Articles

feeling-like-crap
Emotions & Resilience

Six Ways to Clear Mental Space When You Feel Like Crap

When we feel like crap, there tends to be a shift in our sensation of mental space. No one is happy all of the time. It is the dips in mood and experience which makes life the adventure it is. But some days, you just feel like crap, and all your brain can offer is “but you have no reason for this.”

Thanks brain. You tried.

So here are six tools to try out, the next time your monkey mind is full of emotional crap.

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1: Brain Dump

The first step is always to actually face whatever’s going on. Avoidance doesn’t help, and if you feel like crap, you’ve got nothing to lose by thinking about what may be contributing.

My favourite way is to set a timer for 60 seconds, grab the back of an opened envelope and biro, and write down everything going though my head at that moment.

If you like writing stream-of-consciousness or “dear diary” conversations, then go for it.

If you like lists, just bullet point the categories of item: * bills * mum’s birthday * health appointment *work project 3.

Once it’s all on paper, it creates a little bit of pressure of HOLDING it all, and remembering everything. Feel free to jot down items any time you feel overwhelmed so you can stop worrying about it, and clear a little bit of that space for vital information, like your favourite name for a pet lizard.

2: Make a Plan or List

Once you have a list of the issues, you can plan a solution for at least a couple of them.
* mum’s birthday can become a calendar appointment at 9pm tonight “buy mum’s present online.”

Anything you can either cross of the list immediately, or put a solid, concrete, practical plan into action to make progress on it in a timely manner will help ease the intensity of your thoughts.

3: Distract

Sometimes, when we’re feeling crap, it’s because we’re thinking about things that aren’t current: bad memories of the past or worries about the future. Perhaps it’s because we’re thinking “why do I feel so crap?”

Stop thinking, and distract yourself. For some people, putting on a comedy clip on youtube is enough to snap us out of the moment. For others, drawing or a hobby will help break that moment.

4: Connect

We are social beings, and one of the key things to build up that sense of positivity is contact with others. It can be as easy as texting a friend, or sending a video of baby goats racing to a friend online. That sense of connection naturally have the impact of making us feel less alone, and can impact the intensity of negative emotions.

5: Rest

Let yourself feel a bit crap, and curl up on the sofa with a nice film, or let yourself have a nap. Especially if you’ve tried the things above and still feel like shit. Let yourself rest for a bit, in case that helps. We so rarely let ourselves breathe.

6: Act

Focusing on how we feel emotionally, and on our thoughts, which often say unhelpful things, can sometimes increase how we PERCEIVE those feelings. Behaviours, or taking action, is often the best way to create mental space. Washing up a plate, dancing to a song, doing 5 press ups on the living carpet, or even just pacing up and doing. Get your body moving, take an action from that list we made above and get that sense of progress flowing.

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Of course, this list is not exhaustive of every option, but these are some good places to start when you just aren’t feeling great, and want to have a break from the emotions.

What do you find helpful in clearing mental space?

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Reflection & Patterns

Conquer Self-Development with the Right Practice For You

When it comes to self-development advice, we’re bombarded. Even I have a bundle of worksheets to help people find the tools which actually work for them. 

One thread comments on the importance of setting actionable goals. Another strand emphasises the role of visualisation and acting ‘as if.’ A third route professes the strength behind gratitude and just letting things naturally form in their own way: finding the opportunities and just saying Yes.

In reality, this is as useful as writing advice. The secret really is elusive amidst all the various advice and opinions:

What works is the tool or technique which ends up with you doing the thing.

Some writers need to plan ahead, to plot out the scenes and follow the map. Others find themselves inspired by hitting each crossroad and making the directional decision once they reach it. Some writers wake at 5am and do 3 solid hours of writing a day. Others stay up late, getting the words out in short, 15-minute bursts.

As for dieters, you know yourself best. I can easily stop eating chocolate by not having it in the house. I may crave it, but I’ll find honey or cocoa powder in a protein bar meets the need fine. However, if I have a 5-pack of chocolate bars in the house, I can’t just have 1 at a time. It’s not how I work.

In terms of self-development, the same rule applies.

Do What Works For You.

Now, this is mostly frustrating because at the beginning, its trial and error. And that includes that forbidden F-word: failure.

But equally, knowing which tools to try can be daunting. We’d all like to fail the fewest times possible before finding success, right?

The thing most people forget to do in this process, is Review each technique. Think back to the last goal or habit you attempted.

What ‘technique’ did you use:

  • an all-or-nothing approach
  • a well-planned strategy
  • small-but-steady steps of change
  • on-a-whim decisions
  • something else?

