Well following on from my last post I thought I would share some photos of St Lucia. This has been my first trip to the Caribbean in fact it is the first time I’ve been on any kind of trip abroad for about 23 years. So this excursion or vacation or work/vacation has been even more exciting for me. So today I thought I would share all my 22 photos of St Lucia so far.
The first two weeks were spent in quarantine, but I could have been in lockdown at a lot of worse places. I’m at The Landings Hotel and Spa Resort which is at the Northern end of St Lucia close to Pigeon Island Causeway, Gros Islet. During quarantine, you still have access to the beach, restaurant, coffee bar, marina, and swimming pools. You are given a blue wristband until you get the results back from the PCR test then you get to have a white wristband following a further PCR test. However, blue and white are not allowed to mix.
The beach at The Landings is the best beach I’ve ever seen. But saying that I have not been away for 23 years as I’ve said already. However, it is beautiful, the sand is soft and clear of stones and lots of shells, very soft underfoot. It gets hot so you will need flip-flops if you want to walk far on it so best to walk in the water on the shoreline.
I have been witness to some of the most amazing sunsets while here in St Lucia. It is stunning anyway but the sun sets around 6.30 pm. Once the sun goes down it turns dark extremely quickly within 20 minutes or so and then the nighttime animals start making their own kind of music. It really is like an orchestra.
So far I haven’t seen many animals. There are different types of birds, quite small actually, sparrow size. One of which is a Bullfinch. A little black bird with a red patch in the throat area. There are pigeons that have a pink tinge to the feathers, cockroaches although I haven’t seen many of them, small lizard-type creatures, and no spiders yet. Although when we were diverted on the way here via Antigua there was a tarantula a few feet away from my door. I made sure it was kept closed! I did take a photo of it but I couldn’t get close enough as I was too scared so I had to zoom in so it was a bit blurry.
The sea here is amazing. I have never seen anything like it. Apart from the fact it is lovely and warm, you can see right down to the bottom even when the water is shoulder high. There are so many types of fish you can see swimming around which don’t touch you. You have to be careful of the sea urchins but they are usually in the rocky area.
The sea is crystal clear, soft underfoot, and very little debris on the sea bed. It’s actually perfect! Now I can’t swim but I’m not letting that stop me. I borrowed one of the free snorkel kits and managed to put my head underwater for the first time in my life and that is no exaggeration. I was scared at first but within a minute I couldn’t get enough of it. The fish were amazing. Yesterday while on the lounger looking out to see I witness a group of fish jumping out of the water.
This week I had my first strawberry Daiquiri which was amazing. Last week I went to Marigot Bay beach and had my first coconut rum. They take a coconut and chop the top off. You then drink some of the coconut water out and they top it up with coconut run – It was incredible and very moreish. I’ve now bought myself a bottle. The next cocktail on the hit list is going to be a Pina Colada.
The roads in St Lucia make Harrogate’s look brand new. Potholes everywhere, dirt tracks, really sharp bends, inclines. I don’t think I’ve found a straight road in St Lucia yet. When doing a long journey it can actually make you feel a bit car sick. Luckily on the way to the Villa Susanna last week we stopped off quite often at the most amazing smoothie hut, not far from Marigot Bay. My favourite so far is orange, mango, pineapple, and ginger. A really cold slushie; the best I’ve ever had. They also had fruit that I’d never heard of. I am definitely intending to go back again.
Cost Of Food
The cost of food in the supermarkets is astronomical. This is because it is an island and all the supermarkets are owned by the same person or group. A tin of Heinz baked beans is nearly £3, avocados can be up to £20 (good job I don’t like them). You can buy strawberries here but they don’t grow them which I find rather strange.
The fresh fruit and vegetables are so much better though. You can drive down the streets and there are tables along the route selling cold water, watermelon, etc. I had a chat with an optician last week who was telling me the cases of type 2 diabetes on the island is huge. I think this is partly due to the fresh food being so expensive so most people are eating crap.
I think for anyone considering living here it might be worth living in a property where you can maybe grow your own vegetables and fruit. Here on the resort near the beach is a mango tree and I’m keeping my eye on it ready to grab one when it is time. There are also palm trees everywhere and coconuts so you have to be careful when walking underneath one.
There are a lot of photos of St Lucia to share and hopefully, there will be a few more to come as it’s my daughter’s 21st very soon, and I feel a party on the beach is on the horizon. Alka Seltzer at the ready.
Life has changed immeasurably in the past few weeks and months. We are all dealing with uncertainty. Fear, doubt, financial concerns, and family stresses sow the seeds of anxiety. As Donna Booth explains, our need to contribute, combined with a growing sense of helplessness, often causes anxiety to spiral. It’s essential to take a moment or two for yourself to get everything back under control. So today I am going to share with you 3 ways of coping with anxiety.
3 ways of coping with anxiety
Deep breathing is excellent for bringing your attention out of your head and into your body and helping you to manage emotions. You can do it anywhere, at any time, without people noticing.
Sit comfortably and place one hand on your belly. Imagine there is a balloon in your belly and imagine filling the balloon with your inhalation. You should notice the hand on your belly rise. Don’t worry if it is your chest that rises first, the more you practice, the easier it will be. Hold the air in your lungs, and then exhale slowly. The secret is to go slow: Time the inhalation (4 seconds), pause (2 seconds), and exhalation (6 seconds). Practice this for 3-5 minutes.
Progressive muscle relaxation
By tensing and relaxing the muscles throughout your body, you can achieve a deep feeling of relaxation. This exercise helps you recognise where in your body you are holding tension.
Sit back or lie down in a comfortable position. Follow the instructions below, tensing each body part for about 10 seconds. Notice how the feeling of relaxation differs from the feeling of tension.
Feet – Curl your toes tightly into your fee, then release.
Calves – Point then flex your feet, then relax.
Thighs – Squeeze your thighs together tightly, then relax.
Torso – Suck in your tummy as if you were trying to touch your spine, then relax.
Back – Squeeze your shoulder blades together, then relax.
Shoulders – Scrunch your shoulders up to your ears, then drop them.
Arms – make fists and squeeze to your shoulders, then drop them.
