When it comes to job coaching, almost every conversation I have with a client involves the topic of communication. The motives can vary widely: Some people want to be more assertive, others need help with conflict management, and still others find it hard to speak their minds in a group setting.
As I reflect on all the conversations I have, I realize that most of the time, we’re not talking about complex ideas. It’s really the basics about workplace communication that seem to trip most people up.
So, since we could all use a good reminder, here are the top five things I help my clients with when it comes to communication. Identify the ones that you need to work on, and start moving them into your conversation skill set today.
1. Stop Saying “But” and Start Saying “And”
Do you ever catch yourself saying things like, “I love that idea, but we need to do it differently?”
Instead, use “and:” “I love that idea, and I think a slightly different approach would be most effective.”
Hear the difference?
In her book Bossypants, Tina Fey breaks down the rules of improv. One of those rules is to always say “yes, and….” This shows respect for what your partner has to say (even if you don’t agree), helps you keep an open mind about the act, and invites you to contribute to the conversation by building on the other person’s idea or adding your own ideas. Same goes for communicating at work.
2. Stick With the Facts
Often, I’ll hear someone make a statement that most likely isn’t rooted in fact—like, “She’s out to get me,” “My boss hates me,” or “I know she’s sorry she hired me.”
I always respond with a few questions: “Is that a fact? Did she tell you that, or are you drawing a conclusion based on observations?”
Communicating effectively is difficult enough; don’t add to it by making up stories that aren’t based in reality. Good communicators stay rooted in facts.
Remember that the facts of any issue could be quite different from your perception of it. Maybe the way you see a situation has to do with your unique work style, or simply that your boss is totally stressed out and taking it out on you. No matter what, unless you have the facts, it’s best to refrain from color commentary and focus on getting to the root of the issue.
3. Avoid “Position Defending”
When people cite communication issues in the workplace, it’s often less about communication and more about defending their position.
For example, let’s say that two co-workers, Megan and Jason, are discussing a project. Megan says, “This project is overwhelming the team; we need more help.” Jason says, “We’ll be able to handle it. Everyone will just have to put in some extra hours.”
Instead of having a meaningful dialogue about what defines each of their observations, Megan gets frustrated because Jason “isn’t hearing her.” And Jason thinks Megan sounds like a broken record, going on about how overwhelmed she is.
That’s not communication. That’s position defending.
Great communicators, on the other hand, ask questions and strive to understand all sides of the issue—instead of constantly repeating their side of the story.
For example, Jason might say, “What parts of the project are overwhelming to you?” or, “Tell me more about what you’re seeing as the bottlenecks.”
Do you see how simply exploring others’ ideas can help you rise above your frustration and get you to higher ground?
In the iconic tome The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey espoused, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” We should all be willing to understand the other as much as we want our own point of view to be understood.
While you may think that silence is negative or uncomfortable, it serves conversation by allowing listeners time to process what’s been said and giving speakers time to organize their thoughts before responding—without feeling rushed.
So, the next time you’re in a dialogue and it deserves your full attention, find an opportunity to practice silence. Spend a few extra moments absorbing what’s been said and intentionally thinking through your response before you speak. Learn to value and leverage those moments of silence instead of fearing them—as a way to build a better dialogue.
5. Actively Engage the Other Point of View
When a U.S. college student recently returned from an internship with a major hotel chain in the U.K., I asked him what the most challenging part was.
The biggest challenge, he said, was communicating with his co-workers in a way in which they could truly understand him. To do that, he had to get a sense of where they came from, how well they spoke English, and their assigned job. And typically, that was different for each and every person.
What a great example of high performance communication!
For people to really hear you—and you to hear them—you need to understand that everyone carries filters, beliefs, assumptions, experiences, and cultural influences that shape their point of view. The most difficult part? You can’t physically see any of these things.
In short, just because you say something, it doesn’t mean that others hear you. Great communicators take time to understand where others are coming from, whether it’s influenced by cultural, professional, or personal factors. Once you understand those differences, you can communicate in a way that enhances your ability to be heard.
Great communicators may be born—but (er, and) they’re also made. Try using at least one of these strategies this week, and see how you can up your communication effectiveness. Your colleagues will notice, and you’ll find new confidence and level of satisfaction in your work.
We all know the uncomfortable feeling of anxiety. Our hearts race, our fingers sweat, and our breathing gets shallow and labored. We experience racing thoughts about a perceived threat that we think is too much to handle. That’s because our “fight or flight” response has kicked in, resulting in sympathetic arousal and a narrowing of attention and focus on avoiding the threat. We seem to be locked in that state, unable to focus on our daily chores or longer-term goals. As a Cognitive-Behavior Therapist with more than 15 years of experience, I have found a variety of techniques that I can teach my patients with anxiety disorders such as phobias, panic attacks, or chronic worry. Some are based on changing thoughts, others on changing behavior, and still others involve physiological responses. The more aspects of anxiety I can decrease, the lower the chance of relapse post-therapy. Below are six strategies that you can use to help your anxiety:
(1) Reevaluating the probability of the threatening event actually happening
Anxiety makes us feel threat is imminent yet most of the time what we worry about never happens. By recording our worries and how many came true, we can notice how much we overestimate the prospect of negative events.
