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Scheduling In Some Personal Time Is Essential To Individual And Marital Health

The fact that men still get more personal time than women is just one reason Dave McGinn thinks we all need to take leisure more seriously

The fighting between Gillian Rowinski and her husband went on for years. It was always the same fight, time after time.

“I would be doing too many things because I’d be either overcommitted or trying to do too much stuff. He would be relaxing playing a video game or reading a book or having a beer. I would look at him and get super resentful,” says Rowinski, who lives in Vancouver and has three children. “I would just blow up. ‘You never help me! I do everything around here! You do nothing.'”

Her husband would point out that he had, in fact, done a number of chores, it was just that she hadn’t noticed. “And then we would have this big argument and I would probably cry,” said Rowinski, who works in human resources.

What Rowinski eventually realized was that she wasn’t upset that her husband hadn’t done the dishes – she was upset that he had figured out a way to find time to relax, and she hadn’t. She needed her own free time.

It’s a familiar story to most couples raising young children. Between work and kids and taking care of the house, it is hard enough to deal with all the responsibilities bearing down, let alone find the time to take a walk or go out for dinner with friends.

Family therapists say a lack of individual free time is one of the most prominent complaints they encounter, and couples who ignore the problem for too long risk seeing their marriages end over it. But even small changes can vastly improve each person’s happiness and the overall quality of a marriage.

“It’s likely to surface quite at the beginning, at the outset of our sessions,” says Michal Regev, a Vancouver-based marriage and family therapist. It’s a ubiquitous struggle for her clients, one that can cause frustration, resentment and anger.

“We all need to recharge, especially when we are giving a lot to others in our family, at work and to others outside of our family who need our help,” Regev says. “Many people complain about feeling exhausted and depleted. The high-paced, high-speed lifestyle of today’s world may leave little room for individual time.”

That seems to hold true particularly for Canadians. Last month, Canada was ranked the fourth-worst country out of 37 around the world for work-life balance in a report released by Expert Market, a British-based company that compares business products and products. The report, which analyzed OECD and World Bank data, based its rankings on average annual hours worked by parents, the number of paid leave days in each country and the total paid leave available to mothers and fathers.

Not that Canadian parents needed evidence: Everyone knows that e-mail and other pressures make it much harder to leave work behind at the office than it was for earlier generations. And, according to Statistics Canada, 58 per cent of couples with young children were employed outside the home in 2015, which squeezes personal time even more.

“After having our son, everything changed,” says Agatha Smykot, who lives in Calgary with her husband and their one-year-old. “No more free time. It basically became non-existent.”

Regev says that women complain about the lack of free time more than men, which isn’t surprising, since the most recent data from Statistics Canada shows that women continue to do more childcare and housework than men.

In 2010, women spent an average of 50.1 hours a week caring for children, compared with 24.4 hours spent by men. And while men put in an average of 8.3 hours a week on domestic work, that is still much less than the 13.8 hours women put in taking care of the house.

“Sometimes I hear spouses say, ‘I was playing soccer five times a week when we met, so what do you expect? I love playing soccer. I need it for my mental health,'” Regev says. “Well, good. But what about your spouse?” As Smykot and her husband began arguing constantly, she even went out looking for her own apartment.

Like so many problems in a marriage, the lack of free time can only be solved through open and honest communication, says Dr. Jane Greer, author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. The New York-based psychotherapist and radio host advises people to first figure out how much free time they need to feel sane, then talk to their partners about what’s realistic for both of them.

“Let your partner know this amount and emphasize how it’s important emotionally and physically. Go over the list of responsibilities so that each person knows what needs to get done in the meantime,” Greer says. “Make sure it’s balanced.”

A couple of months ago, Smykot and her husband sat down to talk. She told him she had had enough, and they decided to fit free time for both of them into their schedules.

“That means Tuesdays and Thursdays, he’s responsible for picking up our son from daycare and then starting dinner and getting him fed,” she says. They also alternate putting their son to bed and taking the dog out for a walk. And Smykot recently joined a neighbourhood association to engage herself socially.

“Since we’ve allocated free time for each one of us, things just got exponentially better,” she says.

Rowinksi had a similar conversation with her husband a year ago. Their solution meant changes for the entire family – including no working in the evenings, and trying not to overschedule their kids. Weekends are totally for family.

“If I’m not running from one thing to the next I’m happier, I’m more calm, I’m a better parent,” Rowinski says. She still doesn’t have endless amounts of free time, maybe an hour every other evening. But that’s an hour she spends doing something she enjoys – and reading a book is much more satisfying than arguing.