Hands – Make a fist by curling your fingers into your palm, then stretch your fingers wide and relax.
Face – Scrunch your facial features as if you were trying to get them to meet in the middle of your face, then relax.
Full body – Squeeze all muscles together, then release the tension. Deep breath in, deep breath out.
Using Your Senses
This exercise brings you back into the moment. It can be done very quickly, or you can take a little more time on each sense.
Notice five things that you can see. Look all around to take in all your surroundings. Look for small details you would usually miss.
Notice four sounds that you can hear. Listen closely to everything around you and further away.
Now three things that you can feel. Think of how the air feels on your skin, and how your clothes feel on your body.
Notice two things you can smell. What scents are present? What does the air smell like? Take some time to appreciate the sents.
And finally, one thing you can taste. Do you have something you can eat or can you taste the air or the inside of your mouth?Above all, make sure you take time for yourself, don’t feel you must use this time to do ‘all the things’. Pause, breathe, take care of yourself, be with your loved ones, and give yourself time to consider the parts of your life that you want to carry forward into your new future.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post, 3 ways of coping with anxiety and I will be writing about many others in the future so make sure you hit subscribe so that you don’t miss any of them. Thank you for reading.
I read an extremely interesting article by Dr. Stuart J. Eisendrath, which I am going to share with you today about using the power of mindfulness to alleviate depression. Stuart Eisendrath is the founder of the University of California San Francisco Depression Center. Dr Eisendrath pioneered research into the therapeutic effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) on people experiencing clinical depression. In his new book, he outlines an easy-to-implement MBCT program that has been scientifically proven in a US National Institute of Health study to bring relief to chronic sufferers of depression by helping them realise that their thoughts are not their reality.
A 2018 article in the British Medical Journal suggested that between 10% and 30% of those in the UK who suffer depression – which could mean as many as 2.7 million people – have treatment-resistant depression. Those with TRD will have tried at least two antidepressant drugs without a positive outcome. Yet, there are non-drug treatments that can be equally, or more effective than antidepressants and do not carry these risks associated with withdrawal.
Our minds are particularly good at thinking, problem-solving, worrying, judging, and analysing. Yet, when it comes to depression these skills are often not in your best interest. If you suffer from depression, memories and thoughts tend to be biased toward the negative, which diminishes your problem-solving abilities. This may lead to misinterpretations, inaccurate assessments, and inappropriate decision making.
Take Carol, who was walking down the street and waved to her friend across the road. Her friend didn’t wave back and Carol felt rejected, worried she’d offended her friend, and was depressed. Actually, her friend has been studying an important business e-mail on her phone and hadn’t even noticed Carol.
Sam thought of refusing a promotion because he thought his boss was setting him up to fail rather than having confidence in his ability to handle the new position. Such an approach could have severe consequences for his career.
Using the power of mindfulness to alleviate depression
A key step in coping with such thoughts is trying to decide if such situations are facts or just thoughts. Mindfulness gives you the space to look at the situation from multiple perspectives and without judgment. Then you can decide how to respond to the situation skillfully. You can evaluate your thoughts in several ways. One is to hold back on acting on a thought while you gather more data to assess whether the thought is a valid one. Another way of assessing a thought is to ask yourself how you feel in thinking it. If you feel more depressed, there is a very good chance the thought is being driven by depression.
The critical voice of depression
Once, I was teaching a beginner’s class in meditation. One woman said, “I can’t meditate as well as everybody else here.” This is one of the most common thoughts of beginning meditators. Then several other members of the group expressed a similar idea about themselves. I asked them how they knew this, and as we assessed the situation, it became clear that such a thought was based more in the critical voice of depression rather than being a fact. Since none of the members had had any prior experience with meditation, it would be unreasonable to expect anyone to be better than anybody else. Moreover, meditation is not competitive. It’s about being present, not about doing something better or worse than someone else.
As the beginners discovered, this is a valuable lesson about how our minds generate negative and unduly critical thoughts. We need to label them as such and bring the attention back to a neutral object like our breath. When we can recognise such thoughts for what they were, we don’t feel compelled to act on them by doing something such as dropping the class.
Rely on your observing self
The observing self can help you see what is being generated by your mind and assess how you feel, both physically and emotionally. You then become capable of extending compassion to yourself and others.
If we expect that we can stop our minds from generating negative thoughts through meditation, we will be disappointed by our limitations. Our minds wander on their own, and our trying to control them makes them want to wander even more. In fact, experiments have shown that efforts to suppress thoughts actually intensify them. If you want to suppress a thought, you actually have to push off against the thought, which intensifies the thought you are trying to suppress.
Our minds are always trying to explain events. That is what our minds do and are built for: trying to organise and understand information. We have the need to try to conceptualise what is happening and to build hypotheses from an early age. Initially, an infant sees patterns of black and white on a page, then becomes able to organise the black and white areas and recognise letters and words.
Similarly, we all organise events and pieces of information into stories we create and construct. When we do not understand something, we still try to organise it to fill in the blanks. We create stories, plots, and themes. In depression, this is often based on how we are feeling. Our emotional state can generate negative thoughts just as much as negative thoughts can generate a depressive state. You can actually step back and observe yourself generating thoughts.
Try This: Observing Yourself think
Close your eyes and focus on your breath for a minute or so.
Once your mind has steadied, take note of the thoughts that emerge over the next few minutes that tend to distract you from your breath. Ask yourself, “What is (fill in your name) thinking?” Notice what thoughts are emerging.
Ask again: “What is (fill in your name) thinking?” See what thoughts come up. Then bring your attention back to the room.
The observing self was the self who was taking note of your thoughts. That self was watching your thoughts emerge. The observing self notices what you are thinking and feeling. Afterward, you might say, “I noticed my mind having a thought about (fill in the subject).” You might also say, “I noticed my mind producing depressive thoughts that then shifted my mood.”
There are some great apps you can use for mindfulness and the best two that jump to mind are, “Calm” and “Headspace”. These are also great for beginners to meditation and mindfulness and have free versions.
I will be doing physical guided meditation sessions very soon so watch this space.
