Posts

When a friend comes to you with a problem, it’s unlikely that you call them a loser, tell them that they’ve failed and that you always thought they were hopeless!

Why is it then, that we talk to ourselves this way? Why do we criticize and bully ourselves to always do better — to be continuously perfect?

As a part of self-care January I’m teaming up with Maureen Cooper, Director of Awareness in Action, to provide you her amazing self-care course. This online course has the answers to all this and shows how by becoming a good friend to ourselves we can find the solutions. The course starts on February 1st.

Outcomes from this course: 

Changing our habits takes time and effort—just like when we train in the gym, or learn a new language. However, as soon as we begin to work with these habits, things can start to change. By working through this course and making the exercises part of your new routine, you will learn to:

• Identify your inner critic and to take it less seriously

• Turn your inner voice from harsh critic to good friend

• Understand that kindness is a more effective way of supporting ourselves through difficulties than criticism is

• Recognise struggle and disappointment as common to all

• To separate a challenge from your reaction to it

• To understand the benefits of self-compassion

Friend - Say About the course


“Being a working mum with a 9-month-old son I have very little time to dedicate to ‘me’. Maureen’s course is perfectly designed to allow busy people to digest the lessons in their own time, and each lesson is short and focused. The course has armed me with tools to help me deal with life’s pressures and I feel great for having invested a little time in my own personal growth.” – Lucy Thornton

“Whether you are an “expert” on the matter, or a lay person wanting to deepen your knowledge and understanding of meditation and compassion, this course will not disappoint you. The course is very well structured, and Maureen Cooper is impeccable in providing constant encouragement, guidance and support. Throughout the course, there is a genuine concern of linking learning activities with updated scientific evidence, in a way that is widely comprehensible. I definitely recommend it as a worthy opportunity for personal and professional development.” – Carlos Carona

Apply your coupon for self-care January by using the coupon ‘selfcare’

For the basic course option 

For the basic course + coaching

Now we are well into January are your New Year Resolutions beginning to feel a bit like this discarded Christmas tree left in the garbage? Are you struggling with the strict regime you have set up and at the same time feeling guilty and dissatisfied with yourself?

SELF COMPASSION, MAUREEN COOPER, alison canavan be complete, life coach, minfulness coach, health coach, health and wellness, self help, new years resolutions, failed resolutions, self care

The trouble is when our resolutions start to slip we tend to start beating up on ourselves, and feeling bad.

SELF COMPASSION, MAUREEN COOPER, alison canavan be complete, life coach, minfulness coach, health coach, health and wellness, self help, new years resolutions, failed resolutions, self care

How we set about making New Year Resolutions

There is nothing wrong with wanting to get the best out of ourselves, nor with using the beginning of a new year as a time for reflection on how we are living our lives. The thing is we tend to go about it in such a self-critical way.

We look at everything we think is not working so well and then make a long to-do list of all the ways we want to change. Somehow we are surprised when it is overwhelming and we cannot keep it up. We feel as if we have failed in some way and are disappointed in ourselves.

SELF COMPASSION, MAUREEN COOPER, alison canavan be complete, life coach, minfulness coach, health coach, health and wellness, self help, new years resolutions, failed resolutions, self care

The thing is that we are much more likely to get the best from ourselves if we approach any changes we want to make with an attitude of self-appreciation and kindness. We can try and be a friend to ourselves, rather than behaving like our worst nightmare of an angry schoolteacher.

Some suggestions on using self-compassion in making our resolutions

  1. Look to your strengths

Think about the parts of your life that are on track and the things you do well and then think about a way you could take that a step further.

For example: you might be good at your job but have an irritating relationship with a work colleague—your resolution could be to make them a cup of coffee whenever you can. You’ll be surprised how quickly they warm up to you and you will enjoy the good feeling of doing something for them.

  1. Choose the changes you want to make carefully

When looking for where you want to change, choose something manageable. You can see from the picture above that ‘improving self’ is a big project, as is ‘save money’. Both are too big and too general.

Even ‘more family time’ is asking a lot. Instead try to be specific—decide to call your mother twice a week; or decide to turn off all your individual screens (phone, tablet etc.) by 9pm in the evening in order to have quality time with your partner.

  1. Think of all the people

who are trying to make positive changes in their lives and struggling with them just like you are. None of us is alone in trying to find the way to get the best out of ourselves and live a meaningful life.

  1. Allow yourself to get it wrong

When you break a resolution, or find yourself slipping back into old habits instead of beating yourself up, try forgiving yourself. Focus on the effort you’ve been making and don’t give up on what you are trying to do just because you had a bit of a blip. Imagine a friend sharing with you how they are struggling with their resolution—how would you talk to them? Would you call them a looser? I doubt it. Try talking to yourself as you would a good friend. After all—if we cannot be a friend to ourselves, how can we be a good friend at all?

SELF COMPASSION, MAUREEN COOPER, alison canavan be complete, life coach, minfulness coach, health coach, health and wellness, self help, new years resolutions, failed resolutions, self care

Maureen Cooper is the author of The Compassionate Mind Approach to Reducing Stress. She combines more than thirty years of experience as a professional educator and senior manager in a non-profit organization with a hands-on education in Buddhism. In 2004 Maureen founded Awareness in Action, a consultancy dedicated to the secular application of mindfulness, meditation and compassion in the workplace.

www.awarenessinaction.org

making connections, awareness in action, stress free christmas, maureen cooper, be complete, alison canavan, mindfulness, christmas time, top tips for a stress free christmas,

Some tips on how to transform your stress this holiday season

We all know that Christmas is a big opportunity for stress—the combination of having to appear to be having fun, while coping with all the frustrations and extra work can be a real downer.

