Is your Garmin making you addicted to exercise?

Tech logos for presentationI have been working on a piece of research over the last year to try to see if there are any links between the amount of fitness technologies athletes use and their risk of exercise addiction. I am presenting the findings at the annual conference for Sport Psychologists next week in Glasgow. The slide deck and notes I will be using can be read here: Technology and exercise addiction

I’ll write up a more easily accessible blog on the findings in the future but for those who would like to know more immediately this slide deck should give some of the answers.

Becoming a sport psychologist

BooksI get at least a couple of emails each month asking how to get into sports psychology and whether I can offer work experience. I also give quite a few talks to sports science students in schools on what sport psychology involves. While I love chatting directly (and am always happy to do if you have any questions) I thought a blog post answering the most common questions could be helpful. The thoughts I’ve written here are all from my personal experience and I’ve tried to be as frank as possible but everyone will have a slightly different experience and background that they bring into sports psychology so it is just a general guide.

 

Where do sport psychologists work?

A million dollar question!

  • Some sport psychologists work in universities or colleges teaching sport psychology and work with athletes or teams in the evenings or weekends. This is a great way to get guaranteed decent income and keep on top of the latest research and ideas. You also have good access to athletes as you’ll be surrounded by student athletes in the university.
  • Some sports psychologists work directly for teams or national governing bodies. They are often employed through the English Institute of Sport who supply sport support specialists to Olympic and Paralympic governing bodies. More and more Football, Cricket and Rugby teams are also taking on Psychologists now too.
  • Finally, there is a group of Sports Psychologists who work for themselves or in consultancies working on contracts or directly with athletes and often using the same skills and techniques with people in business too.

What do Sports Psychologists do each day?

Another million dollar question! I tend to split my work into five areas:

  1. Dissemination. Writing for magazines or giving talks, workshops and lectures about sport psychology and how athletes of all levels can use psychology to improve their performances.
  2. Counselling. Working with athletes who need some support to help them enjoy their sport more. This will be particularly helpful if athletes are close to retirement or are injured and need to explore what else outside of sport they may want to get involved with.
  3. Performance excellence. Working with individual athletes to teach them skills, techniques and strategies to help them perform better and feel more comfortable when they compete in their sport.
  4. Performance breakdowns. Often athletes will come to me with one specific thing that they can see is holding them back. We work together to find some strategies to resolve these issues.
  5. Media training. My background is in PR and Communications so I work with athletes (and other high performing professionals) to help them navigate the issues around dealing with the media, make them feel more comfortable when doing it and stop any fears about dealing with the media impacting on their performance.

What qualifications do you need?

To be able to call yourself a Sport and Exercise Psychologist you need to have completed and passed:

If you want to work in psychology but are not worried about being able to use the official ‘psychologist’ title, instead of going through the BPS you can sign up with British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) and follow their supervised practice training instead. http://www.bases.org.uk/Structure-and-Governance/Psychology

How long does it take?

If you follow a straight line from BSc to completing Stage 2 and did it all full time it would take six years.

How much does it cost to qualify?

This will be different at each university and with different supervisors but for me it cost:

  • MSc Psychology Conversion course: £6,400 for the year (UK national)
  • Stage 1 – MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology: £7,300 for the year (UK national)
  • Stage 2 – BPS Supervised practice: Around £6,000 to the BPS for the full period and around £1,500 a year to your supervisor.

Can I train part time?

Yes. The MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology can usually be completed part time and it is up to you how long you take to do the Stage 2 supervised practice so you can do that alongside another job. With the Stage 2 supervised practice you are essentially gathering evidence that you can work effectively in four areas:

  • CPD – learning new skills to increase your knowledge and expertise
  • Research – a big research project which is expected to be at the standard of PhD research.
  • Dissemination – knowing how to communicate sport psychology knowledge, information and techniques. This could be through a mixture of conferences, workshops, magazine writing, a blog or teaching.
  • Consultancy – this is the work you do with individual athletes.