So how can we make the world a kinder place? The answer is definitely easier than you think. There’s a comfort in knowing that people are there for you and willing to help. Little acts of kindness mean we have a caring community and everyone has a better day. Kindness is reciprocal. One kind act tends to lead to another, which has a cumulative effect on wellbeing and happiness.
Kindness is not something we often think about, or really value as a society. Sometimes altruism is seen as weakness, when, in fact, there’s a strength and resilience in kindness. Nor is it about smug, self-satisfied do-gooders. Kind people reach out and touch the lives of others. In an increasingly harsh world, filled with criticism, pressures to conform to an unachievable standard, and online trolling, we all need to try to be a little kinder to ourselves and those around us. Kindness is its own reward.
How can we make the world a better place?
Here are some ideas for little acts of kindness that may lift the spirits of those on the receiving end and boost your own wellbeing.
Be kind at work
Volunteer an hour of your time to help a colleague who is running behind once a month.
Bring in cake, coffee, or some healthy snacks once a month, or go out for a meal or drinks with your colleagues.
Send an e-mail letting a colleague or a supplier know what a great job they’re doing.
Make an effort to learn something new about a co-worker.
Assume the best in others. If someone is running late or has cancelled an appointment, don’t assume they’re trying to get out of something or annoy you.
If you can know a great therapist, tradesperson, designer, accountant etc recommend them to others and provide referrals.
Be kind to those around you
Compliment someone on their shoes, hair, smile, anything really.
Let someone out into traffic, or stop so a pedestrian can cross the road ahead of you.
Hold the door open for someone or make the lift wait for them.
If you have things you no longer want, offer them for free on a local recycling group, or donate them to a charity shop so someone else can benefit from them.
If someone gives you good service, write to the company praising them.
If you’ve always wanted to learn something, look for a local skill-sharing organisation.
If you’re popping to the shops, check if an elderly neighbour needs anything.
Give up your seat on the bus, underground, or train to someone who looks like they need it more.
Do nice things and don’t tell anyone about it.
Help a lost tourist or give someone directions.
If your parking ticket is still valid, leave it on the machine for someone else to use.
Be kind to your friends
Write and send a handwritten thank-you note when you receive a gift or someone does something you appreciate.
Don’t just text. Pick up the phone and arrange to meet up for a chat over lunch or a coffee.
Send a copy of an old photo and reminisce about old times.
Try to find some good in a friend’s partner you dislike.
Bake a birthday cake.
Comment positively on social media.
If a friend is organising an event, make a point of going to support them.
Be kind to your family
If you have the space and time, adopt a rescue animal from a charity. It’s great for wellbeing, fabulous for kids too. If you live in the city, cats who’ve previously had cat flu can be a good option as they need to stay indoors. Rescue centers have everything from snakes and lizards to rabbits, guinea pigs, hens, and horses.
Pause before speaking angrily to someone and consider what you’re really angry about. Try to reframe your comments in a positive way.
Tell your parents that you love them and appreciate all they have done for you.
Take a tip from Frozen and just Let it Go.
Create a family happy book. Gather all your good memories and thoughts into one place.
Catch up with nieces or nephews over Skype or FaceTime.
Have people over for lunch or dinner once a month.
Be kind to your significant other
Tell them you love them and why you think they are so special.
Pick up their chores every now and again if you know they are stressed.
Be a good listener, rather than an advisor.
Don’t nag, but work together to find another way to get something done.
Give them a big hug at least once a day.
Tell them you missed them.
Have a regular date night.
Made a special day for them, filled with their favourite food, activities, and tickets to a concert or the cinema. (COVID permitting).
Snuggle on the couch while watching TV.
Respect them and don’t make decisions that should have their input without consulting them.
Be kind to yourself
Make time for yourself each day. Self-care is important.
Treat yourself to a day off and spend it doing things you love, but never have time to do. Visit a gallery, have a long lie, watch an old movie, read a book, be creative, a walk-in nature…
Forgive yourself for past mistakes and make amends to those you have hurt.
Be an optimist.
Get a plant for your office or buy yourself some flowers.
Now think of the ripple effect these little actions would have on the community? Join me and start that ripple today…
So here we are on day 3 of 100 days to Christmas Exante Challenge. Drum roll…. I’m feeling ok considering I’ve probably dropped my calorie intake by 1000 calories a day. Yep, it shocked me too. This is coming from the woman who wrote “it’s not rocket science”. To be honest I’m kind of glad I’m in this position again as it shows I’m only human but we can make a difference when we put in the effort.
How many people have lost weight to gain it again? We are all guilty of this. I know where I have gone wrong so that is half the problem won. I also know the right and wrong foods but I chose the wrong foods. I mentioned in my last post the horrible things that have happened this year which has had an absolutely negative effect on my health. You have to make lifelong changes. You can not go on a diet lose all the weight then go back to eating the way you did before. You have to make a serious change to your lifestyle.
The Secret Of Why Exante and VLCD diets work the best
The first reason Exante for me works better than the others such as Slimming World and Weight Watchers is that you get results fast and that seriously affects your motivation in a positive way. Usually, with all diets on week one weigh-in, you lose a lot but the 7 days leading up to that is the most difficult. But as soon as you see that lower number on the scales it becomes a whole lot easier.
6 Things To Do Before You Begin Your Diet
Take a photo – The first thing I suggest you do is to take a before photo. Yes, it is going to look bloody awful (you wait until you see mine). Do one from the front and one from the side preferably in your underwear or the same clothes every time. For my challenge, I am taking a photo every day so that at the end of the 100 days I will post a timelapse video so you can watch me shrink before your eyes. How lucky are you?
Measure – So following the photos find yourself a tape measure and take measurements. This is because obviously when you reach your goal at the end of your weight loss journey you can see how many inches you have lost but also you will have weeks where you will lose inches and not weight which is completely normal. So being able to see those losses and to look back can keep you on track. This is so important believe me.
Write – I also suggest getting yourself a really nice A5 notebook or my Diet Journal which is on Amazon.co.uk. Keep a record of what you eat each day, how you are feeling both emotionally and physically. Put your weight and measurements in there. I take my measurements every week just the once along with weighing. Keeping a physical record is so very important to keep your motivation going. You can also print off a photo of you at the beginning, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks etc and stick it in your book. Don’t worry no one has to see it but you but again but when you have a bad week if you are a visual person it helps to see how far you have come.
