you will better understand your tendency to make particular decisions, and how well you manage decision making under emotional duress. In the next emotional-fuelled decision making moment, you may recall the last poor decision you made in a frame of mind that was less-conducive to ‘checkmate moves’. If this encourages you to stop, breathe, think, and then act, your critical self reflection has been invaluable… You might just make the right decision this time around.

3. Position of Power

What is it that you really want? Whether a professional goal, relationship goal, or otherwise, it’s going to be a tough road if you don’t regularly engage in critical self-reflection. Empower yourself with the foresight that you didn’t have yesterday. Yes, the past is the past, and it cannot change. But if you don’t learn from the past, then your future may end up looking a lot like it. The point here, is that you can put yourself in a position of value, and a position to succeed, simply through reflection. Do you ever think about how you’d love to make life brilliant for the people that you love? Take their stressors away, and help them achieve sustainable happiness? Well, until you empower yourself with these gifts, you can’t expect to empower others. So, put yourself in a position of power through regular self reflection, and continued improvement.

4. Improve Efficiency/Productivity

Similar to our point on decision making above, reflecting on past experiences, whether successes or failures, can be an invaluable learning tool for the improvement of efficiency and productivity. When engaging in critical self-reflection you may consider the following:

  • Under what circumstances do I best operate?
  • What has worked for me (or not worked) in the past?

These questions of reflection may lead to questions of improvement/innovation:

  • How can I change my environment to improve my efficiency?
  • What adjustments can I make to improve the quality of my output?

5. Self-Actualization

This is the desire for a person to reach their potential, improving themselves, their circumstances and their environment. As described by Maslow in his hierarchy of needs, this is the theory that, once all of our more primary needs are met, we seek fulfillment by achieving our full potential and engaging in creative activities. In other words, we desire to achieve self-actualization. In order to attain this, we need to have engaged in much critical self reflection, and understand and accept ourselves, others and the universe as they each are. Whilst the concept is not so ambiguous, what it looks like to each individual can be tricky to identify. But, the more you understand about yourself, and your own needs, the greater the chance you will have of fulfilling those needs. This is how critical self reflection can put you on the path towards self-actualization.

Final Note

The reasons listed above are just some of the benefits of critical self reflection. The overall personal development we can experience by recognising our behavioural patterns and improving self-awareness can have an enormous positive impact on our lives. You don’t have to write things down to engage in reflection, but you might. Perhaps you best reflect by having a conversation with a close friend who can assist your self reflection, while you assist theirs. However it happens, it’s a good idea to make sure it does, and to take steps towards self-improvement. As always, thanks for reading. If you have a topic you’d like to understand more about, feel free to drop us a line on our homepage.

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How To Overcome Addiction: 5 Ways To Kick The Habit

Addiction - The Short Advice

The Nature of Addiction

Addiction feeds our need for instant gratification, providing short term gain, but often with negative long-term effects. It feels great when you’re doing it, so how can you know for sure whether you’re addicted, or you just like doing it? This is the very question that makes addiction both difficult to recognise, and accept. For a list of criteria specific to substance addiction, this article might be helpful in the recognising/accepting stage. Our 5 ways to beat addiction below assume that an addiction has already been recognised, and accepted. Remember, addiction can range from mild to severe, and does not have to be drug/alcohol related. Without further adieu…

1. List the Pros and Cons

Why are you addicted? Why do you want to break the addiction? Between these two questions, you should be able to list some of the positive and negative attributes of your addictive behaviours/activites. The first question asks what you have to gain from engaging in your addictive behaviour… After all, there must be something pretty great about it, otherwise it wouldn’t be addictive in the first place! The second question is encouraging you to consider why there is a need for change. Whilst it might feel good at the time, what are the longer-term issues that you’re creating for yourself, and possibly others? An analysis of your addiction, and some reflection on the effects, is a great starting point from which to build strategies to overcome it.

2. Replace the Pros

How can you replace the positive experience/emotions that your addiction provides in a way that is not damaging to your mental health/physical health? Consider your list of pros, and brainstorm ways that you could recreate those positive emotions/outcomes with an activity/course of action that is beneficial to your personal development as well. Take substance abuse as an example… In most cases, the feelings/emotions that many addictive substances make you feel are not new ones that are exclusive to that substance. However, the feelings are often quite intense, and minimal effort is required in order to experience them. And so, escapism and addiction is born. This brings us back around to the old saying, that nothing worth doing is ever easy. But often, the easy road is only easy for the first few kms…

3. Recognise the Triggers

Is there a particular situation or action that encourages you to engage in your addictive behaviour? Find out what it is, and be aware of it. You don’t necessarily have to avoid it as such, but it should help you to be more conscious of your decision-making process when relapse is beckoning. Understanding your triggers can also help you to decrease them. For example, if stress were a trigger, than you could put some thought into how you can better manage stress in your life to reduce the intensity and frequency of that trigger. You can have multiple triggers, or a trigger could be the combination of feelings/emotions/situations that drive your addictive behaviour. So, engage in some critical self-reflection and consider how you can limit your vulnerability.

