6 steps to make you feel better and improve your mental health when you are busy

The pace of life is so fast.  There is little respite, you probably feel that you are just about hanging on there, and there is very little time to just ‘be’.  Return from a holiday, and within no time you struggle to see the point of all the rushing before you go, and the immense game of catch up afterwards.

What is the impact of being busy on our health?

All of this frantic behaviour has a huge impact on health  – both physical and mental, and whilst these impacts may not be apparent at first glance, over time, it will be evident for all to see.  Just like weight gain or loss, day to day we do not notice, but catch up with someone you haven’t seen for a few months, and the impact is soon plain to see.

Six simple ways to help your mental health

  1. Make Your Bed – this aids mental health – as you start the day with a productive pattern of behaviour (and after all, its only plumping a couple of pillows and shaking a duvet)
  2. Revel In The Good Times– it’s easy to let them pass by as you sink into worry and made up outcomes of life.  Take the time to enjoy the good times, and the things you have made up are not actually that huge in reality
  3. Say No Sometimes– Establishing your limits is essential, remaining in control of your time and life enables you to manage commitments, never forgetting that your own happiness and family life are probably the two greatest commitments of all
  4. Try Keeping A Diary– writing the positive things, to remind you how good life can be is a huge boost, as is the power of writing down the negative things – which allows them to be released, and actually, on reflection, when you read them back, are not so significant after all
  5. Make Lists In Threes– if you must keep a list, keep it manageable (I prefer to schedule everything to be done rather than having a list).  3 is manageable every day, not too daunting, and not too insignificant.
  6. Set A Sleep Schedule– Aiming for a structured sleep, with a good level (7-8 hrs) not only regulates the body, but also allows body and brain time to recover.

Six simple ways to gradually reduce your stress, so if you are a little reticent to stress management, you can make these changes safely, without feeling awkward about many other techniques which may just be a step too far.

Together we can bring some Serenity to your life

 

How to cope with dark days

Very few people sail easily through every day of life (despite the impression they may give).  What makes it even harder for seemingly robust people (and maybe you are one of these), is that the crash from performing for the audience (this could be workforce, employees, family or friends) to facing your woes seems far bigger and painful. Imagine having the best day ever, then the next morning you wake up and find that your world has collapsed. For some, this type of day comes along far more frequently that you might imagine.

I first met Dr James Rouse a couple of years ago (first watch this video).  I was told to make sure I got to the front of the auditorium and to be as close to him as possible. Hearing from other Serenity financial life planners, I was told of the profound effect which his energy, enthusiasm and vigour had on them.

Aside from being a great speaker, incredibly fit, and full of energy, Dr James is unbelievably generous with his time.  There is no ego attached, he goes about his day helping others, inspiring them, and encouraging enthusiasm. I had a great dialogue with him over the course of the conference, which meant so much to me, that a headline speaker would take the time to share his wisdom on a one to one basis.

In the video, James talks about dark days. This made me sit up suddenly, as he is probably the bounciest, happiest person I can imagine.  Of course, behind what we show the world, there are frequently very different feelings.  We have all heard of unhappy comedians for example.

Here are 4 particular attributes  which contribute to dark days, and how to reframe how you are feeling :

  1. Perfectionism– when no matter what we do is good enough.  The answer – to realise that we are all students in life.
  2. Not Enoughness– where we feel we should be better and we are winging it through life, waiting to be found out. James advocates focusing on just one thing, and doing that intentionally well.
  3. The Human Doing– we all live busy lives, balancing commitments, obligations and duties. We are all consumed by ‘doing’ that we forget about ‘being’. After all, we are Human Beings,  so take some time to just be.  Have some time for you.
  4. Sadness – which sometimes just hits us. We wake up feeling just sad, then wallow in that without any real reason, maybe even beating ourselves up about it. Trying to be compassionate and present with the self is a great way to be kind to that most important person – you!

I hope that you find Dr James as uplifting an inspiration as we do at Serenity.

Together we can bring some Serenity to your life

 

Big Issues v Small Issues – which causes you the most upset?

