15 Ways to Respond to Criticism

Happy Lists has moved! Please see this post at http://myhappylists.com/2008/08/15-ways-to-respond-to-criticism/

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10 Ways to get the most out of counseling

Happy Lists has moved to http://www.MyHappyLists.com!

Please read this blog at: http://myhappylists.com/2010/02/10-ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-counseling/

Thanks!

5 Ways to Beat the Post-Vacation Blues

When you get back from a vacation, do you experience the Post-Vacation Blues?  The post-vacation blues are what I refer to as the time after a vacation when you feel sad, depressed, unhappy, unmotivated, and grumpy about life, relationships, and work.  It’s that period of time when you have to come back down to reality and get back to the often-irritating daily grind of life.

For me, it can be really challenging.  I get extra-frustrated because vacations are supposed to be rejuvenating, right?  We’re not supposed to come back and feel worse than when we left.  But sometimes we do.  So what can we do to maintain those positive feelings when we get back from vacation?

 

 

1. Write.  Write about your vacation – all the fun stuff.  Even if it just happened (that’s actually the best time to write so you’ll remember the details), writing about how great your vacation was (and why) will have a positive influence on your state of mind.  So sit down and journal or write a blog about it.  Throw in some pictures so you can look back at it and make yourself happy. 

2. Keep vacationing.  Sure, you have to go back to work, family, and life, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun.  Think of atleast one thing you can do after your vacation that is fun and may even have some vacation-like characteristics.  Can you find a new park and go for a walk after work? Paint a picture? Take some pictures of random stuff around your town or neighborhood?  Find an entertaining activity to remind yourself that “getting back to the daily grind” can still mean having fun. 

 

3. Start planning.  Just because you might need to save up for another 6 months to afford your next vacation doesn’t mean you can’t start planning it now.  Fantasizing about your next fun adventure can be just the thing to help you disassociate from reality for a little while.  Don’t get carried away, but a little planning may be just the thing to lift your spirits.

4. Music.  While you’re on vacation, buy a CD.  It doesn’t have to be related to your vacation at all (you don’t have to buy Hawaiian music if you go to Hawaii) but it can if you like.  Listen to it while you’re there and associate your positive vacation feelings with the music. From now on, listening to that CD is going to make you think of that specific vacation.  When you get back, put it in the player, and when you’re getting ready in the morning and feeling particularly cranky about being back, pump up the volume and jam out.  Remind yourself that the vacation was meant to rejuvenate you, and this music is the tool to help that happen.

5. Short work week.  Do not return on a Monday!  Schedule your return for a Wednesday or Thursday so you have a super-short week to reacclimate yourself to the work day.  Even when you love your job, it takes a few days to get back into the groove.

Here are some additional sources for ways to beat the post-vacation blues:

Beat Those Post Vacation Blues

The Providence Center: Beating the Post-Vacation Blues

Dancing and Drumming Drive Post-Vacation Blues Away

Pamela Kruger’s Post Vacation Blues (you’re not alone!)

16 Ways to Feel Sexy

Whether you’re a man or woman, it feels good to feel sexy. It doesn’t matter who you are, feeling attractive boosts confidence and happiness. While many of these may be aimed towards women, I hope you can find a few creative and fun ways to feel sexy!

1. Cat Walk. If you’ve ever seen a model walk down the cat walk, the image of sexy, beautiful, and attractive probably comes to mind. No matter what you look like, you can walk sexy. Practice walking with good posture, confidence (fake it for now if you have to), head up, and think sexy things. Try walking like this for a week, and see if you notice any differences in the way people look at you.

2. Sexy Eyes. While you’re walking all sexy, make sexy eyes…not crazy eyes, but sexy eyes! Think and channel, “SEXY.”  Make your blinks a little longer, add a mysterious and sexy half-smile, glance at people and blink away. 

3. Smile and Laugh.  Who was the last cranky-butt you thought was sexy?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Now, you can rock the “bitchy sexy,” but that takes a lot more practice and the right crowd.  Stick with fun and sexy – more people are into that.

