9 Secrets of Motivated People

Real-life strategies that will help you to actually accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourself this year from ©Real Simple

New year, new you. It’s the perennial January catchphrase that holds such conquer-the-world promise. And then, well, you get sidetracked with conquering your to-do list. But even the loftiest resolutions (running a marathon, writing a book) don’t have to fall by the wayside come February. Staying motivated―and achieving what you set out to do on that bright New Year’s Day―is surprisingly possible. Just follow these nine mantras, provided by researchers who study motivation and backed up by women who have used them to realize their biggest ambitions.

1. When you make a plan, anticipate bumps. Before even trying to achieve a goal, target potential pitfalls and troubleshoot them. Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology at New York University, in New York City, says that people who plan for obstacles are more likely to stick with projects than those who don’t. In a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Gollwitzer compared two groups of women who wanted to be more active. Both groups were given information on leading healthy lifestyles. But the second was also taught how to foresee obstacles (example: “The weather forecast is bad, but I’m planning to go for a jog”) and work around them using if-then statements (“If it rains, then I’ll go to the gym and use the treadmill rather than skip exercising altogether”). No surprise, those in the second group fared better. Michelle Tillis Lederman of New York City practiced this strategy when she was writing a book last year. She installed blinds on her home-office door to minimize disruptions and hired an editor to give feedback on each chapter so she wouldn’t get stuck along the way. She also established rules, like checking e-mails only after she had written for two hours. “It was easier to follow this plan,” says Lederman, “than to wrestle with every distraction in the moment.” Her book, The 11 Laws of Likability (American Management Association), will be published later this year.

2. Channel the little engine that could―really. A person’s drive is often based on what she believes about her abilities, not on how objectively talented she is, according to research by Albert Bandura, a professor of psychology at Stanford University. His work has shown that people who have perceived self-efficacy (that is, the belief that they can accomplish what they set out to do) perform better than those who don’t. That self-belief is what helped Ingrid Daniels of Newark, New Jersey, leave a stable corporate job to develop a T-shirt line after the birth of her first child. “It never occurred to me I could fail, even though I had no experience,” she says. Today Daniels runs two successful small businesses (the T-shirt company and a line of stationery), which allows her to stay at home with her three children.

3. Don’t let your goals run wild… When your sights are too ambitious, they can backfire, burn you out, and actually become demotivating, says Lisa Ordóñez, a professor of management and organizations at the Eller College of Management, at the University of Arizona, in Tucson. Instead of aiming unrealistically high (such as trying to save enough money for a down payment on a home in six months), set goals that are a stretch but not an overreach (come up with a doable savings plan for your budget).

…But work on them everyday. According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us ($27, amazon.com), taking small steps every day will not only help hold your interest in what you’re trying to achieve but will also ensure that you move slowly, but surely, toward your goal. So, for example, set up a down-payment-fund jar and dump your change into it every night. You’ll get a sense of accomplishment each day, to boot.

4. Go public with it. Instead of keeping your intentions to yourself, make them known to many. “Other people can help reinforce your behavior,” says James Fowler, a political scientist who studies social networks at the University of California, San Diego. After all, it’s harder to abandon a dream when you know that people are tracking your progress. Take Stefanie Samarripa of Dallas, 25, who wanted to lose 20 pounds. She created a blog and told all her friends to read it. “I wanted something to hold me accountable,” she says. Samarripa weighs herself weekly and announces the result on Desperately Seeking Skinny (skinnystefsam.blogspot.com). During her first three weeks, she lost six pounds. “People read my updates and make comments, which helps me keep going,” she says.

5. Lean on a support crew when struggling. Think of the friends and family who truly want to see you succeed. Enlisting those with whom you have authentic relationships is key when your motivation begins to wane. Choose people who may have seen you fail in the past and who know how much success means to you, says Edward L. Deci, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, in New York. For Jane Arginteanu of New York City, support came in the form of her fiancé, Glenn. Arginteanu had smoked from the time she was a teenager and had tried to quit before. When she decided to give it another go, Arginteanu says, “Glenn stood by me and told me, without ever issuing an ultimatum, that he wanted to grow old with me. That was terrific motivation.” A year later, she’s smoke-free.