The next time you have a major issue in your life, once you have dealt with the immediacy and handled what is essential and urgent, take a second to reflect on how you handled the situation. How did it work out for you, how well did you cope, function, and react to what was happening and what needed to be done.  The chances are – that you have handled something big and meaningful far better than a less significant issue – let’s have a look…

Dealing with a minor issue

Firstly, you are putting together a piece of flat packed furniture (not IKEA, as their stuff seems to go together really well), nothing seems to fit, a few screws get put in the wrong place, you have to rebuild it several times, you stand on (and burst) that little glue packet which is never any good, and gradually the situation builds to great annoyance and frustration. Tools fly across the room and everyone else in the household wisely stand well clear. Obviously a less than useful reaction to the challenge in hand.

Dealing with a major issue

Secondly, your child is ill, they call out to you in the middle of the night to find that they have vomited all over themselves, their bed, their floor, and are in quite a poorly state. Immediately you jump into autopilot, whatever is going on can be dealt with, and nothing phases you at all – wow, what a reaction.

Surely the big reaction should go with the big problem?

Take a step back, with a rational mind for a moment, what should be the toughest situation to deal with? A bit of flat packed furniture which will not quite go together, or a room covered in vomit and an ill child? Obviously, without any emotional attachment, as a snapshot, the DIY fiasco should be the easiest to cope with, but why is it not ?

Who is this problem really about?

Stand back and ask that question – I am making this all about me?

Take the ill child, the focus is on them, helping them, easing their woes, you dedicate yourself to others, serve them, and aim to make them feel comfortable.  Whilst the situation is not perhaps awfully savoury, that doesn’t seem to matter at all, you do what needs to be done.

Turning now to the DIY frustration, this is all about you, your failure, your frustration, your inability to complete the task. Anger towards the ‘useless instructions’ becomes a vent for your anger towards yourself, the annoyance also follows that path. You start to make up stories in your head, spiralling ever onwards into greater and greater anger.  It is all about you, and that is where the problem lies.

Is money the same as other emotional experiences?

Yes! In exactly the same way, decisions about money, investing and planning can also affect you in different ways.

Take an investment, if you can accept that the market is the market, and that no-one can predict the future, no clever fund manager can accurately time the markets, and that the person bragging about their ‘stellar performance’ will most likely be talking about a very short snapshot in time, then your investment journey will be far more peaceful (it is about someone or something else – the market not you).

On the flip side, trying to pick stocks, when to buy, when to sell and when to hold will lead you into the DIY avenue of frustration, anger and disappointment (now it is about you and your ego). Key to success is understanding that what happens just happens (that may not sound scientific, but it is true) in the markets, and that by sticking to a well thought out plan is wisest way not to lose money through emotional decisions.

Be it DIY, ill children, investment strategies or anything else which may cause you worry and anxiety, at Serenity we understand that it is about your whole life, not just the money. So remember, take a second to ask yourself ‘who is this about’. See if you are attaching stories to your own emotions and making them spiral out of control. It’s just about you, and most of it is made up anyway.

Together we can bring some Serenity to your life

Why do people post about their running on social media ?

Here is a free gift – 3 minutes of your time – We simply don’t know the answer to the question of ‘why people post sporting activity on Facebook’.  So now you can stop reading and carry on with your day.

I suspect however, that you are interested, so do carry on.

How do you feel when you read posts on social media?

So, its first thing in the morning, and you read on Facebook that someone has just been out for a run. How do you feel? What do you think? What thoughts do you harbour towards them?

This parody may seem humorous, yet would it be an acceptable approach if someone morbidly overweight was trying to lose weight and stay on track by posting updates on FB? How about someone recovering from a physical or mental illness and posting updates to not only keep their social group involved, but also, to be accountable?

What’s it like trying to start? It’s no joke

At a funeral of a friend (aged 43) recently, someone came up to me who I hadn’t seen for about 10 years, and said ‘my wife showed me a post on Facebook years ago when you said you were going for a run – we thought it was a huge joke’. 6 years later, 6 inches less around the waistline and almost 50 pounds lighter, he could see that there was no joking – but rather a huge change, mocking had turned to admiration and praise for me.

What about these constant updates?

For me, from going from a sedentary couch potato, to someone who exercises at 4:30am is an ongoing journey, not a flick of a switch, no set goals or targets, just a sustained change of behaviour.  Yes, I could have switched the Facebook and Twitter updates off, but we have a saying in Life Planning – ‘to be a life planner, you need to live your own life plan.’

