The following article is made up of extracts from the Look Good Feel Good - 8 week transformational programme blueprint. (10 min read)
HOW TO HAVE AN AMAZING WEEK
Imagine a life where you woke up in the morning, jumped out of bed feeling on top of the world and everything you did that day, you did with brilliance, creativity and success, as well as inspiring those around you. Well you can. The only thing that’s stopping you, is you.
The reason you’re not living your best life every single day of the week is due to your own self sabotage, which has been created by the default patterns of your mind. You can’t help the way you grew up, what you were told and how it all affected you. Whether you like it or not, these experiences have shaped you into the person you are today. Your mind will automatically repeat the same messages over and over again until they become habits and you become stuck doing things or saying things that will not help you or serve you well in life.
Our mind is our greatest tool but it is also our worst enemy. Mastering our minds can lead us to be happier, more effective and reach our true potential. If you can master your mind you will dramatically improve your performance and satisfaction in all areas of your life, be it professionally or personally.
Life is full of ups and downs but it’s how you deal with them and more importantly, how you can create less of the bad ones and more of the good ones that will help you achieve your success. It’s all down to you, you have the power to be the best simply by thinking positively and creating habits that make you feel good.
Make positive changes to your life by following this weekly ten step guide that I’ve put together. If most of these activities are new, then it will take some time to do them on a daily or weekly basis. Your ultimate aim is to create habits that will send positive messages to your brain, and over time, your brain will programme itself to think positive thoughts automatically. These positive thoughts override any negative ones, leading you to positive actions and success.
1. Plan your week ahead
Preferably on Sunday spend 30-60 minutes planning the week ahead. It gets quicker if you use a digital calendar where you can repeat weekly and monthly events. Your week’s schedule should consist of activities that are essential to making you feel good. The activities in this list should be included.
To create new habits, you need to see those reminders everyday. If you forget or miss an activity, don’t give up. Don’t make a bad day turn into a bad week! Just go back to the activity when you have time. Make sure you put everything down from personal self-care to meditation time. And make sure you make the time for things that are aligned to your values by cutting out activities (or people) that won’t help you achieve them.
2. Create a morning routine
Most people wake up in survival mode; which means they are living their lives reactively. As soon as they wake up they feel rushed and busy. The whole day, (in fact their whole life), reflects how they wake up and what they do in the morning. Consequently, their health and relationships will suffer, and moreover, they are not living according to their highest values and goals.
By creating a morning routine, your aim is to get yourself out of survival mode, giving you the time and space to orientate yourself with the person you intend to be. Your daily morning routine could include 20-30 minutes of exercise, 5-10 minutes of meditation and 5-10 minutes of journaling. Having a regular morning routine, even if it’s just 20 minutes will really set you up for your day. Morning routines have been scientifically proven to improve your wellbeing and kick start your day on the right foot because of how you can change the brain's response to a situation.
Cortisol (the primary stress hormone), is high when you wake up. It’s known as the fear hormone, so if you don't bring the levels down, it will stunt your creativity. Exercise, meditation and journaling will significantly lower these levels. Sweating through exercise releases BDNF, a molecule that repairs brain cells damaged by stress, helps you think better, process faster and grow new brain cells. Exercise in the morning to supercharge your brain for a winning day. Activities such as exercise and meditation will also release the dopamine chemical into your body, giving you the drive and motivation you need to get through the day’s activities. And lastly, dopamine will also elevate the happiness chemical in you known as serotonin. Before you’ve even started work, you will be full of energy and ready to conquer the world.
3. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the ability to stay in the present moment and to focus your thoughts on what is happening in the here and now. It has many proven benefits from reducing anxiety, depression and chronic pain to improving sleep and reducing stress. From a leadership perspective, mindfulness can help us stay centered in order to more effectively manage people or deal with external challenges. Overall, mindfulness is an important practice for us to cultivate happy and meaningful lives.
