Signs You Have Reached Burn Out & What To Do About It

Burnout is a special type of stress — a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of what you are doing!

Photo by Julia Haupt on Unsplash

You can experience this in work (very VERY common) but also in other areas of your life where you are working towards accomplishing something (training, relationships, house renovations etc)

During last few months I have failed – miserably failed - at following my own advice! 

I am a little burnt with work and a few other bits and bobs so my energy is way off!

 

My stress weak point is my lifestyle - when sh*t hits the fan the first that goes is healthy eating habits, desire to train or spend time with loved ones. I just want to veg out in front of Netflix. 



For a lot of other people their stress weak points could be confidence, physical or mental wellbeing ... it really depends on the person. 

I'm becoming pretty in tune with my stress levels so I knew all the signs of burn out were there: exhaustion, lack of motivation, frustration, irritability, poor concentration or short attention span, feeling preoccupied with work even when not working and not taking care of yourself (to name just a few). 
 
I need to unplug, recharge my batteries and start taking care of myself better. 
 
With two sisters living overseas, an online business and clients all over the world I am constantly on or thinking about emails, What's App, phone calls and social media. 
 

My phone (the Internet) has robbed me of some very precious moments that would usually be spent thinking, reflecting, and just being! 


 
I know that a holiday has the potential to kick start a much needed and much improved self care plan but I don't always have the luxury of time or the money to spend.  
 
Nevertheless, I won't let this type of burn out happen again so I intend to take much better care of myself in the future.

Here are a few things you can do to avoid burn out!
 

  1. UNPLUG EVERY DAY: Start with 10 minutes of no screen time every day. The reason we start small is to build our confidence and likelihood of success. When you can do 10 minutes every day for a week you, you can start to build on this. The most important thing to do here is create and honour space, each day, where you practice boundaries that empower you to put yourself front and centre. 
     

  2. TAKE YOUR RELAXATION SERIOUSLY: We are living in a culture that has glorified "busy" and to a certain extent, stress. Your down time is so important to your physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing so take it seriously. Designate time to relax every week, even if you don't think that you need it! 
     
  3. DO SOME NON WORK RELATED STUFF DAILY: Spend time outside of work doing things you are passionate about, challenging, rewarding and lights you up! These boundaries are super important so take time to cultivate and nurture them. 
     

For A LOT of people it is very hard to recognise stress, burnout or more generally any other form of negative emotion. If or when we do recognise it, we resist seeing how it is a problem. 

Most people measure their success based off how busy they are and whats worse some people will even base their success off their stress levels. 
 

There is nothing sexy about always being busy and there is nothing glamorous about waiting for a holiday so you can finally take a break from your stressful job! 

 

You are worthy of a work/life balance that is stimulating, rewarding and FUN! Don't ever forget that! 
 

Sarah is a life coach and motivational speaker. As the co-founder of The Better Life Project and creator of L-Schoo, she’s the “go to” life coach for anyone feeling stuck in a rut, lacking in confidence or struggling with low self-esteem or body image. Sarah offers life coaching and mentoring services and works with clients in person in Dublin, Ireland and over Skype around the world.

The Not So Subtle Art Of Planning A Wedding

There are two types of brides to be in this world. Those who have planners, and those who don’t. Nevertheless, I’ve noticed that the presence of a wedding planner does little to ease the anxiety, guilt and paranoia that occasionally creeps in when planning for your big day.

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If, like me, you are highly vulnerable to judgement from others, it's time to take a look at your wedding priorities. Once you're able to come to terms with what you genuinely want from the day you can begin to free yourself from the guilt, anxiety and paranoia. 

 

James and I got engaged to be married and set the date for our Big Day 14 months after our engagement. Since then, I have been trying to balance the pressure of planning a wedding with other aspects of my life. My priority, above all else, is my marriage and future with James. 

 

I hate to break it to you! It’s not about the wedding, it’s about the marriage!

 

Nevertheless, I still have moments of doubt and worry. With lots of family and friends on both sides it has often felt like quite a juggling act trying to honour what James and I truly want with what our families want too. However, I'm fairly certain a large portion of these insecurities exist in my head only and that James and I won't be loved any less if Uncle Bob who immigrated to Boston 60 years ago isn't invited. 

Lucky for me, I’ve seen most of my good friends get married so early on in the planning process (OK, before James even proposed) I asked them, “knowing what you know now, would you do anything differently?"
 

The said spend half the mount, invite only people you can see in your life in 20 years time and worry less. I have carried those wise word with me ever since.

 

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One of the first things James and I did was set our budget. Irish couples spend on average €24,427 on their Big Day. A wedding day can be one of the happiest days of people’s lives and it can be done for as little or as much as you chose. For us, it is one day and if it turns out to be the best day of our lives than that will be a welcomed surprise!

James and I have our WHOLE life together and I don't want to think that the best day of our life will be over, before this chapter has barely even begun. 

 

As a bride I feel like my wedding day is supposed to be the best day of my life. I feel like that is what everyone expects me to say. I feel quite guilty for thinking that maybe I will be OK if it's not! I don't want the pressure of trying to create (and pay) for the best day of my life!