6. Make yourself a priority.Put your needs first, even when it feels utterly selfish. You will derail your progress if you sacrifice yourself for others in order to please them (such as eating a cupcake that a coworker baked even though you’re on a diet). A few years ago, Karen Holtgrefe of Cincinnati was at the bottom of her own priority list. “I had a demanding full-time job as a physical-therapy manager and was teaching physical therapy part-time,” she says. “Plus, I had a husband and two children to care for.” As a result, she found herself stressed-out, overweight, and suffering from constant backaches. “I hit a wall and realized I needed to make some changes for my sanity,” Holtgrefe says. So she quit the part-time teaching job, joined Weight Watchers, and scheduled nonnegotiable walks six days a week―just for her. In a year, she lost 85 pounds, and her back pain (and stress) disappeared.

7. Challenge yourself―and change things up. It’s hard to remain enthusiastic when everything stays the same, says Frank Busch, who has coached three Olympic swimming teams. To keep his athletes motivated, he constantly challenges and surprises them―adding a new exercise to a weight routine or giving them a break from one practice so they can recharge. Amy Litvak of Atlanta did the same thing. She had several half-marathons under her belt but wanted something new, so she signed up for a series of mini triathlons. “Each race was longer than the last or had a slightly different challenge,” she says. She breezed through them and is now training for a full marathon.

8. Keep on learning. To refuel your efforts, focus on enjoying the process of getting to the goal, rather than just eyeing the finish line. Janet Casson of Queens, New York, set out to teach yoga. She completed her training, but finding a position took longer than anticipated. So she wouldn’t lose steam and become discouraged, Casson used the time to perfect her skills. She attended workshops and studied with different teachers. “It was invigorating and kept me working toward my goal,” says Casson, who now teaches five classes a week.

9. Remember the deeper meaning. You’re more likely to realize a goal when it has true personal significance to you, according to Deci. (For example, “I want to learn to speak French so I can communicate with my Canadian relatives” is a more powerful reason than “I should learn French so that I can be a more cultured person.”) And when the process isn’t a pleasant one, it helps to recall that personal meaning. Not all dedicated gym-goers love working out, Deci points out, but because they have a deep desire to be healthy, they exercise week after week. Jennie Perez-Ray of Parsippany, New Jersey, is a good example of this. She was working full-time when she decided to get her master’s degree. However, she knew that pursuing that goal would mean spending less time with her friends and family. “But I was the first person in my family to get a degree, so it was very important to me,” Perez-Ray says. She kept this in mind every evening that she spent in the classroom. Although the sacrifices she made were hard, she reflects, “reaching my goal made it all worthwhile.”

15 Simple Ways to De-stress

Hypnotize Yourself

Brow furrowed? Pulse galloping? Barely able to breathe? It’s time to relax. We’ve gathered easy strategies to keep tension from taking over.

Forget swaying pocket watches and deep trances. “Hypnosis is a state of highly focused attention,” says David Spiegel, the director of Stanford School of Medicine’s Center on Stress and Health. If done properly, hypnosis can clear your mind, lower your heart rate, and decrease muscle tension. Close your eyes and picture a movie screen with something stressful, like rush-hour traffic, on the left side. Now, visualize a solution playing out on the right, like discovering a new route with no traffic. Eventually, you’ll feel a moment of intense absorption, he explains, like when you’re so caught up in a good movie that you forget where you are. Try doing this for five minutes, three or four times a day.

(Really) Forgive Someone

Although it may be tempting to rehash the details of how your sister’s boyfriend snubbed you, letting go of negative feelings really does lower stress. “When our minds keep rehearsing troubling interactions, the body’s calming system becomes impaired,” says Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, a psychologist at Hope College in Holland, Mich. A cursory hug won’t do, though. You have to sincerely replace your anger toward the wrongdoer with an attempt to understand the reasons behind his actions. “Forgiveness helps you see more of the truth, not less. When we are upset, our vision is limited in scope,” says Witvliet.

