Hints For New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions are a self help cliche.

New Year’s Resolutions have the biggest reputation for not working out, despite being one of the most common goal setting methods.

If you want to invoke cynicism just say, “This is my New Year’s Resolution!”

So what do I recommend?

Well hint one is, keep all this in perspective.

I suspect that goals made as a New Year’s Resolution, are just as likely to not work out as any other goal. The difference is more likely to be that a resolution made at New Year’s is often commonly mentioned to others, and the “failure” is therefore more public.

It is also a goal setting moment that you remember, because of the association with the New Year. So the achievements, or lack of them, are more obvious too.

So I suspect New Year’s Resolutions should attract no more cynicism than goal setting generally.

Hint two.

It’s worth considering the alternative to hyped-up New Year’s Resolutions.

Most people don’t have an alternate way to DELIBERATELY plan their life. They don’t set time to review how things have gone, what they want to achieve, and how they can do things differently in future to improve.

What most people end up with is either a haphazard process, driven by what they just came across on TV, read in a book, or got told by a friend, or worse, they have a crisis-driven process where they get to a point where something gets so bad that they finally crack and set out on a new track.

Neither haphazard, nor crisis-driven, are ideal ways to change your life. They are better than no change at all if change is needed, and in fact most people come to me for counseling based on reaching a point of crisis.

Perhaps it would be better however if people came to me more on the basis of a New Year’s Resolution.

So to the third hint.

New Year’s Resolutions are fine if you take the learning one further step.

Sure, set your resolution(s). But as you do so also use this as a time to rate and seek to improve your overall ability to manage and design your life.

Reflect on any past New Year’s Resolutions, and check what the results have been. Base your expectations for the success of this year’s resolutions on your past results.

Work out how you might improve on whatever the results were.

Overall, use the New Year’s Resolutions themselves as a way of practicing and learning about what works, and doesn’t work, for you.

Then you can fail to achieve each and every one of your resolutions for the New Year, and still have success by learning what works better for you.

That skill will advantage you more and more for the rest of your life.

Oh and there is also the skill of tapping in to cynicism, and using a ‘negative’ emotion to your advantage. That’s also a good advantage to get from New Year’s Resolutions.


-Dr Martin Russell

15 Actions To Help Yourself

Forget New Year’s Resolutions. Forget goal setting.

Start taking self help action. It can be massive action, small steps, or incremental change to a new direction.

Almost everything you read on this site includes something immediately actionable. But here are the top 15 actions so far…

1. If you are having a horrible time this holiday season then give yourself a break by following this post here before the end of New Year’s Day January 1st. (Interestingly this one has so far been taken up only by women. This is definitely one for men to do too, and may be even more important for them.)

2. If you are having trouble sleeping, or are taking something to help you sleep, take back control of your sleep and your sleeping pills tonight.

3. If you have a warped sense of humor about medicine, self help and the helping professions, then you can add your own ideas to this growing list.

4. If you need Will Power, go here.

5. If you want to learn internet marketing and how to run an internet business, and you have the time, but not the money, then you can learn as an intern.

6. If something you come across on this site interests you, or irks you, or inspires you, add a comment at the bottom. It’s simple to do.

7. If you only have 5 minutes a day to improve your life, do this.

8. If you would like articles for your ezine or online newsletter, then go to my Contact Page and let me know your name, website, ezine name, and email address, and I will include you in my distribution list when I send out the articles I write for this site.

9. If you want to rock the foundations of what you believe is true about life, spirituality, and the importance of human beings then reading this book here could do it for you.

10. If you are wanting a new way to act in the world, take the mindset from this dying man’s life lesson.

11. If you have a particular issue you are wanting help for, then check if I cover it in one of the online self help ‘sessions’ I have available as products on the left-hand side of my blog. If you’re not sure where to start then Self Help Meeting is the one, and if you are looking for something I don’t have yet, then leave a comment on this post to recommend one I should make.

12. If you want to do something about our society being over medicated with pills, you can help out on a campaign to reduce the use of sleeping pills here.

13. If you take yourself too seriously (as if anyone in this category would believe this of themselves) then here is the cure.

14. If you are interested in what you are reading, then join the blog notification list:


15. If you think someone else might be interested in something you have come across here, you can click on the Share This icon at the bottom of each post and pick one of the options, including email, to quickly and easily spread the word to others.