Even if a bad event happened, we may still be able to handle it by using our coping skills and problem-solving abilities or by enlisting others to help. Although not pleasant, we could still survive encountering a spider, having a panic attack, or losing money. It’s important to realize that very few things are the end of the world.
(3) Using deep breathing and relaxation to calm down
By deliberately relaxing our muscles we begin to calm down so we can think clearly. If you practice this without a threat present at first, it can start to become automic and will be easier to use in the moment when you face a threat. Deep breathing engages the parasympathetic nervous system to put the brakes on sympathetic arousal.
(4) Becoming mindful of our own physical and mental reactions
The skill of mindfulness involves calmly observing our own reactions, including fear, without panic or feeling compelled to act. It is something that can be taught in therapy and improves with practice.
(5) Accepting the Fear and Committing to Living a Life Based on Core Values
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an approach that encourages people to accept the inevitability of negative thoughts and feelings and not try to repress or control them. By directing attention away from the fear and back onto life tasks and valued goals, we can live a full life despite the fear.
Exposure is the most powerful technique for anxiety and it involves facing what we fear and staying in the situation long enough for the fear to habituate or go down, as it naturally does. Fear makes us avoid or run away, so our minds and bodies never learn that much of what we fear is not truly dangerous.
It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.
Are morning people born or made? In my case it was definitely made. In my early 20s, I rarely went to bed before midnight, and I’d almost always sleep in late. I usually didn’t start hitting my stride each day until late afternoon.
But after a while I couldn’t ignore the high correlation between success and rising early, even in my own life. On those rare occasions where I did get up early, I noticed that my productivity was almost always higher, not just in the morning but all throughout the day. And I also noticed a significant feeling of well-being. So being the proactive goal-achiever I was, I set out to become a habitual early riser. I promptly set my alarm clock for 5AM…
… and the next morning, I got up just before noon.
I tried again many more times, each time not getting very far with it. I figured I must have been born without the early riser gene. Whenever my alarm went off, my first thought was always to stop that blasted noise and go back to sleep. I tabled this habit for a number of years, but eventually I came across some sleep research that showed me that I was going about this problem the wrong way. Once I applied those ideas, I was able to become an early riser consistently.
It’s hard to become an early riser using the wrong strategy. But with the right strategy, it’s relatively easy.
The most common wrong strategy is this: You assume that if you’re going to get up earlier, you’d better go to bed earlier. So you figure out how much sleep you’re getting now, and then just shift everything back a few hours. If you now sleep from midnight to 8am, you figure you’ll go to bed at 10pm and get up at 6am instead. Sounds very reasonable, but it will usually fail.
It seems there are two main schools of thought about sleep patterns. One is that you should go to bed and get up at the same times every day. It’s like having an alarm clock on both ends — you try to sleep the same hours each night. This seems practical for living in modern society. We need predictability in our schedules. And we need to ensure adequate rest.
The second school says you should listen to your body’s needs and go to bed when you’re tired and get up when you naturally wake up. This approach is rooted in biology. Our bodies should know how much rest we need, so we should listen to them.
Through trial and error, I found out for myself that both of these schools are suboptimal sleep patterns. Both of them are wrong if you care about productivity. Here’s why:
If you sleep set hours, you’ll sometimes go to bed when you aren’t sleepy enough. If it’s taking you more than five minutes to fall asleep each night, you aren’t sleepy enough. You’re wasting time lying in bed awake and not being asleep. Another problem is that you’re assuming you need the same number of hours of sleep every night, which is a false assumption. Your sleep needs vary from day to day.
If you sleep based on what your body tells you, you’ll probably be sleeping more than you need — in many cases a lot more, like 10-15 hours more per week (the equivalent of a full waking day). A lot of people who sleep this way get 8+ hours of sleep per night, which is usually too much. Also, your mornings may be less predictable if you’re getting up at different times. And because our natural rhythms are sometimes out of tune with the 24-hour clock, you may find that your sleep times begin to drift.
The optimal solution for me has been to combine both approaches. It’s very simple, and many early risers do this without even thinking about it, but it was a mental breakthrough for me nonetheless. The solution was to go to bed when I’m sleepy (and only when I’m sleepy) and get up with an alarm clock at a fixed time (7 days per week). So I always get up at the same time (in my case 5am), but I go to bed at different times every night.
I go to bed when I’m too sleepy to stay up. My sleepiness test is that if I couldn’t read a book for more than a page or two without drifting off, I’m ready for bed. Most of the time when I go to bed, I’m asleep within three minutes. I lie down, get comfortable, and immediately I’m drifting off. Sometimes I go to bed at 9:30pm; other times I stay up until midnight. Most of the time I go to bed between 10-11pm. If I’m not sleepy, I stay up until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. Reading is an excellent activity to do during this time, since it becomes obvious when I’m too sleepy to read.
