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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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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!

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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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How To Manage Lower Back Pain: 5 Painless Points

Manage Lower Back Pain The Short Advice

About The Author

John G is the owner/operator of his own courier business, which has also forced him to become a professional on how to manage lower back pain. Lifting packages and parcels for a living, he has had to manage disc bulges in his lower back, stemming from a lifting injury some years ago. This has caused severe nerve pain, muscle spasm, and other painful symptoms. Despite his permanent injury, John still manages to run a successful courier business around Melbourne’s CBD, and even plays golf most weekends – off a handicap of 8! Today, John shares with us his 5 Painless Points on how to best manage lower back pain. Thanks John-boy!

How To Manage Lower Back Pain

I’ve found that a combination of strategies working together have allowed me to continue living my life, despite my back injury. I’m certainly not saying that I’m pain-free, or that my back is cured, but it’s definitely allowed me to manage myself a lot better. It’s a constant process of improvement, and no-one strategy will solve the problem alone. Now more than ever (I’m 50 years young) I need to be more aware of what my body is telling me, in order to continue doing what I’m doing… That is lifting, driving, golfing, fishing, renovating etc. So, hopefully a few of you out there might find these tips as helpful as I have, here it is:

1. Lift Technique

Whether you’re a courier or not, you’ll no doubt be lifting things from time to time. Your technique is crucial when it comes to injury prevention and pain management. I put quite a bit of emphasis on my lift technique these days, even when I’m lifting an item that I don’t find overly heavy – it’s just not worth the risk. So remember to take your time, keep the weight of the item close to your centre of gravity, and lift with your legs, and not your back. If it’s too heavy, don’t lift it. Use a trolley where possible, or ask somebody for help. I’ve found this helpful resource on lift technique sums it up pretty well.

2. Regular (Modified) Exercise

For quite a while I neglected exercise after my initial injury. Things I was previously doing to keep fit were no longer working, so I just didn’t do them anymore. I gained weight, lost my energy, and my back felt worse. In recent years however, I’ve been on a modified exercise program that has allowed me to work within my limits, and still push me physically. Some days my back plays up, so I have to modify further, or give myself a rest. With the help of my PT, I managed to work out a program that kept me fit, and didn’t make my back pain flare up again. My motivation and energy increased, while my back pain decreased. No matter your injury, there is always a modified program that you can do.

3. Core Strength

Simply being aware of the pattern of core engagement has allowed me to decrease the risk of further injuring myself. Often, poor lumbar posture (lower back arch) can pre-dispose you to lower back pain. In order to manage lower back pain, postural corrective exercise and the development of greater core strength is crucial – and easy! These days, I practice my core exercises while I’m waiting for the little green man to cross the road… In addition, I try to do 15 minutes every second day of core exercises to support my lower back. The pelvic tilt, and the dead bug are both a part of my regular routine.

4. Eat Healthy

Maintaining a healthy resting weight was a massive factor for me when I was first learning to manage lower back pain. Proper diet is equally as important as regular, sustainable exercise when you’re trying to get fit, and stay fit. So, don’t neglect it. Healthy eating was a bit of trial and error for me. If it’s going to be sustainable, you really need to avoid fad diets. Do your research, find out what works for you, and stick to it. Remember, moderation is key!

5. Don’t Fight Fatigue

Something I need to constantly remind myself… I’m currently renovating my house, working full days, and playing golf on weekends. Even for someone without injury, it’s a big load. So, this rule becomes especially important. If you’ve been working/lifting all day, and you feel your technique and posture are starting to lapse, have a rest. You could be moments away from doing further damage, or sustaining another injury altogether. Sure, you can push yourself, but not past the point of pain, nor to the point of pain. If you’re going to effectively manage lower back pain, you need to learn this.

Final Note

It’s easy to make excuses when you’re injured, but it doesn’t make life any easier. Whatever your injury, you should consider taking action to rehabilitate, and prevent further damage. You don’t have to stop moving, just modify. You don’t have to quit chocolate, just moderate. The recipe is simple if you’re willing to give the time and attention needed to effectively manage lower back pain. I hope these strategies help some of you as much as they’ve helped me, happy lifting!

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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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6 Fantastic Tips To Successfully Complete Your First Fun Run

CSC Fun Run Blog

About the Author

Not only is Dr. Nicholas Tripodi a fun run enthusiast, he is also a Co-director and Osteopath at the Competitive Sports Clinic located in the Essendon District. Nicholas has particular interests in sports injuries, exercise rehabilitation and running and cycling analysis. He regularly competes in triathlon events, and is a keen runner and cyclist. If you’d like to know more you can visit the CSC website here, or if you’re in the Melbourne area you can visit them at their practice on Keilor Rd, Essendon.

Completing Your First Fun Run

Getting into running can be quite daunting for some people, and it may not come naturally. As an osteopath, I regularly work with people who are preparing for their first fun run. And, having also completed a few myself, I’ve compiled a list of important points to consider in order to get through your first fun run successfully, and  injury-free (hopefully). So, here are my easy-to-follow steps to get you off the couch and onto the track as smooth as possible!