And did it work for you, this time?

Through reflecting on what worked for you, you’ll be able to learn which techniques are worth trying again.

Of course, we all change, and different situations may require approaches: but having an idea of what progress does or doesn’t look like for you, will speed up the process in both achieving your goals, and changing course as you notice things aren’t working.

It’s not the answer people necessarily want, but in reality, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We are all unique, and reflecting on our uniquity is the best way to discover what will lead us to the best results when it comes to self improvement.

 

Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Happiness in nature: log pile
Empowerment & Seeking

Happiness: The Truth about Self-help Tools

I began studying the psychology of my own experiences in 2004 with a book on Psycholinguistics and one on Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Since then, I’ve studied a bunch of qualifications, and have worked in social care, education, mental health and youth work fields.

Yet, there are some ‘lessons’ you don’t fully comprehend until you’ve lived them.

A few years ago, Christine Kane wrote an article about smiling after challenge, and a particular comment she made really stood out for me:

“That’s because when it comes right down to it, happiness is a lot about training.”

I sat and stared at that sentence. Happiness is about Training your Mind. That kind of rings true… and of course, it’s the whole point of my work, in a way. I want to share all that I know about training the mind to be healthy, happy and effective at learning, feeling and being.

Beyond all my talk about empowerment and inner strength, all my motivation for being a mentor to help people feel equipped for their personal quest: happiness is probably the most common desire in all of us.

The Personal Training Effect

Across the last 15 years or so, I’ve focused on any practise that may allow me to reach that potential, to complete my own personal quest.

I have all this knowledge about meditation, gratitude, visualisation, learning, associations, triggers, challenging our thoughts, and re-defining. But in reality, they’re all tools for experiencing happiness in the moment.

We’re all seeking happiness as someone hiring a personal trainer seeks health and wellbeing. And much like those sessions, it may take a few difficult tasks, pushing against our limits and trial and error to find the workout that gives us the desired results.

The Horizon Never Moves Closer

Similarly, goals generally require us to try various tools and methods, to fail until we learn enough to succeed.

Because really, growing in skills, ability and experience is what makes us human. Personal growth, in my view, means we’re really living.

Christine also reminds us in that article that we’re “…never going to ARRIVE at the horizon. That line where earth and sky meet will always be out in front of you.”

Which is amazing, really. In some ways, the true reach of human potential really is infinite.

It’s something I never remember, especially when I’m feeling bad and can’t explain why. It’s something I know, but can’t access the knowledge of. These little steps are the easiest, and perhaps most effective… But it’s important not to focus on the horizon, just focus on where you want to put your feet next.

 

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Reflection & Patterns

More Reflection: A Magic Key to Self-Improvement

There’s so much pressure in the modern day to be continually improving: to attain ‘success.’ And to feel fulfilment at every moment.

Defining Self-Improvement

As a millennial [defined very broadly as being born between 1980 and 2000], we’re expected to manage everything. From work, play, and having the perfect instagram feeds to being polite, never feel depressed, support a family, and de-clutter our lives all the time.

And yet, the price of food compared to our wages has a wider gap than it used to. We tend to work longer hours. Having access to work emails on mobiles doesn’t help us balance our time on things which will sustain us.

And yet, where on earth do you start on the path to self-improvement? With so many different theories to follow, never-ending research papers and variable results depending on the person, it’s hard to know how to begin.

The Inner Drive

I bought my first self-help book when I was around 12-years-old, and every step of my path has focused on the idea of improvement. Thinking back, I can’t remember a time I didn’t seek reaching some unknown potential. I was quietly obsessed with unlocking inner strength. Although I can’t explain where this unwavering faith in my possibilities comes from, I’ve had it for decades.

I’ve tried everything from CBT and taking up Karate (green belt, you know) to Desire-focused Planners, looking at my use of language and a regular practise of loving-kindness meditation to unlock this consistent sense of betterment.

A Key to Long-Term Success

It’s hard to advise what may work for different people, except via trial-and-error, but one method that’s at least worth considering is the idea of “Small Steps Add Up.” There’s a Japanese term described as Kaizen, which focuses on improving in 1% increments. The philosophy also considers the whole of self-improvement as a journey, rather than a destination.

As a seeker of my potential since I was young, I wage inner wars about this idea: that I can never truly reach my fullest potential because we change with life experience. Yet, it is through striving to be better that allows us to improve.