DAVE MCGINN   OCTOBER 11, 2017
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Want To Be Happier? Hire A Housekeeper, Researchers Suggest

Many who have the means to buy themselves more free time don’t do so

For people who wish there were more hours in the day, spending a bit of money to get rid of onerous tasks would make them much happier, but researchers say very few actually make the investment.

A study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found buying time makes people happier than buying material things.

UBC psychology professor and study author Elizabeth Dunn said although the idea of being happier by having someone clean your home or do other unwanted chores seems obvious, the study found even small investments like shopping at a more expensive, but closer-to-home, grocery store makes a difference.

Protects from time stress

“Theoretically what we think is that buying time protects people from the negative effects of time stress in daily life,” she said. “When you’re rushing around, feeling pressed for time, that seems to take a bit of a toll on people’s day-to-day happiness.”

Researchers gave 60 people taking part in the study in Vancouver $40 to spend on two weekends. The first time they were told to use the money on any material item they wanted.

Dunn said people reported buying a nice bottle of wine, clothes and board games. Researchers then surveyed the group to determine their level of happiness following the purchase of the item.

On the second weekend, participants were tasked to use the money to save them time — such as taking a taxi instead of public transit, have someone mow their lawn, and in one case having a “neighbour boy” run errands.

Better than shopping

Dunn said they compared the group’s level of happiness following both instances of spending, and found people were much happier when they bought themselves more time.

Surprisingly, Dunn said only two per cent of the group reported that they would spend money on things that would give them more time.

“It’s not what comes to mind to people as a way to increase their happiness and the rates at which people are engaging in this type of expenditure are surprisingly low,” Dunn said.

That attitude wasn’t limited to the Vancouver participants.

The study also surveyed 850 millionaires in the Netherlands and found almost half of them don’t spend money to outsource their most disliked tasks.

Many could but don’t outsource

Buying more time requires the means to do so, Dunn said. But a survey of 6,000 people in Canada, the U.S. and Europe showed those who have a bit of discretionary income would benefit from spending it on getting rid of the chores they dread.

The minority of people who do buy time-saving tools typically spend $80 to $100 a month, Dunn said, adding the study shows even $40 can make a difference.

‘Even if you don’t have tonnes of money, using money to get rid of your disliked tasks may be a pretty smart decision,’
– Elizabeth Dunn, UBC psychology professor

“People who don’t feel like they’re rolling in dough may feel like that’s a frivolous way to spend money, but what our research is showing is that even if you don’t have tonnes of money, using money to get rid of your disliked tasks may be a pretty smart decision,” she said.

Guilt factor

The reason behind people’s aversion to treating themselves to time savers is unclear. Dunn said her team’s best guess is that people feel guilty spending money on things they could do themselves.

“People may feel like I can do this so I should do this, and so I hope our research helps to break through that perhaps misguided cultural assumption,” she said.

Dunn said her team intends to do a follow-up study to better understand why people don’t spend money to buy time, and see how age, gender, ethnicity or other characteristics play into the reasoning.

source: www.cbc.ca     The Canadian Press    Jul 25, 2017


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5 Evening Habits That Set You Up For A Day of Success

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. – Vince Lombardi

Those of us that have played sports, or been involved in any kind of competitive activity, will attest that a number of variables – controllable and uncontrollable – ultimately determine our success. It is our job to execute on the former without being negatively impacted by the latter.

Vince Lombardi is considered by many to be the greatest professional football coach of all time. Perhaps Lombardi’s most celebrated attribute was his ability to motivate and get the best of out his players and staff. He realized that people require drive and motivation to produce their best work and be successful.

Lombardi also realized that, while he was a great coach, much of the will to succeed came from inside of the players themselves. And so it is with each one of us. If success is to be our destination, we must commit to self-discipline. We must commit to “perfecting” the right behaviors and mitigating the wrong ones. This includes recognizing – and working on – all controllable factors…even those that are much less obvious.

Our evening habits play a crucial role to our success, though we may not give them the attention they deserve at times. It is so easy, in this era of overwork and overexposure to stress, to use our evening time counterproductively. We must resist such forces, however tempting they may be.

To that end, we’ve developed a list of five evening habits that will prepare you for a day of success. We encourage you to consider each one, and measure your aptitude on each.

HERE ARE FIVE EVENING HABITS THAT CREATE TOMORROW’S SUCCESS:

1. PRIORITIZE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

This is a drum that has been beaten before, and will be beaten again: physical activity – of any and every kind – is absolutely critical to our well-being. This also includes our relative success. When we prioritize physical activity, we’re fine-tuning our minds and bodies for the work ahead of us.

