Use Small PlatesIf the goal is to eat less, eating off of smaller plates will reduce how much you eat.
Schedule Workouts With An Exercise PartnerIf the goal is to exercise more, knowing a friend is waiting for you will get you out the door.
Direct Deposit Into Savings AccountIf the goal is to save money, designate a fixed amount of your paycheck for savings so it happens automatically. You will be less tempted to spend it.
Order Groceries OnlineIf the goal is to eat healthier, avoid the temptation of going to the supermarket.
Place Money In A Deposit ContractIf the goal is to quit smoking or lose weight in the next two months, commit to forfeiting the money if you don’t reach it.
Block Internet AccessIf the goal is to block digital distractions, download a program like Freedom, which disables Internet access for up to eight hours. Turning my phone off and placing it in the bottom of my bag is a strategy is a commitment device that prevents me from becoming a texting zombie. Knowing it is off and out of reach prevents me from succumbing to the temptation to check it while walking around. So that is my version of binding myself to the mast. What is yours?
At 25, I was a medical student, working my tail off, studying non-stop and rarely sleeping. Among my fellow med school colleagues, there was glory in pulling an all-nighter. The circles under our respective eyes were badges of honor—symbols of hard work and commitment. Following graduation from medical school and the start of our internships, the lack of sleep and stress intensified. Doctors often invoke military terms to describe their internship year: “boot camp” and being “in the trenches” sum it up precisely as working all-night became second nature. The culture of working ourselves to the bone was so pervasive that we were wary of anyone who didn’t look haggard or worn down. By definition, a successful intern was sleep-deprived, stressed out and fueled by a diet of Coke and cold pizza.
As we worked all day and night taking care of patients, it never even occurred to us to consider our own wellbeing. Moreover, we had no idea that paying attention to our well-being would benefit patients. The irony of self-neglect in the name of patient care only became apparent to me years later when I began studying Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Of course, the glorification of self-sacrifice isn’t confined to medicine. It is everywhere—in teaching, politics, law, business, journalism, and many service-related fields. As a psychiatrist, I meet a lot of people who are burned out. It often presents as depression or anxiety, and self-neglect is often at the heart of it.
The bottom line is this: make your wellbeing a priority. You won’t do anyone any good when you’re stuck in bed sick or worse.
"I hate coming to your office. All I do is complain about my life. All the bitching makes me feel worse."My patient was not wrong. Dwelling on one’s problems can make you feel worse. Psychology professor Jeffrey Lohr points out the downside of being a Debbie Downer all the time:
"Venting anger is an emotional expression. It’s similar to emotional farting in a closed area. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s dead wrong."Research shows that girls who talk extensively about their problems with friends are more likely to become anxious and depressed. It takes an emotional toll, leading to a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.Related studies illustrate the negative effects of venting online. Internet rants have been shown to make people even angrier. Those who vent are more likely to engage in physical and verbal fights and to drive recklessly. Letting off steam often ends up backfiring. It actually fuels the fire.
Here are 5 ways to complain strategically:
1. Count to 10 and back again
Anger dissipates more quickly when you focus on your breath.
2. Take a walk
Spending time outdoors helps put anger in perspective.
3. Pick your battles
Only complain when it serves a purpose. Stick to facts and logic and know what you want and how you can make it happen. Choose when to complain and to whom.
4. Give it a name
Studies show that putting your feelings into words reduces their impact. Acknowledging you are upset or angry dampens the emotional toll. Writing about it in a journal that you don’t share can help you better understand your feelings and feel more in control.
5. Make a “complaint sandwich”
If you are complaining to someone about their behavior, “sandwich” the complaint between two positive statements. By positively packaging your complaint, the person on the receiving end will be less defensive and more motivated to make a change.
Bottom Line: If you need to complain, please do it with purpose.