How to Be Supportive to Friends Experiencing Loss

A "Support" crash course to guide you through difficult times

shutterstock_103942829.jpg

By Ken Druck
January 5, 2018

Loss is an inescapable part of life. Whether we’ve lost someone to death, or are going through a living loss such as divorce, retirement, a life-threatening illness, a debilitating injury or a life-altering condition like dementia or addiction, support can make all the difference in helping us summon the strength, faith and courage to fight our way back into life.

Although we may want to reach out and lend a hand of support to our friends, family members and colleagues who are grieving, we’re not always sure of how. Despite our best intentions, most of us could benefit from an advanced course on “Support.” As someone who was worked with beareaved individuals, families and communities for 35 years, I believe that being there for someone in their time of need is one of the most caring, courageous and sacred things we can do.

Let this list of “Dos and Don’ts” guide you to say and do the kinds of things that have proven genuinely helpful to those who are grieving the loss of a family member, friend or colleague:

Do

  • Express your condolences. A simple, sincere “I’m so sorry for your loss,” a soft hand on a shoulder or a caring hug are usually perfect.

  • Be present. Stay in touch even when others begin to disappear.

  • Show you genuinely care through kind words and actions. It’s OK to also show that you care with your tears of sorrow.

  • Be a safe harbor for others to express their feelings. Allow them to grieve without fear of being judged, analyzed, fixed, cured, saved or healed.

  • Use your listening skills. Listen patiently, and ask open-ended questions to see how they’re doing, what they need and/or how you can be helpful.

  • Give them multiple options for what you could do to help. By doing so, they’ll know you’re serious. Listen intently, and do what they ask.

  • Give grieving individuals every opportunity to talk about those who have passed. If given the chance, you can also tell stories acknowledging the lives of the people they lost — the special qualities they possessed and their loving relationship with those they left behind.

  • When they bring up the loss, respond in a way that shows them you were listening, and that you genuinely care.

  • Ask their preferences. Ask them how they would like your support on special dates such as birthdays, “angel-versaries” (days of their passing) or holidays.

  • Show genuine concern, kindness, understanding, patience, empathy and compassion. This is a time to put your ego on the shelf and be of service to others.

  • Stay humble, flexible, relaxed and at ease when you’re with those who are grieving.

  • Assist them in getting the support they need. This may include professional help from grief counselors or coaches — or even psychiatrists, if necessary. Assure them it’s not only OK, it’s smart.

  • Encourage them to ease back in. In the case of grieving colleagues, encourage them to ease their way back into work a few hours at a time until they can handle longer stretches of sustained activity. (Also, tell them that taking a leave of absence is OK and may be necessary. Most companies have bereavement policies that allow time off, and many employers will make special arrangements when asked.) When they are back, support them to set up a “back-up” or “buddy” system in case they have a meltdown or need to step back and take a break.

  • Invite them (without the least bit of pressure) to join you for lunch coffee, or a walk.

And now, DON’T:

  • Don’t assume you know how they feel or what they want.

  • Don’t put a psychological, religious or spiritual spin on their losses.

  • Don’t use clichés — for example, “The glass is half-full.” Just be positive and supportive.

  • Refrain from anything that might be interpreted as a “Hurry up.” Don’t tell them, “You’ll get over it,” “Time heals all wounds” or “In time, you will have closure” or any similar types of advice.

  • Don’t give unsolicited advice or play “shrink” with them.

  • Don’t compare your loss to theirs.

  • Don’t suggest a quick fix to take away the pain.

  • Don’t take it personally if they’re not responding to you in the way you’d hoped. Remember, it’s not about you!

  • Don’t be insensitive. Don’t allow your own feelings of helplessness, impatience or intolerance of their continuing sorrow to cause you to say something insensitive.

  • Don’t ask how they’re doing or pose any other casual question. Tell them they (and their families) continue to be in your thoughts and prayers.

  • Don’t control the conversation. Let them take the lead on what they wish to talk about; and ask respectful, open-ended questions to draw them out.

  • Don’t avoid, gloss over, act cute, change the subject or pretend that nothing has happened — or if you do, that nothing was said.

  • Don’t smother them with too much caregiving attention. 

  • Don’t ignore your own triggers. Don’t hide, deny, repress, avoid, displace, dumb down or “medicate” the feelings of sorrow, anger, or guilt that may have been triggered by their losses.