Though not a “typical” time for working out, getting your sweat on at night can be beneficial. After all, what better time for a physical and mental tune-up than after a long day’s work? We could probably use some stress relief too, and exercise is arguably the best stress reliever out there.

time

2. GIVE LOVED ONES YOUR TIME
Of course, it is important to devote some of your valuable off-time to friends and family. Success isn’t truly success unless its achieved with your loved ones. One of the perceivable shortcomings of some of those who’ve achieved great success (e.g. Einstein) is that they did so while sacrificing their relationships. Maybe it wasn’t the intent of Mr. Einstein, but many of his relationships were an abysmal failure; though, the man himself remains one of the most celebrated.

Most of us are not Albert Einstein. We’re probably not going to devise anything similar to the Theory of Relativity; or attempt to provide an equation for the space/time continuum. But, whatever our definition of success is, we’re going to find it difficult to get there without prioritizing our loved ones. Even if we should achieve it, as Einstein did, that success may be more bittersweet.

3. IDENTIFY TOMORROW’S THREE BIGGEST TASKS

This one is incredibly important. Many of us (this writer, included) are not particularly adept in short-listing our work…we kind of just “go with the flow” at times. The process of trying to achieve success is made more difficult when we don’t prioritize, and this includes in our work.

So, to make things simpler, jot down the tomorrow’s three most demanding tasks and commit to them early. In doing so, it’ll become more difficult to get sidetracked; either with less-important tasks or useless distractions. More energy will be expended in completing these tasks, while both our collective attention and energy will become much more focused.

4. COMMIT TO LIFELONG LEARNING

Success is more of a mental exercise than anything else. Our cognitive abilities directly impact the likelihood of success on any scale. Thus, it is important to keep our brain active. One of the best ways in ensuring that we remain cognitively-active is to learn something new, each and every day.

The world is saturated with enough interesting information to keep us occupied throughout multiple lifetimes. A terrific way to obtain this new information, while continually-developing our smarts, is to commit to reading for a designated period of time every evening. Give 15 minutes a go at first, and then commit to more if so willing and able.

5. REFLECT ON THE DAY AND GIVE GRATITUDE

Before a well-deserved sleep, make it a goal to reflect on the day. What were some of the successes? What could you have done better? What will you do the same of tomorrow? What will you do differently? Be honest with yourself.

The eclipsing day undoubtedly brought its trials; and sometimes it’s important to reflect on those, as mentioned above.

Just as important, however, is to recognize – and give gratitude towards – the many blessings that unfolded throughout the day. What are you grateful for? Remember that gratitude and carry it forward. As John F. Kennedy said: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciate is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

 

Power of Positivity     OCTOBER 1, 2016 

 


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10 Ways Mentally Strong People Handle Stress

Handling stress poorly can negatively affect your well-being, but the good news is that you can learn the 10 ways that mentally strong people deal with stress and start using these techniques today.

Stress that is unmanaged can lead to physical health problems like high blood pressure, but can chronic stress can also develop into depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Rather than continue to handle stress poorly, let’s look at the 10 ways that mentally strong people handle stress effectively.

10 WAYS MENTALLY STRONG PEOPLE HANDLE STRESS

1. ACCEPT THAT STRESSFUL EVENTS WILL HAPPEN
We all know that things are bound to happen to upset even the most planned out day, but mentally strong people acknowledge this up front. There is going to be something unplanned for that happens to you, but you can begin planning for it now. Tell yourself now that although you know something stressful may happen today, you are prepared to handle it.

2. USE MULTIPLE STRESS MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Researchers in the Journal of Occupational Medicine studied workplace stress management programs and found that one that included goal setting, problem solving, identifying and questioning negative thoughts, relaxation, and time management was helpful for people to handle stress effectively. This strategy of using multiple techniques to handle stress is one that mentally strong people employ all the time.

3. TAKE CONTROL
Mentally strong people look at what is causing the stress and look for ways to prevent it from happening again. By making changes in their environment, they can avoid or reduce causes of stress.

4. AFFIRMATIONS
Use positive self-talk to remind yourself of just how capable you are when stressful situations come up. For example, say ‘I’ve handled situations like this before and I know I can handle this just fine too.’

5. TIME MANAGEMENT
Much of our perceived stress comes from not having enough time to get done what we want to get done. By planning ahead for lost time, we can make sure that we have enough time in the day for everything, without being stressed when something does inevitably delay us.

For example, if you have a full schedule and worry about being late to your next appointment, next time book your day with 20-30 minute gaps of time in between appointments. That way if there is too much traffic, the delay won’t seem as stressful to you due to the extra time that you planned in to your day.

