‘Tis The Season To Be Stressed Out? How To Avoid Christmas Burnout

‘Tis The Season To Be Stressed Out? How To Avoid Christmas Burnout

There is something magical about the year-end. It comes with a feeling of accomplishment and completion. It’s an opportunity to look back and reflect on how far you’ve come while making concrete plans for life’s next exciting chapter.

But Christmas is also a time when everything ramps up. Deadlines multiply and are pushed forward, coffee catch-ups and nights out with friends fill the calendar, and there’s an overwhelming pressure to get everything done by December 25th.

If the Christmas countdown often leaves you feeling overwhelmed, overstretched and running on empty, you’re certainly not alone. Statistics show that the season can be a source of great stress for many people – particularly women – and increasing workloads, financial constraints, and the pressure to have the perfect Christmas are just some of the common stressors.

But help is at hand, whether you’re crumbling under the pressure at work or can’t cope with another social engagement, we are here to guide you on how to get through the festive season by avoiding the Christmas burnout. 

How To Avoid Christmas Burnout

Write everything down

And we mean everything… that hair appointment you’ve squeezed in, the last-minute shopping trip, that looming deadline.

Planning in this way is scientifically proven to reduce stress. It’s a process known as ‘proactive coping’. When we schedule events that we perceive as being potentially stressful, it can actually trigger feelings of anticipation instead of overwhelm.

And guess what happens next? The anticipation of the event, be it a work meeting or a big deadline, can spark increased productivity and performance that can make it more likely you’ll achieve your goals – and all you did was write it down and make it happen.

Open The Head Plan Agenda and focus on the Agenda Daily Pack to organise your day and plan out all of your upcoming deadlines, appointments and occasions.

Control the Controllables

When you’re burned out and overwhelmed it can feel like so much is outside of your control. It’s as if you’re one wrong move away from smashing one of those spinning plates.

The secret to staying cool, calm, and collected this December? Looking after the basics: that means getting plenty of sleep, nourishing yourself with food and water, and making sure to move your body.

This may feel like another bullet point on the never-ending to-do list? But these 'prep steps' will make all those other daily tasks and actions easier to do.

For example; water is scientifically proven to improve focus, alertness, and concentration while boosting your mood and cognitive function. Meanwhile, nourishing your body with nutrient-rich foods is shown to impact the brain at a psychological level, prompting positive changes in the way we think and behave.

Want to stay on top of your food and water goals? Our Daily Drench water bottle and Nourish Meal Planner will set you up for success. Fill your 1 litre bottle and remember to sip at it at regular intervals throughout the day (we have motivational reminders on the bottle if you need it) and pack your day with nutritious meals that power you to perform at your best. 

Put rituals in place

“We do not rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems.” That’s a quote from Atomic Habits author James Clear and he’s making an important point about how the habits and rituals we put in place determine whether we succeed or fail.

Daily rituals are the activities that allow you to bring your best self to each and every day. It could be writing in your Gratitude Journal, starting the morning with meditation, or repeating affirmations. You get to decide what activities allow you to perform at your best – and it’s up to you to make the time for them on a daily basis this December.

When you prioritise your wellbeing in this way, it can sharpen your mindset, protect your energy, and give you a healthy dose of perspective that ensures you can deal with stress in a more positive way. 

Learn to say No

No. The word has just two letters, but it’s loaded with negative connotations and saying it often comes with a side order of guilt, shame and embarrassment. After all, none of us likes to feel like we’re letting others down. But here’s the thing: when we say yes when we really want to say no, what we’re really saying is ‘my time and energy don’t matter’.

But your time and energy do matter and if you don’t prioritise them nobody else will. That’s why it’s time to get comfortable with saying the word no. You’ll institutively know when you don’t want to do something. You’ll feel the sensations in your body. Tune in to that feeling – and remember that when you get another Christmas party invite or need to pick up another task at work, you don’t have to respond immediately.

If ‘no’ gives you a serious case of the ‘fear’ try practising on your friends and family first. You might feel more comfortable adding an explanation too. If that’s the case, try phrases like:

  • “I’m so sorry, I don’t feel comfortable in large groups of people right now.”
  • “That sounds lovely, but I have a lot on my plate at the moment and want to preserve my energy.”
  • “I’d love to help, but I’m feeling very overstretched right now.”
  • “I won’t be able to make it, I need some time to rest and recuperate.”

Be Gentle With Yourself

Sometimes anticipating burnout and overwhelm can be the result of not having faith in yourself; you may look at your list of to-dos and wrongly believe there’s no way you could get it all done.

If this is the case, we want you to remember that you’re more than capable and to keep Karen Salmansohn’s words in mind. She says, “You have dealt with so much and done the best that you can, take a moment now to appreciate how strong you are.”

While we’re on the topic, there’s no shame in relieving yourself of some commitments. You can’t – and shouldn’t attempt – to do it all. In fact, sometimes being unproductive is the most productive thing you can do, so when the Christmas lead up feels hectic, give yourself permission to rest.

‘Tis the season to be your best self…

Every Christmas people around the world put up a tree in their homes. They take great care putting pretty ornaments on the tree, untangling twinkling lights, and placing a shiny gold star on the top of the tree. But as life ramps up on December 1st, do you take such good care of yourself?

Just like that Christmas tree, our schedules in the lead up to Christmas inevitably come with a few extra embellishments and they can be a source of stress instead of celebration. But remember this, you’ve made it through a full year of ups and downs, navigated nearly 12 months of trials and tribulations and come out the other end the better for it.

There are just a few extra weeks standing between you and the year’s end and just like you’ve survived everything the previous 11 months have had to offer, you’ll make it through this moment too.

December 01, 2021
Tags: burnout stress
Life’s Not A Competition: How To Overcome Comparison & The Feeling Of Not Measuring Up

Life’s Not A Competition: How To Overcome Comparison & The Feeling Of Not Measuring Up

One moment you were scrolling Instagram and the next you’re consumed with feelings of inadequacy, failure, and shame. Your head is spinning with toxic thoughts and you can’t escape the painful sting of self-judgement. All it took was a glance of someone 'having it all' and suddenly your confidence has come crumbling down around you. 

This is comparisonitis and without preventative action, it can strike at any time: when you’re on social media, during a period of intense personal growth, even when you’re chatting with friends. 

If comparison has ever held you in its clutches you’ll know just how painful, disempowering and confidence-shattering it can be. It shines a light on all the areas you feel you are failing at while simultaneously knocking your confidence so badly that it can prevent you from taking steps towards your goals.

It will come as no surprise to you that here at The Head Plan we don’t want you to compare and despair. So let us take help and guide you in stepping into your self-worth and shaking off the feeling of comparison for good...

How To Overcome Comparison

Identify your triggers

Here’s what we want you to know: it’s not about the shiny new car your friend has just purchased or the business empire that stranger on the internet is growing. No, it’s all about you. That’s right, YOU. And looking at your comparison triggers in this way can be the essential shift that takes you from falling behind to living your best life.

Comparison is like holding a mirror up to your insecurities. It allows you to see with crystal clarity where you could use a little extra self-love. So, you need to begin by questioning why certain things trigger you the way they do. What insecurities, doubts and fears lie behind that negative comparison? What beliefs have led you to believe that you don’t measure up?

Turn to the notes section of your Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal and get writing. You might be surprised at what comes up.

Question your inner critic

In her book Comparisonitis, Melissa Ambrosini outlines two key practices that will help you in areas that you might start comparing. She calls them ACES and CAST and they’re sure to stop your negative inner critic in its tracks.

ACES

When you feel the hurt of comparison bubbling up inside you, turn to ACES: it stands for Awareness, Choose, Eliminate and Shift. That means becoming aware of when you’re comparing, choosing what you want to feel instead (eg I choose love, I choose self-acceptance, I choose inner peace), and eliminating the trigger. That might mean logging out of Instagram or excusing yourself from a conversation that’s draining your self-worth.

Finally, you can shift your energetic state by going for a walk, turning on some music, meditating or even jumping up and down. This helps get those negative vibes out of your body. (Need more? Turn to our list of mood-boosting energy shifters here.)

CAST

When you’ve fallen down the well of self-judgement you can use CAST: It stands for Character, Awareness, Shut The Door and Truth.