James and I asked each other ‘If you were only allowed to spend money on three things, what would they be?’ We put the honeymoon, photographer and food as our top priorities. (Of course, I made my own secret list and I put my dress, shoes and flowers on it. Ssshhh, don't tell James). We spent money on the things that mattered to us and saved our pennies everywhere else. This really helped our budgeting process and encouraged us to think really creatively about the sort of day we wanted.

It’s easy to get carried planning the dream wedding but if you are struggling trying to balance the negative thoughts with the positive thoughts maybe it's time put the planner down, and have a cup of tea? 

Whatever your priorities are, just own them. This day belongs to you and your fiancee.
 

Yes, it’s a magical, precious and special day but throwing money at it won’t make it any more special. The problem is not your wedding budget, the problem is that you think money will make your big day stand out!   


I thought I would enjoy planning more but it triggered a bucket load of anxiety. I surprised myself! For e.g I have dreamed about picking cute dresses for my flower girls almost as much as I dreamed about MY dress but it stressed me out! My head became a wash with demons and I stopped enjoying other aspects of planning. 

When my Mom saw this and offered to help I immediately said yes! 

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There are two ways you can accept help. You can graciously say yes and trust, or you accept help and micro manage every last detail. Don’t micro manage!
 

Trust, and don’t sweat the small stuff.



The DJ, the dance floor, the flower girl dresses, the table arrangements, the invitations, the dresses and the shoes… just remember, don’t sweat the wedding, it’s the marriage that counts. The more you look for things to go wrong on the big day, the more things you will find. 

You can have so much fun planning for the big day. James and I have had meetings and lunches, we agreed and we disagreed but in the back of our minds we knew we wanted our day to be a fusion of our past, a celebration of our present and an exciting leap into the future.
 

Money cannot create those things because they are the words people carry with them in their speeches, the smiles that are captured on camera and the vows James and I share in front of the people we love most in the world.  
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I know what it's like to want the dream wedding. I am so excited about wearing my dress and my shoes. I can't wait to see the room dripping in flowers and for my first dance ever with my husband to a carefully selected song... but if things go wrong, if things fall apart... I also know I will be OK and laugh about it. On the day, I fully intend to let go, and go with the flow. Even right now I have a 'f*uck it list', a list of things that don't really matter and steer me away from my priorities. For. e.g If my desired flowers aren't available, if my hair drops or make up cakes!

My priority is to balance my dream wedding with the start of a healthy marriage. And to honour the plans and secret conversations James and I have about what we want. 

But how about that dress? 

Of course, it’s easy to understand why planning a wedding brings out our insecurities. We plan weddings with perfection in mind, the dream wedding, the dream dress and the dream body. Trust me, the idea to lose weight was there, loud and clear in my mind. 

I have long suffered from appearance related anxiety so I knew wedding dress shopping could be a slippery slope.
 

The pressure to lose weight for your wedding can, at time, feel agonising. The wedding industry covets a svelte, feminine and shapely body and makes other bodies feel unworthy of a white dress. 
 

Dieting won't fix your insecurities and weight loss is not the answer to a dream wedding. 

I decided that I would not lose weight for my wedding. I wouldn't even try. I've worked too hard to allow one day to effect the sense of acceptance and love I have for my body (something that has takes years to nurture). I decided to make up a rule; I would spend more time and energy on nurturing whats important to me, and absolutely zero energy on intentional weight loss.  
 

When you are walking down the aisle and you see your husband-to-be for the first time, do you want do you really want your last thought as a single gal to be "BINGO WINGS!"


I wanted to feel lost in love and bursting with pride because James and I are surrounded by so many incredible people we are lucky to call our friends and family. I don't want to miss out on anything because I was looking down to see if my tummy appeared big (or gasping for breath because my Spanx are too tight).  

Give yourself permission to to fret over your body now, and you will add to you list of things to worry about on the big day! And can I let you in on a secret? Your inner beauty doesn't need Spanx, lip fillers or diet pills... you are, and always have been beautiful. The problem is not your body, the problem is how you think about your body. Focus on collecting memories, not weight loss anxieties. 

At the end of the day you are a mature and sensible woman (right?). If you chose to drop 10k on a dress or plan a wedding that will photograph well no one can stop you, but here are some practical tips to help you feel organised. 

  • Make lists. Lists are your friends. Maybe getting a wedding planner isn't such a bad idea!
     
  • The chances are your fiancee will not care about the details of the wedding in the same way you do. Let him off the hook - it's OK that if he's not that into it - and stop inviting an argument because he doesn't care about the colour theme.  
     
  • Ask yourself does your fiancee get dressed for work in the morning all on his own? If the answer is yes, then you do not need to add to your growing list of things to do and 'supervise' the wedding suit shopping. Your fiancee can sort himself out. 
     
  • Find yourself a venue that has an awesome wedding coordinator, a photographer who knows the venue and a DJ or band that can get the wedding party singing along and you are flying! 
     