Stress

Stress

6. SOCIAL SUPPORT
Researchers studying how people handle stress found that a strong social support network was linked to mental well-being. Some people find it challenging to ask for help because they like to be self-reliant. We all need help at some point, so being able to recognize when you have reached a significant stress-level and ask for help to get yourself back to a calm state is an excellent skill that mentally strong people use to handle stress.

7. THEY DO NOT AVOID STRESS
The same study that showed that social support helped mentally strong people to handle stress found that if they used the technique of avoiding things that they thought of as stressful, their mental well-being decreased significantly.

Avoiding is just a way of delaying handling stress. Running away from a problem never solved anything so choosing to face your worries and acknowledge the uncomfortable feelings while using another coping strategy is better for your mental strength.

8. SEE THOUGHTS ABOUT STRESS AS TEMPORARY
Thoughts come and go and some are terribly negative. Our awareness of our negative thoughts about stress is an excellent skill to have. This mindfulness can then be taken to the next level. Rather than avoid or repress negative thoughts about stress, see them as temporary mental events that will be gone fairly soon.

This is a strategy called ‘decentering’ by psychologists, where we challenge negative thoughts. We can choose to accept our negative thoughts as fact, or we can acknowledge that we were making a bigger deal than we needed to about the stressful event, and allow that thought to pass away from our minds like a cloud.

9. LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE
This one stressful event is not going to change the course of your life all by itself. You are still a fantastically talented, creative and intelligent person who just had a negative experience. Mentally strong people know that although the surface of the ocean is turbulent, deep down it is calm.

10. THEY FIND WAYS TO ADD JOY
Adding a few moments of laughter to a stressful day can be all it takes to handles stress well. Even in the midst of a crisis, being able to laugh at yourself for how you overreact or misjudge something is a way to shift from a negative mindset to a positive one. For example you might say, ‘Well that was silly of me to forget my wallet, but hey, at least I noticed it before I was at the cash register with a full shopping cart.’

JUNE 28, 2016      source: www.powerofpositivity.com


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6 Excuses Holding You Back (And How to Overcome Them)

“He that is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” – Benjamin Franklin

Your brain is a conundrum: better processing capability than any supercomputer, yet at times frustratingly impulsive and temperamental. We engage in fleeting and meaningless thought patterns yet are able to concentrate for long durations of time. It is fair to say that the brain is sometimes on ‘autopilot’ – doing its own thing without any voluntary interaction.

Something that the brain does when on ‘autopilot’ is make excuses. While you certainly may not ‘feel’ up to the task, you know that you’re more than capable. Whatever this task may be – studying, cleaning, a project, etc. – you just can’t seem to stop making excuses for bucking down and doing it. In the end, you just feel more frustrated, nothing is accomplished, and the task is still staring you in the face.

Don’t fret. Excuses are just another auto-response generated by that complex circuitry of neural networks called your brain. Let’s examine a few of the more common excuses.

Here are 6 excuses that may be holding you back (and how to overcome them):

excuses

1. “I don’t have the time.”

To be fair, many of us are short on time because of work, family, kids, etc. Indeed, this is a legitimate limitation for many of us. This doesn’t mean that all hope is lost, however.

First, consider your priorities. You innately understand that family and work comes first; perhaps followed by housework, school, or something else. What about the remaining time in your day? Understandably, this time is perhaps limited…but it’s still there. Are you taking full advantage of this time, whether its 5 minutes or an hour?

Second, consider the possibilities. Consider the time that you spend on procrastinating, being anxious or absentminded. Instead of using up that hour catching up on your favorite show, can you record it and watch it on the weekend? If your kids demand your attention for something that can wait, will you ask them to occupy themselves for a period of time?

Be creative and don’t underestimate the power of small chunks of time.

2. “I don’t have the ability.”

“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford

While there may be inherent differences in ability from one person to another, brain research is finding that our brains adapt much faster than previously thought. Neuroplasticity – the changing of neural pathways in the brain due to changes in behavior, environment, thinking, and learning – has shown that it’s possible to evolve intellectually.

You can become smarter, more resilient, and happier while pursuing your dreams. Don’t allow the illusion that you’re somehow incapable of achieving the goals that you’ve set for yourself.

3. “I’m just too busy.”

As with “not enough time”, this is an excuse that has some legitimacy. As a society, we’re overworked and overscheduled, distracted and off-balance. We’re not here to challenge this fact – doing so would be dishonest.