To use it, you should give your inner critic a character. Go ahead and give them a name and even imagine what they might look like. Next, become aware of when your inner critic is popping up, then politely shut the door on them.

Finally? Find your truth. That means no more believing toxic lies about yourself but grabbing on to a new perspective. Look for evidence of the exact opposite of what your inner critic has been saying. Is it really true that you’re not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough to succeed? Absolutely NOT – so go ahead and find evidence to the contrary.

Document your achievements

Denis Waitley, a renowned motivational speaker who appeared on The Secret, says, “The greatest achievement is to outperform yourself” but when was the last time you kept track of all that you have accomplished? When we compare, we focus on all that others have said and done and we ignore the amazing successes that we’ve created.

Right this second, think of a time you overcame something really hard and lived to tell the tale. YOU did that. Consider how many times you’ve hit a target, found the right words to comfort a friend, bought the perfect gift, or aced a project at work. No matter how you think you measure up to others, you have provided more value to others than you even realise. 

While you’re at it, begin documenting your proudest moment at the end of each day in The Head Plan Productivity and Wellness Journal – we promise it’s guaranteed to boost your self-esteem.

Turn comparison into inspiration

You can do anything you put your mind to. Read that sentence again and really let it sink in. Knowing this, you can use comparison as fuel for the fire. When you feel the sting of inadequacy, you can use it to inform your goals.

If somebody has something you want, we want you to know that there is nothing to stop you from having it too. All it takes is a willingness to succeed and a little planning to get there. So, what are you waiting for? Open your journal and get going. Write it down and make it happen – because guess what? If they can do it, so can you.

There’s nobody quite like you… 

You are doing the best you can. There are 7.8 billion people in the world and not one of them are exactly like you. In fact, there aren’t enough words in the dictionary to adequately describe you in all of your amazing abilities.  

When you look at it like this, it seems silly to compare yourself to someone else. Just as you aren’t like them, they aren’t like you either. Swap comparison for celebration and recognise yourself for the once-in-a-lifetime miracle you are. 

November 24, 2021
Tags: featured
Opinions Are Not Facts: How To Overcome The Fear Of Being Judged

Opinions Are Not Facts: How To Overcome The Fear Of Being Judged

Have you ever had a really good idea but talked yourself out of it because you were worried about what people might say, played small in life, because you feared what others would think, or been so caught up in how others might perceive you that you’ve forgotten to consult the one opinion that actually matters: your own?

If you answered ‘yes’ then you’ve suffered from a fear of judgement and you’ll know that other people’s opinions can hold you back and can stop you growing in all sorts of ways if you let them. 

Scientific studies show we’re four times more likely to remember criticism than we are to remember praise and for every negative judgement we receive we need to experience five positive events to recover.

But what if you could learn to pay no attention to what other people think? Imagine your success was just your success and you didn't care how you were perceived by others. Remember that saying that 'anything worth doing attracts both admiration and criticism'. 

With this in mind, are you ready to let go of the fear of being judged for good? 

How To Overcome The Fear Of Being Judged

Remember why people judge

Have you ever lashed out at someone when you were upset? Or felt the sting of comparison at a time when your confidence was low? Judgement is a similar reaction: It’s pain, insecurity and fear that causes people to criticise.

In her book Judgement Detox, Gabrielle Bernstein puts it like this: “Behind the wall of judgement lie our deepest feelings of inadequacy and shame… We resist [this] by projecting it onto others through judgement and then we grow to rely on judgement as a way of finding relief from our wounds.”

This means people’s opinions of you aren’t factually accurate. Rather, they are distorted by their own unique experiences and insecurities and are often a way for them to feel better about themselves. Basically? What people think about you says more about them than it does about you.

Or as Earl Nightingale puts it, “When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.” The next time you receive unhelpful criticism or fear being ridiculed, remember that.

Change the story you’ve been telling yourself

Why do we fear being judged so much? It comes down to this: most of us are terrified that other people will confirm one of our worst fears: that we aren’t good enough. That’s why working through your own insecurities can keep the fear of judgement at bay.

Ask yourself this: where do you feel the most vulnerable? Write down what comes to mind. It could be that you don’t’ have faith in your abilities or you believe that you simply aren’t smart enough to succeed.

Next, create some affirmations to refute these limiting beliefs. (We provide a space in our Gratitude Journal to do just that!) A belief like “I’m crap at this!” could become “I’m new at this and I’m learning and improving every day.”

If you want to go one further look no further than our Mirror Markers. With these colourful markers, you can write empowering messages to yourself that will boost your confidence and improve the only opinion that really matters: the one you have of yourself.

Learn from it

Picture the scene: you’ve worked super hard on an important project and now it’s time to hear your boss’s verdict. Good news, they love it, except for one little thing. Your boss has given you ten wonderful pieces of praise, and one “area to work on”. So which do you focus on? We’ll bet it’s the area to work on, right?

In an evolutionary sense, we’re actually wired to focus on the negatives. This in-built negativity bias is a survival mechanism that has been protecting us from threats, and while negative feedback can really sting, it can actually be your greatest opportunity for improvement.

The next time you receive some constructive criticism, grab your journal and ask yourself a few questions. We suggest the following:

  • Is this criticism fair and warranted, and ultimately something I can learn from?
  • Does this trigger me in any way and, if so, why might that be?
  • Can I use this to improve in any way, and if so, how?

Remember this: Sometimes criticism is completely unfounded, but occasionally it can be a wonderful way to learn and grow.

Build self-trust

“If you’re going to trust one person, let it be yourself.” It was author Robert Tew who said those words, and he’s right. So often we place too much weight on the opinion of others while ignoring the ones we hold ourselves.

So how can you let go of fear and learn to trust yourself? You could reflect on a time you overcame adversity despite the odds, note down a few of your biggest life achievements, or make a chart of your best strengths, talents and skills.

Our suggestion - Open The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal and start setting some goals for yourself. Every week make progress towards those goals and be sure to keep a record of the moments you’re most proud of. When you see just how much you are able to accomplish, you’ll realise just how capable you are.

This is YOUR journey, no one else’s…

A wise man once said that opinions are like noses – everybody has one. But just like you wouldn’t light a candle and expect to smell it while holding your nose, you shouldn’t let the opinions of others guide you and your journey.

Ask yourself this: if no one else’s opinion mattered, if I knew that no matter what I did I couldn’t fail and that ultimately everything I put my energy toward was for my greater good, what would I do?

Have you answered the above? Now do it, because people’s opinions are like a single grey cloud on an otherwise perfectly blue sky: they only matter if you let them.

November 17, 2021
Tags: featured
How To Manage And Prevent Feeling Overwhelmed

How To Manage And Prevent Feeling Overwhelmed

Picture the scene: It’s 3pm, you’re hunched over your desk and you can feel tension sitting uncomfortably in your shoulders. A million thoughts are rushing around in your brain, and you can’t quite focus, but you must, because you still have so much left to do.

This is the feeling of being overwhelmed and it’s what happens when your attention is pulled in too many different directions. Consider it the mental equivalent of having too many tabs open. Unless you start closing off some of the distractions, pretty soon you’ll crash. 

The brain actually perceives the feeling of overwhelm as a threat and triggers a series of survival reactions throughout the body. The overstimulation can weaken your problem-solving and decision-making skills, hamper your ability to learn and engage, and even affect your brain health over time. 

Basically? Overwhelm is the enemy of productivity and left unchecked it can pull your focus not just away from your goals, but from the beauty of the present moment too. 

If you’re a serious goal-getter - which we know you are - you’re probably wondering how you can get stuff done without falling victim to feeling overwhelmed. We have you covered...

How To Manage Feeling Overwhelmed

Find the source of your stress

Are you stressed out because you’ve taken too much on? Perhaps you just simply couldn’t say no to your boss and now you’re struggling to get everything done? Maybe you’re a bit of a perfectionist and you’re feeling overwhelmed because when it comes to your work, nothing less than perfect will do.

Once you know the source of your stress, you can resolve the issue that is making you feel this way and make plans to work through it. That means if you’re a perfectionist and a lot of your stress is self-imposed you can find ways to cut yourself some slack – and if you said yes to your boss when you really wanted to say no you can work on firming up your boundaries.