Open the Window

Just looking out your window can have a relaxing effect. In a study led by Peter Kahn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, participants in an office were shown one of three views: a natural setting, a digital display of the same scene, and no view. When stress levels were artificially increased, those looking at the real natural scene returned to their normal heart rate more quickly. Those who looked at the digital display did no better than those looking at a blank wall, suggesting the brain is not easily fooled. “We do best mentally and physically when we’re connected to nature,” says Kahn.

Send Yourself Flowers

“Without question, stress is mitigated by nature,” says Mehmet C. Oz, coauthor of “You: Stress Less” (Simon & Schuster). Scientists at Harvard University delivered flowers to one group of women and gave candles to a second group. Within a week, the first group felt less anxious and depressed, perhaps because humans are comforted by vegetation—a means of survival in caveman days. Oz suggests keeping a plant on your desk and cut flowers at the dinner table.

Pucker Up

A kiss (or two) a day can keep the stress away. You’ll feel less isolated, which is a common source of anxiety. According to Laura Berman, a professor of obstetrics-gynecology and psychiatry at Northwestern University, women in particular respond to locking lips by releasing endorphins. She recommends at least one ten-second kiss a day — deep and emotional, but not necessarily sexually arousing. “Just enjoy the physical connection,” she says.

Take a Time-Out

You don’t need to slip into bed to get the benefits of a good rest. Kate Hanley, author of “The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide: 77 Simple Strategies for Serenity” (Skirt!), suggests a simple exercise you can do at your desk that is just as refreshing as a nap:

  • Keeping both feet on the floor, stack your forearms on the edge of the table.
  • Scoot back in your chair so your spine is extended.
  • Rest your forehead on your arms for a minute or two.

This opens the neck and shoulders, where physical tension commonly builds up, and creates space in your rib cage for deep breathing. Visualize your next task going well, or simply focus on your heartbeat. Either way, this exercise gives you a break.

Take it Easy

Working out is a great way to take a bite out of tension—but think twice before you sign up for a boot camp. “When you are mentally tired, intense exercise adds to the stress you are feeling,” says Samuele M. Marcora, a physiologist at the University of Kent in England. After a draining day, he suggests a moderate-intensity workout, like walking or light running. “It won’t improve your fitness level, but it is good for the mood.”

Say ‘Om’

Yoga is a proven stress buster, but not all poses give the same relief. Inverted stances, such as back bends and headstands, may have a greater effect on your mood and anxiety, say researchers. The part of the nervous system that relaxes the body and mind may be stimulated when the spine is bent, explains Chris Streeter, a professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.

Go Into the Light

“Stress can be triggered when our bodies don’t know what time it is,” says Julie Holland, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine. “Exposing your retina to sunlight resets your circadian rhythm so your brain is on a schedule.” Take a walk outside without sunglasses for 20 minutes a day, three times a week. Phototherapy lamps and vitamin-D supplements also help.

Watch a Tearjerker

If you’re still crying your contacts out on your 100th viewing of “Blue Valentine,” try watching it a 101st time with a new outlook: A recent study suggests that thinking positively while watching a sad movie may help you cope with setbacks in the real world. Women who had experienced stress were shown sad scenes from movies such “I Am Sam” and “Fatal Attraction” and asked to come up with happy endings and good advice for the characters. Test subjects who were best at this showed fewer signs of depression than women who watched the movies passively, says Allison S. Troy, a researcher at the University of Denver. Solving other people’s problems is always easier, she says. Practicing as you make your way through your Netflix queue may sharpen your skills.

Treat Your Allergies

Itchy eyes and a runny nose aren’t the only plagues of allergy season: Stress may rise with the pollen count. Alvaro Guzman, a psychiatrist at the National Center for the Treatment of Phobias, Anxiety and Depression in Washington, D.C., says research shows that patients with seasonal allergies often report stress, mood dips, and depression when symptoms flare. “When we have an allergic reaction, chemicals are produced in our blood that can aggravate mood changes,” he says. If you notice your stress levels peaking when the weather is changing, Guzman suggests getting tested for allergies.

