Your tonic voice

Your tonic voice
Sweetly hides
The dirty little secrets
You keep inside

Those nasty bits
They would judge you for
These are the things

That vibrate my core
In between your walls
I deftly slip

Dabbling in secrets
Dribbling from your lips
Straight from thy soul
They shall be ripped

 

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4 Things I Got Wrong About Fitness & Health Once you stop learning you start dying.

When you’re new to the gym (or to anything for that matter), it’s not uncommon to be quite impressionable at first.

This is a whole new world, and if the nice person in the Gold’s Gym stringer tank top is taking time between their sets of hammer curls to espouse their wisdom, it must be worth listening to, right?

Well, sometimes.

Over the last 17 years, I’ve gotten some invaluable advice about nutrition, strength training, and overall longevity just by having some really intelligent and generous mentors as training partners.

I’ve also heard — and at times, listened — to advice that was quite exaggerated at best and complete BS at worst.

This is by no means an all-encompassing list (we’d be here for quite a bit longer than a “four-minute read” if it were), but these are four examples of said “advice” that immediately come to mind.

Carbs can certainly be the easiest to overindulge on; for example, it’s relatively easy to kill a 2 liter of soda in a day (or an hour .. or a few minutes) — but an equal amount of calories from a lean protein source like chicken breast would leave you feeling stuffed.

So seeing as they’re not very satiating, it’s probably a good idea to keep your refined carbohydrate intake to a minimum if fat loss if your goal. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fit a sweet treat in your diet if you’ve got room for it in your caloric “budget.”

Overall, a net caloric surplus or deficit is going to dictate your weight gain or loss — not a short-term insulin spike from a chocolate chip cookie.

2. You need to do 4+ exercises for the same muscle group in a single workout

On “chest day,” I used to train flat barbell bench, incline barbell bench, flat dumbbell bench, dumbbell flyes, and finally cable crossovers in a single workout to make sure I was hitting “all angles of the chest” as fully as possible.

This is simply unnecessary.

You don’t need to hit 10 different exercises at 10 different angles for the same muscle group — especially in a single workout. Picking 1 or 2 exercises and putting 100% effort into them will be plenty to stimulate progress in a single training session.

If you want to do four different exercises for a single muscle, split them up between two separate days. Going back to the chest as an example; you could do flat barbell bench and cable flyes on Monday, then come back and do incline dumbbell bench and a pushup variation on Thursday.

You’re still hitting four exercises — but because you’re only doing two per session, you’ll be less fatigued and, therefore able to perform much higher quality repetitions than if you were to cram all of those movements into a single workout.

3. You MUST eat every 2 hours

It used to be all the rage in bodybuilding circles that eating a standard six meals per day would “keep the metabolism stoked” and therefore burn more calories than normal. Recent evidence has shown otherwise.

“Some experts claim that if you eat 6 to 9 meals a day and stick to your daily calorie intake, your metabolism will be dramatically improved and your muscle will grow quicker.

This hypothesis was well disregarded when studies found that the rate of metabolism is still the same if you eat 9 times a day or 3 times a day.” — Fast Fuel Meals

What matters most when it comes to body composition is the total amount of calories consumed per day. To optimize muscle building, it probably is best to evenly distribute your protein intake throughout the day (to keep muscle protein synthesis elevated) as opposed to trying to eat an entire day’s worth in a single setting.

But there is no magic switch that switches your metabolism to “off” once you hit the two-hour and one-minute mark between meals.

4. Deadlifts and squats are bad for your back

My lower back feels the best it has in years. Ironically, I’m also doing more barbell squatting and deadlifting than I have in years.

These things aren’t inherently “bad for your back” — they’re actually really good at helping you build a stronger back. Doing these things with shoddy technique and/or with more weight than you can handle can be bad for your back, which is where the reputation of them being “bad for our back/knees/hips” mostly comes from to begin with.

Einstein said that once you stop learning, you start dying.

This is good news for fitness fanatics; there seems to be a never-ending supply of myths and bodybuilding lore that we learn to be gospel one day and learn to refute as hyperbole the next.

At least we’re always learning something new!

10 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself Every Day

10 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself Every Day

 

There are myriad psychology models and theories on what motivates us to do the things we do: how we respond to incentives, achievement theories, and so on.

I look at motivation as excitement. So how can you remain motivated in a simple way that works every single day? Here are 10 ways.

1. Take a break–you deserve it.

The only way we can perform at an optimal level is create time for rest. The moment you know you can’t take any time off is usually when you need it most.

So take that long delayed vacation, and return to your business with renewed enthusiasm.

2. Keep your cards close to your chest.

Finally running that marathon? Excited about your new diet? Bursting at the seams over your new project? Good. Keep it to yourself.

Announcing your intent to do these feats will backfire. Resist the urge to reap the barrage of Facebook likes, and gushing comments. The positive feedback you receive from your network will trick your brain into thinking you’ve already accomplished your goal, sabotaging your once-motivated brain to do said feat.

So keep it to yourself and share the good news once you’ve already done it.

3. Confront death, and define your legacy.

Death is a powerful motivator. We get bogged down in mindless activities. They make us feel like we’re accomplishing things, when in reality we’re just spinning in circles.

Knowing that you have finite time on this planet helps sharpen your focus. Everything we do is another step in defining our legacy. This may seem like heady posturing, but both can be powerful motivators.

4. Celebrate the little wins, no matter how small.

Little wins may seem like just that–little.

Celebrating these wins can help to create positive habits. You break the inertia of mediocrity by teaching everyone around you how to win. They get the chance to bask in that emotion.

Vishen Lakhiani, CEO of Mindvalley, has gone so far as implementing what he calls the “awesome bell.” Which he rings (you guessed it) anytime something awesome happens.

5. Slash your to-do list in half.

Slashing your aggressive to-do list in half will allow room for success. Knowing that it’s realistic for you to complete the list is empowering.

6. Be gentle with yourself.

Stop comparing the accomplishments in your life with those of your neighbor. The story you create in your head will never be as good, and the reality will never be as bad.

There are many people who are smarter than you. The moment you can embrace this notion, you’re free. Free to explore. Free to follow what excites you. Free to ignore what they do, or how they do it, and focus on you.

7. Hack the way your brain perceives your new habits.

Recently, I began waking up two hours earlier than usual during the week. Instead of viewing it as two hours less I get to sleep, I view it as two extra hours to my day, allowing me to add a full workday per week.

8. Embrace vulnerability.

We live in a culture where we horde Instagram followers, and Facebook likes. The perception of our lives being anything less than perfect is a daunting notion. The glossy Facebookification of our lives can create a dangerous facade of success.

Sharing defeats and admitting failure is a powerful cultivator of motivation, allowing you to move past the failure. Work through the emotion instead of taking it out on someone else. Then move on to something more constructive.

