Best ever gingerbread men

Christmas is my favourite time of the year!!  One of my favourite pre-christmas rituals is getting together with friends for a gingerbread baking party!  All you need is a few good friends, this amazing gingerbread recipe, your favourite cookie cutters and toppings, and ample amounts of wine

It’s even more fun wrapping them up and giving them to people once they’re finished!!  Remember that acts of kindness are also good for our wellbeing!!

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I’ve used this recipe from Taste for several years now and everyone seems to love it, even people who insist they don’t like gingerbread!!  The cookies are quite crunchy, not like the soft and soggy gingerbread you often encounter.

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Ingredients:

  • Decorations of your choice – I used smarties and ‘choc-minis’ from woolworths, and some little silver things (no idea what they’re called, but you can see them below).  You could also ice with a piping bag if you’d prefer!

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper

  2. Use an electric beater to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined. Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Press dough into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

  3. Place the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out until about 4mm thick. Use a gingerbread man cutter to cut out shapes. Place on trays about 3cm apart. Repeat with any excess dough.

  4. Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven. Transfer to a rack to cool.

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When they’re cooled down, you can wrap them in cellophane party bags, and tie with bakers twine for the perfect Christmas gift.

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So so delicious!!  I accidentally ate quite a few….I’ve packaged the rest up in an attempt to stop eating them!!!  Would you try a gingerbread party with your pals?

Boost your resilience

Resilience is a buzz word in workplaces at the moment….but what exactly is resilience, and how do we increase it?

There are varying definitions and ways of measuring resilience, but to put it simply, resilience is the psychological capacity to bounce back from setbacks.  Some people are more resilient than others, and seem to cope with setbacks well, but for others, those same setbacks can be quite different.  The important thing to remember, is that resilience can be practiced and built!!

plant-1There are several characteristics that resilient people often share.  These include:

  • The ability to ask for help when needed, and to utilise the support network they have in place.
  • The ability to reflect on longer term goals and values when a setback comes along.
  • The ability to see failure and setbacks as a learning and growth opportunity.

Here are some of my favourite tips to help boost your resilience:

  • Get to know your own warning signs that indicate your stress levels may be feeling too high – what does it look like for you when you’re under more stress than you can cope with?  What are those triggers at work and at home that send your stress levels sky rocketing?  Once you’re aware of these warning signs and triggers, you can actively plan to manage them, by scheduling in activities that help you to cope, such as taking a lunch break, seeking support from your manager at work, going for a walk or to a yoga class, or whatever works for you.
  • Consider your reaction to the situation you’re in.  Remember that no two people experience the same event in the same way – our thoughts and attitudes about an experience strongly colour the experience we then have.  If you’re having a strong emotional reaction, ask yourself the question “is my reaction helping me with doing what I need to do” – if not, try and hold your perspective a little less tightly and focus on the things within your control.
  • Consider the coping style you’re adopting.  There are three main types of coping style – problem focused, which involves doing things that directly impact the problem, emotion focused – which doesn’t change the problem, but helps deal with the emotions you’re experiencing in relation to the problem, and avoidant coping – which involves doing nothing at all.  Problem focused coping has the best outcomes for wellbeing, if you can directly work to resolve the problem.  However, if you’re feeling too emotional, or the problem is currently out of your control (ie, it’s 3am at night!) – engage in emotion focused coping to help relax, refocus and recharge until you can take action in regards to the problem.
  • Make time for positive emotions.  Positive emotions are linked with increases in wellbeing, as well as increased creativity and problem solving ability (read more here!).  Positive emotions can also serve as a buffer against stress and help you to physically recover from stress!  The key takeaway here is that when you’re stressed, it’s more important than ever to do things you enjoy and that make you happy!!
  • Show some GRIT!!  People with GRIT show high levels of passion and perseverance – people high in GRIT can outperform people high in IQ – a bit of GRIT can help you to succeed!!  For more info, see this TED talk by Angela Lee Duckworth.
  • Consider how you perceive stress – can you embrace stress as a challenge, rather than as something harmful?  See this TED talk by Kelly Mcgonigal for some information!!
  • Look after your physical health – if you’re eating well, exercising every day and sleeping 7-8 hours per night, you will be better equipped to cope with stress when it comes along.
  • When a setback comes along, ask yourself these questions:
    • Which of my strengths can I draw upon to help get me through this.
    • What could I learn from this setback?  How could it help me to grow, or to see a bigger perspective?
    • Who can I draw upon from my support network for help?  Do I need practical support or emotional support?  This question can help you determine who the best person may be to help. Are these services you can draw upon, or do you need help from your psychologist or GP.