When my alarm goes off every morning, I turn it off, stretch for a couple seconds, and sit up. I don’t think about it. I’ve learned that the longer it takes me to get up, the more likely I am to try to sleep in. So I don’t allow myself to have conversations in my head about the benefits of sleeping in once the alarm goes off. Even if I want to sleep in, I always get up right away.
After a few days of using this approach, I found that my sleep patterns settled into a natural rhythm. If I got too little sleep one night, I’d automatically be sleepier earlier and get more sleep the next night. And if I had lots of energy and wasn’t tired, I’d sleep less. My body learned when to knock me out because it knew I would always get up at the same time and that my wake-up time wasn’t negotiable.
A side effect was that on average, I slept about 90 minutes less per night, but I actually felt more well-rested. I was sleeping almost the entire time I was in bed.
I read that most insomniacs are people who go to bed when they aren’t sleepy. If you aren’t sleepy and find yourself unable to fall asleep quickly, get up and stay awake for a while. Resist sleep until your body begins to release the hormones that rob you of consciousness. If you simply go to bed when you’re sleepy and then get up at a fixed time, you’ll cure your insomnia. The first night you’ll stay up late, but you’ll fall asleep right away. You may be tired that first day from getting up too early and getting only a few hours of sleep the whole night, but you’ll slog through the day and will want to go to bed earlier that second night. After a few days, you’ll settle into a pattern of going to bed at roughly the same time and falling asleep right away.
So if you want to become an early riser (or just exert more control over your sleep patterns), then try this: Go to bed only when you’re too sleepy to stay up, and get up at a fixed time every morning.
One of the biggest problems people face is the lack of discipline — they have goals or habits they want to achieve, but lack that discipline needed to stick with it.
Then we beat ourselves up about it. We feel crappy because we can’t stick with it.
And that leads to more failure, because we’re forming a mindset that we don’t have the necessary discipline.
Here’s what to do when you face a situation like this:
1. Forgive yourself. You aren’t perfect. No one is. Realize that beating yourself up will only make things worse. Take a few slow, deep breaths and let it go. Forgive yourself. And move on.
2. Realize that discipline is an illusion. While discipline is a common concept, it doesn’t actually exist. It’s not a thing you can actually do. Think about it: people say discipline is pushing yourself to do something you don’t want to do. But how do you do that? What skill is required? There isn’t a skill — it’s just forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do. And that requires … some kind of motivation. Without motivation, you won’t be able to force yourself to do anything. So motivation is the key concept — and this is something that’s real, that you can actually learn how to do.
3. Focus on motivation. What’s your motivation for pursuing the goal or habit? How will you sustain the motivation when you struggle? Have very strong motivations for doing something, and write them down. Commit publicly. When things get tough, remind yourself of your motivation. Focus on it. It’ll pull you along — that’s more powerful than trying to focus on the push of discipline.
4. Make it easy. Discipline is tough because whatever the task or habit you’re trying to do is tough. Instead, make it easy. Remove barriers. Having a hard time exercising? Make it ridiculously easy, by only exercising for 5 minutes. What use is exercising for 5 minutes? You’re creating the habit, not getting yourself into shape overnight. The 5 minutes of exercise will have only a tiny impact on your health, but it makes exercise super easy. If you can do that 30 days in a row, you now have an exercise habit. Hate waking up early to go to the gym? Do it at home. Do it during lunch or after work.
5. Focus on enjoyment. It’s hard to push yourself — to have discipline — when you hate doing something. So find something enjoyable about the activity. If you don’t look forward to exercise, find some good music, or a workout partner who you can have a nice conversation with, or a peaceful setting in nature that is just beautiful. And focus on that enjoyable aspect. Hate doing your paperwork? Find a peaceful sanctuary where you can do the paperwork and enjoy yourself. Maybe have a nice cup of tea or coffee, play some nice music. And focus on the enjoyment.
6. Repeat. You’ll almost inevitably slip up sometime, no matter how good you are. Unfortunately, people often take this to mean they don’t have discipline, and they just beat themselves up and give up. Well, it’s just a bump in the road. Get up, dust yourself off, and get going again. Start from Step 1 and start all over.
“The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?”
– Dale Carnegie
“Who was Dale Carnegie?” you may wonder. Well, he was a guy that was born 110 years ago. He died in 1955. He was a rich man, a very successful man.
He wrote a little book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. It went on to sell over 30 million copies. It still sells today and is probably one of the best books on how to improve your social skills.
Carnegie then continued to write more books and to create courses on how to interact with people, on how to make friends and on how to gain influence.
Here are 10 of my favourite tips from Dale Carnegie. And as the opening quote says, these tips have been time-tested for the last few hundreds or thousands of years. They are pretty solid.
1. Create your own emotions.
“If you want to be enthusiastic, act enthusiastic.”