  • I have learned that a good communication strategy can give you the much needed boost in confidence to help deal with any pressure you might experience from others to lose weight. You could try saying one of the following lines;
    • I am getting married as I am. 
    • Thank you for thinking of me, but can you believe that I already feel beautiful and confident!
    • Diets aren't for me. 
    • I feel really happy as I am. 
       
  • If talking about the wedding to your loved ones triggers your anxiety, STOP! Come up with one line and change the conversation. You could try:
    • Things are moving along well! I am enjoying being engaged. 
    • I'm enjoying myself but i's not taking over my life. 
    • We are organised and having fun. 
    • You will just have to wait and see. 
       

I hope you have the most magical day. but if you don't, it's OK! Don't forget, it's not about the wedding, it's about the marriage. 

 

Sarah is a life coach and motivational speaker. As the co-founder of The Better Life Project and creator of L-Schoo, she’s the “go to” life coach for anyone feeling stuck in a rut, lacking in confidence or struggling with low self-esteem or body image. Sarah offers life coaching and mentoring services and works with clients in person in Dublin, Ireland and over Skype around the world.

My Top 5 Motivation Hacks

The most common question I get asked as a life coach is “how can I stay on track?”. Having an idea, being inspired to start a side project or nurture yourself esteem or confidence can sometimes feel like the easy part looking back. Keeping the magic alive in the days and weeks later - when the going gets tough and motivation dips - is the challenge.

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Some people never make it through that dip and fall into the old habits that have been letting them down time and time again. Here’s my 5 favourite ways to stay motivated and keep productive when the going gets tough.

 

My Fave YouTube & Podcasts Channels

I have only recently discovered The School of Life and I love it. It is a You Tube channel and a real-life school (for adults) devoted to emotional education. I recently met Elizabeth Dehn, creator of Beauty Bets and founder of Healers; a new podcast dedicated to teachers and gurus who are transforming lives in unconventional ways. Elizabeth interviews everyone from colonic therapist to the shaman priestess. She has created this podcast to give a voice to people who can change the way you view the universe and your ability to heal yourself. This incredible viewing is all free of charge. 


Bite Size Reading 

My favourite magazine of all time is Psychologies - a women's magazine whose goal is to enrich the emotional life of women. At €6.50 it's a little pricey for one magazine but it's worth every penny!


Online Courses and Learning Communities 

There are some amazing online learning resources out there such as Udemy and Skillshare that contain online courses on almost every topic you can think of. I loved them so much I felt inspired to create Life School, or L-School as I like to call it. L-School was deigned to empower women on their personal development and wellbeing journey. I wanted to create a community of learning that contains science and heart felt advice to help women live their best possible life.  L-School is a gym for your brain. You will be guided on your self-help and wellbeing journey by trusted female experts who want to show you how to develop emotionally, mentally, spiritually, economically and intellectually in a fun and easy going way! L-School is special because it is fun, affordable, accessible an every course is created by women, for women. You could say we get it! 


Events and Workshops

One of my favourite ways to stay motivated and nurture my own emotional, spiritual, economic and physical development is to attend workshops and events. I try to at least 2-3 a year! I run courses every few months and my next Empowered Woman workshop is taking place in February and of course You can use this link to grab your early bird ticket. 


Book Clubs 

Why not set up a personal development book club with your friends? What could be better than wine, chats, books and friends?  

There you have it, 5 quick and simple strategies to help you stay motivated and support you on your self help journey. Got anymore? Please fee free to comment below and share in the magic!

 

Sarah is a life coach and motivational speaker. As the co-founder of The Better Life Project and creator of L-Schoo, she’s the “go to” life coach for anyone feeling stuck in a rut, lacking in confidence or struggling with low self-esteem or body image. Sarah offers life coaching and mentoring services and works with clients in person in Dublin, Ireland and over Skype around the world.

Make-Up and It's Affect On Self Esteem

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For some people going make up free isn’t an option, for others it’s no big deal. In 2015, when I first began to challenge myself to not wear make-up it was extremely difficult. My appearance related anxiety began when I was very young. At about 12 years of age I started wearing make-up and at 15 I developed a mild eating disorder. My appearance has always affected my self esteem, and not in a good way!

 

When I left my job to start a business I began to feel vulnerable and exposed. I turned to red heals, straight hair and concealer to give me frequently needed boosts in confidence. Make-up became a part of my every day ritual and I rarely put myself out there unless "I had my face on".

I began to need make-up and this made me feel uncomfortable. My job is to help women develop a healthy sense of self and confidence and I was beginning to discover that make-up was a massive barrier preventing so many women from increasing their self esteem and feeling truly beautiful.   

I wanted to explore what it would be like to become MY own body image advocate which, for me, meant I that I would treat myself in the same way I would treat my future daughter or best friend – with love and kindness. It meant that I would try to be the woman that I was searching for on Instagram - a woman who was comfortable with her appearance, less self conscious and more compassionate.

 

Was it possible for me to feel as beautiful without make up and I did with it? The honest answer was I didn't know, because I never tried.

