How to contribute to your health in a healthy way

How to contribute to your health in a healthy way

A challenging health issue is often a wake-up call to contribute to your health more mindfully and consistently. And there are many things you can do to contribute to your health. In fact, if you read a lot of the health and wellbeing articles in the press, you probably come across a lot of information, some of it contradictory, and it can get confusing.

So I want to share a range of questions to help you think through what you can do to contribute to your health in a healthy way. You’ll also see how the questions demonstrate that health is multi-faceted. This is a framework to help you think through the actions you are taking (or not) rather than a top 10 hints and tips list.

This picture shows a person sitting down looking at a board that has written on it: What do you do to contribute to your health (or not)? There are two columns underneath, one with a green check indicating actions which contribute to her health and the other containing a red X meaning actions which don't contribute to her health. The woman is saying, "Hmm... I yo-yo diet and don't move as much because of the pain."

Food, exercise and lifestyle habits contribute to your health

Obvs! This is what we often first think of.

For example, the food you put in your body

Are you feeding yourself premium fuel or substandard fuel? I reckon you can discern between premium and substandard fuel food-wise and if you are unsure, speak with a qualified dietician or nutritional therapist.

We may also have to change what food we eat, how much, how often and even how we take in food.

A challenging health issue can also exacerbate a not so healthy relationship with food. The shock and challenge of a big change in your health is a lot to bear. It is not uncommon for people to find emotional comfort in food. And I certainly don’t say that to judge. To just acknowledge that you are trying to cope.

How much can you/do you move?

How much you can physically move about now may have changed due to your or your loved one’s health issue. So there is something about being mindful of the amount you are eating. Does it correspond with the amount you’re moving?

Also, our lifestyle and how sedentary it is can have an impact. If you can still move about as you did before your illness or injury, is your lifestyle full of movement or more lifestyle?

If you have a physiotherapy routine to follow to maintain or regain functionality, do you follow it? Sometimes in physiotherapy we may not see much improvement but continuing with it despite that can help us regressing.

What are your lifestyle habits like?

Habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol excessively and snacking on sugary food may serve a purpose – providing a break, putting social anxiety to one side or give you emotional comfort for example. But in the long run how good are they for you? And I don’t say this to judge. I know very well what it’s like to have one of these habits. (I quit smoking in 2008.)

A woman is sitting at a table eating from a bowl of crisps. There are also bowls of biscuits, sweets, chocolate and cake on the table. The woman is saying, "I really need to cut down on all the snacks I eat. But I feel better when I have them!" She is starting to realise the purpose of snacking for her, i.e. makes her feel better. Knowing your reason for snacking or any other habit that isn't helping your health can help you change your habit for the better. And this can contribute to your health.

Managing your health issue

If you are dealing with a challenging health issue, how proactive are you at managing it?

What kind of relationship do you have with the health issue?

What kind of relationship do you have with your body now? How closely do you listen to it?

How are you at managing symptoms? Do you take your medications?

What are your expectations of treatment? Of a cure?

What kind of preparation do you do for your medical appointments? How do you help the medical and healthcare profession to help you?

Note that everything else mentioned here can impact your health issue too.

What do you do that contributes to your health and experience of feeling healthy? #health #wellness #change Click To Tweet

The pursuit of health is so much more than our physical health

It’s also about how you tend to your inner world. I I think of this as physiotherapy for your heat, mind and soul.

Do you self-criticise yourself more than you show yourself self-compassion?

What do you do to nurture your self-worth? Do you generate your self-worth internally or are you relying on others to feed it? Or a combination?

Do you know when get yourself into vicious circle patterns of thinking and hence behaving?

What strategies do you use to get on with your life, people and situations which may no longer be serving you? Hint: Those people and situations that cause you a lot of stress.

Pic of a woman in a bath and the water is her self-worth. Bathing in your self-worth is something important to do to contribute to your health.
Take the time to bathe in your self-worth

How much do you focus on the negative in your life as compared to the good and what makes you smile?

How often do you put your needs as ‘less than’ or on the back burner in comparison to others’ needs? Do you know how to get your needs met? Or are you just out of practice?

What level of control do you feel you have over yourself and your life? Do you feel you can take control of things that matter to you and what you want for yourself? Or is it down to others making things happen for you?

What is your window of tolerance like for stressful situations? What is happening when you easily snap? Or when you get through a stressful situation pretty well?

To what degree do you feel you can learn to change things for the better? Or do you feel that isn’t possible?

Your relationships contribute to your health

What is the quality of your relationships? Are you satisfied with the level of connection you have with people?

What kind of people do your surround yourself with? Do they lift you up and support you? Or criticise you and generally don’t support you?

What kind of relationships might you need to let go of?

Do you have a network of people you can rely on for help? Remember, it’s great to have several people as often times one person cannot meet all of your needs. Keeping that in mind, who might be willing and able to help you? And how can you help the people around you to help you?

Who isn’t a part of your life but you would like them to be?

What kind of relationships do you want going forwards?

Your job can impact how healthy you feel

How does your job, whether paid or volunteer, meet your motivations for doing it?

We all have different motivations for doing the job we do. Sometimes we do a job because it pays the bills which allows us to get loads of satisfaction from our hobbies. Sometimes it gives us a sense of purpose in our life. Or it gets us out and connecting with people.