1. Set Your Goal

It seems obvious, but is often an oversight for too many people. The first thing you should do is set out the goals you want to achieve. Set both short-term and long-term goals. For instance, your short-term goal may be to run 3 times in a given week, and your long-term goal may be to complete a 5k run in less than 30 minutes. You may also like to share your goals, whether it be with friends, work colleagues or, dare I say, on social media. This can help you be accountable to your plans and stay on track.

2. Get a Program

If you’re doing your first fun run, you probably don’t have an extensive history of running. Therefore, you probably don’t know how to best structure your training. This is where a good running coach or therapist can tailor a running program for you. They will take into account your goals, sporting and exercise history and current level of fitness, amongst other things, to work out a program that is perfect for your needs. They will also typically oversee and assess the effectiveness of the program and adjust certain elements as required. If you are not keen on guidance from a coach, check out Couch to 5K (link: http:// www.c25k.com/) or most fun run websites will have a basic program for you to follow too.

3. Track Your Progress

This is now super easy to do with modern smart watches. Most come with an in-house or 3rd party app where you can upload all of your training data to see how you are progressing. The problem is that smart watches are so good at giving data it can be confusing to work out what you should actually pay attention to! Some key points you should be looking at are: distance, time, speed and heart rate. If you are getting fitter your heart rate should start to become lower when you’re training at the same speed and terrain. Just don’t get into the trap of trying to beat your time every session – this is unsustainable and can lead to injury. Save your best effort for race day!

4. Do Some Cross-Training

If you’re new to running it can be very unwise to run every day. You should only be running 3 or 4 times a week to avoid injury and burnout. To build up some extra cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength try some alternative exercise to running. Some great options include swimming, cycling, rowing and resistance training. There are a range of strength training resources online, and programs to follow along with on Youtube.

5. Aches and Stiffness is Normal, Pain is Not

The body is amazing in its ability to adapt and change to the stresses placed on it, and running adaptations are no different. Some minor aches and stiffness is your body’s way of adapting to increased load – this for the most part is OK, as long as it only lasts a day or two and doesn’t get progressively worse. If some general aches and stiffness start becoming persistently painful it’s a sign that you’re over-doing it. It’s at this point you should probably see a therapist for some information and guidance.

6. Congratulate Yourself

Once you reach your goal make sure you take stock and enjoy your achievement. Reflect on where you started from, how you got there and what you want to do next. If you didn’t achieve your goal, think about why that was case and what you will do differently next time. The road to success is a long one, it may take more than one fun run to achieve your goals.

Final Note

There you go! Six tips to help get you to, and through, your first fun run. If you plan it out, take it slow, track your progress and celebrate your achievements, you can’t go wrong. But first, make sure you see a certified health professional before commencing any training program. Happy running!

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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!

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4 Ways To Successfully Achieve Your Wellness Goals

Sasha Wellness The Short Advice

About the Author

Sasha Layton is the founder of Sasha Yoga & Health, an experienced yoga & mindfulness meditation facilitator, and a certified Holistic Wellness Coach. She works with private and corporate clients all over Australia, and specialises in mindset and mindfulness. She believes that through education & knowledge, self awareness, and understanding the power of mindset, anybody can live a happy healthy life.

Steps to Achieving Your Wellness Goals

In a society where we are time poor, yet have more resources than we care to shake a stick at, being in a state of overwhelm is extremely common. Does this sound familiar? Reaching for that chocolate bar or fifth coffee by 3pm? Missing your third gym session this week because you got held back at work? Too tired to catch-up with that friend you haven’t seen in months? Or worse still, too tired to play with your children after work? I get it, there always seems to be so much to do yet so little time…and our health & wellness seem to take a backburner. Yet what if I told you that it has a great deal with what you VALUE and your attitude to wellness, that is key to whether you will achieve your goals or not? Read on…

1. Eat Healthier

It can be very tempting to eat crap when it’s surrounding you, so an overhaul of your cupboard and fridge to get rid of all the processed nutrient-lacking foods is the first step to eating healthier. Stocking up on fresh fruit & veggies, REAL food (i.e. not from a can, plastic packet or box), getting back into the kitchen, and learning how to cook, are the 2nd and 3rd steps. Not sure where to start? Booking some sessions with a certified Wellness Coach can help put you in the right direction. They can guide you on where and what to shop for, simple and quick nutritious recipes, and how to make it work for your lifestyle.

2. Move More

If you’re struggling to get to the gym or make that class you keep booking into, it’s time to ask yourself a couple of questions…and answer them honestly: 1) when am I most likely to exercise? 2) do I really enjoy this form of movement I’m currently doing?

If you answered no to the second question, ask yourself “what do I really enjoy?” There is no right or wrong time to exercise, because we’re all bio-individuals. Sure your best mate might enjoy getting up at 5am to attend their favourite yoga or HIIT class, but be honest with yourself on whether that’s really for you too? Finding the right time of day, what you really enjoy, and also what fits in with your schedule, is key to sustaining your daily movement habits.