Drink – You can also keep an eye on how much water you are drinking by making a note also. Drinking plenty of water is key. We are so bad at not drinking enough. I have set several reminders on my phone to go off during the day to remind me to drink 500ml of water. It just seems easier to do it that way.
Goal Setting – choosing a goal is a game-changer too. You are going to have bad days we all do but if you have a goal and you think about that at times of difficulty it will help. In fact, write your goal in your notebook. Do you want to be healthier? Do you want to fit in the little black dress at Christmas? Are you going on holiday and want to feel more confident by the side of the pool? Now for me I want to be healthier, I want to feel better inside and I want to feel more confident and improve my self-esteem, fit into a pair of jeans without the muffin top. I remember how I felt when I lost weight before and I miss feeling like that hugely.
Visualise – visualising goes along with goal setting too. You need to imagine yourself at your goal weight. For me, I will envisage myself wearing my size 12 jeans and looking at my reflection in the mirror. Make the image bright and colourful and see how amazing you look then step into that image and see how it feels, how good you feel. While doing that make the tip of your middle finger touch the tip of your thumb making a circle. If you do that every time you visualise you will eventually make a connection so that when you are going to reach for that biscuit if you do the finger thumb circle it will trigger your visualisation image. You need to do it every day though. It might be easier to just start your day with a visualistaion then use it during the day.
So I hope today’s post, how to lose weight quickly and safely helped to prepare you for weight loss or to even keep you motivated.
Any questions please just ask away and don’t forget you can save 35% on your shop with Exante by using my code TRACEY35.
I know I am an affiliate for Exante but oh… my… god! Do I love their new product? The answer is a resounding yes… yes… yes! Well done Exante I bloody love these. I seriously advise you to get them while they are in stock. This post is all about how you can quench your thirst with Exante Burst drink. As a lot of you already know I’m a lover of their Cranberry water enhancer already but this has gone up to another level.
Quench Your Thirst With Exante Burst Drink
Exante Bursk drink is a low-calorie multivitamin energy drink with added collagen and green tea extract and caffeine. As some of you may already know I did a blog post about collagen recently and how it can help make you feel fuller for longer and also has a lot of other positive effects that you can read about here .
Benefits Of Strawberry And Lime Exante Burst
With 1000mg collagen and added green tea extract, this is the perfect healthy alternative to high-sugar drinks that may hinder your weight loss journey. Vitamins and minerals included within this drink such as Biotin and Zinc can promote healthy hair, skin, and nails, and Iron and Vitamin B12 can reduce everyday tiredness.
Biotin contributes to the maintenance of normal hair, and skin. Zinc contributes to the maintenance of normal hair, skin, and nails. Iron and Vitamin B12 contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
Safety: High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breast-feeding women (16.6mg/100ml)
Made with real fruit
With added green tea extract
With added collagen
Supports energy & focus, hair skin & nails, and metabolism
With 3 great flavours to choose from you can’t go wrong. You just need 500ml cold water (you can use sparkling too) and one sachet and stir until dissolved and it is ready.
In fact, it’s that good my daughter has nicked mine so will need to order some more… the first time she has done that. I will have to get a lock on the cupboard I think.
Please find the evidence below of this with the cheeky selfie I just received… How very dare she!
Please remember to use my discount code of TRACEY35 which can be used for the Exante meal replacements.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend wherever you may be and whatever you may be doing. Happy VE Day!
So life is different right now… no shit Sherlock! Losing weight is never easy and some of you may be finding it even harder right now. Weight loss is a constant battle for me but a big part of being successful is changing your mindset. I hooked up yesterday with a group of Exante Ambassadors and together we are going to support each other to help you guys. So this morning I have come up with 15 questions for coaching yourself through weight loss.
15 Questions For Coaching Yourself Through Weight Loss
Below you will find the 15 questions for coaching yourself through weight loss. I want you to read each one but not just glance at it but to get a pen and paper and write as much as you can and be as detailed as possible. Read your answers several times and visualise your responses.
Where do you most want to see a change in your life?
When do you want to have achieved this by?
If you achieved this what would it mean?
What do you really want in an ideal world?
How could you say your goal in just a few words? – words that make it exciting for you.
How will you know when you have achieved it?
What’s your gut telling you about this?
Reflect on the times in your past when you’ve felt the most content. What was happening?
What does “success” mean to you?
What do you need the most right now?
What do you think is missing from your life? Is there anything you yearn for?
What are three things that would make the most difference in your life right now?
What would your life look like if other people’s opinions wouldn’t matter?
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
What would you do if money was no object?
Other Areas Of Your Life
Now you can use these questions for other areas of your life because as I said there is more to losing weight than just reducing calories. You need to tackle it from every angle. For me, I’m a comfort eater so finding it difficult through these scary times. One coping mechanism for me is support from other people in the same situation. I will be going through lots of coping mechanisms moving forward. So please feel free to subscribe so that you can read the posts as they get published.
The Exante Meal Replacement Diet
For me, the Exante diet meal replacement shakes and bars are the easiest to use out there. You can just grab a bar and go. Shakes are so easy too as you just need to fill a shaker beaker with 200-300ml of cold water (out of the fridge – it makes a difference!) and shake. The reason I have used 2 measurements is that some people prefer thinner shakes. When I started my Exante journey I would use 300ml as I didn’t like thicker shakes, but now I’m at 200-250 ml and it is perfect. So experiment until you find the right consistency for yourself.
There are various flavours so please don’t be put off by trying one and not liking it so you then give up. I hated it to start with but that was using tap water. The next one I used cold water from the fridge and it tasted like a different product – it was delicious. Don’t buy 100 of something unless you have tasted it first. I now have my handful of favourites and I’m more than happy with those.
I’d suggest if you are new to Exante that you buy a couple of each flavour so you can find your favourites and do the same with the bars. People’s tastes are so different so much so just because someone said that they love the peanut butter bar and its the bee’s knees; you might not think the same – I know I didn’t!
Another good thing to consider the products contain all of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs which to me is a plus considering the current pandemic.
