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Time out for time outs: Why pediatricians now promote ‘positive parenting’

Canadian Paediatric Society calls for shift away from shaming, blaming and other types of negative discipline

The latest parenting advice from Canada’s pediatricians is to shift away from shaming, blaming and any other types of negative discipline to what they call positive parenting.

Positive parenting is a set of principles to correct children’s misbehaviour with greater empathy and communication and less punishment — and sticking with it at the times when it’s most challenging. Experts say positive parenting fosters loving, predictable and secure relationships between a child and their parent or guardian.

The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) said in its latest position statement, released Thursday, that this is the first time it is asking all primary care practitioners to encourage positive parenting. Doing so, the society says, buffers against the effects of stressors and traumatic events.

Gold-standard randomized trials have demonstrated how positive parenting techniques are more effective at reducing negative behaviour in children, said Jenny Jenkins, the Atkinson Chair of Early Child Development and Education at the University of Toronto. Jenkins, a clinical and developmental psychologist, wasn’t involved in the position statement.

“Negative comments, negativity or harshness towards children has been shown to be much more problematic developmentally for kids,” Jenkins said.

‘Pick their battles’

Positive parenting techniques provide a better relationship between parents and children.

“Rather than parents getting mad at kids and being irritable with them and negative with them, the interaction becomes a more positive one,” she said.

If parents ignore the low-level problematic things that kids often do and intervene only when there’s a safety concern or really bad behaviour, then their interactions with a child can shift in a more positive direction.

“The parents are trying to pick their battles,” Jenkins said.

But today’s parents may be at a loss on how to practise positive parenting since many of their parents didn’t use it with them, said Dr. Andrea Feller, a member of the CPS’s early years task force that wrote the position statement.

Past parenting advice was well intentioned and based on what was known at the time, she said. But experts in child brain development no longer recommend discipline that includes punishments like shaming and blaming.

Experts say positive parenting fosters loving, predictable and secure relationships between a child and their parent or guardian. the Canadian Paediatric Society, in a new position statement, is for first time asking all primary care practitioners to encourage positive parenting.

Feller encourages parents who feel conflicted between the way they were raised and adopting positive parenting to trust themselves.

“Parents are a child’s first, best and most important teacher,” said Feller,a pediatrician in the Niagara Region and a mother of two children under 12.

In fact, the CPS said the reason behind the new statement is that while there are many factors that can put kids at risk for developmental problems, parenting is one that can be easily changed. The focus is on children aged zero to six years.

child
Time outs ‘have a place’ but should not be used to discipline children under the age of three, who only understand that a parent or caregiver has turned them away, says Dr. Andrea Feller of the Canadian Paediatric Society. 

 

Recommendations to doctors

One way parents can get guidance is at the doctor’s office. The CPS is encouraging pediatricians and family doctors to be comfortable asking parents about their relationship with a child and how well the family is coping.

At every visit, clinicians should ask questions about a child’s behaviours and family routines, such as “What is your child’s bedtime routine?”

Parents of young children commonly ask doctors for advice on crying, sleep and challenging behaviours, so that could serve as an opening for those types of conversations.

Clinicians are also encouraged to broach difficult and sometimes uncomfortable topics, such as trauma, and ask questions like “Has anything stressful happened to you or your family since I last saw you?”

To promote positive parenting behaviours, the society’s other recommendations to clinicians include:

  • Ask if there is a consistent caregiver, since that is a protective factor.
  • Model communication skills by being open, predictable, kind and curious.
  • Promote shared reading by families.
  • Incorporate family-friendly hours and proactive scheduling into their practice (e.g. “Let’s make an appointment for early next month” versus “Come back if you’re having difficulties.”)

Primary care providers can also direct parents to positive parenting books or free community supports such as local early years centres.

Shift to time ins

The document also included a section on time outs and time ins.

A time out creates a brief break in the child’s behaviours, even if it’s a positive one such as expressing curiosity or reaching for a hug. In a time in, on the other hand, the caregiver invites the child to sit and talk about feelings and behaviour in an age-appropriate way.

“Time outs have a place,” Feller said, but should be considered a “last resort,” since time outs can drift inappropriately into punishment.