Emotions work backwards too. You can use that to your advantage. If you are stuck in a negative emotion then you can often shake it off. Change your body – how you move, sit and stand – and act as you would like to feel. Enthusiasm and other positive emotions are much more useful and pleasurable for everyone in an interaction. Because…
2. It’s not so much about the logical stuff.
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”
This is so key. Logic is good but in the end, in interactions and in life, we are emotional creatures. We send and receive emotions from other people. That is one reason why body language and voice tonality is often said be up to 93% of communication. Now, those numbers were for some specific situations but I still believe that these two ways of communication are very, very important.
The body language and the voice tonality is a bit like the rest of the iceberg, the great mass below the tip of the words we use. Those two things communicate how we are feeling and give indication to what we are thinking. And that’s why it’s important to be able to change how you feel. To be in a positive mood while interacting. Because that will have a great impact on how you say something and how you use your body. And those two things will have a big impact on your results and relationships.
3. Three things you are better off avoiding.
“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.”
Now these things may not be easy to avoid all together. Much of our interactions and perhaps even bonds are created and maintained through those three negative C’s. There is a sort of twisted pleasure in criticising, condemning and complaining. It might make you feel more important and like a better person as you see yourself as a victim or as you condemn other people’s behaviour.
But in the end these three C’s are negative and limiting to your life. Bringing up negative stuff and wallowing in it will lower your mood, motivation and general levels of wellbeing. And this can trap you in a negative spiral of complaining, complaining with other complainers and always finding faults in your reality.
You will also be broadcasting and receiving negative emotions. And people in general want to feel good. So this can really put an obstacle in the way for your interactions or relationships.
4. What is most important?
“The royal road to a man’s heart is to talk to him about the things he treasures most.”
Classic advice. Don’t talk too much about yourself and your life. Listen to other people instead. However, if they ramble on and on, if they don’t reciprocate and show and interest in your life then you don’t have to stay.
Some things people may treasure the most include ideas, children, a special hobby and the job. And…
5. Focus outward, not inward.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
A lot of people use the second, far less effective way. It is appealing because it’s about instant gratification and about ME, ME, ME! The first way – to become interested in people – perhaps works better because it make you a pleasant exception and because the law of reciprocity is strong in people. As you treat people, they will treat you. Be interested in them and they will be interested in you.
I would like to add that one hard thing about this can be to be genuinely interested in the other guy/gal. Your genuine interest is projected though your body language and tonality. So, just waiting for the other person to stop talking so you can talk again isn’t really genuine interest. And that may shine through. And so your interactions will suffer.
6. Take control of your emotions.
“The person who seeks all their applause from outside has their happiness in another’s keeping.”
It wrote about this problem a few days ago in 9 Great Ways to Make Yourself Absolutely Miserable. And it basically consist of being too reliant or dependent on external validation from other people. External validation is something someone communicates to you that tells you that you are person of value. That you, for example, are pretty, smart or successful.
This leaves much of your emotions in the hands of other people. It becomes an emotional roller coaster. One day you feel great. The next day you feel like just staying in bed.
But if you fill that inner cup of validation for yourself instead then you take over the wheel. Now you’re driving, now you control how you feel. You can still appreciate compliments of course, but you aren’t dependent on them.
This will make you more emotionally stable and enables you to cultivate and build your emotional muscles in a more controlled way. You can for instance help yourself to become more optimistic or enthusiastic more of the time. This stability and growth can be big help in your relationships.
7. No, they are not holding you back.
“Instead of worrying about what people say of you, why not spend time trying to accomplish something they will admire.”
Caring too much about what people think will create and feed imaginary monsters within your mind. You may for instance think that people will condemn you if you try something. Maybe they will. But most of the time people are thinking about their own challenges and ups and downs. They just don’t care that much about what you do.
This may feel disappointing. It can also be liberating. It helps you remove inner obstacles that are you holding yourself back.
As you, bit by bit or in one big swoop, release those inner brakes you become more of yourself. You become more confident, you have a better chance at success, and you will feel more positive feelings and less negative ones. All these things can give a big boost to your interactions and help you sharpen those social skills.
8. So, what’s in it for me?
“There is only one way… to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.”
If you want someone to do something then will they care about your motivation for getting this thing done? Perhaps. Often they will not have that great of an interest in what you want out of something.
They want to know what they will get out of it. So, for the both of you to get what you want out of something tell that person what’s in it for him/her. And try to be genuine and positive about it. A reason for them to do it delivered in a lame, half-assed manner may not be so persuasive. And so you both lose.
9. How to win an argument.
“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.”
Getting two egos wrapped up in an argument, having two sides defending their positions desperately, will not improve relationships. You are more likely to feel negative feelings towards each other long after the argument is over. And so you both wallow in negativity and you both lose. When possible, just avoiding unnecessary arguments is a win-win situation.
10. It’s about more than your words.
“There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.”