4. Get out.  People on the internet might provide you an opportunity to experience sexiness, but that doesn’t come near to getting outside the house and making physical eye contact with another individual.  If you just can’t pull yourself away from the cyber world, get a microphone and practice that deep, sexy, sultry voice. 🙂

5. Shower.  Seems obvious, but if you’re feeling dumpy and down – a shower can be the perfect thing to lift your spirits (and make you smell better). 

6. Dress Up.  After you take that hot and steamy shower, get dressed.  Hair, make-up, cute clothes – the whole shebang.  The more you put into your appearance, the sexier you will feel.

7. Workout.  Whether you’re a size “0” or a size “40” – working out will make your body feel good, give you more confidence, and make you feel sexier.  So whether you think you need it or not, and whether you think you want to or not, just do it.  Start small, do what you can, and start noticing how much better you feel.  Checkout my post on 20 Creative Ways to Get Exercise.

8. Write your fantasies.  You’re on the computer reading this, so you must know to work this thing.  Open up a word document, and start writing about some of your hottest fantasies.  Worried others will find your wild fantasies?  Two words: password protect.  Don’t how to do that?  Ask the little help wizard/paperclip guy in Microsoft Word.  Work on your fantasies, make them juicy and exciting.  Need to feel sexy? Write, read, and enjoy!

 

9. Tan.  If you aren’t white, you’re already one step closer to sexiness!  If you are pasty white and live in America – welcome to the culture of tanning.  Self-tanning lotion is great and safe, so I suggest that.  Start using it.  Take notice to how much sexier you feel.  If it doesn’t help, then don’t do it.  If it does, how easy is it to slab on some sexy every morning?

10. Water.  Water is the basis for physical and mental health.  To function at your best, provide your body and mind with the water it requires.  Start drinking enough, and you will start feeling better physically.  When a body feels good, a body feels good.

11. Flirt.  If you are single, get out and flirt.  Successful flirting is a skill.  If you have a friend you think is great at flirting, ask them to coach you.  If you are married, flirt with your partner.  Yes, flirt with your partner.  I don’t care that you’re married – you can still flirt with one another.  Remind yourself how much fun you had when you first met – re-spark that inner-sexiness from when you first met.

12. Dance.  Pump up that music and move your body.  Can’t dance? Learn.  With the internet, you can learn to do anything.  Practice in private and then take those moves to the dance floor!  Dancing is also a great way to improve your abs, as I talked about in 9 Creative Ways to Workout Abs (without crunches).

13. Connect to your body.  Feeling sexy means that you have complete control over your body and you feel great about what you look like, feel like, and what you are capable of doing with your body.  If you haven’t gotten “in touch” with yourself in a while (or ever, eek!) – go for it.  Knowing and understanding your body is essential to being a strong and sexy individual.  It also comes in handy when you want to be intimate with another individual – you know what you like and need and can have healthy communication about it.

14. The right clothing.  I understand that sweats are comfy, but NO – they won’t make you feel (or look sexy).  Find the right type of clothing to flatter your body type.  Do your research and bring an honest friend shopping with you.  Don’t have enough money to overhaul your wardrobe? That’s fine.  Go buy one flatter thing from Ross, Target, or a second-hand store like Good Will.  Looking good doesn’t need to cost a fortune.  Start small!

15. Get your beauty sleep!  It’s hard to feel sexy and energetic when you feel like your face is dragging on the floor.  Be sure to get enough rest!  Having trouble falling asleep? Check out these Ways to Fall Asleep and be sure to get the beauty rest your sexiness demands!

16. Say it.  “I am sexy.”  How many different ways can you say it?  Try it out loud.  I AM sexy.  i am SEXY.  I AM sexy. I AM SEXY. I am sexy.  Keep going it.  When you need a boost, see how many different ways you can phrase it (and remember to do it outloud for best results!)

 

 Need some more ways to feel sexy?  Check these out:

Ways to feel sexy in a flash

10 Ways to feel sexy again

10 Ways to feel sexier naked

11 Ways to Make Getting Up in the Morning a little EASIER

Unless there is something exciting to look forward to during the day, I typically struggle with waking up and getting out of bed in the morning. I often dread the day and wish I could sleep “a little longer.” For those of you who are able to jump out of bed on the right side with a smile on your face and excited about the day, I am very happy for you. Perhaps you can leave a comment on how you do it (what goes through your mind, have you always done it, what advice could you give).

