mornings

  • 10 Easy Ways To Improve Your Motivation

    We all know the feeling when you’re in a slump and everything feels like you’re running uphill in sand, but the good news is that research shows you can influence your own motivation and self-control.

    I’ve gathered 10 ways to help you tap into your greatness and boost your motivation. You always have the greatness in you, sometimes it just needs activating!

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    This is a proven method for staying on track with exercise goals in particular, as you are no longer tackling them your own. Even when you’re struggling to find your own motivation, you have someone else there to hold you accountable for your own inaction.

    During the toughest of times, it also means that you have someone on side to cheer you on, offer kind words of advice, and help pick you back up after a defeat.

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    Desmond Tutu said “there is only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time”. This is so intuitive, but the mentality often alludes us when we’re faced with a huge task that seems overwhelming. Anything can be accomplished, though, when we break it down and take on one bitesized chunk at a time…

    When embarking on something major, even getting started can feel challenging due to an immobilising fear of the task’s magnitude. Divide it up into baby steps which are manageable and know that no one expects you to achieve everything in one go, so don’t expect it of yourself.

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    Goal setting is key for motivation. When we have vague goals, we don’t get much traction because without a clear vision of where to go – it’s hard to commit. 

    Psychotherapist Denise Fournier (Ph.D) says that “setting goals is important for creating a meaningful, satisfying, successful life”. To tap into our limitless potential as human beings, we have to know exactly what it is that we want to accomplish.

    Defined goals provide the foundation for great achievements, and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar reminds us that “a goal properly set is halfway reached”.

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    Getting pleasure out of an activity, like a workout, increases our motivation. If the task is something that we don’t want to do, then behavioural research shows that even financial incentives aren’t enough to keep us on track.

    Self-Determination Theory (SDT) says that goals are either intrinsically or extrinsically controlled. When you reach your intrinsic goals, you enjoy the activity in itself, so you aren’t even aware of how much time has passed. Extrinsically controlled goals, on the other hand, exist when your focus isn’t on the actual activity – but how it can help you to reach a desired outcome.

    In life, there will be times for both types of goals, but you will feel far more motivated when the activity itself brings you pleasure instead of just the final outcome which can feel a million miles away. Psychologists Edwin Locke and Gary Latham claim that well-chosen goals are part of the “high-performance cycle” because the right goals generate excitement and a sense of self-efficacy. In other words, we are more likely to feel motivated if we think: “I AM capable of reaching these goals”.

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    Motivating yourself to get started on a task can be hard. Yet most people will already be living according to a schedule of some sort, whether it’s a work calendar or personal diary, so if you add in allotted time for your goal then you will feel more compelled to stick to it like the rest of your obligations. 

    When we know that we’ll only have to do the task for 1 hour instead of giving ourselves a whole ‘day’ then it is much easier to use time to its maximum potential. Otherwise, we can easily find other ways to fill time if we give ourselves more than we need (cat videos anyone?) If you schedule time for your goal between other activities, then it also gives you the time pressure of needing to complete it before your next meeting.

    Take note of Parkinson’s Law here – the time that you assign to a task is the time that you will take to complete it.

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    This goes nicely with breaking the activity into bitesized chunks. It is easier to stay motivated for an hour instead of ‘an afternoon’ and you’ll be even more motivated when there’s a reward for completing one of your scheduled time-slots. These treats can be anything from a tea/coffee, toilet break or 2 minutes of social media! Whatever keeps you motivated and isn’t unhealthy in excess.

    Think of it this way, more chunks that you divide your task into = more treats!

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    Visual aids such as a mood board or imagery around your home provide inspiration and make your vision something that you can see with your own eyes. They give you something tangible to work towards, which in turn works wonders for keeping motivation high. The process of creating a moodboard is very personal and you can decide which elements of your vision you want to include, and which you don’t.

    You can read full instructions for how to create a powerful mood board here or watch the video here 🎨 

    Getting crystal clear on your end result and being reminded of it daily will raise your motivation to whole new levels!

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    A change of scene refreshes our energy. Even for the most motivated individual, doing the same task for long periods of time can get very monotonous and entice us to create boredom-induced distractions.

    Make sure that you aren’t chained to the desk/treadmill for 3 hours at a time, as this will ultimately have an adverse effect on your motivation when you start to associate the task with struggle and monotony. Mix it up and move into a new space if you need to, and ensure that you’re keeping your brain engaged with regular breaks.

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    Nothing is more inspirational than reading stories of those who have walked the path of success before you, especially when they came from humble beginnings or an old life which resonates with yours now. It’s important to consider which idols you can research and emulate in order to prove that your goal is achievable and worth pursuing.

    If they can do it, so can you! 

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    Goals turn dissatisfaction with our situation into an intention to improve it. You should always be proud of yourself for making a decision to change your life for the better! If motivation is running low, try to remember the reasons why you started on this path in the first place…

    What benefits were you hoping to achieve? I bet if you really think about it – then you’ve come quite some way from when you first had the idea?

    Give yourself credit where credit is due, and never be too hard on yourself.

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    Motivation is not in constant supply.

    But, while motivation comes and goes, if you can stick to your timetable and attack those bitesized chunks then you can steadily move towards your goals without relying on the appearance of a single emotion.

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  • 8 Ways To Stay Well In Winter

    Unless you are lucky enough to live under the California sunshine, it is likely that you’ve felt the winter blues at some point…

    Even though we all know that true happiness comes from within, some of us are more sensitive to changes in our environment than others. A grey sky, dark mornings and freezing air can inspire feelings of Autumnal bliss, but then later that day leave us feeling miserable and lacklustre.