To pass you are expected to be able to show evidence that you have completed around 550 days of work across these four areas (which is why it takes at least 2 years full time).

How can I get work experience?

It is incredibly difficult to get work experience in psychology as client confidentiality is so important. Therefore it is very unlikely you would be able to sit in individual athlete sessions. There are a few things you can try though:

  • Skills for Performance course: There is a fantastic course run by the English Institute of Sport each year called Skills for Performance. When I attended it was five days and held at Loughborough Uni. It gave a fantastic insight in what Sport Psychologists working in Elite sport were doing and how they worked with athletes and other members of the support team. Keep an eye out on the EIS twitter feed to apply: @eis2win
  • Workshops: Many Sport Psychologists run workshops for athletes or sports parents and sitting in on one of these will give you a great insight in how the theories you learn in university are translated into applied practice. Ask any sport psychologists you follow on twitter or have met if you can attend any of their workshops.
  • Attend conferences: Conferences can be a brilliant way to learn about new research, and learn new applied techniques. The BPS DSEP (Dept of Sport and Exercise Psychology) runs a great conference every December and they offer discounts to students to attend. BASES also run conferences. https://beta.bps.org.uk/events/division-sport-exercise-conference-2017

What is the industry like?

Considering there are so many sport psychologists and so few jobs I’ve been incredibly surprised by how lovely the other sport psychologists I’ve met are. It is a small sector and everyone is very helpful and supportive. It is welcoming and inclusive.

Analyse your year – get set for next

Brave listMost athletes in individual sports have now finished their 2017 seasons and many have had a training break too. Now comes winter training, which can feel a bit daunting when you don’t have anything in the near future to focus on. A great activity to do during this period involves nothing more than your favourite drink (a large very hot latte for me please!), a pen and this Annual analysis sheet. Page 1 will help you think about all you have achieved this year, consider what you learnt and put any issues or problems into perspective.

Page 2 helps you look at next year. What do you want to achieve? What will you do differently. What is getting you excited about next year (and if there isn’t anything you need to go race hunting!).

Finally, something I always do for each year that I learnt from a friend who runs the www.beatinglimitations.com website is to set a word for the year. This year my word was Brave. When I dithered about anything, or thought it was beyond my abilities or my status, I reminded myself I was aiming to be brave and got on with it. I created a ‘Brave list’ and jotted down every time I did something I felt brave doing, and I jotted next to it the outcome. Looking back over it, at least half of the 30 new things I had to summon up some bravery to do were successful. So 15 things I’d have not achieved without that word. So what is your 2018 word going to be?

 

5 ways to feel more positive

It is gloomy and cold and we are all trying to hold off on Christmas excitement till December so here are five ways to help ourselves feel a little bit more positive on a grey November afternoon:

  • Start a thankful journal. Before bed each night write down three things, people, or events for which you are grateful. Means you go to sleep in a more positive frame of mind and helps prevent negative thoughts ruminating around in your head.
  • Get a really good night’s sleep. Sleep is where our memories are consolidated, particularly from everything we have learnt over a day, so to make sure we are benefiting from the efforts we make each day we really need a decent amount of sleep.
  • Make a do lists and break down any big tasks on it into their component parts. Breaking things down into small chunks not only makes each thing feel more doable but you will also get a buzz of achievement each time you tick something off. More mini activities, more ticks.
  • Actively practice turning negative thoughts into positive ones. It will feel awkward and weird at first but over time can become more natural. So instead of; ‘I can’t do this’ think ‘I can’t do this yet, but I’m going to have a go’.
  • Do scary stuff first. There is a great idea called ‘Eat the frog’. If you know you have to eat a frog today you will feel nervous (and probably nauseous!). You are likely to procrastinate all day about eating the frog and will mar the whole day with this fear. But if you prioritise doing it first thing then it gets it out of the way, gives you a lovely smug feeling and frees up the rest of the day for less intimidating activities.