Dieting During Lockdown
One of the great things about starting your diet now with Exante you won’t be queuing up at the supermarket. Everything gets delivered straight to your door; it doesn’t get easier than that. I will talk more about the different products moving forward.
Today I am going to share with you 10 ways to grow your own happiness. Are you struggling to shake off that gloomy feeling, or constantly shifting between cheerful highs and sorrowful lows? In the past you may have looked for a distraction to snap you out of a bad mood, reached for the chocolate or, if all else had failed, resorted to antidepressants. But if you find it hard to feel positive about life, the good news is that you can train yourself to be happier.
New studies suggest happiness isn’t just a product of a stable childhood or a naturally sunny disposition – it’s closely linked with the physical structure of the brain, which is something that can be changed.
Researchers from Kyoto University, Japan, have found those who rate themselves as happy have more grey matter in a part of the brain called the precuneus. Not only do these people experience happiness more strongly, they feel sadness less intensely and are able to find a deeper meaning in life. And previous research has found it’s possible to increase grey matter in this area of the brain – meaning that no matter what’s happening in your life, you can develop your own happiness, rather like strengthening a muscle.
If you’re wondering why you should bother, our mood can dictate everything in our lives, from whether we’re able to form good relationships to how healthy we are.
One key activity that has been shown to help change the brain is meditation. Studies have found that regular mediators alter the structure and function of their brains – an effect known as neuroplasticity. As a result of years of meditation practice, French Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard was shown to have increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex area of the brain, which is linked to positive feelings.
Ricard, author of Happiness: A Guide To Developing Life’s Most Important Skill, recommends meditating for 20 minutes every day. ‘Start by simply paying attention to the sensations of your breath going in and out,’ he advises. ‘If your mind wanders, which it will, bring it back to your breath.’
As you get used to this, you can use the same principles throughout the day whenever your worries start to get on top of you. When you notice yourself drifting from the present moment, you focus instead on feelings of hot or cold, or sounds around you. It’s all about consistency, though. ‘Regular practice is needed – it’s like watering a plant,’ said Ricard.
While meditation is an essential happiness skill, building contentment is also about doing lots of small things each day to lift your mood and cultivate positive feelings. Of course this won’t guarantee permanent joy, but getting into the happiness habit can act as a buffer against life’s difficulties, helping you bounce back when things are tough and allowing you to enjoy the good times to the maximum.
Yuna Ferguson, assistant professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University Shenango, USA, champions the idea of using meditation and other methods to enhance your mood. But she offers a word of caution about constantly asking yourself: ‘Am I happy yet?’ She says: ‘Rather than focusing on how much happiness they’ve gained and doing a kind of mental calculation, people could focus more on enjoying their experience of the journey towards happiness and not get hung up on the destination.’
To actively improve your mood, try out these 10 exercises, remembering to enjoy yourself on the your journey to thinking yourself happy.
10 Ways To Grow Your Own Happiness
Let Go Of Your Expectations
Often, the big things we think will make us happy actually don’t, argues Professor Paul Dolan, government wellbeing adviser and author of Happiness By Design. for example, parents report that bringing up children gives life more meaning, but it doesn’t actually lead to higher happiness levels. Similarly, money can’t buy you joy.
So forget about concentrating on what you believe will make you happier overall. Professor Dolan says it’s more about paying closer attention to what brings you pleasure in each moment. ‘We’re happier if we are focusing on the person we’re with, and the thing we’re doing right now.’
You could get the most out of family life by enjoying a Sunday afternoon out with the kids – and staying closely in the moment rather than worrying about the next week at work. If you’re playing with your pet, concentrate on the game instead of shaking a toy half-heartedly while watching TV. Whatever you’re doing, you’ll get more from it if you give it your full attention.
Turn Negatives Into Positives
Our thoughts control our moods, so it’s worth trying to transform a negative mindset into a positive one. ‘Positivity affects everything from how quickly we recover from an operation to how long we live – the positive among us live longer,’ says Rachel Kelly, who wrote Walking On Sunshine, to share the strategies that keep her upbeat after suffering from depression.
But how can you be more optimistic if you’re naturally a glass-half-empty type? According to Kelly, the first step to improving your mood is to simply notice your negative thoughts. It’s easy to allow them to spiral downwards, so make an effort to become more aware of any negative patterns.
‘Next realise these thoughts aren’t facts. It’s worth questioning them because many turn out to be false assumptions,’ she says. If you can’t successfully challenge a negative thought, accept it while breathing in. When you breathe out, try to find a more positive way of viewing the situation or issue. For example, if you’re feeling anxious that you’re going to argue again with your partner, tell yourself that if a row does kick off, you’re going to listen as well as talk calmly – the disagreement could actually end up being positive. Whenever you do this, the old neural pathways in the brain that process negative ways of thinking begin to fade and are replaced by positive ones.
One study found people who write down the things they’re grateful for on a regular basis feel more optimistic, exercise more and visit their GP less. The “three good things” exercise is a handy tool,’ says Rachel Kelly. “As you wind down for the night, think of three positive things that happened that day.
The more detailed and specific you can be, the better. Reflect on each one how it made you feel.’ Tell your partner how much you appreciate them too. Research shows that when people take time to express gratitude for their partner, they also feel more comfortable airing concerns and this can make the relationship healthier.
Do Something Kind
Doing something thoughtful for someone else is a proven way to boost your own happiness. The reason being it can help give your life meaning and purpose, and draw your focus away from your own problems. To get the most benefits, Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, advises against random acts of kindness such as buying a coffee for the person behind you in the queue.
While you might get a short-lived kick out of this sort of act, doing something another person truly benefits from gives you a deeper feeling of contentment because it genuinely helps them. ‘Its more productive to target someone who’s in need of a little more help,’ says Rubin. ‘Help a colleague even when you’re rushing to meet a deadline yourself, or go out of your way to assist an overwhelmed parent who is juggling toddlers and shopping bags.’
If you can’t shrug off that bleak mood, act as if you feel cheerful. First, put on a smile – research has shown smiling, even when you’re faking it, helps you feel more relaxed. And the more you can perfect a genuine-looking smile, the better – that means grinning so the smile reaches your eyes. A study at the University of Kansas, USA, asked people to hold chopsticks horizontally in their mouths (try grinning and holding a pencil horizontally in your teeth), which resulted in them moving their facial muscles to mimic a smile. These people were better able to cope with challenging tasks afterwards. This is because your brain is constantly monitoring your body to see how you’re feeling, which includes scanning facial expressions.
