by Birgit M. Okoro

3 ways to tap into the present moment easily

In your daily life, do you find your mind wandering? ⁠

Are you often so caught up in checking your phone that you’re not engaging with your loved ones? ⁠

It can be difficult to be in the moment when you have a full schedule or other things on your mind. ⁠

But isn’t it so… all we have right now is the present moment. The past is gone and the future is unwritten. So instead of holding onto gone times or looking forward to the future, how about being thankful for the beauty of ‘right now’? If you are truly experiencing each moment of your day, doesn’t that seem to be the best way to spend your time wisely? ⁠

A wise man once said, “If you’re in your head, you’re dead.”  That sounds probably a little bit dramatic… but I’m sure you can see the point of truth in there. If you’re not enjoying what’s happening around you, and are instead wrapped up in your to-do lists and worries, then you’re not really living at all.⁠

However, there are many benefits to being present. ⁠

Practicing mindfulness can boost your memory, increase your focus, reduce stress, improve your emotional fitness, help you to make the best decisions at any given time and more!

So let’s start practicing how to be more present – right away.⁠

Today I am here to share my personal 

 “3 BEST PRACTICE TIPS TO TAP INTO THE PRESENT MOMENT EASILY“! ⁠

✨No.1✨
Focus on your breath

When you are present there is a certain stillness and centeredness inside. You calm down.
By focusing just on the in and out-breaths you connect to the present moment instead of the past or future scenarios that are stressing you.
Take some “belly breaths and just focus on them for a minute or two!

✨No.2✨
Focus on what’s right in front of you… Or on you.

Use your senses. Just look at what’s right in front of you right now. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel the fabric of your clothes and focus on how they feel. You can for instance use the summer sun or rain and how it feels on your skin to connect with the present.

✨TIP No.3✨
Pick up the vibe from present people.

If you know someone that is more present than most people then you can pick his/her vibe of presence (just like you can pick up positivity or enthusiasm from people)… It works!

If you don’t know someone like that, I recommend “Stillness Speaks” or “The Flowering of Consciousness” (both by Eckhardt Tolle). Listening to/watching cds/dvds work better for me when I wanna pick up someone’s vibe since the biggest part of communication is voice tonality and body language… but in general books works of course too!!

Being present in your life takes practice, and it can be difficult.

Especially at the beginning, it’s not realistic to be present every minute of the day! Don’t stress you about this! Let’s start with 15 minutes today.

You can start “being present”  whilst washing the dishes, meditating, journaling or doing enjoyable activities which do not require tech devices!  

I have a practice of walking in nature to help me be present in the moment. I also like activities such as cooking and baking to help me stay present. Reading hard copy books or even relaxing with a cup of coffee can ground me perfectly into the present moment, too!

So, what will you be doing to stay present today?

with all my love, Birgit

 If you’re still struggling to stay on task at work, or can’t give your family your undivided attention, perhaps it’s time you and I should have a conversation…

Did I missed out your best-practice to tap into the present moment? For sure, there are a few more ways to return to the present moment.

I would love to hear about your favorite way to tap into the present moment! Put it in the comments below… or click here to send me a message.

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how to write a journal for a better and even more productive SElf

How many times have rampant thoughts distracted you from your work? How many times have ideas popped in and popped out before you had a chance to capture them? Or maybe clarity has gone missing in action and you would like to find it again?

As a busy person, it is not uncommon for your mind to become overwhelmed trying to manage and process all the thoughts, the to-do list that is a mile long, the conversations had and the ideas that float in and out.

So what is a busy person meant to do with all the “stuff” that takes up valuable mental real estate? Write in a journal.

At first I was resistant. The thought of doing something that required what I believed to be work on my part turned my stomach. Not to mention, I had no clue what to write each day.

After about a week of journaling, I started to notice my mental clarity improve which ultimately lead to more productivity. And now after several years of using a writing journal, I look forward to it and if I skip a day, I really miss it.

In this article, I am going to share with you not only the benefits of a writing journal but also some simple ways to get started that won’t take up too much time, ways that positively impact your own mental clarity and that contribute to your productivity.

 

Why writing  a  journal matters …

Some of the busiest people I know complain about the same thing — the inability to turn off their brains; or worse, the inability to focus on the tasks at hand because of the high volume of thoughts and ideas they have.

Enter a writing journal. That journal is a safe place where you share your thoughts, your ideas, your questions and your concerns without interruption or the concern of another’s opinion or judgments. It’s a place to explore, pontificate and even complain.

In short, it is a great place for brain dumping so that you have the mental space to be more productive. But that is not the only benefit to a writing journal. Here are a few others:

It is a great way to have an “a-ha moment”.

Imagine you are in a conversation where all the sudden you hear yourself say something and a light bulb turns on. Writing in a journal serves that same purpose. With a journal, it is not uncommon that as you are capturing your thoughts, new awareness is being created.

For example, if I am struggling to find a solution to an issue, my journal provides me with the space I need to get the issue out of my head and onto paper. It’s not uncommon for questions to surface that I then answer; enter the clarity and a-ha moment.

It creates contentment and grounding.

Writing in a journal engages a form of mindfulness. It is the mindfulness that helps you to feel more grounded.

It diminishes the chaos.

Medical reviewers Paul Ballas and Maureen Fraser report,[2]

“Keeping a journal helps you establish order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. It helps you get to know yourself by revealing your innermost fears, thoughts, and feelings. Look at your writing time as personal relaxation time, a time when you de-stress and wind down. Write in a place that’s relaxing and soothing—maybe with a cup of tea. Look forward to your journaling time, and know that you’re doing something good for your mind and body.”