Build practices into your daily life so that you can bring yourself back to what really matters. Although nothing beats a good mindfulness meditation, it can sometimes be difficult to squeeze in a 20-30 minute meditation in our busy lives. Instead, build micro-practices throughout the day to focus your attention. Set self affirmations, short meditations and eat mindfully. Mindful eating (paying attention to your food, on purpose, moment by moment, without judgement) is an approach to food that focuses on the individuals' sensual awareness of the food and their experience of the food. This helps to increase your gratitude for food, which can improve your overall eating experience. Become conscious of every bite and develop an awareness of how stressed or occupied you are whilst you eat and the benefits of taking a mindful approach.
At some point during your meal, you can always pause to appreciate what you have in life? Words have an extreme power. When you communicate, your words can not only influence others, but can also transform your internal state on a deep and profound level. Positive statements aim to direct your conscious and subconscious mind, challenging previously held unhealthy and negative thinking patterns. When they are spoken with conviction, they can alter your thoughts, emotions, beliefs and behaviour. When used intentionally to create change, they can help project you into your achievements.
The power of practising mindfulness comes from the multiplier effect that takes hold after practising it for a month or two. You begin to realise that everyday is a good day (at least in a small way).
4. Take a happiness hour
Making time to do something for yourself, even something as simple as a brisk walk, learning to play the guitar or getting a manicure will make such a difference to your energy levels and sense of achievement. Planning a regular time slot for a happiness hour is a key first step and then focus on sticking to it. If you’re stuck on what to do, then make a list of what makes you “happy”. Even think back to when you were younger! Taking a happiness hours gives you something to look forward to, helps you to discover new things about yourself, new skills and develops you as a person. If we don't have something to do for pure enjoyment, daily life can become very black and white; you go to work, you sleep, and you repeat.
In today’s on-the-go society, taking time for yourself is often looked upon as being selfish or unproductive. The truth is that without self-care, you’re not giving yourself a fighting chance to give your best to each aspect of your life. If you don’t take care of your own needs first, you’ll find yourself burnt out and struggling in everyday life before you know it. So go on, schedule in that happiness hour today.
Exercise will not only strengthen and tone your body, but it will change the way you think about yourself and your life. It will boost your mental health and increase your productivity to reach your desired goals. Research has shown that a moderate to tough workout of at least 30 min will increase your focus and energy levels at work for at least two hours.
So whether you love or hate exercise, moving your body in a way that makes you happy needs to be part of your daily routine. It doesn’t have to mean endless workouts, it could be a fun dance class that you enjoy. Balance out your week with going to the studio, doing an online class, going for a walk and doing a sport that you like. Try and build it around enjoyable movement and remember if you want something time efficient, try a 20 min HIIT video in the morning. HIIT has even been scientifically proven to help you lose weight. Walking is a great form of invisible exercise: adding in extra steps by taking the stairs, getting off the bus two stops early or walking to the shops really do add up. Tracking your footsteps is a simple way to kickstart the habit and there are many apps available now on your phone for this. Your target should be a minimum of 10,000 steps everyday.
Preparation is key. Sort your clothing out the night before a fitness session.. Prepare your workout area the night before if doing it online. Make sure you schedule all your exercise classes in your diary and set reminders. Just Do It!
6. Drink two litres of water every day
It’s recommended that you drink two litres a day (approximately eight glasses), to help you stay hydrated and retain the water in your body. The body is made up of around 60% water and if you lose as little as 3% of the water in your body, your energy levels, mood and concentration will seriously suffer and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance. Dehydration can also increase the frequency of headaches, and in men, a study found that as little as 1.6% water loss increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue. If you find it hard to drink two litres every day, figure out how much you drink now and increase it by a few more glasses. Work up to two litres and mix it up a bit i.e. drink warm water, water with a slice of lemon or honey. If you eat plenty of fruit and veg that can count towards your daily intake of water by up to 20-30%. Soups and stews also.
If weight loss is your thing, drinking water just before meals can be especially useful, as it can promote feelings of fullness and reduce appetite and temporarily boost your metabolism, which can increase the number of calories you burn throughout the day.