When you’re overwhelmed it can be easy to feel powerless. But we’re here to tell you something: No matter how bad things seem you always have the power to take back control.

Prioritise

Do it, delegate it, or dump it. That’s our motto when it comes to prioritising and the Eisenhower Method can be particularly useful when deciding what needs your attention ASAP and what can be put on the back burner.

To use it, jot down all your to-dos, and decide whether they are 1. urgent and important, 2. not urgent but important, 3. Not important but urgent, and 4. Not important and not urgent. Then? Schedule your tasks based on their urgency and importance.

Another method? Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog Technique. Instead of wasting your precious mental reserves stressing about that task you’ve been putting off, you simply ‘eat that frog’ by doing your most dreaded task first.

To keep on top of everything, use The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal. It’s your productivity base camp, helping you to narrow your focus by choosing one main goal for the day and organising your top three tasks into a prioritised list.

Practice being in the moment

What’s the opposite of overwhelm? When you’re overwhelmed, you’re not in the moment. Instead, your mind is often in fifteen different places at once.

In a fraction of a second you could be worrying about how you’re going to get all of your work done, stressing about that email you have to send, or fretting that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

The good news? There are so many ways to calm a racing mind and bring your attention back to the present moment from meditation and journaling to deep breathing and hypnosis.

Here’s one of our faves: when your mind is racing, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and place your hand over your heart. You feel that? That’s your heartbeat, in every given moment it’s giving life to every single organ and cell in your body. It’s proof that you’re alive and a reminder that you are here on this earth for reasons greater than you can even imagine.

Take a time out

We know what you’re thinking: “I have a million and one things to do, and you’re telling me to take a break?” Yes, that’s exactly what we’re suggesting.

You owe it to yourself to protect your precious energy, so work regular breaks into your day, even if it’s only a few minutes to make a brew or a moment or two to take some gentle, calming breaths.

If taking a break is something you struggle to do, schedule it in. Research suggests that we can maintain optimum concentration for a maximum of 90 minutes, so try working your breaks around that.

Get it all out on paper

Did you know that researchers estimate we have around 60,000 thoughts a day? It’s little wonder we’re stressed. When your head feels like it’s swimming with thoughts, grab your journal and get it out all out on paper.

This practice is known as freewriting and it allows you to ‘brain dump’ your thoughts and clear out all that mental clutter that’s making you feel so frazzled.

Here’s a pro tip: write without judgement. This is for your eyes only so write away to your heart’s content until your stress begins to melt away and you feel a little lighter. 

How To Prevent Feeling Overwhelmed

Here’s the thing, in our busy, busy world, overwhelm is pretty much inevitable. There will always be tasks and to-dos that require your attention and occasionally there’ll be competing commitments that require all of your attention at once.

The good news is, you can prevent overwhelm before it strikes. If you’re gearing up for a busy period in your life, try our three-step process:

  1.     Set firm boundaries
  2.     Double down on self-care
  3.     Close some metaphorical tabs

That means saying no when you need to, using your Head Plan Journal to practice self-care every day, and eliminating unnecessary distractions - excessive screen time to name a few. 

And Breathe…

When it’s been a long day and it’s not over yet, your thoughts are running a mile a minute, and you’re growing tired of spinning plates, we want you to turn to these words by Max Lucado.

He says, “The key is this: meet today’s problems with today’s strength don’t start tackling tomorrow’s problems until tomorrow. You do not have tomorrow’s strength yet. You simply have enough for today.”

To put it simply, the antidote to overwhelm is focusing on one thing at a time. It’s giving your energy to what’s right in front of you and trusting that when the time comes you’ll have the strength to manage what comes next. 

As Louise L. Hay puts it, “Your point of power is always in the present moment.” So, what can you do NOW?

November 10, 2021
Tags: featured
Roxie Nafousi’s Mental Health Toolbox

Roxie Nafousi’s Mental Health Toolbox

Roxie Nafousi is a Self-Development coach, manifesting expert, author of MANIFEST: Seven steps to Living Your Best Life, Mental Health Foundation ambassador, and contributor to Kourtney Kardashians’ wellness platform POOSH.

Her dedication to changing the lives of people suffering from emotional and mental health disorders and assisting them in reaching their full potential has made her a well-known figure in the wellness community. She works with 1-1 clients as well as hosting sell-out workshops and webinars each month, having changed thousands of lives in the process.

After years of living a hedonistic lifestyle in her early 20s, fuelled by partying and poor self-care, Roxie found herself at her rock bottom. She suffered depression on/off for 6 years and in 2016 she decided to open up about her issues with the world through her writing. From here, her inward journey to happiness began. She created a ‘mental health tool box’ to help her to recover from depression and immediately felt it was her purpose to help as many people as she could reach to implement a ‘tool box’ of their own.

‘I like to think of our mental health toolbox like our beauty cupboards. Some things inside you will use every day, as part of your daily routine, others you’ll use when you have a flare-up or in times of need, and some things you’ll use simply because you feel like a boost of self-love and relaxation’ - Roxie Nafousi

Here are some of Roxie’s favourite tools that you can include in your own Mental Health Toolbox:

1. Journaling:

One of the most empowering ways to let something go, is to voice it. Practice letting out your fears, worries, anxieties and concerns onto the page of your journal. Just a few minutes of journaling can allow your mind to empty itself of negative thoughts or limiting beliefs and allow you to get on with your day with greater clarity and ease.

Recently, Roxie has collaborated and designed The Journal with The Head Plan because she has been at rock bottom and from there she learned how to transform her life beyond recognition. We know you can do the same.

Packed with powerful weekly exercises including exclusive meditations that allow you to live the life of your wildest dreams, Roxie empowers you to harness the power of unconditional and radical self-love, inner trust and self-belief to make your deepest desires a reality and ignite an inner strength you never knew was possible. Journey back to your childhood self and unleash the unwavering confidence and self-love you were born with, strip back your limiting beliefs, and become the most empowered version of you.

In 12 life changing weeks, Roxie will help you unlock your fullest potential and unleash unwavering self- confidence to become the most empowered version of yourself.

2. Meditation 

Meditation is simply the practice of awareness. It is an opportunity to be still, to slow down our minds, to focus our attention onto our breath and to come back to the present moment. Even five minutes of meditation a day gives us an opportunity to reset and re-centre. Roxie finds meditation to be particularly helpful when she has a problem to solve: it gives her an opportunity to calm down her nervous system, step back, gain a new perspective and open up mental space for creativity.

3. Go for a Walk

What better way to let go of the day than to embrace the fresh air, move your body and just walk. Whenever things feel a little too much, get outside and walk it out. Roxie encourages people to go on a 20 minute walk every single day and to incorporate it as part of their routine. You can also turn your walk into an active meditation by focusing your attention onto the sounds that you can hear, the feeling of the air on your skin, and taking time to appreciate all the beauty in the world that you can see.

4. Candle-Lit Baths 

Never underestimate the power of a bath. Set the scene by turning off all the room lights, burning candles, playing some relaxing music and soaking in a bath filled with essential oils. This simple practice is just such an easy way to unwind and relax your mind, body and soul 

5. Mantras

Repeating a mantra is a powerful tool to use to send a positive affirming message to our subconscious mind. When we do this regularly, we can actually reprogram our neurological pathways to support a more positive way of thinking. Roxie suggests repeating a mantra every morning to start your day, such as “I am open to all opportunities that present themselves today” or “I am worthy, and I am loved”. In times of stress or challenge try repeating a mantra such as, “I overcome challenges with ease”  or “I am calm and I am resilient”.

 6. Self-Care

Self-Care is Self-Love. Having a massage, applying a face mask, having a manicure, getting a blow-dry: it all gives us an opportunity to do something that is just for us. The added bonus is that blissful feeling of being fresh, clean and pampered. 

7. Yoga/Pilates

Moving your body in a mindful way is key for optimum mental health. Roxie particularly loves yoga and Pilates because both practices encourage you to focus on your breath, which is crucial for managing stress and lowering stress hormones. Allow the mat to become your safe space; a space for you to explore your body and to stretch, release and energise.