It is a safe place to process and clear the air.

The things you stress over or worry about as well as any negative thoughts are similar to bacteria. When you keep them in the dark recesses of your mind, they grow.

By writing about them, you shine a light on them which causes them to shrink. Freeing up that valuable mental real estate to focus on something that is much more productive.

The same is true for anything or anyone that bothers you, whether that is the annoying co-worker, the argument with your partner, the project that went awry; it does not matter. If it is bothering you, it is worth journaling about to clear the air.

Not to mention, it gives you the opportunity to spot the lessons to be leveraged the next time someone or something annoys you.

It is good for your health.

Psychotherapist Maud Purcell in her article The Health Benefits of Journaling:[3]

“There is increasing evidence to support the notion that journaling has a positive impact on physical well-being. University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, acting as a stress management tool, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health.”

It is a great tool for prioritizing.

A journal is a great place to capture all the things you want and need to do so that you can begin to prioritize and plan. Getting it all down on paper helps ensure that you are not missing anything important.

Not to mention, your journal is a great place to capture the wins, the steps you took with a project and any insights you gained. That way the next time a similar project or priority makes its way across your desk, you have a plan that you can recycle and re-use.

With the benefits in mind, are you ready to give a writing journal a whirl?

A step-by-step guide to start writing  a journal

Here is an easy to use step-by-step guide to help you get started:

What do you want to gain from a writing journal?

Getting clear around your purpose or objective for journaling sets a clear intention for your journaling. It is that clear intention that helps you to journal on a consistent basis in order to increase your productivity. (The operative word being “consistent”.)

Important Note: Make sure that your purpose or objective is one that resonants with you. For example, maybe it is a form of self-care, or maybe you want to map out your next business idea. Since feelings drive actions, if you feel good about the prospect of journaling, you are more apt to do it.

Electronic or paper journal? There is no right or wrong mode to use for journaling; it is whatever is going to be easiest and the most comfortable for you to use.

When I first started journaling, I picked out a really cool notebook and pen that I used only for journaling.

Today I use both an electronic and paper journal. I use the paper journal and colored pens for my gratitude journaling and morning pages. And I use Good Notes and my Apple Pencil (because I like the handwritten approach) for my bullet journaling where I capture my ideas, things I need to research and outlines for my projects. Important Note: Start out simple and small, even a piece of paper from loose leaf notebook works!

Whether that is at your kitchen table, a comfy chair in the corner of your living room or propped up on pillows in your bed, it is important to find a place where you feel comfortable writing. A place where you won’t be interrupted.

Mornings before you begin the day or at night before bed; whenever you have some free time in your schedule that you can take 5-10 minutes to write.

When I first started, I tried different times of day on for size until I found a time that consistently worked. I tried writing in between clients, I tried writing right before bed and I tried writing in the morning as a part of my morning ritual. Morning time became my favorite time to write because I was less distracted by the day’s events.

Give different times a try and see what works best for you.

Most importantly, do not worry about what to write. Worrying about what to write makes using a writing journal a task instead of a powerful tool.

You can even start out by writing “I don’t know what to write” and go from there. Let whatever is on your mind come out on the page.

Start journaling now!

For the next 30 days, commit to writing in a journal. Whether you use the stream of consciousness approach of morning pages or journal prompts to get the writing juices flowing, allow the next 30 days to be a time of self-discovery, increased productivity and clarity as a result of your journaling.

And as reminder:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Find a consistent time that works for you over the next 30 days.
  • Leave the perfectionism at the door and just let whatever is coming up, come out on the pages.

There is no right or wrong way to use a journal. The key is allowing it to be your assistant in creating more space in your brain so that you can be your most productive self.

If you feel lost on topics to journal about… here are some questions to help you on emotional self-care.

What made me feel good and inspired today?

Why did this activity made me feel good?

What did I discover about myself today?

What is my intention for tomorrow?

How do you want to show up tomorrow?

If you had a challenging day, I want to encourage you to still find one positive thing to focus on.

with all my love, Birgit

You got questions? Click this link and send me a message.

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how a walk outside can boost your health and your success

Did you know?

Spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, is one of the fastest ways 

to improve 

your health, 

your happiness 

and your productivity!

As much as a daily walk in the fresh air may seem like a waste of time at first glance… its benefits are also numerous: it has been shown to lower stress, blood pressure and heart rate, promote physical activity and lift mood and mental health!
Some research even suggests that green spaces are associated with a lower risk of developing psychiatric disorders – all findings that are now even taken seriously by the medical community…. – so why should we?

In 2019 a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research   shows just how little time it takes to get the benefits of being outside:

Spending just 20 minutes in a park — even if you don’t exercise while you’re there — is enough to improve well-being, according to the research.

For the study, researchers surveyed 94 adults who visited one of three urban parks near Birmingham over the summer and fall. They were given fitness trackers to measure physical activity but were not told what to do in the park or how long to stay. Each person also answered questions about their life satisfaction and mood — which were used to calculate a subjective well-being score, with a maximum value of 55 — before and after their park visit. The average park visit lasted 32 minutes, and 30% of people engaged in at least moderate-intensity physical activity while there. Well-being scores rose during the park visit in 60% of people, with an average increase of about 1.5 points (from about 37 to 39).

Physical activity was not necessary to increase well-being, the study authors found, even though plenty of research suggests that exercise is great for your mental well-being, especially when it’s done outside! For many people in the study, simply being in green space seemed to be enough to spark a change, says study co-author Hon Yuen, director of research in the occupational therapy department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“Some people may go to the park and just enjoy nature. It’s not that they have to be rigorous in terms of exercise,” Yuen says. “You relax and reduce stress, and then you feel more happy.”