As well as painting a smile on your face, Professor Sir Cary Cooper, a psychologist and wellbeing expert, suggests that you can trigger a good mood. He says, ‘wear your favourite clothes on ordinary days and don’t save them just for special occasions. Put on bright colours and talk about cheerful things. This can make a difference and help you feel more upbeat.’
Clear Your Clutter
It’s been proven that being surrounded by clutter has a powerfully negative effect on your mood, according to research by neuroscientists in the USA. The mistake many of us make, says Gretchen Rubin, is saving up for one big tidy. ‘Mess makes it harder to focus and can leave you irritable,’ she says. ‘Instead, you need to de-clutter on a regular basis. Whenever you have a spare minute, clear a shelf or a kitchen drawer.
If you’re standing around waiting for the kettle to boil or your toast to pop out use the time to see what you could clear up – even small things like a recycling of junk mail, putting away teabags or hanging up a coat can make a big difference. Get rid of anything that isn’t beautiful or useful, too’.
It can be tempting to stay in touch by email or social media, but it’s no replacement for seeing friends in person. Plenty of studies have shown the happiest people spend more time socialising. And that doesn’t just mean having nights out with lots of pals – spending quality time with your partner is also important. Make the effort to snuggle up, even if you’ve been together for years, because frequent hugs can boost levels of the love hormone oxytocin, which encourages feelings of intimacy and closeness.
Making small connections with others throughout the day is also beneficial, easing stress and boosting contentment, says Professor Cooper. ‘Smile at people in the street, chat to bus drivers and people who serve you in supermarkets,’ he says. ‘This kind of everyday interaction can give you a lift.’
Do What You Love
For me this is an obvious one to add to my 10 ways to grow your own happiness and have been saying this for so long. Having a hobby that absorbs you is an important way to get sources of stress into perspective and boost contentment,’ says Professor Cooper. A study at the University of British Columbia, Canada, found people who spent time pursuing their passions were happier than those who prioritised their job.
So leave work on time and do something you enjoy. ‘One of your hobbies should be an exercise you really like,’ says Rachel Kelly. ‘I feel more alive when I live in my body as well as my mind,’ she adds. So instead of focusing on what it is you can do to lose weight or get fit, find something you really look forward to, whether that’s dancing swimming or running.
Toast To Good News
We often see a harsher version of ourselves than is the reality. So to give yourself perspective, be more attentive to your good points. Notice your achievements – at the end of each day, note down what you’ve done well, whether that’s completing admin that has been hanging over you, getting to the gym despite feeling tired, or lending an ear to a friend who’s having a hard time. This will build you self-esteem so you feel more in control.
When it comes to the bigger bits of good news, like getting a promotion or plucking up the confidence to ask a friend out on a date, allow yourself to acknowledge it by telling others – research shows those who share good news are happier and more satisfied with life. By choosing the most enthusiastic friends to tell you’ll get a more positive response, which will reinforce your own satisfaction.
Listening to upbeat music you like really can life your spirits. Studies at the University of Missouri, USA , found listening to positive music daily for two weeks lightened people’s moods in the short-term and boosted their overall happiness. There’s no other stimulation like music to arouse the brain,’ says Professor Paul Dolan. Make music part of your daily life – put it on when you’re getting ready in the morning, exercising or whenever you need a lift. Having a musical soundtrack to your day will help you feel amazing.
I hope you found 10 ways to grow your happiness of interest. I’m going to start applying these to my life; let me know how you get on if you do the same but remember it won’t happen overnight. This is something to be worked on, on a daily basis.
If you would like to add your own items to my 10 ways to grow your happiness – please leave them below.
Love these little beauties. Made out of ground almonds instead of flour. I will be putting the recipe on my keto website soon. As you know I’m on a diet (aren’t we all) not only to lose weight but to help my fibromyalgia symptoms. I miss biscuits with coffee but I can make these beauties and then I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.
Photo 2 – Keto Packed Lunch For College
Now I know carrots are a bit carby but they aren’t too bad as long as they are in moderation. So I had a few shavings of carrots for a bit of extra crunch mixed with baby spinach, chinese leaf lettuce, rocket, watercress, kale, tomatoes, spring onion, cress and cucumber with leftover chicken from the night before. As you can see I also had fresh coconut and a homemade salad dressing of Avocado Oil, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, MCT oil, Balsamic Vinegar with a little bit of freshly ground Pink Himalayan salt and black pepper – Have to say it was delicious. There was still some chicken left over so had the same thing again today.
Photo 3 – Back of Sewing Pattern
I’ve been inspired to get my sewing machine out again after watching The Sewing Bee (one of my favourite programmes and so glad it’s back on air). So I’ve been looking at patterns and this I took so I could see how much material I needed. I’ll update you with the progress of this item I can’t wait to get started on it.
Now I made this for my daughter. She is always at the gym and she likes to have a smoothie afterwards. So I made her this out of Exante chocolate meal replacement shake, 1 tbsp of collagen powder, egg white protein powder, a banana and 1 tbsp of peanut butter powder and she loves it! You can find the Exante chocolate shake here. Also for my new readers you can get 35% off Exante diet meal replacement meals by using my exclusive code TRACEY35 which is fantastic.
Photo 5 – My Son’s Baby Tortoise
I can’t remember the names of these little guys but I find them fascinating. This photo was taken on Mothers Day at his home when they were out having a bit of a run around well as much as a tortoise can do.
Photo 6 – Shepherds Pie with Cauliflower Mash
Yep food again you know me only too well. I know there are carrots in there but again they are ok in moderation on a keto diet. We are potato free in my house now and they have been replaced by mashed cauliflower which is fantastic even my daughter loves it.
Photo 7 – Prepping For College
I’m not sure why I took this and I don’t even remember doing it but this is where I study complementary therapies and a fantastic place it is too. I think that may be Amanda’s backside you can see on the left. Shall have to let her know that her butt is on the web.