Sharing these vulnerable moments also cultivates deeper connection with peers.

9. Do what you love (sort of).

Find what it is you love to do and get proficient at it. Success dwells at the fulcrum of passion and excellence.

But be careful. Make sure that you can make a living from your passion. I’m passionate about a lot of things that I know I’m not so amazing at and that I definitely can’t make a living at. I love playing guitar. My daughter loves when I play songs from the movie Frozen. It’s fun. I’m never going to be a rock star.

10. Focus.

There is a an anecdote I’ve heard about Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Gates’s father at a dinner party. A guest asked them what the most important quality for success was today and all three responded “Focus” at the same exact time. They all smiled and laughed to each other because they hadn’t really prepared the answer.

We are all inundated with texts and emails. These are no longer just work interruptions. Because of the mini-computers we carry around in our pockets, the flood of information distracts us wherever we happen to be, 24/7.

So turn off your iPhone, stop trolling your ex-lover’s Facebook page, and get to work.

9 Short Quotes That Might Change How You Think And Live If you resist change, you resist life.

If taken seriously, short quotes can help us live healthier, happier, and more peaceful lives. Yet most of the time, all we do is get inspired for a few seconds and then move on with our busy lives.

Even though a spark of inspiration can be valuable, quotes only become truly powerful when we take time to reflect on their meaning and see how we can make use of them.

If used correctly, those tiny lessons can have a lasting effect on how we live, love, and make sense of life.

They can help us overcome challenges and spark hope when everything seems meaningless.

Most people waste their lives trying to “play it safe” because they fear changes and unexpected challenges.

Yet the truth is, you can’t run away from change because it’s a crucial part of life.

Life is an unpredictable journey and we can’t ever know what will happen tomorrow, next week, or even next year.

How to use this:

Instead of looking at change with fear, embrace it as a vital force in your life.

Things change all the time anyway — whether you like it or not. But instead of trying to resist, you can choose to welcome new opportunities with joy.

We often hold ourselves back because we’re afraid of standing out and being different.

Instead, we try to fit in, even if that means feeling miserable deep inside.

The truth is, you were not born to “fit in.”

Yet, that’s not what society tells you. Instead, they tell you to live life a certain way: Go to school, graduate, get a “safe” job, get married, have kids, please everyone around you but yourself, retire, and die without ever fulfilling your own dreams.

According to most people, that’s the formula for a perfectly “safe” life. If you follow it, your parents and their friends might be proud of you.

But what about you?

Is that how you want to live?

Why do we normalize a certain way of living and demonize anyone who steps out of that boring pattern to live life according to their own rules?

How to use this:

Normality often seems the safest way, but it can quickly become the most dangerous path — especially if it doesn’t align with your needs.

You deserve to make your own choices based on your dreams, goals, and strengths.

Just because others are living life a certain way doesn’t mean that’s how you need to do it.

Step out of boring patterns. Do you.

When we say “I don’t have time,” we usually mean “It’s not a priority” or “I can’t make time for it.”

Yet the truth is, we all have enough time if we’re just careful about how we use it.

Surveys show that we spend almost 4 hours per day on our phones.

Just imagine how much more we could do if we minimized the hours spent scrolling through news feeds every day.

How to use this:

If you feel like “you don’t have time,” start to religiously plan your weeks and days.

On Sundays, plan the week ahead and set three core priorities that’ll help you achieve your long-term goals.

Each evening, set three specific goals for the upcoming day, which will help you accomplish your weekly priorities.

If you have no idea how you’re using your time, start tracking your productive hours with a simple time tracker.

We often keep ourselves busy “doing things” yet procrastinate on the few tasks that would truly matter.

Most people are so afraid of facing the truths in life that they choose to keep themselves busy, so they never “have time” to do the hard things.

They don’t follow their heart, stay stuck in careers they hate, and barely show love.

Even though we all have goals and dreams, most of us never dare to fight for them and thus stay stuck in daily lives we don’t enjoy.

How to use this:

Instead of fighting through endless to-do lists, pause and ask yourself which important moments and conversations you’ve been putting off for too long.

Each week, make time for at least one such conversation or activity.

So many people believe they need to be bold and relentless to achieve anything valuable.

And quotes like “Nice guys finish last” just make our insecurities worse because we start to think we need to be mean to “win” in life.

Yet, as Gandhi preached more than 50 years ago, we can shake the world by being gentle, soft, and kind. And that’s mostly because shaking the world starts by shaking ourselves and those around us.

How to use this:

If you want to impact the world, start by first impacting your own life.

Stand up for yourself and show us what to do by doing it first.

Contrary to common belief, we can influence millions of people by being kind, compassionate, and caring.

In the 21st century, we’re all lacking love and deeper connection, so if you can show up and convince even just a few people of your good intentions, you’ll soon be able to start an entire movement that might shape more people than you ever thought possible.

Our energy shapes every aspect of our lives: It influences how we communicate, how we show up for ourselves, how we take care of our loved ones, how we get things done, and how we ultimately feel.

You can add energy and enthusiasm to the most mundane tasks of your life and ensure you stay on top of your game regardless of external circumstances.

How to use this:

There’s a saying that goes, “How you do one thing is how you do everything.”

The truth is, the majority of our lives aren’t exciting.

Most of our days are spent with basic, boring activities like work, cooking, eating, running errands, cleaning up, and so on.

Yet regardless of what exactly we do, we can always decide to show up and infuse our desired energy into our days.

Instead of being frantic, we can choose to be peaceful and calm.

Instead of being annoyed, we can choose to be compassionate and kind.

And instead of blaming ourselves when things go wrong, we can choose love and forgiveness.

We often blame others for “not treating us right,” yet we’re usually the ones who treat ourselves worst.

We don’t take our needs seriously, prioritize others instead of ourselves, and barely take time to nourish our deepest needs.

And instead of looking within, we get mad at our partner, friends, or family for not taking care of us.

How to use this:

If you want to be treated with respect and love, you must first love yourself.

We’re teaching the world around us how we want to be treated by showing them how we treat ourselves.

Take time to explore your needs by reflecting and journaling.

Cancel appointments if you think they’ll make you feel worse instead of better.

Speak the truth and show up for your desires, even if they might sound ridiculous to others.

This is your life, and you only have one shot at creating a reality you truly enjoy. Trust yourself and give yourself the love you deserve before expecting anyone else to do it for you.

I’m an online writing coach and teach new writers how to build an audience by sharing their expertise or passion online.

One of the questions I hear a lot is: “What if it doesn’t work?”

And I usually reply by asking: “Well, what if it *does* work?”

Most of us are so used to “playing it safe” that we want to know our efforts will be “worth it” before even lifting a finger.

We don’t want to give more than we might receive. That’s also why so many people struggle with their relationships.

They expect 50/50, but the truth is, strong relationships aren’t always balanced.