Ways to Make Getting Up in the Morning Easier

1. Don’t Stalk the Clock. Setting three (or more) alarms over an hour is not a good way to wake up in the morning. Opening your eyes to glance at the time every few minutes will fill you with dread and worry about the moment that clock hits the time that you actually need to get out of bed. Laying there thinking about getting up will only make it harder. The solution?

2. Set ONE Alarm. Put the alarm clock (or cell phone) on the other side of the bedroom. Set it for the time you actually need to comfortably get ready for the day. By setting it across the room, you’ll need to get out of bed to turn it off. This is they key here. When you walk across the room, do not just turn it off and go back to bed. The solution?

3. Go to the Bathroom. Walk your tired and cranky butt to the bathroom. Use the bathroom. Wash your hands, then wash your face. Take some deep breaths and stretch. You may even drink some water before going to bed in the evenings so you’ll need to use the bathroom even more. As you know, you can’t lie in bed all day. At some point, you will need to get up. The key is avoiding hopping back into bed once you do get up.

4. LIGHT. Turn on the lights and open the windows. If it’s still dark outside (I feel your pain) turn on all the lights. Your bedroom, living room, bathroom, etc. The light will spark your brain into daytime mode to help you get out of sleep mode.

5. Sound. Turn on the television or radio. If you feel extra cranky in the mornings, turning on a favorite CD (and singing or dancing along) will surely brighten your mood on those more difficult mornings.

6. Positive Thoughts. If you’re lying in bed thinking about how horrible your day is going to be, you’re never going to get out of bed. You might have a horrible day ahead of you – boring work, challenging work, dealing with difficult people, or maybe you know you’re going to get in trouble from your boss. Lingering on the bad things ahead while you’re lying in bed in the morning (or night) will make it nearly impossible to get up and have a successful morning or day. Set those thoughts aside. Tell yourself that you will worry about those later. Now start talking positively to yourself (in your head or out loud if you live alone). Some examples: I’m strong, I’m smart, I’m capable, I can do this, I will do something fun today, I am loved, I feel good, I feel great, I feel strong…and repeat this over and over and over until you start to feel better.

7. E-mail. Instead of hopping back into bed, commit yourself to writing one positive e-mail to someone you care about each morning. Writing something encouraging to someone else will help you feel better about yourself, about the day ahead – which will hopefully prevent you from groaning your way back into bed.

8. Get enough sleep. This one is pretty obvious. If you feel rested, you won’t have as much need to yank the covers over your face to squeeze in a few extra minutes. Go to bed and go to sleep!!

9. One good thing. Before you go to sleep. Write down (on your computer, on paper, on a whiteboard, anywhere) ONE good thing you get to do the next day. As soon as that alarm charms, think about that one thing as you stumble across the room to turn it off. Get excited about your day! Even if it’s only for ONE thing.

10. Annoying Pets. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to do things for others than for ourselves. Get an annoying pet who annoys you in the morning to take them out. They’ll help you get your lazy bum out of bed. And when you let them back in, why don’t you play for a minute? Throw their ball, rub their bellies, and show them some love. The combination of activity and showing love will make your day easier to start.

11. Bribe yourself. If you’re continuously struggling with getting up in the morning, bribe yourself. You know yourself best, so you’ll know what will be most effective. Choose something small and tangible. And make it daily, so there’s a reward every morning. For example, “When I get up without crawling back into bed, I get a yogurt parfait from McDonald’s.” Condition your body to enjoy getting up in the morning. Scary, I know.

Here’s another good resource: How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off

Good night and Good luck!


13 Ways to Cheer Up

13 Ways to Cheer Up

If you’re like most people, you experience moments of feeling down, depressed, or blue. First of all, it’s okay to feel that way. We all do sometimes. Some of us may feel down more often than others, and that’s okay too. If you’re experiences are preventing you from functioning in your home, work, or social life, you may need some extra help. If this is the case, please contact a mental health professional in your area.