8. Gratitude

Dr. Joe Dispenza found that practicing gratitude daily for just four consecutive days, can increase the strength of your immune system by 50%! It is a practice that Roxie loves so much, even more so because it’s benefits are backed by science. Practicing gratitude is a sure way to improve every area of your life whilst also providing comfort in challenging times. Every day, commit to spending just five minutes writing down, or saying out loud, every single thing you are grateful for. There is nothing too big or too small that you can include! After a few weeks of doing this daily, your mind will literally reprogram itself to focus its attention on the good in your life. When you face challenging or stressful times, you can always turn to gratitude to help boost you back up. 

November 03, 2021
Tags: featured
Disconnect To Reconnect: The Importance Of Being Present

Disconnect To Reconnect: The Importance Of Being Present

Raise your hand if you’ve ever reached for your phone and instinctively refreshed your work email at 9 o’clock at night or met up with friends and instead of being present you spent more time checking Instagram? We’ve all been there. 

In today’s world, screen time has become a huge consumption of our daily lives. We flick on the TV at the end of a busy working day, scroll social media when we’re at a loose end, and rely on the internet for everything from booking train tickets to diagnosing a headache.

However technology can be a great tool. It allows us to keep in touch with the people we love the most and everything we’ve ever wanted to know is right at our fingertips, but without proper boundaries, it can also pull our focus away from the here and now. It can distract you from your goals, create a barrier between you and your loved ones, and crucially, consume our most important resource: time.

Here’s the really ironic part: in a world of constant connectivity, many of us have never felt so disconnected from ourselves. Between social media notifications, unread emails, and buzzing WhatsApp group chats, we rarely have a moment to just be.

But here’s the good news: you always have a choice. It’s up to you and you alone to make the decision to reconnect with what matters and when you do, it’s only a matter of time until you feel the difference. 

Feeling inspired to reconnect and be present? We’re so happy to hear it. Here’s how to get started… 

How To Reconnect To The Real World

Track your time

Ever heard the phrase ‘what gets measured, gets managed?’. Well, it applies here too, because you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re starting from. That means taking a long, honest look at your screen time habits and actively deciding where you want to put your focus instead.

Here’s the important bit: this isn’t about shaming yourself into change or feeling guilty for where you’re currently at; it’s about sussing out where there is room for improvement and gradually shifting your habits so you can make a positive change.

All you have to do is make a note of how long you’re spending online each day or use a screen time tracker to do the hard work for you (most smartphones have them.)

Next, set a goal. Do you want to reduce your screen time by 30 minutes a day, an hour, or even two? This is your chance to get clear – you can use The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal to plan out your screen time goals and start putting that extra time to good use instead.

Discover the power of being bored

When was the last time you were bored? Like, really don’t-know-what-to-do-with-myself bored? For most people, it’s been a while. In our world of unrelenting tasks and competing commitments, it can be tricky to find a second to just breathe and often when we do get a moment to relax we instinctively reach for our phones or grab the TV remote. Our brains rarely have a second to switch off.

Boredom is often seen as a bad thing, but in small doses, it actually has a wealth of life-changing benefits. According to scientific research, being bored can prompt you to engage in more meaningful behaviours. It can also spark creativity and aid problem-solving too.

So, start letting your mind wander. Turn the TV off in the evenings, pop your phone in a drawer, and see how it feels to sit and do absolutely nothing. You might be surprised to discover it actually feels pretty great to read a book, go for a walk- all without any technology. 

Invest your time wisely

Not all screen time is created equal, and sometimes, tech can be used as a tool for mindset elevation. Used wisely, it can also be time to switch off and relax from life’s daily stresses.

So, rather than swearing off screen time, start thinking about how you could use that time wisely. Our advice? Click on to The Head Plan App for daily inspiration or create a Pinterest board of quotes that motivate you to give your all. Even cuddling up to watch a comforting childhood movie on a low day counts. It’s about finding activities that lift you up. 

Having trouble deciding how best to invest your time? The advice of leadership coach John C Maxwell states that “Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.”

Basically? Align with your priorities – whether they’re connecting with the people you love most, making progress on your goals or investing in your self-care – you can’t go wrong with that. 

Practice the art of being present

What does it actually mean to be present? To put it simply, being present means being actively engaged in your life, being aware of the sights, smells, and sounds that surround you and appreciating the present moment in all its glory.

Presence can be taking a deep breath and becoming aware of the sensations in your body as the air makes its way into your lungs, listening intently to your friend while they’re talking to you, or concentrating on a fulfilling task with your undivided attention. 

We challenge you to find even a few moments in your day to be present. You could ask yourself the question ‘Am I present?’ (or use The Head Plan Mirror Markers to write on your bathroom mirror as a reminder) When you do this, you automatically connect to the present moment and become aware not just of your body, but of your surroundings too.

Need another way? If in doubt, there are a few activities that are almost guaranteed to help you reconnect with the present moment: think walks in nature, meditation, and journaling.

Be gentle with yourself

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and habits often take a little while to break (it’s the very reason they’re called habits, after all.)

So, if in the coming weeks you find yourself scrolling on your phone for longer than you intended, binging Netflix, or routinely checking your email outside of office hours, don’t give yourself a hard time. Document the progress you have made, and just keep going. You’ve got this.

Connection loading…

When a piece of tech isn’t working our first instinct is often to switch it off and back on again. As humans, we need time to unplug in order to function at our highest level too.

So, consider this a sign to mute your noisy WhatsApp groups when you need to, log off all your social media platforms on the regular, and close that Gmail app after hours because you owe it to yourself to be free from distractions.

As an unattributed quote puts it, “sometimes you have to disconnect from the world to reconnect with what really matters”.

October 27, 2021
What To Do When You Encounter A Setback: Turn it into a success

What To Do When You Encounter A Setback: Turn it into a success

One moment you were flying towards your goals, ticking each task off your to-do list, and making amazing progress, and then suddenly, without warning, you’re hit with a obstacle. What felt easy, joyful and aligned, now feels difficult, challenging and draining.  Frustration, doubt, disappointment and fear have began to creep in and now you’re pretty certain this might be a sign to throw in the towel.

A setback has occurred, but panic not, this obstacle isn’t here to steer you off course, and it certainly isn’t a sign for you to give up on your goals. Rather, it’s an opportunity for self-growth and to achieve more than you ever thought possible – and we know just how to get you back on course.

But before we begin, we want to introduce you to a concept that will change the way you think about challenges and failure…

Failing forward

Failing forward means that setbacks are merely stepping stones on your path to success. It’s the process of finding the lesson in every obstacle and adjusting your course as necessary.

When you fail forward you are destined to reach your goals, so long as you pick yourself up and try again with your newly gained insight and knowledge.

So, with that in mind, are you ready to turn setbacks into stepping stones? Let us show you how...

How To Turn Setbacks Into Successes

Review your progress

It’s what our weekly reflection pages in The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal are for. Look back through the pages of your journal and see just how far you’ve come. We’ll bet you’ve made stacks of progress, even if you don’t yet see it.

If it helps, make a list of your biggest achievements so far. This practice not only helps you recognise just how much you’ve achieved, it builds your belief and reminds you that you can and will achieve again.

While you’re at it, think about all the times you’ve experienced a setback in the past. Chances are you came back stronger, braver, and learned something along the way. Guess what? You’ve done it once and you’ll do it again. You’ve got this.

Change your self talk

Let us ask you this: does your inner critic hit the play button when things don’t go exactly as planned? Do you give yourself a terrible time when your best-laid plans don’t pan out perfectly? It’s time to turn things around with a whole lot of kindness and self-compassion.

When you notice negative self-talk, you can choose to change it. Try replacing phrases like “I’m so bad at this” or “I’m failing” with more empowering ones like “I’m new at this” and “I’m learning”. 

The words we speak are like self-fulfilling prophecies. What you say about yourself and the world becomes your reality, so be careful about what you speak into existence.

Build your self-belief

Your belief in yourself has taken a knock. You can help rebuild your self-belief by writing empowering statements using The Head Plan Mirror Markers about yourself on your mirror, like “I am determined”, “I am talented” and “I am constantly learning and improving”. Let those phrases seep into your subconscious. Repeated often enough, these phrases are scientifically proven to rewire your beliefs and change the way you feel about yourself for the better. 