  • Don’t make executive decisions about what they need without consulting them.Ask them what they would like to have happen.

To find out more about Dr. Ken Druck’s Compassionate Workplace programs, Family Council Meetings, articles on grief and bereavement coaching, please go to www.kendruck.com.

Content from here.

Fight the Frazzled Mind

shutterstock_696061069.jpg

All content from Scientific American Mind, September/October 2011 issue

A new study suggests that preventive, proactive approaches are the most helpful—and that our stress management IQ is painfully low
— Robert Epstein

“Desserts” spelled backward is “stressed.”

Isn’t life like that? Even the good things in life—fine wine, rich food, sex—can stress you out.

There is just no escaping stress, and some experts even suggest that a little stress is good for you. In my view, that idea is flawed—the misleading result of averaging data across many individuals. Yes, high levels of stress are harmful to most people, adversely affecting health, mood and productivity. And yes, most people perform and feel better when faced with moderate levels of stress. And sure, very few people know how to be productive when they are not being pushed by stressors—but it can be done. Just as some people are able to perform well under highly stressful conditions (think Olympic athletes), it is also possible to perform well when relaxed (think masters of kung fu). That should be the goal, in my opinion: a life that is productive but also virtually stress-free.

Bear in mind that there is only an approximate relationship between stress— our internal, adverse reaction to stimuli we perceive as threatening—and stressors—the threatening stimuli that actually surround us. A traffic jam might make us feel stressed one day but not the next. This is good news because it suggests that with the right training and preparation, we might be able to face any stressor with equanimity.

Fast Facts Stress Test

  1. few people receive formal training on how to manage stress, which may explain why many of us turn to destructive ways of coping.

  2. Although commonly practiced relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation help, they may not be as effective as learning to side-step potential stressors before they happen.

  3. receiving training in stress management will make us better at handling the ups and downs of daily life.

I have been investigating this issue for nearly two decades now, and in a study I presented recently at the annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association in Los Angeles, I compared different stress-management techniques to see which are the most helpful.

In real life, unfortunately, although we receive intensive formal training in writing and math, learning how to manage stress is left entirely to chance. Many people, overwhelmed by bills, flat tires and abusive bosses, resort to destructive ways of coping, drugs and alcohol being the most common. But research conducted over the past few decades suggests that there are at least four broad, trainable skill sets or “competencies” people can use to manage stress non-destructively: source management (reducing or eliminating the sources of stress), relaxation (practicing techniques such as breathing exercises or meditation), thought management (correcting irrational thinking and interpreting events in ways that don’t hurt you), and prevention (planning and conducting your life so that you avoid stressors).

My new study looked at how an ethnically and racially diverse group of 3,304 people managed stress. The subjects ranged from 10 to 86 years old (mean 34.9), and about 85 percent of them were from the U.S. or Canada, with the remainder from 28 other countries. They participated in the study by completing an online test accessible at http://MyStressManagementSkills.com.

Participants were asked to answer various demographic questions and then to rate, on 10-point scales, how stressed they were, how generally happy they were, and how much success they had had in both their personal and professional lives. I conjectured that people with good stress-management skills would be not only less stressed but also happier and more successful both personally and professionally. Stress can really wear you down, after all, and it is brutal on relationships, even affecting the quality of parenting [“What Makes a Good Parent?” by Robert Epstein; Scientific American Mind, November/December 2010].

Although we receive formal training in writing and math, learning how to manage stress is left entirely to chance.

The main body of the test consisted of 28 questions about different practices that fall into the four broad competency areas I mentioned earlier, with the questions asked in a random order. “I often reinterpret events to reduce the stress I’m feeling” is an example of a test item that fits into the thought-management category. (To take an abridged version of the test, see the box above.) For each test item, people indicated on a five-point scale how much they agreed or disagreed with the statement. On completion of the test, participants were immediately given a total score, along with results in each of the four competency areas and information about what the scores meant.