4. Set a Goal

Set a goal that requires you to overcome your addiction in order to achieve your goal. The goal does not have to be centered around your addiction. For example, a heavy smoker may set a goal to run a marathon. Whilst this has nothing to do with smoking, it would be extremely difficult to achieve the required level of fitness to run a marathon with the lung capacity of a regular smoker. In doing this, it will highlight the effects of your addictive behaviour that are inhibiting you from leading the lifestyle you wish to lead. The smoker may turn back to nicotine in their hour of need, but they will pay for it later when their hands are on their knees in a coughing fit, after the first 500m. Nobody said it would be easy, but it’s a great way to keep yourself accountable.

5. Take Immediate Action

When will you choose to start fighting your addiction? Unfortunately, the most common answer is usually ‘tomorrow’. And it’s always the wrong answer. Thats your subconscious speaking, the part of you that doesn’t have to experience all of the negative effects. That part of you doesn’t want you to stop. That part of you is having the time of your life! So they’ll try to sell you on idea… “We’re too busy to stop now, let’s start on Monday”, or “NYE is around the corner, let’s make it our resolution”. Don’t get sucked in. This will only lead to more procrastinating and excuses. So, start right this very moment! Make the promise to yourself, and put a plan in place. How will you change for the better right now?

Final Note

There are a number of variables to consider when approaching addiction. It would be crazy to assume that one addiction could be overcome as simply as the next. Personality types, education, genetic disposition, resilience, environment etc… All of these factors have a role to play. Some addictions are far more severe than others, and some far less damaging than others. Whatever your vice, there is a way to overcome, you just have to be willing to put in some hard work.

As always, thanks for reading! Hopefully you’ll be able to apply these steps and overcome whatever it is that is holding you back from living the lifestyle you want to lead.

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How Regular Exercise Instills These 4 Virtues

SashaLayton The Short Advice

About this article

This week, we’ve published a guest post for Sasha Yoga & Health, to share our understanding of the benefits of regular exercise with Sasha Layton’s wellbeing community. To read the full article, you can click here to navigate across to SashaLayton.com. Not convinced? Well, continuing reading below and you might be!

How Regular Exercise Instills Important Virtues

Whilst there are countless lessons to be learnt by engaging in regular exercise, we’ve picked four considerably important ones to discuss. Through the development of respect, self-esteem, discipline and resilience, one can begin to achieve balance. And a well-balanced life is a happy one. The lessons that we teach ourselves through exercise, hold us in good stead when facing the challenges of everyday life. They also help us work towards achieving our goals, whether financial, academic, physical or otherwise. So how can regular exercise help us to achieve a heightened understanding of life’s most important virtues? Lets start by discussing the most important one…

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT ‘SASHA YOGA & HEALTH’.

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5 Essay Writing Tips To Relieve Your Study Stress

Essay writing tips The Short Advice

Study Stress

According to results from a recent survey, the majority of TAFE and university students in Australia between the ages of 17-25 are stressed/anxious. Workload, grades, future uncertainty, career prospects etc… A long list of pressure-factors that can create an unhealthy and unmanageable amount of stress for some students. With all of these pressures, approaching a 5000-word essay can be a difficult task. Sometimes one that seems so enormous that it’s hard to know where to start. So, before you go leaving your next paper to the last minute, ease your stress-levels with our 5 essay writing tips below.

Essay Writing Tips

Hopefully you haven’t landed at this page looking for tips on how to get an essay done in one night. If you have, skip straight to step 1 now – you don’t have time to read the intro! … Of course, no one essay is the same. Sometimes, there are different requirements to meet that can make an essay quite unique, or even difficult to research. Whatever the case, the following tips will likely still apply! Our 5 essay writing tips are essay-specific, rather than being tips on ‘how to get stuff done’. So, we’ll just leave this supplementary ‘time-management tip‘ here: Don’t leave it to the last minute!

1. Preparation

Do the reading, and do the research. If you want to produce a quality piece of writing, you can’t expect to be cutting corners. Lecturers will read your bluff, and take it as an insult to their intelligence. So be sure to complete the work that has been set throughout your course of study, and familiarise yourself with the content. Once you’ve done this, you’ll find the task of essay writing far less daunting. Ideas will flow, and you’ll actually be retaining some of the knowledge which is a plus! Good grades are usually a reflection of good preparation.

2. Drafting – Key Concepts

Brainstorm the key concepts of your essay topic. Put it all down on paper (or device) and break them into ‘tiers of importance/relevance’. Consider some of the most important concepts that you’ve covered so far in your course. Are they relevant to the essay topic? If so, how and where might they be of valuable? Also brainstorm any other supporting information that will help to meet the essay topic/question. What further research is required? Remember, you’re not looking for filler-material here, but rather specific, valuable and relevant content.