What’s more, time outs have no place in disciplining children under the age of three, who only understand that a parent or caregiver has turned them away. Often, Feller added, it is the parent who needs a break.

Feller noted social workers and early childhood educators already encourage positive discipline.

Now medical professionals are making the shift toward helping parents recognize that a young child’s misbehaviour is often a way for them to communicate: “I can’t handle things right now. I need your help.”

Pediatrician Daniel Flanders, founder and director of Kindercare Pediatrics in Toronto, said the position statement is reasonable.

“It’s a positive step in right direction, but it’s a really small one,” Flanders said. What’s missing is practical ways to help parents implement it.

“It’s all fair and good to say this is how parents should parent, but it’s a whole other ball game when a single mom is trying to make it through the day, and she doesn’t really have any resources or any support to really help her parent in all the ways this position statement is encouraging.”

Amina Zafar · CBC News  April 14

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amina Zafar has covered health, medical and science news at CBC since 2000. She has a degree in environmental science and a master’s in journalism.

source: www.cbc.ca

 

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Does sugar make kids hyper? That’s largely a myth

Does sugar make kids hyper? Maybe.

The idea of a link between sugar and hyperactivity in children dates to the 1970s, when the Feingold diet was prescribed by a pediatrician with the same name as an eating plan to alleviate symptoms of ADHD.

“His diet eliminated artificial flavorings, sweeteners and preservatives — and so sugar kind of got lumped in, as well,” King said.

This diet may have led parents to perceive that sugar is a culprit when it comes to kids’ excitable behavior — even if it is not the true cause of one’s hyperactivity.

In one study from the mid-’90s, researchers gave children a drink containing a sugar substitute. One group of moms was told that their kids were drinking a high-sugar drink; the other group was told the truth, that their kids were consuming a sugar substitute. Mothers who were told that their kids consumed sugar rated their kids as more hyperactive, even though they didn’t consume any sugar.

“Just thinking their children were consuming sugar caused moms to perceive their children as being more hyperactive,” King said.

“When children consume sugar, it’s usually around something fun: holidays, birthdays, celebrations; there’s already that excitement there,” she said. “I don’t think you can say the sugar made them run around and play with friends. … That would be very hard to separate out.”

Instead, a release of the hormone adrenaline might explain a child’s overly energetic behavior. “It’s a flight or flight hormone; when you are excited or fearful, it increases heart rate and directs blood flow to the muscles, which may make children more antsy and have the urge to keep moving, so you may be perceiving that as hyperactivity,” King said.

“If you look at the peer-reviewed evidence, we cannot say sugar absolutely makes kids hyper; however, you can’t discount that sugar may have a slight effect” on behavior, said Kristi L. King, senior pediatric dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In the mid-1990s, a meta-analysis reviewed 16 studies on sugar’s effects in children. The research, published in the medical journal JAMA, concluded that sugar does not affect behavior or cognitive performance in children. “However, a small effect of sugar or effects on subsets of children cannot be ruled out,” the article said.
Like adults, some children may be more sensitive to blood sugar spikes than others. This may mean they are more likely to become aroused when consuming sugar.
Notably, a small percentage of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may be extra sensitive to sugar, and their behavior changes when they eat it, according to Jill Castle, a registered dietitian and childhood nutrition expert who teaches a parenting course called the ADHD Diet for Kids. “They may become more aggressive or hyperactive or difficult to parent,” Castle explained. Minimizing sugar in the diet can be beneficial for these children.

According to Castle, lots of sugary foods can also equate to elevated amounts of food dyes, artificial flavors or other additives that could be problematic for a child with ADHD, often making it difficult to tease out whether sugar is the culprit.Complicating the issue is the fact that we don’t have a way to determine whether there is a link. “Is there a biomarker? A hormone level?” King asked. “It’s disheartening for parents. … They want answers. And unfortunately, nutrition is such an individual thing.”

 

Sugar and hyperactivity: Positive link or parent perception?

To try to determine whether your child is truly sugar-sensitive or just excited about a celebration, Castle recommends eliminating sugary foods from the diet for a few weeks and then testing the child with a sugary food like soda, frosted cake or a tablespoon of sugar in 100% juice, and watching the child’s response. “It may be a quick way to determine how sugar may be affecting the child,” Castle said.

