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16 Ways To Grow Mentally And Physically

16 Ways To Grow Mentally And Physically

Think about it: have you been truly improving yourself?

Life can get so busy and hectic that we just let the days fly by. We forget to always grow mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In simple terms, we forget to always make ourselves better.

That’s not to say that you aren’t amazing just the way you are, but personal development and growth are both crucial if you want to maintain happiness, motivation, and peace of mind.

These 16 easy habits can help you cover all the self-improvement bases, so that you can make each and every day a stepping stone to the “you” you’ve always imagined!

Enrich Your Mind

1. “Eat the frog”

No, not literally. Please don’t do that.

The phrase “eat the frog” means to get the hardest task on your to-do list done and over with, ASAP. Solve a challenging problem early in the day, so it’s not weighing you down the whole day. Whether it’s getting a big work project done or calling your scary mother-in-law, just grit your teeth and get it done early. You’ll thank yourself later!

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2. Start developing that skill you’ve always wanted

Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? Get moving on it! There’s no better time than now, especially if it’s a new skill that you’ve always fancied.

Want to learn a new language? Buy a language program or hire a tutor. Want to be a proficient flutist? Buy that flute and take that class already. It’s worth it if it’s something that will improve your mind in a way you’ve always dreamed of.

3. Make a deal with your friends

Money too tight to buy that expensive flute or take a class? Talk to your friends. Your friends have all sorts of talents and knowledge that you may not possess – and you have talents of your own. Make a deal with a friend to teach each other your respective talents. It’s the most cost-efficient—and perhaps most entertaining—way to enrich your mind.

4. Read, read, read!

Ask all of my friends what my biggest obsession is, and they’ll likely say books. And they’d be right. My room is full-to-bursting with stacks of books. Why, you may ask? Oh, let me enlighten you. (Prepare for some serious gushing here.)

Even if they’re pure fiction, books can teach you so much. They open up your mind to different possibilities, different situations you may never experience, and different ways of thinking.

Not sure where to start? Use Goodreads, which can give you customized recommendations based on your interests. To purchase books cheaply (I’m talking two or three bucks here, with no shipping fees for those in the United States), use Thriftbooks.com.

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Nourish Your Body

1. Do a little resistance exercise

No, this doesn’t mean resisting exercise. Resistance exercise is essentially anything that causes your muscles to contract against external forces, like weights, bands, or your own body weight. Instead of beelining for the elliptical or the treadmill at the gym, try incorporating some weight training or body weight exercises. (Squats are a great place to start!)

2. Replace unhealthy foods with your favorite fruits and veggies

This may seem lecture-y, but that doesn’t make it any less truthful: that bag of Doritos is doing your body absolutely no good. Think of it this way: the food you eat is either healing or harming your body. Eat your favorite fruits and veggies on the regular, and you’ll most certainly be more on the healing end.

3. Take a class

Sometimes, being in a class with an instructor and other like-minded people does wonders for your motivation. Get a friend to join you in a class so you don’t feel tempted to skip, and try taking a spin class, or maybe a Zumba class, if you love to dance.

4. Hydrate!

It can be difficult to remember to drink enough water, especially when the option of soda or juice is present. However, it’s incredibly important to keep yourself hydrated. Carry around a water bottle with you and fill it on the regular. You’ll notice improvements in your skin, energy levels, and overall physique.

Cultivate True Happiness

1. Encourage others

It feels good to make someone happy, especially if it’s someone you care about. Plus, happiness is contagious.

Express your appreciation to those around you. Let someone know that they’re doing a good job, and you’ll both feel a lovely mood boost.

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2. Smile

No, seriously. Smiling has numerous health benefits, and it can release endorphins, which can make you happier. Even if you force a smile for a period of time, you’ll start to feel it. Next time negative feelings are trying to take control of you, just combat them with a smile.

3. Or better yet, laugh

You know how great it feels after a good belly laugh? That’s because of those lovely endorphins I just mentioned. Make it your goal to have a good laugh at least once every day, even if you do that by watching your favorite stand-up or forcing a laugh.

4. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good

Start to notice how you feel after interacting with the people you’re close to. Do you have any friends who drain you? Who are constantly negative? Or even worse—who subtly try to tear you down and sabotage your efforts?

You can’t feel truly happy if you surround yourself with negative people. Try to spend your time with people who encourage you and inspire you. You deserve that.

Grow Spiritually

1. Set goals for yourself

And I don’t mean big career goals (although those are good, too). Start your day by thinking about one good thing you can do for the day, whether it’s something that will make you happier or make someone else happier. Set goals for your spiritual growth.

2. Practice gratitude every day

There will always be things in life that we want, but don’t have. It’s important to focus on your life goals, but there’s no point in sulking. Remember: there is always someone who is happier with less than what you have.

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By practicing gratitude, you are focusing on the things you do have, which will help you value your life and your choices. At the end your day, write down one thing you were thankful for that happened that day. Focus on the positives, and you’ll grow spiritually.

3. Give yoga a try

I love yoga. I am terrible at it right now, because I’m still a beginner, but I absolutely love it. It’s not only good for you, but it helps you truly clear your mind and become aware of your body. Even the most simple and straightforward poses have this effect.

Start your day with yoga, and you will absolutely not regret it.

4. Keep it all in perspective

Life has its nuisances, its issues, and its sorrows that can feel all-encompassing and overwhelming at the time. It can be difficult to look past these things and see the big picture, but remind yourself that these problems will not matter to you in a year, let alone at the end of your life.

You only have one life. Make it count.

Featured photo credit: mynameisrebecca via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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