Walk the walk and talk the talk

How hypocritical would I be if I was coaching and working with my clients to improve their health if I led an unhealthy lifestyle? How much credibility would I lose if, when working with people to create more time, space and help prioritise their days, my day was lazy, lethargic, and detrimental to progress?

If you saw a dentist with bad teeth, what would you think? It is the same in all walks of life.  Doctors who smoke! – surely that is one of the biggest levels of hypocrisy there is!

We are not health freaks at Serenity, but we do all take care of ourselves (and support each other), with a firm view on moving forward in our own life-plans.

Is social media about bragging rights or looking for support?

People post their activity on Facebook etc. for reasons best known to them – the truth is, you really do not know why they do it (you may think you know, but actually, you don’t truly know all about their journey to this point in life). For some, it may be for irritation, bragging and boasting (which may originate from insecurity – so go easy on them), however, for many it is for reassurance, support, energy, the will to keep going, accountability.  For others, it may be to offer a glimpse of inspiration to give others the belief that they too can make a huge change in their lives.

A runner never laughs at a fat or slow runner, you do not know how far they have come, or how far they have to go – but they are out there, working at it, one step at a time.

Don’t shift your own guilt by mocking others. The reality probably is, that you are simply angry and frustrated with yourself.

Together we can bring some Serenity to your life

Are you a role model for your child – or trying to mould them ?

Is it good to shape a child on your own dreams?

It’s all too tempting to channel your children into a mini-me.  Yes they look up to their parents as super heroes who can do marvellous things, and there is a likelihood, that what ever example you set as a parent, they will follow.

How do your habits rub off onto your children?

If you munch on pizza and burgers in front of the TV each night, that precedent is set for eating unhealthily (both in manner and content).  If however you exercise, that too may rub off, and they will most likely follow our example to some degree, which in turn brings you great joy.  The obvious exception to this, is when you work for months to refine a yoga pose, and your 4 year old daughter walks straight in, does it, and goes on her way as if nothing ever happened (the experience of a face-planted crow!).

Is there a better way than forcing our children to follow

Rather than forcing our children to follow in our footsteps, making them have ballet lessons, toughening up the son with a good dose of winter rugby in the wind and hail and so on,  there are 4 clear stages in which we can help them build up ‘grit’ – a form of determination which will help them through life.

Four ways to help children through life

An Interest (and this needs to be encouraged rather than focusing on their weaknesses);

Deliberate and regular practise (to refine the skills);

A purpose (the long term reasoning about what it brings to others) and

Hope (that resilience that they will keep trying and moving forwards despite what comes their way).

You can read more in this article from Success magazine

Funnily enough, it is not just children who this applies to, it is us as well – especially when your 4 year old contortionist leaves the room with you in a twisted crumpled heap!

Together we can bring some Serenity to your life

 

What’s missing from financial planning?

Is financial planning just about numbers?

Anyone who has ever come into contact with a Serenity financial life planner will be more than aware of our passion for not just financial planning, but financial life planning.

Why is Financial Life Planning important?

That small four letter word ‘life’ may not seem that significant but it epitomises the whole point of all of us being here. The whole purpose of being on the planet is about life, and without that key element, perhaps there is no point, no purpose, and no logic.

In this article in Forbes, George Kinder, the founding father of Financial Life Planning explains the huge difference between financial planning and financial life planning.

What is the difference between Financial Planning and Financial Life Planning?

In short, one deals with people’s money, the other focuses on their lives and happiness first, then sets to work around the money part. In a way, it is comparing living to living life.

Surely investments and pensions matter most?

To quote one of our very great friends Andy Hart of Maven Adviser, ‘no adviser ever got a letter from a pension policy asking for help’.

Surely Financial Planning is no place for emotions

Emotion drives decisions, and decisions drive life, this is when we finally figure out that people’s emotions drive everything. To understand emotions, and ultimately our clients’ drivers through their lives, we need to listen to them, not project our opinions on how clever we think we are.

How does a Financial Life Planning relationship look?

It’s all about having a deep and meaningful relationship with our clients through their lives, not a synthetic relationship with their money for as long as it lasts. Without that deep relationship, we are just continually guessing at what may be best for our clients, guesses which may have a long term detrimental effect on their happiness.

Together we can bring some Serenity to your life