Then again, like the parents in that study, you may just think they’re being hyper just because you know that they consumed sugar.

Tips for parents

Even though most kids don’t have a sugar sensitivity, that doesn’t mean sugar is good for their health. Sugary foods and beverages deliver calories without any nutrients. What’s more, eating foods high in added sugars throughout childhood is linked to the development of risk factors for heart disease, such as an increased risk of obesity and elevated blood pressure in children and young adults.

To keep kids healthy, the American Heart Association recommends that children ages 2 to 18 consume less than 6 teaspoons – or 24 grams – of added sugars daily. To put that number in perspective, consider that 24 grams is the amount of sugar in just one 1.55-ounce chocolate bar. A 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 40 grams of sugar, well over a day’s worth.

If you are looking for ways to cut back on sweets for your children, here are some tips to get started:

Gradually reduce the amount of sweets in your child’s diet. This is good advice for all kids, with and without ADHD. “I teach the 90/10 Rule for the appropriate balance of nourishing foods and sweets and treats, which equates to one to two normal-sized portions of sweets or treats each day, on average,” Castle said. If there seems to be a strong sensitivity to sweets, Castle recommends removing sweets and added sugar from the diet as best as you can.

Establish routine meals and snacks on a predictable schedule. “Anecdotally, this is one of the main things I work on with families, and they tell me they feel their child is calmer and better-behaved. There is something to be said for nourishing the brain and body on predictable, consistent intervals of three to four hours,” Castle said.

When introducing foods with added sugars, pair them with protein, healthy fat or fiber. This helps to blunt the effects of blood sugar surges and drops, and it optimizes satiety.
Castle and King suggest the following combinations:

  • Cookies with milk
  • Candy or chocolate with nut butter on crackers
  • Ice cream with nuts or oatmeal crumble topping
  • Cake with milk or milk alternative

Experts say you can also include your treat as part of a snack or meal. “If you’re at a party, try veggies and hummus and then having some dessert!” King said. “Or eat a small, sensible meal with lean protein, like turkey meat; add some cheese and baby carrots, and then add a fun treat or small sugar-sweetened beverage.”

Don’t eat sugar on an empty stomach. Doing so can lead to a surge in blood sugar, and that itself may alter a child’s behavior, according to Castle.

Make sure that your child is drinking plenty of water. Also, avoid sugar-sweetened beverages on top of eating sugary foods, King advised.

Don’t hype up sugar. If you don’t have sugar and candies in your house often, and you bring sweets home and make a big deal about it, your child may pick up on it and become excited, King explained.

By Lisa Drayer, CNN       Thu April 18, 2019
Lisa Drayer is a nutritionist, an author and a CNN health and nutrition contributor.
source: www.cnn.com


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6 Ways To Start ‘Living Big’ (And How It Can Change Your Life For The Better)

Are you doing everything you can to achieve your dreams?

“Living Big” is a mindset of living with abundance. Now the abundance is not what you own, or have, it is what you share. There are as many wonderful ways to Living Big as there are water drops in an ocean, needles on an evergreen tree, grains of sand on a beach.Living Big is learning to generously share yourself, your stories, and enjoy the exciting connections that develop. It’s putting yourself out into the world and embracing the things that once scared you. It can change your life and increase your happiness and even your self-assuredness. There are people who are too afraid to put themselves out there, but this is the key to Living Big and making it work for you, so it’s important to learn how to do it!

But what exactly does this concept mean, and how can you use it in your everyday life? Simply put, Living Big means taking every opportunity that comes your way. It means seeing these opportunities and trying your best to make every day another chance for you to succeed and be happy.

You make choices all the time about how you’re going to handle situations or how you’re going to choose to live our lives. Living Big simply means you’re learning to open up to the world and share yourself so that you’re living your best possible life in return!How can you start using Living Big in your life?
Here are 6 ways you can share your talent and amazing self with the world:
1. Shift your focus to positive things.

