If you’ve realised that your resolutions for this year are pretty much the same as last year, you’ll understand that something needs to change.
The change must be in how you think.
The first thing I'd suggest is to change your language.
If you've made "resolutions" for years and years with little or no success, then you might already understand that even the word is pre-weighted with expectations which are hardly likely to spur you on. In your mind, resolutions might equate with failure, before you even start! Can I suggest calling them goals or intentions instead?
The resolutions most people make are often too binary to stick – I will lose some weight/ I will learn something / I will make more money, and often add to the pressure you feel in feel in either "succeeding" or "failing". This isn't helpful for the change you want to make. Binary challenges are demotivating when you have a slip- and the vast majority of us slip in the journey of making these new intentions our new habits. When you support wishes (for that’s what resolutions really are at heart) with some structured thinking it can help you get results that move you further towards your goals.
Firstly, it’s important to set goals that are achievable. You can do this by asking yourself three simple questions- What do you want to leave behind and why? What do you want to continue carrying forward because it is useful/helpful? What new things do you want to introduce or experience? (e.g. courses, hobbies, etc.)
When we know the “why?” we are more likely to commit and take action to achieve it. Here are a couple of examples:
Something to leave behind. Perhaps shed unwanted weight? – Why? Give yourself positive reasons – I will have fewer aches and pains, my clothes will fit better, my health will improve, I will have more energy and vitality to play with my kids, I will feel better altogether.
Something to carry forward. Perhaps selfcare strategies (stretching, meditation, etc)? Why? It allows me to improve my work/life balance, it encourages me to take time for myself, it prevents burnout, reminds me I am worth caring about.
Something new. Perhaps learning? Why? So I can help my customers/clients better, increase my qualifications, help me to progress in my career aspirations, create new connections with others who have similar interests.
Can you see that rather just say “I will lose unwanted weight/ I will practice selfcare/ I will devote time to learning” by telling yourself the WHYs of your intentions, then the HOWs (which are the next stage of the process) will come more easily and naturally to you.
Goals can be encouraged by creating timelines and milestones- deadlines for achievement of certain key stages of the goal, just as we do with our professional workloads, breaking them down and chunking time to ensure we keep on track. It’s exactly the same for our personal goals. But for personal goals we need to soften the timelines to understand they may need to be adjusted or extended. What’s really important is the trend in what you are changing, the average over a timeframe, not just one day where you just had a crappy day- as we all do. It's always important to remember that we are all human and not perfect. The understanding that we are moving in the right direction towards realising our goals is much more important than a slip day. We're still going in the right direction.
While many people know what actions they want to take, for others it might be a little more difficult to visualise or quantify what they'd like to change. If that includes you, here's another approach which may appeal - consider what positive qualities you want to develop, and which negative qualities to diminish. For example, you might realise that overwhelm has often caused you to say things to others that you later regretted. Therefore, you may wish to develop the quality of calmness, to help you stop and consider your words before replying, and to take steps towards being kinder and more thoughtful towards others and yourself. These reflections upon who you want to be, as well as what, can help support your growth towards the life you want, and not staying stuck with the life you’ve got.
Whether you’re establishing goals, improving behaviours or fostering better habits, may I wish you every success with your own new year changes.
And if you feel that you need any help with making progress this new year, I am available when you book a free Discovery Call with me.
As we draw towards the end of the holiday season, I hope that you and your loved ones are well, and that you’re finding time to relax, restore and reflect.
Your first priority is the one that so many people forget- it’s to take care of yourself! Self-care is never selfish, and always necessary. Give yourself time, space, kindness and understanding, especially when others don't. Nobody’s perfect - so you don’t have to be either!
To help you on your self-care journey, I've prepared this short recording for you, that you can use whenever you can take -or make- 12 minutes for yourself. It's a great way to start 2023, by building your confidence and relaxation skills - and everyone can benefit from this.
Access the recording below
NOTES: The usual warnings apply, please don't listen to this while driving or operating machinery.
Please also be aware that this recording contains positive suggestions but it is not a substitute for therapy.
This sound recording is copyright Juan Carlos Gouveia 2022, and may not be shared, sold on, or otherwise reproduced in any form without prior written permission of the copyright holder.
This week (7-11 November) is International Stress Awareness Week. Having studied stress from a psychological as well as a medical point of view, I wanted to share some thoughts about the nature of stress, and some ideas about how to handle it.
Stress is a normal and natural part of everyday life. In fact, a low level of stress will help us in our daily activities, as long as that stress occurs in short bursts. It is when stress becomes extreme, sustained or elevated over a long period of time, that our bodies pay an unseen price that can impact our long-term health and wellbeing.
Let’s explore the stress response. When a person experiences a stressful event whether in reality or just in their thinking, the mind signals to the body that something constitutes some form of a threat. This is the body’s way of declaring “battle stations”. While that may sound extreme, that is exactly the way the body responds to a threat, due to the central alarm system of the brain, the amygdala – a prehistoric part of our brain exclusively focused on survival.