Remembering Your Level

This week, a friend and fellow write Ellie Di Julio posted about a multi-story car park sign, and the meanings associated with its message: Remember Your Level.

In the midst of that post, she wrote something that really struck a chord with me:

“But the key to leveling up is knowing where you are now.”

This is so often the missed-out-step in self-improvement. How can we measure if a 1% increase, collective baby steps, make a difference without knowing where we started?

I’m currently running my Bring About Balance group program, and it’s been interesting to watch how various people ‘take stock’ of their current situation, and what may be working well, as well as the perceived desires for change.

“Knowing where you are in relation to where you were is how you get to where you’re going.”

It’s time to reflect: What’s your level?

New here? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Flower in garden
Emotions & Resilience

How To Manage Difficult Emotions :: Recognition

Around ten years ago, I was part of a Buddhist meditation class. After a particularly stressful week, in which I’d not been allocated a supervisor for a project, I came into the class in a pretty low mood.

When I checked in, my teacher’s first question was How does that feel?”

I feel betrayed, hurt and angry.

“Okay. Why?”

Because that means all three of my choices were given the option, and turned me down.

“Okay, so it feels personal. Is it really though?”

Well, they’re over-subscribed and they can only take so many people, so I know it’s not intended personally, but it still hurts.

“Okay, good. What if you couldn’t feel that betrayal and hurt? Stop thinking and feel. What would it be like if you could not feel hurt? Who would you be without them?”

Erm.. I’d still be me, just me who didn’t feel betrayed?

“Alright.. I mean what feelings and what is left of you if you couldn’t feel betrayed?”

And I stopped. And felt. Really felt my body, my headspace – explored the possibilities.

Tired.

“Ahh. You feel tired. So this is tiredness.”

The idea of the exercise wasn’t to stop feeling the emotions or to block out my experience. If anything, it added to the feelings; I noticed that I’m full of worry, of fear and of tiredness, beneath all those feelings of anger, betrayal and hurt.

In The Body

However, I noticed that those emotions; they’re not in my head; they’re in my body.

I’m generally familiar with feeling my emotions but this was a revelation to me.

This was a technique Hiro Boga used in a Sovereignty Kindergarten class back in 2010 too – and I remember I only tried it once that summer, but got really strong feelings from it. The focus was different, but the technique was the same; the results of a profound “Woah, I feel like this and I had no idea” are the same.

Since I first tried this in meditation, I’ve been trying to check in with it; with the “Vedana” or sensations; the emotions I feel within my body. Sometimes we can go so long without actually ‘being’ with ourselves.

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So today I’m asking you to connect. Consider this post your little reminder to check-in with your body.

Let’s start the conversation between mind, body and emotion.

  1. Have you found yourself feeling frustrated or angry lately? Where did you feel it?
  2. What feelings are behind, under or embracing that anger? If you removed that ability to feel frustrated: what would be left?
  3. And where do you feel that in your body?

How do you see your emotions?
Do you ever look beneath the surface?

 

Welcome to Map Your Potential. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Emotions & Resilience

The Truth Behind Emotions: Important Conversations with Fear

Fear. We all experience it.

But we often don’t recognise it for what it is.

Many coaches talk about the unhelpful responses in different ways: they may be defined as “limiting beliefs”, “unhelpful automatic thoughts”, the “gremlins”, the “inner critic”, your “mean-girl voice” or even “monsters.”

However, at the end of the day, we all experience this voice; and it’s often hard to know how to handle it. I call mine Kitten.

Katy with A Fearful Kitten

What The Voice Does

  • The voice stops us.
  • It makes us feel low, causes us doubt and worry.
  • It criticises us and finds fault in what we’re doing.
  • We begin to feel de-motivated.
  • Our progress on our tasks slow.
  • Often, we slow down. We stop pursuing that dream, or we take a rest from that job.

But in doing this, it’s doing something very innate. Very instinctive. It’s powering those emotions for a reason.

Your brain is trying to protect you.

“Your monster is small and vulnerable and fuzzy. And it just wants to know that you’ll be okay. And that’s why it makes itself so big and fierce — to scare you into letting it take care of you” (Havi Brooks, 2010.)

What The Voice Wants

It wants to keep you safe.

Honestly, if you really dig down and ask where that voice came from, you’ll find one thing at it’s base: FEAR.

What If…

  • I fail, like running out of money?
  • I end up alone?
  • I’m embarrassed?
  • I can’t make it work?
  • I don’t survive?
  • Everyone else is right and I can’t do this?
  • I never recover?
  • I lose all my reputation?

