5 Key Elements To Increase Wellbeing

Positive Psychology was first introduced at the turn of the century and was founded by a man called Dr. Martin Seligman who set out to focus on what contributed to people’s happiness or wellbeing, rather than focusing only on how to “fix” mental illness after it had occurred. Dr. Seligman pioneered the view that optimists would fare much better than pessimists in many areas of life including handling stress, physical health and general wellbeing. He identified 5 key elements to increase wellbeing:

  • Positive emotions
  • Engagement
  • Positive Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Achievement

POSITIVE EMOTIONS

Barbara Fredrickson (2009) has done extensive research and found that these ten emotions color people’s day to day lives the most with love heading the list of the most frequently experienced form of positivity.

  • Joy
  • Gratitude
  • Serenity
  • Interest
  • Hope
  • Pride
  • Amusement
  • Inspiration
  • Awe
  • Love

ENGAGEMENT

Being deeply engaged in our lives will foster feelings of satisfaction and wellbeing, just as being disengaged will produce the opposite. The concept of “flow” has been studied extensively by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990) and he has found that spending time doing something that produces the following state is greatly beneficial to our mental and physical health:

  • We are totally absorbed in the activity
  • We are not aware of time passing
  • We are challenged to the right extent – not too much, not too little
  • We have a sense that we would like to do the activity again when we stop

POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS

Having people who care about us, who listen to us and support is crucial to our chances of experiencing life satisfaction. Forging bonds with people is what we are hard-wired to do, yet in today’s busy world, relationships are often one of the first things to be neglected.

MEANING

How we find meaning in the world defines our identity. Once we lose this sense of meaning we can flounder and feel insecure about our reason for being. Making sense of our world is essential and often big changes can throw this out of the window and put us in a temporary state of insecurity and even depression. Finding meaning is one of the most profound and challenging issues we can face as individuals as it requires a great deal of self-awareness and introspection, questioning our values, our deepest dreams and our sense of purpose.

ACCOMPLISHMENT

Having something to work towards and the opportunity to feel the satisfaction that comes with having achieved whatever goal we have set for ourselves is an important part of wellbeing. This is just a short introduction to the area of Positive Psychology with the main aim of introducing the reader to a world of resources and research that show what factors can help us thrive.

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How To Change Your Negative Thoughts

Distorted thinking styles are not only common, they’re also human. Dr. Araron Beck’s theory of cognitive therapy first recorded these and Dr. David D. Burns refined them further. 

Distorted Thinking Styles

  • All or nothing – everything is black or white. Right or wrong. Perfect or a failure.
  • Mental Filtering – looking at the world through pessimistic frame, filtering out all the positive aspects of a situation.
  • Over-generalisation forming a general conclusion based on one piece of information: “You’re always wrong.” One negative event is part of an endless pattern.
  • Being right – feeling we must always prove that what we think, do or say is right.
  • Blaming – holding other people responsible for the pain or unhappiness you are feeling.
  • Disqualifying the positive – unable or unwilling to accept a compliment.
  • Jumping to conclusions – drawing negative conclusions without checking to see if they have any foundation.
  • Magnification or minimization – catastrophizing the unpleasant problems or mistakes and minimising anything that might make you feel good.
  • “Shoulds” and “musts” believing they are backed up by some universal law.
  • Martyr syndrome – all your “giving” and self-sacrifice should pay off and you become bitter when it doesn’t.
  • Emotional reasoning – making our feelings become who we are. “I feel inferior so therefore I must be.”
  • Personalization – blaming yourself for something that was largely out of your control.

Thought Stopping

If we can replace these irrational thoughts that occur repetitively and endlessly, we can then look more realistically at our lives. Cognitive restructuring techniques may sound overly complicated but they are really quite simple. First, we must catch ourselves when thinking negative thoughts.

  • Find a rubber band to fit on your wrist that is loose enough to be comfortable.
  • Each time you catch yourself in a negative thought (around what is about to happen, what is happening or what has happened) flick the band on your wrist, as a reminder.
  • Create a picture in your mind of a STOP SIGN in front of you, which will help you stop unwanted thoughts. It will take practice, but with time your brain will do this on its own.
  • Make yourself aware that you are having unwanted thoughts by saying to yourself, “I’m having the thought that…”. This reminds you that these are only thoughts, not something that will happen.

Would you like to get unstuck and overcome obstacles that are holding you back? Book a session with me here

How To Reconnect With Nature & Yourself

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” – Albert Einstein 

The gifts of nature are abundant, offering us freedom and connection to boost our mental health and physical wellbeing. In fact, time spent in nature expands the mind and sharpens thinking.

One of the lessons we can learn from nature is that there is no such thing as perfection, so why do we command perfection from ourselves? No tree or flower is perfect but we accept them as they are. Basking in the beauty of nature, allows us to take the pressure off ourselves and maintain our present moment awareness.