These battle preparations align with the “fight or flight” responses we are all familiar with. In a state of stress, whether real or imaginary, the body needs to marshal its resources urgently. It needs to create energy immediately to respond to the perceived situation, so it will recruit the adrenal glands to produce the cortisol and adrenaline to fire up the body. And then it's going to cascade the production of glucose to maintain that energy level, so it's going to recruit glucose from the liver and muscles. Blood will flow away from the brain to the legs, hands and extremities, ready to fight or flee.
The body’s healing and repair systems will be shut down in order to focus all the energy, all the attention on the stress which caused the alarm to activate. So if you already have an injury, a disease or an imbalance, there will be no energy left to help your body recover from that.
It is only when the stress subsides that the body will be able to begin to resume its normal maintenance programmes, but the aftermath of stress is not easy either. The body then has to manage the large volumes of chemicals which have been produced during the stress response. These chemicals are extremely potent and were not designed to be carried in the body, but to be used up in the stress response. If the stressful situation has not used up these chemicals, where do these unwanted chemicals go? That’s when they get stored somewhere in the body, where they have the potential to harm us, unless expended in some way.
The body needs to come to a state of calmness before the functions of repairing and healing are gradually restored, as functioning through the sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) activity subsides and switches to our other nervous system, called the parasympathetic nervous system (also known as “rest and digest” state) which is when the repair and healing can resume.
And that's why it's important to have an awareness when we are feeling stressed, to have in our self-help toolkit a number of strategies to help us to come back to a calmer situation. Solutions can involve getting out of the environment where the stress began and taking a walk, or we can consciously slow and deepen our rate of breathing, we can meditate. We can sit down, have a soothing drink, we can listen to music. We can look out of the window, go outside and look at the garden. And all those things will help you cope with the stressful situation.
I hope that you have found some useful information here. As a certified Stress Management Consultant, I help people manage their stress levels on a one-to-one basis. If you would like to talk with me about stress, and how I might help you, please book a free appointment by using the green BOOK button on this page.
Copyright ©2022 Juan Carlos Gouveia - all rights reserved
Today is World Brain Day!
It’s a great opportunity to celebrate our amazing “grey matter” that allows us to navigate the world. Founded by the World Federation of Neurology, this year’s theme is “better brain health for all”.
So, lets make it personal. Here are some of the many things you can do to help yourself to better brain health.
Physical activity - walking, going to the gym, anything which gets you moving is helpful.
Make time for others – social engagement not only brings us the chance to communicate with others, it also allows us to recognise and celebrate our similarities- and our differences!
Good nutrition – making sure you eat a well-balanced diet with lots of fresh, colourful fruit and vegetables, reducing processed foods will help your brain stay healthy.
Hydration – even being a little dehydrated puts your brain under stress. Increase your water intake to help your brain perform better. And remember, thirst sometimes feels like hunger, so reach for a drink before you eat!
Breathe cleaner air – escape the city when you can and spend time in nature to breathe fewer damaging airborne pollutants.
Get better (and more) sleep – you may need more sleep than you’re giving yourself. Try an early night or two and see if it makes you feel better the following day. Switching off from screen viewing an hour before bed will also allow your brain to rest more fully.
None of these costs much (if anything), but the benefits could be huge.
Invest some time in thinking how you can care for your brain better today!
Copyright ©2022 Juan Carlos Gouveia - all rights reserved
When you say “Will Smith” and “Academy Awards”, unfortunately what most people will think of is “that slap” instead of “Best Actor”.
Much has already been said about the incident at the Academy Awards ceremony when actor Will Smith hit comedian Chris Rock in response to a “joke” about Smith’s wife’s medical condition.
Whatever your viewpoint, the one thing we can all agree upon is that violence is never the answer.
From a therapeutic viewpoint, this event was significant for a number of reasons. It was a perfect demonstration that when the mind battles between logic and emotion, emotion always wins.
Smith later apologised, explaining his response was a consequence of family violence he witnessed as a child.
In retrospect, with his logic mind in control, he might well have wished to take the moral high ground and used the point to educate. However, the emotional side of the mind is lightning fast to react - and very difficult to control.
This event is – unfortunately - the perfect example of what happens when unresolved childhood issues are buried within a person’s mind. It never goes away until it is faced, dealt with and disempowered. How significant that over 40 years after the event it is still with him, detracting from this highpoint in his career, tainting that moment in history, defining it in a way he may not have reckoned with, and undoubtedly did not want.
This is a graphic reminder that childhood experiences have the power to define you, how you think and feel, and how successful you will be in your life. Unless you take action to deal with them and move on, they have the potential to come back to haunt you and define at least a part of who you are today – and in the future.
These are exactly the kinds of issues that I regularly help my clients address and free themselves from their past to stop them sabotaging their future. So many people experience these same overwhelming feelings. But with the right help, these past events do not have to write your future - they can be laid to rest.
If you find yourself resonating with this subject, feel free to book in a Discovery Call with me to discuss it confidentially and with no obligation.
Copyright ©2022 Juan Carlos Gouveia - all rights reserved
Juan Carlos is a therapist and author with over 22 years' experience as a diagnostic scientist.
All blog entries are Copyright ©2019-2023 Juan Carlos Gouveia, All Rights Reserved.
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