This is the hind-brain: the reptilian part of us which is trained to perceive threat and plan the possible ways to stay alive, safe and uninjured.

The lizard brain does not know that the worry, the anxiety, the concerns are about your social reputation in a public speaking event.For all the instinctive brain knows, you’re hidden in a bush from a hungry tiger out to eat you.

Your voice is trying to help you: to problem solve all the possible options: including perceiving those threats so you can make an informed decision.

This understanding doesn’t change the emotion, but it can inform how we respond to those moments.

How To Manage Unhelpful and Fearful Thoughts

  1. The first thing I did, was stop being upset with it. I call mine Kitten, to remind me of the vulnerable, frightened voice it really is.
    • This isn’t a Mean Girl trying to bully you because you’re a failure. It’s a tiny kitten saying: “Are you sure you’ll be okay? I’m worried.”
  2. The second thing is to uncover the fear. Have that internal conversation to really explore what the worry is about.
  3. Now you know the worry, you can find the appropriate response.
    • Is the worry true? Is it likely to happen? If so, how would you handle it?
  4. And, although a little ‘woo,’ I find it helpful to visualise an actual kitten, because it just takes away some of the power in how I perceive this negative voice.
    • It doesn’t hurt to be grateful for the information your brain has told you because it worries you’ve not made a plan and thus might panic in the moment.
    • Reassure your voice that you’ve got this -> You’ve made a note of the concern, here is the action plan and it can go back to sleep now.

If you’d like some support to manage your inner kitten, you can always apply for a free consultation about my mentorship sessions.

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Creative Tools

Why Creativity Matters, and How To Cultivate It

Creative thinking is a tricky thing to define. Some call it a skill; one that you either have or you don’t. Some say it requires inspiration, while others say it can be cultivated and “learnt”.

When I looked at creativity as a student, Einstein was viewed as a creative scientist, Leonardo da Vinci was seen to be a creative artist and composers like Mozart had their own version of creativity.

However, the definition is still hazy around the edges. Is creative art the same as creative science or even “innovative problem-solving?” Are engineers and mathematicians creative too?

What might the difference be between the Mona Lisa and the Theory of Relativity? Would you call one more creative than the other?

Despite these differences, two common aspects of defining a creative thought are purpose and novelty.

One of the purposes I can usually find for creativity is that it allows us to problem-solve. If you feel stressed and need solutions, or you’re faced with a new change, your creativity allows you to stand up to that event or situation, and find a way through it.

Therefore, nurturing our creativity is part of nurturing our resilience.

The Process

The scientific view of creativity and creative-thinking seems to have a short-fall in the literature. However, the explanations of some movement practises and anecdotal experience can give us a peek at the neuronal systems which support this event.

For those without a neuroscience degree, essentially, our brain is a bunch of wires which connect all areas to nearly all the other areas. However, the wires are not all linked to each other directly; but via many connections (i.e. A-B-C-D connects A-D, but there may not be any no wires from A to C or A to D directly).

In practices which utilise a mixture of skills, our brains can actually create these short-cuts and join areas which previously didn’t communicate at all, or only slowly (via ten little paths). This is where the “epiphanies” or new, creative ideas stem from: new or improved communication between parts of the brain that didn’t previous chat leads to insights we hadn’t previously accessed.

Connecting the Dots

Each time you act, neurons fire along the wires in your brain, and that path gets strengthened. For example, if you were to cross a field, you may find it slow-going. You trip over the molehills while falling down the surprise ditch and weave around the dog excrement and broken glass. It takes effort and time to watch out for danger and keep in line with your destination – a tiny gap in the fence at the other end which takes you onto the pavement.

After walking the route 5 days a week, for 2 years; the grass is flattened where you walk; the molehills are squashed down and you automatically hop over the ditch without even thinking. It takes you less time and energy to get across the field than it did before.

In your brain, there are little pulses of energy which travel down wires. In between two wires; there are ditches. If they use the same route enough; the neurotransmitter is increased; creating a kind-of bridge at the ditch so you save time; not even having to jump over it. The pulses slide down the wires instead of pushing through the bracken, so the whole journey is faster and more efficient.


So, creativity can aid our resilience: our ability to ‘bounce back’ from set-backs in our lives.

Want more creativity to flow your way? 

1. Do Things Together

The best way to connect your brain is to learn new things; or do things differently. Mix these up with something you find easy or is automated to draw on an already-existent connection.

