Thriving isn't something you just 'are' it's something you DO every day!
How often do you wake up and wonder whether today is going to be a good day? Or hope, first thing on a Monday morning, that this week is going to be better than the last one? It’s something many of us can do – without realising just how powerless that kind of thinking leaves us feeling about whether our week will be good or not!
For those of you on a summer holiday at the moment, you may be having a fantastic week away! But is that simply because you’re on holiday, or because part of being on holiday means that you’ve been managing your thinking better and also making the effort to do things that have made you feel happier, more relaxed and in love with life again, such as not checking work emails so much, spending quality time with family, reducing your social media time, exploring new places, trying new foods and generally sleeping and eating much better?!
In reality, we have far more influence over determining what kind of a week we have than many of us often believe (although we are the first to admit that it’s a little easier to build a thriving week suntanning on a beach in Barbados with no work to do!!). After all, thriving is not something you simply ‘are’ when you wake up each morning, it’s actually something that you can learn to do for yourself every single day – mental skills that are part of what we teach in The Thrive Programme. So in this blog, Thrive Programme founder Rob Kelly shares his tips for an amazing week – so you can start building yours, whatever summer you might be having so far!
How many hours do you burn every single week scrolling down social media timelines, and how does this actually make you feel? Numerous studies have highlighted how comparing yourself to others on Facebook can trigger or exasperate depression and associated mental health issues.
Envy, unhealthy comparisons, reminders of past relationships and negative comments are all deeply unhelpful, to the point where the American Academy of Pediatrics declared “Facebook depression” to be a real phenomenon. They defined it as: “depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression.”
The answer? A host of smartphone apps will allow you to turn off, restrict or ration your social media or app use; Offtime, Moment, Break Free, Flipd and StayOnTask are some of the most popular and cover iOS and Android devices.
Think of serious exercise and, for most of us mere mortals, visions of lycra-clad fitness machines in crowed gyms come to mind. It doesn’t have to be like this!
Exercise is all relative, so if you’ve spent the past few years getting very friendly with your sofa, then a brisk walk to the shops and back is great news for your mental health. The Royal College of Psychiatrists, no less, are big on this and state that being active helps alleviate negative mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, as well as aiding concentration and focus.
We’re big fans of staying active at The Thrive Programme and, as a rough guide, aim to do at least four or five blocks of 30-minute-long sessions per week. The great news is that moderate activity – such as a walking fast, but still being able to chat to a friend – is ideal for all-round wellbeing. You don’t have to be spending hours in a gym or run a marathon every week to feel great!
Picking something you enjoy is also key – there’s no point doing exercise that you really dislike, so make the effort to try lots of different things until you start to find classes/activities that you really enjoy, so that you are more motivated to keep it up!
Staying fit also adds to your sense of control and wellbeing, vital in maintaining an internal Locus of Control – something all Thrivers have in abundance. Check out The Thrive Programme book for more on this.
Remember how much you enjoyed the cinema, dinner or drinks with friends the other day? Or tea and biscuits with granny or your parents? And that gig with your best mate? Having a bank of recent memories like these adds to our self-esteem and well-being – a lot of which is based on experiences from just the past two weeks.
By keeping that pipeline of life-affirming, positive experiences going, you’ll notice a marked difference in your general outlook on life and attitudes. This is because you’re constantly adding to your bank of positive thoughts and experiences that lay the foundation for great mental health.
So, think of something fun to do, find someone fun to do it with and make a plan today – it’s that simple!
By challenging ourselves – setting and achieving goals – we significantly add to our feelings of self-confidence and this has a direct relationship with our ability to Thrive.
One of the 20th century’s greatest ‘thriving’ people in our opinion, Ranulph Fiennes, has taken this to extremes, running seven marathons on seven continents in, you guessed it, seven days. And he had a heart attack four months before. This is an exceptional example, but can you imagine how many people told Sir Ranulph, in his 60s at the time, that he couldn’t do this? And how did he feel when he crossed the finish line for the seventh time in seven days? Incredible, we reckon…a bit tired and sweaty, too, but pretty amazing.
We can all take lessons from this; if you set yourself a goal that involves pushing yourself, even a little bit, then the payback will be the giant pat on the back you give yourself when do you achieve something new or push boundaries.
So, what can you do, assuming you’re not a world-class expedition leader or extreme athlete? Think of something you’re already competent at – maybe you go on the occasional bike ride or can run a bit… maybe you’re ace at cross-stitching or like a spot of fishing? How about aiming for a five, ten or 20km bike ride; enter the local fun run; go catch a new species of fish; make a beautiful cushion cover for your mum’s birthday. Write down your goal in a note on your phone and the steps you need to complete the task to help you focus.
Regularly achieving goals like this, no matter how small, is a vital part of Thriving and feeling powerful, all the time adding to your sense of control over your life and emotions.
Make a List!
As we mentioned earlier, your self-esteem and associated emotions are largely based on your own experiences from recent weeks. Not months or years, but days and weeks. Thus, reminding yourself about these positive moments is a vital tool in reinforcing a positive mindset over a long period of time. So, get your phone out right now and open an app you can use to write and save notes… now write a list of ten things that you’ve done, achieved, experienced or completed in the past two weeks.
This might seem daunting at first – ten things might be appear to be a lot – but when you think about it, there are literally hundreds of experiences you can list. This can be something really small – posting a letter for an elderly relative, helping someone less able cross the road or writing your friend a nice birthday card message – or quite large, such as running/cycling a personal record time or distance at the gym, or a success at work. Once you start to think about the positive things in your life, you’ll soon realise there are dozens of things that you do every week you can add to such a list.
Every week, update the list so the most recent highlights are at the top and the oldest at the bottom, with anything over a few weeks old falling off the bottom of the top ten altogether. Get into the habit of checking this every day, morning and evening, and you’ll be reinforcing your positive, Thriving mindset with great experiences and achievements, every single day.