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.

https://shop.appli.edu.au/


References

Publishing, H. (2020). How much exercise do you need? – Harvard Health. Retrieved 12 October 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/how-much-exercise-do-you-need

Publishing, H. (2020). More evidence that exercise can boost mood – Harvard Health. Retrieved 12 October 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/more-evidence-that-exercise-can-boost-mood

Publishing, H. (2020). Why we should exercise – and why we don’t – Harvard Health. Retrieved 12 October 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/why-we-should-exercise-and-why-we-dont

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

Tennis – health benefits. (2020). Retrieved 12 October 2020, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/tennis-health-benefits

5 Mental Benefits of Exercise. (2020). Retrieved 12 October 2020, from https://www.waldenu.edu/online-bachelors-programs/bs-in-psychology/resource/five-mental-benefits-of-exercise

10,000 steps. (2020). Retrieved 12 October 2020, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/blog/blogcollectionpage/Conversation-10000steps

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.

http://shop.appli.edu.au

References

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 https://self-compassion.org/self-compassion-treating-yourself-as-youd-treat-a-good-friend/

 

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. 

References

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. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022062

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

Publishing, H. (2020). How yoga may enhance heart health – Harvard Health. Retrieved 14 September 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/how-yoga-may-enhance-heart-health

Publishing, H. (2020). Increased well-being: Another reason to try yoga – Harvard Health. Retrieved 14 September 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/increased-well-being-another-reason-to-try-yoga

(2020). Retrieved 14 September 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/yoga-could-slow-the-harmful-effects-of-stress-and-inflammation-2017101912588https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/yoga-could-slow-the-harmful-effects-of-stress-and-inflammation-2017101912588

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…. http://shop.appli.edu.au

 

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.

https://shop.appli.edu.au/

 

References

Altena, E., Baglioni, C., Espie, C., Ellis, J., Gavriloff, D., & Holzinger, B. et al. (2020). Dealing with sleep problemsduring home confinement due to the COVID-19 outbreak: Practical recommendations from a task force of theEuropean CBT-I Academy.Journal of Sleep Research.doi: 10.1111/jsr.13052

Bottomley, A., & McKeown, J. (2008). Promoting nutrition for people with mental health problems.Nursing Standard, 22(49), 48-56.

Chapman S.B., Aslan S., Spence J.S., Keebler M.W., DeFina L.F., Didehbani N., Perez A.M., Lu H. & D’Esposito M.(2016). Distinct Brain and Behavioral Benefits from Cognitive vs. Physical Training: A Randomized Trial in AgingAdults. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10(338). doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00338

Fogg, B. (2020). Start Tiny. Retrieved 13 May 2020, from https://www.tinyhabits.com

Fogg, B. (2020).Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything. Virgin Books.

Gardner, B., Lally, P., & Wardle, J. (2012). Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and generalpractice.British Journal Of General Practice, 62(605), 664-666. doi: 10.3399/bjgp12x659466

How Alcohol Affects the Quality—And Quantity—Of Sleep – National Sleep Foundation. (2020). Retrieved 12 May2020, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-alcohol-affects-quality-and-quantity-sleep

Jacobs, D.R. & Zhu, N. (2016). How does exercise benefit cognition?Scientific American. Retrieved fromhttp://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-does-exercise-benefit-cognition/

Kandola A., Hendrikse J., Lucassen P.J. & Yücel M. (2016). Aerobic Exercise as a Tool to Improve HippocampalPlasticity and Function in Humans: Practical Implications for Mental Health Treatment. Frontiers in HumanNeuroscience, 10(373). doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00373

Mental Health Foundation. (2006). Feeding Minds: The Impact of Food on Mental Health. MHF, London.

Morres, I., Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Stathi, A., Comoutos, N., Arpin-Cribbie, C., Krommidas, C., & Theodorakis, Y. (2018).Aerobic exercise for adult patients with major depressive disorder in mental health services: A systematic review andmeta-analysis.Depression and Anxiety, 36(1), 39-53. doi: 10.1002/da.22842

Parletta, N. (2016). Can diet and Nutrition Affect our Learning, Behavior and Mental Health?.Nutridate, 27(4), 10.

Robinson, P. L. (2018).Practising Positive Education: A guide to improve wellbeing literacy in schools (2nd ed.).Positive Psychology Institute: Sydney, Australia.

Robinson, P. L., Oades, L. G., & Caputi, P. (2015). Conceptualising and measuring mental fitness: A Delphi study.International Journal of Wellbeing, 5(1), 53-73.

Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. (2006). Exercise for Mental Health.The Primary Care Companion to The JournalOf Clinical Psychiatry, 08(02), 106. doi: 10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a

Why Is Sleep Important? – NHLBI, NIH. (2016). Nhlbi.nih.gov. Retrieved 8 September 2016, fromhttp://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why

Wilckens, K., Woo, S., Kirk, A., Erickson, K., & Wheeler, M. (2014). Role of sleep continuity and total sleep time inexecutive function across the adult lifespan.Psychology and Aging, 29(3), 658-665. doi: 10.1037/a0037234

 

Why we have negative thoughts and how to change them

Why we have negative thoughts and how to change them

Have you caught yourself thinking negatively about yourself or a situation you have no control over? You may like to know, you’re not alone. Fear, shame, guilt, distress and sadness are some of the negative emotions that many people experience during difficult times.

While they may be unpleasant, negative emotions have a very important purpose- allowing us to survive as a species. Humanity has relied on these powerful emotions to protect us from danger and remain an essential part of our evolution. However, there is a substantial downside to this survival mechanism. This evolutionary mechanism in our brains, known as the Negativity Bias, makes us pay more attention to the negative experiences or things in our life compared to the positive experiences. There’s a good reason for this. For survival, our ancestors had to be more aware of life-threatening risks such as predators. Paying too much attention to the positive things around them (that did not pose a threat) made no sense when survival was a day-to-day proposition.

Fortunately, life is much safer in the 21st century. But the Negativity Bias is still alive and well in the primitive part of our brain. Our brains are, in fact, hardwired to ‘Velcro’ the negatives and ‘Teflon’ the positives. This can cause problems for us by creating an unhealthy positive-to-negative emotional ratio, which can contribute to mental illness.

The good news? Research suggests that we can improve our positive to negative emotional ratio and the ill-effects of Negativity Bias. By applying simple, evidence-based strategies, we can feel better and function well more often.

Automatic Negative Thoughts (aka ANTs) are thinking traps or stories that we tell ourselves that aren’t necessarily true. Sometimes our brains get into the habit of repeating these distortions over and over, causing a pattern of unhealthy thoughts that can lead to low levels of wellbeing and even depression or anxiety. These harmful thoughts can make us feel even worse while we are already dealing with the stress and uncertainty or difficult periods.

ANTs begin due to the Negativity Bias, which is hardwired into the human brain. Fortunately, you can learn to identify your ANTs and transform them into PETs, (aka Performance Enhancing Thoughts) with a little help from Positive Psychology and a process known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

 You can start transforming your ANTs and PETs by challenging your thoughts. You can start by asking yourself some of these simple questions:

  • How much do you believe this thought?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of this thought?
  • What is the evidence for and against this thought? Could you convince a jury that your negative interpretation is the best or only valid one?
  • Is there something you could do to determine if this thought is true?
  • If the thought is true, are there some things you can do to improve the situation?
  • ASK YOURSELF THE KEY QUESTION: Is this thought helping me?

You can learn more about how to create PETS (Performance Enhancing Thoughts) as well as other techniques to build your Resilience with our ‘Bouncing Back and Leaping Forward’ Mental Fitness Toolkit.

https://shop.appli.edu.au/

 

References

Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Finkenauer, C., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Bad Is Stronger Than Good.Reviewof General Psychology, 5(4), 323-370.https://doi.org/10.1037/1089-2680.5.4.323

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

Covey, S.. (1989).The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Diener, E., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2008).The Science of Optimal Happiness. Boston: Blackwell

Publishing.Frederickson, B. (2004). The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions.PhilosophicalTransactions: Biological Sciences, 359(1449), 1367-1377.

Fredrickson, B., & Joiner, T. (2018). Reflections on Positive Emotions and UpwardSpirals.Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(2), 194-199. doi: 10.1177/1745691617692106

Hayes, S. C. (1994). Content, context, and the types of psychological acceptance. In S. C. Hayes, N.S. Jacobson, V. M. Follette, & M. J. Dougher (Eds.),Acceptance and Change: Content and context inpsychotherapy(pp. 13-32). Reno, NV: Context Press.

Henriksen, K., Haberl, P., Baltzell, A., Hansen, J., Birrer, D., & Larsen, C. H. (2019). Mindfulness andAcceptance Approaches. In K. Henriksen, J. Hansen, C.H. Larsen (Eds.),Mindfulness and Acceptance inSport: How To Help Athletes Perform and Thrive Under Pressure.

Hayes, S. C. (1994). Content, context, and the types of psychological acceptance. In S. C. Hayes, N.S. Jacobson, V. M. Follette, & M. J. Dougher (Eds.),Acceptance and change: Content and Context inpsychotherapy(pp. 13-32). Reno, NV: Context Press.