Turn disappointment into motivation

Did you know that as humans we’re actually hard-wired to avoid pain more than we are to seek pleasure? That’s why setbacks can actually be a huge motivator. It might not feel like it, but hitting a hurdle can actually reignite that fire in your belly.

If you’re feeling more disempowered than motivated, write out a list of all the reasons you want to achieve your goal. Now close your eyes and imagine achieving them. Really let your imagination run wild. Can you feel your energy shift?

Go back to the drawing board

Often setbacks are a prompt for us to look inward. They can also be an opportunity for some self-reflection. Consider using some gentle prompts like:

  •       How could I approach this problem differently?
  •       Has self-doubt or fear stopped me from succeeding in this instance?
  •       Do I have limiting beliefs that are standing in my way?
  •       Would I benefit by taking some time out to rest and recharge?
  •       How might the people I look up to manage this setback?
  •       What stories am I telling myself about my ability to succeed?

Finally, consider what you need in order to grow. Maybe you would benefit from a mentor who can offer guidance or perhaps you could get to where you need to be by signing up to a course where you’ll learn new skills. 

Looking at a setback as an obstacle to overcome rather than a signal to give up and never try again is known as a growth mindset. When you cultivate this mindset, you quickly realise that your talents, skills, and abilities aren’t fixed, and challenges merely exist to help you evolve and grow.

A growth mindset is a scientific concept by Dr Carol Dweck. Dr. Dweck has stated that anyone can cultivate a growth mindset. All you have to do is change your perspective.

Think of it like this: our brains have plasticity. They are able to change, adapt and grow according to how we nourish them: your ability to succeed is no different.

Just keep going…

When you’re striking out time and again and it feels like setback after setback is pushing you further away from your goals, do not give up. Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and use it as fuel for the fire.

Setbacks are a test of your commitment. They force you to consider how badly you want it and they help you grow into the version of yourself that’s a match for your goals.

The next time you’re mid-setback, struggling to get back to your feet and wondering if it’s worth it, we want you to remember these words from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

You can’t stop now; you’ve already come so far. 

October 20, 2021
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How To Set And Stick To Your Boundaries: 'No' is a complete sentence

How To Set And Stick To Your Boundaries: 'No' is a complete sentence

How many times have you said ‘yes’ when you’ve really wanted to say ‘no’? Think about it for a second.

You might have told your boss that you’d take on that extra project even though you knew it would leave you stressed out. Maybe you agreed to attend a party this weekend, but really wanted some time to recharge instead.

Or perhaps you’re constantly bending over backwards tending to other people’s needs when you really should be looking after your own.

Here’s the thing about pleasing others before ourselves: It often comes at the expense of our wellbeing, and when you don’t set healthy boundaries, your attention is inevitably pulled in different directions. You end up focused on other people’s goals and objectives while yours are forgotten and neglected.

The fix? Having clear boundaries. Boundaries show people who you are, what you expect and what you will tolerate. They protect your emotional wellbeing and conserve your energy for the stuff that matters – but we totally get it, they can feel seriously nerve-wracking to set.

If you’re confrontation-averse or worried about coming across as rude, we’re here to help you set boundaries in a healthy way. 

What do healthy boundaries look like?

If you’re reading this thinking and thinking 'what actually are boundaries?’, then let us explain. Boundaries are kind of like a personal limit. They’re a clear expression of what you will accept in every area of your life and are ultimately an act of self-care and self-preservation.

Boundaries aren’t about being unaccommodating, selfish or mean. They’re about putting you and your needs first, and you owe it to yourself to set them.

Some examples include:

  • I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that right now. I’m prioritising other tasks and assignments.
  • I’d love to help but I would be overcommitting myself and need time to rest.
  • Sorry, I won’t be able to make it. This week has been very stressful and I need to focus on my own mental health. 
  • I can’t help on this occasion – keep me in mind for the next date. 
  • It is just bad timing. Can we hang out another time?

How To Set And Stick To Your Boundaries

Now that you have read some examples, it is time to set some boundaries for yourself. 

Take a ‘zoomed out’ look at your life

With busy schedules, it can be easy to get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of life, without seeing the big picture. Start looking at your life as though through a telescope and ask yourself where are you feeling the most tired, overwhelmed and drained?

Now look at your priorities and think about what you need to do to protect them. It could be telling your other half you need some alone time throughout the week to focus on your needs, asking your boss for more lenient deadlines, or letting a colleague know you won’t be replying to emails outside of working hours. Take this time to write down a few ideas that come to mind.

If you’re having trouble pinpointing where things need to change, here’s a tip: Tune into your feelings. When people try to push your boundaries you normally experience two main emotions: resentment and discomfort. Any time you notice these, make a note of it and consider what needs to change.

Establish some key phrases

After you create a list of areas for improvement you know need to put some energy-conserving boundaries in place. 

We suggest creating up to 10 short sentences that can be used to combat all the instances of boundary overstepping you discovered above. Need some help? Consult our list of examples – and remember setting clear boundaries isn’t selfish. It’s perfectly okay to tell someone you’re opting out of their request because you simply want to put yourself first. When saying no feels uncomfortable, try your best to keep this in mind. 

Overcome fear

One of the main reasons we often struggle with setting boundaries is that, as humans, we hate disappointing others. If you consider yourself a bit of a people pleaser, take note of this unattributed quote:

“The only people who get upset when you set boundaries are the ones who benefited from you having none.” The people who really love and care for you really won’t mind.

You could also keep Brene Brown’s advice in mind. She says, when communicating your limits, “Clear is kind.” By clearly explaining to someone what treatment you expect, you’re actually doing them a favour. You’re telling them exactly how to interact with you and giving them the space to set some boundaries of their own.

Please remember that setting boundaries doesn’t make you a bad person - it is setting YOU up for success. 

Use it or lose it

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase ‘practise makes perfect’. Guess what? That goes for boundary setting too. You’ve got to keep doing it to get good at it.

Try practicing on someone you’re really comfortable with first, like a close friend or a sibling before building up to your boss or a colleague. This process is known as Exposure Therapy.

Basically, the more you practice setting boundaries and see that it is safe to express your limits, the more comfortable you’ll feel asserting yourself in situations that feel a little more high-risk.

What once felt scary and made your heart pound, can now feel totally normal. All you have to do is begin. 

When in doubt, review your goals

If you’re ever unsure about when and where you need to set a boundary, review your goals. Boundaries are there to protect your energy and to ensure you maintain your focus on the stuff that matters most.

Keeping your goals front and centre of your mind ensures you’ll know when your attention is being pulled off-topic. When that happens, you’ll know you need to re-establish your boundaries. 

The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal is a great way to keep those big goals of yours at eye level; simply revert back to your long-term and short-term goals pages when you need a reminder about where to put your focus.

You control your limits…

Your life is vastly shaped by the behaviour you are willing to accept from others, and what you allow is what will continue. That’s why you owe it to yourself to put firm boundaries in place.

The next time you’re in doubt, remember this: setting boundaries is the ultimate act of self-love. Or as Brene Brown puts it:“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” 

So, with that in mind, we would love you to set some personal boundaries today. ‘No’ can be your new favourite word.

October 13, 2021
Tags: featured
Healing Habits: How To Nourish Your Body & Mind From The Inside Out

Healing Habits: How To Nourish Your Body & Mind From The Inside Out

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase you are what you eat. We believe you are what you consume. That means everything from the foods you eat, to the TV shows you watch, and the books you read, make up who you are and how you behave.

It’s as simple as this: What you allow into your body and mind ultimately affects the energy you give to the world and it’s up to you to choose the things that nourish, energise, uplift and inspire you.

Feeding the Body

Your dietary habits have been scientifically proven to affect your brain structure at a chemical and psychological level, leading to changes in the way we think, feel and behave. In fact, 90 percent of the body’s receptors for serotonin (the hormone responsible for stabilising your mood and improving feelings of happiness and wellbeing) are in our gut.

When you eat plenty of healthy whole foods you balance bacteria in the gut, keeping your moods more balanced. On the other hand, if you consume an excess of highly processed foods it throws your serotonin hormone off its course, impacting how you respond to life’s daily stresses in the process. 

Feeding The Mind

But it’s not just the body that needs proper nourishment. Our minds are continually programmed by the influences around us too.  