 

Would you try these tips?  What else helps you to cope with setbacks?

Don’t forget, if you feel like you’re having difficulty coping with a setback, you can talk to your GP, or contact LifeLine (Australia only) on 13 14 11.

3 Must Read Tips to Beat Anxiety

Throughout my life, anxiety has often got the better of me….capturing my attention and hooking it in with thoughts and worries about the past or the future….things I couldn’t control.  At times worries have prevented me from doing things I enjoyed and held me back from challenges.

When anxiety comes, it’s like a weight on your shoulders….instead of engaging in life and enjoying the moment, thoughts simply weigh you down.  However, it’s important to know that anxiety can be treated and managed.

Here are three of my favourite tips for reducing worry.  Try these simple tips and see how they work for you.  I suggest practicing them when you’re feeling good, so that you can learn them and then apply them during times of increased stress.

  1.  Slow your breath.  Breathe in for 3 seconds, then out for 3 seconds.  Repeat 10 times, and notice how you feel.  Slowing your breath is key for controlling anxiety symptoms – slowing the breath will signals to your body to relax, and will help you to start to breathe more deeply (diaphragmatic breathing).  You can do this technique anywhere!!
  2. Try worry time. Spend 5 minutes each morning actively worrying (yes, that’s right!).  By giving your worries the time of day they’re looking for, often they don’t distract us so much throughout the day.  If you start to worry later in the day, put that thought aside for worry time tomorrow!!  For full instructions on this techniques, see this detailed post on Worry Time
  3. Practice mindfulness.  Regular mindfulness practice can help us to unhook from our thoughts when they’re distracting us.  Rather than trying to challenge our thoughts, mindfulness can help you to let go of your thoughts and maintain a focus on the present.  Mindfulness is also relaxing and can be a fantastic way to unwind after a stressful day.  Download a free app, such as Smiling Mind, and try practicing mindfulness for 10 minutes each day for a week, and notice how you feel!  For more details on mindfulness, see this post.

Taking time out for self care is essential for managing anxiety.  Would you try these tips?  What else works for you when you’re feeling worried?

If you find that worry is interfering with day to day life, call Lifeline (Australia only) on 13 11 14 for free telephone counselling on a 24/7 basis, and see your GP for further help.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Halloween Cookies

Australia is very slowly embracing halloween.  I remember being about 8 years old, cutting two holes in an old sheet, smearing my mother’s blue eye shadow all over my face and traipsing over to my neighbour’s house, plastic bag in hand, shouting “trick-or-treat” at the top of my lungs.  After my mother spending about 15 minutes attempting to explain the concept of halloween to my elderly neighbours, they finally relented, but sadly all they had were some apples and a bag of prunes.  Not the magical haul of chocolate and lollies my 8 year old imagination had been dreaming of.

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`These days it’s different – halloween is catching on…..so I decided to yet again embrace halloween (I might even destroy another perfectly good bed sheet to make a new ghost costume).

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I saw this pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe on The Butter Half Blog, and had to give it a whirl!!  In Australia, pumpkin usually is for savoury purposes….but I can certainly get on board with pumpkin flavoured desserts!!

The only change I had to make was the tinned pumpkin.  In Australia, it’s really difficult to find canned pumpkin….instead I bought a butternut pumpkin and cooked and pureed it (which didn’t take long at all – just allow time for the pumpkin puree to cool before you start).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (or pureed cooked butternut pumpkin)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180 Celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Mix together the pumpkin, sugar, butter, sour cream, egg and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt to one cup of flour. Add it into the wet mixture, thoroughly mix, then add in the remaining cup of flour. Pour in the chocolate chips until everything is well mixed.

3. Use a cookie scoop or spoon to drop a small mound of dough (about the size of a golf ball) on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes on 375°F. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then serve warm.pumpkin-3-copy

 

They’re pumpkiny….chocolatey…. what more could you want!?  Do you love halloween?  Who has a costume idea that’s not a sheet with two holes in it!?

Do you have a growth mindset?