Sometimes, you need to give 80 and only get back 20, while other times, it’ll be the other way around.

If you can’t deal with the fact that you’ll never know whether your hard work will pay off or not, you’ll struggle to break out of your existing patterns.

How to use this:

Big goals usually require big action and risks.

Whether that’s building your own business, getting a new job, or making fundamental changes in your relationships, you always need to do the work without knowing whether it’ll be worth it.

But instead of wondering, “What if it doesn’t work?” you can ask yourself: “Well, what if it *does* work out exactly how I want?!”

We want to “succeed” at all costs and ignore everything we need to give up to achieve our goals.

You can always go “the extra mile” and do a little more, but the question is: What do you need to give up?

The truth is, every decision we make comes with its own sacrifices.

Whenever you say yes to something, you’re saying no to many other things.

How to use this:

Next time you’re setting or reviewing goals, ask yourself what you’ll need to give up to achieve them and whether it’s still worth it.

If you have to give up your peace of mind, favorite hobby, and quality time with your loved ones to get a raise or build a side hustle, you might want to rethink that goal.

Each decision comes with its own effects. The earlier we consider those effects, the sooner we can avoid frustration in the future.

Be aware of your goals, but also be mindful of what you’re not willing to give up.

4 Subtle Reasons Your Emotions Feel Out of Control

 

 

If you’ve ever felt like your emotions were “too intense” or “out of control” you’re not alone. Many people experience emotional intensity that seems excessive or disproportionate.

But the reason emotions feel out of control often has less to do with your emotions themselves and more to do with habits that magnify them…

The habit of worry magnifies normal fear into anxiety and panic.
The habit of self-criticism magnifies normal sadness into shame and hopelessness.
The habit of rumination magnifies normal frustration into anger and rage.
Mental habits take normal levels of emotion and make them far more intense and long-lasting. Which means…

If you want to feel more in control of your emotions, you must take control of the habits that govern them.

Learn to identify and eliminate these habits and you will discover that your emotions are far more manageable than you ever thought possible.

1. Relying on other people for comfort
Nothing could be more natural than to go to other people for comfort when you’re upset or in distress.

In fact, this is how most of us learn to deal with life’s difficulties — we have a supportive parent or caregiver in our life who is empathetic and comforting when we’re upset. The way they handle our painful emotions becomes a model for how we can deal with them as we mature.

Unfortunately, sometimes this process sometimes goes awry.

For all sorts of reasons, learning to self-soothe and effectively manage our own emotional struggles can get disrupted:

Some people, for example, have early traumatic events in their lives that sabotage this process of learning to self-soothe.
For others, they might learn at a young age that they can get relief faster and more easily by simply going to other people, and as a result, their capacity to self-soothe becomes underdeveloped as they age.

In any case, the core problem is this:

While it’s good to have other people as a source of comfort, it’s risky to rely on them.

When other people become your sole means of managing your emotional distress, it erodes your self-confidence.

This means difficult emotions will be themselves painful. But more than that, you’ll also have the fear of being inadequate to handle them yourself, which effectively multiplies the intensity of every painful emotion you experience. Being afraid of feeling sad, for example, will only make you feel worse.

The solution is to practice managing difficult feelings on your own even if you could get relief and comfort from someone else. Ideally, you would start with small things and gradually work your way up.

But regardless, you must strengthen your capacity to comfort yourself.

Your emotions will always feel out of control until you develop some confidence in your own ability to manage them well.

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”

― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

2. Being judgmental of your own emotions

Just because your emotions feel bad doesn’t mean they are bad.

Unfortunately, most of us are raised to believe that this is true. We grow up being taught that painful emotions are problems — like germs we need to be rid off or problems that need to be solved:

That we’re weak if we feel sad and discouraged.
That we’re broken or malfunctioning if we get anxious and worry “too much.”
That we’re sinful or morally deficient if we feel angry toward people.
But there’s the thing:

Emotions aren’t good or bad any more than rain or snow is good or bad.

You may not like certain emotions. Some may be uncomfortable or painful. Some may make it hard to do certain things. But to place a value judgment on an emotion doesn’t make any sense.

And the reason? Because you can’t control your emotions. Not directly, anyway.

You can’t just decide to turn up your happiness meter any more than you can decide to turn down your anxiety dial.

Emotions don’t work that way!

But aside from not being realistic, there’s another problem with judging yourself for how you feel:

When you criticize yourself for feeling anxious, will you end up feeling guilty for feeling anxious.
When you worry about feeling sad, you will end up feeling anxious about feeling sad.
When you put yourself down for feeling angry, you will end up feeling angry about being angry!
When you get judgmental about your emotions, you only compound their intensity and duration.

Think about this: No one goes to jail for feeling really angry. You only get sent to jail for acting aggressively.

As a society, we don’t judge people by their emotions, only their actions.

If you want to start feeling less emotionally volatile, stop criticizing yourself for the way you feel.

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

— Joseph Campell

3. Believing your thoughts unconditionally
It’s a funny thing that we’re so trusting of our own thoughts.

Perhaps because our culture tends to glorify our capacity for thinking and problem-solving, we make the mistake of assuming our thoughts are always true and helpful.

This is especially the case when it comes to thoughts about ourselves or how we feel:

After a coworker makes a rude comment about you during a meeting, the first thought that pops into mind is “Great, now everyone thinks I’m an idiot…”
As you drive to your daughter’s soccer game, the thought pops into mind that with a single movement you could swerve off the side of the road and your whole family would die. Then you immediately think to yourself, “Oh my God, what’s wrong with me?” The assumption being that your thought about swerving off the road was somehow true or meaningful.

But here’s the thing:

Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it’s true.

Many people’s emotions quickly start to feel out of control because they insist that everything in their mind is meaningful. As a result, they end up thinking endlessly about every little thought, feeling, mood, desire, memory, and emotion that pops into consciousness.

But for all its wonders, the human mind produces a lot of junk too.

Often a particular thought is just random mental noise. But if you insist on telling yourself a story about it and what it may or may not mean, you’re inviting in wave after wave of emotion — and often not the fun kind.

If you want to feel more in control of your emotions, practice being skeptical of your own thoughts.

If a thought seems obviously absurd or ridiculous, remind yourself that it could just be random noise — as meaningless and unworthy of your attention as an unexpected gust of wind.

“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”

― Marcus Aurelius

4. Not taking care of your body
Ever since Descartes, we’ve been fixated on the idea that it’s brain and body, or worse, brain vs body. Think of the common sayings “mind over matter” or “it’s all in your head.”

Of course, this is ridiculous…

Your brain is part of your body. And your mind doesn’t work all that well without a functioning body.

Of course, this is obvious in the extreme case — deprive the brain of oxygen via a heart attack or stroke and your mind dies along with the rest of your body. But it’s also true on a much smaller scale….