Some jobs can demand a lot of you – whether it’s a hard commute, long hours, lots of responsibility, not much resources to do the job, stressful relationships, job security, or something else. This can have an impact how healthy you feel – the level of stress, happiness in the job, etc. You may have to address how you approach aspects of the job to manage the impact of stress.

A lack of a job and experiencing difficulty finding one if you haven’t worked for some time or you experience discrimination in the recruitment process because of a disability can also have an impact.

And other aspects of your life contribute to your health

Our hobbies, personal interests and activities can do so much for our mental health. I have already written about that here and here and I encourage you to read those blogs.

Your hobbies and personal interests can contribute to your health in a healthy way. This picture shows a virtuous circle of how hobbies do this. Our hobbies increase enjoyment which in turn increases relaxation and reduces stress.
The impact of hobbies on our mental health is a virtuous circle.

Your physical environment can impact being able to get around and your level of independence. For example, you home may not be wholly accessible particularly if you use mobility aids. It may have mould which exacerbates existing health issues. It may not be in a great part of town. Or you may live in the country so have to drive everywhere but driving is an issue. Or maybe where you live is good for where you’re at in your life.

Our financial situation can contribute to your health or not. Accessing benefits can be a stressful affair. Or trying to afford equipment or having to move home to facilitate your independence. In some countries it can be very difficult to afford the treatment and medication you need to manage your health issue and have a quality of life.

The culture we were raised in and/or live in now and expectations of us in that regard can have an impact. For example, a culture may have a lot of stigma associated with an invisible illness or disability for example. That can impact our stress levels, or whether or not we seek treatment even.

If you subscribe to a faith or have another kind of spiritual practice, this can have an impact. For some people, it is of enormous benefit to them. For others it will not feature.

What do you find meaningful in your life?

Even if you are stuck at home a lot more than you would like due to your or a loved one’s health issue, or your life isn’t quite what you had hoped for, what gives your life meaning?

What contributes to your life feeling like it’s a good one to be living? Even though you may have some tough stuff to deal with. It doesn’t have to be anything big or grand. It just has to suit you.

Your life purpose doesn’t have to be anything big or grand. It just has to suit you. And it can also change as you grow and change #lifepurpose #chronicillness #health Click To Tweet

So how can you contribute to your health in a healthy way?

Reflect on the questions above. Remember, you know yourself best and what you’re like. So it’s ok to be honest, it’s ok not to like some of your responses, and it’s ok to celebrate what you feel you are doing well.

If you are looking for a way to answer some of the questions above to assess where you are regarding how you contribute to your health, you can download the Wellness Appreciation Workbook. It’s a do-it-yourself exercise that helps you figure out where you are now and where you would like to be in the areas of your life mentioned above.

This picture show the different aspects of your life which can contribute to your health (or not): how you manage your health issue, your physical environment and getting around, nutrition, your emotional health, your relationships, finances, life purpose, returning to work, volunteering or education, leisure activities, spirituality/faith, cultural factors.

The workbook is very flexible. You can focus on one, two, some or all of the areas listed above and you can re-use the exercise in the workbook. Also, you don’t have to use the categories I mention here. Or you can use different names for them. You can adapt the exercise to suit you. And it’s free. You can get it here.

Heads up – when you download the Wellness Appreciation Workbook, it does subscribe you to the Return to Wellness newsletter, which I typically send out weekly (although not always). I do not sell or give your email to any third parties and you can unsubscribe at any time.

What’s it like for you?

What action might you take or stop to contribute to your health? And what support do you need to do that? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

What is the danger in the pursuit of health?

What is the danger in the pursuit of health?

How can there be a danger in the pursuit of health? Sometimes I wonder if it has become a bit like: “Here’s what you’ve been waiting for! Do X, Y and Z and you will be healthy!” A magical formula that gives quick results.

The pursuit of health is a great and meaningful aspiration, but…

A woman is walking towards a hill and there are signs which say "Your health transformed in only 3 weeks! Don't delay! This way!" The woman is saying, "So glad I found this plan! It will give me what I need!" The point is there can be a danger when we view the pursuit of health resulting in an end destination and a magic plan will get us there.

We can end up pursuing health as if it’s a destination and with expectations of getting to that destination quickly. If it doesn’t happen quickly enough for our liking, we can quickly give up.

Also, what can happen when we arrive at our destination of health? Celebrate, of course. We did what we had to do to get here. We’ve made it! Hurrah!

But what happens next? For example, weight loss is a common goal in the pursuit of health. After the holiday or special event you lost the weight for, do you maintain the changes you made?

It’s not uncommon to see that once people lose the weight, they return to their previous habits. And eventually regain the weight. How many of you have found yourself in that cycle? Or a similar cycle regarding another change?

Two women are sitting on top of The Mountain of Health. They have recently finished climbing it. One woman is saying, "We made it! We're healthy!" The other is saying, "Let's go the pub and celebrate!" The caption reads: What happens after you arrive at your destination of health? The point is we can end up viewing the pursuit of health as an end destination. Once we get there, we can end up going back to our old ways, i.e. lots of drinking in the pub, or not eating very healthily for example.

So I think we need to approach the pursuit of health in a different way

I want to share four things you can reflect on to help you ensure your pursuit of health and wellness is a healthy one.

First, define what health and being healthy mean for you

This is especially important when you or a loved one are living with a challenging health issue. It’s not uncommon to define health and being healthy as how you were and felt pre-illness or injury.