Do you have a growth mindset?  Have you ever convinced yourself that “I’m just not a maths person,” or “I’m no good at learning languages”? Have you ever given up on a problem because you feel you’re just not smart enough to finish it??  This may have due to your mindset around your ability to change and grow.

Carol Dweck’s mindset theory is about how people implicitly attribute the causes of their intelligence and other factors.  Our mindset is often shaped through how we are praised and rewarded during childhood.

With a growth mindset comes the belief that basic qualities and abilities can be developed through hard work, effort and dedication (“if I work hard, I can succeed at this,” “if I put in more effort next time, I could get a better outcome”).  A growth mindset is linked with receiving praise or feedback for your effort, progress or strategy on a task, as opposed to receiving praise for intelligence or being talented.   As a result, those with a growth mindset are more resilient in the face of setbacks and see setbacks as learning experiences.   They are more motivated, they seek out learning opportunities and perceive effortful or difficult tasks as making them feel capable or smart.

In contrast, a fixed mindset, is the belief that traits and abilities such as intelligence, personality, talent or particular skills are fixed traits which we can’t change (“I was never a numbers person”, “I wasn’t born smart” etc).  A fixed mindset is associated with being praised for outcomes (winning or losing!) or being praised as intelligent or talented.   As a result, those with a fixed mindset may avoid challenges, and may feel incapable when a difficult task requiring effort comes along, as they fear that failure is a reflection of their character, and may reveal they’re not intelligent or talented.  Those with a fixed mindset are less likely to show resilience and perseverance in the face of setbacks and will show decreased motivation for difficult tasks.  Children with a fixed mindset may also show increased distractibility in the classroom, and will try and validate their intelligence through performance.

Do you want to learn more about how a fixed or growth mindset can be developed in children?  Click here to watch a fantastic video!!

How can you develop more of a growth mindset?  Try these simple tips.

  1.  Reflect on a time you’ve had a positive outcome on a work task, assignment or other important goal.  What was it that you did that helped you to succeed?  How much time did you spend preparing or practising?  What was the strategy you chose which helped you achieve your goal?
  2.  Next time you set yourself a goal around achieving a particular outcome, also set yourself a learning goal.  Despite the outcome of the goal, what could you learn through the process of striving to achieve your goal?  For example, if I had a goal of successfully delivering a presentation at work, I could set concurrent learning goals such as developing my knowledge in the presentation topic, developing my confidence in public speaking, and developing my skills in leading a project.
  3. Reframe your failures as “learning opportunities.”  Consider a time you didn’t achieve the outcome you set out to achieve.  What did you learn from this failure?  What were the skills or learnings you gained whilst working on the process of the goal?
  4. Are you finding the thought of a difficult task daunting?  Set yourself small but achievable goals, and break the larger task down into smaller more manageable chunks.  Do you need more knowledge or information before you start the task?  Set this as your first goal!  When you achieve this, spend time reflecting on the learnings you gained.
  5. Have realistic expectations around the time and effort needed to learn a new skill or accomplish a task.  Learning something new takes time – be sure to reward yourself for the effort you’re putting in along the way, and remember to keep your focus on the learnings you’re gaining along the way, rather than a win or lose outcome!!

Would you try these tips?  Is your mindset a growth mindset?

References

  1. Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Constable & Robinson Limited.

Funfetti Cupcakes

Nothing spells party time like sprinkles!!  Little Dash turned two this weekend, so it was time for some serious baked goods!!  Whilst it’s well known that the key to an excellent children’s party is ample amounts of wine for the adults, these funfetti cupcakes were a hit!!  Thankfully there weren’t many of these left over after the party, or I most likely would have eaten all of them!!

Funfetti cupcakes

I used this recipe from Crazy Crust….the cakes themselves were perfect….with the addition of buttermilk, they were seriously delicious!!  They’re sugary….they’re buttery….they’re delicious!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 125 grams butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or combine 3/4 cup milk + 1 teaspoon white vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup Sprinkles

Frosting

  • 250 grams butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • Additional Sprinkles, for decorating

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line cupcake tins with liners (makes 15).
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Add melted butter to a large bowl and mix in sugar with a hand mixer for 30 seconds, until thick and yellow. Add eggs one at at time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.
  4. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Don’t over mix! Stir in sprinkles. Divide batter among liners, filling 2/3 full (about 1/4 cup of batter per cupcake). Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. (Mine took less than 20, so check at 15!) Cool completely before frosting.
  5. To make the frosting: Beat butter until creamy. Beat in salt and 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time until it’s all added. Beat in vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream. Add more cream as needed for desired consistency.
  6. Frost cupcakes by placing frosting in a pastry bag. I like the 1M tip, it gives pretty swirls. Add sprinkles for fun!
  7. Note: you can make the frosting the day before, but let it come to room temperature before using.

