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Good advice for a happy new year


happy new year photo

Good advice for a happy new year

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time looking for ‘mental fixes’ and sure-fire actions to make life happier, smoother and more peaceful. However, no matter how hard I try I have not yet succeeded (and never really expected to if I am realistic – can’t help trying though!)  in finding a specific formula tailored to dealing with the mad lives we lead on this truly insane planet. I have found simple ideas though that have helped me navigate life a little more easily. I may not have all the answers and I am learning all the time, but I am sure going to keep on trying to find better ways to live and share them with my readers. (You are welcome to share your tips with me too).

So, I have put together a list of good advice that I have come across over the years to consider as you go forth into another New Year. I wish you love, warmth, understanding and kindess…

Good advice:

  1. Live in the moment. By all means have long term goals but then avert your attention and focus back to today. Be fully present in your life and don’t check out of life and live for a future that hasn’t arrived yet.
  2. Give up comparing your life to others. We are all here to accomplish different things at different times. Success is not liner and success isn’t necessarily financial stability or a full social calendar either. The more you are true to yourself, the less you will worry about what others are doing. You might rejoice in their successes but you won’t use it as a competition or a reinforcer to remind yourself that you are failing.
  3. Stop overthinking. When you are in your mind you are in ‘enemy territory’. I like that saying as I have found personally, and in my professional work, that people can be very hard on themselves and tend to default to negative, self critical thinking. Use your thinking time to find solutions and make action plans. The moment you find you are ruminating over the same topic without much progress it is time to distract yourself and do something else.
  4. Maintain balance in your life. It is hard in modern times to find time to pamper ourselves and when we do we tend to invariably feel overwhelmed with guilt. Part of honouring and loving ourselves is accepting that we deserve love and care and that we owe it to ourselves to spoil ourselves – take a holiday, go for a massage…everything should have it’s place and a clear even balance between work and play must be followed if you want to function optimally in life. Get used to rejecting guilt – a wasted emotion that you can choose to reject.
  5. Choose your thoughts about the world wisely. What you want to believe or choose to believe will shape your world so it is vitally important to analyse and carefully craft what you wish to believe about yourself, the world and other people. Believe negative thoughts and “confirmation bias” will automatically show you examples in life of your negative thinking. Be open minded, not naive. Trust in good. You will be happier for it. Never give up hope and faith and positive perceptions even in the face of the opposite. I am not saying accept all the awful things that happen in the world but don’t let them define you and wear you down. When we focus too much on all the negativity we can become bitter and twisted. I counteract the negative events I come across by watching what I think about them and regularly give to charities and try to do my little bit to counteract suffering. We all have our own personal ways of dealing with things that upset us but never let them win and overwhelm you into seeing the whole world as bad and negative – all that will do is make you sad and angry and helpless.
  6. Have more fun and laugh a lot. Be adventurous, be daring and learn to try new things regularly. How else will you learn about your strengths and weaknesses? Get out of your comfort zone and meet others, try things you feel scared of. This is the best way to conquer fear and gain confidence and you will be able to look back on your life with fewer regrets and “what ifs”. Life doesn’t have to be that serious…

The above suggestions are just a few ideas. Please leave comments if you would like to add any of your own ideas that have helped you get through life. Don’t let the mean people grind you down, just feel sorry for them. Try not to take things personally and be wary of making assumptions – they are usually based on our thoughts and NOT on any evidence. We really can create our own personal heaven or hell by the thoughts we wish to ‘feed’ ourselves with.

HAPPY NEW YEAR..I am looking forward to sharing it with you!!

Mandy X


Why fun is essential


person laughing photo

Why fun is essential

Did you know that relentless stress actually changes your brain chemistry? Prolonged stress leads people to begin to feel helpless and powerless. Their body tires from constantly being in “fight or flight” mode and it can lead to health issues too.

There is an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting how stress affects us negatively. The more stress we cope with for long periods, the more likely we are to develop anxiety, depression and even panic attacks. It’s our body’s way of sending us a message that we desperately need time out.

It’s a modern epidemic – people who work crazy long hours and rarely take regular breaks. The constant strain becomes familiar and turns in to a pattern of behaviour that is damaging but also familiar, thereby reinforcing itself. There is a subtle pressure to work hard, achieve and be successful although society pushes us towards unhealthy goals. We believe that working hard is admirable, that putting in overtime makes us committed. I think it makes us look like fools who believe we are valuable when we ‘do’ instead of understanding we are valuable just ‘being’. I am not saying we should all become lazy lay-abouts but balance is healthy and MANY do not have any balance in their lives.

Fun is absolutely essential for balance in life – balance externally and balance internally. The body begins to shut down when confronted with ongoing stress.

Look at it this way: It’s rather like the keys of a piano being hit so hard that the impact puts the strings out of tune. The piano still plays, but it plays dif­fer­ently. While another hard hit on the keys might have bro­ken a tuned piano wire, the now — slack wire can with­stand another hit … and another. If the hits are even harder, the wire stretches more. You can almost hear the piano (and the brain under acute stress) say­ing, “Go on, hit me again! I can take it.” But the cost is that both are out of tune and the melody is never quite the same.  In the human ner­vous sys­tem, this kind of adjust­ment or adap­ta­tion pro­tects the brain from harm by chang­ing the way it responds to stress. Perry and Pol­lard point out that repeated expo­sure to stress — chronic stress — results in a new way of cop­ing with a con­tin­u­ous stres­sor, but it is less effec­tive.  Not a good thing.

In a series of experiments, Daniela Kaufer, UC Berkeley associate professor of integrative biology, and her colleagues, including graduate students Sundari Chetty and Aaron Freidman, discovered that chronic stress generates more myelin-producing cells and fewer neurons than normal. This results in an excess of myelin – and thus, white matter – in some areas of the brain, which disrupts the delicate balance and timing of communication within the brain.

It is clear to me that modern life is changing us. We are more cranky and depression and anxiety are increasing. This problem is compounded by the fact that mental illness and stress are not taken as seriously as obvious health problems such as a broken leg or cancer.

I believe that many of our health conditions can be improved by looking at mental health as a primary source of many health issues. People drink alcohol excessively and find means to escape stress that are unhealthy such as gambling and drugs. There is not enough emphasis on stress relieving techniques that can be offered by mental health professionals to help people cope better. Instead we have a planet where everyone is stressed out and doesn’t know who to turn to or how to self soothe in healthy ways.

One of these ways is to make time for fun. Listen to happy music, go for a dance. Skip for a few minutes..do something silly. Take regular holidays. Play. Climb a tree…do whatever works for you but make time to be less serious. If you cannot switch off your serious side, it may be time to get help from a counsellor/psychologist who can show you how to get your fun side back.

Fun is underrated but it may just save you from a ‘cortisol-pickled’ brain that definitely won’t help you to achieve your true potential.

Mandy X


Photo by marc kjerland