-Dr Martin Russell

Self Help Exercise For Depression

On this blog I advocate taking action.

There are many reasons for this.

However if you have been given the label “Depression” there is one type of action that has been fairly well proven to be helpful for you.

Physical exercise.

Let me give you a recent study as an example.

A study reported in Psychosomatic Medicine in September 2007 assessed 202 people who were diagnosed with mild to moderate depression. They were randomly split into different treatment groups.

After 4 months the group that were given an inactive sugar pill to take (ie a placebo) had a 31% recovery rate.

The group that had been given an antidepressant, in this case sertraline (Zoloft), had a 47% recovery rate.

However the group that had been walking or jogging on a treadmill for 30 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of stretching each day, had an almost identical recovery rate as if they had taken an antidepressant.

The group that exercised on their own had a 40% recovery rate, and if they had exercised in a group, they had a 45% recovery.

Don’t want to take an antidepressant?

For mild or moderate depression at least, the self help option of physical exercise will do just as well.

Even more importantly I recommend this “treatment” even if you don’t have a medical label.

This is one instance where a treatment for a mental illness is worthwhile even when you are not “ill”.

-Dr Martin Russell

Reverse Your But

If you ever want to start an argument with one word use this one, “No.”

If you ever want to start an argument with two words use these, “Yes, but…”

Even more importantly how often do you hear yourself use the phrase “Yes, but…” either out loud, or in your head?

At the first serious counseling training I ever did there was a participant who went around the whole time saying the word “Tub” as people were speaking with her.

It turned out that she had to say “Tub” quite a lot.

When we asked her what she was doing she said she was reversing the ‘but’ every time someone said it, because it is such a toxic word.

I agreed with her intention, and hey, the message has stuck with me for almost a decade so she was doing something right. But she also came across as annoying, which suited her fine, however many other people would prefer to use something else.

Don’t get me wrong. ‘But’ is an entirely valid word with a useful purpose. I used it the sentence just before, along with however, and I wouldn’t bother using anything else in that context.

Keep using ‘but’ in your life, and when you are ready for an alternative here are a couple you can test for yourself.

However unlike the participant in the counseling course, don’t totally dismiss the value of the word ‘but’ because it has a valid place in your life.

Here are my two suggestions.

First option – change words.

Exchange ‘But’ for the word ‘And’.

So instead of “Yes, but…”, say “Yes, and…”

Among other good things this change will force you to make sense of how both options can be simultaneously true, which is a useful beginning for any negotiation of choices.

If you don’t explain the ‘And’, a sentence can be left hanging like this one…

“You want me to take these pills, AND I’m allergic to them.”

If you stop at this point and don’t clarify what you mean, the person may assume you actually meant to say ‘But’, thus negating the advantage of the word ‘And’.

Alternatively the person could find a new way to make sense of this sentence, and this can be a very good breakthrough.

A second option – change sequence.

Reverse the usual “Yes, but…” to “…, but yes, …”

This change often stops you from sounding like you are making excuses.

You go from “I’d love to come, but I’m busy” which sounds like an excuse, to “I’m busy, but I’d love to come,”

This exposes the excuse and now requires you to clarify whether ‘I’d love to come’ actually means you will turn up.

If you need more help to say honestly what you mean, then you might want to avoid this second option until I get to the topic of assertiveness.

But on the other hand, don’t bother. Give both these options a test today.

-Dr Martin Russell

Horrible Time?

Christmas and New Year and the time in between is meant to be wonderful, isn’t it?

Well for many people it isn’t.

Sometimes this time can be very lonely, or bring up bad memories, or intensify unpleasant emotions, or highlight any one of a number of possible problems that don’t improve just because someone says this is a happy time of year.

If you are in this situation I would like to suggest an option for you.

I probably can’t solve all your problems in this post. Sorry. I thought I should get that out of the way early.

But what I can do is give you the type of distraction that is often therapeutic too.

If you are feeling horrible then one thing is almost always true… you are thinking about yourself.

My suggestion is that no matter how s*** your life is, you get actively involved in helping others.

You might be able to do this locally just by going outside the door, and this is the ideal way to do it, but I want to also give you a way to act on this suggestion right now, sitting at your computer.

Here’s what I mean.