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Dash can’t stop saying “good birthday” and it’s too adorable!!  I’m sure these delightful cakes had something to do with it!!

Do you have a shopping ADDICTION? How to beat it!!

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Is your Visa bill bigger than your savings account? Do you continuously find yourself eating two minute noodles until your next pay cheque comes and you can afford to live large again? Then this post is for you!!

Fear not, you are not alone! One in 12 Australians report compulsive shopping, also known as Oniomania (Intill, 2004).   Research also shows that women are more often affected than men. Oniomania is often a response to feelings of sadness, depression, low self esteem, loneliness or anger. As we feel worse, our urge to spend increases. Have you found that post shopping binge, those same feelings return? Whilst spending may relieve painful emotions short term, the job of shopping is a temporary fix only. Those negative feelings often return, intensified….especially when this is coupled with a large credit card bill or poor financial choices.

Why is purchasing such a pleasurable experience? Why do some people have more trouble controlling the urge to purchase than others? Biological components are also at play.

Dr Joshua Buckholtz (2011) showed that people with high concentrations of the neurotransmitter Dopamine were more likely to engage in compulsive behaviour, such as overspending and even behaviours such as gambling and drug use. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter present in all healthy brains, is associated with “reward” and high levels may cause individuals to seek reinforcement through negative behaviours. The implications of this are that compulsive spenders may also engage in other compulsive behaviours such as overeating or risky.

How is shopping addiction treated?

Psychological treatment focuses on helping people with shopping addictions to change their behaviour patterns. This involves looking at the underlying feelings or thoughts that drive the spending, and then helping to address and change those thoughts and feelings. Treatment may also involve helping to replace shopping with more positive behaviours and building alternative coping strategies.

Anti-depressant medication may also be utilised if compulsive shopping stems from underlying depression. Some anti-depressants may also assist in reduce impulsivity, which also may be a factor underlying compulsive shopping.

Could changing the way you spend your money be a useful strategy? Can you get more bang for your buck!?

Money doesn’t always buy happiness, so they say! (Although, I wouldn’t know, having not yet experienced the money part of the equation….). Dunn, Aitkin and Norton (2008) posit that the way we spend our money may be at least as important as how much we earn.

In a study by Dunn, Gilbert and Wilson (2011), the authors outlined several key concepts which underlie why spending doesn’t always bring happiness and provided some key learnings to help us get more “value” from our money.

1)   Purchasing of experiences brings more happiness than the purchasing of material goods. Think about the happiest moments you’ve experiences in the past year…. Did they include “that time you bought that fabulous $200 sweater you wore once, then shortly ruined after misreading the dry clean only tag!?” or were they the memories you shared with friends… An overseas trip, seeing an amazing live band or learning to scuba dive…

2) Many small pleasures trump excessive large ones – savouring a small piece of chocolate is often far more satisfying than gorging on the whole box. A special treat like a good coffee, a delicious cupcake, a massage or a night out will bring you far more satisfaction than a whole box of cupcakes or having a night out every night of the week. One new handbag will probably bring you more happiness than 10 new handbags.

3) Delay consumption!! The anticipation of a new purchase makes it all the more exciting. As adults, no one tells us what we can and can’t have. Without setting our own limits, it’s easy to fall into an “I want it all, now!” trap.   By delaying purchases, we are better able to consider the value of that purchase and are more likely to make a wiser choice. It also means that when we do make a purchase, that it’s all the more satisfying!

4) Using money to benefit others brings us more happiness than using the money to benefit ourselves. Dunn, Aitkin and Norton (2008) conducted a study where people were randomly assigned to spend money on either themselves or others. Participants assigned to spend money on others experienced greater happiness than those assigned to spend on themselves.

Ok great….so spending differently might help but what can I do to reduce my spending entirely?