Human beings are programmed to see the negative in life, and so it can take some time to stop focusing on this when something good happens to you. And it’s important not to dwell on the negative and to instead embrace the positive effects in your life. Focus on being abundant in the areas that count, like generousness, innovation, creativity, resilience, honesty, and happiness.These positive expressions will make sure that you’re living life according to a healthy moral compass and will draw similarly-minded people to you as well. Living Big guarantees that you’re looking at the world in a new light, making certain that you’re noticing the goodness in the world and striving to achieve it in every aspect of your life.

2. Live with humility and gratitude.

Have you taken the time to notice everything life is giving to you, and to be grateful for it? The abundance around you is unimaginably amazing! You live in a fascinating system designed to sustain our lives.

You only need to breathe, eat, drink, sleep, work, and play in order to live in this awesome system. And the miracle of support keeps on happening, every moment of every day. This is whether you are aware of it or not. The greater your awareness, the greater your humility and gratitude.

When you live with humility, you begin to recognize that every morning, you’re given a new chance to make the most out of your life, simply by waking up!

Part of Living Big is in recognizing the areas where you can be grateful and then being grateful for them. You get to pursue many wonderful things in this big, beautiful world, and every day is an opportunity to make certain that you’re in the practice of saying, “Thank you!” whether it’s to ourselves, the people who help you, the planet that supports you, or the universe that sustains you.

3. Appreciate the freedom that you have.

Freedom is not something someone gives you. It is something you take. So how can you truly appreciate this power and the ability you have to pursue the things you want in life?Stop what you’re doing sometimes. Step outdoors and take a deep breath. Smell the fresh air, feel the breeze on your skin, and look at the sky and see its magnificent, ever-changing picture.

It is all here for you. It is always here, nurturing, feeding you. It costs you nothing to appreciate it. You occasionally get so caught up in trying to move forward that you forget the amazing things you already have. It’s really important to literally stop and smell the roses every once in a while, just so you can ground yourself and appreciate your life and the world around you.

Create a commitment and every day, recognize your freedom and embrace your goals. Understand that they are possible, and go for it! Then see how accepting your freedom and your chance to do something wonderful in this world will change your life for the better. When you live enthusiastically with the knowledge that you have choices on how to respond to everything that comes your way, you will be able to see the big picture that you’re striving toward, and you’ll gain some insight into how to bring your passion to life.

And when you need grounding, step back out into the world, breathe in the air, and remember to be thankful for all that you have and all that you’ve worked toward!

GRATITUDE

4. Live your dreams like they’re already happening.

The great American mythologist Joseph Campbell described the importance of “Following your bliss.” Your dreams will take you on a life-changing and ever-evolving journey that will grow and thrive as you do. And as you live big, they will change and become even better, new dreams replacing and building on the dreams you’ve already achieved.

In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, you learned the importance of staying on your path with friends who love you and fighting for your dreams no matter how hard things get. Living Big encourages you to do the same.

You are all looking for something out in the world that is missing inside of you. Where is the answer? It is inside of everyone. Sometimes, you just haven’t recognized it yet. The more curious you are about your dreams, the more you nurture them to life, and the bigger you’ll live!

5. Living Big will teach you about perseverance and faith in the impossible.
Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why not follow my dreams?
  • Why can’t I make my life the way it most matters to me?
  • Why can’t I be unstoppable?
  • Why can’t failures and mistakes lead me to success?
  • Why can’t I imagine a successful future as though it has already happened?

When you look at closed doors around you as opportunities instead of losses, you’ll start to realize that you’re capable of so much more! Imagine yourself as a successful person who achieved all of their dreams, and then ask these question. Once you’ve pictured yourself where you want to be, work backward to discover what steps you think you needed to take to get there. It is all waiting for you, and it’s possible!

The greater your ability to trust in your dreams, the stronger you are. The greater is your perseverance to achieve your dreams. Remind yourself every day of the abundance around you.

Your dreams are your joyous compass to surrender, to create your success. Living Big is understanding that the world is available for you to thrive no matter what.

6. It will teach you discipline and to love and accept yourself.

Following a structure — any structure — requires discipline. Living Big and looking through the world to see the possibilities will require effort and discipline as well.

And as you practice being grateful for your opportunities and the blessings in your life, you’ll begin to appreciate and love yourself as well. After all, you’re the reason that you’re accomplishing your goals in life!