Focus, uninterrupted

NotificationsCenter_AZL5683I work with athletes to improve their performances in their sport. An element of this which seems to becoming increasingly important is minimising the number of stressors and hassles they feel they need to cope with. A common stressor is their difficulty in focusing on anything (sport, school or work) because of constant interruptions they feel they need to deal with. Most of these interruptions come from technology.

I am undecided if technology is amazing for athletes – or a hinderance. There are ways it can really help us in our sport; tracking what we do on GPS, allowing easy access to course routes, providing video clips of our competitors, even simply allowing us to research new ideas, training plans or performance advice quickly. But it can also make us unhappy when we can no longer just go for an easy run or ride without worrying about how followers will judge the figures we post, when we can never switch off as our phones bombard us with notifications and reminders of other’s training. A quick glance at @stravawankers on twitter will highlight how seriously many people take their technology when training.

In its place technology can be amazing. But with technology being with us everywhere (the majority of people reading this will be on a mobile or tablet) that place may have expanded too much. And that is when the troubles come. Chatting to a friend and an alert pops up, trying to write a report for work and a dozen emails arrive throughout it – probably with some annoying sound attached.

Some great research has found that these distractions are harming our ability to perform:

  • The Carnegie Mellon Human-Computer Interaction Lab has found multi-tasking is bad for us as we end up doing each thing at a worse level than if they were done with full focus. The constant switching between tasks means we not only do more of our tasks poorly but that we also waste time trying to get back into each thing.
  • Research in California from Gloria Mark found it takes 25 minutes to get full focus back after an interruption, and that on average, office workers are interrupted every 11 minutes.
  • All of these interruptions and requirements to switch come at neurobiological cost says neuroscientist Daniel Levitin as they only deplete our mental resources and mean our brain stores information and memories in the wrong places. He says that our brains use glucose as a fuel, and every time you switch tasks more glucose gets burned. Over the day this excess use of glucose will make you feel tired and mentally depleted. When you get into this state you start releasing cortisol, the stress hormone which puts your body into a stress state. While your body focuses on trying to protect itself from whatever is trying to attack it, it shuts down your higher cognitive thinking and becomes unable to think clearly or solve complex problems.
  • One of the most interesting facts from his recent book on how to think straight in the age of information overload is that we now take in five times more information each day that we did 25 years ago. This is nine DVD’s worth on information a day!
  • Finally, research from professor of Psychology Glenn Wilson has found that when you are trying to focus on something, simply knowing that there is an unread message in your email inbox can reduce your effective IQ by 10 points.

How can we help ourselves focus?

  1. Understand how often you get interrupted and whether the interruptions are from others or yourself.
  2. If you have a big project to work on or know you need to focus hard on something find somewhere private to work. Switch off all devices. Put an out of office on your email and whatsapp saying you’ll reply later. Send your phone to answerphone. Tell those who interrupt the most that you need time to focus. And leave your phone elsewhere so you don’t get tempted to switch it on.
  3. If you know the interruptions are self-inflicted (especially phone checking) then decide on a goal to minimise them. How many times a day would it be acceptable to you to check your phone? Would you feel comfortable having a permanent out of office message saying you check your emails twice a day and you’ll respond to their email next time you check? Make a plan and tell someone else about your plan so they’ll help you stay on track.

Two immediate actions:

  1. Turn off your notifications: facebook, twitter, whatsapp, intstagram. Check when you want but if something was truly urgent they would phone.
  2. Get self-aware of just how often you check your phone. There are some apps to do this:
    1. Moment – tells you how many minutes you spend on your phone each day and lets you limit the time you are on it.
    2. Checky – tells you how many times a day you check your phone. If you want to shame yourself into using it less you can share your scores on twitter. It also shows you where you check your phone which can help you change your behaviours. If you check it for 30 minutes on the tube twice a day but complain you never have any time to read you may realise you could replace that time with a book.

