Health magazine january 18

Page 9

Breaking habits is the key to achieving major health and lifestyle changes, says Professor Ben Fletcher , an expert in behavioural changed based at the University of Hertfordshire. Willpower, he believes, is “over-rated” and “too easily hijacked by more pleasurable behaviours or by old habits.” He believes: “Most people cannot make big changes and take huge behavioural leaps, as old habits get in the way.” Instead, he says, the key is to “eat the elephant one piece at a time” by making lots of small adjustments, which add up to major changes. Professor Fletcher explains: “A great deal of human behaviour is habitual or automatic. The brain is a habit machine and operates on a need-to-know basis, and most of the time it decides you don’t need to know about your behaviours.” Dr Anna Mandeville says: “Most of us are so stuck in our routines we don’t even notice them — that mid-morning milky coffee, reaching for a sugary snack when energy levels dip in the afternoon, pouring a large glass of wine and slumping in front of the TV after a hard day at work. “If you call on will-power to consciously try to break these habits you add to their importance, and make them even more unmanageable. But if you break the cycle and do something different — switch your usual, standard, fizzy drink for something a bit different, have an apple instead of a biscuit, and unwind with a walk rather than wine — you will be amazed at how quickly these minor changes will produce interesting benefits, even if just as a bit of escapism for a few minutes.” LEARN THE ART OF CONFIDENCE Confident people believe in themselves, their decisions and their actions. They live life optimistically and achieve what they want. How do they do it? Is it luck? Is it just who they are? No, it's skill. Confidence is a learned set of actions and beliefs that anyone can exercise. The Confidence Pocketbook is a ‘take everywhere’ guide to confidence and self-esteem. The latest in author Gill Hasson’s Pocketbook series, it is packed with over 100 simple tips, techniques, ideas and suggestions for facing life

head-on — even during the most awkward or nerve-wracking moments. Whether the reader flounders in social situations, second-guesses every decision or doubts their own abilities, the Confidence Pocketbook can help them live life with confidence. “Self-confidence is not about what you can and can’t do. It’s what you think and believe you can or can’t do,” says Hasson. “When you’re feeling confident, you have a positive attitude towards yourself and your abilities and you believe that events and experiences are likely to turn out well. But when you’re not feeling confident, you’re likely to believe that things will turn out badly. And because you believe things won’t turn out well, you often feel there’s no point trying.” ALLOCATE A ‘FUN’ BUDGET The average Brit spends just eight per cent of their earnings on enjoying themselves, according to research. A study of 2,000 adults revealed nearly two thirds spend more of their hardearned cash on unwanted outgoings such as car repairs, loan repayments and rent than they do do on having fun. With the average person taking home £1,376 on a monthly basis, many are spending well over half their salary on the necessities of life. A spokesman for airport transfers provider, hoppa, which commissioned the research, said: “It’s shocking to see that so many of us Brits give ourselves such a small allowance to have fun, especially when you consider the hours and graft we put in.” (Astrid Hall /

WEAR THE BLUES According to colour psychology expert Karen Haller, colour symbolism - or colour in culture - will always have a big influence in people’s perceptions. Research commissioned by the Post-it Brand from 3M found that blue was the nation’s favourite colour, despite being considered synonymous with sadness (37 per cent) and Mondays (32 per cent). Karen says: “Although blue can be seen as cold and uncaring, like all colours it has many positive connotations too. Blue relates to the mind, intellect and logic, which we associate with trust, integrity and efficiency. It also represents calm, reflection and serenity and it is the intensity of the tone which can affect us differently.”


It’s easy to feel a little low and go into hibernation over the winter months and forget to live fully and rather wish the winter away, as we dream about the summer. However there is a way to embrace it, actually utilise this time instead and put a spring in your step. I personally remember looking forward to the winter months because that’s when the classes I would take in the evenings would start and I would get to learn new things and meet knew people. I think I always knew the power of having a “hobby”, considering I managed to turn mine into my full time career, and how it can uplift the mood. However, as I was writing my latest book “Reinvent ME” and specifically the chapter on Nurture, focusing on nurturing ourselves and our talents, I started researching and speaking to people about the things they do to nurture themselves. I then realised that taking up a hobby could do much more than just take you through the winter a little happier. I believe it can help you become unstuck, ignite your passion within and get your creativity flowing. I heard so many stories from people about how having a hobby, something that sparked joy and something they were passionate about, to turn to on a regular basis, would help them in other areas of their lives like relationships and careers. Many would say things like “I’m so much more fun to be around”, “I’m more productive in my job because of it”, “I’m a better partner” all because of having a hobby the cared about. In certain situations, without it being intentional, it would even lead to a career change, not just a change in mood. One person I know went from taking sewing classes to setting up a business designig clothes. Whether it’s a physical activity or simply studying something that fascinates you doesn’t matter. What matters is that you enjoy it. When we do things for ourselves, we allow ourselves to connect to who we truly are away from our day to day routines, which makes us remember to stay playful and curious. It’s important to nurture ourselves so that we can be all that we need to be for ourselves and others in life.

Health Magazine January 2018


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