The more disciplined you are, the greater your self-love and the better the results in your life. Living Big is something everyone wants to achieve. Yet, wanting something is not enough.

Curiosity, self-discipline, and healthy connections bring light into our world. You can use these to overcome the areas where you might need help or are lacking a bit, and still look at the world with a smile and an attitude of thankfulness.

Being disciplined is loving yourself. Living Big is loving yourself with empowerment and sharing this with the world. Enjoy a better life and live big!

You deserve to be happy in life and to have the opportunity to fulfill your dreams. Living Big will help open these options to you and teach you to appreciate everything you have in life, even as you strive for bigger, better things.

Open yourself to possibilities and you can become the change you want to see in your own life!

Suzanne Kyra is a registered clinical counselor, empowerment speaker, and award-winning author. In addition to being an expert in individual, couple, family and professional development, she is an expert in Living Big. Go to her website, SuzanneKyra.com, to learn more about all of her personal and professional development programs, blogs and free information on How To Live Big and Live the Life You Love. 
Suzanne Kyra    June 22, 2018


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8 Things Mentally Healthy People Do Differently

“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Mental health is importance at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.” – U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Most times when we hear something, anything, being discussed about mental health, the context is usually negative. For example, we’ll often watch news anchors explain that some violent act was committed by someone known to have “mental health issues.” Less frequently discussed are the positive aspects of mental health – something that we’d like to focus on today. We believe this to be important, as research shows a steady increase in the proliferation of mental health problems.

More specifically, we discuss how mentally healthy people think.

The rationale for this article is to provide a common set of psychological traits in “mentally healthy” people; traits which can then be used as a sort-of “benchmark” for gaining potential insight into our own mental health.

First, three important side notes: (1) nobody is perfectly healthy, neither physically or mentally, (2) this piece is written for entertainment purposes, and (3) should you believe that you suffer from a psychological disorder, it is recommended to seek out help or talk to someone.

HERE ARE EIGHT THINGS MENTALLY HEALTHY PEOPLE DO DIFFERENTLY:

1. THEY HAVE A POSITIVE SOCIAL CIRCLE

Steven Joyal, M.D., and vice president of scientific affairs and medical development at a non-profit mental health research institute, states: “The idea that social interaction is important to mental and physical health has been hinted at and studied for years.”

Per a meta-study conducted at Brigham Young University, which analyzed 148 studies of over 300,000 subjects, a positive social circle has a direct effect on mortality. Researchers concluded that this positive correlation is a direct reflection on the intangible benefits of an active social circle – namely, a circle that counteracts stress through comfort and companionship.

2. THEY ARE PROACTIVE, RATHER THAN REACTIVE

The inclination to consistently improve oneself, as opposed to simply reacting to environmental stimuli, is directly connected to mental health. Having a proactive mindset displays self-awareness and a willingness to work towards a long-term goal.

In short, a proactive mindset manifests into a positive mind state, while a reactive mindset demonstrates a lack of self-control – a trait that often evolves into problems with mental health.

3. THEY CARE FOR THEIR BODY

Understanding that one’s body is directly connected to one’s mind is a vital piece of knowledge. A physically active lifestyle is an ubiquitous tendency among those with a healthy state of mind.

Combining a physically active lifestyle with healthy dietary habits is a clear indication that one is mentally healthy. Those that lack either are more prone to mental health issues.

woman universe

4. THEY POSSESS GOOD EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Emotional intelligence is simply the ability to understand emotions and their subsequent impacts on mind and body. Capably interpreting what’s going on inside your mind and body subsequently enables you to do something about them.

5. THEY ARE SELF-GUIDED AND PRODUCTIVE

Being able to guide yourself in a positive way is a surefire sign of mental health. People with mental health problems are often a “victim” of their circumstances. In contrast, mentally healthy people are able to understand their situation and make something positive happen.

If you’re setting goals and making them part of your daily life, you are likely both disciplined and mentally-healthy. Giving way to instant gratification and/or always feeling lethargic may indicate a problem.

6. THEY’RE IN CONTROL OF THEIR BEHAVIOR

The rare ability to resist most temptations and negative impulses is a sign of mental health. Why? Because to do so requires self-knowledge, resilience, and willpower; three attributes commonly absent within those with a mental health problem.