I’m feeling brave so I’m off to download Checky onto my phone. Gulp…

Parents of athletes – helping your child survive and thrive

YoungathletesAs it is Sport Parent week I’ve been reflecting on some of the younger athletes I’ve worked with. What struck me was that often these young athletes don’t just excel in their sport. They excel in every area of their lives; their sporting performance, in playing a musical instrument and achieving high grades at school. When you are good at so many things you have a lot of choices, but when you have so many choices, prioritisation can be hard so these young athletes are talent rich, but time poor.

Often with these young athletes, to help them become more self-aware of why they are feeling so much pressure, we will sketch out the 24 hours of their day to see just how much they are doing. It often looks like this…

Area of life   Hours
Sleep is vital for all of us – but especially for young athletes who need sufficient sleep to recover from their sport, memorise what they are learning at school and stave off illness. So we always put down 8 hours for sleep. Ideally they would also have an hour before bed to chill out. Sleep 8

 

 

Calming down to sleep 1
School – many of the athletes I work with are at schools requiring them to attend between 8am and 4pm. They are getting at least 1-2 hour’s homework on top of that. Add another hour at least for travel there and back School 8

 

Homework 2
Travel 1
Training – most athletes are training for at least an hour, sometimes more a day, either working on technique in their sport or fitness sessions. This, with travel, takes up to 3 hours a day. Training 1.5

 

Travel 1
Music or other hobbies – many athletes are also expected to spend an hour a day on a music lesson or practice. Practice 1

 

  Total 23.5

This leaves 30 minutes for breakfast, having a meal with their families, hanging out with friends, playing Xbox or watching TV; all the things which will help them relax, recover and enjoy life.

These athletes have some of the best chances in life. They love what they are learning and they are enthusiastic and passionate. But they can find themselves under a huge amount of pressure and struggling just to keep up. With such a packed life they may just not have time to get the headspace required to cope with these levels of stress. And while they may be able to tick over in winter when summer comes and you throw sports competitions and exams into the mix they may hit their coping tipping point.

If you are parenting one of these athletes maybe sit down with them (or chat whilst taking them to school or training), and find out if they are aware of just how much they are trying to achieve, if they can see where their time is going, ways they think you could help them to free up more time, help them make plans for the crunch periods and, most importantly, remind them that if sometimes they need a break from it all that is fine and that you love them for who they are, not how much they achieve.

 

 

Sleep tips for athletes

sleep

Having heard a great interview with Kirk Parsley recently on Marathon Talk (Episode 299 and Episode 300 – listen here ) about the importance of sleep I was really interested to see what Lindsay Thornton, Senior Sports Psychologist at the US Olympic Committee would say about its impact and importance for Athletes. Here are there headlines…

The headlines:

  • Paying down sleep debt improves performance.
  • Sleep extension will give you even better performance.
  • More sleep = greater recovery, a chance to consolidate the mental and physical gains made during the day, fewer injuries and a better mood.
  • You need to maintain a regular sleep wake schedule.

Why we need sleep

Thornton talks about the way sleep is a performance enhancement tool for both brain and body. It improves your recovery from exercise and new skill learning as while you are asleep as all the information on everything you have learnt and done throughout the day is transferred and downloaded. Sleep also helps your metabolism (appetite and weight), tissue repair, immune function and mood. In short, she says that sleep provides a bonus learning period and you wake up a smarter, stronger version of yourself and in a better mood.

How much sleep

There is no formula for how many hours athletes should sleep but it is advised to be between 7-9 hours (Federer is said to sleep for 11 hours, LeBron James for 12). Less than six can impair your psychological and physiological functioning. The positive information from your day is the last to be downloaded so you need longer in bed to wake up positive and happier. Stanford Uni ran research with their swimmers who were set a goal of spending 10 hours in bed. The extra sleep opportunity this created improved their speed, reaction time, tumble turn times and kick times.