As there are countless benefits of a walk outside… I’ll give you SIX:

A mindful walk in nature will clear your mind!

When you are close to your problems it is difficult to see the solutions. The mind is a powerful tool, but if it is overexercised, it loses its efficacy and can lead to poor decisions and lower productivity. Helping the mind step down from its state of endless frenzy can do wonders for your focus, productivity, and efficacy.

A walk outside has been proven to boost creativity and help increase the flow of new ideas by nearly 60 percent, while another study suggests that even simply looking outside for just 40 seconds at a time helped boost employee productivity throughout the workday.

Your mood will improve!

taking a walk of just 30min will lift your mood because any kind of exercise

signals your body to release endorphins, which improve mood and trigger positive feelings in the body.

Research has shown that going on regular walks improves your nervous system, leading to decreased levels of anger and hostility. Walking outdoors is even more beneficial: being in nature reduces tension and depression.

Even just looking at pictures of nature has been shown to increase feelings of positivity and emotional stability.

You’ll feel more creative

Spending time outdoors is a great way to get your creative juices flowing!

Whether you’re struggling with (writer’s block or can’t figure out the solution to a problem at work) taking a walk outside can help clear your mind and trigger new ideas.

Your skin will look younger

No, I’m not kidding. Daily walking increases your body’s production of collagen, which keeps your skin smooth and elastic.

You’ll increase your vitamin D levels

Walking outside exposes your skin to sunlight, which triggers your body to produce more vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiencies are common and can contribute to many diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and prostate cancer. Low vitamin D levels are also linked to depression, frequent illness, fatigue & muscle pain. Just don’t let yourself get burned.

You’ll have more fun

Spending time at the gym and staring at the same four walls can get really boring, isn’t it?

Actually people who engage in outdoor activity report greater satisfaction with and more enjoyment from their exercise program!

When you’re walking outside, you can always change the scenery to keep things interesting or try a different route to make your walk more challenging

So what are you waiting for? Go outside and  you catch some fresh air and let the sun kiss your nose!

To improve your (mental and physical) well-being AND your success never seemed to be easier

 

with all my love, Birgit

You got questions? Click this link and send me a message.

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spring clean your life (and why it is the best Thing you can do right now to improve your life)

IT’S HERE: SPRING

Finally it is getting warmer and brighter! 

And while temperature is raising and the birds are singing… maybe you are thinking of spring cleaning your house, so things will be FRESH again! 

I do. 

I think it’s a great idea spring cleaning the environment… so why not start to declutter your mind as well? 

Doesn’t that sound like “finally breathing a sigh of relief” and “recharging your batteries” to you? 

Can you imaging being there?
Can you imagine living in that state? 

Maybe your New Years motivation is worn off and all your thinking about is warm weather and the delicious fresh air.  

And I couldn’t agree more!

Spring cleaning your home is pretty straightforward…. But spring cleaning your LIFE? I know you have heard this many times over: decluttering „your stuff” which is no longer relevant to you or doesn’t serve you anymore, can refresh and rejuvenate you! Oh it doesn’t sound like fun, does it? 

But does „carrying that dusty stuff in your mind“ making you feel good? Not me at all! It gives me more of the “getting stuck in that hamster wheel of never ending drama” … and this cannot be a pleasure trip. That’s for sure.

 What about you?

Sometimes life just gets away from us and we can never catch up. 

It’s ok. 

That’s life. 

All we can do is our best and try to uncover some things that may have been buried in the busyness of life. 

I just hope that the following tips are useful for you if you are thinking about refreshing your life! 

You may not know this but you suffer from decision fatigue, every day.  And so do we all ; our entire society. Crazy, isn’t it?

Try and declutter your mental state as much as possible. You will feel much lighter by giving your brain a quick reboot when you feel stressed or stuck can help clear out the backlogs of thoughts in your working memory and leave you with a tidier “mental workspace”!

Take a mindful walk in nature with no podcast, no music, no audio books and definitely no surfing the Net! Bring your attention to what shows up on your walk… and treat yourself a couple of deep breaths. 

 

 

Think about where you need to be spending your time and energy. If you are trying to fit everything in, that may be a red flag. 

Schedule in time for yourself and only things that light you up. Everything else is secondary and unimportant.

 

Think about how your relationships are doing. You may need to end some toxic relationships or get in touch with some old friends. Think about how you could to better prioritize your time for your loved ones. 

 

You are beautiful and gifted.
You have talents that are so unique to you, show them off! After all, the relationship you have with yourself may ultimately be the one that matters most—it gifts you the resiliency, confidence, kindness, motivation, and love that informs the rest of your life and helps you be the best person you can be.



Take a look at your money coming in and the money going out. 


Are you happy with it? How can you refresh your budget? 

 

 Do you feel good? 

 

Switching up what you’ve been eating may help you to feel more energized, lighter, and less fatigued. 

As you’re spring cleaning your home, start getting rid of the things that just collect dust. 

You know that junk drawer you hate opening? Start pitching! 

You know that song, don’t you? 

The one that when it comes on you just feel like you are on top of the world and you can do anything? Have it ready to play at a moment’s notice to get you through difficult times. 

Stop holding onto things hoping you will fit into them. It only create negative energy and thoughts about yourself. Keep only clothes that fit you nicely in your closet. 

You won’t regret it! If you’re new to the idea of a casual wardrobe, let me explain. A casual wardrobe is a small collection of clothes you LOVE, that look and feel great on, and you can mix and match to make many outfit combinations. 

Many people worry such a casual wardrobe will feel restrictive. But what I love about it is how much freedom it gives you. In my experience, dressing from a capsule wardrobe is awesome

 

Where do you want your life to be in 1, 3, 10 years from now? 