Furthermore, you’re able to consistently adhere to a positive routine. This is important, as a positive routine is often an indication of a positive state of mind.

7. THEY ACCEPT THEMSELVES FOR WHO THEY ARE

Sadly, many people with a negative self-image often succumb to conditions such as anxiety and depression. Having a positive (not necessarily a “high”) sense of self-worth often indicates a healthy state of mind.

It’s important to understand that we all have things we wish to improve upon. The difference lies in the reaction to such desires. Mentally healthy people will devise a plan, whilst those not so healthy will remain in a static state of mind.

Which leads us to the final item on this list…

8. THEY HAVE EXCELLENT SELF-REALIZATION SKILLS

The current “situation,” whether good or bad, great or terrible, is more astutely interpreted in those with a healthy state of mind. It’s not altogether more uncommon for a mentally healthy person to find themselves in a bad scenario; they just recognize it sooner and take the appropriate, more productive actions.

Those in a negative state of mind – be it “mentally ill” or whatever – are less likely to realize the adverse situation and do something about it.

SOURCES:
CASSERLY, M. (2010, AUGUST 24). FRIENDS WITH HEALTH BENEFITS. RETRIEVED FEBRUARY 06, 2017, FROM HTTP://WWW.FORBES.COM/2010/08/24/HEALTH-RELATIONSHIPS-LONGEVITY-FORBES-WOMAN-WELL-BEING-SOCIAL-ISOLATION.HTML
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?. (N.D.). RETRIEVED FEBRUARY 06, 2017, FROM HTTPS://WWW.MENTALHEALTH.GOV/BASICS/WHAT-IS-MENTAL-HEALTH/


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How to Manage Your Motivation to Live a Healthier Life

How motivated are you to live a healthy life?

Perhaps there’s no single thing you can do more to prevent chronic disease than to actively engage in healthy lifestyle choices. World Health Organization research suggests that in the Western world chronic disease killers such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes could be greatly reduced by making better lifestyle choices. In fact, healthy lifestyle choices could eliminate 80 per cent of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes cases.

Most adults in North America know that risk factors, such as smoking and drinking to excess, and engaging in pro-health behaviours like exercise, diet and sleep, collectively impact their health. Even with this life-and-death information many fail to act or stay motivated.

It’s a common human experience for people to one day decide to take better care of their health. The decision to do so can be influenced from outside or come from within. However, within a few days they get distracted by life and lose focus or stop trying.

Why? One reason could be health fatigue. This happens when the activity to get healthy feels difficult and requires too much energy or discipline. Employers should also keep in mind how they can help employees stay motivated once they decide to make a positive change, through various workplace programs.

Another reason many fail to maintain a healthy lifestyle is gaps in their motivation. To change this, you need to manage your motivation and home in on what will keep you on task and on target.

Motivation management

The microskill of motivation management is the discipline of staying in tune with your drive to achieve a defined outcome or goal. Different kinds of motivation, such as the stick (fear) and the carrot (positive opportunity) can spark a need for change. And sparks that can keep you focused and motivated can come from both external or internal sources.

Here are some tactics to help you improve your motivation to stay healthy and make healthy choices.

inner-strength

Awareness

Stop for a moment and focus on one area of your health you may like to improve. It can be helpful to write out exactly what you want to change and why, and then evaluate the driving force behind this motivation. Is your motivation to change linked to some fear or opportunity? Tapping into the motivation can spark the energy and discipline required to achieve your goal. It’s important to be specific as to what success is for you personally.

Test your current level of readiness for making this change by using this motivation for change quick survey.

Accountability

Define what sparks will ignite your motivation. One common spark is tuning in to the positive and negative consequences for your pursuit. External motivation can be helpful for some; for others, internal motivation is the most important, especially when they consider the effects on their family, self, relationships, quality and length of life, and job. Internal motivation can be linked to a purpose or a set of values. It’s common to use a combination of internal and external motivations to stay focused on a desired goal.

