Monday, 31 March 2014

Monday bloody Monday!! How to craft a more pleasant working week

Does Sunday night come around with waves of anxiety, followed by a sleepless night, dreading the beginning of another horrid working week where you will count down the very days until next weekend?
I'm making a conscious effort to find more things to look forward to during the working week.
Here are a few suggestions!!

Monday night yoga
It might seem irrational to hit the gym when you've barely readjusted to Monday's light of day.  I've found that doing a yoga class on Monday nights puts me in a good mindset to take on the rest of the week and helps me ease into the working week.   It's worth a shot!!

"Tight-ass Tuesday" movie night
Tuesday is often my most hated of days... the excitement of the "How was your weekend" chatter on Monday has long faded, and it's far from Wednesday, dreaded hump day.  On the bright side, Tuesday night offers a fantastic variety of discounts, including cheap movie tickets.  Nothing beats a movie to help you to switch off and disconnect from stress...especially when you also have a giant bag of Maltesers with you!!

Lunch date with the girls (or wine and whine time as I like to call it!)
Even though your working schedule is probably hectic and if you're anything like me, lunch is probably eaten at your desk whilst powering through whatever report is overdue.
Making the time to book a catch up with some friends at a local cafe can make you feel a million times more refreshed and's a chance to laugh, vent and catch up....what better way is there to break up the working day?

Thursday night gig
In the inner west of Sydney, there are so many fantastic music venues popping up with free or cheaply priced tickets to see amazing bands and musicians.  Why not call up a couple of friends for a cocktail date to hear some music!  The Thursday night out symbolises to me the start of the weekend, and makes my Friday spirits far more positive.

Some of my favourite picks for inner west Sydney?
Miss Peaches - great bands, fried chicken and swing dancing...can't go wrong...
Lazy Bones Lounge - where else can you see a 12 piece jazz band in Marrickville for $10!?  They also do pizza and have a great selection of wine

What else helps you to get through the working week?  Is it a Wednesday night Thai cooking class you've joined?  The indoor soccer team you've joined?  Or is it tuesday night Pizza and wine at home? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Makeup makes women appear more competent!

Slept in and thinking of skipping your morning makeup routine?

Think again!!  

A study by Etcoff et all (2011), participants were asked to rate female faces with and without makeup.  The makeup was varied in application from "minimal", "moderate" and "dramatic." 
Participants were required to rate the female faces in terms of attractiveness, trustworthiness, likeability and competence.  

Participants rated the "made up" female faces as more competent than bare faces as well as more attractive.  Ectoff (2011) discuses the implications of the study - “For the first time, we have found that applying makeup has an effect beyond increasing attractiveness—it impacts first impressions and overall judgments of perceived likeability, trustworthiness and competence.”
Makeup that provided contrast to the skin, in the lips and eyes, created a perception of increased competence.

An interesting finding was that whilst the "dramatic" makeup group were rated as competent and attractive, they were rated as less trustworthy.  With this in mind, moderate, professional makeup in the workplace, creating contrast between your skin and lips/eyes is likely to be best.

Here are some of my favourite pics for a low key and polished glow!!

From left to right:
Benefit Posie Tint
Benefit Instant Brow Pencil
Clinique Fresh Bloom Allover Colour
Clinique Even Better Foundation
Clinique High Impact Curling Mascara

Monday, 24 March 2014

Why watching movies about relationships could save your marriage!!

Think that couples therapy or intensive skill training is a solution for a rocky marriage? There may be an equally effective strategy that doesn't cost nearly as much and is enjoyable for participants.  

A new three year study by Rogge et al (2013) found that divorce rates were halved by couples who watched movies about relationships then discussed them afterwards.  The couples were given a 10 minute lecture on how watching couples in films could help them pay attention to their own behaviour prior to watching the films. 

The study compared three groups, one group using the "movie and talk" strategy, and the other two using more intense types of couples therapy (conflict management training and compassion and acceptance training) and compared these groups to a control group.

All three groups showed half the divorce rate when compared to a control group.  

The researchers states that:

“The results suggest that husbands and wives have a pretty good sense of what they might be doing right and wrong in their relationships. Thus, you might not need to teach them a whole lot of skills to cut the divorce rate. You might just need to get them to think about how they are currently behaving. And for five movies to give us a benefit over three years–that is awesome.”

The great thing about this study is that it shows us that couples don't necessarily need to spend money on expensive couples counselling, but they may in fact have the answers to their own problems!!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Another reason to drink more coffee (Like I needed one!!)

If you're a coffee lover like me, you probably don't need more excuses to drink coffee, but now and again I like to reflect on all the positive reasons I should continue my three cup a day habit....especially when I'm about to pay $3.50 for another cappuccino on a tough day!!

In a study by Borota, Murray, Keceli, Chang, Watabe, Ly, Toscano and Yassa (2014), the effects of Caffeine on long term memory were examined.

Participants were given a series of pictures to view and learn.  After the task, they were then either given a caffeine tablet (containing 200mg of caffeine) or a placebo tablet.
The next day, the participants were administered the task again, with some images being the same and some different.
The "Caffeinated" participants were better able identify the similar images than the non-caffeinated group.

The researchers concluded that the group given the caffeine following the tasks were aided in the "consolidation" of long term memories rather than short term recall.

What are the implications of this?  Learning something new?  More reason to have a cup of coffee after each chapter read/study session/discussion/task practised etc, to help you to better consolidate those memories for long term learning!!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Be compassionate, you'll be happier and healthier!!

Being compassionate is beneficial to others, but did you know the act of compassion also benefits your psychological and physical health?