Did you know, that your higher purpose (and therefore your BIG PICTURE)  is linked to your joy! Write down 3 activities which bring you joy and can make a positive impact  to the people around you & the world.

Ask yourself: What do I need to do to get there? 

Today is time for you to feel optimistic & inspired about your goals.

Choose an uplifting podcast or audiobook to listen to. If you are a visual person, read motivating articles or stream motivating videos on Youtube. It is best if you can make this a daily habit!

Not just your home, but your car, your work desk, any place you spend your time. 

Making the effort to declutter and organize your “spaces” can save you tons of time looking for or replacing lost items in the future and this makes you more productive, while the cleaning process itself can increase energy levels!

PS: Learn to let go. If you haven’t used something since the last spring clean, it might be time to say goodbye…

Get back to the root of what makes you well …you! 

Ask yourself what values represent your primary way of being? Write down your top 6. Go across all the words you chose until you settle with the final 3!            

How can you be more congruent with your core values and the way you show up in the world?

 

How are things going?

 What can you do better moving forward?

 What do you need to let go of? 

Your mindset is key to everything!                                                                                         It affects not only your daily life but also the lives of others around you. Make sure to check in with yourself and see how you could improve how you react to situations. 

Now is the best time ever to think about your day to day and maybe try a new way of doing things. 

Life is a series of routines: they help us function against the chaos of the world and of our minds. They give us extra control and discipline and therefore safety! And there is nothing wrong wrong with wanting to feel safe… until safety gets in the way of your potential. 

 So today change some of your routines… do things differently and have a look for what shows up.

 

Want to learn a new language or start practicing yoga or painting? Do it! 

Trying new things not only helps us overcome fears, but also allows us to broaden our horizons and learn – both about the new thing and about ourselves. And nothing compares to the thrill of a new experience – and nothing is as memorable.

Clear out everything that’s clutter or contributing to negative thoughts in your life. Everything on your phone, tablet, computer, and your social media. Clear out apps, contacts/people, photos, etc. Unfriend, unfollow, and unlike pages and people that are negative. Fill your social media feeds with positive people and businesses that bring you light and love! 

 

Unsubscribe to TV channels, magazines, mail, emails, etc that are no longer serving you.

This may be best to keep as the last thing you do to spring clean your life.  

Get back to you. Re-connect with your true YOU. 

Does these tips sound useful for you about the spring cleaning idea? 
What do you do to spring clean your life? 
Please let me know. 
What makes you feel better and refreshed for this beautiful time of the year? 

Do you want to get out of the winter slump?

Do you want to become calmer and more focused?

Would you like to gain a more positive attitude and a beneficial, productive and  future-oriented mindset?

If this sounds like you… than you should probably join my 

SPRING CLEAN YOUR LIFE CHALLENGE” 

A little spring cleaning will increases your productivity, your health and your  mood  & it will reduces stress and helps you focus!

Come and join my Free April Challenge!

  It comes with a bunch of additional informations and extra tips 

+ a private FacebookGroup with extraordinary people like you 

+ weekly Live-Calls  + the prospect of a dusted-off life! 

Don’t wait any longer and start your journey into a prosperous and joyful life.

Let’s do this together and Spring Clean OUR Lives!

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10 Things You Can Do actually Today To Change Your Life 

Living your best life means something different to every single person and it doesn’t have to mean having fame and fortune. Your definition may be drastically different from that of your spouse or partner, too, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s important to remember is: No matter what your dreams, no matter what your circumstances, you CAN change your life’s path by making small changes. These small changes compound over time to produce amazing results, without taking a tremendous amount of time out of your daily life.

Here are 10 things you can do right now, TODAY, to change your life and your level of happiness:

(1) Figure out who you want to be, then plan the steps you need to get there

Do you want to be CEO of your own business, a partner in a top law firm, or volunteer of the year at your kids’ school? Every path requires different skills and knowledge base, so it’s up to you to figure out what you need to be the type of person you desire.

(2) Practice habit stacking – or multitasking

If you’ve been meaning to read more but can’t seem to find the time, take the 10 minutes it takes your coffee to brew in the morning to read. Don’t reach for your phone; grab your book instead. This commitment is much easier because it’s not a lot of time and you’re already spending that time waiting for your coffee. Another example is to floss right after brushing your teeth. You’re already in the bathroom so flossing is the next logical habit to start.

(3) Incorporate the 2 minute rule

Instead of committing to meditating for 20 minutes every day, commit to 2 minutes. Or add an extra 2 minutes to the end of your cardio workout. Relieve stress by doing some deep breathing exercises for 2 minutes. It’s much easier to do something for 2 minutes than it is to carve out time for 20+ minutes.

(4) Make clear boundaries

Boundaries are necessary to keep us sane in both our personal and professional lives. Do you want to be on call with clients 24/7 or would you like to handle business only during business hours? Do you want toxic friends or family members sucking the fun out of your family events? Consider who you want at these events and invite who you want, not who you feel obligated to invite.

(5) Identify as the person you want to be

Use some adjectives to describe the type of person you want to be. Are you “someone who doesn’t eat junk food” or are you “someone who’s constantly tempted by snacks”? Are you “trying to quit smoking” or are you “a non-smoker”? The same is true in business. If you run your own business, you’re a CEO, no matter how you slice it. Turning your description of yourself into a positive voice – and dropping the word “trying” – really impacts your mindset.