Drop an F-Bomb

Saying what you really think about the boss over a couple of martinis has its advantages. After observing groups in various workplaces, Yehuda Baruch, a professor of management at Rouen Business School in France, found that people swear as a coping mechanism to release stress. When upset with a difficult customer, one test subject pretended to carry on a conversation as if the client were still on the phone, but with profanity to describe exactly how she felt. In the real world, Baruch warns to use common sense. “Stay professional and never swear in front of someone who would be offended.”

Get Busy

You’re sitting on the couch watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reruns — just like last weekend. And instead of becoming absorbed, part of your brain stays focused on the looming deadlines that have been nagging at you at work. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a professor of psychology at Yale University and the author of “Women Who Think Too Much” (Henry Holt), says, “Overthinking without being able to resolve anything draws us deeper into a feeling of being overwhelmed.” A pastime that requires you to pay attention or engage with other people—like tackling a new recipe, taking a foreign-language class, or playing tennis—lets you escape from your own spinning head and break the cycle.

Surround Yourself With Beauty

Admiring a photo of a model or a movie star just as you would a work of art could relieve tension. Half a group of people who viewed photos of females wearing makeup said they were less stressed afterward, according to a study at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. The other half did not report the same benefit, but they didn’t feel any worse, says Patrick Pössel, a professor of psychology who conducted the study.

Be a Pescatarian

Battling stress can be as simple as ordering fish at a restaurant. On “The Truth About Food,” a program on the Discovery Health Channel, researchers measured hormone levels in London cabdrivers, who have highly stressful jobs. When put on a diet of four portions a week of oily fish like mackerel, a source of omega-3 fatty acids, the drivers produced less of the stress hormone cortisol and more of DHEA, a hormone the body cranks out to combat stress. “When the body sees omega-3 fatty acids, it feels calm,” says Oz. Walnuts, flaxseeds, and tofu are other excellent sources.

Can You Cure Chronic Pain with Your Mind?

I found this article and thought I would post it since there are so many out there who struggle with chronic pain.

 

Can You Cure  with Your Mind?

It’s not surprising that everyday life brings on aches and pains. Hours spent sitting in front of a computer screen, doing work around the house, and handling the tensions of life can take a toll on the intricate workings of the musculoskeletal system.

5 Most Common Types of Pain

  1. Migraine/headache
  2. Back
  3. Joint/arthritis
  4. Overuse/strain injuries
  5. Arm/Leg/musculoskeletal

Over-the-counter pain medications and heat or cold treatments can provide relief for occasional pain. But when your headache, backache, or muscular pain continues or recurs over many months, you have chronic pain, and it can seriously disrupt your quality of life.

A recent study revealed that nearly half of chronic pain cases have no clear cause, and that 25% of patients with head or back pain were still experiencing symptoms 12 months after visiting their doctor.

You may not have to live with chronic pain. Some experts assert that rather than mask or tolerate chronic pain, you may be able to stop it by learning to regulate your body with the power of your mind.

How Do Mind-Body Interventions Work?

Mind-body advocates contend that you have more power over your pain than you realize. Your brain and central nervous system are connected and constantly talk to each other, sending and receiving signals such as pain messages. Typically, these messages result from injury or illness and stop once the body is healed. Mind-body interventions are based on the idea that this messaging system can break down, causing miscommunication between the mind and body.

When pain messaging systems break down, constant or chronic pain messages may be sent even after the original cause of the pain is fully healed. Pain treatment programs that use mind–body interventions help interrupt these pain messages and reestablish healthy communication along the nerve paths to the brain.

You Do Have Control Over Pain

Over the past few decades, a wealth of research has confirmed that mind–body therapies, either alone or with other treatments, may help cure various types of pain and prevent pain recurrence. Techniques that were once considered complementary or alternative, such as, behavioral therapy, biofeedback, cognitive therapy, guided/visual imagery, hypnosis, meditation, and relaxation therapy have now become mainstream.