Manage workplace stress

workplace, stress, manage

 

Building passion is also a great way to manage and reduce workplace stress. Stress is a serious drain on productivity and had a direct effect on worker health and absenteeism. Stress-related illnesses cost businesses an estimated $200 billion to $300 billion a year in lost productivity, as reported in Stress in the Workplace. A study by Health Advocate found that 1 million workers miss work each day due to stress. This absenteeism costs employers an estimated $600 per worker each year. Twelve percent of employees have called in sick because of job stress. This is not surprising because most people respond to increased stress with added caffeine and alcohol consumption, smoking, and prescription medications.

A leader’s role in reducing workplace stress

Leaders can reduce stress by helping their people better manage it. Understand that leaders don’t create stress for others. Instead, they create conditions that, taken together with whatever is going on in people’s personal lives, can increase stress levels and decrease productivity and job satisfaction.

A leader’s role, then, is to help their people by educating them about the importance of self-care (see Step 4). They should encourage people to eat properly, take regular breaks and get enough sleep. People also need to have their minds and souls “fed,” with such things as time management training, meditation, prayer and a list of personal and team values to motivate them and help them make correct, healthy decisions. Leaders can also help by pitching in; offering people opportunities to delegate; accepting excellent, even if imperfect, work; and giving people the opportunity to vent and offer constructive feedback to improve processes and systems.

Of course, leaders cannot force their people to take better care of themselves, but the very fact that they offer options and serve as a resource for stress reduction can itself be helpful. After all, who gets the blame for work-related stress if not the boss?

How leaders can reduce their own stress

In addition to the strategies listed above, leaders should consider the following tactics to manage their own increased stress levels.

  • Label your emotion. The simple act of labeling our emotions reduces activity in the emotional brain and increases activity in the areas of the brain associated with focus and awareness. By labeling your emotions you can better separate yourself from the experience and draft a clearer plan on how to handle it.
  • Record and review your leadership goals. Clarity of purpose and action is a solid defense against leadership stress.
  • Be selective in your work. This was discussed in Step 1. Don’t engage in tasks and efforts that unproductive or produce limited benefits. Your time and attention are extremely valuable and must be protected.
  • Learn to delegate. Clear your plate of all the “other” things so you can do the “right” work. We detailed how to do this in Step 2.
  • Seek to control only the controllable. Focus on the things you can control such as your efforts and the way you choose to react to problems.
  • Remain positive. Stress is part of leadership and running successful enterprises. Don’t let it poison your mindset or, more importantly, your self-perception.
  • Get social support. Leaders often lack social support at work. To combat this, consider joining a peer board, a mastermind group, or a leadership development group that will provide trustworthy, confidential, and ongoing social support.
  • Re-group on a task. When a task is stressful, look for ways to better organize and streamline what needs to be done. Take time to clearly define roles and clarify expectations.
  • Increase your determination. Commit to working through your challenges and to not let them gain the upper hand. This determination will push you through the most challenging moments when you may otherwise be inclined to pull back.
  • Keep a collection of inspirational quotes handy. Quotes can give us quick bursts of inspiration. Here are two:
    • “Permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements and impossibilities: It is this that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” (Thomas Carlyle)
    • “The obstacle is the path.” (Zen proverb)
  • Consider your impact. As much as you are struggling with your burden, keep in mind that you are still needed by others. Your leadership, guidance, direction and support are critical elements in your organization and folks need you to be there for them. Use such thinking to push yourself forward.
  • Share what’s happening. Share your situation with a few close confidants who support you and can fill in for you as needed. Just knowing that others care about you can be extremely uplifting and can keep you going during difficult moments. Having people who can step in during your absence will help alleviate the burden and make sure that things move forward as needed.
  • Find the silver lining. In almost every difficult situation there are silver linings, including considering how many others may have it worse. For example, if you’re struggling with a defiant child who is making poor decisions, consider how much worse off others may be in terms of their condition and disconnect.
  • Reflect on how others did it. Life is filled with stories of “failures” who endured challenges yet went on to achieve great successes. People like Albert Einstein (rejected from college), Thomas Edison (failed repeatedly to invent the light bulb), FDR (crippled by polio), Charles Schwab/Richard Branson (struggled in school due to dyslexia) and Oprah Winfrey (domestic abuse) all overcome personal challenges to achieve greatness.

How to Avoid Hidden Time Sucks (While Still Being a Good Colleague)

aerial shot of messy workspace with notepad, crumpled papers, paper clips, coffee cup, and more

 

Think about the last time you had a really productive day—when you made a number of important decisions, crossed off key to-dos, and reached out to a few new connections. That felt good, right? Now think about a day when you felt as if you got nothing meaningful done. Maybe you sent out next steps after a series of back-to-back meetings, spent half a day listening to your coworkers vent, or researched Slack icebreakers instead of industry trends. At the end of that day, you weren’t sure what you’d accomplished, but you certainly felt very busy doing it.

You had the same amount of hours on both of those days, but in one scenario, you were in control and crossed off tasks that had a bigger impact on your company or career. In the other, unexpected distractions and assignments that don’t clearly ladder up to larger goals took up much of your attention. The latter are what I call distractors and fillers: the extraneous tasks and time sucks that prevent you from doing work that matters.

There are three phases to taking back control of your time: assessing how you’re spending it, deciding what you should keep doing, and learning to say no to everything else while still being a team player. The last part is often the trickiest because being helpful at work and nurturing relationships with your coworkers are both vital to your career growth. The key is to be mindful and kind about the choices you make.

Here’s a simple roadmap to help you reprioritize your time while still being a good colleague:

Phase 1: Assess your time.

Before you do anything else, you’ll need to take notice of your distractors and identify your most common time fillers.

Distractors are tasks indirectly related to your work that prevent you from focusing on your priorities. They’re inevitable but not always proportionate. Women, for example, are often loaded with the additional roles of emotional therapist, culture builder, and conflict resolver. And distractors tend to revolve around people and culture—like getting stuck in never-ending conversations or recognizing that an employee needs a pick-me-up. In a silo, these tasks can serve an important purpose in helping people feel connected, but they become a problem when they take over your to-do list. Write your distractors down.

Fillers are tasks that are directly related to work but often aren’t highly valued and don’t help you advance your career. In other words, they’re not the kinds of projects that lead to recognition, raises, or promotions. Instead, they include “office housework” items like scheduling the follow-up meeting, taking the notes, or otherwise being the memory keeper, organizer, or person who keeps the trains on track but goes unnoticed. List these fillers out, too.

Phase 2: Decide what to keep doing and what to stop.

Look at your list of fillers and distractors and start to evaluate how essential these items are to realizing your career goals. As you look at each task, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this support one of my personal or professional goals?
  • Is this a fundamental part of my job description?
  • Does this give me access to a valuable connection or a different part of the business?
  • Does it bring me joy?

