6 Habits to Thrive in Life and Work
Sometimes life can feel mundane, repetitive and we might feel stuck
Dr Audrey Tang offers six straightforward strategies to help you thrive in daily life and at work
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Living is not about spending every day just getting by – that’s survival. Life is not just about being OK, but flourishing past ordinary. So, here are six habits to help you not just embrace your ‘new normal’, but to thrive beyond it:
1. Create the sort of network you want to be part of
Ask yourself before taking on someone else’s problems: is this really my responsibility?
You cannot save people from themselves. If it is within your power perhaps signpost them, and be their cheerleader, but always solving their problems stops you from working on your own and can teach them to be dependent on you.
- How can I best help you?
- What would you like me to do?
- What have you tried?
- What are you trying to achieve?
These questions offer support, because you can then more effectively target your actions while also returning the power back to the person asking, and you can channel the saved energy from not getting involved into your own goals.
2. Be the person you want to meet
Relationships are as essential to survival as food and water, but how do you encourage the energisers and remove the more toxic people?
- Write down the names of a handful of people you love in your life
- Write down the things you value about them
- Work every day to demonstrate those values yourself. We often, albeit unconsciously, teach people how to treat us. If you are surrounded by takers, you might need to ask why you are giving so much. While you may recognise that generosity is a trait you love in other people – perhaps what is of value in the person you admire is that they are discerning with their gifts.
- AND opt to spend more time with the people whose names you mentioned, and you might find that the more exhausting people are squeezed out (or you have a little more energy to manage them)
3. Cherish positive influences in your life
Good friends, supportive colleagues, opportunities...it's not just about writing them in a gratitude journal, but actively appreciating them. So, tell them.
We cannot always expect others to know how much they mean to us. Telling them will give their energy a boost and you’re likely to receive something just as lovely in return; also, by saying what it is that made such an impact reminds us what we can do more of!
4. Get effective with your self-care
Habitually you may hear self-care and think ‘spa day’ or ‘meditation’. But when we talk about restoring a healthy balance, we sometimes need energising, or we may need relaxing. Therefore, be aware of whatever energises or relaxes you best (and then recognise what you need in the moment):
- Recognise when you are enjoying something
- Decide if that activity energises or relaxes you
- Choose which you need when you need it – picking from the list of things you know you enjoy
5. Remember your physical health can affect your mental wellbeing
Eat, sleep and exercise. Over-indulgence can result in feeling guilty, weight gain, sluggishness leading to a cycle of negativity that benefits no-one. Conversely, under-eating and a lack of sleep can result in an inability to focus or feelings of anxiety which can hold you back.
Getting outside daily can help you get more vitamin D increasing feelings of happiness and countering things such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
If you are struggling with sleep, try a bedtime wind down routine…come off devices, prepare items for the next day, avoid caffeinated drinks, consider blackout curtains or an eye mask; and if you are still not sleepy, get up and go to a different room to read or engage in something gentle, so that you don’t associate the bedroom with difficulty in sleeping.
6. Recognise that you can choose how you respond to things
Emotions evolved to keep humans safe. Feeling emotions – especially negative ones – are simply a warning light (like the petrol indicator) that something needs to be dealt with, but it is just a feeling. What you do is a chosen response.
Recognise your trigger situations or events and note your emotional reaction.
Write down a statement, or an activity, that will help you regain balance when a negative emotion throws you off kilter, for example, “Listen to a positive TED talk”, or “Repeat the affirmation “Even if I cannot control anything else, I can control my breathing” or “Have a cup of tea.”
Use that list to enable you to choose an effective behaviour rather than let an emotional reaction run away with you. This keeps you empowered and in control of your actions.
Remembering that we have agency and choice is also an empowering foundation from which we can grow.
Dr Audrey Tang is a psychologist and the author of The Leaders Guide to Resilience