7. Eat well
We are all busy running around and when it comes to meal times, we are often tired, don’t know what to cook and often don’t have anything in. The food industry has revelled in selling us the lie that our important, self absorbed, complex lives have no time for such old fashioned nonsense as cooking, and it is time for us to fight back! Home cooked food is so much better for your health and if you make sure you have the right amount of nutrients, your meal will leave you satisfied and full for hours. So there’s no need to snack in between. Processed carbohydrates e.g. anything made with flour such as biscuits are not very satiating, and we can eat lots of these and get hungry soon after. Ever noticed how fast the breadbasket gets empty and we still eat a whole meal after?
Eating well by cutting out sugars and processed food will stop your energy levels from dropping and increase your productivity levels substantially. So first thing to know is that to eat to satiety, your plate should have at least 50% of non-starchy, colourful vegetables, 25% should be unprocessed carbohydrates, 15% of high quality proteins such as eggs, beans, lentils and organic chicken and finally some good fats, such as oily fish, avocados and olive oil. Proteins are by far the most filling and satiating food there is, so if you are getting hungry within 2-3 hours of a meal there is a big possibility that you aren't eating enough protein. Good fats and fibre rich foods such as vegetables are also very satiating and use tasty oils and spices to make meals more delicious.
8. See friends and family
At least once during the working week, make a special effort to see your friends or family. If you live with your family, then there’s even more reason to book an event that gets you out of your home and doing something fun with them. Going out will help you to forget about work or the mundane duties of life, and being around people that make you laugh and take your mind off things has amazing psychological effects.
People who spend time with family and friends find healthier ways to cope with life’s ups and downs. Use your family and friends as a stress buffer, by talking about your problems instead of seeking negative coping mechanisms like junk food, alcohol, smoking or even drugs. One study found that people who view their friends and families as supportive reported a greater sense of meaning in life and felt like they had a stronger sense of purpose. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people, who are generous, kind and even ambitious. By providing you with a positive influence, you are more likely to develop those values yourself.
When you experience great moments with your friends or family, you’re not only going to have something to talk about for years to come but you will achieve a varied, satisfying and well rounded life.
9. Go on an artist date
Get your creativity back. Artist dates are a wonderful way to not only renew yourself but re-energise your creativity. So, what is an artist's date? An artist date is a way to devote time to your creative self. It should be done solo, and the time is just for you. Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, describes it as assigned play. It may be visiting a museum, going to the movies or taking a cookery class, anything you find creative and enjoyable. Make time in your schedule to block out uninterrupted time to do something interesting. By feeding your artist soul you become nourished and thus have more to give to others.
The more you feed your creative brain, the more creative it will become. Being able to train your mind to think creatively helps you invent, problem-solve, create and communicate in fresh, new ways. And when you think open-mindedly you become a happier person ready to accept exciting surprises from life.
10. Get enough sleep
We can all benefit from improving the quality of our sleep. For many of us, it may simply be a case of making small lifestyle or attitude adjustments in order to help us sleep better. Up to one third of the UK population suffers from either insomnia (lack of sleep or poor quality sleep) or other sleep problems. These can affect mood, energy and concentration levels, our relationships, and our ability to stay awake and function at work during the day.
On average you should be sleeping for up to 7-8 hours a day, (but does depend on the individual). Where you sleep is important, and the bedroom and bed should be mainly places you associate with sleep. In particular watching TV, playing with phones or screens, or eating in bed can all affect the quality of your sleep. Temperature, noise levels and light all play a part in determining your sleep. If you find yourself experiencing poor sleep, try keeping a sleep diary to see if there are patterns which can help identify a problem. Creating a bedtime routine whereby you switch off your devices, turn down the lights an hour before going to bed and maybe drink a herbal tea, will help you to adjust to the night and get you in the mood to sleep.
It’s easiest to get to sleep when you are able to relax, and let go of any concerns. In the time before you go to bed, try to wind down and relax. These days this can be harder than ever, but relaxation techniques, a warm bath or mindfulness practice can all help. If you find you can’t get to sleep, it is always best to get up, perhaps make a warm milky drink, and then try again when you feel sleepier.
What you eat and drink can also affect your sleep. Stimulants like caffeine can make it harder to sleep, and a heavy or sugary meal close to bedtime can make sleep uncomfortable. And although alcohol might seem to help you get to sleep, it will reduce the quality of your sleep.
The end. Cloud x