If you answer “yes” to at least one of the questions, then there’s room for that item on your to-do list and it’s worth making time for it. If not, add it to your “to-don’t” list.

Now, I wish you could just add stuff to your to-don’t list and—poof!—it disappears. Some things you might be able to just stop doing. Others may require buy-in from your manager or delegation to someone else. For each item on your to-don’t list, add the first thing you need to do to get it off your plate. For instance, next steps could include: call the head of a task force to discuss stepping down from a committee role or set up a conversation with your manager to discuss your goals and priorities.

Phase 3: Get comfortable with saying no—and learn to do it kindly.

Saying no—and doing it with kindness—is the most important skill you can learn to keep time sucks like the ones you identified in the previous steps off your plate in the future.

When one of those distractors or fillers pops ups, decline with confidence. Start with, “Thank you,” instead of, “I’m sorry,” because you don’t need to apologize for turning down a request. Say, “Thank you for the opportunity,” or, “Thank you for thinking of me,” and then add that you’re at full capacity right now.

If the request is coming from a client or your boss, you might not be able to say no outright, but you can still be intentional about your workload and say, “Yes, I can do that, but it will take the place of X. Are you OK with that?” If this is coming from a close colleague, you may want to be specific about why you can’t do it. If you’re feeling generous, you can always offer a different timeline (“I will be free in July”) or a smaller assist, such as sharing research on a smaller piece of a project that needs to be done. This keeps you focused on your goals while still coming across as a team player.

It’s too easy for last-minute requests, distractions, and fillers to take control of your time and to-do list, leaving little room for high-impact work. But when you start to pay attention to these hidden time sucks, you can prioritize the things that matter most to you and your career.

50 New Year’s Resolution Ideas And How To Achieve Each Of Them

The New Year is slowly nearing, and with the holiday season having just passed, many people are indulging in retrospection and reevaluating some of their life choices. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity for all those who have failed to start making the changes that they said they would make next week, next month, or perhaps when winter starts.

Well, now’s your chance to sit down and prepare a list of important lifestyle changes you want to make, and we’ve decided to give you a bit of help – because since the majority of people fail to stick to their resolution, you’ll need all the help you can get.

What follows is a list of 50 good New Year’s resolutions with a piece of advice. If you are looking for effective ways of changing your life for the better, then you’ll be sure to find tons of useful information here.

 

1. Get in Shape

Losing weight is the top resolution for Americans, and combined with “exercise more” and “stay fit and healthy” it is something that over a third of the population wishes to achieve. It’s easy enough to start an exercise and diet program, but the trick is to find a decent one that will give you steady results and will be easy to stick to in the long run.

 

2. Eat Healthier

This is usually an extension of the previous resolution. Switching to a healthier diet can be incredibly tricky when we are surrounded by cheap junk food. However, with a good amount of determination and some basic tips, you can slowly develop healthier eating habits.

3. Stop Procrastinating

The biggest barrier that keeps most people from reaching their goals is the desire to relax and do something fun instead of working hard. Once you get used to procrastinating, it’s difficult to snap yourself out of it, so you’ll need to put in a lot of work to change this bad habit.

4. Improve Your Concentration

People have been trying to find ways to improve their focus and cognitive capacities for thousands of years, and most ancient civilizations had some combination of mental exercise and herbal medicine to help them reach this goal.

5. Meet New People

When we get stuck in a rut, we usually end up staying at home most of the time, missing out on a lot of interesting opportunities for networking and having fun. Meeting new people can be beneficial to your mental well-being and help your career[1], so don’t be afraid to get out there and make some friends.

This is a good New Year’s resolution, but it can be difficult for shy people. Start by just saying yes when a friend asks you to go out one evening. This is a great first step toward meeting new people.

6. Be More Active

Some people don’t really have a big weight problem, and they even get some exercise a few times a week, but they just sit around the most of the time at home and at work, which can have a negative effect on their posture and health.

 

7. Develop Confidence

If you are confident, other people notice it, and it is much easier to have your opinions heard, ask people out on dates, and get ahead at work. A good dose of self-confidence will help you lead a much happier life overall.

Building confidence involves positive self-talk, focusing on your achievements, and seeing failure as an opportunity.

8. Earn More Money

Even billionaires are always looking for ways to earn more money, and we common folk can definitely use an additional source of income to make life a bit more comfortable.

9. Be More Polite

Good manners have always been an important part of a civilized society[3]. They make it easier to connect with others, avoid offending people, and will ensure that others perceive you as a good and trustworthy person.

10. Reduce Stress

They say that stress is one of the biggest killers out there, and it can have a very destructive effect on your relationships, as well as your health, making this one of many good New Year’s resolutions. It may be an unavoidable side effect of our hectic modern lifestyles, but it can be effectively managed with the help of useful and easy-to-practice tricks for stress management[4].

11. Learn to Be Happier

Even those that are in decent shape, make a good living, and have stress under control can still be unhappy. It takes time and patience to learn how to find joy in the little things and not to let problems bring you down.

Showing gratitude can be a great way to build happiness. Try starting a gratitude journal to help you focus on the good things in life.

12. Get More Quality Sleep

With big TV’s, computers, smartphones, tablets and all sorts of gadgets with glowing lights and beeping alerts, it can be hard to get enough sleep at night. You should be shooting for at least 8 hours of sleep a night, and there are fairly simple ways to achieve this number if you make use of science and everyday hacks.

The first thing to do is set those gadgets aside for at least an hour before bed. This will let your mind slip into bedtime mode and make it much easier to fall asleep.

13. Give up Cigarettes

A bit of bad habit that a lot of people don’t know how to kick, smoking will not only endanger your health, but can burn a hole in your wallet as well. Just be prepared to dedicate a lot of will power to giving up cigarettes once and for all.

14. Watch Less TV

The average American spends nearly 8 hours a day watching TV, more time than they spend cooking and probably sleeping[5]! That is time that could have been better spent developing skills, learning, or keeping your body active. Once you manage to cut down on TV time, you will realize just how long and productive a day can really be.

15. Read More

Books are an excellent way to gain a lot of knowledge on a huge variety of topics, and they are also great exercise for your brain. It’s not that difficult to go through 20 or more books in a year; you only need to make it a habit, discover your favorite type of book, and find a bit of time for reading here and there.

16. Find a Significant Other

We all need someone to hold at night, talk to, and share our deepest secrets with, but finding the right person is a matter of trial and error. We need to go out and get to know a bunch of potential partners before we can find the one that we can get along with really well.

17. Have Better Sex

Any healthy relationship requires a good deal of intimacy, and sex can actually help keep us mentally and physically healthy[6]. The idea is to make it a fun and rewarding experience, and this is something that comes with practice and exercise.

18. Be Tidier

There are a lot of slobs out there who can’t really get their stuff organized, and a cluttered desk or chaotic home will negatively affect your productivity and even your mood, so it helps to clear the clutter, clean your house, and lead a tidier and more organized life.