 

Outward appearance can have an impact on our self esteem, but I was beginning to crave something so much deeper. Often times, we don’t even realize how much it affects us until we are not wearing it. Imagine it’s Monday morning, and you’re running later for work so you throw on your clothes and even though you intended to put your make up on in the car, you forgot to bring your make-up bag with you. You feel different, don’t you? Maybe you make less eye contact or say no to your boss when he asks you to join a meeting? Chances are, you feel less confident because you aren’t wearing any makeup.  

Our personal reasons for wearing make-up will all be different. Some women will choose to wear it because of how it makes them feel, some women will wear it for other people, some use it as a creative outlet, passion or source of joy but some women will wear it because they think their face looks better with it.

 

When make-up is a choice it can feel like an empowering and creative outlet. But for a lot women this choice is veiled by a lack of self-esteem reinforcing a belief that we only look good with it. And that we can only feel good, if we look good.
 

Women who are more self-conscious may tend to wear more makeup, and judge themselves to be more attractive when wearing makeup, so they might act more confidently and the people they interact with may respond to that confidence in a more positive way. This self fulfilling prophecy may reinforce the belief that we look better (are better!) when we wear make-up. 

Within the body positive community 'privilege' refers to the idea that if you have what society and culture deem as beautiful – height, thick hair, clear skin, thinness etc – you are more socially acceptable. 

 

I know that my decision to go bare faced is not the same as someone who suffers from chronic acne or scarring but I know that my feelings are still valid (as are yours). 

 

But sometimes I feel that my experiences are perceived by others as inferior - that my appearance related anxiety, eating disorder or challenges aren't the same because of this privilege. For such a long time my decision to wear make-up, exercise or dress a certain way was because I felt I had to do these things before I could feel good about myself (happy, successful and beautiful). Because society and culture made me feel like I was't enough the way that I was. 

 

My feelings of worth, value and beauty were tied to my appearance but my appearance was a construct – my face was painted on, my hair was styled, my outfits were selected based off what was trendy at the time. Beauty meant one thing, and one thing only... how I looked on the outside!

 

I am extremely proud of the steps that I have taken to challenge myself. I believe that as women we are more than able to make decisions related to our own bodies, how we express our creativity and our femininity. I just want to feel empowered by my decision to wear make up or not. I wanted my decision to come from a place of self assurance, confidence and most of all, compassion!

 

When you decide to ditch the make-up you have to start to look inside yourself for the confidence you thought only make-up could provide. There is something so incredibly powerful about discovering how to remedy negative body image, low self-esteem and low self-confidence from the inside, OUT.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love getting a new foundation or mascara as much as you. However, I now believe I don't need them to feel good. I don’t believe that make up makes me any more valuable, worthy or beautiful.

I believe that relying on beauty boosters will reinforce low esteem because it allows us to present ourselves in what ever way we chose. It empowers us to hide behind and erase our perceived weaknesses and flaws. And whats worse is that we're becoming very comfortable with these fake realities! 

However, in saying this if putting on makeup makes you feel less self-conscious or relieves any appearance related anxiety than I think it is OK to use this boost to kick start your confidence building journey. However, for A LOT of women we use (and rely) on make-up to hide our perceived flaws and present perfectly curated versions of ourselves and this is where where we begin to develop negative associations to make-up. 

Before you apply your make up ask yourself "Do I need this or do I want this?". And if your answer is derived from want, you must then ask yourself "Will I still feel good with out it?

Forming an unhealthy relationship to make-up will only steer you further and further away from truly connecting with your authenticity, value and worth. A sense of self that cannot be found with concealer, mascara and bronzer. A sense of self, freedom and confidence unlike anything you have hoped for is bare faced, raw and unedited.

Your self-esteem is not contingent upon make-up and your capacity to feel (and be!) beautiful extends far beyond perfectly contoured cheeks, fluttering eye lashes and full lips.  

 

If you would like to read my 2015 blog about my Make Up Free Challenge, click here.

 

Sarah is a life coach and motivational speaker. As the co-founder of The Better Life Project and creator of L-Schoo, she’s the “go to” life coach for anyone feeling stuck in a rut, lacking in confidence or struggling with low self-esteem or body image. Sarah offers life coaching and mentoring services and works with clients in person in Dublin, Ireland and over Skype around the world.

5 Tips To Help You Start A Side Project

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A side project (a free lance gig, home project, goal or hobby) will drive your passion, fuel your energy and enrich your life. If you do it right, taking on a side project can be a rewarding and life changing experience. 

 

I haven't always been a life coach or a business owner. In fact, if you told me 5 years ago that one day I would be self employed I might have just laughed in your face! You see, for over 3 ½ years I was a project manager in one of Ireland's top universities. I was working 9-5 in an office job that I used to dream of and in a discipline I felt very passionate about. However, during a particularly stressful time in my personal and professional life I reached breaking point. 

I was stressed, anxious and slowly starting to realise that my passion for work was diminishing - I was no longer fulfilled! I began to sense that I needed a change but I wasn't ready to quit my job. 