(6) Find your community and join them to further sink into your identity

Surrounding yourself with like-minded people will help you keep that positive mindset; however, it takes more work to find that right community than just saying “I don’t eat junk food” or “I’m a wellness coach.” Dig deep, the same as you would to find your ideal client. The term “coach” alone is far too broad; an “Aruvedic Coach” is better but you’ll really find your community if you identify as an “Aruvedic Mom Coach” (or substitute Mom for whoever your target market is).  

(7) Get back on the wagon immediately if you slip

All is not lost if you make a mistake. If you overeat at dinner time, don’t eat any more snacks and plan a healthy breakfast. If you skip a workout, there’s always tomorrow. You’ve worked hard to develop this habit so don’t allow all your hard work to go to waste because you made one simple mistake. It’s far easier to start the habit immediately than it is to start all over again months down the road.

(8) Set a concrete goal for a certain number of days and don't break the chain

Tracking your habits gives you a visual reminder of all the progress you’re making but make sure it’s an attainable goal. For instance, if you want to improve your writing skills and speed, consider a goal of writing 500 words per day for 30 days.  At the end of 30 days, consider tracking for another 30 days. Setting a goal that’s too large – such as writing 10,000 words per day – is overwhelming and can lead to giving up. Seeing your progress will give you an increased energy to keep moving forward.  

(9) Choose concrete goals instead of abstractions

“Getting healthy” or “going to the gym” are not concrete goals; they are too abstract and they don’t lead to forming healthy habits. Instead, choose to do 5-10 pushups a day. You’ll still get healthy by doing this over time but the initial time investment is nominal. At some point it will become second nature – a new habit – at which point you can add another tiny habit to the mix.

(10) If you start too big, don’t give up; make your tiny habit even smaller.

So often we’ll set “tiny” habits that are still too big because we’re used to thinking of everything as oversized. If you can’t run for 15 minutes, drop it down to a time that is possible for you to complete. If you can’t get motivated to go to the gym, let your first tiny habit be getting your sneakers on. Then your second tiny habit can be filling your water bottle. These tiny habits are meant to become automatic movements that you just don’t think about once they’re ingrained. In the end, all these tiny habits build on each other and you will find yourself at the gym or running for 15 minutes.

Tiny habits are the stepping stones upon which we build our lifestyles. If something isn’t working to our liking, or we’re not living our best life, then it’s time to explore how to change our tiny habits so we receive the outcome for which we work so hard.

With all my love, Birgit

You got questions? Click this link and send me a message.

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The Connection Between Mental Health and high performance

to go biking, cycle, heaven-5360648.jpg

One of the things I’ve been fascinated by over the past year is deepening my understanding of the link between state of mind, mental health, and high performance. I’ve had coaches and teachers I respect who say that there is no link and others who say that state of mind is everything.

So in today’s blog, I want to share what I’ve come to see for myself, over the past week…

Dr. Bill Pettit gave a fantastic talk at London 3PUK conference about the nature of mental health where he made the following bold statement:

“There is only one cause of all mental illness – chronic mental stress.”

As he went on to explain, our biology is designed to operate optimally with up to thirty minutes of heightened autonomic arousal (i.e. mental stress) every 48 – 72 hours. More than that and the body begins to compensate by switching off long-term survival features (like sex drive and the immune system) to focus its energy on essential functions for immediate survival.

He went on to explain that the variance in how chronic mental stress manifests in people is a product of thought and individual genetics. As the stress continues and more and more of our “peripheral” systems shut down, symptoms of numerous descriptions of mental unease may begin to emerge, and at a certain point a particular mental illness may be diagnosed.

Fortunately, this explanation came with two important and highly hopeful caveats:

The first is that when the stress stops, the mind and body’s recovery to full mental health can happen incredibly quickly and completely. We have an innate resilience that allows the system to reset and bounce back from any condition as good as new. (Or as Dr. Pettit put is somewhat more colloquially, “people have cork in their butts”.)

The second is that chronic mental stress is simply a function of over-attending to the everchanging thoughts that pass through our minds on a moment by moment basis. In other words, the problem isn’t that we think stressful thoughts – it’s that we listen to them obsessively as though we’re huddled around the radio with our family, listening for news updates from the front during World War II.

Since we live in the feeling of our thinking, constantly dwelling on our darkest thoughts can lead to living in some pretty dark feelings. And innocently and unwittingly, that intensity of feeling can seem to indicate that we need to pay even more attention to those thoughts. But in the same way as the uncomfortable feeling of touching a hot stove lets us know to move our hand, the uncomfortable feelings of anxiety and stress are telling us to remove our attention from our obsessive thinking and make way for something new to come to mind.

High performance is a function of bandwidth – not positive thinking

At the „Understanding Human Mind“-Conference in Prague, Michael Neill shared an analogy of the mind as operating like a laptop hooked into a kind of universal internet. The universal internet (or Universal Mind) is the energy and intelligence of life coming through us and to us. Everything that appears on our screen is made up of the energy of Thought; what determines the ease of flow of Thought is the bandwidth of Consciousness. Consciousness is by nature infinite, but the range of that infinite potential we are awake to expands and contracts on a regular basis.

When our bandwidth is high, we can process information quickly and easily, handle multiple tasks simultaneously and efficiently, and our experience is one of ease and flow. When our bandwidth is low, everything slows down, nothing works quite as designed, and we experience a fair bit of mental “buffering” where we can’t quite get our head around where we left our keys let alone how to run a business, score a goal, or have a helpful conversation with our partners and children.

Within the analogy, there are two things worth knowing about bandwidth. The first is that we have no direct control over it – it expands and contracts on its own for all of us. The second is that the more we understand it as a critical performance variable, the less inclined we are to fill it up with lots of extra thinking, no matter how positive that thinking might be.