If you’re just having a bad day (or week) and need to cheer up, try some of the following. I hope you feel better soon!

1. Make your own CHEER UP book. If you’re experiencing lots of days of feeling down, you might benefit from creating your own “Cheer Up” book. Create a list (like this one) of every activity you can think of that will cheer you up. Type it up, add some pictures, print it out, and have it bound. I created a book like this for my husband, and it has worked out very well. Whenever he’s feeling, he just grabs his book and within a few activities, he’s feeling much better about life.

2. Breathe. Deep breathing is a relaxation technique that releases tension from the body and clears the mind. You tend to breathe shallowly or even hold your breath when you are feeling anxious. Many people do this and are not even aware of it. Shallow breathing limits your oxygen intake and adds further stress to your body, creating a vicious cycle. Breathing exercises can break this cycle.

What to Do:

1. Sit up straight. First exhale completely through your mouth. Place your hands on your stomach, just above your waist. Breathe in slowly through your now, pushing your hands out with your stomach. This ensures that you are breathing deeply. Imagine that you are filling your body with air from the bottom up.

2. Hold your breath to a count of two to five, or whatever you can handle. It is easier to hold your breath if you continue to hold out your stomach. Slowly and steadily breathe out through your mouth, feeling your hands move back in as you slowly contract your stomach, until most of the air is out. Exhalation is a little longer than inhalation.

3. Water. Drink some water. Mmmmm…water. Dehydration can cause a variety of problems, including imbalances in your noggin. So fill up a glass with that clear liquid and take it down. While you’re at it, why don’t you take a multivitamin just for good measure? Don’t stop at that one glass. Be sure to have a few through the rest of the day.

4. Hugs. If a friend or loved one is available, go snag a hug from them. You have to give a hug to get one. Sometimes all we need is a good old fashion hug. A study by University of North Carolina researchers found that hugs increase the “bonding” hormone oxytocin and decrease the risk of heart disease. Touch also releases two feel-good brain chemicals, serotonin and dopamine.

5. Play with a dog. If you don’t have one, go get one! When I say play, I mean really play. Get down on the ground, chase her around, throw her “ball” and have a good old time. You’ll be spreading some love, exercising, and making both you and her feel better.

6. Caffeine. Go get a soda or coffee (iced or hot). Caffeine is a natural mood enhancer. J Not only does it taste good in coffee and soda and make you feel better – it also helps to get out of the house to get some fresh air. For a couple dollars, this is a cheap and pleasurable pick-me-up.

7. Call a friend. Open up that cell phone, and start going down the contact list. If you’re not willing to call them (unless it’s a professional contact), then maybe you should delete them. Family members and friends should be available to support one another. A good old-fashion chat will add a new perspective on life in general, and it might provide some pleasant distraction from whatever is getting you down.

8. Watch a funny movie. If you have the time, slip in one of your favorite comedies or go rent one. And when you get to the funny parts, give yourself permission to laugh and laugh hard. Laughter is very good for you, especially when you don’t think you can.

9. Go for a walk. You know yourself best. Do you feel good around green trees, water, or lots of people? Go for a walk near something that rejuvenates you. Yes, even if you have to drive there. Commit to just 15 minutes, and you’ll be surprised how much you’ll want to keep going after your 15 minutes are up. The fresh air, rejuvenating surroundings, and exercise are all things that are sure to cheer you up.

10. Bath Time. Draw yourself a bath – with candles, music, bubbles, and duckies. Time to spoil yourself! You can soak, relax, and have a little fun while you’re at it. Who says bubble baths are only for kids and ladies??

11. Cheap fun. Go to the dollar store and buy 5 fun items. You have such a variety of options! Decorations, cards, games, stickers, ribbons, bags, books, food, glasses, toys, coloring books, and SO MUCH MORE!! If you can’t spare $5, allow yourself to spare $2 or $3. And pick something fun!

12. Music. Do you enjoy music? Slip in your favorite tunes, turn the volume up, and sing your heart out. Feel the music surround you, and just let the good stuff soak in. Bathe yourself in the songs that makes you feel good.