One of the things we need to know about stress is that it closes things down. It’s hard to feel joyful and enthusiastic when you are stressed. We tend to close in on ourselves and set up a kind of survival regime to get us through. Maybe it does help us to struggle along but it does not help us to care for ourselves, to open our hearts to others, to learn anything about the habits that lead to the stress in the first place.

Let’s take a look at some ways we could set about making connections this Christmas instead of going into survival mode.

Connecting with yourself first of all

 making connections, awareness in action, stress free christmas, maureen cooper, be complete, alison canavan, mindfulness, christmas time, top tips for a stress free christmas,

Do you ever feel like this gingerbread person at Christmas—all in your festive gear but not able to communicate how you are really feeling? The holidays can be a strangely lonely time, even when you are surrounded by people.

As the lead up to Christmas gathers pace, why not take some time to check in with yourself and see what you are hoping for from the holidays.

Whether you are religious, or not you can ask yourself what is important to you about this holiday. Is it having family around and lots of good things to eat and presents to share? Or is it about having a few days off from work and routine in the middle of winter. Whatever it is, it will help you to set an intention for yourself—a kind of inspiration for the holiday.

Then at the other end of the scale, try to see what it is that triggers stress for you. Take a moment to sit quietly and then ask yourself these questions:

  • At what times do I experience a high level of frustration over relatively small events?
  • How does it feel in my body?
  • What do I do about it?

Going through this exercise will help you to identify the times when stress can creep up on you, so you can prepare for it and hopefully, avoid it. Allowing yourself to use your body like a stress barometer shows you the effect that stress has on you. Spending time thinking about how you deal with stress helps to get you off the survival treadmill and really consider how you can ease your stress.

Connecting with the present moment

making connections, awareness in action, stress free christmas, maureen cooper, be complete, alison canavan, mindfulness, christmas time, top tips for a stress free christmas, cake

So often when we are busy our minds are just rushing away with us thinking ahead of all there is still to do. That’s particularly sad at Christmas when there are so many enjoyable rituals in getting ready—like making the cake.

So one way we can ease a feeling of stress is to connect with the present moment. For example, instead of hurrying to make the cake while worrying about the mince pies, a present for grandma and whether you have enough wine in the house, try focusing on simply sorting your ingredients for the cake, weighing and adding them in the correct order and mixing it all to a delicious consistency. Take time to smell the fruits and the brandy. Allow yourself to enjoy the texture of batter. Remember to make your wish and just be with the making of the cake. When it is in the oven, you can go on to the next task and approach it in the same way. 

Connecting with a sense of enjoyment and celebration

making connections, awareness in action, stress free christmas, maureen cooper, be complete, alison canavan, mindfulness, christmas time, top tips for a stress free christmas,

The more we can get our stress into perspective, the more chance we have to enjoy some of the magic that there can be around Christmas. We said earlier that stress closes things down and one of the first things to go is any sense of enjoyment and celebration.

Allow yourself time to look around you and see the things you enjoy. I am a big fan of Christmas trees both indoors and out in the open. There is something about all the lights and glitter on a dark winter evening that just says home and love to me.

What is it that you enjoy most at Christmas? 

Connecting with family and friends

making connections, awareness in action, stress free christmas, maureen cooper, be complete, alison canavan, mindfulness, christmas time, top tips for a stress free christmas,

Probably if we are honest, one of the biggest sources of stress is how the family is going to manage together over the holidays. It can get complicated with all the in-laws and the extended family. We all know that awful tense feeling that can come when uncle George manages to come out with the opinions that we know will drive our teenage daughter to distraction, or when grandma insists that we don’t know how to out on a Christmas like they did in her day. You dread the moment when your sister-in-law, who always manages to make you feel like bargain-basement wife, arrives for dinner looking as if she just stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine, along with her two immaculate children. You, on the other hand, hot and bothered from the kitchen feel less than glamorous.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind while the family dinner is underway.

Everyone around the table wants to be happy—just like you do. None of them want to be anxious, or worried, or miserable and yet, inevitably they all have times when they are—just like you. Chances are that each one of them have their own insecurities about the family gathering—just like you do. Perhaps some of them are even intimidated by aspects of your behavior–what a good cook you are, how you juggle family and career—who knows? It can help so much if before your irritation arises you can put yourself in the shoes of the person irritating you—perhaps they are more like you than you think.

Connecting with the rest of the world

making connections, awareness in action, stress free christmas, maureen cooper, be complete, alison canavan, mindfulness, christmas time, top tips for a stress free christmas, As well as closing things down, stress makes us loose perspective. Whatever is going on with us seems so much more important than anything else that is happening in the world—which in the scheme of things, really does not make sense.

During the holiday period you can counter-act any tendency to feel that getting the lights working on the tree is more important than, say, global warming by consciously allowing yourself time to think about what is going on for everyone else in the world. Many millions of other people are celebrating Christmas around the world, with traditions that may be very different from your own. There are also millions who are not celebrating Christmas and it is just another ordinary day for them. Then there are the millions who whether or not they wish to celebrate Christmas are not able to because of poverty, or war, or persecution. Keep them in mind also.

So, a very merry stress-free Christmas to everyone!

 

Maureen Cooper is the author of The Compassionate Mind Approach to Reducing Stress. She combines more than thirty years of experience as a professional educator and senior manager in a non-profit organization with a hands-on education in Buddhism. In 2004 Maureen founded Awareness in Action, a consultancy dedicated to the secular application of mindfulness, meditation and compassion in the workplace.

www.awarenessinaction.org