I often feel that there is a bit too much emphasis on the third way of contact (what we say). Don’t forget about the rest. Most people stereotype people at their first meeting. They might not want to but it is a way for their – and perhaps your – mind to organize impressions and people. So think about how you look. Think about how you make first impressions. Think about your body language. And how you are saying your sentences.
Think about how you feel because that will be reflected out into the world. And the world will often reflect back something similar.
Whether it’s related to an issue at work, a fight with a friend, or problems with family, everyone feels stressed sometimes. In fact, 54 percent of Americans are concerned about the level of stress in their daily lives. And while therapy can help (come on, everyone’s thought about laying on that infamous doctor’s couch at some point), most solutions (think talk therapy or medication) are dealt with in the long-term. So what can be done in the next five minutes to reduce — and prevent — stress? Here’s our list of the Greatist ways to decrease stress right now.
Try Progressive Relaxation All the way from fingers to toes– tense and then release each muscle group in the body (lower arm, upper arm, chest, back and abdominals, etc.). Once the body is relaxed, the mind will be soon to follow!
Try Some Light Yoga The combination of deep breathing techniques and poses makes this activity work to reduce stress, too.
Meditate The “mental silence” that goes along with meditation may have positive effects on stress (especially work-related stress).
Breathe Deep Taking a deep breath has been shown to lower cortisol levels, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. Studies suggest deep breathing can also cause a temporary drop in blood pressure.
Spark Some Scents Studies suggest aromatherapy can be a good way to relieve stress. Certain aromas (like lavender) have been consistently shown to reduce stress levels.
Listen To Music Research points to multiple ways in which music can help relieve stress, from triggering biochemical stress reducers to assisting in treating stress associated with medical procedures.
Laugh It Off Laughter can reduce the physical effects of stress (like fatigue) on the body.
Drink Tea One study found that drinking black tea leads to lower post-stress cortisol levels and greater feelings of relaxation.
Exercise That post-exercise endorphin rush is one way to sharply cut stress.
Try Guided Visualization Visualizing a calm or peaceful scene may help reduce stress and ease anxiety.
Join A Religious Community Surveys have shown a major underlying reason people practice religion is for stress relief. One study even found that college students who practiced a religion were less stressed than their non-religious counterparts. And other research suggests religious people are less likely to experience stress-related mental illness.
Chew Gum Studies suggest the act of chewing gum can reduce cortisol levels, helping to alleviate stress.
Get A Massage Getting a good ol’ rub down may do more than alleviate physical pain. Studies suggest massage may also be beneficial for fighting stress. It may also help improve body image.
Try Self-Hypnosis Research suggests hypnosis can help reduce anxiety. Plus, it’s a great self-mediated technique for stress-relief.
Talk About Sex, Baby Studies have shown sex can actually decrease the physical symptoms of stress, like lowering blood pressure.
Take A Nap Napping has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which aids in stress relief.
Hug It Out. Hugging may actually reduce blood pressure and stress levels in adults.
Hang With Your Pet Or, as we’ve put it before, just get a dog. Dog owners have been shown to be less stressed out — most likely thanks to having a buddy to cuddle.
Do An Art Project Art therapy can potentially reduce stress-related behavior and symptoms.
Write It Out Keeping a journal may be one way to effectively relieve stress-related symptoms due to its meditative and reflective effects. A gratitude journal can really help us put things in perspective, so pick a time every day to write down a few things that make you happy.
Take A Walk A quiet, meditative stroll can do wonders for stress relief, especially when we step outdoors. Try not to rush, and take whatever pace feels most natural.
Kiss Someone! Research suggests kissing releases chemicals that ease hormones associated with stress, like cortisol. Forming positive relationships is also a key way to help reduce stress and anxiety.
Don’t Write A List Of The Top 23 Ways To Reduce Stress!
Your morning can be that make-or-break time that sets you up for a good day or a bad day. Here are 11 habits you can establish that will put you on the path of stringing together good day after good day.
1. Drink a Glass of Warm Lemon Water
Drinking a glass of warm water with lemon first thing in the morning is an excellent way to get your body going. It’s like oil for the Tinman as it goes to work lubricating all of your different internal systems.
You want the water to be warm so that it’s not a shock to your system first thing in the morning. The lemon will help get your digestive system ready for the coming meals, and makes the water tastier. You can add a bit of honey to it as well if you want to cut down on some of the tartness.
The Rehydration Process
When you wake up in the morning you’ve just gone without water for about 8 hours, so it’s important to turn things around and start up the flow of water again. What you don’t want to do is leave out the water and go along with your day, having breakfast and other beverages before addressing your need for water.
2. Wake Up Earlier
This is priority one because in order to fit in a fantastic morning you’re going to need some extra time compared to your current routine.
If you’ve turned into a night owl because of the peace and quiet it affords, you’ll be equally satisfied by the same peace and quiet an early morning provides, and it’s simply a matter of shifting your personal time to the wee hours of the morning rather than late at night. The difference to your body is noticeable.