A Surprise, A Lesson and A Dire Need

I thought I could predict the outcomes of this study fairly well (a presumptuous attitude in science), but in one respect—an outcome that has important practical implications—my prediction was way off. If anyone had asked me which of the four competencies were most important, I would have said relaxation, followed by thought management. After all, a number of studies confirm what common sense tells you about relaxation: people who learn and practice techniques such as breathing exercises, muscle-relaxation exercises, yoga, meditation, and so on benefit in multiple ways. Meditating regularly, for example, has been shown to lower blood pressure and also to help people feel “immunized” against stressors. As for thought management, it is perhaps the main thing that therapists and counselors teach their clients: how to reinterpret events in your life so that they stop bothering you. It is empowering to learn how to do that.

But the new study showed clearly that prevention is by far the most helpful competency when it comes to managing stress. I determined this using a statistical technique called regression analysis, in which scores in the different competency areas (known as subscales on a test of this kind) are used to predict various outcomes, in this case the answers to those questions about happiness and success. Prevention—doing things such as planning your day or year and trying to avoid stressors before they can affect you—was by far the most powerful predictor of all four of the outcome questions.

On average, people get a grade of F when it comes to managing the inevitable stress they face in their lives.

Also suggestive, the second most powerful predictor was source management, which is sometimes reactive but usually proactive. This broad category includes practices such as delegating tasks, organizing your space and scheduling your time well, all of which can be considered preventive measures.

Least predictive were those other two competencies, relaxation and thought management—the competencies that people who are concerned about stress are most likely to try to improve through counseling or training. Relaxation, which can be practiced both proactively and reactively, fared better than thought management, which is almost always reactive. (My favorite example comes from Aesop’s Fables. Frustrated that he can’t reach the bunch of grapes, the fox reframes his thinking and concludes, “They are probably sour anyway.” Problem solved! Stress relieved!)

The lesson here is to manage stress proactively. Taking a deep breath or counting to 10 when you are stressed is all well and good, but you will be much happier in the long run if you can find ways to avoid the situations that make you feel stressed in the first place [see the Test Your Stress-Management Competence section at the bottom of this page].

Can we actually learn to fight stress more effectively? Fortunately, my study shows that (1) people who have had training in stress management are better at it than people who have not and that (2) the greater the number of training hours, the better the skills. This suggests that no matter what our natural re- actions are to stress, learning stress-management skills is likely to be beneficial. That said, only 17 percent of the subjects in this study had had any stress-management training—a figure that is probably much lower in the general population. Even more disturbing, the new data show that people are poor at prevention; it ranked third out of the four competencies in our test scores.

The worst news, though, has to do with the overall scores I found. On a 100-point scale, people scored 55.3 on average on a test of simple, basic stress-management techniques. If you think of that as a score on an exam at school, that means that on average, people get a grade of F when it comes to managing the inevitable stress they face in their lives.

The Importance of Stress Management

A few years ago I conducted a seminar on stress management at a mental health facility in Massachusetts. Before we started, I asked the attendees—administrators and staff members at the clinic—to take a test of stress-management competence similar to the one I used in the present study. One disturbing result: the director of the clinic—a personal friend—had the lowest score in the room. He also had the most stressful job, and he had suffered some significant health problems in recent years, very likely brought about or at least made worse by stress. The physiological mechanisms by which stress damages health have now been well established.

The inability or unwillingness to manage stress can have a devastating effect on people’s lives. One of the most dramatic results of the new study was a high positive correlation between test scores and the overall level of happiness people reported. To put this another way, the study suggests that nearly 25 per- cent of the happiness we experience in life is related to—and perhaps even the result of—our ability to manage stress. I also found a strong negative correlation between the test scores and the level of stress people were feeling, as well as strong positive correlations between test scores and both the personal and pro- fessional success people had experienced.

The bottomline is that stress management is both trainable and beneficial, and individuals reap the greatest benefits by fighting stress before it starts. That insight leaves us with a great challenge: to teach techniques for managing stress to a public that knows little about them and, especially, to educate our children before the big stressors hit.

An Ounce of Prevention

Here are six strategies for fighting stress before it starts, which are suggested by the new study:

1. Seek and kill.

Take a few minutes every day to identify stressors in your life and find ways to reduce or eliminate them. Does that old cell phone of yours make you swear because the battery keeps dying? Get a new phone!

2. Commit to the positive.

In our culture, people often try to cope with stress in self-destructive ways, mainly by drinking, taking drugs or overeating. Commit to avoiding the self destructive solutions—for a day, a week or whatever you can handle—and replacing them with positive, healthful ways of managing stress. Yoga class, anyone?