19. Learn How to Dress With Style

The way you dress can say a lot about you, and wearing the right clothes can make you seem powerful and confident, which in turn can help you land a job, get promoted, and catch the eye of a lovely guy or girl. No matter if you’re male or female, find clothes that make you feel good and stand out in a crowd.

20. Spend More Time With People That Matter

There is just too little time in this life for us to waste it on insincere, duplicitous, and toxic people. We should focus on the people who we care about deeply and who care about us, as this is the best way to stay happy and lead a fulfilling life.

21. Drink Less Alcohol

While it is completely safe and healthy to drink one or two servings[7] of an alcoholic beverage of your choice per day, not a lot of people can say that they can follow this rule effectively. Getting your drinking under control has plenty of benefits, but it can be a difficult process.

Start slow. If you’re used to having two glasses of wine after work, cut it down to one for a month, and then try only drinking one glass once or twice a week.

22. Get out of Debt

You can’t really move forward in life if you are weighed down by debt. The road to financial freedom is a rocky one, but it is definitely manageable with a bit of planning and self-restraint. Take a look at these strategies and methods to pay off your debt. You won’t believe how good it will feel.

23. Save Money

Once you have your debt under control, it’s time to start putting some money aside. A rainy day fund and some extra money that can go towards traveling abroad, fixing up the house or buying a new car are a welcome change of pace. Make use of these hacks and apps to save money efficiently.

24. Learn a New Language

Not only will learning a new language help improve your communication skills, but it will also look great on your resume and possibly open up some doors for you. These days there are plenty of resources that allow you to learn a language for free.

25. Volunteer and Give More to Charity

To devote your time and energy to helping those in need is a noble gesture and one of the genuinely good New Year’s resolutions in itself, but it is also an opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills, and boost your resume. Here’s how you can find time to volunteer in your busy life.

26. Pick up Useful Skills or Fun Hobbies

Just sitting around all day won’t get you anywhere. It is much better to use your free time in a constructive manner and pick up new skills while having fun at the same time. The future you will be glad that you did. No matter if you’re interested in communication skills or sports, find out how to learn new skills and hobbies in a short time.

27. Let Go of Grudges

Times can be hard, and it may take a lot to overcome adversity, but sitting around and moping about it is just counterproductive. If you have a big fight with someone and fall out or get hurt over a small issue, you will only lose a friend or life partner and remain sad and bitter. Forgiveness is a much healthier way to deal with issues that should be left in the past.

28. Adopt a Pet

There are tons of animal lovers out there that would be great at caring for a pet, but they often overthink things, while some people just rush out and get a pet without understanding the responsibility involved. Be sure you know what you are in for and find a pet that fits your living conditions and lifestyle.

29. Become More Organized

It doesn’t matter how much time you have on your hands; if you can’t manage it properly, you’ll just spend most of the day running around aimlessly, so make organization a priority on your list of New Year’s resolutions. When you get organized, there will suddenly be more time to spare, and things will start falling into place. Make it a habit, get help from apps and tools, and enjoy your new-found leisure-time.

30. Travel More

You’ll need to have your finances in order, get the right equipment, and invest some time and effort before you consider traveling across the globe, but there are ways of experiencing different cultures and visiting faraway places even on a tighter budget.

Watch some documentaries, try out a staycation, or start corresponding with a foreign pen pal to itch that travel bug.

31. Learn to Cook

Cooking is one of the essential skill that every man and woman should possess. It allows you to save money, eat the food you love just the way you like it, and impress dates with lovely meals shared under candlelight. If you go through useful tips, keep your kitchen clean, and avoid common mistakes, nothing stands between you an your 3-course-meal.

32. See Your Doctor More Often

Staying healthy should be your top priority, but many people seem frightened of doctors and don’t go nearly as often as they should, often waiting for their condition to significantly worsen. Regular checkups are a must, no matter how healthy[9] you feel at the moment.

Remember, this includes taking care of your mental health, as well!

33. Reinvent Yourself

If you don’t feel quite happy no matter what you do, it is perhaps time to make some serious changes in your life as one of your good New Year’s resolutions. Reinventing yourself can give you a whole new perspective on life and take you in directions you may never have dreamed were possible.

34. Stop Being Late

Punctuality is a virtue that is held in high regard in our society, so this is a great New Year’s resolution to have. Being on time is a mark of a true professional, a dependable friend and caring partner, so it is a good idea to pick up a few tricks that can help you stay on time.

35. Be More Self-Reliant

Technology, a relatively decent government, and corporations offering cheap, ready-to-eat food and all manner of useful tools have made us somewhat spoiled, and we often get well into adulthood without having what it takes to be independent and self-reliant. Next time you face a problem, try solving it on your own instead of running to the nearest family member or friend.

36. Turn Your Hobby Into a Career

If we could all manage to marry fun and productivity, and be able to make money doing what we love, we’d be a much more content and well-balanced society. This may not always be possible, but there are cases where starting a new hobby can be turned into a lucrative career.

37. Get Over an Ex

It may be better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved, but it still hurts like crazy. Healing a broken heart is a process that takes time, but there are tricks to make it through this difficult time without too much pain, and it starts with self-care.

38. Learn to Control Your Emotions

Uncontrolled anger can get you into a lot of trouble, but things like jealousy and pride are destructive in all circumstances, so it’s a good New Year’s resolution to control your emotions. Gaining control over your feelings allows you to keep a level head and think more rationally, even during emotionally charged conflict situations.

39. Be More Responsible

A big part of growing up into a mature adult is the ability to think before making a decision. It is important to take responsibility for ones actions and avoid blaming everything on someone else, just as it is important to protect your family and help provide for them.

40. Learn More About Music, Art, and Culture

The best way to fit in when talking to a variety of people from different backgrounds is to have a well-rounded education. Topics like art, music, history, and culture often baffle people, but they can be easy to comprehend if you spend enough time learning about them using helpful websites and online courses.

41. Spend Less Time on Social Media

Some people might not spend hours in front of the TV, or playing video games, but social media has become a serious addiction among a wide range of demographics. It’s fine to stay in touch with friends and family, but if you consistently spend more than an hour every day on social media, it’s time to make a change and add this to your list of good New Year’s resolutions.

42. Learn How to Defend Yourself

Being able to ensure your own safety and the safety of those you love is a very important skillset to have. It’s not all about groin kicks and palm strikes, however. You need to learn how to conduct yourself and what kind of behavior to look out for in others.

43. Become More Romantic

Romance is often the first casualty in longer, more serious relationships, but it doesn’t have to wither away. A few romantic gestures here and there can keep the passion going for decades. It will be fun, even if you’re not the romantic type.