Getting away from high-rise buildings, technology and noise pollution on a regular basis makes you happier, calmer and more grounded. It also has a significant impact on reducing stress and anxiety, while increasing creativity. When we get out in nature, we find a natural rhythm with our surroundings as time slows down. Next time you’re out in nature, allow yourself to be guided by the sun rising and setting. 

How To Reconnect With Nature & Yourself

  • Buy a plant for your desk
  • Watch a sunrise or sunset
  • Plant your own garden or a community garden
  • Have a picnic in the park
  • Go for a hike and listen to the sounds of nature
  • Take vacations in nature 
  • Do yoga on the beach
  • Look up at the stars 
  • Meditate by the ocean
  • Relax on a park bench with an inspiring book
  • Take a mindful walk in the park and notice the vibrancy of colors and textures
  • Hug a tree
  • Bird watch
  • Walk barefoot on the grass 

Nature is free and gives us the space to let go of our ruminating thoughts and reconnect with ourselves.

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How To Enrich Your Life Through Healthy Friendships

In today’s busy society, we often underestimate the impact our closest friendships have on our health and wellbeing. Having friends can make our lives richer, more vibrant and energetic.

While technology helps us stay connected with long-distance family and friends, it’s important to develop and nurture offline friendships too. As human beings we are social creatures – it’s in our DNA to be connected. 

Our friendships often determine our level of happiness. In the words of motivational speaker, Jim Rohn: ““You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  We are strongly influenced by those closest to us. Are the friendships in your life inspiring and supportive? To bring more positive connection into your life, create new friendships with people who will inspire you, encourage you, listen to you, help you grow and add more joy to your life.

How To Enrich Your Life Through Healthy Friendships

  • Be open to new people
  • Make the effort and commitment to build friendships
  • Have regular catch-ups 
  • Accept new invitations
  • Find new like-minded people with similar interests by joining a new group
  • Embrace quality friendships not quantity
  • Throw a dinner party
  • Workout with friends
  • Travel with friends
  • Make time for social gatherings

Healthy friendships provide a sense of belonging and play a vital role in our overall feeling of health and wellbeing.

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How To Heal Your Body With Whole Foods

Every day we make choices that will either support or worsen our health and wellbeing. The food you eat today impacts how you’ll live tomorrow. Food is supposed to be nourishing and pleasurable. Every time you eat, it’s an act of self-care but everything you put into your body is a choice you make and will have a direct impact on your mood, energy and health.

While eating on the go can seem like a time saver for busy people, it can actually have a detrimental effect on your digestive system leading to an upset stomach, heartburn, nausea, constipation or diarrhea. A healthy gut is the foundation for optimal health and wellbeing.

Thankfully a whole food plant-based diet helps your body receive the right nutrition through adsorption, digestion and elimination.

By adding a few small changes one step at a time, you can help improve your health right now. Start by replacing unhealthy foods with healthy whole food alternatives.

13 Healthy Food Swaps

  • Avocado or apple sauce instead of butter
  • Whole fruit instead of juice or smoothie
  • Plant milk instead of dairy
  • Cinnamon instead of sugar
  • Veggie bowls instead of burritos
  • Garden salad with walnuts instead of fries
  • Popcorn (plain)  instead of chips
  • Trail mix instead of candy
  • Brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice
  • Almond yogurt (unsweetened) instead of Greek yogurt
  • Frozen bananas instead of ice-cream
  • Cacao instead of cocoa
  • Energy balls instead of cookies

Would you like to add more plant-based foods to your diet? Book a session with me here

How Decluttering Can Change Your Life

Do you have clutter clogging up your mind and creating chaos in your life? Your environment speaks volumes when it comes to your health and wellness. Did you know a simple, clean and organized space can have a positive impact on your mind and body? The opposite is also true. A cluttered space can leave you feeling tired, disconnected, distracted and stressed.

In today’s society of ‘stuffocation’, many people give too much importance to their physical belongings often at the expense of their health happiness.

When I moved to Maui, I arrived with two suitcases. My neighbor at the time, gasped when she saw my luggage and told me I brought way too much stuff. What can I say? I was  keepin’ it real, city girl style. Apparently the rule when you move to Hawaii is to keep it simple. You bring the bare minimum and buy the rest when you arrive. However, it did teach me a new way of looking at things, especially the amount of stuff I owned. Gradually I began to declutter and downsize. 

Next time you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, it may be time to simplify. Simplicity allows you to clear your mind, free from the clutter that is interfering with your everyday living. It opens the door to new experiences as you start to feel more freedom, motivation and energy. It’s about letting go and learning to live with less stuff. 

Areas to Declutter

  • Your home
  • Finances
  • Health
  • Friendships 
  • Thoughts
  • Habits
  • Technology 
  • Social Media

Perhaps you’re familiar with the phrase, “nature abhors a vacuum”, which means once you create the space, nature will try to fill it. How many times have you cleaned out a closet or drawer only to find it gets filled up with more stuff? Make room to attract new things into your life.  Decluttering can change your life.

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