Sleep efficiency

It is normal to take 20 minutes to fall asleep. People often base how long they say they sleep for as the amount of time in bed but research with 124 Australian athletes showed on average they spent 8.4 hours in bed but only got 6.8 hours of sleep. This is 86% efficiency. Falling asleep immediately (around 95% sleep efficiency) is not actually a good sign as it shows you are incredibly fatigued.

Sleep debt

When you have sleep restriction it is first your mood that is impacted, then your cognitions and finally your performance. So accept if you have missed sleep that your mood will be down – it is likely that your physical performance will be ok. But you will have a perception that exercise is harder. To get out of sleep debt increase your time in bed by 15 minutes each night.

Sleep interferences

  • Alcohol helps you sleep – but doesn’t help you stay asleep.
  • Caffeine has a dose response effect and puts back your sleepiness
  • Jet lag – it takes one day per time zone to adapt. This is for body temperatures to adjust.
  • Altitude – this takes up to two weeks to adapt to.
  • Blue lights from screens mess with melatonin production and stop you sleeping. Use an app to minimize the blue light from your screen.

When to train

With sleep dictated by our circadian rhythms most of us have a cognitive peak at 9am, a dip at 2pm, a physical peak at 6pm (which could be why more world records are broken in the evening than daytime) and will find it difficult to sleep between 7pm and 10pm. We then dip at 10pm. Ideal bedtime. As your ability to do complex cognitive skills peaks earlier in the day during the morning peak and gross motor skills peak later in the day focus your training to match those times; learning new skills or techniques in the morning, endurance or fitness work in the evening.

Modify sleep routine for racing

Consider what time you will be racing – if it is at a time you know you dip then a nap in the middle of the day can be used to shift the dip. Napping is a skill. It can take up to two weeks to get into a rhythm with it. It is good for athletes but not necessary for normal people (who should be getting enough sleep at night and don’t need to perform in the evening). If you want to get into napping it will seem hard to begin with but every day you should lie down in the middle of the day and eventually you will sleep.

It is very difficult to sleep before competition but this is usually situational and transient insomnia so remember if you are struggling to sleep your competitors are probably too. Don’t get wound up over it.

Sleep when injured

If you are injured you will find it harder to sleep as you will need less sleep than usual as you have not been using so much energy. Reduce your time in bed and lower your expectations of what sleep should be. It is normal to wake up in the night. Don’t panic and think it is insomnia. Learn some relaxation strategies to help you get back to sleep.

Trouble getting to sleep

If you ruminate a lot and find this keeping you awake then after dinner write down your ‘to do’ list and your thoughts so you don’t ruminate in bed. The ‘to do’ list will still be the same in the morning. The thoughts will still be the same in the morning. They won’t have changed and you can remind yourself you can do nothing about them in the middle of the night.

Sleep tips

Sport Psychology and Performance in Mind

These Q&As with Dr Josephine Perry, Director of Performance in Mind, may help you to decide if sport and performance psychology could help you…

What is sports psychology?

Sports psychology developed from traditional psychology but incorporates elements of physiology to understand how psychological factors (such as confidence, stress, concentration or anxiety) impact on sporting performance. It can be used to help athletes improve in competitions but also helps athletes, coaches and the parents of young athletes deal better with elements of sporting life such as training attitudes, injury, rehabilitation, communicating well to other athletes, team dynamics and sporting retirement.

Why would someone hire a sports psychologist?

If you want to do really well at something why wouldn’t you get someone to help you do it and teach you the tools and tricks to achieve it? You can probably figure out most things for yourself over time; the best ways for you to train, the best foods for fueling yourself, the mental skills you need to perform exceptionally, but working with an expert will speed up the process significantly.

You don’t need to be a professional athlete to work with a sports psychologist. You just take your sport seriously and want to be the best at it that you can be. If you have someone working with you on your coaching plan, or see a nutritionist, or have regular sports massage why would you not work with someone to help you understand how your mind works and to help you think and behave in the most beneficial way when you are training or competing?