Think of 3 people or organizations who deserve some appreciation.

There might be lots more people or organizations that do NOT deserve appreciation, but for this I want you to pick out three that in some way, no matter how big or how small, do.

Maybe someone helped you out. Maybe they said something that stuck with you. Maybe you hated it at the time but realized the value in it later.

Maybe an organization is doing things that you realize is worthwhile. Maybe it’s an individual within an organization.

Do you know how rarely people hear a sincere “Thankyou”?

Indeed, ask yourself how often people have thanked you when you have done something nice or gone out of your way to be helpful.

I want you to think of 3 people or organizations to thank, that you have mailing addresses for, or you can find a mailing address for.

Then I want you to click on the link below, to send each of these a paper-and-ink greeting card with your appreciation in it.

Yes that’s right.

You will be at your computer, picking a card, typing in a message, and the next business day someone will print out your card, stuff it in an envelope, address it, stick a stamp on it, and pop it in the mail so it will be delivered sometime in the January mail.

Imagine the surprise when the person you send the card to sorts through their mail with bills, junk mail, notices etc, and finds a greeting card that has a message of appreciation inside it.

They will be able to sit the card on their desk, or on their fridge, as an ongoing acknowledgment that some really did notice them and their efforts.

That’s the goal.

Now let me introduce the card-sending service. It’s one I use myself in a variety of ways.

When you click on the link below you will be asked to enter your name and physical mailing address. This is for the return address on the envelope as required by the post office.

There will also be a voice-over from the head of the company who will talk you through sending your first card. He will talk about ‘promptings’ instead of showing appreciation. It’s a similar idea.

Once you have followed along and sent your first card, stop him chattering on the audio, and go send your other two cards on your own.

This will remain open until January 2nd, ie until this time of year has passed.

There is no cost to you. These cards, including postage, are yours with my best wishes for the Self Help season.

Think of the 3 people, and click below…


Your privacy is assured. The only correspondence you may receive is an email from me to check in with how you went.

Oh, and don’t limit your imagination. This service can send a card to anyone you have an address for anywhere in the world.

-Dr Martin Russell

Christmas Day Is Half Over

We’re only 24 hours through the 48 hour Christmas Day around the world.

When I was growing up I worked out that Santa was quick.

He only had one evening to deliver presents to every girl and boy in the world.

In fact assuming all of us kiddies went to bed at about 9pm (the latest I had heard about) then woke at 5am (the earliest I had heard about) then that meant only 8 hours to do the lot.

Then I worked out it was worse. With midnight church service for many people that meant that he only really had from about 2am onwards.

That reduced it down to just 3 hours.

I was amazed at Santa’s skills.

But… my theoretical maths was all wrong!

If I had actually been Santa for one night I would have realized that I didn’t really need to be as quick as I had thought. I didn’t have a mere 3 hours.

With the world having different times all over the place even if I visited every house between 2am and 5am I would have an entire extra 24 hours at my disposal, making a total of 27 hours!

Much, much easier.

That’s the trouble with thinking. It’s not the same as doing.

Doing has so many extra elements that somehow aren’t obvious until you do a heck of a lot of thinking and planning, or, just go and actually do it.

Here is your Christmas present to stop thinking and simply do it.

Pick your gift from any one of these 5 online video Self Help products that I made this year:






Then reply to the blog announcement email with your pick before Hawaii ends it’s Christmas Day and I will send your gift to you.

The first batch of presents has been sent out already, but it’s not too late.

If you aren’t yet receiving the announcements then sign up on the main page in the box on the top right, and reply to the Welcome email you receive when you confirm your email address.

-Dr Martin Russell

The 48 Hour Christmas Day

As this is an international website, and midnight Christmas Day has started on the International dateline, I have decided to let everyone open up their presents here for the whole 48 hours of the world’s Christmas Day.

You can choose the present from any of the products I made available on this blog this year.

Each of them are an online video version of the medical counseling session I would have with you if you came to me.

Each product covers a different issue.

Of course the sleeping one is available generally already, so here are the ones you can choose from.