In fact, everyday activities, like reading, watching TV, and journaling, are believed to trigger a trance-like hypnotic state. In this state, your subconscious mind becomes highly suggestible and is quite literally being shaped by what you’re giving your attention to, be it good or bad.

Over time, the way you choose to nourish your mind impacts your thinking. Gradually, these thoughts become your beliefs, and ultimately these beliefs impact your behaviour and the outcomes you experience in life. It all starts with what you choose to expose your mind to on a daily basis.

How To Nourish Your Mind And Body

Plan your meals in advance

Quick question: At the end of a busy day, do you A, look aimlessly into your fridge and try to put together something that looks like a meal, or B, grab your phone and order your favourite takeaway because you’re JUST. TOO. TIRED. to think?  

Last minute decisions like what to eat can drain your mental energy so, if you often find food choices a struggle you need to plan ahead. The Head Plan Nourish is a weekly planning pad that will help you plan and get on top of your nourishment needs as you mindfully plan your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the week. We've also got you covered with our removable shopping list so you'll never miss that item in the supermarket again. There are so many benefits to meal planning that we know you will experience as soon as you start.

Another benefit? A meal plan clears up some mental space, allowing you to focus on your main tasks and priorities throughout the week, and powers your body to perform at its best.

Remember this, you don’t need to eat ‘perfectly’, swear off some of your favourite foods or vow to never order a takeaway again. Nourishing your body is about creating a balance between eating nutritious foods that energise and sustain you and making room for some treats along the way. 

While you’re at it, be sure to fill your Daily Drench bottle and sip at it throughout the day. Science shows even slight dehydration can negatively affect your mood, so sip sip hooray. 

Read Inspiring Books

Personal development books are a little like plant food. Just like those powerful sachets that allow your house plants to thrive, reading books packed with wisdom empowers you to flourish and grow.

To get the most from this transformational habit, you could set yourself a challenge to read one personal development book a month or aim to read 10 pages a night. Wondering how to choose the right one for you? Think about what you really need to learn right now? Perhaps you’re figuring out how to build a new habit, need motivation to make a change or want to know how to eliminate a limiting belief.

The more you expose your mind to this kind of content, the more you’re giving it the tools it needs to create an inspirational story of your own. Personal development books are a great reminder of what is possible, so go ahead and nourish your mind by making a commitment to continual learning.

Meditate more

It probably sounds a little counterintuitive, but taking a break from your thoughts is a great way to nourish not just your mind, but your body too. Our minds are constantly moving with niggling worries, persistent doubts, and a lengthy list of tasks and to-dos. Together these thoughts can compound feelings of stress and anxiety which can have a knock-on effect on the body.

Meditation is a little like escapism. Think of it as taking a short vacation from the constant mental chatter and aim to do it daily. You don’t need to sit cross-legged on your bed for an hour –you can find a place of peace and calm in as little as five minutes.

If you find meditation tough and struggling to clear your mind of thoughts? Remember this: When you’re meditating, it’s totally normal for random thoughts to pop into your head. The trick is to view them as passing clouds. When you notice them, refocus on your breath and just let them pass on by.

Fill your mind with gratitude

Gratitude is one of the highest vibration emotions there is, proven to nourish the body and mind by reducing stress, anxiety and low moods, and even offering physical health benefits.

How can you make gratitude a nourishing daily habit? Use your The Head Plan Gratitude Journal to write down three things you’re grateful for at the start of each day. You can even recap your favourite moments before bed, take note of what you’re most excited for, and refer back to your list anytime you need a pick me up.

The really exciting bit? When you’re really grateful for what you have, you’ll end up having more to be grateful for. Why so? Because by focusing on the positive you train your brain to be on the lookout for more of the same.  

Watch out for energy drains

Let us ask you a question: If a particular food made you feel ill every time you consumed it, would you continue to eat it? Probably not, right? The same goes for your daily habits. If indulging in true crime marathons, tuning into the 9 o’clock news, or scrolling on Instagram before bed is making you feel bad, it’s time to turn those habits around.

Start paying attention to how your daily activities make you feel. Have you noticed that watching the news leaves you feeling angry, scared, or down? Think about whether you really want to keep watching it. Feeling utterly consumed by feelings of comparison after time online? Put screen time controls in place.

Remember if it doesn’t nourish you, let it go.

Nourish and thrive… 

You wouldn’t put diesel into a petrol car and expect it to get you from A to B. Likewise, you wouldn’t fuel your body and mind with junk food and negative thoughts and expect them to perform at their peak.

The good news? Feeding your body and your mind in a way that feels good doesn’t require a massive overhaul of your habits. Rather, it’s an opportunity to make subtle daily shifts and see how you feel. 

So begin right now and ask yourself this: what do I need to heal, flourish and grow? The answer to that question could be the key that unlocks your next level self. 

October 06, 2021
Tags: featured
When Life Gets Hectic: How To Prevent And Manage Burnout

When Life Gets Hectic: How To Prevent And Manage Burnout

Quick question: If you were a smartphone, how would you rate your remaining battery life? 80 per cent? 50 per cent? Or as low as 10? When our phones need topped up, we put them on charge, but what about ourselves? So many of us continue to run on empty, until eventually, we feel completely wiped out.

This concept is known as burnout: a type of ongoing stress that becomes detrimental to your emotional and mental wellbeing when left unchecked.

Burnout has become a cultural phenomenon in recent years, stemming not only from increasingly busy work schedules, but the pressure to do it all, from maintaining a social life to keeping a tidy home, and everything in between. It’s a symptom of competing commitments, constant connectivity and never-ending to-do lists.

So, what does burnout actually look like? Well, it can manifest in all sorts of ways. Such as:

  •       Feeling tired, overwhelmed and drained
  •       Higher levels of stress
  •       Persistent exhaustion
  •       Mental fatigue
  •       Becoming increasingly cynical, negative and hopeless

If any of these symptoms are ringing a bell, then you’re certainly not alone. In fact, a recent Gallup study found that 44 per cent of employees say they suffer from stress and burnout sometimes, and get this, 23 per cent said they felt burned out and stressed more often than not.

While that might make for pretty grim reading, keep your chin up, because if you’re struggling right now, there’s loads you can do to both prevent and overcome burnout. Here, we show you how to go from burned out to burning brightly…

How To Prevent Burnout

Control the variables

Have you got decision fatigue? It happens when you need to make too many choices in a short space of time, be it the outfit you plan to wear today, the exact way to word a tricky email, or what you’re going to eat for lunch. And it’s pretty common. In fact, estimates suggest we make up to 35,000 decisions each and every day.

While you can’t pre-empt every decision you’ll need to make throughout your day, you can limit some of the mental aerobics by planning in advance. Pick your outfit for the next day before bed so you don’t’ have to fuss about what to wear come morning or write out your meal plan using Nourish at the start of the week, so you’re not stressing about what to have for dinner when your brain feels fried.

Burnout happens when our brains are overloaded. Eliminating some of your decisions in advance allows you to clear the mental clutter and give your time to the big decisions that require more of your focus.

Learn to say no

Some people believe ‘sorry’ is the hardest word. Us? We reckon it’s ‘no’. Setting boundaries can be a tricky but it’s pretty essential if you want to prevent stress and burnout. So, how do you do it without feeling uncomfortable?

Here’s our advice: Practice setting boundaries with someone you feel really comfortable with first, like a sibling or a close friend. When you catch yourself saying ‘yes’ when you really want to say ‘no’, turn the conversation around and use assertive phrases like ‘I’d rather not…’ or ‘I would like to…’.

If offering a reason makes you feel more comfortable, do it, but don’t ever feel like you need to explain why you’re prioritising your mental health. Here’s the good news: The more you practise setting boundaries, the easier it will become. Soon telling your boss you need more time to work on that big project won’t seem quite so daunting. 

Effective Planning

Have you ever gone to bed with a thousand urgent tasks and timely to-dos whirring around in your brain? Or felt stressed about all the important priorities you’re juggling? Here’s a tip: Stop juggling. Take The Head Plan Productivity and Wellness Journal and write every single item into a prioritised to-do list.

This process is really simple but really effective for two reasons: One, because it allows you to clearly see what you need to complete and create a plan to get it done, and two, because it alleviates an element of worry that there’s a task you might forget. 

