Swing into Spring
Finding your resilience in leadership and love when you’re feeling a little blah! February is that in-between month when the buzz of a new year has faded, but we’re not yet in full spring swing. It’s a time to pause briefly to think about our goals without losing momentum in our work and personal lives.
Do the colder months make you think that hibernation until March seems sensible? I promise it is possible to see this dreary period differently. Many cultures call this the time of renewal. By effecting small, almost effortless changes, it can be a time for you to hunker down, reinforce your goals and build the foundation for a good year. Small changes, implemented daily, can produce exponential gains. Record them on a table or in a journal to reinforce them.
Here’s a simple exercise to try:
Think about three good things that have happened today. However tough the day they will be there, even if it’s simply it didn’t rain! Noticing the positive in a sea of grey helps rewire our experiences of the world. Think of things you can commit to daily that you do just for yourself. Small steps lead to great journeys.
Rooted in Research
Did you know that the science of positive psychology is rigorously tested and evidence-based?
In a world of ‘woo’, it can be challenging to distinguish genuine help from unhelpful dross. Everything I suggest on my website and blogs has been tested and successfully trialled. In my book ‘The Lazy Guide to Happy,’ I’ve distilled the plethora of evidence-based research into what really works.
In this blog, I want to provide some practical insights. I’ll share the positive psychology tools I use in my practice. With guidance, they will help you through February’s challenges with purpose and a positive mindset.
One key thing that stands out for me is the importance of building positive relationships—both at work and in our personal lives. Our connections can infinitely impact our well-being, productivity, and how we chase our goals. Read more about this in my book ‘The Lazy Guide to Happy’, where I’ve laid out how nurturing our good relationships can be a game-changer.
So, let’s take some action. Now is the perfect time to reassess, realign, and get back on track with our goals. And let’s remember that February is the shortest month. With only 29 days, aim to make each day count. Challenge yourself to be intentional with your actions and decisions.
Are you determined to make progress towards your personal and professional goals?
I often draw on Professor Martin Seligman’s PERMAH Framework. This points to six well-being factors that enable us to feel good and function well:
Different well-being factors are essential to each of us. It’s also natural for each factor to vary across time, situations, and experiences. However, feeling poorly in one area generally results in us ailing in others.
I want to help you with busy-proof, joyful ways to create well-being habits that are easy to maintain. You can read more about the PERMAH framework in The Lazy Guide to Happy.
The activities I use in my practice come from sound research, but there is a caveat. Even the best human behaviour studies can tell us what works for some people sometimes. With this in mind, I encourage you to try a range of strategies. Aim to build your knowledge about ways to care for your well-being. Experiment to find what works best for you.
It’s important to recognise and address a challenge that resonates with us all. Men and women share this struggle. It affects anyone seeking both professional growth and fulfilment in their personal life.
As we pursue our career ambitions, the pressure to achieve significant milestones can be overwhelming. It’s crucial, however, to understand that success in the workplace is only one aspect of a well-rounded life. A “work hard, play hard” ethos can sometimes overshadow personal well-being and relationships.
As a professional, I know you will be constantly juggling your responsibilities. Whether nurturing your significant relationships or pursuing individual passions, you may grapple with relentless demands. Striking the right balance becomes an ongoing challenge. Fear of neglecting one aspect is likely to add to your worries.
So, how do you balance your career aspirations and personal life without sacrificing one for the other?
My legal life ingrained in me the idea that work hours inevitably extend beyond the 9-to-5. My professional life often crept into the evenings. It almost always encroached on my weekends. It’s a scenario familiar to many of my clients across various professions.
Struggling to manage work, the commute, and a few precious hours with family before diving back into work leaves little room for anything else. Your relationships may be the first to suffer from this sense of overwhelming busyness. An unsustainable routine can have long-term consequences. You might already know what or whom is being neglected in the process. It’s not that there’s no connection, but rather a lack of individual or relationship-focused time, causing concerns during quieter moments.
Perhaps you find yourself procrastinating about spending time working on your relationships. Delaying creates further problems if you allow personal time to become a scarce resource. You may not even realise you’ve created a ticking time bomb because of your hectic schedule.
The Power of Mindfulness and Stress Management in Your Everyday Life
Managing stress and maintaining resilience are vital to a balanced and fulfilling life. A significant aspect of this involves not carrying the burdens of work into our personal space. Try mindfulness. I promise this practice doesn’t require sitting on a yoga mat in a serene setting. It’s a tool you can use during your workday. As this is my Lazy Guide to Happy, start by creating just a single minute of quiet for yourself. The solitude of your car before you step out can be an ideal setting for a little self-care.
The essence of mindfulness lies in being present in the moment, allowing yourself to detach from the stresses of work and focus on the now. An effective method described by Dr. Herbert Benson is the relaxation response. This technique involves activating your body’s natural relaxation mechanisms to counteract the stress response. It’s a simple yet powerful practice that can be seamlessly integrated into your daily routine.
