Monthly Archives: May 2015

The right way to talk to yourself

By Kim Lowe, Simple Intentions Managing Editor

Thinking out loud is good for you. And carefully choosing your words when you self-talk can impact whether you walk away from the conversation feeling positive and in control, or mired in negative thoughts.

This is the topic explored in the article “The Voice of Reason,” in the May issue of Psychology Today. According to the article, which reports on the research of psychologist Ethan Kross, “how people conduct their inner monologues has an enormous effect on their success in life.”

Most importantly – and so simply – switching from using first person (“I need to stop procrastinating and write this blog post.”) to using your name (“Kim, stop procrastinating and write that blog post.”) provides a sort of psychological distance that lifts judgment and anxiety and frees the brain to not only complete a task, but also to do so more successfully.

The article explains what happens in the brain when we shift from using pronouns to first names, as well as details the research that led to the findings. For our purposes, we pulled out a few tips to help you make self-talk work for you.

  1. Think out loud. Especially for challenging tasks and situations, thinking out loud provides a level of concreteness to issues that helps put solutions within reach.
  2. Use an imaginary coach. Much as an imaginary friend fuels a child’s imagination, an imaginary coach with whom you discuss problems can provide the psychic space you need to uncover creative solutions.
  3. Self-talk in the third person. Particularly when preparing for a stressful event, Kross found that talking to yourself using your name rather than “I” or “me” dispels anxiety not only before the event, but afterward, too.
  4. Tackle a problem as if it was your friend’s issue. Consider how easy it is to advise your friends: You approach problems more objectively and with less attachment to an outcome. Such detachment applied to your own problems can likewise minimize anxiety and fear.
  5. Be precise in your self-direction. Before a big event, remind yourself – using your name – of the work you did to prepare, and tell yourself to be calm and exude confidence.
  6. Include positive affirmations in your self-talk. Tell yourself, “Jane, you are capable, smart and strong.” And give yourself a break; even if things don’t go perfectly, talking in third person provides a distance that softens the blow to your self-worth will helps you move on more quickly.
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Making Meditation and Mindfulness a Habit

By Kim Lowe, Simple Intentions Managing Editor

Self motivating to exercise isn’t difficult for me. It’s such a habit, I don’t think twice about going for a run or catching a yoga class. I just do it. Meditating, on the other hand, is a whole different experience. I have tried for years to establish a daily meditating habit, using various “challenges” and other guided programs, but it’s never stuck. It’s not that I haven’t experienced the benefits of meditation – greater calmness and focus, gratitude for quiet and breath – it’s just never been addictive to me the way exercise is.

But lately I’ve gotten hooked on Headspace, an online meditation and mindfulness program that gently supports a daily habit with an initial package of 10, 10-minute “training” meditations guided by the soothing voice of company founder and mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe. (I first discovered Andy and Headspace via his Ted Talk.)

Admittedly, it took me about 20 days to complete the 10-day bootcamp, but having completed that and then ponying up for a subscription that gives me access to hundreds of hours of meditations, it’s slowly become a morning ritual. Coffee first, then 20 minutes with Andy. (His British accent helps.) With the subscription, I can choose additional foundational meditations (which I recommend for really experiencing the rewards and establishing the routine), plus themed packages around stress, performance and relationships.

My next challenge is working mindful moments into the rest of my day, continuing to experience the calm and clarity I feel after a 20-minute morning session. I also know that on those days when I have time for only meditation or exercise, the latter will win. And, in fact, I’ve discovered I can work mindfulness into my workouts as well as after, ending with a five-minute meditation to calm my breath, settle my head and better prepare me for whatever’s next.

As Andy says: “Treat your head right, everything else will follow.”

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4 tips for stressful times

By Judith Young, Mindful Life Consultant

Our busiest times of the year — whether we’re launching a new product or preparing for an industry conference — tend to be the times when we cast aside some the very habits and behaviors that actually help us maintain the levels of energy and drive we need to create and show up our best. There are a few key actions that don’t take any more time, but do in fact make a huge positive difference. These are things that military and athletic trainers emphasize. You are a “corporate athlete” who needs these basics in order to stay strong and focused:

Hydrate:

Water helps you concentrate, problem solve, remember well, and it gives you energy. Drinking water all day long will help you maintain the energy you need.

Eat:

Eat nutrient- and protein-rich foods, especially at breakfast and lunch. A carb-only meal (e.g., breakfast muffin or just toast) without protein and other nutrients will lead to an energy crash. Your food makes or breaks your energy, cognitive function and mood.

Move:

The human body and brain are meant to sit and focus for an absolute max of 90 minutes at a time, and even that’s a stretch. Your energy, brain and attitude need you to move throughout the day. Even better if you go outside; just looking at a plant measurably lowers blood pressure and mental fatigue.

Rest:

You really need the hours of sleep you’re able to get these days. Caffeine activates the system for six hours; measure your coffee timing well. When you drink more water and eat more energizing foods, you’re less caffeine-reliant and you rest more deeply during those precious sleep hours. Digital screens mimic daylight to the brain and thus reduce the sleep-hormone melatonin. Try your best to shut off all screens — computer, phone and TV — an hour before shut-eye. Calm your cortisol (stress hormone) in the evening. Practice a nightly calming habit that works for you: light exercise, stretching, yoga, breathing exercise, reading, etc.

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It’s time to multiply the voices

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder

No, I’m not talking about the voices in my head. For years, the voice of this blog has been mine, but going forward it will be the voice of many, sharing their views and experiences as teachers of awareness in the workplace, as well as thoughtful, provocative and sometimes cynical research around this topic.

I am talking about the voices of new consultants joining the Simple Intentions team to speak about and support corporate consciousness. Yes, Simple Intentions is growing, adding unique consultants with different corporate backgrounds but all united in a common belief that the power and skill of awareness can transform the way people live and work around the world.

Our website, too, is new, and includes a Resource page where we are building a collection of conscious content as it relates to the workplace. I will still post from time to time, with the intention of sharing my experiences teaching and speaking around the globe. And of course, I’ll continue to post photos of my travels on Instagram (Simplejae1). It is with humble gratitude and childlike excitement that I welcome the many voices of Simple Intentions.

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