Why would I hire you to help me with sports psychology?

I work from a positive psychological perspective, supporting athletes to value what is already going well in their sport and finding strategies to help them focus on improving the areas that are holding them back. My aim is to really listen to athletes to find out what may be causing their issues or constraining them. I have a number of routes and strategies athletes can try and a number of mental skills I teach. Often these strategies won’t just help them in sport, they can carry over what they learn into every day life to help them deal more effectively with family, work or relationship issues too.

People who traditionally receive psychological support are those experiencing some kind of crisis or mental health issues. But why shouldn’t everyone have access to this help? I believe we can all benefit from understanding better how our brains work, how our behaviours impact us and what we can do to control challenging situations to give us a more successful outcomes.

How do you work with athletes?

I always like to meet with the athlete face to face first. This is not always possible but I find it makes it a much easier relationship to hold the first session in person. This session is usually a long session which can last up to 2 hours. It will include lots of background information, lots of talking about your sport and often some questionnaires or scales and measures which help to identify areas to really focus on. After this session we will work on a plan for how to move forward.

Sessions after this will usually take place over Skype as I find that age group athletes are often very pressed for spare time and feel more comfortable in their own houses. I charge £100 for the first, extensive session and then £65 a session (usually an hour) after that. The plan and the support this requires will dictate how often you will benefit from sessions but to be most effective they are usually held weekly or fortnightly.

I usually work from a cognitive behavioural framework. The work undertaken from this perspective helps an athlete manage their problems by changing the way they think about their problems and how they behave in response. It doesn’t remove the problems but it does allow the athlete to deal with them in a more positive wa. It does this by breaking issues down into much smaller parts so negative patterns can be identified. Practical ways (such as specific mental skills) are then taught to change those negative thoughts into more positive and supportive ones.

On occasion it may be more appropriate to work from a humanistic framework. Humanistic techniques are used to help an athlete guide themselves to make choices about their life. The sessions are ‘athlete-centred’ and focuses on the athlete’s self-awareness and what will give them complete fulfilment. Through this route the psychologist is there only to guide and to listen as the athlete themselves directs the discussion, the direction that the sessions take and the ultimate outcomes.

Which type of athletes do you work with?

I enjoy working with athletes from any sport. To date I have worked with Running, Swimming, Cycling, Triathlon, Trampolining, Stunt Cheerleading, Tennis, Duathlon Rugby, Judo and Fencing. I have a particular interest in helping age group and amateur athletes competing in endurance sports and those athletes recovering from injury.

How does a sport psychologist help an athlete improve their sporting performance?

Each sports psychologist will have their own theory of optimal performance, their own approach to performance psychology and their own performance model. These will all be based on the beliefs they have developed throughout their training. My performance model incorporates five key elements that, when maximized effectively, I believe can help each athlete achieve their optimal performance:

  • The performance mentality they have
  • The way they control, or are controlled by their environment
  • The tools they use to perform at their best
  • The way they control, or are controlled by their emotions
  • Their motivational awareness

PiM Performance Model

 

If I need to change my appointment with you?

We ask for 24 hours notice if you need to cancel or amend your appointment. We reserve the right to charge for any cancellations where sufficient notice is not provided. Payment should be made in advance of the session via bank transfer.

How do you protect my privacy

Performance in Mind is committed to protecting your privacy in all areas.

  • When you visit the website our computer collects the IP address of your computer, the date and time you visited and the titles of pages you viewed.
  • If you fill in the contact us form we will store the data you send us but this will never be passed on to anyone else.
  • When you speak to us in a consultation any conversation between us is completely confidential unless we feel that you may harm yourself or someone else. Notes may well be taken during your consultation. They will always be stored securely and you are always welcome to read any notes in your file.

Can I use information from this site?