A similar but different analogy was shared at the conference by Lila Turner. In her work with teenagers on exam stress, she compared the amount of water in a water bottle as being analogous to the amount of thinking in your head relative to “head space” at any given moment. When she asked the kids how much “water was in their bottles” when they were doing something they loved, they consistently said about 1/3. When she asked how full their water bottles were during an exam, that number went up to 2/3; when they were actually studying for the exams the bottles were nearly full before they even began.

By waking up to the correlation between headspace/bandwidth/consciousness and the variable feelings of ease or difficulty we all feel in performance situations, we can see that while we won’t always be at our best, the less we fill up our heads with strategies for trying to be, the better we’ll tend to perform. While reflecting on these two insights into mental health and high performance over the past year, I’ve come to see that one of the “catchphrases” isn’t entirely accurate. While I used to say that “the less you have on your mind, the higher your level of performance and the better life gets”, a more helpful way of putting it is this:

The less you care what you have on your mind, the higher your level of performance and the better life gets.

Yours, Bimako

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How to Have More Free Time (no matter how busy you think you are)

Think back to grade school.

Do you remember that delicious moment when the final bell would ring, marking the end of the school day? How you could not wait to race home to relax, or meet with friends at extracurriculum clubs or other activities?

As Children, we tend to have an almost tangible excitement about our free time – time dedicated to relaxation, hobbies or other activities we enjoy. But when school desk are replaced with work desk, our „free-time“ tends to become less about what we want to do and more about what we have to do.

Our society strongly values productivity… which can create a stigma around „free-time“. Of course, yes, as an adult, you have more responsibilities. But just because we grow up doesn’t mean we have grow out of Enjoyment.

But why do you might feel having a lack of free-time? Is it really the „to-less-free-time“-thing? Is it because we want to enjoy too much activities in one day? Is it because we are feeling guilty when we are not working?

Actually most of my clients do have „enough“ free-time. But they are experiencing the missing feeling of „being on leisure“. 

The reason is almost the same… and it happens to me either. 

As it turned out to be as simple as complex like it does in most cases: we got trapped in the treadmill of our own thinking!

As I mentioned it before: our society values productivity. But as this brought our modern society as far as it did… the same productivity brings a lot of pressure with it.

While I was raising my daughter on my own, I was feeling guilty at work, not being with my daughter… and was thinking about “work stuff” at home! But it didn’t stop there: as a modern working mom I “knew”  about the importance of self care. And let me be honest about this: it stressed me even more.

Let me give you another example: 

I once had a client who was spending most of his time “thinking about his biggest work challenges ”! What was even more shocking, however, was that when I spotted this out to him he shook his head sadly. “I know,” he said, a bit guiltily. “I should be putting in another 2 – 3 hours a day thinking about it if I ever really want to solve it, but I just don’t have the time.”

You see?

Spending hours trying to think your way out of your problems is like walking east looking for a sunset – no matter how smart you are and no matter how hard you’re willing to work, it’s never going to happen that way. You’ll just get caught up inside that problem so deeply, that you not only missing out your “NOW” (which is probably time with your kids and family), but also at one point you WILL loose your perspectives and end up “not seeing the forest for the trees” !!!

In fact: Overthinking is the most unproductive way to solve any kind of problem!

Today, when I got trapped in my thinking, I just do ONE thing:  I totally give up engaging myself on that problem. In fact what I actually DO in the moment I realize that I am overthinking on a problem, I take a deep breath, I clear my mind and I start getting “present”.

And after some time, when I have almost forgotten about that problem, the best idea on it comes from within me.

Did you ever have an experience like that? Maybe while having a shower… cleaning the dishes… or while scrolling through your Instagram feed at the toilet…(?)

Let me ask you a question: How do you clear muddy water in a bowl?

YES! YOU ARE ABSOLUTLY RIGHT: You let it rest.

After some time the mud will sink down.

Clear water remains on top so you can drink it!

This is the same Phenomenon that happens when you stop holding onto a problem and giving yourself a break.

In fact, studies show that „free-time“ is actually good for us – not only leisure time been related to a healthier immune system, reduces stress, and even increased longvity, it also helps you cultivate a richer sense of self and self-efficacy… which is your belief in yourself.

If you still need reasons why sometimes the most productive thing to do… is to take a BREAK… here comes 4:

#1…IT EMPOWERS YOU 

Free time, however, doesn’t have to take the shape of lying on the sofa on Netflix (no judgement if it does!). In fact, research shows that your free time is most beneficial when it is mentally engaging.

Leisure doesn’t mean lazy – it means engaging in an activity that you enjoy! Try spending your free time on activities like cooking, playing an instrument, doing a craft such as knitting… whatever speaks to you. It should be something you like that allows you to grow while you research. Need an extra bonus? The skill you develop out of interest can improve those skills you need for your job! (here is an example: more than 80% of employers say that creativity is important to them in the workplace!)

For those of us who are always „on the go“, the concept of „free time“ can really become a stressful feeling. If you have an Iceberg-Belief (a deeply held belief developed in young age… usually about how you should have or how the world should be) that you always have to be productive (because slowing down would be a sign of your weakness), it is hard to kick back and relax without feeling like you are wasting your time

#2 IT WILL ENERGIZE YOU

Have you ever heard about „EUSTRESS“? Positive-Psychology-Studies found out that leisure activities are accompanied by their own kind of „positive stress“ ( which is called „eustress“). It is a typ of stress that is stimulationg, engaging AND gets you into a state of flow (where you are so engrossed in what you are doing that you don’t even notice time passes).

As a result of eustress you are starting feeling motivated and energized.