Fredrikson et al (2008) conducted a study where participants were randomly assigned to practise loving kindness meditations - firstly directed towards themselves, then directed towards a loved one.  The results of the experiment showed that participants who participated in compassionate meditation showed increased levels of daily happiness when compared to a control group.  

The researchers state "these shifts in positive emotions took time to appear and were not large in magnitude, but over the course of 9 weeks, they were linked to increases in a variety of personal resources, including mindful attention, self-acceptance, positive relations with others, and good physical health. Moreover, these gains in personal resources were consequential: They enabled people to become more satisfied with their lives and to experience fewer symptoms of depression. 
In addition to this, the group who participated in compassionate meditation experienced less depression, were in better physical shape, and had a better satisfaction with life than the control group.  

The researchers state that "positive emotions produce success and health as much as they reflect these good outcomes."

Want to be happier and healthier?  Find more ways to increase your positive emotions!!
Would you like to learn more about loving kindness meditation?  Click here!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Help dramatically improve your children's behaviour through playing music or singing!!

A new study by Davies et al (2013) has shown that both singing or playing a musical instrument can dramatically improve children's behaviour.

The study compared two groups of four year old children.  The children were randomly allocated to one of two groups - a music group, where the children played percussion instruments and sang, and a story group - where children listened to a story. 

Following the activities, the children were measured on helpfulness and cooperation.

The children who played music, were 30 times more likely to be helpful, and 6 times more likely to cooperate, than the children who participated in the story activity.  

The results of this study support the prosocial benefits of music - playing an instrument or singing can be an easy and fun way to help young children behave better!!  More reason than ever to find fun ways to encourage kids to make music!!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Beat the green-eyed monster

Do you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others?  It's human nature to look at ourselves in relation to others, but often this can drive us crazy with endless wants and desires to be better than our neighbours.  For some of us, this can result in bad habits such as excessive spending and a focus on all things superficial.

Often we have underlying reasons for jealousy - what triggers your feelings of jealousy?  What are the thoughts running through your mind when you feel this emotion?  Are you feeling unsatisfied with an aspect of your life?

"If only I had more Chihuahuas...."

Here are some constructive strategies you can utilise to suppress your inner green-eyed monster.

1)  Consider what you're thankful for.  Next time you feel the urge to splurge on a new pair of heels, think about what it is that you do have. Reflect on your achievements, successes, positive relationships....think about what matters in life, and be thankful for it!!

2)  Focus on achieving goals and personal growth....  think about who you really want to be in this lifetime - focus on nurturing your talents, developing your skills and hitting goal posts... when you're engaged in an activity that helps you develop personally, you'll probably find you're less caught up in emotions like jealousy and more focused on bettering yourself.

3)  Identify your values - do you value financial security?  Or do you value looking fantastic to show up your best friend?  Consider your values and set goals in line with them.... looking at your savings grow will be far more fulfilling in the long run, compared to buying a new top which you will probably wear once or twice, then still feel like you need another new top.

4)  Do something positive or give back to others - prosocial acts are good for mental health!!  Participate in a fundraising activity, donate your unworn clothes to others or help a stressed out friend tidy up her apartment.  You will feel better for it.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

What you wear can change your psychological processes

The confidence we feel when we put on a new outfit is evidence enough that what we wear can be easily linked to what we feel.  High heels can make a woman feel more powerful,  a blazer can make us feel more influential and a red dress - more seductive!

Just how is it that our clothing can act on the way we feel?  A study by Adam and Galinsky (2012) examined the effect of clothing on our psychological processes. 
The study found that wearing certain pieces of clothing could change our cognitive processes and enhance performance on tasks.  

The experiment began with examining the effects of wearing a lab coat.  The researchers state: 
"A pretest found that a lab coat is generally associated with attentiveness and carefulness. We therefore predicted that wearing a lab coat would increase performance on attention-related tasks. In Experiment 1, physically wearing a lab coat increased selective attention compared to not wearing a lab coat."

The second phase of the experiment examined people who beleived they were wearing a white coat described as a doctor's coat, vs people wearing a white coat described as a painter's coat.  Low and behold, the group wearing the coat described as a doctor's coat showed increased sustained attention on a task, compared to the "painter's coat" group.  

The authors conclude that the effects of the study were associated with both the symbolic meaning of the clothing, as well as the physical experience of wearing the clothes.  

With this in mind, choose your outfit carefully!  It just may affect how your think, how you perform and even what you do!!!

Here's some inspiration!

Miranda Kerr, wearing Equipment Blouse

Julianne Hough, wearing Rag and Bone Newbury Booties
Not sure about the jacket, but my pick is this Anine Bing Leather Jacket

Rachel Bilson rocking a fedora - my pick, Rag and Bone

I just found an article called "The Psychology of Lululemon" which discusses the idea that we may be more likely to engage in exercise if we look the part, and may be perceived as more confident at it by others!  Does anyone agree?  I for one, do feel more motivated to go to the gym when I have some stylish workout gear....whilst this sounds superficial, it gets me in the door, and is more likely to keep me coming back!  
What are your thoughts?

Monday, 3 March 2014

Start the day on a positive note

Sick of waking up to another day of drudgery?  Work, cook, clean, gym, sleep, repeat...again!

A friend of mine suggested this simple strategy to put a positive start on the day - when you're getting ready in the morning, look in mirror and reflect on three things you're grateful for.  

What are you grateful for?  Have you tried this simple trick?  

Today I'm grateful for... my wonderful husband, Summer weather and the second cappuccino I'm about to drink....

Photo by Raelene Baget - RnR Productions