How To Overcome Burnout

Prevention is always better than cure, but what if it’s too late and you’re already feeling the effects of burnout? Don’t stress, we know what will help…

Practice meditation

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day; unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” That’s according to an old Zen saying and its wisdom still holds true today. When you’re burned out, meditation gives your brain the mental break it needs – and it’s been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety.

Here’s a tip: Set aside even five or ten minutes a day to just close your eyes and breathe. If you’re new to meditating or are yet to tap into its transformative benefits, opt for a guided meditation. Better yet, you can join our 30-day mediation challenge on The Head Plan App.

Prioritise your self-care

Self-care takes many forms. It can be allowing yourself a lie-in on the weekend to recoup your energy or relaxing tense muscles in a hot bath. It’s also nourishing your body with good foods and getting plenty of sleep.

While these activities won’t magically make all your stresses go away, they will equip you to better deal with them. Our advice? Make self-care a daily activity. Find one thing you can do each day that will replenish your energy, nix your stress, and reward your efforts.

Not sure what to choose? Think of all the things that make you the happiest – it could be tuning on Netflix, getting out into nature, or spending time with your best friend. Then? Make time for those things. Yes, it’s that simple. 

Turn off the self-imposed pressure 

Listen carefully to what we’re about to say: You don’t have to do it all and you certainly don’t have to do it all perfectly. 

While this is a really simple lesson, it can often be a really difficult one to digest because we’ve been conditioned to believe that our best is never good enough. This in itself can often lead to burnout. To delete this kind of thinking, start recognising your unique talents and abilities – write a list if you need to!

While you’re at it, if you’ve taken too much on, think about where you can ask for help. Maybe a colleague is willing and eager to assist you with that big presentation or you know someone who can give you a helping hand around the house.  

Repeat after us: it’s okay to ask for help. And it’s absolutely okay to cut yourself some slack. If you need a little help, consider using the three Ds on your to-do list. That’s do it, delegate or dump it.

Consider what needs to change

Look at your current circumstances right now and ask yourself a question: what is causing me the most stress?

It could be your job or a particular project you’re working on. Maybe you don’t have a very understanding boss or are feeling burned out from all your extra 'to do's'. Perhaps you’re simply feeling overwhelmed by the juggle of daily life and are tired of trying to do it all, from maintaining a social life and nailing it at work, to working out and keeping a tidy home.

Now ask yourself: what can I personally do to change this? Start writing down some solutions that come to mind. 

You might need to bite the bullet and have a chat with your boss, let go of one of your commitments, or delegate to someone who can help you out. When you’re burned out, you often feel powerless to do anything about it, but by identifying the underlying problem and brainstorming solutions you can take back control. 

And breathe…

Life isn’t meant to be relentlessly productive. It’s not meant to leave you feeling constantly exhausted, depleted, or sad either. 

If you’re feeling frazzled, you owe it to yourself to metaphorically recharge your batteries, so consider this your permission slip. From this day forward, make it your mission to say no when you feel like it, press pause on your commitments, and put you and your needs first. When you do that, burnout won’t have a look in. 

September 29, 2021
Tags: featured
How To Start Journaling: A Guide That Will Change Your Life

How To Start Journaling: A Guide That Will Change Your Life

You’re here for a reason. You’re here because you’ve been seeking more clarity and structure. Consciously or unconsciously, a part of you has called out for a way to manage all your thoughts and feelings, get clear about what you want from life and let's focus on the stuff that really matters.

And that’s exactly what journaling does. It’s an investment in your wellbeing that will transform the energy you bring to each and every day.

The good news is, we’re here to show you exactly how to get started...

How Journaling Can Improve Your Life

There are so many benefits to starting a journal; even more than you can squeeze into a singular blog post, so to get you excited for the journey ahead, here are just a few of our favourites…

Journaling Improves mental and physical health.

Researchers estimate that we have around 60,000 thoughts a day, so it’s normal that from time to time they might seem a little overwhelming. That’s where journaling comes in. Countless studies have shown that expressive writing can improve mental health. It’s a therapy known as journal therapy.

An added bonus? Journaling can aid stress reduction which can prompt an improvement in physical health too.

After you’ve finished reading this blog post why not check out our Benefits of Journaling next. 

Helps you set (and achieve) goals

How can you get what you want if you don’t know what it is? When it comes to setting goals, a journal is your best friend. Why so? Because studies show that people who write out their goals and review them regularly are 42 per cent more likely to achieve them.

As if that wasn't enough of a reason, journaling also allows you to prioritise your daily commitments and to-dos and give your focus to the really important stuff that’s going to propel you forward.

Empowers you to manage struggles

We all go through struggles be they internal, like dealing with limiting beliefs and confidence issues, or external, such as managing a scary health crisis or tackling a toxic work environment. A beneficial way to navigate the tough times with more clarity and ease is by getting it all out on paper.

Journaling will give you clarity on all the messy stuff that’s on your mind – and you might even land on a solution you hadn’t thought of before. Why? Because journaling has also been shown to aid problem-solving too. 

Journaling: How To Start 

It’s finally time to turn the page on your journal and begin a life changing habit that’ll improve your life in every area. Here’s how… 

Get some accountability

Be honest with us: how often do you let your priorities slip or fall right down your list? No judgement if you answered ‘regularly’.

To keep yourself accountable on your journaling journey, consider creating rewards when you hit a journaling 'win'. Did you journal every single day for a week? Amazing – treat yourself to a lie-in, a tasty lunch or whatever gives you joy. You could even create a journaling chart that allows you to track your progress or invite a friend to take up journaling with you.

Accountability will inspire you to keep going and pretty soon, putting pen to paper will become second nature. You won’t need outside factors to motivate you because the results of journaling will speak for themselves.  

7 Helpful Tips To Help You On How To Start A Journal

Starting a journal and need a little push in the right direction? Try these…

  •       Set aside 5/ 10 minutes a day to journal
  •       Place your journal next to your bed so you remember to use it daily
  •       Set a reminder on your phone to use and review your journal
  •       Use some journal prompts to get your creative juices flowing
  •       Reach for your journal anytime you feel stressed, worried or anxious
  •       Set the mood while journaling with a cup of tea or light a candle. 

Use A Science-Backed Journaling Technique

There’s a journaling method for almost everything you can think of, from financial tracking and meal planning to gratitude lists. The Head Plan method is backed by neuroscience and has been carefully compiled to enable you to get the most out of every day.

To get started, carefully consider your long and short-term goals. Ask yourself ‘What do I really want from life?’ and remember no goal is too big! Once you have your ideal reality sussed, consult your journal every day and schedule daily and weekly tasks that align with your big picture vision. It’s goal-setting 101: know what you want and take regular steps to get there.

Another useful tip? Open The Head Plan Productivity and Wellness Journal, and write a daily self-care action and a productivity reward, along with a record of what you’re grateful for and what you have achieved. It’s a way to keep your motivation high and your well-being in great shape

Make A Habit Of It

How do you form a habit? Whether you’re training for a marathon or making journaling something you do daily – you should make the practice obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying according to Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Here’s how to start your journal: set aside the same time every day to use your journal. This makes it obvious. Next, make journaling more attractive by anticipating all the ways your life is going to improve by completing this simple task. (See our list above if you need a little helping hand.)

Then, pop your journal somewhere you’ll see it instead of tucked away in a drawer so it’s easy to get your hands on. Finally, create a reward for completing the behaviour to make it extra satisfying. Now– you are well and truly on your way to making journaling a habit. 

While we’re on the topic, contrary to popular thought, it doesn’t take 21 days to form a habit. Researchers now believe that it can actually take up to 66 days, so if journaling isn’t feeling automatic just yet, stick with it.  

Analyse What’s Not Working And Focus On What Is

Here’s the great thing about journaling: it gives you so much insight. Once you’ve been doing it for a while, you’ll be able to identify behaviour patterns, some that serve you and some that don’t. You might even be able to pinpoint certain limiting beliefs and how they have been impacting your performance.

Better yet, you’ll be able to see how you’ve created positive outcomes in your life – and will know what you need to do to create more of that good stuff in the future.