3. Be your own personal secretary.

People who keep lists of things to do really do more things. So use your smartphone or, in a pinch, a pen and paper (remember those?) to keep a list of things you need to do. You’ll never walk out of a supermarket again having purchased everything except what you went there to buy.

4. Immunize yourself.

Through exercise, thought management and the daily practice of relaxation techniques, you will be in a better position to face stressors without feeling stress. Lion tamers manage to remain calm when working with lions, after all. With the right preparation, you can face almost any situation calmly.

5. Make a little plan.

Spend a few minutes every morning planning your day. You will waste less time, get more done and feel less stressed.

6. And make a big plan.

The famous behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner not only planned his day and year, he even maintained a 10-year planner. You don’t need to go that far, but planning your future is a great way of exercising more control over your life. The more control you have, the less stressed you will feel.

Test Your Stress-Management Competence

Here is a selection of items from the Epstein Stress-Management Inventory (ES MI-i). To get a rough measure of your competence in the four areas measured by the test, check off items that apply to you. If you are able to check off three or four items in a category, you are probably reasonably competent in that category. To compute your overall score, add up the number of check marks you made. If you scored under 12, you might want to consider taking a stress-management course. To take the full version of the test, visit http://MyStressManagementSkills.com.

Competency I - Manages Sources of Stress

___ I have adequate shelf, file and drawer space to serve my needs.
___ I consistently put important tasks ahead of unimportant tasks.
___ I try to schedule appointments and meetings so that they won’t overlap.
___ I have no trouble keeping my work area organized.

Competency II - Practices Relaxation Techniques

___ I schedule some relaxation time every day.
___ I sometimes visualize soothing scenes to relax.
___ I sometimes use special breathing techniques to help me relax.
___ I sometimes tense and relax my muscles as a way of fighting stress.

Competency III - Manages Thoughts

___ I regularly examine and try to correct any irrational beliefs I might have.
___ I’m aware that my thinking is sometimes unclear or irrational.
___ I keep myself calm by being selective about what I pay attention to in my environment.
___ I often reinterpret events to reduce the stress I’m feeling.

Competency IV - Prevents Stress from Occurring

___ I try to fight stress before it starts.
___ I keep an up-to-date list of things I’m supposed to do.
___ I spend a few minutes each morning planning my day.
___ I have a clear picture of how I’d like my life to proceed over the next few years.

GRAND TOTAL______

5 Commons Mistakes That Cause New Habits to Fail

shutterstock_1010179987.jpg

James Clear
January 26, 2015

Welcome to 2015. Depending on where you get your numbers, somewhere between 81 percent and 92 percent of New Years Resolutions fail. 

Translation: At least 8 times out of 10, you are more likely to fall back into your old habits and patterns than you are to stick with a new behavior.

Behavior change is hard. No doubt about it.

Why is that? What are the biggest reasons new habits fail to stick? And what can we do to make positive changes easier?

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but after two years of researching and writing about the science of behavior change, let me share the most practical insights I’ve learned so far.

PROBLEM 1: Trying to Change Everything at Once

SOLUTION: Pick one thing and do it well.

The general consensus among behavior change researchers is that you should focus on changing a very small number of habits at the same time.

The highest number you’ll find is changing three habits at once and that suggestion comes from BJ Fogg at Stanford University. Let’s be clear: Dr. Fogg is talking about incredibly tiny habits.

How tiny? Suggested habits include flossing one tooth, doing one pushup per day, or saying “It’s going to be a great day” when you get out of bed in the morning. So, even if you keep your new habits that small, you should work on no more than three habits at a time. 

Personally, I prefer to focus on building one new behavior into my life at a time. Once that habit becomes routine, then I move on to the next one. For example, I spent six months focusing on going to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Once that felt like a routine, then I moved on to my next habit, which was writing a new article every Monday and Thursday. This time, I spent eight months focusing on the new habit until it became part of my lifestyle. Next, I moved on to flossing every day. And so on. You get the idea.

BONUS SOLUTION: Pick a keystone habit.

Still struggling? When in doubt, pick something that could potentially be a keystone habit.