If you have a dilemma – www.DilemmaSelfHelp.com

If you’re in a compensation or Worker’s Comp scheme – www.SelfHelpCompensation.com

If you want to resolve something – www.SelfHelpMeOver.com

If you’re taking medication or treatment – www.SelfHelpRx.com

Or my general toolkit for change, especially if nothing else is working – www.SelfHelpMeeting.com

Finally, if none of these are applicable for you, then I invite you to suggest a topic you need. If I end up making a product for it in 2008 it will be yours to have with my complements as a belated Christmas 2007 present.

Here’s all you need to do.

Reply to the blog announcement email before Christmas Day ends, and tell me which one you want.

If you are not yet receiving notifications for this blog then go the main page and enter your name and email in the boxes on the top right side. You can reply to the Welcome email you will receive.

Just make sure you email me your choice before Christmas Day ends.


-Dr Martin Russell

Self Help Christmas Gift

I’ve finally had a moment to jot down a quick note.

The response to the sleeping pill topic has been amazing, and just in the past few days this website has seen the biggest spike of visitors ever.

I’ll catch up with it soon, but I need to mention that I have set up a Christmas present for you this year.

This will be available Christmas Day only.

If you can’t get to your computer then sorry but you will miss out. I’ll try to be as fair as possible though.

You will also need to be on the notification list to receive the present, so if you haven’t yet signed up you can enter your name and email address for the blog announcement list here:


-Dr Martin Russell

Self Help For Sleeping Pills – The Campaign

I want to change the world, or at least a bit of it.

So I’m giving some stuff away for free, and I’m wanting your help.

If you agree that people are popping too many pills in this world, or you just have an interest in helping people improve their lives then read on…

Working as a family doctor, and now as a counselor, one common issue people have is trouble sleeping.

They can’t get a good night’s rest.

They come to me and I offer them stress reduction, sleep hygiene, hypnosis, meditation among other self help methods.

But like it or not, many people want to pop a pill.

It turns out that sleeping pills are in fact a growth industry. Over the past decade the sales of prescription sedatives, much of which is sleeping pills, has doubled to $4 Billion in 2006 in the US alone.

The prediction is for an explosion to $5 Billion in the US by 2010. The rest of the world is following this frightening trend.

Even worse, remember that this is just on prescription pills. The dollar amounts are WAAYY bigger if you add in all the non-prescription sleeping pills, potions, sprays, etc, etc.

Most people worry about the side effects, but here is the real issue.

These pills are not recommended to be used longer than 2-4 weeks!

Yet whether prescription medication, natural, herbal, alternative or whatever, people end up taking them for months, years, and sometimes the rest of their lives!

This is unforgivably horrendous.

But what can be done?

It’s easy to just say “Don’t take the pills”, but that message won’t stop this pill-popping avalanche.

People take sleeping pills because they want sleep and the pills work.

If they used them short-term it would be okay, but people don’t.

Many people end up taking them long-term. They don’t want to, but if they simply follow the instructions on the packet and pop a pill each night for 2-4 weeks they find that when they stop the pills, more often than not, their sleeping problems come straight back.

They don’t even have to be physically addicted to the drugs, it’s just that they haven’t broken their habit of poor sleep.

So they go back on the sleeping pills again.

They are caught!

This recurring Sleeping Pill Catch-22 can be avoided!

Back when I was a family doctor, I began suggesting a 3-step system for my patients to help them take sleeping medication in the smallest effective dose, for as little time as possible, and without risking getting addicted.

I’ve recommended it in my counseling practice too.

It even helps people who are already taking sleeping pills, prescription and otherwise.

As far as I’m concerned they should stuff instructions for this 3-step system into every packet sold.

If you haven’t guessed by now I’m passionate about this.

My big dream is to stop the sleeping pill market in it’s tracks, and reverse it into steady decline, simply by having people take the pills they way they were meant to be used – short-term.

One thing is guaranteed. I can’t do this campaign alone.

So here is where you come in.

I originally made this as a product to sell. I would now prefer this information just gets out to people.

You may want this information on the link below for your own sleep. If so great. It’s all there for you. There is nothing left out and no extra product you need. It’s all yours.

However, even if it’s not for you personally I’d appreciate your help in making this known to as many people as possible. Sleeping problems are a not a common topic of conversation so you won’t know all of your family, friends, and colleagues who really want and need this system.

This is the page where I open up all the details for the 3-step system.


I appreciate you leaving your opinions, ideas, feedback, suggestions for how to get this message out there etc as a comment below.

-Dr Martin Russell