Action

One approach to motivation management is a game plan to stay focused on achieving your targeted outcome. Ultimately, motivation management is paying attention to the sparks that influence and encourage you. The end goal for health habits is that they become ingrained and automatic. However, since so many start and stop, there can be value in paying attention not only to what you are going to do or how, but also why.

  • Confirm in writing the target area to change. Be clear on the value to you and why you want to make this change.
  • Determine the specific success target. To avoid being vague, attach a number: “For me, success equals …”
  • Write out the specific steps you will take and the action required to achieve your goal: “I will …”
  • Decide if you will use any external consequences to motivate yourself. If you do, ensure that whatever you pick is something you enjoy and something you prefer not to do. For example, “When I achieve … I will treat myself to (reward: something you enjoy and can afford), if not, I will (consequence: do some household chore you don’t like for a week).” Sometimes people engage in peer challenges for motivation.
  • Decide what internal motivation can spark you – perhaps being able to play with your children or see your grandchildren. Ultimately, to achieve long-term health, the more you can tap into internal motivation, the higher the probability you will achieve it.
  • To manage your motivation, it’s helpful to track your daily progress. On-line resources like http://www.stickk.com and others can help you reach your goal.
Bill Howatt     The Globe and Mail    Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016

Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto. He is also the president of Howatt HR Consulting and founder of TalOp, in Kentville, N.S.

This is part of a series looking at microskills – changes that employees can make to help improve their health and life at work and at home, and employers can make to improve the workplace. The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell have created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first.


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12 Tips That Can Rebuild Your Life And Make It Amazing

“Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures.” ~ Joseph Addison

What if one day you woke up and decided that you were tired of feeling tired and that you had enough of everything? Enough of stress and anxiety, enough of anger and resentment, enough of struggle, lack, pain and poverty, enough of tears, heartbreaks, self destructive thoughts, behaviors and relationships and enough of all that is negative and toxic? What if you decided that you wanted to change yourself and your life but didn’t know where exactly to start, what then?

There are many things you can do to begin rebuilding your life and make it ridiculously amazing and today I will share with you 12 things that are meant to help you do just that. Are you ready? Let’s begin:

1. Make A Commitment To Yourself

I (name),
Make a commitment to myself,
To spend so much time improving myself and my life that I have no time for worry, judgement, criticism, whining and complaining;
To forgive, release and let go of my attachment to any past struggles and allow every challenge life sends my way to make me better not bitter.
Starting now, I make a commitment to let go of what’s behind me and start appreciating what’s in front of me;
To let go of all the pointless drama, all the toxic relationships, thoughts and behaviors that are present in my life and to constantly shift my focus from the bad on to the good;
To make room in my heart for love, happiness, peace and tranquility and to create my life from a place of infinite choices and possibilities – the present moment, and no longer from a place of limitations – the past.
I commit to staying true to myself at all times and to never betray myself just so I can please other people.
I commit myself to give up on toxic thought, behaviors and relationships but never on myself and my dreams.
Starting now and starting today, I will begin rebuilding my life and to make it ridiculously amazing.
Sincerely,
(name)

Once you truly commit to rebuilding your life and making it ridiculously amazing, nothing and no one will be able to stand in your way.

2. Forgive, Release And Let Go Of Past Hurts And Resentments

Fill your heart with love. Forgive, release and let go. Not necessary because those who mistreated you deserve it, but because you do. Let forgiveness liberate you from your past. Allow it to take away all the resentment you kept in heart for all this time and allow yourself to fill in that empty space with love, inner peace and compassion.

If others mistreated you in the past it doesn’t mean you have to continue their work. Look how beautiful Mark Twain talks about this: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Release and let go of all the negativity from your life. Start small and trust that as you work on letting go of all the extra baggage that is weighting you down, you will begin to feel lighter and you will gain a lot more clarity over your life. You will feel happier and more at peace with yourself and the world around you.

3. Embrace With Grace All That You Face

Shift your focus from the bad on to the good, from the pain on to the gain, from resentment on to the forgiveness, gratitude and appreciation. Learn to embrace with grace all that you face.

Appreciate everything life sends your way, whether good or bad and know that “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

4. Visualize Your Achievements And Create Your Destiny

Ask yourself the same question I asked myself a few years ago when I decided to let go of my attachment to my past and begin rebuild my whole life: “If there were no limits to what I can do, be and have, how would my life look like?”