A keystone habit is a behavior or routine that naturally pulls the rest of your life in line. For example, weightlifting is my keystone habit. If I get to the gym, then it creates a ripple effect in other areas of my life. Not only do I get the benefits of working out, I enjoy a wide range of secondary benefits. I focus better after the workout. I tend to eat better when I’m working out consistently. I sleep better at night and wake up with more energy in the morning.

Notice that I didn’t try to build better habits for my focus, my nutrition, my sleep, or my energy. I just did my keystone habit and those other areas were improved as well. This is why keystone habits are powerful. They cascade into other areas of your life. You’ll have to figure out what your keystone habit is for you, but some popular examples include exercise, meditation, or budgeting your monthly finances.

PROBLEM 2: Starting With a Habit That is Too Big

SOLUTION: As Leo Babauta says, “Make it so easy you can’t say no.”

If you were to map out the motivation needed to perform a habit, you would find that for many behaviors it looks like this:

In other words, the most difficult part of a new habit is starting the behavior. It takes a lot of motivation to head to the gym for a workout after an exhausting day at work, but once you actually begin the workout it doesn’t take much willpower to finish it. For this reason, one of the best things you can do for building a new behavior is to start with a remarkably small habit.

New habits should be non-threatening. Start with a behavior that is so small it seems easy and reasonable to do it each day.

  • Want to do 50 pushups per day? Start with something easy like 5 or 10.
  • Wish you would read more books? Start by reading two pages every night.
  • Want to finally start meditating? Meditate for one minute each morning. After a month, you can move up to two minutes.

PROBLEM 3: Seeking a Result, Not a Ritual

SOLUTION: Focus on the behavior, not the outcome.

Nearly every conversation about goals and resolutions is focused on some type of result. What do you want to achieve? How much weight do you want to lose? How much money do you want to save? How many books do you want to read? How much less do you want to drink?

Naturally, we are outcome focused because we want our new behaviors to deliver new results.

Here’s the problem: New goals don’t deliver new results. New lifestyles do. And a lifestyle is not an outcome, it is a process. For this reason, all of your energy should go into building better rituals, not chasing better results.

Rituals are what turn behaviors into habits. In the words of Tony Schwartz, “A ritual is a highly precise behavior you do at a specific time so that it becomes automatic over time and no longer requires much conscious intention or energy.” 

If you want a new habit, you have to fall in love with a new ritual.

PROBLEM 4: Not Changing Your Environment

SOLUTION: Build an environment that promotes good habits.

I have never seen a person consistently stick to positive habits in a negative environment. You can frame this statement in many different ways:

  • It is nearly impossible to eat healthy all of the time if you are constantly surrounded by unhealthy food.
  • It is nearly impossible to remain positive all of the time if you are constantly surrounded by negative people.
  • It is nearly impossible to focus on a single task if you are constantly bombarded with text messages, notifications, emails, questions, and other digital distractions.
  • It is nearly impossible to not drink if you are constantly surrounded by alcohol.
  • And so on.

We rarely admit it (or even realize it), but our behaviors are often a simple response to the environment we find ourselves in.

In fact, you can assume that the lifestyle you have today (all of your habits) is largely a product of the environment you live in each day. The single biggest change that will make a new habit easier is performing it in an environment that is designed to make that habit succeed. For example, let’s say that your New Year’s resolution is to reduce stress in your life and live in a more focused manner.

Here is the current situation:

Every morning, the alarm on your phone goes off. You pick up the phone, turn off the alarm, and immediately start checking email and social media. Before you have even made it out of bed, you are already thinking about a half dozen new emails. Maybe you’ve already responded to a few. You also browsed the latest updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so those messages and headlines are swimming around in your mind too. You haven’t even dressed yet, but your mind is already distracted and stressed.

If this scene sounds familiar and you want to change your habit, then the easiest way to do it is to change your environment. Don’t keep your phone in your room. The phone is the thing that causes all of the problems, so change the environment. Buy a regular alarm clock (shockingly old school, I know) and charge your phone in another room (or, at least, across the room away from your bed).

You can change the digital environment too. Turn off all push notifications on your phone. You can even remove your email and social media apps from the home screen and hide them somewhere else on the phone. I deleted all of my apps from my phone for a month just to see how it would go. I missed them very little.

If your environment doesn’t change, you probably won’t either.

PROBLEM 5: Assuming Small Changes Don’t Add Up.

SOLUTION: Get one percent better each day.