Studies have demonstrated the usefulness of various mind-body interventions in the management of many types of pain, such as migraine or tension-type headaches, fibromyalgia, acute sciatica, and several other conditions for which no specific cause has been found.

Your Chronic Pain: What’s Mixing Up the Messages?

Feelings of anxiety, tension, anger, or depression could cause a disconnection between your mind and body. When your brain is frequently forced to respond to such emotions, it essentially rewires itself to keep up with the barrage of negative stimuli. As a result, your brain may send erroneous pain messages to your body. With mind-body intervention, the first step is to examine your behaviors and environment with a doctor or therapist to identify factors that may be causing the pain reaction. The next step is to develop more productive ways to handle the stressors that you face every day so that you have more control over your physiological response to these emotions. Depending on your condition, this process may take only a few weeks or may become a regular part of your health routine.

Approach with Caution

Whether you are recovering from illness, injury, or surgery or are unsure what’s causing your pain, do some homework before you dive into this pain therapy. First, check with your healthcare provider to rule out the possibility of a more serious condition. Then, get advice on reputable practitioners and mind-body treatment centers available in your area. Also, be aware that not all are covered by health insurance, so cost may be a consideration.

Quick Steps to Effortless Creativity

This post, by Belle on March 27, 2012, “Quick Steps to Effortless Creativity” really helped me with my creativity maybe you will find it helpful as well.

We are, by our very nature, creative. Creativity flows through us constantly. Yet when we strain and struggle to be creative, we’re only creating strain and struggle.

So sit back, relax, breathe.

The key to effortless creativity is simple: stop resisting it.

Creativity is as easy as breathing. Surrender to this and you allow your creative nature to shine through. And when you’re straining or stuck again, remember these steps:

3 Quick Steps to Effortless Creativity:

1. Know that you are inherently creative.

“Living Enlightenment is being intense in every moment and responding intuitively to achieve your limitless potential for creativity and joy.” -Paramahamsa Nithyananda

If we begin to believe we’re not creative, then that’s what we’re expecting and creating in our lives. Return to the truth of your inherent creativity. Feel the creative power surging through your veins at every moment. The fact is? There is no atom in your being that is not creative!

2. Don’t judge your creativity. This is the cause of so many of our “blocks.” We think we have to create in a certain way, to a certain standard, with certain tools on certain days! We’re very picky. Instead, accept whatever comes through you without judgement, only love. When you love what comes through for you, when you accept it and welcome it, you remove the blocks and enter the powerful flow of creativity.

You might find yourself getting creative about dinner- and if you let it flow, it’ll flow right through dinner and on to your canvas later. Or, you might find yourself inspired to create a treasure hunt- which will make your writing glitter with unexpected gems.

Don’t limit the ways in which your creativity longs to express itself, and you’ll find it overflowing in all areas of your life.

3. Get playful. If you’re laughing and having fun, your judging, ego nature takes a back seat. Ask yourself, “What’s the most fun and unexpected way I can approach this?” Then take yourself for a wild ride!

The trick here is to do something odd, different, or just plain immature for the sake of having fun! I promise if your first priority is to have fun, your creativity will be a wild horse you can barely keep up with. Turn dinner into a food fight, skip backwards on your way to a stuffy business appointment, make a necklace out of bubblegum “beads”- you get the picture!

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”  ― Albert Einstein

How Stress Affects Major Depression

Stress can trigger clinical depression, but taking steps to reduce stress is an important part of getting better.

Without some stress, we’d be little more than slugs (minus the motivation to do the things that enrich our lives), but too much stress can affect our health and even contribute to major depression (also known as clinical depression, major depressive disorder, or MDD). “If prolonged, stress can lead to headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems,” says Simon Rego, PsyD, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. “It can also affect appetite, sleep, and mood, generating anxiety and depression.”