The contents and information on this web site are the intellectual property of Performance in Mind and Dr Josephine Perry. Using or reproducing this content is not permitted without the express written consent of Dr Josephine Perry. Requests for permission may be emailed to Josephineperry@googlemail.com

Seven tactics to stop comparing ourselves against others

Race resultsIn sport comparison is inescapable. If you are racing or competing there will always be numbers ranking us, digitizing us, making easy comparison to anyone else. It is a very quick way for athletes to lose confidence and develop low self-esteem. This social comparison can be harsh as someone else will always be better than you. Even Bolt got beaten. And Research has found that the harder we are on ourselves the harder it is to regain our motivation and we are less likely to achieve the goals we do set so, the more we compare, the worse we will do.

You can only compare effectively if you are starting from the same starting blocks as the person you are comparing to. We are each too unique to compare fairly. Even identical twins will have different personality traits, different talents and different motivations. But we never are. So comparison puts focus on something you have absolutely no control over putting yourself in an unwinnable, and very frustrating situation. To get on top of this negative comparison here are seven tactics to try:

  1. Focus on temporal comparison where you look at how you are doing compared to where you were in the past and where would you like to get to. You can then make clear steps and plans to get where you want to go and this helps you feel much more in control. In doing this we become more self-aware and can understand our motivations and ambitions better. If we tie this in with our own values we can feel authentic in the route we take. To identify these values ask yourself three questions:
    • What do you want to be remembered for?
    • When you look back over this year what will you need to achieve to feel proud?
    • What are the three values that matter most to you?

Once we look deeply at the ‘then, now and the future,’ and understand our values which support that then everything is in the open it is much easier to confront and deal with it.

  1. Remind yourself that the perfection you see in others is just an illusion. We only see the instagramable perfection of other’s lives. Research found people more likely to show positive emotions than negative ones and that we each tend to overestimate the presence of positivity in the lives of others. This means we a comparing our lives with an incomplete picture of someone else’s. You may see the great race result a club mate had but not the pain they have gone through in training. You see the picture perfect family day posted on facebook but not the mega tantrum two minutes before the shots were taken. There is always a far more realistic story behind it.
  2. We beat ourselves up for not ‘trying hard enough’ yet we are on a different journey in life to other people and were born with different advantages. There is a great saying – don’t measure yourself against someone else’s ruler. If you compare yourself to other people around you those people start become enemies, instead of your friends. Benchmarking their successes to evaluate ourselves against will make us jealous and bitter rather than supportive and excited for them. If you find yourself succumbing to this then a good point to remember is that we become like those we surround ourselves with. Surrounding ourselves with successful, ambition and hard working people and some of those elements will brush off on us – so it is not just altruistic, it is actually in our own interests for those around us to do well.
  3. Celebrate your uniqueness. What do you love about you? Forget being humble. What is great about you? What values do you have, what traits do you love, when do you feel proud?
  4. Remember and document your successes – keep a diary or a ‘jar of joy’ and note down when you have been proud of something you have worked hard towards and achieved. When you find yourself starting to compare with others pull out a note and read through it.
  5. Find things that matter to you which cannot be measured. Race times, school grades, work appraisals all use numbers and are very easy for us to use to compare to each other. But some of the loveliest things in life can’t be compared. Seeing an amazing view from a mountain you have climbed, drinking the perfect cocktail on a lovely beach, eating fish and chips with your best mate on a park bench putting the world to rights, a run along the river where you come up with a solution to a problem you’ve been ruminating over, taking a picture of a friend or child that completely captures their personality, making someone’s day by baking them a cake they weren’t expecting. All things which have no measurement, but will bring you, and often someone else a little piece of joy.
  6. If you can’t help yourself comparing then study the person you are envious of and understand what it is you envy and then work out how you can achieve that. If they are famous then read interviews or autobiographies. Pull out the envy element and make a plan for how you can develop that. Write down three things you could learn from them to help you get closer to what they have achieved? When you find yourself starting to get jealous look over these, remind yourself you are on a different journey to them, and pick one of the things you can learn from them as your goal for the next week.