My recommendation is to be very careful in doing that. This can be a double-edged sword.

Sometimes trying to get back to your ‘previous self’ can be a source of positive motivation to look after yourself in healthy ways which helps your rehabilitation.

What you don’t want to do is work to your pre-illness/injury expectations and personal standards to the point you experience a terrible quality of life. That can happen and can be a hard place to be. You can end up continually focusing on what you’ve lost rather than what you can be doing now. Read this blog if you are doing that.

How do you define #health and being healthy? Particularly if you’re living with the impact of a #seriousillness #chronicillness or #seriousinjury Click To Tweet

Ask yourself: What kind of health can I have within the reality of my illness or injury?

This isn’t about having a lower level of health than you had before or being less healthy. That form of comparison can be emotionally draining.

It is about what being healthy and not healthy is like for you now, as you are.

When you are living with the impact of a challenging health issue, you have good days, so-so days and some downright awful days. Therefore, your health and experience of being healthy fluctuates.

Answering this question in conjunction with your medical and healthcare team can also help you determine what is realistic and appropriate for you given the health issue you are dealing with. Or the health issue a loved one may be dealing with.

Second, health ensues due to the action we take. We create the conditions for experiencing health (or not)

It’s the same as with happiness. We create the conditions for our happiness. And those conditions are many. What contributes to your experience of health and feeling healthy is also multi-faceted. It is so much more than just our physical and mental health.

Note: There are some things which can have a negative impact on our mental and/or physical health which we cannot fully control. For example state systems regarding benefits, a relapse, or what other people say to us. What we can control is our response to these situations and people.

Third, ensure the actions you’re taking in your pursuit of health and wellness are healthy actions

Are the actions you’re taking in your pursuit of #health and #wellness healthy actions? Read more here. Click To Tweet

The actions we take to pursue health may not always be healthy for us. For example, the diet products that have no evidence base, or yo-yo dieting as mentioned above, or forgoing meals in an effort to lose weight, or doing too much exercise so we end up hurting ourselves, or completing disregarding the advice of your medical or healthcare team without giving it due consideration, or expecting results very quickly which could be unrealistic.

You can always double check your actions with experts and I recommend this if your action involves your medical routine, change in medications, your diet/nutrition and your psychological health.

And remember, your actions can be small. I often say that a range of small actions in various parts of our life can be a tidal wave of change for the good.

A woman is riding a tidal wave and within the wave are these small actions such as set my intention for the day, take a walk at lunch time, eat dinner earlier, and knit whilst watching tv. The woman is saying, "All these small actions are at tidal wave of change!" A fish is near the wave saying, "This is wave I want to ride!" The point is the actions we take in our pursuit of health need to be healthy actions. It's ok if they are small. Lots of small actions can be a tidal wave of change.

Fourth, the pursuit of health and wellness is an ongoing process

There is no end destination. Health and wellness are resources readily available to us. It’s up to us to create the conditions, to take actions which are within our control and influence, for them to flourish for our benefit. Whilst keeping in mind our health and wellness will fluctuate over time.

An original quote by Return to Wellness: The pursuit of health and wellness is an ongoing process, not an end destination.

What’s it like for you?

How do you think about the pursuit of health and wellness? How has your definition of health and being healthy changed over the years? What’s it like now? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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Know someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

How to change your snacking habit for the better

How to change your snacking habit for the better

You’ve tried to change your snacking habit and you may have made improvements at times, but they don’t seem to have lasted for very long. You end up dissatisfied and maybe even angry with yourself.

After all, you’re on a quest to improve your health because you’re dealing with your own or a loved one’s health issue. Or you just want to be and feel healthier. Also, if your snacking habit is a sugary one, that can have an impact on symptoms you or a loved one may be living with.

This is a common issue people have. I’ve been working with carers over the past year and more than one person has this issue on every course I do. So here I share what you can do to change your snacking habit for the better.

Have been working with #carers and an issue many of them have which they would like to change is their snacking habit. You can get a snapshot of how I work with them via this blog #change #health #wellness Click To Tweet

Note that this blog is less about the surface level things you can do to change your snacking habit

The internet is awash with it. It’s the hints and tips like don’t go down the snack aisle in the supermarket, limit what snacks you do buy, or substitute the chocolate and crisps with grapes, cucumbers and unsalted nuts. You know this stuff already.

What I offer here is an opportunity for you to dig a little a deeper. To get closer to the root cause of why it may have been hard to change your snacking habit.

You can’t look at snacking in isolation

To change your snacking habit for the better and for the long-term, it really helps to examine your relationship with

  • Food
  • Your emotions
  • Your body
  • Life events both positive and negative, small and large, past and present

A woman is looking at a circle which has been divided into four areas: Food, Your Emotions, Your Body, Life Events (past and present). She is saying, "I'll have to reflect on how my relationship with each of these areas influences my snacking habit." Considering how these four areas do that can help you change your snacking habit for the better.

You do that because snacking could be serving a purpose

That purpose could be connected to your relationship with food, how you view your body, your emotions, or it could be connected to something which happened to you in your life or even your present-day circumstances. These four areas can influence one another.

Sometimes people snack because they are bored. Snacking is something to do.

Or they snack alongside another activity – working on the computer, watching tv, driving. In this case, cares I’ve worked with described the snacking as ‘mindless’, i.e. they weren’t thinking about it. When you don’t think about it, you can very quickly go through a packet of biscuits or a bag of sweets.