Kashdan, T., & Ciarrochi, J. (2013). Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Positive Psychology: The SevenFoundations of Well-Being. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

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

Robinson, P. L., Oades, L. G. & Caputi, P. (2014).Conceptualising and measuring mental fitness, Doctor ofPhilosophy thesis, Department of Psychology, University of Wollongong.https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4269

Robinson, P. L., Oades, L. G., & Caputi, P. (2015). Conceptualising and measuring mental fitness: A Delphistudy.International Journal of Wellbeing, 5(1), 53-73.

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

Staying Connected- How Our Relationships Affect Our Wellbeing

Staying Connected- How Our Relationships Affect Our Wellbeing

‘There are few stronger predictions of happiness than a close, nurturing, equitable, intimate, lifelong companionship with one’s best friend.’ David Myers, Psychologist.

You’re probably wondering how relationships have such an impact on our happiness?

It may be surprising, but research suggests that our relationships are one of the most significant predictors of physical and psychological wellbeing across all ages. There are so many predicted health benefits as a result of the presence of positive relationships, such as;

  • Improved recovery from surgery
  • Better immunity to cold and flu viruses
  • Lower incidence of heart attacks
  • Greater ability to cope with stress (oxytocin)
  • Higher worker satisfaction and productivity
  • Increased life expectancy (due to hormonal, cardiovascular, and immune responses in the body)
  • Higher academic achievement
  • Greater career mobility
  • Greater life satisfaction

 

During times of challenge, our team can be significant source of support. Your team are the people in your life that you would normally spend regular time with, such as your work colleagues, friends, family, etc.

Take a minute to think about who’s on your team? Who supports you emotionally?

For many, the lack of social connection during these unprecedent times has been a significant source of stress. Research shows that one risk of remote working is social isolation and loneliness, but the current COVID restrictions complicate this further. Evidence shows that relationships and connection are critical for high levels of psychological wellbeing. So, without a plan in place, individuals are at risk of developing mental health problems, so we must find ways to try to stay connected as much as possible during this current pandemic.

A few new ways we’re able to stay connected include:

  • Catching up for coffee or dinner with a friend whilst abiding by the current social distancing rules.
  • Reconnecting with old friends on social media. It is never too late to rekindle old friendships.
  • Organise a virtual game night.
  • Joining positive social media groups to discuss hobbies and shared interests.
  • Sending a card, letter or gift to those that you can’t travel to see right now.
  • Spending quality time with those in your household, playing games, dancing or cooking together.
  • Asking your colleagues to share something funny or a story about their weekend during conference calls.
  • Starting a hashtag and encourage your workplace or community to post around a positive topic.
  • Joining a virtual trivia games or participating in virtual cooking classes.

 

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 during the COVID pandemic and throughout life.

References

Aknin, L.B., Dunn, E.W. & Norton, M.I. (2012). Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion: Evidence for a Positive Feedback Loop between Prosocial Spending and Happiness. J Happiness Stud, 13, 347–355. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-011-9267-5

Brannan, D., Biswas-Diener, R., Mohr, C., Mortazavi, S., & Stein, N. (2013). Friends and family: A cross-cultural investigation of social support and subjective well-being among college students. The Journal Of Positive Psychology, 8(1), 65-75. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2012.743573

Brown, S. L., Nesse, R. M., Vinokur, A. D., & Smith, D. M. (2003). Providing Social Support May Be More Beneficial Than Receiving It: Results From a Prospective Study of Mortality. Psychological Science, 14(4), 320–327. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9280.14461

Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Very Happy People. Psychological Science, 13(1), 81–84. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467- 9280.00415

Myers, D. G. (1999). Close relationships and quality of life. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (eds.), Well-Being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. 

Robinson, P. L., Oades, L. G. & Caputi, P. (2014). Conceptualising and measuring mental fitness, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Department of Psychology, University of Wollongong. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4269

Robinson, P. L., Oades, L. G., & Caputi, P. (2015). Conceptualising and measuring mental fitness: A Delphi study. International Journal of Wellbeing, 5(1), 53-73.

 

 

 

Shaping Your Future in Times Of Change and Transition

Shaping Your Future in Times Of Change and Transition

In life, times of transition can often be the most challenging. But whether we like it or not, life is full of change. From an early age, we begin to navigate life’s transitions, going to school for the first time, moving out of our parents’ homes, and then on to university or the workplace. Overtime, many of us change careers, move apartments or houses, find new roles, or even experience redundancies. In our personal lives we experience loss, become parents, retire or experience many other unforeseen challenges and opportunities.