If you listen to nearly anyone talk about their goals, you’ll hear them describe the minimum that they want to achieve.

  • “I want to save at least $5,000 this year.”
  • “I want to read at least 30 books this year.”
  • “I want to lose at least 20 pounds before summer.”

The underlying assumption is that your achievements need to be big to make a difference. Because of this, we always talk ourselves into chasing a big habit. “If I want to lose at least 20 pounds, I need to start busting my butt and working out for 90 minutes a day!”

If you look at your current habits, however, you’ll see a different picture. Nearly every habit you have today, good or bad, is the result of many small choices made over time. It is the repeated pattern of small behaviors that leads to significant results. Each day we make the choice to become one percent better or one percent worse, but so often the choices are small enough that we miss them.

If you’re serious about building a new habit, then start with something small. Start with something you can stick with for good. Then, once you’ve repeated it enough times, you can worry about increasing the intensity.

Build the behavior first. Worry about the results later.

Content from here.

10 Powerful Ways to Master Self Discipline

shutterstock_340343957.jpg

Deep Patel
February 22, 2017

Like everything else that brings progress, the greatest struggle is always with ourselves.

It may be hard to believe when you’re facing a hot-fudge sundae or the prospect of sleeping in versus hitting the gym, but studies show that people with self-discipline are happier.

People with a higher degree of self-control spend less time debating whether or not to indulge in behaviors that are detrimental to their health, and are able to make positive decisions more easily. They don’t let impulses or feelings dictate their choices. Instead, they make level-headed decisions. As a result, they tend to feel more satisfied with their lives.

There are things you can do to learn self-discipline and gain the willpower to live a happier life. If you are looking to take control of your habits and choices, here are the eight most powerful things you can do to master self-discipline.

1. Know your weaknesses.

We all have weaknesses. Whether they’re snacks like potato chips or chocolate chip cookies, or technology like Facebook or the latest addictive game app, they have similar effects on us.

Acknowledge your shortcomings, whatever they may be. Too often people either try to pretend their vulnerabilities don’t exist or cover up any pitfalls in their lives. Own up to your flaws. You can’t overcome them until you do.

2. Remove temptations.

Like the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” It may seem silly, but this phrase offers powerful advice. By simply removing your biggest temptations from your environment, you will greatly improve your self-discipline.

If you want to eat healthier, toss the junk food in the trash. If you want to improve your productivity at work, turn off social media notifications and silence your cell phone. The fewer distractions you have, the more focused you will be on accomplishing your goals. Set yourself up for success by ditching bad influences.

3. Set clear goals and have an execution plan.

If you hope to achieve self-discipline, you must have a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish. You must also have an understanding of what success means to you. After all, if you don’t know where you are going, it’s easy to lose your way or get sidetracked.

A clear plan outlines each step you must take in order to reach your goals. Figure out who you are and what you are about. Create a mantra to keep yourself focused. Successful people use this technique to stay on track and establish a clear finish line.

4. Build your self-discipline.

We aren’t born with self-discipline--it’s a learned behavior. And just like any other skill you want to master, it requires daily practice and repetition. Just like going to the gym, willpower and self-discipline take a lot of work. The effort and focus that self-discipline requires can be draining.

As time passes, it can become more and more difficult to keep your willpower in check. The bigger the temptation or decision, the more challenging it can feel to tackle other tasks that also require self-control. So work on building your self-discipline through daily diligence.

5. Create new habits by keeping it simple.

Acquiring self-discipline and working to instill a new habit can feel daunting at first, especially if you focus on the entire task at hand. To avoid feeling intimidated, keep it simple. Break your goal into small, doable steps. Instead of trying to change everything at once, focus on doing one thing consistently and master self-discipline with that goal in mind.

If you’re trying to get in shape, start by working out 10 or 15 minutes a day. If you’re trying to achieve better sleep habits, start by going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. If you want to eat healthier, start by prepping a bag lunch the night before to take with you in the morning. Take baby steps. Eventually, when you’re ready, you can add more goals to your list.

6. Eat often and healthy.

The feeling of being hangry--that angry, annoyed, irritated sensation you get when you’re hungry—is real and can have a substantial impact on willpower. Research has proven that low blood sugar often weakens a person’s resolve, making you grumpy and pessimistic.