Or snacking can provide comfort when you’re feeling down or upset.

Snacking could also be a distraction from difficult emotions and feelings which may be related to how you feel about yourself generally, an earlier life event or present-day circumstances.

Or maybe you grew up having a snack after school and have continued that tradition into adulthood even if you’re not hungry at that time.

Or you don’t like your body, you ignore it, and snacking is one way of dealing with that.

How to become aware of the purpose of snacking for you

When you next go for a snack, notice how you’re feeling.

Bored, restless for some reason, wanting to ignore a difficult task/project/activity you’re meant to do, you just had an argument, you did something well and want an award, something else?

This is about noticing your triggers.

Next time you go to get a snack, pause.

Give yourself a couple of minutes to notice what is triggering you. Notice what you’re telling yourself. And how you feel. You can even write this down including the time of day. If you do this over a period of time, you may start to notice patterns.

When you are eating the snack, what is that like for you?

How do you feel then? Satisfied? Disappointed? You’re not noticing anything?

What are you telling yourself?

What are the downsides of eating the snack? And the benefits?

As you’re snacking, you can write the responses to these questions. At this stage it is all about noticing without the intention of changing anything. You just want to raise your awareness and identify any patterns in your snacking.

Raising your level of awareness can be enough to help you move forward with changing your snacking habit.

Raising your level of awareness about your snacking habit – when you snack, why, how it helps you (or not) – can be enough to help you to change your snacking habit for the better. Read more here #change #health #wellness Click To Tweet

But the following is good if you are finding it hard to change your snacking habit.

What can be particularly helpful to change your snacking habit

Go back to the trigger for wanting a snack in the first place. Notice if you experience any sensations in your body as well. Do you feel anything in your legs, feet, stomach, solar plexus, chest, hands, arms, shoulders, back, neck, head, somewhere else?

Notice the sensation you feel. Is it a buzzy feeling, or more like shocks, a wave, or like knots, rocks, ache, hot, cold, something else? It can be anything. Or you may feel nothing.

Notice how big or small the sensation feels. Even if you feel nothing. What shape does it take? How much space does it occupy in that part of your body?

What colour is it? Does it have a texture, and if so, what is it like?

If this sensation could speak, what would it say?

Sometimes emotions accompany this. And that’s ok. It’s actually very valuable information so if emotions do appear, give them space to be there without judging them.

A woman is sitting at a table eating from a bowl of crisps. There are also bowls of biscuits, sweets, chocolate and cake on the table. The woman is saying, "I really need to cut down on all the snacks I eat. But I feel better when I have them!" She is starting to realise the purpose of snacking for her, i.e. makes her feel better. Knowing your reason for snacking can help you change your snacking habit for the better.

That sounds a little bit woo woo, what are you having me do?

If a habit like snacking is difficult to shift, the underlying reason could be resting in your body somewhere. By working with the bodily sensation, we are by-passing the rational mind which can be quick to discount and question everything. When the rational mind gets out of control like that, it can get in the way of us making change for ourselves.

Also, working with our bodies in addition to our minds is a holistic approach to change

In our society, we are sometimes very quick to discount our body and all the information it contains. People often think they are in full control of their bodies.

But given you have dealt with or are dealing with a challenging health issue, or know someone who is, you know that is not the case. There is a wealth of information in our bodies so it’s important to tap into that so we can best help ourselves.

Discover how working with your bodily sensations in relation to the snacking habit you wish to change can help. There’s a wealth of information in our bodies so it’s important to tap into that so we can best help ourselves. #change… Click To Tweet

So back to working with your body…

When you work with your body in this way, you can discover what the various parts of you need. If you are not used to identifying the bodily sensations you feel and working with them, this may take some practice. And that is ok. It is a skill that can be learned. And you don’t have to get this ‘perfect’ or ‘right’. Fumbling along is normal and acceptable!

If you feel nothing, sit a while longer. If you still feel nothing, it could be that this is a skill to develop. Or it could be a sensation of numbness.

When reading that it might be numbness, if you feel a reaction to that, it could be numbness you are feeling. And you may feel numb for any number of reasons.

A question to ask yourself is, ‘What could I be numbing?’ An answer may not appear readily. That’s ok. Just let that question percolate for a while and something may come to you.

If an answer does spear, it may be in the form of images, thoughts, events you remember and/or other sensations.

Identifying what you really need

You’ve identified the bodily sensation, its colour, texture, shape, how much space it occupies and even what it could say if it had a voice.

What does this part of you want?

What is driving this want? Is anything missing?

If you could have what you want, or what is missing, what would it be? What would having that give you?

Change your snacking habit by bringing more of what you want or what is missing into your life

How can you bring more of what you want or what is missing into your life?

When people share what that part of them wants, what is missing, I hear things like:

  • ‘A hug.’
  • ‘Love me.’
  • ‘You were a little girl. It wasn’t your fault.’
  • ‘Please slow down.’
  • ‘Don’t take on anything else right now.’
  • ‘I’m tired.’
  • ‘Pay attention to me.’

That’s really important information. Many times it’s a plea for self-nurturing, acknowledgement or recognition. There’s this part of us that hasn’t been seen, heard or understood for some time. What you can do now is look at ways of bringing more of what that part of you needs and wants.

Sometimes when we examine and feel into everyday habits we do without thinking, like snacking, we discover a doorway to something much more meaningful and fulfilling.