Throughout our lives we experience a number of stages. Transitioning is the period of change from one stage to another. You can think of transition as a bridge, providing a path from one point in life to the next. Although these times can be stressful, they can also be an exciting opportunity for positive change. Fortunately, research shows that there are strategies that can be applied to influence the things within your control and hopefully make your transitions a bit smoother.

Look Beyond Short-Term Future

Scientist and coaching expert Alex Linley and his colleagues have discovered that people are more likely to focus on the short-term future of change or transition because it is easier to imagine. Unfortunately, people tend to focus more on the stresses of the transition rather than the adaption that will almost certainly follow. This happens because our brains are wired to pay attention to negative threats for survival. This concept is known as the negativity bias. However, we have the ability to override our negative bias to help us bring our focus on possibilities and solutions rather than negative possibilities and worry. To move past the negative bias, it can be helpful to picture your life 3, 6 or even 12 months after the transition and write it down or describe it.

Identify What is Already Working Well

One strategy that you can use to help manage life’s transitions is to reflect on the things in your life that are already working well. This can help boost your positive emotions during times of change. It can also promote self-efficacy by helping you to identify the things that you can do well and continue to do as you transition to a new stage in life.

Be SMART

Another strategy is to coach yourself with SMART goals. A SMART goal meaning, Specific, Measurable, Authentic, Realistic and Timely; can help you think about what you would like to accomplish before, during and after a transition. The SMART goal framework can take these ideas from broad vision to realistic actions.

Transition is inevitable through our lives as we experience constant change and move onto new stages. The best thing we can do is implement strategies that will help is transition during each phase of our lives with as many skills and resources as possible.

Looking for more science-based resources?  APPLI have put together a toolkit called ‘Shaping Your Future in Times of Change and Transition’.  This toolkit will provide you with additional strategies and practical tools that you can use to navigate COVID related changes, manage your current transition and help move forward with further transitions throughout life.

Shop APPLI’s toolkits here: https://shop.appli.edu.au

References

Linley, A. (2008). Average to A+: Realising Strengths in Yourself and Others. Coventry, UK: CAPP Press.

Linley, P.A., Biswas-Diener, R., & Trenier, E. (2011). Positive Psychology and Strengths Coaching Through Transition. In S. Palmer & S. Panchal (Eds.), Developmental Coaching: Life Transitions and Generational Perspectives. Hove: Routledge.

The importance of knowing & living your values

The importance of knowing & living your values

Perhaps you have been thinking long and hard about what you want in your life. Or maybe, you’re reflecting on how you want to contribute to something bigger than yourself. You could even be thinking about your relationships and the role you would like them to play in your life. The answers to these big questions in life are often a reflection of our values, or our deepest desires and attitudes about the world, other people, and ourselves.

Research shows that understanding our values, strengths, and the things that make our life meaningful are all valuable skills that can help us navigate challenges and support our mental fitness.

Knowing and Living Your Values

Understanding our values can help us live a life that is more meaningful and in alignment with what we desire and believe is right. According to Psychologist Russ Harris, it is important to understand that values are not the same as goals. A value is not something that you can just cross off or achieve. Instead, it is something that you continuously aim to live and move towards. As stated by Harris, “for example, if you want to be a loving, caring, supportive partner, that is a value – an ongoing process. If you stop being loving, caring and supportive, then you are no longer a loving, caring, supportive partner; you are no longer living by that value. In contrast, if you want to get married, that’s a goal – it can be ‘crossed off’ or achieved. Once you’re married, you’re married – even if you start treating your partner very badly.”   

Each person has their own set of values, and only you can determine what those values are. No one else can define this for you. When you are exploring your core values, it is not always easy to pin them down therefore, it will take time for you to identify.

Do you know your top 5 personal core values? What about your top 5 work values?

If you would like some resources to help you identify your values, feel free to use listen to the core values activity below from our Appli Work Fit Digital Wellbeing Platform.  The Appli Team have also created an evidence-based toolkit called “Living a Meaningful Life” which can help you discover your values and live with meaning and purpose during the COVID pandemic and beyond.

https://shop.appli.edu.au

References

Martela, F., & Steger, M. (2016). The three meanings of meaning in life: Distinguishing coherence, purpose, and significance. The Journal Of Positive Psychology, 11(5), 531-545. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2015.1137623

Robinson, P. L., Oades, L. G. & Caputi, P. (2014). Conceptualising and measuring mental fitness, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Department of Psychology, University of Wollongong. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4269

Robinson, P. L., Oades, L. G., & Caputi, P. (2015). Conceptualising and measuring mental fitness: A Delphi study. International Journal of Wellbeing, 5(1), 53-73.