However, in June of 2013 James said 5 words that would change my life forever, 'The Better Life Project Centre'. This was the moment my business was born! Nevertheless, before the money, before TEDx or business awards, before being invited to travel for work or meeting with clients from countries all over the world, The BLP was a meaningful side project that I nurtured and grew for over 15 months when I got home from the office. I have to pinch myself whenever I think about how my stand out life coaching business began... as a hobby!

The benefits of a side project are endless, even life changing! A side project can help you feel like you are back in control of your life again, give you something to look forward to and increase your over all happiness, improve your career, give you a sense of purpose and fulfilment and inspire you to learn new skills, grow in confidence and vitality. 

But before you register the domain name, hand in your notice and spend all your savings check out what I have learned about starting a side project; 5 tips that might save you a lot of hassle, heart ache and confusion. Also, don't miss out on some inspiration so make sure to read all the way to the end for a list of ideas to help you get your side project started. 

 

Don't quit your day job (yet!)

Though your day job may feel like it eats up all of your time, the numbers don’t lie: If you spend eight hours per day at work, you still have eight hours to sleep and another eight to do what ever you want. I know for a some people reading this a 40 hour week is a dream but none the less it remains the standard thereby leaving a lot of space in your life for other things. A side project will take the focus away from any problems or anxieties you are feeling about work and inspire you to think more positively about your future. For me, my side project provided a healthy distraction and gave me perspective - my job was important, but I learned that it was not the most important thing. Side projects are liberating. My side project had an amazing impact of my career because it meant that I wasn't stressed, anxious or overwhelmed anymore. I was happier, more creative and more productive. 

For as long as you let it, your full time job can 'fund' your side project and your side project will repay you with increased joy, productivity and success. So, don't quit your day job (just yet). 

 

Start Small

Whether or not you are hoping that your side project will reinvigorate and enrich your life, be the start of something bigger or simply create space for you to pursue your passion always remember that small steps will lead to big changes. One of the biggest challenges to starting is the risk of overwhelm or stress. Be generous with the time you give yourself to get your project off the ground and completed. Slow and steady wins the race!

 

Follow your passion

Your side project should be about something you are passionate about, something that makes your heart soar and your eyes glimmer. Yes, one day there is no reason why you can't monetise it but in the beginning your only job is to love what you do. When you are passionate about something and excited to share what you love with the world the money will naturally follow.

 

Learn as you go

When you are starting out your focus should be on learning so let go of any ulterior motives you have (such an creating additional income, gaining notoriety) for the moment and just enjoy getting started. Make mistakes, meet new people, try new things and simply enjoy losing yourself to this new found hobby. 

 

Fail Often

My failures have taught me more than my successes ever will. Don't be afraid to make mistakes or fail and always remember to aspire to progress, not perfection. As an idea maker, goal setter and passion pursuer the best way for you to learn is by doing.

 

Make a plan

I knew, straight away, that The BLP wasn't going to be a side project forever so a plan was vital to my success but it is not necessary for everyone. Your side project can be what ever you want it to be, for how ever long you want it to remain in your life. Nevertheless, if you are ready to make the transition from side project to part time, or even full time employment establishing some sort of plan will help you remain clear, confident and secure. 

Taking on a new project successfully can change your life. I hope these helpful tips will help you add value to your free time and enrich your life for the best. The BLP changed my life in more ways than one and I hope that one day you will give yourself a chance to experience the benefits of a side project. 

Sarah is a life coach and motivational speaker. As the co-founder of The Better Life Project, a movement dedicated to helping you live happy, healthy, positive and confident lives and with oodles of infectious energy she is super passionate about helping to inspire feel, life and be better. She’s the “go to” life coach for anyone feeling stuck in a rut, lacking in confidence or struggling with low self-esteem or body image. Sarah offers life coaching and mentoring services and works with clients in person in Dublin, Ireland and over Skype around the world.

Side Project Ideas 

  • A travel, food, fashion or make up blog (start by using Instagram).
  • Sharing your creative pieces online using Etsy or Depop.
  • Acting (Register with Movie Extras), voice overs or modelling. 
  • Evening or part time courses.
  • Learn a new language, musical instrument or take up a new sport. 
  • A house project such as renovating a room, garage or shed.
  • Planning a holiday including daily excursions, learning about the language and culture. 
  • Volunteering at a local charity (See Volunteer Ireland).
  • Volunteer to sit on a not-for-profit Board (See Board Match)
  • Register as a freelancer with Upwork or Fiverr
  • Become a teacher with L-School and join a growing community of women helping women. 

Four Strategies to Develop Your Mental Game

I remember it like it was only yesterday. It was the 12th of September 2014 and I was competing in the World Drug Free Powerlifting Federation Single Lifts. For my third and final attempt at the squat I stood with 132.5kg on my back and took two short, sharp steps back.

I took one last breath and began a strong descent to about 2 inches below parallel. I bounced back out of the hole with ease, with as much grace as is possible with the equivalent of a baby elephant on you back. I thought I had it until I hit a massive sticking point and it all started to quickly fall apart.

The voices in my head began to despair ‘It’s too heavy’, ‘You haven’t stood up’, ‘Give up’, ‘You’re too weak’. And as if by command I felt two spotters on either side of me bar grab the loaded bar to help me back in towards the rack.