An original quote by Return to Wellness: "An unhelpful habit can actually be a plea for self-nurturing, acknowledgement and recognition." This is sometimes the real purpose behind snacking. If you become aware of what plea snacking is covering up, then you are in a better position to change your snacking habit for the better.

What’s it like for you?

What purpose does snacking play in your life? What strategies have you used to help you change that habit? What’s worked? What hasn’t? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know of someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

How to have a growth mindset after illness

How to have a growth mindset after illness

You may feel that learning how to have a growth mindset after an illness or injury sounds like a hippy fad, or a luxury reserved for people who don’t have challenging health issues, or it’s just not a priority as you’re trying to figure out how to live in a changed body, sort out the impact on family dynamics, return to work etc. etc.

Yet, what if I said that learning how to have a growth mindset is a key part of learning how to live well with the impact of a challenging health issue? It is. You didn’t seek to have a challenging health issue, whether you or a loved one has/had it. It’s been an unwelcome intrusion in your life, which can bring up all sorts of unpleasant emotions and feelings. And that is on top of dealing with the health issue itself.

So I want to share some tools to help you learn how to have a growth mindset. To equip you with the knowledge and skills you need on this journey to help you get through it with more ease.

There's a woman standing and holding a map of her rehabilitation plan and the various routes she needs to take to meet her goals. On the map is written open mind, adapting, flexibility, persistence, self-compassion and learning. She is saying, 'I need to revisit what I know and need to learn to help me on my journey.' The caption reads 'developing a growth mindset will help you on your journey'.

But first, a recap of what a growth mindset is and it’s opposite, a fixed mindset

Last week I wrote about what a growth mindset is and why it’s important so here’s a quick recap.

A person has a growth mindset when they believe they can learn and change things for themselves through effort, strategies and help from others. Even in tough situations like dealing with a challenging health issue. They believe that their intelligence and abilities are not fixed.

When a person believes they cannot learn or change things or that one’s intelligence and abilities are fixed, that is known as a fixed mindset. Some common examples of this are when you hear people say, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ Or ‘I cannot possibly learn that!’ Or ‘I couldn’t possibly be creative.’ Or they give up quickly because of the challenges, obstacles and difficult people getting in the way of what they want for themselves.

However, we all experienced growth and fixed mindsets. It can depend on the situation, the people we are with, how we are feeling and more. They are not static. Which is good. Because it means you can learn and change if you choose to.

This is a pic detailing the characteristics of growth and fixed mindsets. A growth mindset believes that intelligence can be developed. It leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. As a result they achieve more and it gives people a sense of greater free will. A fixed mindset believes that intelligence is static. It leads to a desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to avoid challenges, give up easily, see effort as fruitless or worse, ignore useful negative feedback and feel threatened by the success of others. As a result, they may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential. A fixed mindset confirms a deterministic view of the world. This demonstrates why believing your intelligence is not fixed and you can learn is so important in learning how to have a growth mindset after illness or injury.
Concept of Growth & Fixed Mindsets by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. Image by Nigel Holmes.

Let’s move on to learning how to have a growth mindset

First, you can do a mindset assessment here to learn about your current mindset. You do have to give them your name and email to get the results.

My results said I had a good foundation but may feel uncomfortable with criticism even if it’s well intended and I can be hard on myself when I make mistakes. Yep! I am a work-in-progress!

Your results can give you a good starting point on where to look when you’re in fixed mindset mode. With that increased self-awareness, you then have more choices. So on to the next stage.

The 7 signs that you are in fixed mindset mode

I’ve come up with seven signs, but there could be more. The signs could be different for each of us. What I share are common ones I’ve seen in my work with clients and even myself.

For each sign that you may be in a fixed mindset mode, I offer what you can do instead.

A fixed mindset won’t help you live well with the impact of a challenging #health issue. Read about the seven signs you are in fixed mindset mode and what you can do instead #growthmindset Click To Tweet

You know you are in a fixed mindset when you

Have a case of ‘comparisonitis’

You compare yourself to others, you look at what they have and you don’t and feel envious and bad as a result. Your mood takes a nosedive.

It is so hard to look at what other people have which you value and wish you had too.

I could write a lot on this and will some day.

How to have a growth mindset when dealing with ‘comparisonitis’

Keep in mind that everyone is on a different journey. Their journey is not your journey.

Focus on your journey. Where you are now, where you want to get to and what you need to do, think, feel and be to get to your desired destination.

Also, only compare yourself to the you of yesterday and your goals. Adjust your goals to keep them realistic and achievable too if that is needed.

There are two versions of the same woman standing. One is the woman of yesterday. One is the woman of today. The woman of yesterday is saying, 'I didn't do so great on my physiotherapy today.' The woman of today is saying, 'Today's physio went well. And we need to adjust our goals.' The caption reads: Manage 'comparison-itis' by only comparing you to the you of yesterday. That is key in learning how to have a growth mindset after illness or injury.

You are working so very hard to your pre-illness/injury standards and not getting anywhere

The level of frustration you are feeling is through the roof! Sometimes this persistence can actually help your rehabilitation. But if you feel like you are fighting and not getting anywhere, that is the sign you need to do something different.

How to have a growth mindset regarding your personal standards

You need to reset your personal standards so they are realistic to what you can do now and work to those. They may get you to your pre-illness or injury standards. But they may not and being open to that will make the journey much less stressful. You can read more about that here.