Let your imagination run wild. Dare to dream big. Don’t settle for less than you are worth.

The richer your imagination, the more beautiful your life will be.

“The power of imagination is incredible. Often we see athletes achieving unbelievable results and wonder how they did it. One of the tools they use is visualization or mental imagery… they made the choice to create their destinies and visualized their achievements before they ultimately succeeded.” ~ George Kohlrieser

See in your mind’s eye the life you would love to live, the person you would love to become and the relationships you would want to have. Live your life from the end and act as if all of the things you need and desire are already present in your life. Feel the feelings that come from having all those wonderful things happen to you and allow those feelings to be with you at all times.

5. Work Hard, Dream Big.

Act upon your heart’s desire. Do the things you need to do in order to get where you want to get. Read the books you need to read, contact the people you need to contact, build the skills you need to build.

Find a mentor. Dare to ask questions. Do whatever it takes to move yourself closer to making your dreams come true.

Trust that with every step you take, your life situation will improve and you will become even more happier than you already are.

6. Take One Step At A Time

Because of the many years of past conditioning and the intense training you have in holding on to toxic thoughts, behaviors and unhealthy relationships, giving up on all that is toxic in your life won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight. Chances are that you won’t see major improvements in your life immediately, and that’s okay. Be patient and gentle with yourself while working on rebuilding your life and remember to enjoy the journey.

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” ~ Greg

Take one step at a time and keep in mind that a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.

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7. Develop A Deep Trust In Life

You have to have faith. You have to have trust… Trust in yourself, trust in the people you interact with and trust in life.

Put your fears aside. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Develop a deep trust in the wisdom of life. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” ~ Matthew 17:20

8. Give Yourself Permission To “Fail”

Give yourself permission to “fail” and make “mistakes”.

Trust me when I tell you that in every “mistake” there is a lesson to learn, lesson that will be very beneficial to you as you continue walking on your life’s chosen path.

“There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they’re necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go.” ~ Richard Bach

9. Be Good To Yourself

Love yourself and be good to yourself because if you do, the world around you will start mirroring your behavior. Take good care of your mind, body, heart and soul. Exercise, drink plenty of water, eat healthy and delicious food.

Nurture good thoughts. Act in compassionate and loving ways, towards yourself and the world around you. Spend time alone, spending at least 5 to 10 minutes per day in silence would make you help make you feel refreshed, rejuvenated and renewed.

Go outside. Spend some time in nature. Look at the plants, the sky, the stars, the moon and the trees. Celebrate the miracle of life.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein

10. Give Up Living Your Life To Other People’s Expectations

Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about themselves.

Never get your sense of worth from outside yourself. Your worth comes from inside yourself and not from forces outside yourself – people, events, material possessions. Don’t ever let other people tell you how much you’re worth, decide for yourself. It’s called self worth not others worth.

You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.

11. Discipline Your Mind To Stay Present In The Now

Learn to be present and engaged in the present moment. Be happy with what you have, what you know and who you are right now. Don’t allow your mind to trick you into thinking that you won’t be happy until you get where you want to get.

Appreciate what’s in front of you. If you learn how to be present and engaged in the NOW, you will live a very happy and content life and no matter how many challenges life will send your way, you will become a better not bitter person.

“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.” ~ Eckhart Tolle,

12. Surround Yourself With Loving And Supportive People

Surround yourself with positive, cheerful, supportive and loving people. People who can lift you up when you are feeling down; people who will turn on the light for you when you are in the dark; people who can see you for what you truly are and who you can truly become. Take the advice of Mark Twain and “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

You need positive and loving friends who will support you in your new way of life…

Commit yourself to making the best of everything life sends your way. Be soft and flexible. Go with the flow of life and no longer against it.

Enjoy the ride and no matter what happens to you and no matter how many challenges and difficult people life might send your way, know that they are all there to help you grow and evolve into the beautiful being you so much want and deserve to be.

You only have one life to live. Make it a memorable one.

Give up on all the toxicity present in your life but never on yourself and your dreams, ok?

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” ~ Don Williams Jr.

Luminita D. Saviuc