I missed the lift and I felt completely devastated. My upset was made even worse when I looked at a video replay and saw how close I was to successfully completing it. My muscles were strong but my mental game was weak.

Mental coaching, or your mental game, is not just for elite athletes or professionals, it is as important for you and me as it is for them. However for many of us preparing for a competition our mind-set is an underdeveloped or even completely forgotten aspect of our training.

And this would, for the following 6 months, be the core focus of my training.

If you have ever felt like you your head is preventing you from becoming a winner, suffer from slumps, choking, psych-outs, negativity or a lack of confidence or if you perform better in practice than at “crunch time” you must learn how to become mentally tough.

Here are these 4 strategies to help you up your mental game and develop the mindset of a champion.
 

  1. VISUALISE: Visualisation, also known as mental imagery, is the process of creating a mental image (or intention) for what you want to happen. It makes the future clearer and is the first step toward creating it. Whilst most people have tried some form of visualisation, the sports approach is much deeper and should include physical, kinaesthetic (movement), imagining the entire task playing out at the same speed and with as much positive emotion as possible. Visualising success, on the playing field or the sporting arena, is extremely effective and worth taking time to become skilled at.
     

  2. LISTEN TO MUSIC: Listening to music is a behavioral strategy that helps to create and control a specific environment. Music has the ability to instantly transform our state of mind by reminding us of a successful memory. Have you ever listened to an upbeat song and felt completely reenergized as a result? Create an uplifting playlist on your music player and listen to it when you need to psyche yourself up. 
     

  3. FAKE IT 'TILL YOU MAKE IT: Because I believed that I was not going to get the lift, that belief may have led me to alter the strategies I used for physically and mentally preparing myself, as a result I performed way below my best. While I may have had a good chance of succeeding, my belief hindered my performance, and I made this belief become reality. Psychological research shows that the self-fulfilling prophecy works for both negative and positive predictions - the beliefs you hold have an impact on what happens to you. In order for you to succeed at what ever you put your mind to you need a belief so strong in yourself that you can overcome any set back!
     

  4. MANAGE YOUR INTERNAL DIALOGUE: My greatest weakness on that day was not my physical strength; it was that I believed the inner critic when she said I was weak. Develop self-supporting (or self compassion) affirmations to help you control your thoughts.

 

Six months after I missed this lift, I successfully completed my best competition, going 6 for 6 in both the squat and deadlift with each final lift being a new personal record.

It is true what they say, our mind will give up before our body does. Your mental game is a crucial part of your training, regardless of level or standard. It all starts with a simple can do attitude. Good luck!

Sarah is a life coach and motivational speaker. As the co-founder of The Better Life Project, a movement dedicated to helping you live happy, healthy, positive and confident lives and with oodles of infectious energy she is super passionate about helping to inspire feel, life and be better. She’s the “go to” life coach for anyone feeling stuck in a rut, lacking in confidence or struggling with low self-esteem or body image. Sarah offers life coaching and mentoring services and works with clients in person in Dublin, Ireland and over Skype around the world.

Are You Fat Shaming People At The Gym Without Even Realising It?

There is a disturbing trend appearing in the health and fitness industry and that is fat shaming fellow gym goers. In recent months we have seen competitive body builder, Dianne Andrews, share a body-shaming photo of a fellow gym-goer and model Dani Mathews posting a naked photo of a woman in a gym changing room.

 

Fat shaming is the act of bullying, singling out, discriminating or making fun of a fat person. The reality is fat shaming is an individual bias against people who are perceived as lazy or lacking self control.

Fat shaming is a vile and cruel reality faced by a lot of gym goers.

For many, attitudes to fat are such that we perceive things like wearing bikinis, revealing clothes or going to the gym off limits for fat people - these are healthy things reserved for healthy people!

Fat bodies are believed to be lazy, ugly, inactive, unattractive, unhealthy, unsuccessful and unhappy. Even though we expect fat people to want to lose weight and be healthy, many face ridicule from doing trying to so in public.

Fat people are regularly mocked and shamed if they do healthy things, appear confident or comfortable in their own skin – photos are taken, comments that can never be taken back are made and articles are written that shame.

But it’s not just the physical act of publicly singling out someone that constitutes fat shaming.

 

Signs that you are fat shaming include feeling superior in comparison to overweight or obese people, viewing leanness as an attribute of self control and health, being critical and judgmental of others by assuming weight is a lifestyle choice or looking down on others because they are not eating clean, dieting, counting macros etc.
 

And what is worse, many people will act as if their judgemental and hurtful comments are fair because they are performed under the guise of helping the person who is overweight/obese realise they are unhealthy. Whatever your opinion of fat shaming is, the research is very clear that stigma and discrimination against overweight people causes major psychological harm and makes the problem worse. 

When you engage in fat shaming behaviours you are sending out the message that you feel, by virtue of your leanness, superior and that fat people are forbidden from enjoying their bodies in the same way.