You’re aiming for perfection

This relates to the point above. It often comes out when a client says, ‘I have high standards.’ High standards are not bad, but you need to have a flexible approach towards them. You need to adjust them. Particularly as your body has changed and it is working double time. Your body may not have the energy levels to cope.

How to have a growth mindset regarding perfectionist tendencies

If you reread the results of my mindset assessment above, my ‘watch out for’ areas on how I respond to certain kinds of feedback and making mistakes point to my perfectionist tendencies. Yes, I have them and they are a great sign to me when I need to demonstrate flexibility and do something different. When I do that, that’s when I shift from a fixed to a growth mindset.

Reminding myself the following helps.

  • Me giving 75% effort towards something is most likely someone else’s 110% helps.
  • The world will most certainly not end if things aren’t perfect.
  • Mistakes are learning opportunities.

You’re trying not to ‘give in’ to the illness/injury

But you feel tired, you feel like your illness or injury is ‘winning’. I hear this language being used a lot, particularly in the context of acceptance of an illness or injury. It is indicative of a fight, but one that is very negative.

A typical sign of this fight is not resting when your body is screaming for it. Because resting would be ‘giving in’. And you can’t do that because the illness or injury would be in control.

But this kind of fight doesn’t help you. It’s also not you taking control. Your energy is so focused on fighting, it’s not freed up to look after yourself. Resting would be you recognising what you need and taking control. That’s the paradox.

How to have a growth mindset regarding ‘giving in’ to your illness/injury

If you notice yourself ‘fighting’ your illness or injury in this way, have a go at doing the opposite of what you’re doing. Chances are it is what you need to be doing.

Are you trying not to ‘give in’ to your #seriousillness #seriousinjury? If yes and you are feeling like you aren’t getting anywhere, then read this blog. It will help you to help yourself. #growthmindset Click To Tweet

You don’t ask for help

This is so common when people are dealing with the impact of an illness or injury. I have written a lot about it and recommend a read.

How to have a growth mindset regarding help

What you can do is practice asking for help. Try it with small things first to notice your internal response to asking for help. People have often said to me their worst fears don’t come to pass.

Also make sure to ask people who are willing and capable of helping you.

Your inner critic gets in the driving seat when you struggle or make a mistake

This can be a sign of a perfectionist tendency. Remember, you are the CEO of you so you can take charge of the inner critic.

How to have a growth mindset regarding your ‘inner critic’

You do that by taking a large dose of self-compassion and asking yourself the following questions:

  • What did I struggle with in particular?
  • And what does that tell me about me, my skills, my knowledge?
  • What am I learning from that? Is there a skill I need to learn? New knowledge to seek out?
  • What part of this did I actually do ok even well?

Asking yourself these questions turns the mistake into a learning opportunity. It works really well.

A woman is holding a very large glass of a large dose of self-compassion and learning. Behind her on a table stand two bottles and one has self-compassion written on it and the other has my learning written on it. The woman is saying, 'This is a large dose. I hope it tastes ok.'' Near the glass it says ' a large does of self-compassion and learning is tasty'. The caption reads 'doses of self-compassion and learning help you to have a growth mindset'.

You’re trying to convince others you’re ok when you’re not

We could do this for all sorts of reasons and it’s a complex one. So today I’m only going to focus on it from one angle.

You may fear about ‘burdening’ the other person. And this could be an assumption on your part. That will depend on the person you are trying to convince and your relationship with them.

Or we may not want to deal with the kind of response we know we may get from that person. Understandable.

Be discerning on who you try the following out with. If it’s the type of person who doesn’t do well with other people’s difficulties, don’t try it with them. If it’s someone who is empathetic, chances are it is safe to be honest with them.

How to have a growth mindset regarding being authentic regarding the issues you have with your illness or injury

If the person is close to you and it’s a good relationship, have a go at saying how you really feel. You don’t have to say everything. Just a little bit. They may respond in a way which shatters your assumption about burdening them. Their response may be just what you need.

Learning how to have a growth mindset requires these three qualities

What I have suggested you do differently for each sign above requires you to open your mind to new possibilities, flexibility and adaptability. They help you to learn how to have a growth mindset and will enable you to go far.

A woman is standing and holding 'open mind'. In front of her is a table and on it are 'flexibility', 'adaptability' and a growth mindset bag. The woman is saying, 'I have to pack my growth mindset bag for my journey.' She is going to put open mind, flexibility and adaptability in her bag. The caption reads: An open mind, adaptability and flexibility help you learn how to have a growth mindset.

What’s it like for you?

In which situations do you notice you’re in a fixed mindset? What have you done in those situations to switch to a growth mindset? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

Why is accepting help good for you?

Why is accepting help good for you?

You may be of the opinion that accepting help is not a good thing to do. Because you may feel guilty for feeling like a burden to someone. Or you feel bad or even ashamed because you now need help. Maybe you’re afraid of being seen as needy. Or worried that people will say no and you’ll look stupid in some way.

It’s understandable to feel this way. There are so many reasons why accepting help is seen as a no-no, or a last-ditch effort. But some of these reasons are culturally ingrained and actually don’t help us to help ourselves.

If you’ve read my blogs before on this topic, most recently on losing your independence due to illness or injury, and regaining it, you’ll have seen I’ve been writing about this topic from different angles over the past few years.