Photo 8 – My Eldest When He Was Studying Drama
Found this recently and was so happy because I thought I’d lost it. This is my eldest when he was studying drama. This is one of the photos I took with me on The Fast Fix Documentary and had in my room. So proud of him and also of all my children. So lovely to see them growing and making their own way in life. Sometimes I wish I could do it all again, I miss holding them in my arms and holding them close. I’d do it now but I don’t think they would appreciate it. So all of you out there with little ones cuddle them as much as you can while you can.
Photo 9 – Importance of Play Time
I found this the other day and wanted to share it. I have been saying for as long as I can remember how important it is to play. To let go – To have fun – to celebrate your inner child. Life is too short and play keeps you alive. For instance for me it is being creative whether that is writing poetry, painting, drawing, sewing a dress, playing with the dog, it can be so many things but whatever it is that makes your heart sing do it and then do it some more!
Photo 10 – Something That Made Me Smile
I think this will appeal to my hippy type friends. You can’t beat a bit of sage.
Photo 11 – Face of Fibromyalgia
One of the worst conditions and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s about time they made cannabis oil legal. People are suffering unnecessarily in this country and I find it appalling. Children having over 100 seizures a day being denied something that will give them their life back but instead we fill them with hundreds of drugs just to fill the fat cat pharmaceuticals pockets.
Photo 12 – Harvey Houdini My Trusty Canine Sidekick
He’s still going strong bless him. Found his place next to me in bed. Not sure what would happen if I ever did manage to find a bloke they would have to fight over it.
Photo 13 – I’m Crap At Technology
This was me trying to ask Siri something but instead managed to take a screen shot. I can’t believe after all this time I still haven’t got the hang of it – no smart remarks 🙂
Photo 15 – My Dream (please come true)
I desperately want to get my garden sorted so I can have one of these in it. I’d be out there all the time. I’d also use it for massaging clients too. So if anyone wants to help me sort out the garden (a lot needs doing) you can get free massages afterwards.
There you go I hope they weren’t too boring for you.
Happiness is a habit that we have to practice on a daily basis. Life is full of uncertainty, fear, and struggle; but we can cultivate a practice that brings out the true joy living inside us at all times
It doesn’t matter what your age is or how much money you have in your bank account, your marital status or what you do for a living, we all want to be more successful in our lives. Of course, defining success is different for each us, but here are proven ways that can make you more productive, happy and successful in life.
Please feel free to share this list, add to it, and make it your own. Happiness is a habit that we have to practice on a daily basis. Life is full of uncertainty, fear, and struggle; but we can cultivate a practice that brings out the true joy living inside us at all times. These practices will make us more resilient and allow us to bounce back with more ease and grace from life’s challenges.
64 Tips for Living a Happy Life Starting Right Now
No matter what goals you have set for yourself in life, you have to be committed. It’s through commitment that you’ll continue to make the improvements needed to better yourself. Whether it’s taking a chance on launching a startup, getting a gym membership to improve your physical well being, or taking a cooking class because you want to become a chef, commitment is what drives us all to become more successful.
People care about you; not your success
Let’s be honest. People don’t care about the expensive clothes you wear, how big is the house you own or the car your drive. That’s not to say that they don’t respect your achievements or possessions. Instead, they care for you as an individual and they’ll support you no matter what — because they love you. Believe it!
Be grateful everyday
According to researchers Martin Seligman, Robert Emmons, and Michael McCullough, being grateful can result in feeling better about your life, more enthusiastism and more willingness to help others. Being grateful may even reduce coronary artery disease. Take the time to write down what you’re grateful each and every day.
Money can’t buy happiness
As The Beatles famously proclaimed, (money), “can’t buy me love.” You know what else money can’t buy? Happiness. Just because you’re earning six figures doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily content. Sure, money is obviously needed, and it makes some things easier. But, you should be focusing on your passion and not how much your paycheck is.
Don’t take rejection personally
At some point we all face rejection. Instead of taking it personally, use it as a learning experience. Why did a someone reject your proposal? Maybe there wasn’t a market for your product. Perhaps you didn’t have a convincing pitch. Maybe the their partner just called and said he’d spent their extra cash. Accepting and learning from rejection is one way to guide you to success. Learn from rejection and use it as motivation to make things bettter!
Have a backup plan
You never know when the unexpected is going to happen, but when it does happen, you’re surrounded by chaos. Being prepared for the worst case scenario can at least make things a whole lot less chaotic.
As Yii-Huei Phang states on The Huffington Post, traveling is a great way to “develop a person’s character” and become more open-minded. Additionally, while traveling is a great way to get away from the daily grind, it also helps you appreciate what you have back at home.
If you’re feeling constantly burnt out it’s probably because you’re doing too much at one time. Research has found that “when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 percent.” You’re also burning your reservoir of energy. Both of these issues decrease your productivity and prevent you from accomplishing tasks and goal.
Embrace a growth mindset
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck argues that we have two-mindsets; “fixed” and “growth.” A fixed mindset “assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static.” A “growth mindset,” however, “thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”
Balance work and life
When work interferes with life, it can result in employees getting burned out and decreases base morale in the office. While this may not be an option for employees, it proves that everyone needs time away from the office. If you’re able to spend less time in the office by working remotely or having flexible hours, you should be able to be productive in both your personal and professional life.
Don’t hold grudges
There is really no need to hold onto a grudge. It can mentally wear you out and makes you miserable. And, doesn’t life seem to go a whole lot smoother when you’re not angry?
Stick it out
After years of studying both children and adults, psychologist Angela Duckworth found that one of the characteristics of successful individuals is having grit. During her TED talk Duckworth stated, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Live in the moment
You can’t change the past and you have no control of the future. Live in the moment and enjoy what’s in front of you right here, right now. When you’re busy making too many plans, you’re causing stress that prevents you from enjoying the present.
Take care of yourself, then help others
According to Mark Snyder, a psychologist and head of the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota, “People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness.”
Additionally, helping others is beneficial for our health. But, how can you help others if you haven’t taken care of yourself first? Take care of your needs first and then begin to help others.