1)   Set yourself a goal – examples may include saving a small amount each week for a special purchase, such as a holiday, without using credit card or savings. The more meaningful you make this goal, the more likely you are to stick with it. Just remember to make this goal realistic and attainable!! A small success will encourage you to set bigger goals.

2)   Delay consumption! Next time you have a sudden urge to purchase a fabulous new bag or delightful pair of shoes, stop and reflect. Often once we take away the emotion from the purchase, we realise we never needed it that much in the first place. Try waiting 24 hours before you go back to the store/website

3) Unsubscribe from shopping related mailing lists and newsletters. Each day my inbox is flooded with emails about various sales, new products, fantastic deals etc…. Try removing yourself from online shopping mailing lists. Unsubscribe/stop viewing “consumer blogs” such as fashion blogs. If there are certain blogs which influence you to spend, try and avoid these pages. Consumer blogs often project an ideal picture of what it’s like to “have it all.”  Bloggers may seem to have a new outfit every day, but stop and reflect – they’re probably a) given these items from sponsors, or b) live out of their car so they can afford shiny things. If you also find magazines are also motivating you to spend, trying eliminating these for a while and replacing them with reading a novel or interesting article instead.

5) Avoid spending time in shopping centres/malls! If you don’t see it, you won’t be tempted to buy it!!

5) When the urge strikes, engage in exercise instead. A short walk or trip to the gym can help us to disconnect from the urge to spend.

6) Examine the underlying thoughts that are driving you to spend. Are you shopping to deal with feelings of depression and anxiety? Are you lonely or bored? Are you trying to boost your self esteem through material goods? Once you understand the underlying motivation behind your spending, you’ll be better able to deal with negative emotions in a healthier way.

7) Avoid shopping when you’re feeling depressed. You’ll be far more likely to use purchasing as an emotional bandaid and potentially make impulse buys. If you’re having a bad day, try engaging in meaningful activity such as exercise or a hobby, or arranging a time to meet up with a friend or chat to them over the phone.

8) Use positive self talk when you feel tempted to spend. For example “I can choose not to spend” or “imagine how good I’ll feel if I reach my savings goal.”

9) Practice gratitude!! It could help improve your self control!! Try keeping a log of three things you’re grateful for each day!!

Do you struggle with shopping addiction!?  Do you want to change your habits?  Try some of these tips!!  If you’re finding shopping addiction is interfering with day to day life, see your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

There’s been far too many healthy recipes on Pop Therapy of late, so it was definitely time to bake something devious!!  I made these cupcakes for a friends birthday and they were a hit…. easy to make, and loved by all!!

Nothing beats an Oreo…..except maybe combining it with delicious chocolate cake, coating it in cookies and cream icing, then topping it with another Oreo….and don’t forget to serve with milk….possibly milk which contains additional Oreos…. and maybe a side of ice cream, also containing Oreos…

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I used this recipe from Bakerella

Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon bi-carb soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup hot water
24 Oreos, plus more for crumbs

Frosting:
250 grams butter
250 grams icing supar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 or more teaspoons Oreo cookie crumbs

For the cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  • Line tray with 12 baking cups.
  • Place one whole cookie in each cup or break apart at least 12 cookies and place the broken pieces into each cup.
  • Mix the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl using a wire whisk.
  • Add the eggs, oil, vanilla and milk and mix well until thoroughly combined. Add the hot water and mix until combined.
  • Transfer the batter (it will be very liquid) to a large measuring cup and then pour batter into each baking cup so it’s about three quarters full. You should have a little left over.
  • Bake for 16-18 minutes.

Makes at least 12 cupcakes

For the frosting:

  • Beat the butter in a mixer until smooth.
  • Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  • Add the powdered sugar in three additions, scraping down the sides after each addition.
  • Add a Tablespoon of milk at a time and mix together until you achieve the consistency you like.
  • Add the cookie crumbs and mix until completely combined. You can add more if you like, but I just wanted a light speckling to show off the white frosting.
  • Place frosting in a decorator bag with a 1M tip and swirl on top of each cupcake.
  • Insert a cookie on top of each cupcake.
  • You can also apply frosting on each cupcake in a mounded shape. Turn upside down and roll the top around in a small bowl of cookie crumbs to coat.

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Would you try these?  Are you an Oreo lover?  What’s your dream cupcake flavour!?