In this blog, I want to make the case for why accepting help is good for you. If anything, to get you thinking, and maybe challenge your assumptions around accepting help. So that the next time you are in a position to accept help (or not), you can make a really informed decision for yourself.

When underlying assumptions about accepting help are not true, they can disrupt the healthy balance in giving and accepting help. In this picture a person is saying to someone, "I can help. Let me know.' The other person responds, 'No, I'm fine.' But inwardly is thinking, "If I accept help, that means I am weak and needy. Plus I would feel like a burden and guilty.' Those are assumptions often ingrained by the society we live in.

But first, let me share an example of accepting help

A recent example is Eliud Kipchoge who was the first person to run a marathon in under two hours on 12th October 2019. He didn’t do the effort alone. It was a meticulously planned event which took several years of preparation. It involved a sponsor, his coach, his training team, the city of Vienna, the 41 pacemakers and a whole lot more people I am sure.

Eliud had to enlist their help and support. And if you watched the race, you would have seen how happy they were to be doing that. The pacemakers consistently said, ‘I am very happy to be doing this. It’s an honour.’

They relished in giving their help. Eliud received it all and used it to do what he does best, run a marathon in the time he was aiming for. They received the satisfaction of knowing they helped a fellow runner and the glory of being part of this historic challenge and helping to make it happen.

You see the mutual exchange that is happening?

Eliud asked for help. He received it. Those who helped got something in return. This is a healthy form of giving and receiving.

There is also an added bonus in what he has done for others which was best put by his coach Patrick Sang: “He has inspired all of us that we can stretch our limits in our lives.” I’m sure we’ll soon be seeing more people running marathons in under two hours.

I feel @EliudKipchoge recent efforts to run a marathon in under 2 hours is a beautiful example of a healthy rhythm of giving and receiving #help to make great things happen. #NoHumanIsLimited #INEOS159 Read what I mean here Click To Tweet

Accepting help creates an interdependence

I think this is why some people fear asking for and accepting help. They fear feeling dependent on the other person. They may even feel beholden to them, i.e. they now ‘owe’ the other person.

But there is value to interdependence

Interdependence creates connection. With others. And you know what? We humans thrive on that. Serious illness or injury and chronic illness can be very isolating. When we refuse genuine offers of support or help, which would really help us, we can inadvertently isolate ourselves further. So we don’t give ourselves the chance to stretch our limits.

The connection of interdependence shows that we matter

Esther Perel put it beautifully in her email newsletter of 5th August 2019:

“For when we know that we matter to others, it gives us a significance.”

Esther Perel

When someone is genuinely willing to help us, we know we matter. When we are genuinely willing to accept their help, they know they matter.

Knowing that we matter to someone else is a very validating experience. We feel affirmed. We’ve been acknowledged. Witnessed. This is the stuff that feeds our self-esteem.

There is so much value in the connection created by inter-dependence.

For this to happen, both parties have to want to give and receive

The giving and receiving is mutual. There’s also a rhythm to giving and receiving.

When I ask for help, the other person says yes to giving help. (Provided we ask the right person to help us, i.e. they are willing to help us and capable of helping us.)

I say yes to accepting help.

The person helps me do what I need/want to do, be or achieve.

The person giving receives satisfaction in helping me. They know they did a good thing. They feel good.

In the picture are two women. One is asking, 'Can you help me?' The other woman is saying, 'Yes, I can help you.' Between them is a figure eight on its side, like an infinity sign. In this picture that is a sign for the healthy flow of giving and accepting help. It shows the woman who asked for help accepts the help given. For the woman who is willing to help, it shows the satisfaction she receives in helping. When the giving and receiving of help is mutual, there's a healthy rhythm to the giving and receiving.

But by only being willing to give and not accept help, we disrupt that rhythm

By only being willing to give and not accept #help, we disrupt the rhythm inherent in giving and receiving help. Read more about that here #seriousillness #seriousinjury Click To Tweet

We’ve got a lot of people wanting to give, but not people willing to receive.

Accepting help is difficult for many people for the reasons I initially stated. Sometimes those reasons are valid. Other times, they aren’t. When they aren’t, this is often due to society’s assumptions around receiving help, i.e. being seen as too ‘needy’ or not capable, or needing help is a sign of weakness.

This ends up disrupting the rhythm of giving and accepting help in an unhealthy way. We’ve ended up with this imbalance in society where it’s ok to give, but not ok to receive.

The picture says society's assumption is it's ok to give help but not to receive help. There is a person saying, 'I can help. Let me know.' The other person responds, 'No, I'm fine.' Between the two people there are two circles with a jagged slash between them to demonstrate the rupture to the rhythm of giving and accepting help.

You often see the saying ‘giving is receiving’

It works the opposite way too. Receiving is giving.

Coming back to the example of Eliud Kipchoge above, by giving and accepting help, you enable good things to happen. You stretch the limits of what is possible for yourself and others.

So keep that healthy rhythm of giving and accepting help going.

This is a picture of an original quote by Return to Wellness: "We often say that giving is receiving. It also works the other way. Receiving is giving too. By accepting help you stretch the limits of what is possible for yourself and others."

What’s it like for you?

What do you think about accepting help? A good thing or not? What’s your thoughts on the rhythm of giving and accepting help? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know of someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

How to regain your independence after illness or injury

How to regain your independence after illness or injury

Learning how to regain your independence after illness or injury is a key goal for many people after a life-changing illness or injury.