3. Drafting – The Blueprint

Now that you’ve got your key concepts listed and have a better understanding of research requirements, it’s time to structure your essay. You’ll need to consider the style of essay that you’re writing; persuasive, narrative, expository or descriptive. This stage of drafting will have you organising headings and subheadings, planning out paragraphs, and considering where particular information will sit within the text. Creating an ‘essay overview’ or blueprint will provide you with the blank template to populate with your key concepts, and researched information.

4. Elaborating

Now that you’ve got a plan in place, you can begin to develop your essay in detail. When taking this approach, you’ll often find that you need to shave some words off, rather than add filler content. So, always keep the topic in mind, and be as specific and relevant as possible. Link your arguments and facts back to the purpose of the essay, and you’ll end up developing a valuable resource of information. If you do fall short of your word count, you might consider if there are any key concepts that you’ve overlooked in the drafting stage.

5. Referencing Tools

You pretty much can’t write an article on essay writing tips without listing a reference generator… There are a number of great referencing tools online, although one very trusted resource is citethisforme.com. You can reference as you go, or keep a reference list while you research and then do it all at the end. If you’re using Google Chrome, they’ve also got a great extension that you can download for free that allows you to generate a cite for the website you’re currently browsing. If you can think of a better idea, we’d love to hear it!

Final Note

Hopefully you’ve found enough value in this article to implement these five strategies when approaching your next writing piece. For some other helpful information to get you through your studies, check out some of our other tips here: Productivity vs Procrastination, Tips to Increase Your Energy Levels, and our Top Ten Time Management Tips. Thanks for reading, and good luck!

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The Winter Blues: 5 Ways To Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Simply put, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder brought on by the changing of seasons. In the colder months, it’s commonly referred to as the Winter Blues. Whatever you call it, both terms refer to feelings of depression and a lack of energy. So, is this really a disorder? Or are we again trying to diagnose ordinary life? You be the judge. Regardless of your stance, it can be agreed that what we are talking about are patterns of behaviour, and emotional states which are affected by our environment. Fortunately, there are a number of natural remedies to help counter these feelings. Below, we’ve listed our 5 strategies to beat Seasonal Affective Disorder for good!

1. Exercise Goals

Should we hibernate throughout the Winter, like big brown bears? It seems to be how many people choose to deal with the cold… However, it doesn’t seem to be contributing to our health and happiness a great deal. So instead, try setting yourself an exercise goal to improve your wellbeing. This study suggests that goals relating to personal development and improvement can create sustainable happiness. Set a specific exercise goal, give yourself a time-frame to reach it, put the required systems in place to achieve it, and get SMART.

2. Sunshine

If seasonal affective disorder in the Winter can be attributed to a lack of sunshine, then it only makes sense to seek it out when you can! Get outside during your lunch break and soak up some rays whenever the opportunity presents. According to studies, it’s all about our body’s ability to produce serotonin, the ‘happy‘ chemical. It seems our brain can produce more serotonin on bright, sunny days. So don’t hide indoors all Winter, get outside and give yourself the best chance at producing mood-lifting serotonin by seeking out the sunshine!

3. Find Your Winter Activity

Winter isn’t all bad everybody! There are lots of great Winter activities that you can find to keep you motivated. Like snow sports – so much fun! Or winter hiking, considerably less-expensive. There’s also nothing wrong with enjoying the sound of rain pouring outside while you stay in and watch movies all night long. You could even take up a new hobby, like woodworking! Point is, whatever you’re into, try to look at the positive aspects of Winter, even if you consider yourself more of a Summer person. You’ll find it far easier to enjoy yourself during the colder months if you choose to make it work.

4. Can the Comfort Food

Don’t over do it this Winter. It’s pretty easy to throw a few chocolate blocks back while you’re indoors doing a whole lot of nothing. So, make a conscious effort to maintain a sustainable, healthy diet all year round. You don’t have to be so unbelievably strict that the chocolate in your pantry turns a bit cloudy. Just be a little more in tune with your food choices. It really depends on your health and fitness goals of course. So perhaps consider these next time you’re tasked with a recon mission to the fridge on movie night.

5. Respect the Balance

Unfortunately, the universe is not here to serve you. And the weather doesn’t particularly care how you feel about it either. It’s going to turn whether you like it or not. So, respect the balance. There is no happy without sad, no light without dark, no Summer without Winter. Each positive’s seemingly negative counter-part presents opportunities to build and earn your own little piece of sustainable happiness. This is also the birth place of resilience and mental toughness. Don’t drop your head, embrace the changes and turn them into positives by implementing the strategies mentioned above. The good times are just around the corner…

Final Note

Don’t let seasonal affective disorder wreak havoc on your mental and physical wellbeing this Winter. Take an active role to ensure the sustainability of your happiness year-round, and combat these environmental factors by putting a plan in place. Don’t hit the pause button on your life just because the Winter Blues are knocking at your door. Get outside, get active, eat properly, find something fun to do, and respect the opportunities you’ve been given! A simple and drug-free method is never a bad place to start… As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to hear what Winter activity you partake in to combat the Winter Blues! Let us know in the comments section below. Good luck!