Giving: Do Things for Others
Give sincere compliments often. You can easily lift someone’s spirits by complimenting their work, attitude, style, or anything else you genuinely find remarkable. Not only will it help them but it will help you be seen as a person who is uplifting and nice to have around.
Say thank you to the supermarket cashier, coffee barista, taxi driver, or anyone else who makes your life easier.
Write a thank you letter to someone.
Hold the door open for the person behind you.
Carry a Homeless Care Bag in your car and hand it out when you see someone in need.
Relating: Connect With Others
Say “I love you” to someone you love.
Give someone a hug.
Tell your co-worker how much you appreciate the work she/he does. Be specific.
Have device-free lunch and dinner time with co-workers and family. Each person agrees to turn off their devices and have a meal connecting with only the people at the table.
Exercise: Take Care of Your Body
Take a walk and smile at everyone you pass.
Do 20 Jumping Jacks. This easy, do-anywhere exercise is sure to give you a quick energy boost and get the blood flowing. It also helps get creative juices flowing, so it’s a great break to take during work or when feeling stuck on a project.
Do a headstand. Headstands are a great way to flush fresh blood, oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator.
Go for a bike ride, walk or hike with a friend. Getting outside in nature has a restorative effect on the psyche. Research shows that just 15 minutes of walking in a park or forest increased feelings of vitality and relaxation.
Awareness: Live Life Mindfully
Smell the flowers and while you’re there count the number of petals they have. Really notice the beauty nature provides us.
Watch the sunrise or sunset. Remember that no matter how difficult things get, the sun will rise again tomorrow.
Light a candle or fire and watch how mesmerizing the flames can be.
Eat an orange mindfully (or raisin, piece of chocolate, anything you have on hand).
Marvel at the all tasks your body performs automatically without you having to tell it anything. Breathing, feeling, digesting, thinking, yawning, blinking, sweating, shivering….how many can you come up with?
Trying Out: Keep Learning New Things
Ask more questions. Keeping your mind open to the marvels of the world is fuel for your imagination.
Visit a museum or historical site in your town or city.
Try a new sport, yoga class, or activity in your area. Studies have shown that learning a new sport increases the volume of gray matter in parts of the brain responsible for motor movement.
Learn to draw, play an instrument, cook a new meal, or learn a language. Learning helps build self-confidence and feeds creativity.
Teach what you already know. Teaching others forces you to take a new perspective and often leads to deeper understanding.
Direction: Have Goals to Look Forward to
Plan a trip. Having a holiday on the horizon builds the excitement of anticipation.
Create a Weekly Ritual. Rituals provide stability and comfort while also connecting you to the present moment. If your ritual includes others, such as family movie night, it becomes a great way to connect and nurture relationships.
Sign up for an event that you have to train for, like a mud run or a triathlon — bonus points for doing it with a group. The sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a goal after months of training is one of the greatest happiness boosters I know of. It builds confidence in all areas of life.
Break down larger goals into small, attainable actions that move you towards your goal. Have a weekly check in to make sure you are on track.
Find a mentor, coach, or teacher who can help guide you and hold you accountable.
Resilience: Find Ways to Bounce Back
Listen to your favorite happy song at full blast and sing it loud!
Meditate. This is a great way to build strength of mind, heart, and spirit. If you’re new to meditation start with just one minute of focusing on your breath coming in and out. When you get distracted (and you will), just begin again.
Smile. Studies have shown that the body can trick the brain into thinking it’s happy by flexing the zygomatic major muscle, which is the smiling muscle. So when you’re feeling blue, turn up the corners of your mouth and your brain will get the signal to be happy.
Be curious. Rather than judging setbacks or disappointments as bad or failures, approach them with curiosity, like a scientist. Figure out how you could improve for next time. Use everything as a learning experience and you will always be moving forward.
Lean into the pain. This may seem counterintuitive, but a lot of our struggle comes from the resistance we use to avoid being uncomfortable. Often times, once we open up to the pain, sadness, fear, etc., we release the power it has over us and see it as the temporary state it truly is.
Emotions: Look for What’s Good
Keep a daily gratitude journal. Each day write 3–5 things that happened that you are grateful for.
Make a Gratitude Board. This can be a chalkboard, white board, bulletin board, any type of board, that you can write or post things you are grateful for. Keep it somewhere that you see often so it serves as a reminder of how much you have to be happy about.
Make a practice of sharing the best moment of your day with family or friends at dinner each night. Knowing that you have to come up with something good that happened each night will train your brain to look for the good things in your day.
Know what makes you happy and do more of it. Does dancing put you in a good mood? Then make a point to dance a little each day.
Visit the Soul Pancake website. They create inspiring, heartwarming, uplifting, and humorous content guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Acceptance: Be Comfortable With Who You Are
Practice loving-kindness meditation. This type of meditation cultivates the awareness that happiness is accessible to us at all times.
Notice what your self-talk is like. Are you constantly criticizing and judging yourself? If so, try talking to yourself the way you would talk to a friend or loved one.
Have an open mind. The more accepting you are of yourself, the less you care what others think. This allows you to open your mind and broaden your horizons.
Challenge yourself. Step outside your comfort zone once in awhile and you will begin to grow exponentially. This can be as big or small as you like. I like to say each day I will do at least one thing a little more, or a little better.
Nurture yourself. Get a massage, go to a spa, take a warm bath.
Meaning: Be Part of Something Bigger
Volunteer. Whether your thing is teaching underprivileged kids, visiting the elderly, or helping clean up the environment, there are numerous ways to volunteer your time and feel part of a community.
Visit the planetarium. It’s amazing what learning about the solar system does for putting things in perspective. Even gazing at the night sky can have inspire feelings of deep connection.
Join a community group. Whether it is social activism or a recreational sport team, getting together with people in your community will make you feel a deeper connection to the world around you.
Adopt a pet. There are an abundance of domestic animals that need loving homes. Having another living thing that is dependent on you brings deeper meaning to your life.
Plant a garden. Tending to a plant, especially one that you will eat, creates an appreciation for the nourishment the soil can provide and a deeper respect for Mother Earth.
And there you have it, some of my tips for cultivating a happy life. I hope they provide some inspiration and motivation to discover your own best ways to live a happier and more meaningful life.