So for me, brushing my teeth is an automated process. I don’t have to think about how to hold the brush or which tooth to brush next; it just happens. So, I can change the hand I hold the brush with to start changing my neurons. My balance is mediocre, so maybe I’ll stand on one leg throughout brushing my teeth too.  If that’s not your thing, what about re-learning the second language you took in school? Stick up a list of Irish verbs on the wall; and read them while brushing your teeth. (I did this every day for a year… “Go n-ithe an cat thú is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat!” is a useful phrase.)

2. Mix It Up

You want to mix the areas of the brain up; using a bit from each. So we have spatial, verbal, numerate, physical movement and visualisation/planning which all have their own areas.

This is why the above example uses movement (brushing teeth), spatial or balance (where my leg is in space), and verbal (second language learning), which will likely use visualisation if you visualise the action / object vividly.

3. Short but Strong

Do these mixed-up-items often, intensely, but for short bursts. And rest a lot between them. I brush my teeth 2 – 3 times a day, for 3 – 4 minutes each time.  That’s enough for a big change, and is more efficient (and less time-consuming) than spending two hours on one day each week doing it.

4. Keep Changing It Up

Once it becomes habit, switch it up! Keep that brain learning new routes! Move onto algebra equations and tap-dance or hold one arm out while brushing your teeth. Or waiting for the kettle to boil. Put 100 new Italian nouns up to learn on the wall by your bed.

How do you get creative?

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Empowerment & Seeking

Meditation as a Genuine Path to Improved Potential

I used to meditate every day.

At some point between moving in with my husband and earlier this year, the habit had just… faded.

Our ‘life’ is really a cumulation of the daily choices we make.

For me, meditation is a space for my mind to breathe. I don’t notice much when I practise, but I do notice the lack of clarity and patience when I don’t.

I’ve never done more than about 5-minutes a day, so I’m not asking myself for huge amounts of time or energy, and yet I had probably gone a few months without meditation before I really *noticed.*

The ahar moment; that sense of understanding one of the contributing factors at least, to my stress and feeling of constant overwhelm.

Small, Daily Steps Add Up

I’ve currently committed to myself three ‘meditation sessions’ a week, of at least 60-seconds.

That’s 3 minutes a WEEK.

It’s Key to Think Long Term.

If I expect myself to meditate 5-minutes daily, that’s 35-minutes a week. And if I miss two days in a row, what is the likelihood of me finishing that week off? Something stopped me from getting started twice – that block is likely to continue to exist.

So across a month, I might get those first 3 days in, then miss a day, but then complete another 2 days. By the end of the second week though, it’s dwindled to once a week as a desperate measure.

The result? I complete 45 minutes across the month, and feel stressed by the end, seeing it as a chore and only half paying-attention to the practise.

Alternatively…

I can commit to 3-minutes a week. After the first week, I think I’ll up one of those practises to 2-minutes. By the end of a fortnight, I’m completed 10 minutes. Sometimes, I do 2 sessions, because I’m beginning to feel the effects, and I don’t do anything else while the kettle boils anyway.

By the end of week 3, I’m feeling incredibly accomplished, and I’ve done 6 sessions of 2-minutes: just because it felt so easy to let the timer run-over slightly.

And then we end the month of tiny steps with around 45-minutes, but my daily mini-practise resets my stress levels regularly, doesn’t add to my never-ending to-do list, and I have a habit I can build up to 5-minutes, or even just leave it where it is. If I have a ‘bad week,’ I can still keep my commitment of three-minutes a week, even if I suddenly realise I need to do all 3-minutes last thing on a Sunday night.

The Take Home Message

If you want to be someone who does a certain behaviour, pick the smallest, tiny commitment, and make it.

Make it TODAY. Not tomorrow, not on August 1st: Now.

If it would help you to be accountable, leave a comment here, or pop over to the facebook group and update us each weekend with your progress!

 

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Empowerment & Seeking

How To Map Out Small, Daily Steps To Successful Change

We dream of things being different, and it’s frustrating to feel so far away from that possible future. When our daily steps don’t match our values. Anything which blocks our sense of progress towards our best self, feels stressful and overwhelming. Be that a known obstacle to a goal, or not knowing how exactly to reach a life where we are more fulfilled.

We all have changes we want to make, and there are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to set ‘smart’ goals, choose focus ‘words’, organise our time or work on visualisation to walk the path towards that potential.

Before we start thinking about changes, let’s spend a few moments thinking about how we define our situation.

What Changes To Make?

So often, when asked about goal-setting or making changes to how we feel, think, or behave, we focus on an end-result, an accomplishment of some description. We think about ‘reaching the end,’ and often this image has a sense of being effortless.