Here’s a tip: After a few weeks of journaling, flip back through your journal and take a reflective approach when analysing your progress. Where have you followed through on your goals and where have distractions and competing commitments pulled you in a different direction? Would you benefit from switching up your routine, adapting your diet, or getting in an extra hour of sleep? Remember to make a note of what helped you succeed too.

Now, take the same analytical approach towards journaling itself. What can you do to make this habit even more beneficial for you? What do you need to do to ensure you stick with it? You don’t need to make dramatic changes. Small tweaks like changing when and where you journal can give you a much-needed boost. 

What Should I Write In My Journal?

The short answer is ‘whatever you like’. The longer answer is whatever aligns with your current mental and emotional needs and helps you meet your daily goals and objectives. Here are a few ideas:

  • Your weekly goals. Want to get 10,000 steps each day and send that business proposal you’ve been putting off? Write it down and make it happen.
  • Your intention for the day ahead. For example, signing up for a course or taking time to switch off.
  • Your thoughts, worries, and fears
  • Action steps that will help you achieve your goals
  • Positive affirmations
  • Your daily tasks and to-dos.
  • What you’re most grateful for
  • Your daily and weekly achievements
  • Your daily self-care actions and productivity rewards
  • What you’ve learned that day or week

Make Your Journal Personal To You

This is your journey. Nobody else’s. Each and every one of us is different in our own unique way – and your journal should be too! That means your journaling practice doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t need to follow a rigid formula if that’s not your style, so go with your gut and do what feels good to you.

All that really matters is that you start small, keep your expectations realistic and be gentle with yourself throughout this journey. Progress is often a little messy – your journal can be too.

How Do I Get Started With The Head Plan Journals?

Starting your Head Plan journey couldn’t be simpler. Our range of journals, which includes the Productivity & Wellness Journal and a Gratitude Journal, is where happy, productive days live and they use science-backed formulas devised by company co- founder and qualified life coach Denise Kenny Byrne.

To get started, head to our Instagram page @theheadplan where you’ll find an abundance of helpful tips and advice for getting the most from journaling.

If you’re new to journaling, there’s no better place to begin.

September 22, 2021
Tags: featured
Got Back-To-Normality Fear? Manage Return-To-Work Anxiety

Got Back-To-Normality Fear? Manage Return-To-Work Anxiety

Quick question: How do you feel about returning to the office? Excited? Nervous? Or a mix of both?

Whichever camp you fall into, we want you to know your feelings are valid and normal (In fact, a recent study found up to 81% of employees are feeling anxious about returning to the office). 

Maybe you’ve gotten used to spending the day in your comfies and occasionally working from the couch and are now wondering where you’ll find the energy for the conventional 9-5. Perhaps being around people again gives you the fear and you don’t feel ready for a day full of team meetings and interactions with your boss. Or maybe you simply don’t know what to expect and are worried you won’t be able to cope after a year of working from the comfort of home.

Stress and anxiety, no matter what they are caused by, are rooted in the fear of the unknown and the false belief that you won’t be able to cope with whatever comes your way. But we believe you’re more than equipped to not only survive but thrive as life shifts back into fifth gear. 

But just in case you need a little extra convincing we’ve compiled a toolkit, packed with helpful tips and tricks to manage the return to work a little easier. Here’s how…

Put rituals in place

We want you to know something: Good days start and end with rituals. It doesn’t matter if you have a pressing deadline, a scary meeting or an intimidating report to file, when you set (and stick to) daily rituals you set yourself up for success.

So, we suggest that you go ahead and start designing a morning ritual that allows you to feel grounded, motivated and calm and an evening routine that helps you to reflect, relax, and switch off.

To get your day off on the right foot, jot down what you’re grateful for in The Head Plan Gratitude Journal (you can’t feel grateful and anxious at the same time), say some empowering affirmations out loud and clear your mind with a calming meditation.

You might also like to visualise your day going well, get your thoughts and feelings out on paper or click onto The Head Plan App for an instant hit of positivity. 

At night, look back and think about all that you achieved that day. It doesn’t matter whether you’d describe your day as good or bad, we’ll bet you did at least one thing you can feel proud of.

Before you go to sleep, you might like to read something inspiring, recap the best moments of your day or set some intentions for tomorrow. The subconscious mind is most easily influenced in the 45 minutes before you fall asleep, so feed it full of good stuff before bed and you’ll wake ready to take on the day.

Can you feel your energy shift from worried and anxious to uplifted and empowered just by doing these simple practices? Of course you can! All you have to do is bring that energy into your next working day. 

Schedule plenty of rewards

Rewards are essential for our success. They keep us going when our motivation lags and it incentivise us to reach our goals and boost our performance. Not only that, rewards are scientifically proven to reduce stress, particularly when enjoyed mindfully. When you plan rewards you’re shifting your focus from the things you’re dreading to activities you can look forward to.

Dreading Monday? Plan a lovely lunch with your colleagues so you have something exciting to break up the day. Need a little hand getting over the hump? Plan a mid-week cinema date or perhaps practise some self-care with an evening facial. 

Lucky for you, we’ve provided a spot for you to plan a daily productivity reward in The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal.

Get extra organised

Success is in the prep steps so it’s time to get organised and plan, plan, plan. 

Got a million and one things on your back-to-the-office to-do list and haven’t a clue where to start? First things first, write every last one of them out on paper and then use the Eisenhower Method to prioritise them. This means, deciding whether they are:

  •       Important and urgent
  •       Important but not urgent
  •       Not important but urgent
  •       Not important and not urgent

This handy hack allows you to prioritise your important tasks, ditch the stuff that doesn’t matter, and leave room for anything that needs done ASAP. 

Some other nifty tricks? Plan your outfit for work before bedtime (it’ll clear vital headspace for the next day), plan your lunches for the week, and set one goal you want to achieve each day. When you do this, it narrows your focus, meaning you’re less likely to get overwhelmed by your to-do list. 

As Dale Carnegie puts it, “An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing,” so get to it. You’ll function so much better when you know where to put your focus.

Take it slow

If you’re lucky enough to be able to transition back into part-time hours at the office instead of your normal Monday to Friday, do that, or consider making a case for it if you have an understanding boss. If that’s not an option, work plenty of mini-breaks into your working day.

While we’re not suggesting you sneak off to the bathroom every five minutes, we do recommend scheduling a few minutes for yourself every couple of hours to flood your brain with positive thoughts, have a little catch-up with a colleague or sip on a freshly-made cup of herbal tea.

Tackling your day in stages can keep overwhelm at bay. It’s also proven to dramatically cut stress, inspire creative thinking and increase productivity.

Double down on the self-care

Self-care is a multi-faceted thing. It’s not *just* bubble baths and pedicures, it’s figuring out what you really need to nurture your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and committing to it. That might mean grabbing your Nourish meal planner and planning meals that help you to be your most energised and optimistic self or filling up your Daily Drench bottle so you can remain hydrated all day long. 

The good news is, there are so many helpful ways to take care of you while dealing with back-to-real-life anxiety. Panic and overwhelming feelings getting the better of you? Opt for daily meditation and breath work. We have a 5 minute 30 day Meditation series live on The Head Plan App that you can have access too at any time or stage of the day. 

Nerves and anxiety can leave you feeling out of control but putting good self-care practices in place allows you to take back some of the power. Ask yourself, ‘what do I really need right now?’ and create a plan around your answer that empowers you to feel confident, calm and in control.

You’ve got this… 

Remember what we said earlier about how anxiety is rooted in the fear that something bad or unexpected will happen and you won’t know how to cope? Here’s a phrase we’ve borrowed from Susan Jeffers’ best-selling book Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway: ‘I’ll handle it.’

The next time you find yourself stressing and worrying about what could go wrong, take a deep breath and repeat this phrase. It’s a positive reminder that no matter what goes wrong in your day or week, you’ll be okay and you’ll get through it.

Think of it like this: We’ll bet you’ve not only handled a million and one things that have gone wrong in the past but turned them into major personal highs. You can and will do that again.

Think back over all the times you’ve risen to an unexpected challenge, whether it was acing a last-minute project or leading a presentation. You’ve done it once, and guess what? You can do it again.

You’ve got this. You really do. 

September 15, 2021
Tags: featured