Helen McGillivray is a psychological therapist with over 28 years of clinical experience, including 14 years providing psychological therapies. She specialises in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Helen is accredited with

The BACBP, the leading organisation for cognitive and behavioural therapies in the UK.

This week, we noticed that motivation is one of the most common positive feelings in our analytics, so let's talk about it.

Motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviours. It is what causes you to take action, whether it be getting a glass of water to reduce thirst, reading a book to gain knowledge, or climbing Ben Nevis three times in one day.

We all know that feeling when we get caught up in “I should go for a run” but we frankly cannot be bothered - it's a very familiar battle. It’s the pressure to do something when our thoughts and feelings really don’t want us to. The thoughts I am familiar with sound like “You will not do it well”, “It's too big a task”, “Why bother?”, “You deserve some time off” ... With these thoughts comes feelings of guilt and frustration. We can get consumed with these thoughts without even being aware.

It’s ok. It’s normal we can't feel motivated all of the time. So, let’s stop trying so hard. BUT, if it's something that really matters to you, and is something you value, then just take small steps and keep showing up. Eventually the thoughts will stop shouting, and your actions will become habits. If it matters, these new habits will become part of your routine which might even bring results- this is when motivation happens.

Pay attention to what matters most and your core values. Take action towards those and let the thoughts come and go- we don’t have to pay attention to them.

We never regret going on that run, but we do sometimes (not always) regret the long lie- or is that just me? However, it's just as important to treat yourself with kindness when we do fall prey to the Netflix weekend. We cannot be motivated 365 days of the year, and there is a lot of good stuff on Netflix... be kind to yourself.

Helen McGillivray is a psychological therapist with over 28 years of clinical experience, including 14 years providing psychological therapies. She specialises in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Helen is accredited with

The BACBP, the leading organisation for cognitive and behavioural therapies in the UK.

In this blog, Helen talks about the how to avoid eating 'mindlessly' and start paying more attention to what we're eating.

We all know what we should do to stay healthy. We are bombarded with information about what’s good, what’s bad, superfoods, hot yoga, cold swimming, vegan, paleo, keto… it’s endless. Perhaps the battle is not with ourselves but with how we react and respond to all this information.

In our modern world we have become more and more dependent on convenience—grabbing food on the go and not paying attention to, or connecting with, our food and the body it goes into. How we feel about ourselves and our emotional state has a massive impact on the food we choose to eat and our eating behaviour.

How we feel about ourselves, and our emotional state, has a massive impact on the food we choose to eat, and our eating behaviour

According to Healthy Nibbles, almost 65% of employees report that they do not eat a healthy diet. These poor diets cost the UK 97 million work days. So how can we be more mindful about what we eat?

Humans are hardwired to like and crave things that make us feel good and to choose the path of least resistance—it’s part of the human condition. We are also conditioned to compare ourselves to others. We no longer have only small tribes of our ancestors to compare ourselves to, but massive online communities—some of whom we have never even met. With this in mind, it seems even more important to pay attention to ourselves and notice how we react to these external pressures.

Who can relate to eating 'mindlessly'? Mindless eating means eating food just because it’s there, not because we are hungry, and we’re often not even being aware we are doing it. When we don’t pay attention to our body, we are likely to miss hunger cues. It’s so easy to grab some crisps out of a bowl, or snack on some chocolate in the afternoon when our blood sugar dips. Modern life makes this easy—especially in lockdown.

We don't think about the putting the food in our mouths; we just do it—without being mindful

Mindful eating means paying attention to how your body feels, your emotions when you eat, and also paying attention and connecting more fully to the food you are eating. When we focus our attention on what we're eating, we are more able to make better choices. It's not a habit that's easy to adopt. A lifetime of mindless eating, snacking and even drinking isn't going to go away with the snap of a finger. Instead, keep the following things in mind as you seek to improve your eating habits—and pause before you take your next bite!

Here’s some tips for adopting mindful eating:

  • Link your choices to your core values. Focus on the reason why you would like to modify your eating behaviour, e.g., I would like to be healthier so I have more energy to play with my kids.

  • Tune in to how you are feeling and the sensations in your body, e.g., hungry, full, stressed, tired, thirsty. Notice also how you speak to yourself when you make choices.

  • If mindful eating is new to you, take a few days and write down everything that you eat. This will highlight your personal habits and areas for improvement. You can do this with paper and pen, or use one of the many food log apps available on your smartphone.

  • Focus. Take time to notice the food you are preparing, how it smells, looks and feels. Sit down when you eat, turn off all electronics, eat slowly, chewing thoroughly and enjoy your food one bite at a time!

  • Eating regularly and choosing foods that release energy slowly will help to keep your sugar levels steady. Slow-release energy foods include pasta, brown rice, oats, wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts and seeds. Drinking more water will help reduce fatigue and improve concentration.

Tuning into our bodies and minds, while connecting with our values, may help us navigate more steadily through the storm of convenience and consumerism that we find ourselves in. Taking the time to slow down and appreciate our food is a great way to connect with ourselves and improve the health of ourselves and our families.

At OK Positive, we've partnered with Healthy Nibbles, who provide healthy snacking options at both individual and corporate level. Their snack boxes can be tailored to meet dietary requirements such as gluten-free and vegan as well as any allergens. These are the perfect idea for taking a proactive approach as an organisation to support employee health.

How do you feel after a workout?

Doing physical activity helps us connect with our body—and the more we’re connected with our body, the more likely we’ll look after them. Studies show that being more active can not only improve how we relate to ourselves, but also lower stress levels and even reduce the risk of depression.

When we experience high-energy emotions like fear, stress, anxiety or excitement—to name just a few—our body releases adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline prepares us physically when we perceive a threat by triggering the fight-or-flight response, while cortisol is produced in reaction to stress and can even suppress our immune system.

However, we don’t face the same threats in modern life that humans once did, resulting in excess adrenaline that can lead to fatigue and muscle tension. Cortisol can also suppress our immune system, so high levels of it over a period of time can make us more susceptible to illness. Doing high-energy workouts help burn off excess amounts of these hormones, reducing the negative impact this has on our body.

On the other hand, when we experience low-energy emotions such as sadness or depression, we often feel heavy or numb and can find ourselves ruminating, getting stuck in unhelpful patterns of thinking. Exercising can bring us out of this ‘thinking mode’ and release endorphins—a natural high created by our body.

Mindful, purposeful movement while exercising allows us to take time out from autopilot and bring us back to the present moment. This in turn aids our motivation and productivity. So, next time you exercise, try being aware of your breathing or where your feet land—see how it makes you feel.

Schedule in some exercise in the coming week—this could be as simple as taking a brisk walk around the park at lunchtime. Pay attention to how you feel before and after. You might find it helpful to record this in some way, like in a journal, or in our app when you log your mood. Do this a few times, start looking back at what you recorded, and you might be surprised by what you feel. We rarely regret a workout, but often regret not doing one.

With gyms still closed, staying active and keeping up our motivation can be a real challenge. We’ve added some new home workouts from Siri Price Fitness to our in-app resources. If you prefer more relaxed forms of exercise, there are plenty of yoga classes in our app, too—head over to the Resources section of our app and select Look after your body. Why not do just that and take the opportunity to try something new this week?