When you’re hungry, your ability to concentrate suffers and your brain doesn’t function as well. Your self-control is likely weakened in all areas, including diet, exercise, work and relationships. So fuel up with healthy snacks and regular meals to keep yourself in check.

7. Change your perception about willpower.

According to a study by Stanford University, the amount of willpower a person has is predetermined by their beliefs. If you believe you have a limited amount of willpower, you probably won’t surpass those limits. If you don’t place a limit on your self-control, you are less likely to exhaust yourself before meeting your goals.

In short, it may be that our internal conceptions about willpower and self-control determine how much of them we have. If you can remove these subconscious obstacles and truly believe you can do it, then you will give yourself an extra boost of motivation toward making those goals a reality.

8. Give yourself a backup plan.

Psychologists use a technique to boost willpower called “implementation intention.” That’s when you give yourself a plan to deal with a potentially difficult situation you know you will likely face. For instance, imagine that you’re working on eating healthier, but you’re on your way to a party where food will be served.

Before you go, tell yourself that instead of diving into a plate of cheese and crackers, you will sip a glass of water and focus on mingling. Going in with a plan will help give you the mindset and the self-control necessary for the situation. You will also save energy by not having to make a sudden decision based on your emotional state.

9. Reward yourself.

Give yourself something to be excited about by planning a reward when you accomplish your goals. Just like when you were a little kid and got a treat for good behavior, having something to look forward to gives you the motivation to succeed.

Anticipation is powerful. It gives you something to obsess over and focus on, so you’re not only thinking of what you are trying to change. And when you achieve your goal, find a new goal and a new reward to keep yourself moving forward.

10. Forgive yourself and move forward.

Even with all of our best intentions and well-laid plans, we sometimes fall short. It happens. You will have ups and downs, great successes and dismal failures. The key is to keep moving forward.

If you stumble, acknowledge what caused it and move on. Don’t let yourself get wrapped up in guilt, anger or frustration, because these emotions will only drag you further down and impede future progress. Learn from your missteps and forgive yourself. Then get your head back in the game and refocus on your goals.

Content from here.

7 Ways to Make Good Habits Stick

shutterstock_576016501.jpg

By Rhett Power
March 10, 2017

It takes dedication, discipline, and a deep desire to change

We all have dreams and visions of the life we want to live. But we also know that getting there requires dedication, discipline, and most importantly change. So how do we make these changes in a way that makes them last for the long-term? Here are a few Suggestions.

Related: The Entrepreneurs Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful

1. Start Small and Go Slow

Don't overwhelm yourself trying to walk a mile a day, when you've barely been successful walking around the block. It's not necessarily that the new habit is hard. It's that we aren't accustomed to putting in the level of effort required to accomplish them. Take time to train yourself by approaching each new habit as a process rather than a "do it all now" mindset.

2. Why Do You Want It

It's very hard to devote yourself to something that you are not entirely invested in emotionally. Being clear on why you want the new habit, and what benefit it offers you will help make sure your heart is truly in it.

3. Give it Life Support

Do your daily activities make it easy to perform your new habit? Perhaps integrating the new habit into something you already do will help put this new activity into regular practice.

4. One at a Time Please

It takes a lot of time to work on just one habit. Don't frustrate yourself by trying to focus on too many things at a time. You'll only serve to overwhelm yourself, which will definitely not make you successful in getting any of them stick.

5. Make a Plan

Without a clear plan for how you intend to make your new habit stick, you'll only stumble around and most likely fail to accomplish your goal. Take the time to write your plan down and keep it someplace where you'll you see it every day. Seeing it every day will reinforce the new habit and will remind you why it's important.

6. Who Cares

Well, obviously you do. But, having at least one other person who supports your goal will also help make the habit stick. Try to find someone who will not only support your new habit but encourages it. Success certainly is a lot easier when we have someone cheering for us.

7. Make it Fun

It's no use beating yourself up when you don't meet all of your goals. This is only going to make you angry with yourself. It's easy to walk away from something when we are mad or disappointed in ourselves. So try to take the frustration out of by rewarding yourself for sticking to it for five days, ten days, etc.

Sticking to a new habit doesn't have to cause you stress, and it shouldn't feel like a burden that keeps you from living the life you want. If you are working towards the right goals, you should feel happy with yourself for making progress. You should feel good about yourself and the future.

Content from here.