For those of us who are not natural gym bunnies or bro’s the gym is a scary place. Not only can the equipment be intimidating, but the gym-goers themselves can make you feel insecure and uncomfortable – are they judging you or worse, making fun of you and taking photos to share with friends?

I believe that bodies are more than objects to be made skinny, lean and pretty and I would like to be the sort of person and trainer that supports women and men feel beautiful, regardless of their size.

Fat shaming is a sad reality, faced by many. But what can we do about it?

We should be supporting anyone who is getting fit, whether they’re in the gym or somewhere else.

Always remember, the gym has many benefits including a positive impact on our mental health. Exercise makes you less likely to get sick, helps you sleep better at night and will boost your confidence and self esteem. Exercise is one of the most powerful tools to increase your happiness, energy levels and wellbeing. These motivations are universal!

 

The gym is a place to celebrate what our bodies can do, to improve our self-esteem and confidence and to create and reach new goals. The narrow mindedness possessed by some who treat the gym as a shrine to work on their perfect body (and shame every one who doesn’t look like them) is a very sad reflection of the health and fitness industry all together.
 

When you walk into a gym, regardless of your size or your goals, you have a right be there, to celebrate your body and feel good. Either we support our fellow gym goers to celebrate their unique bodies and honour their health, fitness and strength, or we keep our mouth shut.

Sarah is a life coach and motivational speaker. As the co-founder of The Better Life Project, a movement dedicated to helping you live happy, healthy, positive and confident lives and with oodles of infectious energy she is super passionate about helping to inspire feel, life and be better. She’s the “go to” life coach for anyone feeling stuck in a rut, lacking in confidence or struggling with low self-esteem or body image. Sarah offers life coaching and mentoring services and works with clients in person in Dublin, Ireland and over Skype around the world.

5 Signs It's Time To Quit Your Job

How do you know when to bite the bullet and keep showing up for work and how do you it's time to throw in the towel and move on to something else? 

It's a tough question to answer, because we're all different and each situation will often require a different solution. I agonised over my decision to quit my job to work full time on The Better Life Project for a very long time before finally doing it. I was afraid of what people would think of me. I was afraid of making a mistake. But mostly I was afraid of never trying, regretting. I didn't want to ever look back on my life and wonder what if...

Here are 5 reasons that led me to where I am today and if you listen carefully, they might be the signs you have been waiting for! 

1. You're unhappy most of the time in work

I wasn't happy in work and it was more than a case of the Monday blues. I couldn't see a future and when I could, it was no longer appealing to me. I struggled trying to identify anything that I enjoyed about my day and it was clear to me that my values were no longer aligned with a 9-5 office job - I was craving freedom, creativity and autonomy. 

 

2. Your work environment is toxic

Every work place has them - negative, mean, nagging and super competitive co-workers who make your life a living hell! A job isn't just about the function of your role and the tasks you must perform every day. It is shaped by the people in it; boss, colleagues, leaders, customers and clients. I believe that it is super important to be surrounded by positive people who share either similar interests or values as your own. 

 

3. You have unfulfilled ambitions.

For me, this was the final push and the reason why I threw in the towel. My passion in life changed and I no longer felt excited and animated about my 9-5 job. For almost a year The BLP was a side project - an unfulfilled ambition. The pain of staying in my job became greater than the pain of leaving so I bit the bullet and moved on.  

 

4. Your strengths and skills are not being utilised

A lot of the time, people don't understand that the skills that you possess are not the same as skills that you enjoy. In other words, you may be "great" at managing a cashbook but in reality, you may actually hate doing it. What we're good at is not the same as what we love doing. If you are not able to practice what you enjoy and if your strengths are not being utilised it can feel frustrating and disheartening. 

 

5. You have thought about it long and hard 

Quitting your job is a big deal and I believe the decision should never be made on a whim. When I decided to quit it was almost 18 months before I had my last day (including a 3 month notice period). In those 18 months I nurtured The BLP as a meaningful side project and I created a plan that I called my exit strategy. I understood my personal risk register and that meant I knew I would benefit from taking small and deliberate steps whilst giving myself time to up skill, nurture my network and save. 

Working in a job that no longer makes you happy is a challenge and it pushed me to the edge in more ways than one. I hit rock bottom! However, these challenging times are trying to teach you something and no one else can learn that lesson for you. 

Please don't fall into the trap where you think you are entitled to an easy ride and a job that makes you feel like you never have to work a day in your life. It's called work for a reason! Yes, you deserve to feel happy and fulfilled by your job but it's OK to not have these magical feelings all of the time.

People change jobs, careers and set up companies all of the time and you can do it too. The fear of failure, rejection and judgement has stopped too many dreams from becoming a reality... don't let it stop yours too. 

Sarah is a life coach and motivational speaker. As the co-founder of The Better Life Project, a movement dedicated to helping you live happy, healthy, positive and confident lives and with oodles of infectious energy she is super passionate about helping to inspire feel, life and be better. She’s the “go to” life coach for anyone feeling stuck in a rut, lacking in confidence or struggling with low self-esteem or body image. Sarah offers life coaching and mentoring services and works with clients in person in Dublin, Ireland and over Skype around the world. 

