Oil & Gas UK reported 50% of adults to experience mental illness at some point, only 20% seek help. If the humanitarian aspect of looking after people is not compelling enough, it is calculated these stats result in 70 million lost workdays at a £2.4 billion cost to employers. And that’s only for the UK!
Happiness isn’t a destination
Happiness isn’t a destination or something in the future. Many of us say “when I get there” or “when I get this I’ll be happy”. In fact, Katherine Tiddy, a happiness expert says 50% of happiness is genetic, 40% in your control, 10% life situation. I always liked Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn saying: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”
Understanding how your brain works
To be happy it helps if you understand your brain. Our amygdala is always on the lookout for risk and negatives. Brains like pattern and routine, it means less risk. With less risk, most of us can do something to a set standard because a pattern is established there already. So if you form good habits, with patterns you are set to be productive and happy.
I use “when I, then I” prompts. “When I feel stressed, then I take a moment to reflect”.
Simplify, reduce expectation, remove obstacles, be curious, don’t be afraid to fail are all important factors for habit creation too.
Mental state impacts motivation
Mental state impacts motivation which naturally peaks and troughs. If something is not important to you individually, you struggle to do it. So you should set the outcome you want to achieve and make an emotional commitment to the aspiration. Then you get more energy and are more likely to hit the goal.
Start easy, low obstacle tasks to get some quick wins. This dopamine hit tells your hippocampus in the brain “that action felt good” and so as you achieve, new patterns are getting wired in and supported by your brain. With belief, you can move to more challenging, higher motivation areas.
If you have struggled – be aware of that and ponder with curiosity, why is this proving difficult for me? Journaling helps here. By pouring out your thoughts, solutions start to present themselves.
Define what your triggers are
We can all feel stressed at times. Be aware of what triggers you and STOP that is (Stop, Take a breath, Observe, Proceed). Practising mindfulness reduces stress, anxiety, depression. It allows you to be calmer and less reactive. It is also proven to improve sleep, relationships, focus, slows ageing, and be more self-compassionate.
In the ‘observe’ part of STOP, ask yourself “what does it mean to me and why?” Then remind yourself what you want, why you want it, and start again. Reinforcing the belief you have a choice in how you feel brings certainty. That feeling of control delivers oxytocin’s which make you happy. The brain listens to what we tell it, so keep with positive thoughts, a plan for success can get you through the most trying circumstances.
Good sleep is a key
Sleep is a key start point for impacting everything else. Good sleep helps you to learn, boosts the immune system, reduce stress, improves health, reduces a focus on negative things, decreases anxiety, you make better decisions, acquire new skills better.
This is another area for habit creation with a good pre-sleep routine so you shut down effectively. Then you can wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead.
Of course, if you can email me how this happens with a 4 & 3-year-old at my home, I’d welcome your tips anytime!