So the next time you are feeling a lack of inspiration in your work, try getting the creative juices flowing by taking some time to play: Go for a walk or jog out in the sun. Sit in nature. Journal. Draw. Or dance to your favorite song. Refocusing your energy will allow you to what you were thinking about refreshed and with some new perspectives.

#3 IT REDUCES EMOTIONAL STRESS

Not only has leisure activity been proven to lower almost immediatly physical symptoms of stress as high blood pressure and heart rate – studies shown that it reduces emotional stress, too. When you are facing am obstacle, stepping out of routine has been found out to interrupt the cycle of unhealthy thoughts (those that can lead to overthinking and anxiety). The break in your usual thought patterns leads to more optimistic thinking, allowing you to reframe your thinking and clear your mind … before tackling the source of your stress.

So make leisure a priority at least once a week. Put down your To-Do-List and do something fun, spontanious, just for yourself. You will see your stress level subside in the long term!

#4 IT LEVEL-UP YOUR (REAL) SOCIAL NETWORK

Try swapping a solo activity for something more social, such as a cooking class, dance group, or book club. It will help you form a natural network around your interests, boosting your personal resilience in the process.

When you make the time to reach out and engage in activities that interest you, you meet others who have similar interests. And at the root of those shared interests? Shared values. Surrounding yourself with people you genuinely connect with leaves you feeling more supported and even more resilient. Having a solid social network buffers against stress and makes you feel more optimistic in the face of uncertainty.

When you invest in your leisure, you are investing in yourself.

Exploring your different interests outside of work is also a great way to remind yourself that it’s never too late to continue learning and try something new, which fosters a Growth-Mindset, rather than a fixed one—making you feel more resilient and capable of approaching situations with an open mind. You may even surprise yourself with what you are capable of, which is a sentiment to carry with you when you face new challenges on the horizon.

Enjoy your free time!

with all my love, Birgit

You got questions? Click this link and send me a message.

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What We Are Really Afraid Of

 

I remember waking up by hearing my beloved daughter screaming in her bed in the middle of the night (at that time she was about 4 years old). I ran to her bedroom, relieved to see there was no immediate danger but still concerned about what frightenes her so much. She told me about the scary monster at the end of her bed. I looked around her room, but of course there was no scary monster. I looked again and than to my own surprise, there was indeed something that looked like a monster looming over. And just for a moment I saw what my little girl saw… and it was not a monster (of course not) but the shadow of something on the windowsill, brought to life by the moonlight which streamed through the window behind. And the moment I realized what the monster was made of, it totally disappeared for me. I recognized the monster was just a shadow. So for that I was not in need to do anythink to make it go away, it would dissapear the second the light would change by its own. But my little girl believed from the bottom of her heard that monster was real. She SAW the monster. She heard the monster. She smelled the monster. No matter what I said. No matter what I did. The monster was real in her world ! In her reality the only to survive was to hide under her bedsheets, calling me and hoping (!!!) the monster would eat me and leave her in peace (because after eating me, the monster „would be full“)! ( I am sure the list of problem solving strategies was in the beginning much longer… but somehow to immolate me to the monster must have been the best looking solution to her.)

The following night when my daughter screamed out loud at night, I bursted into her bedroom with a real weird costume including a hut made of aluminum foil and a noodlehz in one hand and a bottle filled with “monster-killing”-spray to face and kill that monster. And after a lond rough battle the monster left us defeated for all time. And so we lived happily ever after.

My point on this story is that that this monster was not real to me. I have an understanding about the nature of light and shadow. For that I knew that in the moment the light would change, the monster would transform or even dissapear completely! But in my daughters „world“ there was a hungry and scary monster willing to eat her! And it was 100% real to her.

So what occurs to me is that we are experiencing our own thinking about things. We are living in our own privat evaluation of things!

Let me give you another example: I live in Hamburg/Germany. And I love this city. I choosed to life here. I love this city full of life, the big culture scene, I love the mix of cultures, I love the air and the sound of the city. But there are days when I wake up in this city, and the whole city occures to me like the noisiest, dirtiest, smelly place in the world, filled with mad and stupied people. Do you See? Hamburg is the same every day…it doesn’t change that much over night But my evaluation does. And that is the only reason why this place seems to be the worst place of the whole world… and the next day it is paradise to me again. Just my thinking changed… and so my whole world.

So whether the monsters we face in our lives seems to be made of money, health challenges, realationships, work issues or even things that happens to us in the past, it is obviosly to ourself that the monsters are truly real. Because we are living in the feeling of our thinking… not the feeling of the world!

Looking back to many conversation (with myself and other people)

it either seems to me, that most time we are affraid of something we even cannot put into words… let’s call it the „UNKNOWN“. By definition “the unknown”, is simply something you have no information about and no control over. An example of this is the fear of the future! None of us know what the future looks like and how could something that even doesn’t excist yet be able to scare us? Most of us don’t let this future-fear-thinking get in our way. We plan and strive for the future we want without letting the uncertaunty holf us back. However there are other people… not knowing what the future holds is downright terrifying them. The uncertainty frightens them and they experiencing a state of hyperarousal ( a state of fear that continious to build up). The fear overwhelms the to the point, where they prefer to remain in their comfort zone.