The Truth Behind Confidence

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THE GREATEST MYTH SURROUNDING CONFIDENCE IS THINKING YOU EITHER HAVE IT, OR YOU DON'T. CONFIDENCE IS A SKILL SET. NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS. 
ANY ONE CAN PRACTICE AND LEARN THIS SKILL. 

Your journey to increased confidence is made up of small changes practiced every day. In the exact same way that you can get better at sports or playing a musical instrument you can become more confident, but you will need to make this commitment to yourself

It will take one part commitment, one part courage and one part action.

But before we take this any further I think its really very important to understand what confidence actually is and at the same time dispel any mis held beliefs too.

Confidence plays such a massive role in our ability to function at or above our potential. So, suffice it to say we need to understand what it is and how we can develop this skill – a skill that will enable us to live life to our potential.

Most dictionaries and online resources define confidence as our belief in our ability to carry out a specific task or our belief in people, plans or the future.

Having confidence can have a really positive impact on your day-to-day life, as well as your ability to achieve the things you want to do.

The cool thing about confidence is that if you feel confident then you probably are. Therefor, it is not just a feeling but also a judgment about our choices and future.

There are two types of self-confidence.

General self-confidence is that that “I can handle it feeling”. People who are generally self-confident do not dwell on negative consequences and usually view outcomes optimistically. They have high self-esteem, which basically refers to the emotional feeling we have about our own self worth. Generally self-confident people appear to take more risks, do not question themselves and believe that they can handle any problem.

Specific self-confidence is based on experience and is that “I’ve been successful in this area before” feeling. People who have specific self-confidence have experienced success and generally do not question their ability or worth in this task. People who have specific self-confidence may have low self esteem or self belief outside the area they are confident in.

Some psychologists believe that general confidence is a personality trait but that specific confidence is a state of mind and can be learned, influenced and developed. Therefor, specific confidence can be the building block for general confidence.

You have probably felt this distinction in your every day life before? You can perform very complex tasks in work, interact and converse with your colleagues with confidence but if approached by a guy in a bar you become shy and introverted.

Can you say brain fart?

It is possible to be very confident in one area (specific self-confidence) but feel like in other areas of life you have very low (general) self-confidence.

However, our ability to pursue new experiences isn't just about confidence! It is about courage, and let me explain why.

When faced with risk, uncertainty or fear our initial response is to feel threatened. Instinctively we want to crawl back into our comfort zone where it is safe, secure and predictable. But if we want to become more confident at something we need to take action and courage means stepping outside of the secure and safe comfort zone we have created for ourselves in spite of the perceived fear, risk and danger.

I want to tell you about something that I do that I hope will help you too.

I want you to visualize in your mind a time when you were totally rocking it. Maybe you were out on a Saturday night or on a first date and you couldn’t explain it then but you felt a million bucks. Well, this was most likely down to your state of mind. If you think back on it did you listen to something, talk to someone or wear something and just instantly feel better.

A little trick that I practice to get me into a confident state of mind is to listen to some music and wear heels. These things inspire a state of mind that arouses courage to try new experiences and give myself the chance to practice what I want to become confident in .

These small action steps will shift our state and this is crucial if we want to take courageous action.

Confidence is not talking about what you want, it is owning it and taking action.

The best way to gain self confidence is to do what you are afraid of doing! To prepare for this action you need to exercise some mental fitness! If you don't already have a confidence boosting ritual it is time to get one!

I want you to think of something that will help you create the necessary state of mind to inspire and empower you to take action. This could be some (or all) of the following

VISUALISE

Visualization is also known as mental imagery and is a brilliant tool that will help you bring about a specific outcome. It is the process of creating a mental image or intention for what you want to happen in your life. It makes the future clearer and is the first step toward creating it.

 

LISTEN TO MUSIC

Music has the ability to instantly transform our mood. Have you ever listened to a super upbeat song and feel completely reenergised as a result? Create an uplifting playlist on your music player and listen to this when you need to psyche yourself up.

 

FAKE IT 'TILL YOU MAKE IT

If I believed that I was not going to get the job (for e.g), that belief may have led me to alter the strategies I used for interview preparation, and I would probably perform way below my best. While I may have had a good chance of succeeding, my belief hindered my performance, and I made this belief become reality. Psychological research shows that the self-fulfilling prophecy works for both negative and positive predictions - the beliefs you hold have an impact on what happens to you. In order for you to succeed at what ever you put your mind to you need a belief so strong in your self that you can overcome any set back!

 

DRESS TO IMPRESS (YOURSELF)

How we perceive ourselves plays a massive role in how we feel about ourselves. For me, wearing heels instantly boosts my confidence (I feel like rockstar) and even wearing leopard print will give me a little boost too. Appearances can make a difference, so throw on that work dress that makes you feel sharp because how you see yourself will influence how you feel about yourself. And don't forget even if you feel small, taking up more physical space will make you feel more confident too!

I want you to come up with one "confidence boosting strategy or ritual" that will help you feel instantly more confident and use this as frequently as possible to prepare you for when you need to take action.

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