    As a longtime sufferer of SAD I know this all too well. After churning through many dark seasons from my bed feeling no reason or desire to get up and face the world, I eventually made the link between lack of sunlight and my lack of motivation. It can mean more than just being a “sun-worshipper” and is a serious detriment to mental and emotional wellbeing for many – particularly if you are commuting to & from work in darkness only to arrive at a windowless office.

    Born out of necessity, over the years I have discovered ways to make the transition from sunshine to snow with minimal impact to my mental and emotional health. For anyone else who can relate, here are my top tips for guarding yourself against seasonal changes in mood:

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    Accustomed to long stints of darkness and rain, the Danish know a thing or two about maximising their winters. When I read The Little Book Of Hygge by Meik Wiking, it completely shifted my perspective. Hygge is a feeling of cosiness and wellness which can be achieved whatever the weather if you have the right tools. Your hygge kit should include: snuggly socks, cosy blankets, hot chocolate, a good book by a roaring fire.

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    As you all know, I rave about my 5AM starts (seen here) but waking up to a black 0°C morning doesn’t make it easy on anyone! Luckily, there are now alarm clocks which will wake you up gradually by getting lighter and brighter so that you wake up feeling a little more refreshed and a little less startled…  It is relatively inexpensive to benefit from light therapy at home by finding your own “wake up light alarm clock” online ↠ this one is the cheapest on Amazon UK @ £22.99

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    SAD may be due to Vitamin D fluctuations in our brain restricting Serotonin production. Light therapy will help with this, but taking widely available Vitamin D tablets will also fill up our reserves to help buffer against seasonal mood swings.

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    Much harder to do in the Winter, right? Especially when it comes to outdoor activities! But maintaining a regular routine with exercise you enjoy will keep your body well and the Winter blues at bay. If you can’t bring yourself to step outside in your running shoes, then during the cold months you can switch to indoor classes, hit the gym, or even do YouTube videos at home. You will feel so much better afterwards, I promise!

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    Sometimes the best remedies are found in Mother Nature, and this is certainly true of St Johns Wort. Like Vitamin D, this herbal remedy can help with depressive symptoms by boosting production of neurotransmitters such as Serotonin and Norepinephrine. St Johns Wort works best when combined with light therapy, and is a cost effective method relative to its results.

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    Every day. No excuse.

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    Not only do candles provide the Hygge factor and bring much needed light into your home, but they look beautiful and give it an inviting sense of cosiness during the darkest months. Soy candles are best for the environment and my favourite ones have crystals in too for an added positivity boost ↠ Crystabelles Soy Wax Candles 🕯️

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    It can be so tempting to bear off and hibernate in the winter, but staying consistent with your exercise, diet, social life, sleep pattern and spiritual practice (note: gratitude!) will optimise your body and mind for coping well through the winter. If you’ve found what works for your wellbeing and productivity most of the time, then don’t stop! Stay consistent with what works well for your wellbeing and resist the temptation to call off your favourite pastimes due to the weather.

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    And remember… there will be a new dawn when Spring comes and the sunlight will always return, but until then – you have everything that you need to get through it.

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  • 3 Main Benefits of Daily Gratitude

    Gratitude is an underrated hack for happiness.

    If I could retrace my steps back to when my life changed for the better, I am sure it would be the day I chose to be actively grateful every single day.

    Choosing gratitude is also a decision to improve your life. But like anything worthwhile, finding things to be grateful for is a skill that must be honed until a grateful mindset starts to feel natural and automatic. A mind full of gratitude given time will lead to a heart full of gratitude – and when you have a heart full of gratitude, then the world as you know it will become a whole lot brighter…

    Benefit #1 ⋆The Little Things Become Great Things

    When appreciation grows, abundance flows.

    Appreciation creates abundance in all areas of our life, because gratitude is a sister energy of love. Love is the life force of all creation, so by giving gratitude for something you are breathing life into it and willing it to multiply in your life.

    Through the unforgiving lens of our mind, many of the occurrences in our life can seem thankless and irrelevant, or worse, inconvenient and unwelcome. But by forcing yourself to be grateful for all of them – regardless of their consequences – you are acknowledging the higher truth that everything happens for your highest benefit.

    Whatever the situation, we can always be thankful in advance, even when the lessons we have been assigned to learn through the school of hard knocks haven’t been illuminated to us yet.

    Benefit #2 ⋆ Feeling More Resilient

    A Harvard researcher had an amazing discovery. When a study group practised gratitude for 21 days as part of a psychology experiment, the benefits of a more positive mindset remained visible for the next 6 months! When our gratitude muscle is well-trained and strong, we can adequately defend ourselves against bouts of negativity and challenging life events.

    After practising daily gratitude for a while, you will begin to realise that the things which once impacted your mood now don’t hurt you as much. A positive mindset is a remedy for most things, and with the sense of wellbeing that a grateful mind brings, you can sail the stormy seas of your emotions and keep yourself dry during life’s downpours using the umbrella of your positive mind. ☂️

    Benefit #3 ⋆ Social Contagion Effect

    By filling yourself up with gratitude, your own issues will become less concerning to you so you can redistribute that emotional energy as compassion for others.

    Your energy is infectious, and due to our empathetic nature as social creatures we are all susceptible to a social contagion effect. Stanford University (1998) defines social contagion as “the spread of affect or behaviour from one crowd participant to another; one person serves as the stimulus for the imitative actions of another.”

    Your behaviour signals to others what is acceptable behaviour from them. This means that we all carry huge influence through our behaviour due to this social contagion effect. If it is true that there are 6 degrees of separation between us and every other person on the planet, then all of our actions are loaded with the potential for huge impact. Daily gratitude not only changes your life for the better, but by emotional osmosis you will infect the people around you with a sunnier outlook too.

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