13. Dance. Along the lines of music – put on some of your favorite up-beat tunes, close the blinds, and dance. If you’re home alone, dance around the whole house. If you think this is stupid, set the timer for 5 minutes. Commit to only 5 minutes, and see how you feel afterwards. If you don’t feel better, stop. If it works, you don’t have to tell anybody.

These are only 13 ways to Cheer Up. Plenty more activities exist. I highly recommend #1!

Ways to Cheer Up: How to Feel Better when Life Sucks

6 Simple Ways to Decrease Stress

5 Ways to Cope with Stress

14 Ways to Survive Graduate School

1. Non-thesis option. Plain and simple, it’s easier. Program that provide this option typically have a higher focus on application rather than research. If you love research, than definitely go with the thesis, but for those that can’t stand it – non-thesis programs do exist.

2. Friends. Make (smart) friends in the program. They’ll come in handy for stress-relief, homework reminders, and they’ll make the graduate school experience fun. Don’t lock yourself up in your house or stay so busy working to pay for school that you forget to kick back and have some fun.

3. Take breaks from the internet. Staying off and avoiding the internet can save you tons of time. It’s the only way I got through the last couple weeks of graduate school recently.

4. Get online more. Perhaps the internet is your social network. If that’s the case, stay connected and ask your friends for motivation and encouragement.

5. Significant Other. There are two schools of thought on this topic. Be single and don’t be single. I prefer the latter. It’s easier to get through something as challenging as graduate school with a partner who will help to keep you sane and steady throughout. I suppose the key is having an amazing partner. The ones who just cause headaches should be left at the curb.

6. Make time for fun. It doesn’t matter what you choose, everyone (graduate student or not) needs some rejuvenation time. Select something that re-energizes you. Depending on your personality-type, that might be going out with friends or staying in with a movie. Extroverts are typically re-energized by socializing with others while introverts are typically re-energized by quiet alone time with maybe one or two special people.

7. Time management. If you can manage your time wisely, you’ll be stress-free a majority of the time while your classmates are busy completing stuff the night before. I personally never quite mastered this one, and I survived ok. But it would have been easier with some more productive time management.

8. Up your deadlines. This relates to time management, but it’s a great way to avoid procrastination. Simply increase your deadline. If you’re the type of person who only needs one or two solid nights to complete big projects, then set an artificial deadline for yourself. And make it very soon – as in a day or two. You’ll end up spending the same amount of time on it, but you’ll be able to actually enjoy your free time without that assignment weighing you down.

9. Physical. It’s time to get physical, physical. Exercise is the first step to physical health and mental health. It will relieve stress, anxiety, tension, insomnia, and so on. Commit to at least 30 minutes each day. If setting aside 30 minutes seems impossible – try 10 minutes in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Be mindful of the changes in your mood and body.

10. Sleep. Getting enough rest will help you stay healthy. The last thing you want to do is get sick during graduate school. On occasional cold, sore throat, or flu is expected – but getting enough rest will help you avoid illness by boosting the strength of your immune system.

11. Counseling. If you never took advantage of the free counseling available during your undergraduate program, now is the time. Even though you are obviously a high-functioning, intelligent, successful, and amazing person – there’s probably at least one thing about yourself you might like to change. And even if you are perfect, counseling can help you get through graduate school by providing a non-judgmental person to be there to talk to or vent as necessary.

12. Make your own list. Do you think there are some better ways for you to survive graduate school? Type up your list, print it out, and hang it by your computer. When you feel like you’re getting stressed out, check out your list.

13. Get to know your professors. Your adviser, professors, instructors, and assistants are going to be the individuals who you will rely on the most. Starting on day one, get to know them – and let them get to know you. These will be the people who will be writing your recommendation letters down the road. The better they know you, the better the letter will be. And if you encounter any hardships during your graduate school experience, they’ll be there to get you through it – and it probably won’t change their thoughts on you. If you’re shy, talk to your counselor about ways to be more outgoing and to relieve the anxiety of talking to your administrators.

14. Push yourself. You will encounter opportunities to do the bare minimum. Don’t be tempted to the dark side. You’re better than that. Push yourself to be as productive as possible. Create your best work each time. At the end of your program, you’ll be happy you did. You’re paying for this – get your money’s worth!