To initiate your relaxation response, find a comfortable space at work or during a brief pause before entering your home. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths. As you breathe out, let go of tension and stress. Focus your attention on a calming word or phrase with each breath cycle, creating a sense of tranquillity and ease. This practice helps manage stress and creates a boundary between the demands of work and the haven of your personal space.
By incorporating mindfulness practices like the relaxation response, you can equip yourself with valuable tools to build resilience and maintain a healthy balance between your professional and personal life. Try to avoid taking your work home with you, physically or mentally.
Beyond the Valentine's Hearts and Flowers
The principles of empathy, understanding, and effective communication play a pivotal role in both personal and work relationships. Communicating effectively is at the heart of strong and enduring connections.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, look beyond chocolates and romantic gestures in your relationships.
Here’s a little insight. It’s probably something you already do, but knowing about Professor Shelley Gable’s research can be helpful to all your relationships. As a positive psychologist and leading researcher on positive aspects of close relationships and their role in physical and emotional health, she found that how you celebrate with someone is more predictive of a positive relationship than how you disagree.
Imagine your colleague announces they’ve been nominated for an award. You might respond in one of these four ways:
- Active Constructive:
“Wow, that’s incredible news! I’m genuinely thrilled for you. Tell me all about it—how did it happen? Your hard work is definitely paying off, and I can’t wait to celebrate your success!”
- Passive Constructive:
“Oh, that’s good to hear. Nominated for an award, huh? Well, that’s nice. What category is it?”
- Active Destructive:
“Really? You were nominated? Well, it’s just a nomination, not a win. Don’t get your hopes up; there’s probably stiff competition out there.”
- Passive Destructive:
“Nominated, you say? Well, I hope it’s worth all the fuss. I don’t see what’s so special about it.”
These examples showcase a range of responses, from actively engaging and celebrating to indifferent or negative. Each type influences the quality of our interactions, contributing to the overall health of our relationships. When you see the responses side-by-side, it’s easy to see how hurtful and damaging using destructive language can be. By actively and constructively engaging in conversations, you will convey empathy and foster a deeper understanding of others’ perspectives.
The impact of such communication strategies is not confined to personal relationships alone. Remarkably, the US military has adopted these principles, with Non-Commissioned Officers reporting positive outcomes in family and workplace dynamics. Active constructive listening has proven instrumental in building camaraderie, trust, and efficiency within military units, demonstrating its universal effectiveness.
Another approach to enhancing communication is Dr. Gary Chapman’s concept of the “Five Love Languages in Relationships.” Developed initially to navigate personal relationships, these languages—Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch—also offer valuable insights into understanding and connecting with the people we love.
We all experience things differently. How we feel appreciated is one of those differences. A simple quiz can help you determine your ‘love language®’. Click the link to try it for yourself. It could help you understand why you sometimes don’t feel appreciated or loved.
Perhaps when you get your results and compare them with your partner’s, you will see a disconnect. You may feel underappreciated despite all your partner does for you. They could be expressing their love in the best way they know how. Understanding how we experience love is the key to understanding each other. It is also a good indicator of how to deal with a teenage child too!
Good mental health is vital if you want to sustain high-level performance. A powerful practice I use often is the “Three Good Things” exercise I mentioned at the start of this blog. Try it now: reflect on three positive experiences from your day. This simple act of gratitude has been proven to enhance mental well-being and bring a positive perspective to even the most challenging days.
Similarly, adopting a “Hunt the Good Stuff” mindset encourages actively seeking out positive aspects in various situations. This practice boosts your mental health and serves as a valuable tool when establishing a routine with children. Incorporating these habits into daily life can create a positive atmosphere that benefits you and your loved ones.
Do you prioritise self-care?
Remember, self-care extends beyond individual practices and includes nurturing the well-being of your relationships. Enjoying positive connections is a form of self-care. Conversely, harbouring negativity can come at a cost, personally and professionally. Negative attitudes can impact your productivity, collaboration, and overall job satisfaction.
So, let me ask you:
What can you do to enhance your relationships and elevate your well-being?
Whether expressing gratitude, actively listening to your partner and colleagues, or promoting a positive work environment, the benefits will ripple beyond the immediate moment. As you focus on self-care strategies, consider the interconnected nature of positive relationships and their profound impact on your mental health. After all, investing in your well-being is an investment in your professional success and overall happiness.
Take a Moment
If you find yourself facing personal or professional challenges, I’m here to help you.
Reach out to me for support, or dive deeper into evidence-based insights in my book, complemented by linked audios. I’ve provided practical tools for a more balanced and fulfilling life. Your journey towards sustained success and well-being begins with a simple step—empower yourself today.
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