44. Remember Important Dates

Speaking about romance and keeping a serious relationship fun, you don’t want to keep forgetting birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates. There are plenty of memory tricks that take very little time to master, so you’ll never forget another date again.

45. Be More Social

Getting out and socializing has its perks. You get to have fun, meet new people, and find out interesting things, but you can also develop leadership skills and learn to work in a team, so this is a very good New Year’s resolution to add to your list. Even if you are an introvert or very shy and feel uncomfortable talking to others, there are ways to become a fairly active member of a community.

46. Develop More Creativity

There are times when we get mentally fatigued and our creativity just goes out the window. This is particularly bad if your job or hobby depends on you coming up with fresh ideas and thinking outside the box. As with anything else, there are many resources that help you spark your creativity in a number of different ways.

47. Express Yourself Artistically

While some of us are more logical, most people still have a bit of a creative spark in them. Expressing yourself in some creative, artistic way is a great form of stress relief and helps keep your mind sharp. Some of these activities will also help you stay active and burn some calories. So write, craft, make DIY projects—whatever makes your soul free.

48. Face Your Fears and Insecurities

You will find this particular point masked beneath other good New Year’s resolutions, but fear and insecurity are often the cause of several problems that we want to address. You need to think of it as surviving and controlling your fear rather than overcoming it, and it will enable you to shed off a lot of the insecurities that you have.

49. Start Writing a Book/Journal

You’d be surprised to know just how many people out there have an interesting story to tell but lack the confidence and skill to write everything down. Even if it is just a few random thoughts scribbled daily in a journal, you shouldn’t be afraid to give writing a go with a few tips and tricks.

50. Stick to the Healthy Habits You’ve Developed

The last and most important point to mention is that all the positive changes you make have to be permanent when you begin good New Year’s resolutions. You will need to work on sticking with the good habits you have adopted until they just become a natural part of who you are. That is how you achieve true self-improvement.

The Bottom Line

Above, you have an extensive list of advice, tips, and tricks to help you see your good New Year’s resolutions through and make some long-term changes in your life. Start with one, and if you feel like you’ve got the hang of it, pick up another. There’s no limit to how many positive changes you can make in life, but you have to start somewhere!

 

 

(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life

Now I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt like this before
Yes I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life
And I owe it all to you
romance
I’ve been waiting for so long
Now I’ve finally found someone
To stand by me
We saw the writing on the wall
As we felt this magical fantasy
Now with passion in our eyes
There’s no way we could disguise it secretly
So we take each other’s hand
‘Cause we seem to understand
The urgency
Just remember
You’re the one thing
I can’t get enough of
So I’ll tell you something
This could be love because
I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes, I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
Hey, baby
With my body and soul
I want you more than you’ll ever know
So we’ll just let it go
Don’t be afraid to lose control, no
Yes, I know what’s on your mind
When you say, “Stay with me tonight” (stay with me)
Just remember
You’re the one thing
I can’t get enough of
So I’ll tell you something
This could be love because
I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes, I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life
And I’ve searched though every open door
‘Til I found the truth
And I owe it all to you
Now I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes, I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes, I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
.
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life (the time of my life)
And I’ve searched though every open door
‘Til I found the truth
And I owe it all to yo

How to Let Go of the Stress and Pressure That Weigh You Down

“Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens, and response is something we can choose.” ~Maureen Killoran

 

I don’t know about you, but I often find advice to release stress and pressure to be great on paper but incredibly difficult to apply.

Just say no more often! Sounds good, but my twenty-month-old son still needs constant care and I need to earn money, so there’s a lot I can’t just not do.

Get out in nature! I do try, but it’s been cold and grey, and often I don’t get time to myself until night—when it’s even more frigid.

Exercise more! I have the best of intentions, but I’m pregnant, frequently exhausted, and there’s that whole time thing again. I just can’t seem to create more of it, try as I may.

I suppose this is true of most good advice: It’s far easier to make a list of great ideas than it is to actually apply them. And it’s hard not to resist all those well-intentioned suggestions as overly simplified and maybe even unrealistic.

That, I’ve realized, is my biggest problem—one that you can perhaps relate to as well: While my circumstances can be challenging and limiting, most of the stress and pressure I feel originates with some form of internal resistance. Resistance to what was, what is, what might be, what I’m doing, what I could be doing, who I am… the list goes on.

And it might look like this:

  • Rehashing the past (and pressuring myself to somehow fix my mistakes)
  • Dwelling on worst-case scenarios (and pressuring myself to find ways to avoid them)
  • Fighting my current reality (and pressuring myself to change it)
  • Worrying about what I have to do (and pressuring myself to do it perfectly)
  • Obsessing about what I should be doing (and pressuring myself to figure it out)
  • Fixating on what I can’t do right now (and pressuring myself to get around my limitations)
  • Wishing I had more time for myself (and pressuring myself to somehow create it)
  • Judging myself in comparison to others (and pressuring myself to be better than I am)
  • Agonizing about what people think of me (and pressuring myself to meet their expectations)

If you’ve done any of these things yourself, I’m sure you know they’re exhausting.

That’s not say we are the sole cause of our stress. Sometimes life demands that we do more and deal with external challenges beyond our control—job loss, health issues, financial troubles, divorce…

And it’s true that there are lots of little things we can do to relieve some of the tension. But the first thing we need to do is relieve the pressure where it’s generally the most intense: within our own minds.

How to Relieve the Mental Pressure

There are two things I’ve found to be highly effective in quieting my inner voice of resistance.

1. Allow yourself to feel the feelings under your thoughts so that you can calm and release them.

All too often we get caught in a thought loop as a way to avoid feeling our feelings, because stressful as it may be, thinking about our circumstances allows us to avoid facing our deepest wounds. But we have to face them to heal them. As they say, the only way out is through.

I’ve found that underneath my varying forms of internal resistance, there’s usually:

Shame/guilt:

About things I think I’ve done wrong, about who I am (when I mistakenly assume my poor choices define me), about expectations I failed to meet or might fail to meet (my own and other people’s). And this triggers my core childhood wounds that led me to believe I’m fundamentally bad.

When I feel it:

When I’m rehashing the past, judging myself in comparison to others, and agonizing about what people think of me.

Fear:

Of the unknown, failing, succeeding then somehow ruining it, losing control, not doing enough with my life/making the most of my time, not living up to my potential, hurting or disappointing other people. Once again, this triggers my childhood wounds that led me to believe I’m not good enough, and never will be.

When I feel it:

When I’m dwelling on worst-case scenarios, worrying about what I have to do, and obsessing about what I should be doing.

Anger:

Toward myself for what I think I did wrong, toward other people for how I think they did me wrong, toward for myself for maybe causing them to do me wrong (because I often find a way to blame myself), toward life for being unfair. This triggers my core belief that life should be fair, formed, you guessed it, in childhood, when life felt very unfair.

When I feel it:

When I’m rehashing the past and fighting my current reality.