Prior to dealing with your challenging health issue, whether your own or someone else’s, you probably didn’t think about your independence. You did what you wanted when you wanted. We all did.

But afterwards, when you can’t do what you want when you want, you are forced to think about it. You know what you cannot do anymore and that can be hard to deal with. You realise what you have lost. How much easier everything used to be. It’s tough.

And all you want is to regain your independence after illness or injury and figure out the best way to do that. To help, I have some ways of thinking about independence and being independent which can be a starting point for learning how to regain your independence after illness or injury or even act as a sense check if you are well on your way.

Learning how to regain your #independence after illness or injury is a key goal for many people after a life-changing illness or injury. Read about how you can do that here #seriousillness #seriousinjury Click To Tweet

This blog builds on a previous blog I wrote about redefining what independence and being independent means to you. Based on my experience with my clients, I see this as a crucial part of the process of learning how to regain your independence after illness or injury.

The framework for your independence has changed

A picture of a woman looking at her reflection in the mirror, which she doesn't recognise and is very surprised. She is saying, 'So much has changed! Who am I now?' The reflection in the mirror is a Picasso-like reflection of the woman with her eyes, ears, nose and mouth being in the wrong locations. The caption reads, 'A challenging health issue can change so much.' All this change can make it hard for a person to know how to regain their independence after illness.

For example, to do your errands now you may need to use a walking stick to help your balance, walk more slowly, need more time, and make sure the shops are more accessible from a mobility perspective.

You may still be able to do what you did before your illness or injury but how you approach it may be different. It may take you longer to do. Or you can’t spend as long on the activity as you once did. Or you need help from someone or something. You may have to plan more.

Consider the case of the woman, Hannah, featured in this article. It’s her story of living independently whilst depending on others and equipment. Due to contracting Transverse Myelitis as a teenager, Hannah is dependent on a ventilator to breathe and hence live. She has to use a wheelchair. A person might think she cannot do a lot.

Reading the article, you realise that Hannah is a busy woman and does many of the activities any person does – live, shop, work, socialise, travel and more. She has a team of carers who support her to do all this and she manages this team. Within her framework, she is exercising her independence.

What can help you change your framework to regain your independence after illness

Mourn what you have lost

Some people will really feel the loss of being able to do what they wanted when they wanted without having to think much about it. If that is true for you, acknowledge that loss. Mourn it. But you don’t have to unpack and live in the mourning forever and ever.

Let go of unhelpful assumptions

There are sometimes unhelpful, unrealistic and contradictory assumptions around asking for and receiving help. For example, it’s good to help others but not ok to ask for help. Or that we will be obligated to someone for the help they have given us. A lot of people don’t want to feel that way or be seen as needy.

It’s ok to receive help

But there are people who genuinely want to help and don’t expect much in return, only the pleasure it gives them to support you. And when a person is willing to help you, you know you matter to them. That’s a beautiful thing.

Esther Perel, the relationship and sex therapist, whose work I follow, said:

“For when we know that we matter to others, it gives us a significance.”

Esther Perel, in her email newsletter of 5th August 2019

It’s demonstrates that there is so much value to inter-dependence and that paradoxically it can help us do the things we want to be doing.

“For when we know that we matter to others, it gives us a significance.” @EstherPerel in her email newsletter on 5-Aug-2019. This resonated. Shows that there is so much value to inter-dependence. It can help us regain our… Click To Tweet

Developing flexibility and taking control can help you regain your independence after illness or injury

Loosening our grip on society’s assumptions around help can help us reach out, ask for and receive help so we can do the things we want to be doing in life. To be independent within our new frame, our new reality.

To provoke (in a good way) your thinking further around the assumptions of asking for and receiving help, at the end of this article there are links to blogs I have written on this topic.

A picture of a fire pit that has a roaring fire in it and two women. One woman is holding the unhelpful assumption 'Being independent means you do everything on your own' and she is planning to put it in the fire. She is saying, 'These assumptions are no longer useful. Thanks for coming over to help.' Her friend is handing her the unhelpful assumption, 'Asking for help means you are needy!' and she is saying, 'Happy to help.' The caption reads, 'Letting go of unhelpful assumptions.' It is necessary to do this in order to regain your independence after illness.

Gently challenging your assumptions, particularly those which don’t help you to live the life you want for yourself, also helps you to develop a more flexible definition of independence and be independent in the way that suits your life and how you want to live it. Much better than subscribing to what can feel like a rigid definition defined by society.

Also, when you choose to depend on someone or something so you can be doing stuff you want to be doing, you are in control of yourself. Even if it is something you would not have chosen for yourself in your pre-illness or injury days.

Doing so now means it is you recognising your need, deciding how best to meet that need, and getting that need met. It is your conscious and independent choice.

The original inspirational quote by Barbara Babcock of Return to Wellness reads: When you choose to depend on someone or something so you can do what you want to be doing, you are in control of yourself. It is you recognising your needs, deciding how best to meet those needs, and getting them met. It is your conscious and independent choice. It is you taking control." This is important to realise when on your journey to regain your independence after illness.

What’s it like for you?

How has your framework of independence changed due to your or your loved one’s health issue? What helped you to develop your new framework? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know of someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

Blogs from the series on ‘Why asking for help is so hard ‘

The role guilt plays

The role self-worth plays

When asking for help doesn’t work: Moving beyond no

Why asking for help is so hard: Because being needy is not good

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