Not only is this excuse counterproductive, it induces unnecessary stress. The constant feeling of busyness directly increases our stress levels. We can only increase the stress hormone cortisol before it initiates a “fight or flight” response. Over a period of time, this leads to a state of chronic stress. Busyness often manifests itself in other ways as well – bad concentration and memory, impulsive behavior, lethargy, headaches, and feelings of malaise.

The solution is to simply be present. Concentrate on one thing at a time. When you have angry or impulsive thoughts, simply allow them to fade.

goals

 

4. “I don’t have the money.”

The truth is that money is simply a tool; a method of exchange. However, economic statistics continue to show that wages continue to flatten while the cost of living increases – this can certainly become a problem.

There exists a movement called minimalism, where one lives with the basic necessities of life and nothing more. Minimalism is not well known in the Western world because of the materialistic consumerism mentality to economics that has permeated our society.

But the fact of the matter is that we don’t need to live this way. Study after study continues to show that material possessions and the accumulation of money do not correlate to happiness. Perhaps this is because we become susceptible to the lies that success equals money and money equals possessions.

The first step involves making the conscious decision to not live beyond your means. The second step is to determine what constitutes a want versus a need. You need food, water, shelter and electricity. You want the flat-screen TV, luxury car, cable package and cell phone. The third step involves minimizing or eliminating the wants in your life.

Of course, whether or not minimalism is a desired lifestyle is completely your choice. There is nothing wrong with having nice things in moderation. Rather, it is the constant desire to buy and have more that creates unnecessary and toxic excess.

5. “It’s too late…”

   It’s too late to pursue my education.
It’s too late to change careers.

   It’s too late to fall in love.

It’s too late to start my own business.

It’s too late to leave an impact on the world.

The great writer Richard Bach once said:
“Here is a test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t”

As a prior college counselor, I had the distinct honor and privilege to interact with people interested in pursuing their education. From recommending and enrolling in courses to watching students walk across the stage to receive their diploma, the experience was touching.

One such student was Robert Titus, a former salesman from Houston, who received his Marketing degree at the age of 80. His reason for this was simple: he promised his mother a long time ago that he’d achieve a college degree.

Whether your goal is a college degree, writing a novel, traveling the world or something else, the only limitations are the ones that we place on ourselves. If there is still air in your lungs and desire in your heart, there is no reason to stop.

6. “I’m too tired.”

It’s impossible to examine this excuse without thinking about time and busyness – excuses two and three on this list. After all, if we didn’t feel busy or deprived of time, we’d have no reason to be tired. As with time and busyness, there is some merit to the fact that we get indeed feel lethargic from time to time.

You must simply inspect your daily activities and what is causing tiredness. Are you rushing throughout the day from one place to another? Are you getting adequate amounts of sleep (minimum 7-8 hours)? Are you staying out or going to bed late during the weekdays? All of these reasons – along with a multitude of others – will undoubtedly result in fatigue.

The solution is making some lifestyle changes to counteract this tendency. Stress or poor time management are likely the culprits, both of which are easily rectified. Make it a priority to feel energized throughout the day by discarding the bad habits that lead to tired feelings. Try to implement a short nap into your day for some added benefit.

Break free from these excuses right now.  Make the declaration “I release the roadblocks to my abundance. I am victorious!”


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Tips for Staying Grounded

Though we live in a materialistic culture, most people don’t really know how to be fully present in the “material” of their own body. In fact, we do many things to escape the experience of feeling and being present in our own skin.

What does it really mean to be “grounded”? The word, of course, carries the connotation of being connected with the ground, the earth, and that which is solid. A person who is grounded is able to really connect with the energy of the earth, stay present in moment-to-moment experience in their body, and stay settled and calm.

Interestingly, according to Ayurveda (the traditional system of health and wellness originating in India), the autumn is a time when we are naturally less grounded. With the change of seasons, wind, and dryness characteristic of fall, comes an increase in the air element and a decrease in the earth element. Fall, therefore, is a good time to practice staying grounded.

Here are a few tips for this time of year (and for staying grounded any time of year):

-keep to routines
-maintain a regular sleep/wake schedule
-make time to eat nurturing, warm meals – and eat slowly
-soak in a warm bath
-slow down in general
-practice deep relaxation
-make time for contemplative prayer and/or meditation
-take time to respond rather than quickly reacting to things
-take time to nurture yourself
-listen to what your body needs
-visualize grounding and nurturing images
-take time to be outdoors
-walk barefoot on the grass
-avoid loud music and enjoy quietness
-don’t overload your schedule

With the fall comes the celebration of the harvest. What a wonderful time to appreciate and celebrate the earth and the abundance that it provides.