Emptiness:

Because I’m not connecting with myself, others, my passions, the world at large, or anything that would fulfill me.

When I feel it:

When I’m fixating on what I can’t do right now and wishing I had more time for myself.

When I can get below the thoughts and identify one of these feelings, I can sit with it. I can cry it out—the ultimate release!

I can empathize with myself and tell myself what I need to hear—that I’m a good person who’s always done her best, that I will do my best in the future and can handle what’s coming, that everyone else is doing their best, and we all deserve understanding and forgiveness.

And I can also do what I really need to do to feel better:

Maybe take a warm bath if I’m feeling ashamed to remind myself that I deserve comfort even when I think I’ve messed up.

Maybe do something fun and childlike if I’m feeling afraid of the future to help me find joy in the present moment.

Maybe write a forgiveness letter if I’m feeling angry to help me empathize, accept, and let go.

Maybe call someone I love, journal, or do something creative if I’m feeling empty, to meet my need for connection.

The point is, after we feel our feelings, we can do something to address the specific root cause of our stress in a moment instead of arbitrarily choosing an activity from a one-size-fits-all list of stress-relievers.

So ask yourself: What am I thinking that’s stressing me out? What’s the feeling underneath it? What does that feeling have to teach me? What does it need to hear? And what can I do to help ease that pain?

2. Get out of your head (and perhaps into your body or a state of flow).

It’s ironic but true that two pieces of seemingly contradictory advice can be equally helpful and powerful, and such is the case when it comes to relieving stress. Or at least it has been for me.

On the one hand, it can benefit us to look closely at what’s going in our minds so we can understand it, challenge it if necessary, and calm the feelings underneath our thoughts.

On the other hand, sometimes we simply need to disengage from our mind’s stories—about our unfulfilling work, our mounting bills, our insensitive relatives, and so on. To recognize we’re getting caught up in a mental maze from which we may never escape unless we consciously choose to get out—and then make that choice.

Our brain’s default mode network (DMN), which is designed to protect us, tends toward negativity, often focused on the past, the future, and the intentions behind others’ behavior. Research has shown a link between a disproportionately active DMN and depression and anxiety—and has also shown that meditation can help influence the default network.

That’s why it’s so important that we learn to get out of our heads, either through traditional meditation or by getting into our bodies or a state of flow (when you’re so consumed in a task that you forget about everything else and lose track of time).

It’s not just about temporarily quieting our thoughts. Mindfulness can actually change patterns of brain activity over time, enabling us to more frequently get out of the default mode network—where we inevitably feel stressed!

How do we get out of our heads and into our bodies or a state of flow?

Here are a few ways to practice mindfulness through movement:

Yoga

As you sync your breathing with your movements and focus your attention on the subtle muscle shifts required to get into and hold each pose, you’ll find your mind naturally quieting. There are lots of different styles of yoga. My favorites are vinyasa and Bikram, since I find the heat particularly soothing.

You can find all kinds of yoga videos on YouTube, and odds are, when life gets closer to normal again, you can find a free or donation-based class near you. I personally find it easier to practice in a class than on my own, since the presence of other people holds me accountable, and there are fewer cookies and TVs nearby to distract me!

Tai Chi

I have less experience with Tai Chi, but I did practice for a while in college, as part of an acting class. Acting requires you to get out of your judging mind, and Tai Chi is a perfect practice to facilitate that, since it’s all about integrating mind and body through slow, low-impact, controlled movements and breathing.

Tai chi is less physically taxing than most yoga practices (aside from restorative yoga, which is incredibly relaxing), which makes it perfect for anyone who’s more physically limited. It’s particularly popular among the senior crowd, since it’s easy on the joints, but it’s a powerful and effective mindfulness practice for anyone, of any age!

Mindful hiking or walking

Any form of movement can be meditative if you focus your attention on the sensations in your body, and hiking and walking outside bring the added benefit of immersing you in nature—a natural stress-reliever!

Studies have shown that just twenty minutes in nature can significantly lower your stress hormones. And it can also stimulate all the body’s senses, as we tune in to the sound of running water trickling nearby, the scent of pine (known to lower depression and anxiety), the colors in a picturesque sunrise, the feeling of leaves crunching beneath our feet, and the taste of a freshly picked piece of fruit.

Here are a few ways to get into a mindful state of flow (suggested by flow researcher Steven Kolter):

Through social triggers

We often think of flow as something we achieve individually, but group activities bring the added benefit of facilitating deep connection as we move in sync or work toward team goals. This might mean getting into a collective state of flow as part of a sports team, dance troupe, or through synchronized swimming.

I remember one particular piece of choreography from a community theater show I did as a kid. There were at least twenty of us, seated, doing clapping motions with each other’s hands, tapping our own and each other’s legs. We all needed to move perfectly in sync to get it just right, which required intense focus, and I have to say it was deeply gratifying to move as part of a whole—to lose myself in the group and become immersed in something bigger than myself.

Through creative triggers

Any creative activity can get us into a state of flow if we enjoy it and lose ourselves in the task. Painting, playing an instrument, dancing, jewelry making, even doodling—pick whatever calls to you so deeply you can’t help but concentrate on the present, losing your sense of self-consciousness because the act itself is so fun and rewarding.

Through environmental triggers

Rock climbing is a perfect example, since you need to be fully absorbed in the moment to safely navigate the rock formation. As you push yourself to your physical limit, balancing and adapting to the changing terrain, you’ll find yourself going deeper and deeper into a state of flow.

Though I’ve never done outdoor rock climbing—which I imagine is all the more thrilling, since it’s riskier and you’re totally immersed in nature—I participated in a climbing course as an experiential therapy treatment for bulimia in my early twenties. I remember all my worries falling away as I focused on not falling off the beam, and I recall appreciating my body for what it could do instead of judging myself for everything I thought I was doing wrong.

The beauty of most of these practices is that we can adapt them to our needs and available time. You can take an hour class or just practice for ten minutes. You can work on a painting for two hours or sketch for a brief window before bed.

Easier said than done? Of course! It’s far easier to watch Netflix in our one free hour of time or mindlessly scroll in that brief window before bed. (Guilty as charged.) When I do that, all my heavy unfelt feelings fester, settling deep into my brain and my bones and suffocating me like an invisible straitjacket.

But I know when I do something that’s good for me, I feel it—and I want more of it. And my resistance to doing it naturally fades away, along with my stress.

So really, we just need to show up once—really show up. Be so present that we allow ourselves to fully live that moment so we can love that moment, and that love will bring us back. Back to the practice, back to our bodies, back to ourselves. Our deepest selves, underneath the stress and pressure. The true self who knows we don’t need to be more, we don’t have to do more, we just have to let ourselves enjoy more. Because within that enjoyment there’s peace and healing. And no matter what our negatively biased brains tell us, we absolutely deserve it.