The Ideal Time to Wake Up
Wake up in conjunction with circadian rhythms if possible. Civil twilight is a great time to wake up because there will be enough light to see, the birds are chirping, and you still have time to catch the sunrise if you’re keen. Since this time varies by the time of year, it may be more feasible during some seasons than others. Give yourself an hour and a half before you have to be out the door.
3. Scrape Your Tongue
Taking time to scrape your tongue is one morning routine you won’t want to give up once you start it. It helps get rid of morning breath, and also is in line with the rejuvenation process you need to do to make the transition from sleep to wakefulness each day.
As a bonus you’ll be able to taste your food better without the film that’s on your tongue even after brushing your teeth.
The Right Scraper
Some toothbrushes come with a built-in scraper on the back of the head. If yours doesn’t have one you’ll want to invest in one. You can find some that are literally just a plastic triangle-shaped scraper, and others that feature special bristles that are designed to get into the grooves of your tongue. You can also go with the type that is stainless steel and U-shaped to get the job done.
4. Do a Stretching Routine
Here’s a great 5 minute stretch that you can do in the morning to wake your muscles up and get them ready for the day ahead. You should always modify any workout to your own abilities, and search until you find one that resonates with you.
You can also use this time to do a yoga routine, or an exercise routine, if you feel so inclined or are trying to lose weight. However, if you currently aren’t exercising regularly we recommend starting off with just some morning stretches until that becomes a habit, and then transitioning into yoga and other exercises when you organically start to feel like you could do more than just stretch.
How Long Do I Have to Stretch?
When first starting out it doesn’t matter how long you stretch, just as long as you do it. If you only have a few minutes for it, just do a few minutes. You’ll find that as you develop the habit, you’ll end up stretching for longer periods of time, and it will naturally expand on its own without the need to force yourself to do it for a set time.
5. Rebound 100 Times
Rebounding on a mini-trampoline is the perfect morning exercise. It’s zero impact, and perfect for any physical fitness level. You don’t even have to get any air on it for it to be effective. Just lightly bouncing on it is effective for stimulating lymph movement and drainage as well as helping your thyroid.
You can repeat this process a few times per day, whenever you feel like you need a pick-me-up. It helps keep you energized without the use of energy drinks or other sugary or caffeinated beverages.
Firms Up Your Whole Body
You’ll notice that when you first start bouncing you’re kind of going with the flow, but by the time you hit your 100th bounce your body has tightened up considerably, in a good way. This is working each muscle in your body, your leg muscles, core, and upper body. A great way to start the day, get your juices flowing, and just plain feel good!
6. Dry Brush Your Body
Dry brushing the body is an Ayurvedic practice that helps improve your circulation and slough off dead skin cells.
Brushing towards your heart is essential, and you’ll want to start at your extremities and work your way in, covering all of your parts before hopping in the shower.
Dry brushing will help leave your skin feeling smoother, and you’ll notice the difference after you’ve dried off. Apply a moisturizer afterward to retain that suppleness.
Which Brush to Use?
Choose a brush that is good at exfoliating, but not one that is so rough you don’t look forward to using it. A dry loofah or other brush designed to scrub the skin works best. You don’t want it to be too soft on your skin or it won’t do the job, but if you opt for a softer brush you can apply more pressure so that it works.
7. Listen to Uplifting Music or Audiobook
Starting your morning with music you find beautiful, or a book you find inspirational or motivational, is the perfect way to set yourself up for success. It can give you something to look forward to in the morning, and sets you up with the right mindset to greet the day.
You can adjust your music for the type of day you want to have, whether you need something that gets you pumped for an action-packed day, or something more soothing so you can handle a stressful day.
The mind is hungry for new tidbits of information it can go to work on, and you should feed it every day, the same way you feed your body.
Choosing the Right Audio
Whether you pick a group of songs, or an audiobook that inspires you, is up to you. Choose your songs carefully though, as they can get stuck in your head, and if this sort of thing drives you crazy you might be better off listening to a book.
8. Green Smoothie Time
Now that we’ve woken up with the sun, brushed our teeth and scraped our tongue, rehydrated, stretched, rebounded, dry brushed the skin, showered while listening to pleasing music, it’s time to nourish the body with a refreshing green smoothie.
The green part of the smoothie is what’s really going to help boost your energy levels this morning. That’s because it will likely be spinach, kale, or some other leafy green providing phytonutrients, fiber, and minerals. Set a timer for 30 minutes after you drink it and notice how much better you feel.
Finding A Great Green Smoothie Recipe
Check out our list of amazing healthy smoothie recipes and pick the one that sounds most appealing to your morning palate. Just about any non-green smoothie can be made green with the addition of spinach or kale.
9. Meditate for a Few Minutes
Right now you should be in a really happy place, a green smoothie coursing through your digestive system, and all of the helpful things you’ve done should all be having a cumulative effect. There’s no better time to sit and clear your mind for a few minutes.
There’s also no right way to meditate, so if you’ve tried specific methods and didn’t really like it, it’s time to develop your own personal style. Choose a position that you find comfortable, and decide if you’d like music or not. Just sitting and listening to the silence can be enough for most.
Why Just a Few Minutes?
You don’t need to go into a trance or spend an hour in the lotus position to meditate. You can get the benefits from just a few minutes and you’ll see a marked improvement in the upward trend your days start to take. We’re being intentionally vague here because “a few” can mean whatever it means to you, and however you feel in the moment (or what the clock allows in the morning).
10. Smile at Yourself in the Mirror for 30 Seconds
This is a can’t-miss way to boost your self esteem, and once you get into the habit you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. It’s basically just a matter of designating some time as true “me time” and seeing a happy you reflected back in the mirror.
This works on a number of different levels, but at the core is the ability it gives you to talk right to the bigger part of yourself, the part that is running in the background and getting the important things done.
Make sure you’re smiling, it doesn’t have to be a big goofy grin, just the hint of a smile works, like you’ve got some tricks up your sleeve and you’re ready to show the world what you can do. You’ll be surprised at the positive thoughts this exercise inspires.
What you’re doing here is basically checking in with yourself, giving yourself that look of determination that you’ll need to make it through the day and accomplish all of your goals. No matter what happens the rest of the day, you’ve at least said hello to that deeper part of yourself and given words of encouragement.
11. Write Out Your Top 3 for the Day
If you lead a busy life chances are things fall through the cracks on a daily basis. To help stop this from happening you should list the three things you really want to get done today, and above all else, make sure they get done.
Once you establish the habit of getting the most important three things of the day done, you’ll be able to build up confidence and go for bigger and bigger things. A funny thing also happens, all of the smaller stuff that you thought needed to get done either does get done without being on your list of three, or fades away because it wasn’t that important to begin with.
Just 3, No More No Less
If you start getting carried away and adding more than three, you’ll find you won’t get to the fourth and fifth and so on, and then you’ll get discouraged. Force yourself to come up with three good ones, even if your day is largely unstructured. You’ll feel better at the end of the day knowing you at least got 3 important things done.
4 Things to Avoid That Can Send Your Day Off Course
Morning News – While it’s good to stay abreast of the latest happenings, you’ll do yourself a huge favor by missing out on the more upsetting things that have happened overnight. By lunchtime the biggest news will have made it to you, and if it’s something really big you can catch yourself up on the Internet in a matter of minutes.
Big Breakfast – A big breakfast is not recommended, even if it’s balanced and full of healthy things. Your digestion is weakest in the morning, and bombarding it with a big load of food will only set you up for a sluggish morning. Unless you plan on doing some intense activity to burn it off, stick to a light breakfast and have a snack later if you get hungry before lunch.
Stimulants – Many of us reach instinctively for a cup of coffee in the morning to get us going, or need an energy drink before we consider the day started. But these are just crutches that could be masking a lack of sleep or nutrition. Drop the stimulants and continue to make positive changes until you don’t feel you need them anymore.
Sleeping In – These are morning *rituals* we’re starting here, and you can’t expect them to change your life unless you stick to them religiously. Taking the weekends off of your routine is a sure way to disrupt the good habits you’ve formed during the week, and regress to your old ways. Stay the course, even on the weekends, and you’ll reap all of the benefits.
I have a friend who has struggled with her creativity for a long time. She’s extremely uncomfortable thinking of herself as “creative.” We’ve been working together on it, and making progress. One of the tools that’s really helped her has been journaling.
From Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way to Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones to Linda Trichter Metcalf, Ph.D. and Tobin Simon, Ph.D.’s Writing the Mind Alive to numerous other publications, journaling has enjoyed a long history of creative-nurturing along with a host of other benefits.
For my purposes, I’m defining journaling as any sort of loose, longhand writing. Whatever thoughts come into your head you put them down on paper. There’s no structure, no form, nor concern about spelling or grammar or even legibility.
Even if writing isn’t your dream, incorporating a regular program of journaling into your life is a wonderful way to jump-start your creativity and cultivate a constant flow of new ideas. Here are three reasons why.
1. Helps you get rid of the junk in your head. We all have it. Junk thoughts. Everything from self-defeating comments (“Oh, I’ll never be good at that.” or “Who told you that you could be a writer?”) to the “worry of the moment” to neurosis of every type to the ever-growing, constant to-do lists.
Who can be creative with all that noise going on? For that matter, who could even hear a creative thought over all that racket?
Journaling is a way to quiet the mind. Writing all that junk down transfers it from your head to the paper. Suddenly, you find you can actually think rather than simply react.
The best part is this quiet lasts long after the journaling is done for the day. And if you journal frequently, then the effect is cumulative.
When I finish journaling, I find that I feel peaceful. Calm. Able to focus. The junk is gone, leaving space to be creative.
2. Gives you a chance to try new ideas. What better way to see if a new idea will work than to try it out on paper? You can write out the pros and cons, describe a scenario, play “what if” games (“What if my new business was successful?” “What if I tried that new advertising campaign?” “What if I contacted the editor at Money Magazine?”). And the best part is it’s all in a private little notebook that no one will ever have to see.
Try writing down your hopes, dreams, goals, visions. Play around with them. You may find as you journal about them, a strategy for making them come true suddenly presents itself, right there in the pages of your notebook.
3. Helps you build a bridge to your muse. This one really only kicks in after you’ve sufficiently done number one (at least, this is the way it works for me). It seems only after I’ve gotten most of the junk out of my head that the muse sometimes slips out to play a bit.
How do you know the muse came to visit you? When that brilliant idea flashes in your head. It may not happen while you’re journaling, but instead while you’re showering, walking, driving or something else. This is the muse talking to you.
It’s important to remember muses have quiet voices. They can easily be drowned out by the incessant bickering of the other noisy chatter going on in your head. Once you can get those other voices to shut up, you can start to listen for the muse.
Don’t worry if this doesn’t happen right away. There have been weeks and even months when I write nothing but junk down. But then, one day, that great idea appears on the paper or in my head as I’m walking my dogs.
And when that happens, I know all the time I spent journaling about nothing has paid off.
Creativity Exercises — Journal more ideas
I would love it if you made a pact with yourself to journal regularly for a month. If that’s too much of a commitment for you, try it as a creativity exercise.
Write down your challenge at the top of a piece of paper. Maybe it’s ways to increase business or promote your products more or a new PR campaign. Now just start writing about it.
Don’t think, just write. Fill a few pages of musing about that particular challenge. Don’t type it either — write longhand. If you wander away from it, try nudging yourself back.
Write for at least 20 minutes. If no answer presents itself in that time, don’t get too hung up about it. Try it again the next day or a few days in a row. Sometimes it just takes awhile to jar things loose. And remember, great ideas have a tendency to pop up in the most unexpected places, not just when you’re doing something “creative.”
Michele Pariza Wacek is the author of “Got Ideas? Unleash Your Creativity and Make More Money.” She offers two free e-zines that help subscribers combine their creativity with hard-hitting marketing and copywriting principles to become more successful at attracting new clients, selling products and services and boosting business. She can be reached at TheArtistSoul.com.
When do you experience anger? You become angry when you are frustrated, unhappy, or when your feelings are hurt. You also experience it when plans don’t turn out as desired, or when coming against opposition or criticism.
Anger never helps anyone. It wastes your energy, and hurts your health, spoils your relationships, and causes you to miss opportunities. Getting angry is acting against your best interests.
Things don’t always proceed according to plans and expectations. People do not always act the way you wish them to act.
You may not be always be in control of external influences and conditions, but you can certainly learn to control your attitude and reactions.
There is no sense of allowing circumstances and people to pull your strings and affect your mind and feelings.
You can choose not to let what people say and do affect your moods.
I often see people getting angry over unimportant and insignificant matters. Some insignificant remark or action, not getting a satisfactory reply to a question, or just moodiness, are enough to set fire and cause anger, snappy remarks, arguments, and even physical fight. This is absolutely unnecessary. Life can be happier without this behavior.
Anger is a negative reaction, and if you wish to progress on the path of self-improvement or spiritual growth you should avoid it as much as possible.
Learning to calm down the restlessness of the mind and gaining peace of mind, is one of the best and most effective methods to overcome anger, and in fact, all negative emotions.
If you are willing to invest the time and energy, you will reap great rewards. Peace of mind will not only help you overcome anger, but also help you overcome anxiety and negative thinking, and enable you to stay calm, tranquil and self possessed in difficult and trying situations.
Peace of mind requires the development of an attitude of emotional and mentaldetachment, which is of vital importance for overcoming and avoiding anger. It protects you against being too affected by what people think, say or do, and is therefore highly recommended. Detachment is not an attitude of indifference and lack of sensitivity. It is an attitude of common sense and inner strength and leads to peace of mind.
I would like to suggest a few simple tips for inner detachment and peace of mind, tol help you overcome anger:
1. Devote a few minutes, at least once a day, to thinking on how much your life would be better without anger.
2. When you feel anger arising in you, start breathing deeply and slowly several times.
3. You may, instead of breathing deeply, or better still, in addition to it, count slowly from one to ten. This will delay your angry reaction and weaken it.
4. Drinking some water has a calming effect on the body.
5. Try to be more patient, no matter how difficult it might be.
6. Be more tolerant toward people, even toward people you don’t like.
7. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. You can disagree with people, but still maintain tact and diplomacy.
8. Choose to react calmly and peacefully in every situation. Try again and again, regardless of how many times you lose control and get angry.
9. Positive thinking makes it easier to disregard remarks and behavior that otherwise could cause anger.
10. Try to manifest at least some self-control, self-discipline and more common sense.
11. Don’t take everything too seriously. It is not worth it.