For people predisposed to depression — especially major depression — or who are already depressed, stress can be overwhelming, triggering a downward slide. “Depression is like kindling on the forest floor,” says Daniel Buccino, MSW, clinical supervisor and assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. “Stressors can sometimes be the spark that ignites the vulnerability to depression.”

In part that’s because chronic stress may change behavior in ways that fuel clinical depression, Rego says. “For example, people who are stressed tend not to go out as much or sleep as well, or they may overeat or drink too much. Those things can generate symptoms of depression.”

Try these strategies to help reduce stress and overcome major depression:

  • Recognize what causes your stress. “Each person needs to know [his or her] particular vulnerabilities to certain kinds of stress,” Buccino says. Maybe too little sleep or too many commitments at work put you over the edge. “Figure out your limits and then try to manage them,” Buccino says.
  • Exercise. Moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking at talking speed, can help lift people out of anxiety, stress, and depression, Rego says. Exercise isn’t a substitute for medical treatment for major depression, but it can help support your recovery.
  • Tap into social support. “People who are stressed and depressed tend not to use social support networks,” Rego says. “Reaching out to friends or trusted colleagues can buffer stress and offer an outside opinion on stressors, and connections can create a sense of belonging, which lessens depression.” Connections don’t always have to be in person: Start out with a text or an e-mail, or Skype.
  • Challenge your perspective. “When people stress, they tend to see only threatening information,” Rego says. “Examine your thoughts to see if they’re as negative as you think.  For instance, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam, instead of thinking you’ll never arrive on time, ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst that can happen if I’m late?'”
  • Sign up for therapy. If you have clinical depression, psychotherapy is probably part of your treatment. It’s a great tool to treat major depression and address stress, Buccino says. “You’re forming a useful working alliance with another person, whether to gain insight or make changes.”

What is Major Depression?

Major depressive disorder is a serious condition that affects all aspects of your health and well-being.

If you suspect you suffer from depression, including major depression, you’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), major depression — also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder (MDD) — is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. By some estimates, up to 10% of Americans have major depression at any given time, and up to 25% will suffer from MDD at some point in their lives.

MDD affects your mood, body, behavior, and mind to impact all aspects of your life. Major depression can interfere with your ability to work, sleep, and interact with family and friends. In the workplace alone, depression costs an estimated $34 billion annually in lost productivity and absenteeism.

No one knows exactly what causes major depression, though most experts believe it’s due to chemical changes in the brain triggered by your genes; stressful events, such as the death of loved one, job loss, or divorce; or a combination of the two. Substance abuse and poor sleep can play role, too, as can certain medical conditions, such as an underactive thyroid.

Depression can be a chronic disease, and a person who has one episode of depression has a 50% risk of suffering another. That makes recognizing and treating major depression all the more important. Here’s the good news: More than 80% of people with major depression can be successfully treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Here’s the sad news: An estimated two-thirds of depressed people don’t seek treatment and, therefore, suffer unnecessarily, according to the NIMH.

The first step to feeling better is to recognize that you may have symptoms of major depression. Then seek diagnosis and treatment so you can begin to reclaim your life.

How Quickly We Tumble Down the Rabbit Hole

February 13th was my last post.  Valentine’s Day was somewhat disappointing.

Mental Side Note [They say, “Lower your expectations and you will not be disappointed”.   I want to disagree.  Then again what does it really mean?  If we lower our expectation are we not ultimately lowering our own expectation?  We don’t just lower the expectation of the people around us but also of one self.  If we lower our expectation are we still able to live life at its fullest? Is it not better to try and fail then not to have tried in the first place? ]

Then I started coming down with a cold which did indeed take everything out of me.  I spend days in bed.  Not so sure what really kept me in bed for all these days was it the cold or was it the disappointment, probably a combination of both.

I started getting back in to the functional realm. Still getting up in the morning with a sore throat and a voice sounding like grinding stone on chalkboard doesn’t make for a fun day ahead. So I fully embraced my self-pity and happily and ineffectually muddled away, till today.

I read this blog post and it snapped be back into reality it made me realize my pain and disappointment I had experience in the last few weeks is nothing compared the burdens others have to carry.