6 habits to THRIVE
This article was recently featured in Female First.
Living is not about spending every day “getting by”, that’s “survival”. Life is not just about being “OK”, but flourishing past ordinary. So, here are 6 habits to not just embrace your “New normal”, but to thrive beyond it:
1. Ask yourself before taking something on - IS THIS REALLY MY RESPONSIBILITY?
You cannot save people from themselves. If it is within your power, you can signpost them, and be there should they need a cheerleader, but solving their problems stops you from working on your own, and can teach them to be dependant on you.
Try behaving like a coach and asking:
- HOW can I best help you?
- What would you like me to do?
- What have you tried?
- What are you trying to achieve?
These questions offer support, because you can then more effectively target your response while also returning the power back to the person asking. …and you can channel the saved energy from not getting involved in their psychodramas, into your own goals.
2. BE the person you want to see.
Whether a social butterfly, or a few trusted confidantes, relationships are as essential to survival as food and water (Schutz, 1958). The problem is that while you have a lot of energizers in your life, you may also have a number of emotional vampires (the toxic people who drain your spirit)…so how do you let the right ones in?
- Write down the names of 3 – 5 people you love in your life
- Write down the things you value about them
- Work every day to demonstrate those values yourself: We often, albeit unconsciously, teach people how to treat us and if you are surrounded by takers, you might need to ask why you are giving so much. While you may recognise that “generosity” is a trait you love – perhaps what is of value in the person you admire is that they are discerning with their gifts.
- AND opt to spend more time with the people whose names you mentioned, and you might find that the more exhausting people are “squeezed out” (or you have a little more energy to manage them)
3. Cherish the positive influences surrounding you.
Good friends, supportive colleagues, opportunities...it's not just about writing them in a gratitude journal, but actively appreciating their efforts with some in return.
- Arrange a "date night" – without distractions!
- Drop a line saying "I'm thinking of you"
- Simply work on your own self growth so that you are the best you can be when called to action (if you haven't already volunteered it yourself).
You do best for others, by looking after yourself. No matter how small, do one thing to nurture yourself today!
4. When it comes to effective Self Care, work out your “yin and yang” of pleasure.
- Recognise when you are enjoying something.
- Decide if that activity energises (yang) or relaxes (yin) you.
- Decide which you need – and pick from the list of things you know you enjoy.
Habitually you may hear “self care” and think “spa day” or “meditate”. But whatever energises or relaxes you best (at the time you need it) is going to be the most effective for you. Being consciously aware of it, means you get there faster.
5. Your physical health can affect your mental wellbeing.
Eat, sleep and exercise. Over-indulgence can result in feeling guilty and perhaps excess weight and that leads to a cycle of negativity that benefits no-one. Conversely, undereating and a lack of sleep can result in an inability to focus or feelings of anxiety which can hold you back.
Getting out daily (while dressed suitably for the weather!) can help you get more Vitamin D increasing feelings of happiness and counter things such as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Further, the biophilic nature of humans means that the outdoors is rejuvenating.
6. Emotions are instinctive, CHOOSE your response.
Emotions evolved to keep humans safe. Feeling them – especially negative ones – are simply a “warning light” (like the petrol indicator) that something needs to be dealt with, but it is a FEELING. What you do and when you do it is a conscious, chosen response...and that response is often one of many available to you.
If you feel your emotions becoming overwhelming try this:
- Recognise your trigger situations or events and note your emotional reaction.
- Write down a statement, or an activity that will help you regain balance when a negative emotion throws you off kilter, for example, “Listen to a positive TED talk”, or “Repeat the affirmation “Even if I cannot control anything else, I can control my breathing” or “Have a cup of tea.”
- Use that list to enable you to choose an effective behaviour rather than let an emotional reaction run away with you. This keeps you empowered and in control of your actions.
Building resilience is not just about helping you survive crisis. It is as much to keep you going when you feel exhausted, and then - when everything is "OK", to give you that extra boost to thrive. Why stop at normal?
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a specialty in the "how to take action", rather than just giving explanation and advice. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience.