Blog on optimism

What is Optimism & How Can You Benefit?

What is Optimism & How Can You Benefit?

“What we want is not blind optimism, but flexible optimism – optimism with its eyes open. We must be able to use pessimism’s keen sense of reality when we need it, but without having to dwell in its dark shadows.” – Martin Seligman

Have you ever been felt down or stuck in negative thoughts? Perhaps you found yourself thinking, ‘I know I’m meant to be optimistic, but it’s impossible to see the bright side of this situation!’

Being optimistic doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time or delusional about the real issue at hand. Optimism can be realistic.

What is Optimism?
Optimism is a contributor to developing wellbeing and resilience.
Optimism relates to hopeful expectations in each situation, and to general expectancies that are positive (Carver & Scheier, 1981).

Optimism is applied to the way people routinely think about the causes of both positive and negative events. It is associated with higher levels of motivation, achievement, and physical wellbeing.

The benefits of being more Optimistic:

  1. Better health
  2. Longer & happier life
  3. Less stress & anxiety
  4. Successful career
  5. Better relationships
  6. More resilient
  7. Cope better with failure
    (Adapted from the Centre for Confidence-

Can you be too Optimistic?
There are times in life where things are really challenging, or even terrible. Are these situations, putting on a pair of rose-coloured glasses might seem absurd and unrealistic. Blind unrealistic optimism could be dangerous. Sometimes we need a little negativity to protect us from risk. Seligman (1991) refers to this as “flexible optimism”
An example is being tempted to spend money on things outside of your budget. You might explain this spending money by thinking that maybe your salary might increase, and you may be able to afford the ‘wants’ as well as paying off your mortgage (needs). What if it doesn’t increase?

What is pessimism?
Pessimism is the tendency to believe that if something can go wrong it will.
Optimism relies on the assumption that what people expect in their future derives from people’s view of the causes of events in the past. The theory behind this holds that optimism and pessimism are defined by patterns of explanation for bad outcomes that are unstable and specific versus stable and global, respectively. (Peterson & Seligman, 1984; Seligman, 1991).

For example, if you have an overcontrolling and negative boss at your workplace then, moving to a new company you may be pessimistic and assume that the boss there will be just as bad, when in fact you have never met them, and they could be a much better leader (optimistic).

The cost of being too Pessimistic:

  1. Depression
  2. Earlier death
  3. Inertia in the face of adversity
  4. Lower immune system
  5. Not performing well at work
  6. Poor relationships
  7. Ill-health, physical & mental
    (Adapted from the Centre for Confidence-

Is there evidence
There have been over 20 years of solid research on optimism as a psychological concept.

Recent research studies indicate that college students with a pessimistic explanatory style of coping, experience more psychological and physical problems than those with a positive explanatory style. Alternatively, college students who are optimistic experience less stress and depression and are more likely to seek social support.

Appli has put together a Mental Fitness Toolkit with strategies to assist you to form healthy habits and improving wellbeing. You can shop our toolkits here.


Scheier, Michael & Carver, Charles. (1985). Optimism, coping, and health: Assessment and implications of generalized outcome expectancies. Health psychology: official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association. 4. 219-47. 10.1037//0278-6133.4.3.219.

Seligman, M. E. P., (2006). Learned Optimism: how to change your mind and your life. New York: Vintage Books

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. (1984). Causal explanations as a risk factor for depression: Theory and evidence. Psychological Review, 91(3), 347-374. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.91.3.347

Angry?  Here are some tips to communicate effectively without damaging your relationships.

Angry?  Here are some tips to communicate effectively without damaging your relationships.

Communication is fundamental for forming positive relationships. However, communicating our feelings can sometimes be difficult, especially in an emotionally charged situation. Tricky situations can become overwhelming, causing you to lose clarity, tear up or even become angry enough to say things that you might regret later.

So, how do we effectively communicate how we feel when we’re stuck in a cloud of anger or sadness? Here are a few tips that might help:

1. Practice Mindfulness 

 Practising mindfulness not only helps you manage your emotions, but it is a key skill that can help you become more mentally fit.

We will inevitably face difficult times throughout our life. Scientist Dan W. Grupe and psychologist Jack B. Nitschke state that the human brain has been written as an ‘anticipation machine, and making future decisions is the most important thing it does.’ When faced with uncertainty, the brain has a lower capacity to effectively prepare for the future, which can contribute to anxiety. And, when in an anxious state, it can be more difficult to communicate how we feel. (Grupe & Nitschke, 2013).

Before you attempt to express to someone how they have made you feel, take a moment to practice mindfulness which will help calm your anxiety and bring you back to a less stressful state. This can help clear your mind and express your thoughts more rationally rather than emotionally. Research suggests that even a few minutes of focusing on your breathing and clearing your mind can help you gain more emotional regulation. (Seppälä et al., 2020)

Looking for some mindfulness tools? Check out the Appli Work Fit Platform for your workplace.

2. Be mindful of Timing 

It is best not to bombard your friend when they’re in the midst of a busy workday or when they’re struggling with a family issue. Have you ever heard of adding fuel to the fire?

Find a time that is less likely to be stressful for you and the person you would like to speak with. This can be catching up for a coffee or calling them in their free time. Confronting someone when they’re mind is preoccupied will only make them feel ambushed, defensive and anger them. Finding the right time is an important part of effectively communicating without allowing the issue to become detrimental to the relationship. Remember, you’re angry with them but you still value the relationship that you have.

 3. Organise Your Thoughts

You can’t express how you feel if you’re fueled with negative emotions and a cloudy mind. If you can’t think clearly, you can’t express it clearly.

Social psychologist Dr James W. Pennebaker suggests that the process of writing may enable us to learn to better regulate our emotions, organise our thoughts and break free of the endless mental cycling. (Harvard Health Publishing, 2011)

Journaling can help bring some rationality to the situation and provide some much-needed reflection after a difficult or hurtful incident. It can also allow you to re-read your thoughts and make adjustments without the risk of blurting out something that you can’t take back. 

It can also be helpful to write it out and then come back to the journal in a day or two when you feel more level-headed.

 4. Don’t bottle up your emotions 

Imagine stuffing your clothes into a suitcase and packing it to the brim (we’re all been there). Now, you’re on your trip and made a few new purchases, so, you keep adding… eventually, your suitcase won’t be able to hold itself together and will burst. Your clothes are now everywhere.

Bottling your emotions will inevitably lead down the same path, and unlike your clothes, they’re a lot harder to pick up. So, what can you do instead?

Try to address small (and big) issues as they arise. For example, if your roommate or partner constantly leaves their laundry all over the place, don’t ignore their behaviour until you’re so emotionally triggered that you aggressively yell at them. The moment you notice this, in a friendly and non-critical way, communicate to them that you prefer a cleaner living space. You may even want to suggest a new laundry hamper for the dirty washing. You’ve now expressed your feelings calmly and clearly and provided an easy solution rather than ignoring this habit for months until you can no longer keep it in.

 5. Listen Actively

“We have but two ears and one mouth so that we may listen twice as much as we speak.” – Thomas Edison

Positive psychology research has shown that relationships are one of the most important factors that contribute to our wellbeing. If you would like to learn how to strengthen your existing relationships, science suggests that you may benefit by learning the skills of active listening. (Ohlin, MA, BBA, B. 2020)

Often, we will listen to a family member, partner or friend without really hearing what they are saying. Unfortunately, failing to truly listen to someone can harm our relationships. Poor listening can cause the people in our lives to feel disrespected, unheard and unvalued, the opposite of what we need to feel connected and cared for.

Active listening is a technique that anyone can learn to support relationships. With a bit of practice, we can learn to understand the speakers’ perspective better and help them feel understood. This technique can prevent miscommunication, de-escalate conflict, prevent arguments and help foster empathy.  

A few critical steps to active listening include:
1. Face the speaker and maintain appropriate eye contact
2. Keep an open mind
3. Express empathy
4. Take turns speaking
5. Pay attention to what isn’t said
6. Summarise the message and ask them if you have heard them correctly

Would you like to learn more evidence-based tips to support your relationships? APPLI have put together a ‘Staying Connected’ toolkit which will provide you with additional strategies and practical tools that you can use to manage your relationships and wellbeing throughout life. 


Ohlin, MA, BBA, B. (2020). Active Listening: The Art of Empathetic Conversation. Retrieved 15 February 2021, from

Grupe, D., & Nitschke, J. (2013). Uncertainty and anticipation in anxiety: an integrated neurobiological and psychological perspective. Nature Reviews Neuroscience14(7), 488-501. DOI: 10.1038/nrn3524

Pachankis JE, et al. (2010) “Expressive Writing for Gay-Related Stress: Psychosocial Benefits and Mechanisms Underlying Improvement,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology: Vol. 78, No. 1, pp. 98–110.

Chung, C., & Pennebaker, J. (2008). Variations in the spacing of expressive writing sessions. British Journal Of Health Psychology, 13(1), 15-21. doi: 10.1348/135910707×251171

Harvard Health Publishing, H. (2011). Expressive writing for mental health – Harvard Health. Retrieved 8 February 2021, from

Headspace Organisation. (2018) 5 ways to effectively communicate your feelings. Retrieved 15 February 2021, from

Ramirez G, et al. “Writing About Testing Worries Boosts Exam Performance in the Classroom,” Science (Jan. 14, 2011): Vol. 331, No. 6014, pp. 211–13.

Seppälä, E., Bradley, C., Moeller, J., Harouni, L., Nandamudi, D., & Brackett, M. (2020). Promoting Mental Health and Psychological Thriving in University Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Three Well-Being Interventions. Frontiers In Psychiatry11. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00590



Want to Think More Optimistically? Here’s How to Create Performance Enhancing Thoughts

Man who has learned healthy thinking techniques.

Want to Think More Optimistically?

Here’s How to Create Performance Enhancing Thoughts

Change your thinking, change your life!

Before Dr Martin Seligman became well known for his work in Positive Psychology, he coined a term known as “Learned Optimism”. In Seligman’s process, one uses the ABCDE method to train the brain to respond differently to a negative situation or event. 

Based on Ellis ABC model, the first part of the process (A) is adversity, the event or situation that occurs. B is the belief of how the adversity is interpreted, followed by C, consequences, which are the personal feeling and thoughts resulting from the beliefs. Seligman has then adapted this model by adding disputation (D), a step in which you challenge your beliefs and think of other reasons as to why this may have happened using facts and logic. The final step, energisation (E), is noticing the changes in your thoughts and feelings after you have successfully challenged your beliefs. 

The ABCDE method is another technique that you can use to help you catch and transform your ANTS, especially during times of challenge and uncertainty. Let’s use Tom as an example. Here are some of the things he thinks after he gave a poor presentation to his colleagues:

Adversity: “Today, I gave a video presentation in front of my colleagues, and I was very nervous, shaky and stumbled many times over my words.”

Belief: “I am a terrible public speaker, and I will never be good at it. I am not qualified for job roles that require me to speak in front of other people.”

Consequences: “I will turn down opportunities that I may enjoy for fear that I will have to speak in front of people. I am so embarrassed; I don’t think I am going to speak to my colleagues that were in on the video call.”

Notice how Tom’s beliefs about what happened led him to come to the conclusion he has been thinking. 

But, what if instead Tom decides to think about this differently? See what happens below when Tom transforms his ANTS into a Performance Enhacing Thought (PET) with more helpful and realistic thinking. 

Disputation: “This is only the first time I have spoken in front of these colleagues. Several people asked me questions and were interested in what I was saying. I might not have been that fluent, but I was ok and if I can conquer my nerves, I should be better next time. I can learn some techniques to help me becomes a more confident speaker and practice more to manage my nerves next time.”

Here are a few techniques Tom (and you) can try to make disputation even more powerful.

You can make your disputations convincing with:

  1. Evidence- show that negative beliefs are factually incorrect. Sometimes a belief may just be an overreaction, so ask yourself “what is the evidence for this belief?” Remember, thoughts are not facts!
  2. Alternative- ask yourself if there are any alternative ways to look at the problem that is less negative. Focus on specific causes that were changeable. For example, could you have practised more? Were you tired? Was it non-personal?
  3. Implications- Even if you still have a negative view of the situation, reflect on how you could de-catastrophise it. Is it permanent? Will it matter 5 years of=r a year from now?
  4. Usefulness- Question the usefulness of your belief. Is your view realistic, and does it benefit you? Can this negative situation help you in the future?

The last step is energisation. Here is the energising thought that Tom is thinking about. You can see he has spent some time transforming his thought to something more helpful and realistic.

Energisation: “I feel more confident knowing that my presentation went better than I originally thought. I feel hopeful that I can do better next time with more practice and preparation.”

Appli have put together a Navigating Challenges and Uncertainty Mental Fitness Toolkit with more techniques and valuable tools that you can use to help your transform your ANTs into PETs.

Shop our toolkits here.


Beck, J. (2011). Cognitive Therapy. New York: Guilford Press.

McLeod, S. (2019). Cognitive Behavioural Therapy | CBT | Simply Psychology. Retrieved 24 November 2020, from

Robinson, P. (2018). Practising Positive Education: A Guide to Improve Wellbeing Literacy in Schools (2nd ed.). Positive Psychology Institute: Sydney, Australia.

Seligman, M. E. P., (2006). Learned Optimism: how to change your mind and your life. New York: Vintage Books



Can acknowledging what we’re grateful for boost our wellbeing?

Can acknowledging what we’re grateful for boost our wellbeing?

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”- William Arthur Ward

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia. Depending on the use of the word it has meanings such as grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Gratitude helps people place their focus on what is good in their life rather than what they’re lacking. By expressing gratitude, people often recognize the aspects of their life where goodness is provided outside of themselves. This can be the people in their lives, nature, etc.

Research in Positive Psychology has shown that gratitude may be associated with greater happiness. Expressing gratitude helps people deal with adversity, build healthier relationships, improves their health and allows them to feel more positive emotions (Michael Craig Miller, 2011)

In 2005,  researcher and Psychologist Martin Seligman tested the effects of different Positive Psychology interventions among 411 people. The results showed the biggest improvement in happiness was when the volunteers were asked to write and deliver a letter of gratitude to a person who had been kind to them, to whom they never had the chance to properly show thanks.

Relationships are one of the ultimate factors when it comes to overall wellbeing. Research shows that couples who took the time to express gratitude for their partner felt more positive towards each other. More interesting is that they also felt more comfortable speaking openly and expressing concerns in their relationship. (Michael Craig Miller, 2011)

Now that you know a bit more about the science of gratitude, can you find a moment to stop and focus on what you’re grateful for?

Some people are naturally able to express gratitude, whereas it can be more difficult for others. To help you, we’ve put together a few ideas of ways you can express gratitude!

  1. Gratitude Letter– Write a letter to someone who has been kind to you. Whether you give this person the letter or not is entirely up to you! You will reap the benefits purely expressing the emotion.

  2. Gratitude Journal– Keep a journal where you can write down the gifts you received that day. This can be as simple as a passing smile or a coffee a friend bought for you. Sharing these with a loved one enhances the experience.

  3. Gratitude Jar– Keep a jar in your home where each family member can write on a note one thing they’re grateful for, fold it and place it in the jar. For example, expressing thanks for the meal mum cooked or a hug from dad.

  4. Meditate– A gratitude meditation can help you recognize the things in your life you may be forgetting to appreciate such as your senses! Here’s one to try out

  5. Count your Blessings– Set aside a time regularly to think about the week that’s passed and make note of the things that you are grateful for. Your list doesn’t need to be long but focuses on the things that were the most meaningful for you.

  6. Reach Out– If writing a letter isn’t comfortable, reach out to someone who was kind to you that week and express thanks for their kindness.

  7. Give Thanks to Yourself– We often forget to give thanks to ourselves. Our mind, body and soul allow us to experience the life we live, so take a moment to give thanks to you.



Lambert, N., & Fincham, F. (2011). Expressing gratitude to a partner leads to more relationship maintenance behavior. Emotion11(1), 52-60. doi: 10.1037/a0021557

Michael Craig Miller, M. (2011). In praise of gratitude – Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved 17 November 2020, from

Team, S. (2020). The science behind gratitude. Retrieved 17 November 2020, from




Understanding ‘fight or flight’ mode and how to deal with it.

Relaxed man

Understanding ‘fight or flight’ mode and how to deal with it.

Have you noticed that when you get stressed your body tenses up? Breathing quickens? Heart pounds faster? This is as a result of the ‘fight or flight’ response being triggered. The fight or flight response, also known as the acute stress response, evolved as a survival mechanism, enabling people and other mammals to react quickly to life-threating situations.

The fight or flight response is a physiological reaction that occurs when we feel threatened.  The term ‘fight or flight’ represents the choices that our ancestors had, either to stay and ‘fight’ or run from danger- ‘flight’.  In both cases, the body prepares to react to danger.

Even now, we still respond in this same way to different situations, for example, when encountering an aggressive animal.  It can also occur in less dangerous situations such as when preparing to speak in front of a crowd.

Some physiological changes that occur when the fight or flight response is activated include:

  • Release of adrenaline – signals organs
  • Large muscles tense – preparation for action
  • Rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure – increasing blood flow to muscles
  • Rapid breathing – lungs take in more oxygen to prepare
  • Reduced activity in the digestive system – feeling sick and/or experiencing a dry mouth
  • Bladder muscles relax – to drop extra weight to flee or ‘flight’
  • Perspiration – cools the body in anticipation of the heat to come
  • Pale or flushed skin – blood flows to the muscles, brain and limbs is increased which may result in your face becoming pale
  • Blood clotting ability increases – in preparation for possible injury, to avoid excess blood loss
  • Hyper-vigilance – in order to take in more light our pupils dilate
  • Racing thoughts – drawn to consuming thoughts of the worst-case scenario


After reading through the physiological changes, you can probably recall a time where you were in ‘fight or flight’ mode. These changes prime our body to cope effectively with the opposed threat and can help you perform better in high pressure situations.

However, we aren’t constantly being attacked by animals or giving presentations to large crowds. The fight or flight response can also be triggered in response to situations we perceive as threats where there is no real danger.  It can stay activated for longer periods than it is necessary.

This natural response is not always well matched to our modern threats. Many people are unable to switch off their fight or flight response. This can lead to chronic low-level stress. After a while, this has an effect on the body that contributes to health problems associated with chronic stress.

How do we deal with our fight or flight response?
A few ways to respond to your body’s fight or flight response include:

Actions of relaxation:

  • Abdominal breathing
  • Meditation
  • Focus on a soothing word (such as peace or calm)
  • Repetitive prayer


Physical activity (exercise) this can include any form of exercise, a few examples include:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Golf
  • Tennis

Any participation in exercise is beneficial!

Social support:

  • Confidants
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Spouses
  • Acquaintances
  • Companions

Those who enjoy close relationships receive emotional support that helps to sustain them at times of stress and crisis.

If  you’re stressed over a work or class presentation you aren’t going to have the time to take a break and hit the tennis courts. In an immediate situation you may want to try these tips:

  1. Observe what you are noticing in your body and remind yourself that this is your ‘fight or flight’ mode activating.
  2. Try to take control of your breath by breathing in for 4 counts, holding for 2 counts and breathing out for 6 counts. Do this a few times until you feel you have regathered your breath.
  3. Take a moment to examine your thoughts. How likely is your worst-case scenario? Try to focus on the good in the situation or remind yourself that this will pass.

Understanding that the fight or flight response has been inherited from our ancestors and is a natural response that we can actively control, will help you bring yourself back to baseline when this response is activated.

If you find it hard to get out of fight or flight mode, we have a toolkit designed to teach you strategies on dealing with challenge and uncertainty.

Shop APPLI’s toolkits here.




Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. 2020. What Happens To Your Body During The Fight or Flight Response?. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 27 October 2020].

Morey-Nase, C., 2020. Understanding The Fight or Flight Response. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 27 October 2020].

Harvard Health Publishing, 2020. Understanding The Stress Response – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 October 2020].

No time for exercise? Here are some tips to help you

No time for exercise? Here are some tips to help you

There are so many reasons why we should participate in regular exercise. The effects are both physically and mentally beneficial, yet we tend to find so many reasons to avoid it. If you were to ask people about their barrier to regular exercise, you would find that ‘time’ is one of the most common issues standing in the way. That is for good reason. With busy schedules, it can be harder to find time to fit in a good, regular exercise regime. However, making the time will allow you to reap the benefits.

In case you aren’t convinced, here are just a few reasons why regular exercise is beneficial:

• Improves sleep quality
• Lowers risk of depression
• Prevents health issues such as diabetes
• Decreases stress and anxiety
• Increases self-esteem and self-confidence
• Boost’s the brain by preventing cognitive decline
• Lowers blood pressure

What are some ways you can create time to fit exercise into your day?

What small steps can you take to make more time? Is it possible to wake up half an hour earlier, take a short walk on your lunch break, or dedicate some time before or after dinner in the evening rather than watching tv or scrolling through social media? At first, it may seem daunting. However, after a mere 21 days, you’ll start to create a habit and feel better physically and mentally.

What about joining the gym? This is a great option for some, however, finding the extra time to drive there and home can cut into your day and may not be practical. Exercising at home is a great alternative. There are many exercises you can take part in from the comfort of your home and most of which you’ll only need a workout mat for. Another alternative is walking or running outdoors. Getting your body moving by participating in any form of exercise will allow you to experience the benefits.

Harvard Health states that doctors should prescribe at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise or 15 minutes of intense exercise a day. A way to accumulate some exercise points if you don’t particularly have half an hour to spare is by making different choices in your daily activities to get your body moving more.

Here are some suggestions:
1. Walk to the bus/train- Instead of driving, walk to the station. By doing this you’re adding extra steps into your daily count and getting your blood pumping.
2. Swing your arms- While you’re walking, swing your arms. It helps us reach a brisk pace which is more healthful.
3. Walk and talk- Whether you’re talking with friends or watching your child’s soccer game, walk while you’re doing these activities.
4. Pets- Several studies have shown that dog owners get more exercise than canine-less.
5. Walk tall- Maintaining a good posture helps keep your back and abdominal muscles in shape. You’ll also look a lot healthier and confident with a better posture (which your mother probably reminded you of countless times!)
6. Find a buddy- Adopting a friend to become your walking, jogging, or biking partner is a great idea to make exercising more fun and help motivate you.
7. Take the stairs- We all know the stairs are a better option, yet the escalator is for some reason so enticing. You’ll reap more benefits from taking the stairs than you ever will opting for the alternative.
8. Set goals- It’s the 21st century and our phone tracks everything (slightly too much). Use this to your benefit. Most phones now have a step counter. Set a goal of how many steps you want to reach by the end of the day or week.
9. Stand up while you’re on the phone- Breaking up long periods of sitting has metabolic benefits.
10. Stairs tip- You’ll give your gluteal muscle a workout if you take two steps at a time.

Aside from changing your daily habits here are a few more exercise activities for the time you have to set aside:

1. Yoga- Yoga has many benefits such as enhancing our flexibility, balance, better over-all fitness. It also helps to reduce stress and improve mind-body awareness.
2. Walking- An Australian study showed that people who took 5,000+ steps per day had a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke than those who took less than 5,000.
3. Golfing- Rather than taking the cart around the course, opt for walking and carrying your clubs.
4. Swimming- Harvard Health states that we should accumulate 150 CME (cardiometabolic exercise) points each day. 30 minutes of swimming results in 230 points.
5. Jogging- Jogging is quite a vigorous form of exercise in which participating in 30 minutes of jogging results in 200 CME points.
6. Jumping rope- Jumping rope strengthens our bone density, improves heart health, and more. 15 minutes of jumping rope accumulates to 200 CME points! Do you have 15 minutes to spare?
7. Biking- Instead of driving, try biking. You don’t have to set aside a lot of time and it’s a convenient option for transportation. Ride your bike to the station or during your work break, even to pop to the local grocery store if you’re only picking up a few things.
8. Pilates- Pilates is a great form of exercise to get your muscles working. In each practice, you can target particular parts of your body depending on the muscles you want to work on that day.
9. Aerobic dance- Aerobics is a great way to get moving and improves your cardiovascular health.
10. Tennis- Tennis increases bone density, improves muscle tone, strength, flexibility, and reactions.

If you find it difficult to create healthy habits and stick to them then our toolkit is the perfect solution. Appli have put together a Mental Fitness Toolkit with strategies to assist inform healthy habits and improving wellbeing.



Publishing, H. (2020). How much exercise do you need? – Harvard Health. Retrieved 12 October 2020, from

Publishing, H. (2020). More evidence that exercise can boost mood – Harvard Health. Retrieved 12 October 2020, from

Publishing, H. (2020). Why we should exercise – and why we don’t – Harvard Health. Retrieved 12 October 2020, from

Schmidt, M., Cleland, V., Shaw, K., Dwyer, T., & Venn, A. (2009). Cardiometabolic Risk in Younger and Older Adults Across an Index of Ambulatory Activity. American Journal Of Preventive Medicine, 37(4), 278-284. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.05.020

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Nobody is Perfect- Not You and Not Others

Nobody is Perfect- Not You and Not Others

‘The golden rule tells us that we should treat others as we would want them to treat us. Maybe so, but hopefully we won’t treat them even half as badly as we treat ourselves.’ – Dr Kristin Neff

Evidence suggests that people are usually harder on themselves than they are on others. According to Dr Kristin Neff, a leading researcher in self-compassion, self-compassion entails being warm and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate. Unfortunately, many people hold a belief that self-compassion is self-indulgent or an excuse to escape personal responsibility.  This could not be further from the truth.

What does self-compassion involve?
Self-compassion involves treating yourself the way you would treat a friend who was going through a difficult time. There is such emphasis on being kind to our friends, family, colleagues and neighbours who are struggling, however, not so much when it comes to ourselves.  Self-compassion is a practice in which we learn to treat ourselves the way we would a good friend, when we need it most. Rather than speaking as though we were our own enemy, we become our own inner ally.

Imagine if we spoke to our friends the way we sometimes speak to ourselves.

“You’re so lame!”
“You always fail, why bother trying?”
“You’re not smart enough, give up.”

Would you ever honestly speak to a friend this way? Of course, you wouldn’t. When we care about people, we’re nice to them, we want to be kind and understanding towards what they’re going through. When they make a mistake or fail a task, we remind them that they’re human and it is normal. We reassure them of their abilities, we respect and support them. If they’re struggling or going through a hard time, we comfort them.

We are compassionate towards others, but are we compassionate towards ourselves? Not often, if at all. But what do we achieve by beating ourselves up? It makes us feel depressed, insecure and afraid to try new things or take on new challenges because we’re so afraid of the self-punishment we will inflict if we fail. Dr Kristin Neff’s research shows that those who are self-compassionate are much less likely to be depressed, anxious, insecure and stressed. They’re much more likely to be happy, resilient, optimistic, motivated and tend to have more quality relationships. This makes it clear that those who display self-compassion experience greater levels of psychological wellbeing.

It is in our favour that we are already skilled at showing attributes of compassion towards others. To obtain the benefits of self-compassion all you need to do is apply these same skills towards yourself. It may seem difficult at first, but like most things, do it for a while and it will become a habit that will change your life.

APPLI have put together a ‘Bouncing Back and Leaping Forward’ Mental Fitness Toolkit that teaches you strategies and practices on how to implement these critical skills into your life to help you create better habit for when you face inevitable challenge and difficult at times.



Neff, K., & Germer, C. (2018). The mindful self-compassion workbook (pp. 9,10). New York: The Guilford Press.

Neff, D. (2020). Treating Yourself As You’d Treat a Good Friend – Kristin Neff. Retrieved 29 September 2020, from


The mental and physical benefits of yoga and why you should try it

The mental and physical health benefits of yoga and why you should try it

According to statistics (Nerurkar, Bitton, Davis, Phillips & Yeh, 2013) stress accounts for between 60%-80% of visits to primary care doctors. Chronic stress can have immense negative effects on our mental and physical health.  Chronic stress has been linked to accelerated biological aging, increased chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. These processes can cause cellular and genetic damage. Chronic inflammation has been associated with health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stress, depression and a weakening of the immune system.

Why try yoga?
Multiple studies suggest that yoga has the ability to dial back both physical and mental health problems. If that isn’t reason enough, regular yoga practice appears to link with increased wellbeing, better sleep, better body awareness, lower blood pressure and greater happiness.

When many of us hear ‘yoga’ we think of this activity as a way to better our flexibility, enhance our balance, etc. What we don’t think of is the fact that yoga includes breathing exercises, relaxation and meditation, all which help us become more mindful.  Among many benefits, mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce stress and chronic pain and improve emotional reactivity (David & Hayes, 2011). 

According to the Harvard Health Letter, Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa says, “There are four distinct but interconnected areas in which yoga has specific benefits, not just for heart disease, but any disease.” These include:

  1. Better overall fitness. There are active forms of yoga ranging from moderate-intensity in exercise in the federal exercise guidelines. Even less intense yoga boosts muscle strength, flexibility, and balance.

  2. Sustained self-regulation. We all experience stress, some of us more than others. The relaxing, meditative aspects of yoga can build your emotional resilience. This allows you to stay calmer and enables you to be less reactive to stress and intense emotions. In a recent study (Tolahunase, Sagar & Dada, 2017), researchers found that a three-month yoga retreat reduced inflammation and stress in the body. This retreat incorporated physical postures, controlled breathing, and seated meditations. Researchers also found that BDNF levels tripled (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which essentially effects our learning and memory.

  3. Greater mind-body awareness. A 2012 survey from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health revealed more than 80% of yoga enthusiasts said their stress decreased, nearly two-thirds felt more motivated to exercise regularly and four in ten said they were inspired to incorporate more healthy foods into their diets.

  4. Lastly, transformation over time. After years of practicing yoga, some people found that they practice transformed their lives to a greater degree, meaning their wellbeing was enhanced.

Below is a short yoga exercise:

  1. Sit in a comfortable seated position on the floor or in a chair.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Take a few slow deep breaths in and out. Counting to 4 when breathing in and 7 on the extended-out breath.
  4. Now on the next deep breath and as you exhale, roll your shoulders down your back.
  5. Sit up straight extending your spine.
  6. Relax your arms down at your sides.
  7. Pay attention to the room you’re in. What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you feel?
  8. Once you’ve taken some time to experience and acknowledge these senses, bring your breathing back to normal for a moment.
  9. You can now go on with your day.

If you are interested in mindfulness and mental fitness practices for your workplace, contact us to learn more about the Appli Work Fit Digital Health and Wellbeing Platform. 


Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2011). What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. Psychotherapy (Chicago, Ill.)48(2), 198–208.

Nerurkar, A., Bitton, A., Davis, R., Phillips, R., & Yeh, G. (2013). When Physicians Counsel About Stress: Results of a National Study. JAMA Internal Medicine173(1), 76. doi: 10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.480

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Tolahunase, M., Sagar, R., & Dada, R. (2017). Impact of Yoga and Meditation on Cellular Aging in Apparently Healthy Individuals: A Prospective, Open-Label Single-Arm Exploratory Study. Oxidative Medicine And Cellular Longevity, 2017, 1-9. doi: 10.1155/2017/7928981



What is resilience? Here’s a tip to build yours

What is resilience? Here’s a tip to build yours

At some point in our lives, each of us will endure challenge and suffering. Perhaps it’s the loss of a loved one or a divorce. We may lose our job or have an injury or accident, or we may be dealing with long periods of uncertainty and isolation such as the Covid-19 pandemic. There are many challenges that we all face as we navigate life’s ups and downs. At some point, life will be be a bit tough for all of us.

When we face these adverse life events, people respond to them differently. Some people can bounce back from adversity with relative ease, seeming to always come out on top. Others may struggle longer and need additional support to help them recover. In recent years, scientists and psychologists have begun to spend time studying those who recover well from negative events in the hope of uncovering how we can teach other those valuable psychological skills needed to overcome challenges in life. Together, these psychological skills make up a concept called resilience.

What is resilience?
Resilience is a hot topic lately. Everyone wants more resilience. But what is it, and what exactly does it mean? Psychological resilience is a bit of a complicated subject with many different theoretical frameworks and definitions. For example, the American Psychological Association (2014) generally defines resilience as an individual’s ability to appropriately adapt to adversity, tragedy, trauma, threat or significant stress. Resilience is thought to promote protective factors that support positive outcomes.

So why would you want to build your resilience?
Resilience is what gives us the ability to cope with stress, trauma and hardship. Those with low levels of resilience are more likely to feel overwhelmed or helpless and rely on unhealthy coping strategies. On the flip side, those with high levels of resilience cope better with stress, are more hopeful, have more positive emotions and higher levels of mental fitness.

Having high levels of resilience doesn’t mean you won’t face challenges; it just means that you may be able to adapt and overcome these challenges better than you would have without these skills.

How can you become more resilient?
Research indicates that about 60% of people may be naturally resilient. However, just like  physical fitness, we need to practice regularly to maintain our mental fitness and resilience. Below are a few techniques you can use to strengthen your resilience and teach others how to develop their own resiliency skills.

One particularly useful framework for building resilience is the BOUNCE BACK framework developed by Drs Toni Nobel and Helen McGrath. Each letter in BOUNCE BACK stands for a critical area that you can focus on to strengthen your resilience.

Here is a summary of the BOUNCE BACK framework:
Bad times don’t last. Things always get better. Stay optimistic.

Other people can help you if you talk to them. Get a reality check.

Unhelpful thinking makes you more upset. Think again.

Nobody is perfect- not you and not others.

Concentrate on the positives (no matter how small) and use laughter.

Everybody experiences sadness, hurt, failure, rejection and setbacks sometimes, not just you. They are a normal part of life. Try not to personalize them.

Blame fairly. How much of what happened was due to you, to others and to bad luck or circumstances?

Accept what can’t be changed (but try to change what you can change first).

Catastrophising exaggerates your worries. Don’t believe the worst possible picture.

Keep things in perspective. It’s only part of your life.

APPLI have put together a ‘Bouncing Back and Leaping Forward’ Mental Fitness Toolkit that teaches you strategies and practices on how to implement these into your life as habits as we experience inevitable challenge and suffering at times.

To learn how you can apply the Bounce Back framework in your own life, checkout our Mental Fitness Toolkit…. https://shop.


Struggling to Sleep? Here are 5 Tips

Struggling to Sleep? Here are 5 Tips 

There is no question that sleep, exercise and nutrition are critical for maintaining adequate physical health. But, did you know that they are also crucial for mental fitness? If you aren’t eating well, sleeping well or getting enough exercise, likely, you aren’t feeling or functioning well.

Getting the right amount of quality sleep is crucial for our brains to function properly. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function, maintaining your physical and emotional health. It also helps to support your growth and development in children and teens. Sleep allows your brain to form new pathways for learning and remembering information, enhancing your learning and problem-solving skills. The right amount of quality sleep can help you pay attention, make better decisions and be more creative- and even lead to better academic and work performance.

Sleep continuity is also important. Research shows that getting the right amount of continuous sleep supports better cognitive performance and decision making in the brain. On the flip side, research has also shown that people who do not get enough quality sleep may experience poor working memory, worse verbal fluency and less inhibitory control- making it harder to make healthy choices.

If you often find yourself restless and struggling to get enough sleep at night, then we have five tips to help you.

  1. Try to spend some time in the sun during the day.

The circadian rhythm is the body’s natural sleep cycle which keeps us awake during the day and helps us sleep at night. Several factors influence the circadian rhythm, including a hormone called melatonin. Light exposure during the day helps to produce melatonin release at night, which induces sleepiness. Conversely, light exposure at night may have negative consequences on melatonin, so avoid bright lights and screens, including mobile phones at least two hours before bed.

  1. Get regular exercise during the day.

Exercise also helps regulate the circadian rhythm. Physical activity during the day has been shown to improve sleep quality. If you have trouble sleeping after an evening workout, adjust your schedule to make time for morning exercise instead.

  1. Save the bed for sleeping.

With many people working from home, space can be a significant obstacle. Unfortunately, working, eating, using your phone or watching tv in bed are all no-nos when it comes to healthy sleeping habits. If you have trouble sleeping, experts recommend not using the bed for anything other than sleep or romantic activities. It is also essential to get up at the same time every day, even if you didn’t sleep as much as you would have liked.

  1. Avoid alcohol and caffeine at night.

Both caffeine and alcohol can affect your circadian rhythm and cause sleep disturbances. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening if you find you aren’t sleeping well. And, while alcohol may make you feel sleepy and relaxed, it has been shown to disrupt sleep rhythms by activating alpha activity in the brain. This function typically happens when you are awake and resting quietly. This change in brain activity can be disruptive for sleep, not to mention more frequent trips to the bathroom.

  1. Schedule “worry time” during the day.

If you find that your stress and worry is keeping you up at night, keep a pen and paper next to your bed. If there is something on your mind that you can’t stop thinking about, get it out of your brain and on to the paper. Then, you can come back to the issue during your designated time slot. For resolving worries, stressful thoughts or making plans. This strategy can help minimize the impact of these thoughts interfering with sleep.

Interesting in more practical ways to improve your wellbeing? APPLI have put together a ‘Creating Habits of Wellbeing’ toolkit which will provide you with additional strategies and practical tools to use in your everyday life.




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