Boost your Mental Toughness!!

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When you hear the term “Mental Toughness” it’s easy to think of sportspeople, or people putting themselves through extreme feats like climbing Mount Everest!!  Mental Toughness seems to be everywhere today, and is frequently referenced in sporting literature…. but do you need to be super sporty, or hike through mud and snow to be mentally tough?  Or can mental toughness help anyone achieve their goals?  Are there mentally tough musicians, dancers, office workers, accountants etc!?

Anyone, in fact, can be mentally tough….regardless of your interest or lack of interest in sport/ice bucket challenges/Tough Mudder/eating insects etc.  *Phew!*

Mentally toughness can be defined as “a collection of values, attitudes, behaviours, emotions, which enable and individual to persevere through any adversity, and to maintain concentration and motivation when things are going well” (Gucciardi & Gordon, 2007).  So in a nutshell, it’s about having qualities which can help direct you to persevere towards your goals and to be motivated to keep persevering!!

So what are these wonderful qualities which make up mental toughness?  Clough & Strycharczyk (2011) use the 4 “C’s” model of mental toughness, which breaks mental toughness into:

  •  Challenge – this is about embracing change, and seeing challenges as opportunities for growth!
  • Control – this is about having a “can do” attitude, feelings of accountability and belief you can achieve the outcomes you want, as well as your ability to control your emotions.
  • Confidence – a belief in your own abilities, as well as confidence in your ability to influence others!
  • Commitment – an ability to set clear goals, and to persevere towards them!

This all sounds great in theory, but are some people just born more “mentally tough” than others!?  Well luckily, mental toughness can be taught, and there are several strategies which have been tried and tested in the field of sports psychology, which are now translating to coaching and management literature.

There is no quick fix to become mentally tough, but through a combination of strategies, you can increase your mental toughness….here are a few of my favourite strategies!!

  1.  Goal setting.  Whilst this sounds simple, setting clear goals can help to direct your attention to the important tasks you need to focus on, and can enhance your commitment to goals.  Just remember to set your goals at a level of difficulty that is at the right level of challenge.  You may start which smaller, easier to achieve sub goals, then work towards increasing your sense of challenge buy progressing setting more difficult goals.  Think about how you will measure your goals….how will you know when you’ve achieved them?  Think about the support or resources you might need to achieve your goals.
  2. Mindfulness.  Mindfulness compliments mental toughness in many ways – mindfulness is actually a fantastic tool for helping you to develop attentional control and focus (a key element of the “control” component of mental toughness!).  In turn, when you’re better able to focus and remain in control of your emotions, you may just find you experience increased confidence as a result of this!
  3. Imagery.  Imagery, or mental rehearsal, is commonly used by athletes who are trying to practice and perfect their technical skills, without engaging in physical practice, and can also help increase your feelings of confidence and control.  Whatever you’re working on developing your mental toughness for, you can apply imagery to.  Are you giving a performance?  A speech?  Playing in a tennis match?  Whatever the task, close your eyes and imagine performing the task in real time.  Imagine yourself in the same setting where you would perform the actual task.  Think of the feelings you would typically have at the time of the task, and try and bring those to mind.  Practice your task/performance in as much detail as you can, using all your senses (imagining the task, imagining the sensations you would feel, imagining the sounds that you would hear).  Imagine yourself performing the task perfectly!
  4. Reflection.  Mentally tough people regularly reflect on their successes and setbacks…what worked well and what didn’t.  Reflection is a key tool to help you to review your progress, acknowledge your successes and improvements, and to make adjustments to your goals and strategies to achieve them if they’re not working!!  You could also reflect on your past successes in similar situations to increase your optimism and confidence even more!!

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Top - Keepsake the Label
Leather Necktie - Jewellery by Others

Remember, like all changes, building mental toughness takes time and persistence!!  Enlisting social support from friends and loved ones can also be a great tactic to help support you in your changes.

Would you try some of these strategies?  Would you go on a mental toughness journey to help you to achieve and persevere at your goals?

Change your habits

Change is hard work!!  It’s often much easier to maintain the status quo than to challenge ourselves to change habits.

Here are a few of my favourite posts on goal setting to help you get started on the path to achieving your goals!!

What do you want to achieve?  Why does it matter to you?  Would you try some of these tips?