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

Ryff, C. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological wellbeing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6), 1069-1081.

Seligman, M. (2011). Flourish: A new understanding of happiness and wellbeing and how to achieve them. London, UK: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive Psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410-421.

Steger, M. F. (2009). Meaning in life. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of Positive Psychology (pp. 679-687). New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.

Wong, P. T. P., & Wong, L. C. J. (2012). A meaning-centered approach to building youth resilience. In P. T. P. Wong (Ed.), The human quest for meaning: Theories, research, and applications (2nd ed., pp. 585-617). New York, NY: Routledge.

Wong, P. (2011, July 5). The Positive Psychology of Meaning in Life and Well-Being. Retrieved from http://www.drpaulwong.com/ the-positive-psychology-of-meaning-in-life-and-well-being/

How to manage your energy, not your time

How to manage your energy, not your time

Do you ever find yourself feeling exhausted when you wake up or maybe unable to completely focus during your workday?

Research shows that working long hours without taking breaks leaves us unendingly exhausted and unable to fully engage with our family and loved ones. As a result, this leaves us feeling unsatisfied and harms our wellbeing. In the workplace, most of us are responding to ongoing demands causing us to put in long hours. This inevitably takes a toll not only on us physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Studies show that this leads to declining engagement levels, higher levels of distraction, higher turnover rates within an organisation, and rising medical costs amongst employees.

The main issue with working longer hours is that time is a finite resource. Energy, however, is defined in physics as the capacity to work. Performance psychologist Jim Loehr and his colleagues have a solution; it’s called ‘Energy management’.  According to Loehr, energy is drawn from four main areas; our body, our emotions, our mind and what he refers to as our spirit. Thankfully, for each of these areas, there are habits we are able to implement in our lives to increase our energy levels.

  1. Managing Our Physical Energy

It is well known that lacking nutrition, exercise, sleep and rest periods weakens people’s energy, as well as our ability to manage emotions and our attention span. To better manage our physical energy, focus on setting yourself an earlier bedtime, during sleep our body is working to support healthy brain function, maintaining our physical and emotional health. Sleep allows your brain to form new pathways for learning and remembering information, enhancing your learning and problem-solving skills. Take the time to exercise a few times a week, focusing on cardiovascular exercise three times and strength training once. Additionally, take regular breaks away from your desk to allow yourself to recharge.

  1. Managing Our Emotional Energy

Our emotions are affected when we overwork ourselves. Most people realize that they perform better when they are feeling positive. If we don’t take breaks, we are then incapable of positive emotions for long periods. Work demands and unexpected challenges push us towards feeling more negative emotions. To enhance your positive energy focus on (a) deep breathing, (b) take time to think about what you’re grateful for and express appreciation to others, (c) look at upsetting situations through new lenses. For example, ask yourself ‘what would the other person in this conflict say and how may his point of view be right?’, ‘how will I view this situation in six months or a year?’, ‘how can I learn and grow from this?’.

  1. Managing our Mental Energy

Multitasking harms our productivity as the shift in attention from one task to another increases the time necessary to complete the task by 25%. Over working and unnecessary multitasking has an effect on our mental energy. To improve your mental energy, take away distractions like your phone so you’re able to focus. Allocate times during the day to respond to voicemails and emails. Each evening, write down the most important task for the next day and focus on that first when you arrive at work.

  1. Managing our Spiritual Energy

People tap into energy of their spirit when their work and activities align with their values. This gives them a sense of meaning and purpose. If the work they’re doing truly matters to them, naturally they’ll feel more positive energy. To increase your spiritual energy, pay attention to what activities give you feelings of effectiveness and fulfillment. Find ways to do more of these. Allocate time and energy to what you consider most important. For example, if consideration is important to you, however, you find yourself constantly running late. Practice showing up five minutes early.

To learn how to identify your values, follow this link and complete the exercise.

http://www.motivationalinterviewing.org/sites/default/files/valuescardsort_0.pdf

These changes may not happen in a day. Take steps by introducing them into your day to day life. We often overwork ourselves and forget the importance of our mental health and wellbeing. Once you implement these changes it is proven that you’ll feel more positive energy and vitality as well as a improved overall wellbeing.

Take a moment to think about how you will implement these rituals into your life.

Loehr, J., Christensen, C., Goleman, D., & Drucker, P. (2010). HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Managing Yourself. Harvard Business Review Press.

Miller, W., Baca, J., Matthews, D., & Wilbourne, P. (2001). Personal Values Card Sort. Retrieved 16 June 2020, from http://www.motivationalinterviewing.org/sites/default/files/valuescardsort_0.pdf