Those people are not trabbed in the fear of the actual passing of time… what they are terrified of is their own thinking itself of a possible future that maybe will not turn out the way they want it to. In other words, we imagine futures where things go badly for us and everyone we care about, and we feel suitably scared each time we do. However, if you experiencing an intensive fear of the unknown, day-to-day life can be incredibly stressfull because of this constant fear. You may find it dufficult to function whenever you encounter something or someone unfamiliar! And because our thinking effects our nervous system you may experiencing one or more of these symtoms: dry mouth – shallow breathing – rapid heart rate – panic attacks at the though of the unknown – tense muscles – anxietx and a tendency to run away or avoid situations that force you to change your routine or face strangers. (By the way: your subconscious mind hates changes… your subconscious mind loves the known no matter how unhealthy, unproductiv or goal-killing itself is. Everything you are used to is SAFE, while everything new outside your ususally „comfort“ zone may causes death. Yes that is why changing routins is so hard, if you don’t know the trick on it).

Let’s play about this once more… Let’s have a simple thought experiment that you can try to put this to the test for yourself. It might scare you a bit, but I guess you’ll find it illuminating:

“It’s a pretty safe bet that at some point exactly one week from now, you will be having dinner. And even if your diet is relatively unvaried, what exactly you’ll be having for dinner is unknown.”.

How do you feel when you think about that?

Now: unless you’ve spent part of your life staving off starvation, not knowing what you’ll be eating in a week is unlikely to set off your internal alarm bells.

“But what if you started to imagine a global food supply crisis? And what if that crisis caused food shortages in supermarkets, and any food you had stored in your home went off?”

Man, I can feel my scary thoughts about THAT in my body!

What about you?

The obvious point here is: There’s no such thing as a solution to a feeling.

But if you see that your feeling is just an experience of your own thinking, the whole game changes fundamentally!

If we are aware of our experience of our own thoughs (of cause just in case there is no clear and present danger in that moment in our life!) in times we feel unfounded fear in our body, we are able to recognize this fear just as a symptom of our own imagination running amok. And because we see that it is just a thought in our head running mad, that means we don’t need to do anything about that.

Like you have been told when you ever attended at a Meditation-For-Beginners-Class or if you everr have been hypnotized : „Let the thought pass by. Don’t hold it.“.

Each one of your thoughts was brought to life by your own „consciousness mind“ . SO the only one who is able to decide what power this though has over you in your world is YOU! In just that moment we recognize fear for what it really is (a thought), we can decide to let it go by not foccussing on it anymore, it will fade into the background – like a television on over a bar or in the corner of a restaurant. Yes, we may not be able to change the channel, but it doesn’t need to occupy much of any of our attention. And from this diffrent state state of perspective , beeing in that relative calm and clarity (that we all have when we’re not caught up in our scary thinking), if there’s anything actually to be done to take care of ourselves, it will occure to us as generally obvious and relatively and therefore straightforward to implement.

With all my love, Birgit.

PS:

If you are experiencing such a thing as a longlasting thretening fear of the futurr I beg you to be brave and talk to someone you trust… it can be your best friend, a member of your church or a helping hotline. You also can contact me. You deserve a life filled with Happyness, love, success and respect.

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When Gifts Become Challenges

The single biggest challenge you face as a high-achiever is that your game is so much bigger than that of anyone around you. You play at a level at which most people cannot even see how much you are holding back from what is possible.  

Despite your success—actually, because of it—doing more of what you’re already doing is not going to lead to your next level of success. In fact, the very qualities that have led to your current success are precisely what hold you back from even greater levels of accomplishment.

Through my work, I have discovered that there are nine qualities of high achievers that propel them forward and also hold them back the most—at the very same time.

Your gifts, in fact, become your challenges:

#1 You don’t need help: Well, you don’t. People are astounded by what you create. You are one of the highest-achieving people you know. And you definitely don’t need support. So you are missing your own very personal support team.

#2 You are future-focused: Having your attention firmly on the future enables you to take action immediately, the moment you have an idea. But you rarely slow down enough to notice the impact of those déjà vu challenges that seem to re-surface, time after time.

#3 You miss out on hearing the „truth“: The higher you rise, the harder it can become for you to open up with the people around you. And the higher you rise, the harder it becomes for the people around you to speak their truth. Top performers often have few people in their world willing to say exactly what they need to hear the most.

#4 You seek perfection: The more success you have and the more money you make, the greater the pressure to keep with the level of success. The Barrier to start new project becomes unbearably high, because each time it is re-set to an even greater level, based upon the rewards of your previous project.

#5 You get comfortable in the Gray Zone: The Gray Zone refers to a pace set by a runner that is too fast for recovery and too slow for growth. A pace like this can feel like a tough workout. But running in this zone, run after run, will actually lead to a decline in performance. The danger for a high performer is that your Gray Zone creates so much more than the average person that there is a temptation to continually underperform without even realizing that you’re doing so.

#6 You are an extremely talented problem-solver: You have a finely-tuned ability to scan the horizon for “danger” and this bias towards solving problems means you are energized by challenges and threats. So you tend to avoid things—taxes, relationships, income, etc.—until they reach problem-level status. And you struggle to focus on longer-term goals.

#7 You experiencing exponential success: Despite the admiration of those around you, it often doesn’t feel like you’ve ever had to work that hard for everything you’ve accomplished. It is easy to misinterpret the nature of rapid attainment, so you can feel like you are hiding a “dirty little secret”. Many of the highest-achieving people on the planet judge themselves for being ‘lazy’.

#8 You are a visionary: The very power of your vision can be detrimental to your success because you dream so big that you can get overwhelmed. When so many options are available to you, the paradox of choice can mean it’s hard to begin each new project.

#9 Your deep commitments begin to surface: You have deep, competing commitments that begin to surface the more successful you become. Your very drive for success is motivated by deep commitments and values. When you are not making happen what you claim to be committed to, it is a clue that there is a stronger, competing commitment to which you are unknowingly committed.

If this sounds like you, than YOU and I should have a conversation.

Let me remember you that you are more powerful than you know!

With all my love, Bimako

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