However, thinking about how we define our current state, we’re likely thinking about the last few days or weeks. What we did each day, how much energy we lacked, or how many things we didn’t get done.

We judge our present based on the day-to-day experience. What steps did you take today, towards that final goal?

What we want isn’t always some ‘outcome’ but actually for our days in the future to just feel lighter; for the experience of living to be that bit better.

So in reality, to make changes to that daily feeling, we need to look at our day’s current structure.

A Daily Steps Check-list

  1. Did anything today give you a sense of progress towards your best self? List any actions or events which brought you to life, got your passions going or at least brought about relief at being accomplished. Even those tiny daily steps count.
  2. What zapped your energy today? Think about the activities you did or the thoughts you focused on which left you feeling drained, panicked or overwhelmed. List them out separately, and if there are any you can remove: do so! You may need to think about if you could do them less often, or if you could swap these tasks with another person. We’ll come back to this list later.
  3. Focus on values. What sense would you like in future days? Would you choose a sense of motivation, perhaps more energy to complete tasks or just feeling free to breathe in between various tasks? Think about the values of the activities you listed for question 1, and see if any themes come up.
  4. Think about pace. Although some things may be out of our control, when trying to fit everything in, we can sometimes make decisions that squeeze us for time, or that we know aren’t going to serve us well one those days. Think about the pace of each day when making plans, especially if you’re able to ‘tone down’ some activities. For example, coffee with a friend may take too much time with travel, but when you decline, offer a 30-minute phone call to catch up as an alternative plan.
  5. Shape your future days. How would the day look, if you had more energy, more freedom or were making regular progress? Schedule an ‘ideal’ day like a diary, and notice if any of those aspects could sneak their way into your current days. For example, if an ideal day begins with 15 minutes of meditation, can you put a 1-minute mindfulness practice into place tomorrow morning?

In order to change our future, we need to look at how we live each day.

In part two, we’ll focus on incorporating small, achievable routines to bring about grand change.

*~*

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Creative Tools

Three Steps to Reach Effective Creative Energy

Being a creative soul can hold specific challenges. The skills used to keep creativity going mean we tend to analyse things, and notice patterns differently. Although this gives us part of our power, in creative endeavours, it can also mean that we get blocked in quite specific ways.

Whether you write stories, paint landscapes, write musical scores or choreograph dance moves; we all get blocked.

Commonly referred to as ‘writer’s block’, I know that all creative folk can experience that mental block which stifles our creativity. Some people find it helpful to push though – writing despite the lack of inspiration, while others feel that taking a bit of space from the project can let our mind settle down, and encourage the shy muse to appear.

1. Mindfulness

Whatever is blocking you, a few minutes of mindfulness can really help create some space for that mental block.

It can be as simple as closing your eyes taking a low, deep breath and connecting with your body. Feel the floor beneath you, and notice the sounds, temperature or smells around you. Just connect to this moment, for 10 seconds. If you can take a bit longer, do so.

Reconnecting with the moment gives our mind a chance to reconnect with ourselves.

I have a little bell sound on my phone which goes ding twice a day to remind me just to pause, and check in with myself. This really helps bring my mental energy back into focus.

Could you create a minute of mindfulness each day?

2. Check Your Story

Our own self-talk is a crucial part of how we perceive ourselves. How do you think about your creative journey? What obstacles have you overcome to reach where you are now? Sometimes it can be helpful to just ask yourself if your thoughts, if that self-talk is helpful right now.

Are you worrying about being good enough, or feeling like your work isn’t good enough?

Do you have those voices in your head saying you’ll never reach success, or wondering how you’re going to get out of your current rut?

Not every thought is a fact, and our thoughts CAN be controlled, to some extent.

It’s a great idea to just check in with the things we tell ourselves, particularly as, being creative thinkers, we often come up with elaborate possibilities which likely don’t have any evidence behind them: including negative thoughts about ourselves and our creations.

What story are you telling yourself? Is it entirely true, or could you re-frame it a little?

3. Permission to Stop

I’m currently committed to writing at least one word of new fiction a day, but sometimes allowing yourself a break from a project is the best action to ‘reset’ your creativity. To some extent, finding what works for you is key, but even between different projects, times of year or just your own mental state, different things will work for you.

The next time you feel blocked, take a day off and see how you feel about the project after a bit of a break. Let yourself brainstorm or put the project away for a few days and don’t let yourself think about it.

How much ‘downtime’ do you allow yourself from your creations, to let them percolate? 

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