3. Journal Your Thoughts

This could be via a food diary to keep track of your eating habits (particularly great if you get a lot of cravings), a movement log to track how much (or little) you’re exercising and at what times, or just a simple notebook where you write down thoughts, feelings and happenings that come up on a daily basis. By doing this, it will not only be helping you to brain dump, but also gives you greater insight into habits and patterns that may be holding you back. I personally love a pretty notebook and pen to physically write, but if you’re more an ‘online’ kind of person, check out this cool site http://750words.com where you can journal PLUS it tracks and gives you stats on your state of mind. It’s also password approved so completely private and no chance of anyone finding out your deepest darkest thoughts.

4. Get Accountability

Whether it be a friend, family member, partner, your FitBit app, or a Wellness Coach, using one (or many!) of these avenues is a sure fire way to keep you accountable to the goals you set. If it’s with a friend or loved one, you could even hold a monthly competition with each other so you have something to work towards and keep you inspired. If an exercise app, you can set daily or weekly goals which will remind you with notifications.

Final Note…

Being healthier doesn’t need to be difficult, it’s just about finding what works best for YOU, what inspires you, and understanding what it is in life that you really value. When you get to know yourself in this way, it really gives you the power to make the right choices.

Thanks you for taking the time to read my guest post for The Short Advice. If you have any questions or would like to find out more about my Wellness Coaching services, please get in touch or write in the comments section below, where I’ll be more than happy to reply.

Don’t forget to check out Sasha Yoga & Health here.

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5 Simple Ways To Increase Your Energy Levels

Energy levels The Short Advice

Why is Energy Important?

An oversight for many people, energy is something that needs to be generated. We often expect that our mind/body will give us a particular amount of output, but neglect the process of energising ourselves to perform. Consider the work that goes into an F1 race car. In order to perform at staggering speeds, it needs constant maintenance. It performs best on a bitumen track, and in low humidity. It doesn’t take regular unleaded petrol… It needs the right fuel. Just as a race car has particular needs in order to perform at it’s best, so too do our minds and bodies. Below, we’ve outlined five considerations for getting the most out of yourself, by energising yourself. It might take a bit of trial and error to get systems in place that work for you, so be patient. Now that you’ve set your goals, and you’re on the ‘Road to Success‘, you need to implement strategies that allow you to perform at your best and increase your energy levels.

1. Location

Never work where you relax, and vice versa. A great tip that cartoonist and author Scott Adams, shares in his book How to Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big. The reason for this, is that people tend to associate particular places, with particular activities. Your couch, for example, might be a place for relaxing, or even sleeping. So, working on the couch may not be the best way to motivate you, and increase your energy levels. Instead, you should find a place that is conducive to hard work, and encourages you to focus on the task that you’ve set for yourself.

2. Energising Tasks

Identify which tasks drain your energy, and which tasks energise you. If reading helps you to regain focus and gives you the motivation to continue being creative, do more of it. Maybe hangovers sap your energy and are particularly challenging for you to manage… Drink less, and less frequently. Basically, do more of the things that give you energy, and less of the things that drain your energy. This will help to optimise your output when it comes to putting in work.

3. Give and Receive Energy

We’ve all heard instapreneurs bang on about ‘finding your tribe’, and ‘surrounding yourself with positivity’. Well, it’s sort of true. But it doesn’t mean burn everyone you’ve ever cared about in order to reach your goals, as too many people do. It’s not solely about absorbing the energy of others either. It’s about giving, too. Maybe you’ve got a friend who loves hearing your new ideas, and contributing to them. Call them! Tell them all about it. Your excitement might also inspire them to start working harder.

4. Sustenance

It almost seems cruel that cake is not considered to be healthy. But, at the end of the day, most of us have a fair idea of what we need to fuel our mind and body. Whilst there are many delicious options these days, whole foods like fruit and vegetables are what we really need. And water is probably the only liquid that our bodies actually want. So, be smart about your choices. Sugar highs and lows are very real, and much of your daily energy is reliant on what you put into your body. Don’t diet, just find a healthy eating plan that is sustainable for you.

5. Exercise

Regular exercise, teamed with a sustainable healthy diet, is a tried and tested way to increase your energy levels. Sometimes, just taking a walk can be a more effective strategy to reenergise your drowsy-self than having a nap. Exercise releases endorphins that give you energy, and it sort of makes sense right? “Hey Brain, I’m engaging in some exercise here, can you give me a little something extra?”, “Sure Body, here are some endorphins that will make you a bit happier, and give you the energy to sustain that activity for a bit longer.”… True story.

Final Note

When it comes to developing systems and strategies for improvement, one size doesn’t fit all. You’ll need to do some field research to find out what works best for you, and makes you feel more energised. The good news however, is that it does work. If you are willing to put in the effort, you will get more out of your mind and body, and give yourself a better chance at achieving your goals. If you’ve already found some strategies that have worked for you, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!